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Historical Accuracy in LDS Scriptures

The LDS Church has produced an update to the scriptures, following 8 years of work by historians on the Joseph Smith Papers Project.  You may have heard about some of the changes, as our own Andrew S was the one that alerted me, but By Common Consent has some fantastic posts on the subject as well, to go along with Allison at Mormon Momma.  With the recent work of the Joseph Smith Papers Project, historians have found more accurate information than was available following the last major upgrade to the scriptures in 1981. Among the improvements are better dates for some of the revelations.  For example, the 1981 version of D&C 22 lists that it was received in April 1830, but the Joseph Smith Papers Project helped identify that it was April 16. The 1981 version also listed a revelation to James Covill, a Baptist minister; however it turns out his name should have been spelled Covel, and he was a Methodist minister.  They have also removed many of the references to History of the Church, due to updated information that showed that there are better histories now available.  If you’re interested in seeing before and after versions, the Church has published a PDF document so you can see all of the changes yourself.

The most significant changes seem to occur in the Doctrine and Covenants with new introductions to Official Declaration 1 and Official Declaration 2.  I’d like to discuss those in more detail.

Official Declaration 1

Known as “the Manifesto”, the 2013 version adds the following header that was absent from the 1981 edition.

The Bible and the Book of Mormon teach that monogamy is God’s standard for marriage unless He declares otherwise (see 2 Samuel 12:7-8 and Jacob 2:27, 30).  Following a revelation to Joseph Smith, the practice of plural marriage was instituted among Church members in the early 1840s (see section 132).  From the 1860s to the 1880s, the Unites States government passed laws to make this religious practice illegal.  These laws were eventually upheld by the U. S. Supreme Court.  After receiving revelation, President Wilford Woodruff issued the following Manifesto, which was accepted as authoritative and binding on October 6, 1890.  This led to the end of the practice of plural marriage in the Church.

Also conspicuous was the removal of the line from 1981,

The vote to sustain the foregoing motion was unanimous.

Most certainly, there were many Mormons that did not sustain it, leading to the eventual formation of polygamist sects such as the the United Apostolic Brethren (Kody Brown of Sister Wives fame is a member), the FLDS Church (led by Warren Jeffs), and other groups.

What caught my attention was the wording that “monogamy is God’s standard” and plural marriage was a “practice” rather than a “principle”.  In justifying plural marriage, it was stated to be a law of heaven, in order to get into the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom.  But the wording doesn’t seem consistent with D&C 132′s changes.

If you look at the PDF document I linked to earlier, the changes are noted in yellow.  Specifically, the heading refers to “the principle of plural marriage”.  So is it a principle, or a practice?

Official Declaration 2

This also has a brand new introduction.

The Book of Mormon teaches that ‘all are alike unto God,’ including ‘black and white, bond and free, male and female’ (2 Nephi 26:33). Throughout the history of the Church, people of every race and ethnicity in many countries have been baptized and have lived as faithful members of the Church. During Joseph Smith’s lifetime, a few black male members of the Church were ordained to the priesthood. Early in its history, Church leaders stopped conferring the priesthood on black males of African descent. Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice. Church leaders believed that a revelation from God was needed to alter this practice and prayerfully sought guidance. The revelation came to Church President Spencer W. Kimball and was affirmed to other Church leaders in the Salt Lake Temple on June 1, 1978. The revelation removed all restrictions with regards to race that once applied to the priesthood.

This is a very nice introduction.  Following the Randy Bott debacle last year, the Church issued a statement that “It is not known precisely why, how, or when this restriction began in the Church…”  Well, at least they are acknowledging that it did not begin with Joseph Smith, and perhaps they are correct that “Church records offer no clear insights into” why “Church leaders stopped conferring the priesthood on black males of African descent.”  I have my theories, and I think it is largely due to some interracial marriages by William McCary, Joseph Ball, and Enoch Lewis.  Connell O’Donovan has documented much of this information, with much of it coming from church records.  I’d also like them to better acknowledge some of the Early Black Mormons.

I also found Allison’s comments on sexism with the priesthood, as well as EmJen’s quite interesting as well.  Certainly this could pave the way for an interpretation that women could hold the priesthood as well.  At the temple this week, I noticed something interesting.  Normally when we perform priesthood ordinances or blessings, we use the phrase “by the power of the Melchizedek Priesthood.”  However, during the initiatory, it was only stated that these blessings were performed by those “having authority.”  It is my understanding that the prayers are identical for female as well as male initiants.  During the endowment, women are clothed in the robes of the holy priesthood (both Aaronic and Melchizedek), and I believe that women repeat the exact same wording as the men when crossing through the veil.  The only difference I can ascertain is that men are ordained an elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood prior to the initiatory ordinance, but women are not.  I asked a female temple worker if she felt that she held the priesthood when she performed these temple ordinances, and she said she did.  I know that there is some debate as to whether women blessing the sick administered with or without the priesthood (Stapely says no, while Quinn says yes), but my mission president, a former sealer, said that women administer inside the temple with the priesthood.

Book of Abraham

I wanted to compare these revisions a little more closely than the church PDF shows.

1981 version Deletions and Additions 2013 version
The Book of Abraham.  A translation from some Egyptian papyri that come into the hands of Joseph Smith in 1835, containing the writings of the patriarch Abraham.  The translation was published serially in the Times and Seasons beginning March 1, 1842, at Nauvoo, Illinois.  See History of the Church, vol. 4, pp. 519-534. The Book of Abraham.  An inspiredAtranslation from some Egyptian papyri that come into the hands of Joseph Smith in 1835, containing the writings of the patriarch Abraham. Joseph Smith began the translation in 1835 after obtaining some Egyptian papyri.The translation was published serially in the Times and Seasons beginning March 1, 1842, at Nauvoo, Illinois. SeeHistory of the Church, vol. 4, pp. 519-534. The Book of Abraham.  An inspired translation of the writings of Abraham.  Joseph Smith began the translation in 1835 after obtaining some Egyptian papyri.  The translation was published serially in the Times and Seasonsbeginning March 1, 1842, at Nauvoo, Illinois.

Now let’s get nit-picky.  We went from “a translation” to “an inspired translation.”  A recent book about the papyri seems to show that the Egyptian alphabet that Joseph Smith collaborated with others was wrong.  There is rising skepticism as to whether this translation is a literal translation or not.  A rising conclusion is that The Book of Abraham might be inspired, but it does not appear to be a literal translation.  It may have been more of a revelation, akin to the Book of Moses, in which there was no source document.  Perhaps the papyri merely served as a catalyst for Joseph to receive revelation, rather than a literal translation.  While the new introduction still uses the word “translation”, it appears that the church may be trying to distance itself from the idea of a literal translation.  But I guess we will have to ask a church spokesman to confirm this theory.

If you’d like to get a paper copy of these scriptures, the Church has announced that they will start producing the new version of scriptures in August, but “Members do not need to purchase new scriptures.”  It’s interesting that the scriptures are available online before the print edition comes out.

What do you make of the changes?

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20 comments on “Historical Accuracy in LDS Scriptures

  1. Very interesting addition to the discussion.

    Often I think how difficult it would be to work on such modifications, knowing how we’re all going to read to much into every word. :) Glad it’s not my job!

  2. There is a change to the introduction to the Book of Mormon. “they are the principal ancestors” is now “they are among the ancestors”.

    This change appeared in the double-day edition.

  3. I’m hoping they include a map section for the Book of Mormon.

  4. You mention: “What caught my attention was the wording that “monogamy is God’s standard” and plural marriage was a “practice” rather than a “principle”. In justifying plural marriage, it was stated to be a law of heaven, in order to get into the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom. But the wording doesn’t seem consistent with D&C 132′s changes.”

    I’ve heard this notion before and I’m not sure where this comes from so I reviewed D&C 132 in its entirety and find no reason to believe that the new and everlasting covenant, which equates to celestial marriage, necessarily equates to polygamy. To the contrary, over and over the Lord uses language such as “if a man receiveth a wife in the new and everlasting covenant”, which seems to support the assertion that the new and everlasting covenant is celestial marriage, independent of its singularity vs. multiplicity.

    Further, the notion that “monogamy is God’s standard” is well supported within the same section wherein the Lord compares polygamy to an exception from the norm by referencing another commandment “Thou shalt not kill” along with an exception from its norm, v. 36:
    36. Abraham was commanded to offer his son Isaac; nevertheless, it was written: Thou shalt not kill. Abraham, however, did not refuse, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness.
    Normally you would not marry more than one wife (normally against my law), except if I command it. Just as normally you would not kill (normally against my law), except if I command it. That is the precise context of v. 36 and why he references that law in this context.

    I submit (or at least personally interpret) that the “principle” is the new and everlasting covenant, celestial marriage. If and only if God commands it (exactly as He states in Jacob 2:30), this includes polygamy, as it did with Joseph Smith, who was apparently threatened with a sword-bearing angel at one point regarding the “practice.”

  5. Kent, do you realize that D&C 132 was given to Emma specifically to get her to sign off on polygamy? There’s a very pointed reference that would be destroyed in verse 52 is she did not submit. Furthermore, what’s the purpose of the discussion of concubines in verses 34-38 if it’s supposed to support monogamy?

  6. Hi Mormon Heretic, I agree about section 132 including polygamy, and in part specifically addressing Emma regarding polygamy. I’m not sure where the notion comes that one cannot attain Celestial glory without polygamy. I don’t read that specifically anywhere. I read that one cannot attain Celelstial glory without the new and everlasting covenant of celestial marriage, but, though Joseph was commanded to take more than one wife, we are not.
    Are you proposing that if a man marry just one wife as prescribed in section 132, that is not the new and everlasting covenant until he likewise marry a second? If so, I ask where that notion comes from? So far as I search, it isn’t scriptural.

    PS Thanks for this post, it’s great information!

  7. Kent, you are giving the modern interpretation of the scripture, not the historical interpretation. The historical interpretation was that one was required to live polygamy. But after 1890, the modern interpretation has taken hold.

    To me, the church is further distancing itself from the historical interpretation. One can certainly read it as you do, but Joseph and Brigham certainly never interpreted it that way.

    What I find so interesting about this whole notion of (heterosexual) monogamy is that this whole gay marriage issue might be the thing that could possibly legalize polygamy. I am sure you are well aware that Mormons have said that all things must be restored, including polygamy. Yet the church with it’s Proclamation on the Family seems to be embracing the protestant idea that a nuclear family is God’s chosen family unit, while ignoring the verses about Abraham, David, and Joseph’s Smith’s polygamous families.

    To me, that’s why the monogamy thing is interesting. Mormons (me included) don’t seem at all excited about returning to Joseph’s non-traditional families, or allowing others to have non-traditional families.

  8. I’ve considered the same regarding the gay rights to marriage opening those doors. It is scary.

    And I’m aware that the historical context of that section was entirely wrapped in polygamy, but the beautiful part is Who authored it. I have no trouble reading this knowing that its Author knew it was to serve a dual purpose, both the introduction of the new and everlasting covenant of marriage and also the introduction of polygamy since He had the understanding they would need to be later separated. I can buy that, especially after rereading it. A large part of the section is mostly concerned with explaining the eternal nature of the covenant and the need for proper authority without speaking to polygamy.

    The part I can’t readily choke down is the implication that my first marriage made as prescribed only qualifies as the new and everlasting covenant if I marry a second time. It just doesn’t compute for me. So I draw the conclusion that there are two topics being presented here, that of celestial marriage and that of polygamy. Make sense?

    One can interpret that polygamy *has* been restored in this dispensation already and perhaps that suffices. (Perhaps not, but we don’t really know.)

    It also seems natural that Joseph and Brigham both would interpret them as one law since they were under commanded to obey both laws. But my understanding is that many many brethren had only one wife and I don’t imagine they were considered to be in the wrong.

    By the way, why “Mormon Heretic”?

  9. Kent, what exactly is scary? This kind of rhetoric seems to mimic the anti-Mormon rhetoric that polygamy was scary, and lead to the downfall of society. I’m curious whether you think polygamy is an eternal principle that is practiced by God, or was Joseph somehow deluded?
    ,
    I think it’s time that we re-evaluated gay scriptures.

    As for why I call myself a heretic, well, click “About” above to see a longer explanation. But in short, I’m trying to be a heretic like Jesus.

  10. Of course polygamy was sanctioned by God, the Old Testament and D&C are clear. Whether God practices this, we don’t know, though it certainly wouldn’t be surprising at all and I tend to speculate it only makes sense.
    The scary part is I don’t think our society is ready for this (LDS or otherwise). Have you been to Relief Society?! As much as I love the wonderful sisters in the Church, sometimes the sheer volume of backbiting and gossip is embarrassing if not downright evil. Men do it too, but… never mind.
    Can you imagine that in your home?! I has the potential to rip families apart, hasn’t it? That’s the scary part.

    As far as reevaluating gay scriptures, you lose me there. I have too hard a time finding ambiguities in Paul’s writings. I know others claim otherwise, but I just don’t see it. They seem to be stretching and inventing there. To me, his writings just aren’t ambiguous. Secondly, it flies in the face of our God’s Creation (Mother Nature, if you will) and exaltation as I understand it. Third, I really do uphold the current leadership of the church as prophets, seers, revelators.

    But don’t suppose me a bigot. I very recently spent a great deal of effort trying to help a recent convert, who became my friend and whom I love, stay active in the church despite this issue. In the end, he recently stopped attending because to him, his previous pride and friendships and social bonds in the gay community were too important to him, despite his conviction that he heard a voice command him to get baptized. He can’t explain why God asked him to be baptized and he confirms that He did, but to him, being gay was more important. The spirit is willing but the flesh weak. Still, I love and feel for the guy.

    But if there were ever to be any mechanism which would force the hand of legalizing polygamy, this would be it, wouldn’t it?

  11. As much as I love the wonderful sisters in the Church, sometimes the sheer volume of backbiting and gossip is embarrassing if not downright evil. Men do it too, but… never mind.
    Can you imagine that in your home?! I has the potential to rip families apart, hasn’t it? That’s the scary part.

    As far as reevaluating gay scriptures, you lose me there. I have too hard a time finding ambiguities in Paul’s writings. I know others claim otherwise, but I just don’t see it. They seem to be stretching and inventing there. To me, his writings just aren’t ambiguous. Secondly, it flies in the face of our God’s Creation (Mother Nature, if you will) and exaltation as I understand it. Third, I really do uphold the current leadership of the church as prophets, seers, revelators.

    But don’t suppose me a bigot.

    Ok, I’ll just call you a sexist with a phobia of gays. Can you tell me what you actually fear? Are they going to beat you?

    To quote Thomas Jefferson, “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are 20 gods, or no god [or have gay marriage]. It neither picks my pocket or breaks my leg.”

  12. Sexist because of my observations of prevelance of backbiting? I suppose I could see that argument. I’ve admittedly not scientifically studied whether men or women are worse, but it didn’t matter to my point: even if men are worse, women carry their share of it and I recognize that behavior would translate into the family unit, in fact I vaguely remember some report of early brethren in the church complaining of such. So, that and the potential it has to disrupt currently monogamous marriages present a scary notion, I find, no?

    I used to be homophobic, but I’ve gotten over that long ago. Why you picking on me anyway? You brought up re-evaluating gay scriptures, which I assumed meant doctinally as to whether homosexually is sin. That is what I was addressing, but you seem to have interpreted my conviction that the only scriptural evidence which we have answers affirmatively as some inner fear of mine.
    Though the context of the post suggests it, I didn’t realize by re-evaluating the scriptures you were refering to homosexuality as regarding marriage.

    I like the quote from Jefferson. Joseph Smith held very much the same attitude, didn’t he?

    I could make the argument, however, that, if you agree, even temporarily, that homosexually is a transgression, then Jefferson’s quote no longer applies. If nothing else, it may factor into the minds of impressionable youth in the neighborhood (possibly my youth) and be a motivator towards experimentation and thereafter addiction to this sin (we are assuming for this argument this is sin). That can spread and, with time, helps decay a portion of my neighborhood or community into sin and transgression.

    So the applicability of Jefferson’s quote is quite dependent upon whether the act is transgression, for on the one hand, it does “no injury” and on the other, it contributes to the decadence of my local community, the very pattern we see repeated over and over throughout all the scriptures as a warning to us. Do not suppose that, because we live in a more enlightened age of reason, transgression against Almighty God has somehow ceased or that we should relax His law in the name of enlightenment and tolerance. To do so would not only be to abandon the very purpose history in our scriptures is of spiritual value, but this attitude itself is also included in scripture’s histories as well as the warnings of its disastrous outcome.
    Tolerance towards any such individuals? Absolutely, for this is what Christ taught by example. But embracing such with personal invitation is not only folly, but explicitly warned against in the histories recorded in scripture.

    How do you answer to Paul’s writings? What do you make of them?

  13. Sexist because of my observations of prevelance of backbiting?

    Yes,

    So, that and the potential it has to disrupt currently monogamous marriages present a scary notion, I find, no?

    Look, I’m no fan of polygamy, but I’m not going to waste time on sexist perspectives, of which your backbiting comments was over the line. Still, I find the tv show Sister Wives interesting and it strikes down the unflattering stereotypes you propagate. I’m not comfortable calling all men abusers of porn for the same reason that women are stereotyped as gossipers. There are plenty of exceptions that such stereotypes reflect thoughtlessness on the person who makes such a statement.

    Why you picking on me anyway? Because I strive for respect, and those comments didn’t seem respectful. If you want to discuss gay scriptures, click on the link I posted, and we can discuss the nitty gritty details on that post, but for this post, gay marriage is off topic.

  14. No, no, you are right, it wasn’t respectful. Things “said” in a playful or tongue-in-cheek way are often not translated as such from writing.

  15. Yeah, you’re right, humor is harder to see on a blog, especially when we’re not used to each other’s sense of humor.

  16. Is it not a fair interpretation that section 132 was quite covert in language regarding use of “new and everlasting covenant” because the Lord (or Joseph seeing through glass darkly in “scribing” revelation) did not want to spell out plural marriage by definition because of fodder it would give to swelling outside opposition?

  17. But He did spell it out in the section quite clearly, right?

  18. Yes Kent, that’s why Emma burned the revelation–she did not want to support polygamy. Please note that the RLDS Church never canonized section 132; it has always been known as the section authorizing polygamy. To ignore that fact is to ignore history. Hyrum asked Joseph to write the revelation down so that Hyrum could explain it to Emma. Joseph complied, but noted that Hyrum didn’t know Emma like Joseph did.

    I know you have a modern interpretation, but it just doesn’t square with how the revelation came about. You can’t ignore that–to do so is to try to quote the section out of context. The first verse explains why the revelation came about.

    I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines.

    4 For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.

    ..

    52 And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph, and who are virtuous and pure before me; and those who are not pure, and have said they were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God.

    It’s pretty easy to see why Emma interpreted it as authorizing polygamy, no?

  19. Yes, the section clearly sanctions polygamy, I’ve been agreeing with that all along. I’m not entirely sure what you believe my “modern interpretation” is, but my argument is that there are 2 principles revealed in D&C 132, that of the “new and everlasting covenant” and that of polygamy (tied to the law of the priesthood) and I do not believe they are one and the same. I believe the new and everlasting covenant refers to celestial marriage. (I thought virtually all LDS who have been sealed in the temple believed the same, really. Is that what you consider the “modern interpretation?”)

    The section’s context speaks for itself, I’d reviewed it in its entirety before posting last week and have now re-read it again entirely and this has further cemented my understanding (thanks for the motivation).

    In versus 1-3, the Lord essentially tells Joseph, “You asked about polygamy, prepare yourself to receive what I am going to tell you because I’m going to address that.” But first, in v. 4, he introduces the law of the “new and everlasting covenant”. I admit, it is tempting to suppose that this *is* polygamy because of its juxtaposition directly after the first 3 introductory verses, but allow me to continue my case.

    From v.4, “For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant;” through v.27, the Lord speaks to and defines this law, extensively and clearly, and *never once* in v. 4-27 is there even a hint of polygamy whatsoever. This is an independent law. In fact, every reference made to it uses the singular form of “wife” instead of “wives.”

    Verse 7 directly begins the definition of what the new and everlasting covenant is and entails, i.e., “conditions of this law are these”:

    “7 And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.”

    Now, polygamy is certainly not *excluded* therein, but the new and everlasting covenant is quite orthogonal to and independent of it. The new and everlasting covenant deals with the sealing of things on earth by the correct authority and its efficacy in the hereafter, as v. 7 through 27 spell out.

    In 19 and 20, we get our promise of “celestial marriage” as we have grown to call it, the “new and everlasting covenant.” Note, again here, the promise is self-contained, independent of polygamy, even to the extent that “a wife” (singular) is specified. I, and any married in the temple, have claim on this blessing, so long as the recipient doesn’t break the covenant, even though I’ve married only one wife:

    19 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths—then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.
    20 Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.

    Here it is important to note that there is no qualifier added to that blessing and promise of the new and everlasting covenant, such as “as long as he marry again a second wife” or “so long as he retains multiple covenants.” There is no extra condition or requirement of plurality and we shouldn’t add that in there. Aside from telling Joseph in verse 1 that the Lord will address polygamy (which he does later), He mentions not a single word of it as He’s been described the new and everlasting covenant; to the contrary, every instance of His definition prescribes that “a wife”, one wife, is sufficient.

    Now, with verse 28, the Lord prepares to address polygamy by introducing this next topic, the law of the Holy Priesthood:

    28 I am the Lord thy God, and will give unto thee the law of my Holy Priesthood, as was ordained by me and my Father before the world was.

    It’s easy to gloss past that verse, but why else would it be there, “I…will give unto thee the law of my Holy Priesthood,” future tense, if not to introduce what He is about to address? In the very next verse, 29, He starts, for the first time, to talk about Abraham and to justify him in his having many wives.

    (It’s noteworthy that the Lord felt it a worthwhile exercise to justify Abraham and David. etc. in their practice of polygamy at all. Why would he need to? Is it not because, “monogamy is God’s standard” as the new introduction to the Manifesto states and Jacob 2 prescribes? Indeed, it is, otherwise there is no need for justification in the first place regarding this practice.)

    So, from this point, the Lord speaks to polygamy as practiced by the ancients and drops all language whatsoever of “new and everlasting covenant,” except as it relates to adultery in v. 41-42.

    Still, it isn’t until until verse 61 that the Lord, for the first time, sanctions the practice of polygamy:

    61 And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.

    Note that He does *not* say, “as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant,” but rather “as pertaining to the law of the priesthood,” which law he introduced with the same terminology in verse 28 above, after having given the new and everlasting covenant and also in the very verse preceding His justification of Abraham. To me, it seems quite clear that polygamy pertains to the law of the priesthood, exactly as stated in 61, and that, while related, this is *not* the same as the new and everlasting covenant. Why else would the topics be so segregated, with absolutely no mention of polygamy in description of the new and everlasting covenant? Why would the Lord introduce the next law in v. 28? And why would v. 61 reference that second law instead of “the new and everlasting covenant?”

    I’ve mentioned several times also that to force these together into one law is very unnatural because it implies that if you marry *a* wife as prescribed in v. 7 and by proper authority, you still aren’t really abiding the “new and everlasting covenant” until you marry a second wife. That doesn’t make any sense and it is not what v. 19-20 specify (v. 21 even makes the argument better). So I don’t see the scriptural support for that argument.

    I will agree that Joseph was commanded to obey *both* these principles, even threatened with a sword, as it was his calling to “restore all things,” as v.40 specifies in the context of polygamy:

    40 I am the Lord thy God, and I gave unto thee, my servant Joseph, an appointment, and restore all things. Ask what ye will…

    So my thesis is that verse 4, which you’ve already posted, does not refer to polygamy, but rather to the new and everlasting covenant and that the two are not one and the same.

    Please read 132 again with this argument in mind and tell me whether it doesn’t read the same for you. I’ll note also, that I find no infidelity to historical context with this interpretation: the section clearly does sanction polygamy and that clearly upset Emma (thanks for the history, there, by the way).

  20. So my thesis is that verse 4, which you’ve already posted, does not refer to polygamy, but rather to the new and everlasting covenant and that the two are not one and the same.

    Yes, I’ve stated before that your interpretation is a “modern” interpretation (meaning after the Manifesto in 1890.) The “historical” interpretation is just as you said, “if you marry *a* wife as prescribed in v. 7 and by proper authority, you still aren’t really abiding the “new and everlasting covenant” until you marry a second wife.”

    I know you’re trying to separate the two, and certainly that is what modern Mormons do, but early Mormons absolutely did not separate the two.

    Please read 132 again with this argument in mind and tell me whether it doesn’t read the same for you.

    As I modern Mormon, I interpret it the same way you do. As an amateur historian, the modern interpretation is an evolution of Mormon thought, Early Mormons absolutely did not view the “new and everlasting covenant” as separate from polygamy. As you stated, early Mormons felt that you weren’t really living the new and everlasting covenant until you marry a second wife.

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