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Separating Fact from Fiction on the Birth of Christ (Part 1)

Is it true that estimate range from 5 B.C. to 6 A.D for the birth of Jesus?

I’m excited to have Dr. Thomas Wayment discuss fact and fiction surrounding stories of the birth of Christ.  Dr. Wayment is a New Testament scholar at BYU.  You may want to bookmark this page as later in the week we will compare notes with fellow scholar Dr. Jeffrey Chadwick, who think Jesus was born in December.  Is there such clarity in the New Testament?  Tom and co-author Lincoln Blumell wrote an article in BYU Studies on the dating of Christ’s birth.

Tom:  Our intent wasn’t to say, “It’s not really December, it’s April.”  Our intent was to say “We can’t know within that kind of time frame, especially not a month.”  A year, we might get within a year or two is about the best we can do.

What is the span of years that we can pinpoint the birth of Jesus?

Tom:  It seems that everyone agrees that Herod was alive when Jesus was born.  That gives us a pretty good point after which we can start talking.  Herod dies in 4 B.C.  That’s a date there is not a lot of dispute about.  I’ve seen a recent monograph and some are saying maybe spring of 5 B.C.

One real monkey-wrench here is that Luke says that there was a census by a man named Quirinius or Cyrenius in translation that a lot of Latter-day Saints use, and he is governor in Syria in 6 A.D.  So there is no possible way that Herod is alive and Cyrenius does a census.

So there is a decade gap between these two dates.  What does Tom think is the best date?  Check out our conversation….

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Conspiracy Theories: Sam Smith, William Smith, James Strang (Part 4)

Steve Shields and I discuss the conspiracy theories against William & Sam Smith following the death of Joseph & Hyrum.

Following the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, brother Samuel died within a month.  Was Samuel poisoned?

Steve:  You know, conspiracy theorists. Okay, fine. Was he poisoned deliberately? Who knows? There’s no way to know. The typical story had been that he, was [ill with] was it pneumonia or cholera or, I can’t remember what. In those days, in the Midwest, in the summer months, you had malaria, you had typhus, you had cholera. I mean, that stuff was rampant. Their food sanitation was different from what we would have today. It could’ve been any number of things, I think. There’s no way to ever know for sure now, even if we were to exhume his remains, there’s not enough left to do any of that kind of study, probably. Was he poisoned deliberately by somebody? Well, it could be, but why? Maybe I have a different view of Brigham young and his colleagues than some, I’m not willing to just write Brigham Young off and call him an evil, you know, usurper.

Were people out to kill the other prophet’s brother William?

GT:  Back to William Smith. So he came to Nauvoo [in] September of 1844.

Steve:   By the end of August, early September, he was back in Nauvoo, I’m pretty sure.

GT:  And Brigham ordained him as patriarch.

Steve: He was called as patriarch and I presume they ordained him. I don’t know, because I’m not sure that all that ritual stuff had really been solidified at that early time. I don’t know. Today, of course we would always do that. Did they need to? He was already an apostle. Maybe he just needed to be designated that. I don’t know.

What about James Strang?

Steve:  Within weeks of affiliating, William Smith was disaffiliated, and that was before Strang ever got involved, ever publicly announced polygamy. I’m not sure when he [William] got involved in it. Somebody knows those dates, I just can’t remember them.

William Smith was there long enough to write this hymn that was published in Strang’s paper at Voree, which is near Burlington, Wisconsin. Actually, it’s now part of the city limits, but it [the hymn] was an ode to Voree, and it has something like 15 verses.

Check out our conversation…

Here’s the first 3 parts with Steve Shields!

226: Sidney’s Unsung Role in Restoration (Shields)

225: Steve’s Shields Own Divergent Path

224: Who Owns the Temple Lot? (Shields)

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Sidney’s Unsung Role in Restoration (Part 3)

Historian Steve Shields argues that Sidney's Unsung Role in the Restoration should be more widely acknowledged by LDS and RLDS historians.

Historian Steve Shields tells us that Sidney’s unsung role in the early Church was larger than LDS or RLDS historians have acknowledged.  When Sidney joined with Joseph, Sidney’s followers overwhelmed the small group of Smith followers.  Should it be called the Smith-Ridgon movement?

Steve:      But, eventually, the Rigdon followers outnumber the Smith followers five or six to one. And so, I argue it really ought to be called the Smith-Rigdon Movement rather than the Latter-day Saint movement. Because in the beginning the word “Latter-day Saint” wasn’t even there, and it was Rigdon who came up with that.

GT:  Oh, it was?

Steve: Oh yeah.

GT:  Oh really?

Steve: [In] 1834 Rigdon announces that the church will now be called the Church of the Latter-day Saints.

GT:  I knew that they changed the name, but I didn’t know Rigdon was behind it.

Steve: Oh yeah.

Who else were highly influenced by Rigdon?  Do you think Sidney’s role has been downplayed in the modern LDS and RLDS Churches?  Check out our conversation….

Don’t forget to check out our other conversations with Steve!

225: Steve’s Shields Own Divergent Path

224: Who Owns the Temple Lot?