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.

Oliver was truthful except...

Oliver was truthful about everything except...

Letter VII from Messenger and Advocate, July 1835
Those who reject Letter VII's explanation about the New York Cumorah cite no reasons other than their preference for a different location for the Hill Cumorah.

Instead, they promote the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory (M2C) and claim the idea of a New York Cumorah is "manifestly absurd."*

Consider Oliver Cowdery's participation in the Church to put Letter VII in context. When he wrote it, he was the Assistant President of the Church--senior in authority to the First and Second Counselors. 

He had been commanded by revelation to select materials to publish. He wrote the letters with the assistance of Joseph Smith. He was a participant in several of the events he wrote about, including the translation of the Book of Mormon. Other events he learned directly from Joseph Smith. Regarding Cumorah, he and Joseph had visited the repository of Nephite records in the hill at least twice. 

All eight of Oliver's letters about history are accepted by Church historians as important insights into the early events of the Church.** Several are cited in the Saints books--except the parts of Letter VII that explain it is a fact that the final battles of the Nephites and Jaredites took place in the valley west of the Hill Cumorah in New York. http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-1834-1836/90

Those who reject Oliver's writings about Cumorah are M2C advocates and the historians who accommodate their theory that the "real" Cumorah is somewhere in southern Mexico.

Oliver published Letter VII in July 1835. Previously, in February 1835, he, as one of the Three Witnesses, had selected the first members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He gave them their apostolic charge. 

After he published Letter VII, in April 1836, he, along with Joseph Smith, was visited in the Kirtland temple by Moses, Elias, Elijah, and the Savior Himself. Oliver and Joseph were given the keys of the gathering of Israel and the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham.

M2C advocates expect you to believe that Oliver Cowdery could faithfully record the entire Book of Mormon, much of the Book of Moses, and much of Church history. Oliver could faithfully edit and publish two Church newspapers, the Book of Commandments, and the original Doctrine and Covenants. He could accurately write the statement for the Three Witnesses. 

Of all the writing he did, you're supposed to believe he was faithful and accurate except for a few paragraphs in one letter, solely because those paragraphs contradict the opinions of the M2C scholars.

Here is the chronology. Everything that is okay is marked green. The items the scholars object to is marked red.


1829 April
Transcribes Joseph's dictation of his translation of the abridged plates

1829 May
Receives Aaronic Priesthood from John the Baptist, baptizes Joseph and is baptized by him

1829 May
Receives Melchizedek Priesthood from Peter, James and John

1829 June
On the road to Fayette, meets the messenger who was taking the abridged plates from Harmony to Cumorah
In Fayette, transcribes the plates of Nephi
Sees the plates and angel as one of the Three Witnesses

1829 June
Completes Book of Mormon and makes a printer’s copy, supervises printing and publication

1830 April
Helps organize the Church as a Second Elder and apostle, ordains Joseph Smith as First Elder

1830 June
Transcribes Book of Moses 1:1 through 5:43

1830 Oct.
Leaves on mission to the Lamanites

1830 Nov.
Baptizes Sidney Rigdon

1831 Jan.
Arrives in Jackson County, Mo.

1831 Summer
Meets Joseph in Jackson County

1831 Nov.
Takes revelations from Ohio to Missouri for publication

Helps Phelps with printing operation in Missouri

1832 Apr.
Approves Book of Commandments

1833 Nov.
Sets up printing press in Kirtland, reprints Evening and Morning Star

1833 Dec.
Begins editing Evening and Morning Star

1834 Feb.
Chosen as founding member of Kirtland Council

1834 May-Aug.
Leader in Kirtland after Zions Camp left

1834 Oct
Edits LDS Messenger and Advocate and Northern Times

1834 Oct
Publishes Letter I about Church history, part of which is in the current Pearl of Great Price
[Note: some LDS scholars reject what Oliver wrote about the translation with the Urim and Thummim]

1834 Nov
Publishes Letter II about Church history

1834 Dec
Publishes Letter III about Church history

1834 Dec
Ordained by Joseph Smith as “Assistant President of the Church”

Publishes Letter IV about Church history

1835 Feb
With David Whitmer and Martin Harris, selects first members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

1835 Feb
Gives apostolic charge to the Twelve Apostles

1835 Mar
Publishes Letter V about Church history

1835 Apr
Publishes Letter VI about Church history

1835 May
Resigns from Messenger and Advocate

1835 July
Publishes Letter VII about Church history, including the fact that the New York Cumorah is the Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 and the Ramah of Ether 15:11.

1835 Aug.
Gets Doctrine and Covenants approved for printing

1835 Oct.
Publishes Letter VIII about Church history, including a detailed description of the stone box on Cumorah

1836 Mar.
Resumes editing the Messenger and Advocate

1836 Apr.
Visited in Kirtland temple by Moses, Elias, Elijah, and Christ, receives the keys of the gathering of Israel and dispensation of gospel of Abraham

1836 July
Accompanies Joseph to Salem, MA

1837 Feb.
Turns over printing company to Joseph and Sidney

1838 July
“Excluded from fellowship” for accusations against Joseph

1848 Nov.
Rebaptized into the Church, reiterating his testimony that Joseph translated the plates with the Urim and Thummim and that neither Sidney Rigdon nor Solomon Spalding wrote the book

1850 March
Dies in Richmond at home of David Whitmer

*John Sorenson, in Mormon’s Codex (Deseret Book, 2015), p. 688: "There remain Latter-day Saints who insist that the final destruction of the Nephites took place in New York, but any such idea is manifestly absurd. Hundreds of thousands of Nephites traipsing across the Mississippi Valley to New York, pursued (why?) by hundreds of thousands of Lamanites, is a scenario worthy only of a witless sci-fi movie, not of history."

** Some historians criticize Oliver for not mentioning the First Vision, but that's hardly Oliver's fault. Joseph had not yet decided to make that public, for good reasons I've discussed elsewhere. 
Some scholars reject what Oliver wrote about the translation with the Urim and Thummim. One has claimed that Oliver intentionally misled people because, in their opinion, Joseph did not use the Urim and Thummim to translate the text we have today. I've discussed that here:

No comments:

Post a Comment