Posted on Leave a comment

Reviewing Polygamy Criticisms (Part 1 of 6 Brian Hales)

I’m excited to have Dr. Brian Hales back on the show. It was 8 years ago that Brian Hales published his 3-volume set on Joseph Smith’s Polygamy. How has that held up? How does Brian address critics of his work?

Brian: You know, there’s always critics. But, recently, my friend Larry Foster, and others
have said that the three volumes that Don Bradley and I put together in 2013–they’re eight
years old now.

GT: Wow.

Brian:  They do contain, really, transcripts or references to all of the pertinent documents
to the topic. I remember Don and I speaking that when we brought these out in 2013, that if in
10 years, we could look back and say we had found 90%, we’d feel pretty good about it. Well, I
honestly think we’ve got the DNA issue. Then, there’s this issue about Eliza R. Snow, perhaps
being raped in Missouri. There’s two or three kind of important things that would have been
included in the volumes, if we had had that data.

GT:  Well, let me ask you this, because I know this did come up on the Facebook group.
One of the criticisms is that you will dismiss certain arguments if they’re too late in the record.
But, if they support your arguments, then you’ll accept those arguments because they support
your interpretation. There seems to be an inconsistency on whether something is an early
record or a late record, as to how you would interpret it. Do you think that’s a fair criticism?

Brian:  I’m an amateur historian, trying to become a professional historian. There’s one thing that historians do, and it’s critical source analysis; [is it] late and early? Is it firsthand, secondhand, thirdhand? When was it recorded after it occurred? All of these are factors that historians have to look at to weigh the value. There’s contradictory evidence. Absolutely, there is. But, again, I assert that the interpretations I have taken is because you have to drive a pathway through the contradictory evidences, through the ambiguities that are there and come up with an interpretation, which you think is the most valid. It’s also the same interpretation that the Church has kind of solidified in the Saints, and in the Gospel Topic essay. You’ll find there’s no contradiction in my three volumes and the material that they’re presenting in those sources, but those are from believers. When you look at people who think Joseph was a fraud, and an adulterer, they’re going to interpret the data differently, not because they’re looking at different data, it’s just they’re going in with different biases. So, it’s not necessarily what the evidence says, as much as the person’s a priori beliefs before they see the data. I don’t know how you get past that. That’s just human nature.

Do you agree?  Check out our conversation….

Brian Hales looks back on the 8 years his polygamy books have been published.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Brian!

053: Did Hales Write the Gospel Topics Essays?

052: Emma Denied Joseph Practiced Polygamy?

051: Polygamy & the Temple Lot Case

049: Mormon Polyandry:  More Than One Husband?

050: Joseph’s Youngest Teen Brides

048: What are the Theological Justifications of Polygamy?

047: Fanny Alger Part 2:  Marriage or Adultery?

046: 1st Plural Wife Fanny Alger: Time or Eternity Polygamy?

045: Polygamy Rumors – Declaration on Marriage

044: Does D&C 132 Conflict with Genesis?

043: Canadian Polygamy – Should it be Legal?

Posted on Leave a comment

Phelps Role in Book of Abraham Civil War (Part 7 of 8)

W.W. Phelps assisted with the translation of the Book of Abraham.  Amongst believing scholars, there is a bit of a civil war over the Book of Abraham, and Phelps plays a role in that dispute.  Dr. Bruce Van Orden will discuss why believing scholars disagree.

GT:  I know we talked a little bit about the Civil War. It seems like there’s kind of the Kerry Muhlestein/John Gee camp that basically say there’s some missing papyrus and that’s the real Book of Abraham.

Bruce:  I would say the Kerry Muhlestein is not quite as firm on that. He says it’s a possibility. John Gee is really strong on the fact that they’re probably–he’s not 100% sure, either. But, John Gee does believe that there were other papyri.

GT:  Okay. Then, you have kind of the more Robin Jensen/Dan Vogel/Brian Hauglid that are kind of more of the catalyst theory, is that fair?

Bruce:  Hauglid and Robin Jensen, yes, I’m with them. Dan Vogel, of course, believes that Joseph Smith was not a prophet in the first place. [Vogel doesn’t believe this was] really from God, but [Joseph] concocted this based on what he thought he was coming up with Egyptian alphabet and so forth.

GT:  So, as far as the Egyptian alphabet, because I think that there’s a big issue on the timeline there. If I remember right, and correct me if I’m wrong, Muhlestein and Gee basically say, these Egyptian characters were just like an outline, and that’s not really a translation.

Bruce:. That’s what they believe. I actually agree with them.

GT:  Oh, you do?

Bruce:  On that, that the Joseph Smith dictated the verbiage that’s more or less in the Book of Abraham, now. I believe it came from God. It was inspired. I don’t say that every word was written by Abraham, ever. But I believe it’s inspired writing and the Egyptian alphabet was more of a side project. I do. I agree with that.

GT:  Okay, because I think Vogel says, “No, this is the Egyptian character, and this is supposed to be the translation.”

Bruce:  Except, it really isn’t, except for what he thinks is in Abraham 1:1-3. I think that Phelps put that in there. I think he [Phelps] thought it was that. I don’t think that Joseph Smith thought that was. We don’t know.

GT:  Yeah.

Bruce:  But that’s only three verses.

GT:  So you think the first three verses of the Book of Abraham are Phelps translation.

Bruce:  It’s in his handwriting. I don’t think it’s necessarily Phelps translation. But once it was put in there, I feel that he thought that this project that he was working on, then that Joseph Smith may have participated into a certain extent, the Egyptian alphabet was different from the translation experience, I think. Then, Phelps superimposed what he thought was from the Egyptian figures, hieroglyphics, to those first three verses. We don’t have any other evidence that there’s a connection, specifically.

What are your thoughts on the Book of Abraham translation and the civil war among believing scholars?  Check out our conversation….

There is a civil war among believing scholars over the Book of Abraham.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Bruce!

566: Phelps Role at Times & Seasons

565: Danites in Missouri

564: Mormon-Missouri War of 1838

563: Cleaning House in Kirtland: Phelps vs Marsh

562: Were Phelps Missouri Troubles Self-Inflicted?

561:  Jailed Before Joined

Posted on Leave a comment

Phelps Role at Times & Seasons (Part 6 of 8 )

W.W. Phelps was one of the best writers in Mormonism.  It should come as no surprise that he assisted Joseph Smith in the First Vision account.  Dr. Bruce Van Orden gives more details.

Bruce:  Officially, Joseph Smith became the editor [of the TImes & Season] for eight months in 1842. But the problem is Joseph Smith never even went to the printing office, except a few times at night to check on newspapers about what they were saying about him, that it come in from the east. Remember, all newspaper offices got newspapers from all over the country, that was just part of the arrangement in those days. He wanted to check about what they were saying about him. He did not play a role in the day-to-day functioning of the editing of the Times and Seasons.

Bruce:  I came to the conclusion based on internal evidence and writing styles, and some of the historical evidence that comes from the journals, that Phelps was running the day-to-day operations, then, of the printing of the newspaper. John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff were involved, but, they didn’t do any of the writing.  Woodruff did entirely the business operations, and John Taylor was sick some of the time and doing other assignments. He wasn’t even there to run the newspaper, although he was kind of the assistant editor under Joseph Smith. This is the shocking thing that I came up with. It shocked me that that Phelps was actually doing the writing for The Times and Seasons, particularly making sure the content was what he wanted, in the Times and Seasons. Around this time, John Wentworth, a major newspaper editor in Chicago, asked Joseph Smith, if he might produce a history of the Latter-day Saints. The title was Church History. In a letter, Joseph Smith supposedly put together this history. It’s multi page. It was not ever published by Wentworth, but it was published in the Times and Seasons at the upstart of Joseph Smith’s editorship, official editorship of the Times and Seasons. The Wentworth letter includes the First Vision story, the first published story in Joseph Smith’s name.  The official 1838 edition had not come out in published form, yet. So, this was the first one.

GT:  Oh, I didn’t realize that.

Bruce:  It came out later in the Times and Seasons, as part of the official history as Phelps put together, Joseph Smith’s History. He called it that in the Times and Seasons, but this was the first published version by Joseph Smith. However, preceding this version, were printed accounts of the First Vision by both Orson Pratt in Scotland and Orson Hyde in continental Europe, where they described what happened in the First Vision. It’s obvious that some of the same language used by Pratt and Hyde was used in the Wentworth letter account, 1842 account. It’s very obvious to me and it even comes out in the Joseph Smith papers project, that Phelps was Joseph Smith’s assistant in putting together this Wentworth letter. It’s a lengthy history of the Church for those 12 years, including all of the problems in Missouri. It’s obvious that Phelps wrote that part, because he was part of what happened in Jackson County and Clay County and Far West. Joseph wasn’t part of any of that, and it’s in Phelps’ language, his rhetorical style.

We’ll also talk about the elevation of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1841, that superseded the role of the High Council.

Bruce:  But, when he arrived in Nauvoo, and Don Carlos Smith, had passed away and the editorship of the Times and Seasons fell into the hands of Ebenezer Robinson, who had been a Danite with Sidney Rigdon back in Missouri. He [Ebenezer] now was doing some things that were not pleasing to Joseph Smith and the Twelve.  By this time, the Twelve had come back from their mission in Britain and had been instated as leadership over the entire Church by mid-1841. The Twelve were under the First Presidency, over the whole Church.  That did happen.

GT:  Okay, There was still a High Council, though.

Bruce: A high council, but it was a stake. It was a stake high council, in Nauvoo.  There were other stakes. There were several stakes of Zion at that stage of the game.

GT:  So essentially, the apostles did take up supremacy over the High Council.

Bruce:  Yes. Now, some people argue that William Marks, the president of the high council in Nauvoo had equal authority to the Twelve. He maybe thought he did, but in the succession crisis, he played a role, that’s true. But we now can see that Joseph Smith had placed the Twelve Apostles under the First Presidency and used them in authoritative ways for the rest of his life, from 1841 through 1844, for three years.  The Twelve did play a huge role.

We also talk about Phelps role in the Succession Crisis.  Check out our conversation….

Phelps was ghost-editor of Times & Seasons.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Bruce!

565: Danites in Missouri

564: Mormon-Missouri War of 1838

563: Cleaning House in Kirtland: Phelps vs Marsh

562: Were Phelps Missouri Troubles Self-Inflicted?

561:  Jailed Before Joined