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.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Saints mole strikes again

The mole is awesome. He/she managed to insert a footnote that leads careful readers directly to what Joseph said about the "plains of the Nephites," an important quotation which, of course, the editors of Saints censored because of M2C.

[Note: I'm concerned that the censors in the Church History Department are undoing the mole's work, so please don't tell them about this post. The Gospel Library version doesn't give hyperlinks to the Joseph Smith Papers now. I thought it did before. The links on my desktop Kindle stopped working yesterday after I posted about the mole, but the links on my phone's Kindle still work. Try this yourself and see what your electronic version does. If the censors "fix" the mole's links, it will be even more difficult for members of the Church to learn what the prophets have taught.]

Go to Chapter 17 in Saints, "The Camp of Israel." In digital versions, you can search for "our numbers" and you'll go right to the passage. Footnote 21 is the one we're going to look at.

Here is the paragraph:

"Camp is in as good a situation as could be expected," he wrote Emma while sitting on the riverbank, "but our numbers and means are altogether too small." 21

Note 21 reads:

Joseph Smith to Emma Smith, June 4, 1834, in JSP, D4:52-59; "The Outrage in Jackson County, Missouri," The Evening and the Morning Star, June 1834, [8].

Here is the hyperlink:


The passage quoted in Saints is from page 57 in the Joseph Smith Papers, but the hyperlink instead takes you to page 58.

This is awesome because page 58 starts with the passage that Saints has censored because it contradicts M2C.

Here is the top of page 58 that the link takes you to:

occasionaly the history of the Book of Mormon, roving over the mounds of that once beloved people of the Lord, picking up their skulls & their bones, as a proof of its divine authenticity,14* and gazing upon a country the fertility, the splendour and the goodness so indescribable, all serves to pass away time unnoticed,

You can see why the editors of Saints censored this passage. This is Joseph Smith writing a personal letter to Emma, specifically identifying Ohio, Indiana and Illinois as the plains of the Nephites. He explained that the mounds and artifacts in the area are proof of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. He related this to his companions during Zion's camp.

The last thing the M2C intellectuals at BYU and CES want is for members of the Church to know what Joseph actually taught. The Correlation Department will never allow Joseph's teachings to appear in Church materials, and especially not in Saints.

But the mole has directed readers specifically to this passage. 

It's awesome.

[Note: I have a comment on note 14 below because it's also very significant.]

Also, to be fair, Note 21 actually references Joseph's entire letter. But very few people have access to the printed copies of the Joseph Smith Papers, and they're available only in English.

Without a hyperlink, Note 21 is useless for most readers. Like other examples of censorship in Saints, without hyperlinks these notes do little more than convey a sense of completeness and accuracy, which I consider misleading and even dishonest because of the censorship.

Here are the two pages from Joseph's letter so you can see what the censors tried to do and how the mole thwarted them.

The passage quoted in Saints is in red below. It's on page 57. The link in note 21 does not go to page 57. Instead, it goes to page 58, which starts with the passage (in bold) that is always censored because of M2C.

p. 57 [http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/letter-to-emma-smith-4-june-1834/2]

considerable fever in consequence of taking cold—1 and bro Foster who came from Genseeo2 who was taken last evening with the Typhus Fever, but are both better to day, and we are in hopes will be able to proceed on their journey to morrow, I have been able to endur[e] the fatigue of the journey far beyond my most sanguine expectations, except have been troubled some with lameness,3 have had my feet blistered, but are now well, and have also had a little touch of my side complaint,4 Bro Harper [Harpin] Riggs is now able to travel all day & his health is improving very fast, as is the case with all the weakly ones, Addison Wren5 has been an exceeding good boy and has been very obedient to me in all things, as much so as tho I was his own father, and is healthy and able to travel all day. William [Smith] has been some unwell, but is now enjoying good health George [A. Smith] has been afflicted with his eyes, but they are getting better,6 and in fine, all the Camp is in as good a situation as could be expected; but our numbers and means are altogether too small for the accomplishment of such a great enterprise, but they are falling daily7 and our only hope is that whilst we deter the enemy, and terrify them for a little season (for we learn by the means of some spies we send out for that purpose that they are greatly terrified) notwithstanding they are endeavoring to make a formidable stand, and their numbers amount to several hundred,8 and the Lord shows us to good advantage in the eyes of their spies,9 for in counting us the[y] make of our 170 men from five to seven hundred and the reports of the people are not a little calculated [to] frighten and strike terror through their ranks for the general report is that four or five hundred Mormons are traveling through the Country well-armed, and disciplined; and that five hundred more has gone a south west [course?] and expect to meet us, and also another company are on a rout[e] North of us, all these things serve to help us, and we believe the hand of the Lord is in it, Now is the time for the Church abroad to come to Zion. It is our prayer day and night that God will open the heart of the Churches to pour in men and means to assist us, for the redemption of Zion and upbuilding of Zion. We want the Elders in Kirtland to use every exertion to influence the Church to come speedily to our relief.10 Let them come pitching their tents by the way,11 remembering to keep the sabbath day according to the articles and covenants12 the same as at home, buying flour and cooking their own provision which they can do, with little trouble, and the expence will be trifling. We have our company divided into messes of 12 or 13— each having a cook and cooking utensils, all that is necessary; so that we are not obliged to trouble any mans house, and we buy necessaries such as butter, sugar and honey, so that we live as well as heart can wish. After we left the eastern part of the State of Ohio we could get provision on an average as follows; flour by the hundred $1.50, bacon from 4½ to 6 dollar per Hundred butter from 6 to 8 cents pr pound, honey from 3 to 4 shilling the gallon,13 new milk from 3 4 to 6 ct per gallon. The whole of our journey, in the midst of so large a company of social honest men and sincere men, wandering over the plains of the Nephites, recounting

p. 58, where the mole's link goes [http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/letter-to-emma-smith-4-june-1834/3]

occasionaly the history of the Book of Mormon, roving over the mounds of that once beloved people of the Lord, picking up their skulls & their bones, as a proof of its divine authenticity,14 and gazing upon a country the fertility, the splendour and the goodness so indescribable, all serves to pass away time unnoticed, and in short were it not at every now and then our thoughts linger with inexpressible anxiety for our wives and our children our kindred according to the flesh who are entwined around our hearts; And also our brethren and friends; our whole journey would be as a dream, and this would be the happiest period of all our lives. We learn this journey how to travel, and we look with pleasing anticipation for the time to come, when we shall retrace our steps, and take this journey again in the enjoyment and embrace of that society we so much love, which society can only cause us to have any desire or lingering thoughts of that which is below. We have not as yet heard any thing from Lyman [Wight] and Hyrum [Smith] and do not expect to till we get to salt river Church, which is only fifty miles from this place.15 Tell Father Smith [Joseph Smith Sr.] and all the family, and brother Oliver [Cowdery] to be comforted and look forward to the day when the trials and tribulations of this life will be at an end, and we all enjoy the fruits of our labour if we hold out faithful to the end which I pray may be the happy lot of us all.
From your’s in the bonds of affliction.
Joseph Smith Jr.

N.B. The enclosed bill we could not get changed and is of no use to us now,16 and we send to you & sister [Rebecca Swain] Williams to be divided between you, that you may be able to procure such necessaries as you need &c.

17 I embrace this opportunity to fill up this sheet to you, my beloved companion, not that I have anything important to communicate, but remembering your request to write to you while on the road, but as I write every week to brother Oliver, you will know all the particulars of our journey.18 In consequence of my being away from the encampment last sunday (the cause you will see in my next to Oliver)19 did not write to him as usual but shall now embrace the first opportunity to bring up my journal which you will find some what more interesting, than any previous to it—
I want you to make use of the money I send you in wisdom, for such things as you need, and make yourselves as comfortable and contented as you can and continue to pray to the Lord to hasten the day when we shall be permitted to behold each other’s face again and enjoy the blessing of the family circle in peace and in righteousness, and be prepared to meet every event that awaits us in life.
Tell the children to remember that passage of scripture which says, “children obey your parents in all things”,20 for this is right, and God will bless them. I [p. 58]


*Note 14. Let's take a moment and look at note 14 in the Joseph Smith Papers. This is a good example of how the editors try to accommodate M2C. The note deals with the story of Zelph.

You'll notice that Zelph appears nowhere in Saints, a completely predictable result of M2C-inspired censorship.

Note 14 reads:

On 3 June, the Camp of Israel passed through the vicinity of what is now Valley City, Illinois, where several members of the camp climbed a large mound. At the top, they uncovered the skeletal remains of an individual JS reportedly identified as Zelph, a “white Lamanite.” Archeologists have since identified the mound as Naples–Russell Mound #8 and have classified it as a Hopewell burial mound of the Middle Woodland period of the North American pre-Columbian era (roughly 50 BC to AD 250). (Godfrey, “The Zelph Story,” 31, 34; Farnsworth, “Lamanitish Arrows,” 25–48.)  

Comprehensive Works Cited

Faulring, Scott H. “Early Marriages Performed by the Latter-day Saint Elders in Jackson County, Missouri, 1832–1834.” Mormon Historical Studies 2 (Fall 2001): 197–210.Godfrey, Matthew C. “‘Seeking after Monarchal Power and Authority’: Joseph Smith and Leadership in the Church of Christ, 1831–1832.” Mormon Historical Studies 13 (Spring/Fall 2012): 15–37.

Farnsworth, Kenneth W. “Lamanitish Arrows and Eagles with Lead Eyes: Tales of the First Recorded Explorations in an Illinois Valley Hopewell Mound.” Illinois Archaeology 22 (2010): 25–48.

Notice all the errors in this note. The first paragraph cites Godfrey and Farnsworth, but in the "Comprehensive Works Cited," we see instead a reference to an irrelevant article by Scott Faulring and a jumbled reference to another irrelevant article. There is no reference to Godfrey's article.

IOW, readers cannot find Godfrey's article.

We might think this is just a "clerical error," but it could be the work of the mole. 

Here's why.

The Godfrey article is the M2C citation cartel's best effort to explain away the Zelph account. Because the note doesn't give the correct citation, readers will likely give up searching for it. This means they will have Joseph Smith's own teaching without the M2C spin.

Definitely a good outcome.

Great work, mole.

But, if readers search the Internet to find Godfrey's article, they may come across alternative interpretations of Zelph that support what Joseph taught instead of contradicting it the way Godfrey's article does. E.g., an article by Donald Q. Cannon titled "Zelph Revisited," which you can find here:

It's not a surprise that the Joseph Smith Papers would cite Brother Godfrey's article. At the time it was published, Brother Godfrey was the northern Utah area director of the LDS Church Education System, which means he was a follower of M2C.

The article was published by BYU Studies, meaning it complies with the M2C dogma that the Church History Department enforces.

The dead giveaway is note 5 in the article:

5. All primary documents are gratefully used here by permission of the Historical Department of
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I also acknowledge the work of John W. Welch, Tim
Rathbone, John L. Sorenson, James Treadway, and Brenda Miles at F.A.R.M.S. in helping to prepare this article for publication, and I express gratitude to the Church Educational System for sponsoring my research on this project.

IOW, all the usual suspects were involved with this article. It's full M2C, sponsored by CES no less. Brother Welch is the Editor-in-Chief of BYU Studies and the Chairman of Book of Mormon Central Censor, and Brother Sorenson is the author of Mormon's Codex and other M2C books.

You can download the article here:

I have commented on Zelph several times, including here:

It's fun to see how Brother Godfrey's article does everything it can to support M2C. Here's the summary from the website:

When the twenty men who formed the vanguard of Zion's Camp left Kirtland, Ohio, on 1 May 1834, they could not know that one of their most lasting and intriguing contributions to Latter-day Saint history would take place, not on a Missouri battlefield but rather on top of a large mound in Illinois. There, on 3 June 1834, members of Zion's Camp located a few bones, including a broken femur and an arrowhead, approximately a foot below the earth's surface, and these remains became the catalyst for revelation to Joseph Smith regarding the skeleton's identity. Joseph called the land "the plains of the Nephites." They believed that the mounds had belonged to "that once beloved people," and they interpreted the mere fact that skulls and bones were readily found as evidence of the divine authenticity of the book.

Notice how the rhetoric undermines the credibility of what Joseph taught.
- Joseph called the land, instead of Joseph identified the land, as the plains of the Nephites.
- They believed the mounds belonged, instead of Joseph said the mounds belonged to the Nephites.
- They interpreted the mere fact instead of Joseph declared the bones were evidence of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon.

Here's a passage from the opening paragraph that shows the dilemma faced by the M2C intellectuals:

Subsequently, the information recorded by several of the camp's members would be used by historians, geographers, and other scholars as evidence that Book of Mormon events, especially those reported in its closing chapters, took place in the northeastern part of the United States. 3

This is obviously a problem for M2C. The foundation of M2C is the guiding principle that the prophets are wrong about the New York Cumorah. The Zelph account affirms the New York Cumorah, so how do the M2C intellectuals handle Zelph?

Recall that the M2C intellectuals teach that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were wrong about the New York Cumorah because they were ignorant speculators who misled the Church by adopting a false tradition.

We've already looked at part of this passage, but in context look at how condescending Brother Godfrey's description is:

The ghostly mounds of former inhabitants, however, reminded Joseph and his camp that the land had once been occupied. As they went they naturally talked about the Book of Mormon. Joseph called the land "the plains of the Nephites." They believed that the mounds had belonged to "that once beloved people," and they interpreted the mere fact that skulls and bones were readily found as evidence of the divine authenticity of the book. Evidently they were most impressed by the evidence that a prior civilization had been destroyed from off the face of this land, for the Book of Mormon similarly reports the destruction of a large group of people on this continent. Simple confirmation of the fact that destructions had taken place was evidence enough for these adventurers that the Book of Mormon was true....

These records are generally consistent with one another but they leave a number of details in doubt. Who was Zelph? Was he a Nephite or a Lamanite? When did he die? What army was he in? As will be seen the answers to these questions cannot be given with certainty from the complex historical sources that resulted from this event.

This is a ridiculous approach, IMO. No historical account gives every detail. No one can describe in detail exactly what they did yesterday, even if we could remember ever detail for 24 hours. All historical accounts have gaps that leave open questions. There is no such thing as historical certainty, yet Brother Godfrey implies that the Zelph account is questionable because it falls short of his imaginary standard.

I won't get into the details here, but there are 7 accounts, including one from Wilford Woodruff. For many key events in Church history, Woodruff left the only account, thanks to his diligence in keeping a journal.

Brother Godfrey questions Woodruff's account here because it varies in some respects from the other six accounts.

What he doesn't say is that every word in Woodruff's journal could be questioned on this basis because no two people can record the same event identically.

When you read Woodruff's account, you see why Godfrey attacks its credibility.

while on our travels we visited many of the mounds which were flung up by the ancient inhabitants of this continent, probably by the Nephites & Lamanites. We visited one of those Mounds and several
of the brethren dug into it and took from it the bones of a man. Brother Joseph had a vission respecting the person he said he was a white Lamanite, the curse was taken from him or at least in part, he was killed in battle with an arrow, the arrow was found among his ribs, one of his thigh bones was broken, this was done by a stone flung from a sling in battle years before his death, his name was Zelph. Some of his bones were brought into the camp and the thigh bone which was broken was put into my waggon and I carried it to Missouri. Zelph was a large thick set man and a man of God, he was a warrior under the great prophet <Onandagus> that was known from the hill Cumorah <on East sea> to the Rocky mountains the above knowledge Joseph receieved in a vision

Archaeologists have verified that artifacts in this mound came from around North America (and none came from Central America).

IOW, Joseph learned by vision that Zelph (or Onandagus) was known from the hill Cumorah to the Rocky Mountains; i.e., Cumorah was in New York.

Recall that Joseph had this vision before he and Oliver wrote Letter VII, but after he and Oliver had entered Mormon's depository of Nephite records in the hill Cumorah.

The Zelph account completely destroys the claim that there are "two Cumorahs," unless you accept the claim of the M2C intellectuals that Joseph was simply wrong.

I've discussed Zelph before. You can search this blog for my comments, but here are a couple:



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