long ago ideas

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago." - Friedrich Nietzsche Long ago, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery conquered false claims that the Book of Mormon was fiction or that it came through a stone in a hat. But these old claims have resurfaced in recent years. To conquer them again, we have to return to what Joseph and Oliver taught.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Mistakes in Church History-History of the Church

One of the biggest mistakes in Church history has been the false attribution to Joseph Smith of anonymous articles in the Times and Seasons. This led to the development of M2C (the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory) that in turn has led to faithful Church educators at BYU/CES rationalizing that the prophets are wrong.

Another contributor to M2C has been History of the Church.

Here's one example:

25 June 1842 - The Prophet Joseph "sat for a drawing of my profile to be placed on a lithograph of the map of the city of Nauvoo." He also mentions the work of "Messrs. Stephens and Catherwood" who have "succeeded in collecting in the interior of America a large amount of relics of the Nephites, or the ancient inhabitants of America treated of in the Book of Mormon" (History of the Church, 5:44).

This entry suggests Joseph actually read the Stephens book and approved it, but the entry is false. Our M2C scholars know this but they don't tell people about it because it supports their M2C theory.

When your theory relies on a premise you know is false, I think it's time to revisit the theory.

Here's the explanation:

The quotation comes from History, 1838-1856. This portion was created in 1845, after Joseph died, by Thomas Bullock and others. Here's the link:

When you go to the passage for 25 June 1842, about half way down the page, you see two notes. The first one is irrelevant, but the second one says:  JS, Journal, 25 June 1842.  

That link goes here:

It reads:

25 June 1842 • Saturday
Saturday 25 Transacted Business with . & set for the drawing of his profile. for Lithographing on city chart.
From that brief note, Bullock and others wrote the passage you mentioned in the History, 1838-1856:

25 June 1842 • Saturday
<​25​> Saturday 25 Transacted business with Brother Hunter, and Mr. Babbitt and sat for a drawing of my profile to be placed on a lithograph of the Map of the City of — Messrs. Stephens and Catherwood have succeeded in collecting in the Interior of , a large amount of relics of the Nephites, or the Ancient Inhabitants of , treated of in the Book of Mormon, which have recently been landed in .
I highlighted in red how they changed the wording to put the language in the first person. They also added clarification that it was the City of Nauvoo. Then they added the comments about Stephens and Catherwood. The entry for 26 June 1842 is another example of how they changed the original third person into first person.

Why would they add the Stevens and Catherwood comment here?

Stephens and Catherwood are never mentioned in Joseph's Journal, December 1841-December 1842, from which this entry was taken. Bullock often inserted articles as part of the history, though, so we can look for related articles. 

The Times and Seasons doesn't mention Stephens and Catherwood in the June 1, June 15, or July 1 editions. 

In the July 15th edition, though, an anonymous editorial in T&S says "Stephens and Catherwood's researches in Central America abundantly testify of this thing. The stupendous ruins, the elegant sculpture, and the magnificence of the ruins of Guatamala [Guatemala], and other cities, corroborate this statement, and show that a great and mighty people-men of great minds, clear intellect, bright genius, and comprehensive designs inhabited this continent. Their ruins speak of their greatness; the Book of Mormen [Mormon} unfolds their history.-ED."

I don't see a connection between 25 June (the entry in the history) and 15 July (the date of the Times and Seasons article). Plus, the T&S article doesn't mention relics, landing in New York, etc.

Another interesting aspect of this is Bullock, for July 15, says nothing in the History of the Church about Stephens and Catherwood, but he does mention another editorial that was published in the Times and Seasons on that date. This is further evidence that Bullock didn't get the Stephens and Catherwood article from theTimes and Seasons. 

However, the June 11, 1842, edition of the Wasp includes this short article:

"Central America.--We have the pleasure to announce, says Langley's (N.Y.) Advertiser upon the authority of a letter recently received from Messrs. Stephens and Catherwood at Guatemala, that these enterprising travellers will return early in the ensuing month. We learn also, from the same source, that their renewed explorations have been attended with singular success; large additions having been made to the interesting relics and remains previously discovered, and which have attracted so universally the public attention. A new work, supplemental to the agreeable volumes already published, will comprise the result of Mr. Stephens's observations and the discoveries during his second visit to these antiquities of the New World.--[Bay State Democrat."

The Wasp was published every 2 weeks, so the next edition came out on June 25th. It's possible that this article was cut from the paper and placed somewhere in the history in a way that Bullock assumed it was published on the 25th.  

That still doesn't answer why Bullock's history refers to New York. He may have had an article from another source (such as the ones Winchester was sending to Nauvoo) or a letter with that news. We just don't have a reference.

However, the Oct. 1, 1842, issue of the Wasp includes this note:

"American antiquities.--the relics from Central America brought by Stevens and Catherwood, it appears, were not burnt at New York, as was apprehended."

This suggests that previously in the Wasp, there had been a reference to this incident, but if so, I haven't found it. The short note suggests that the editor, at least, was following the story; otherwise, it doesn't make any sense to simply say the relics were not burnt. FWIW, I think the Oct 1 issue is the last one William Smith edited.

Ironically, the Stephens and Catherwood relics were destroyed in a fire in New York, along with most of Catherwood's drawings and paintings

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