Who stole the Lost Pages of the Book of Mormon? Up to now, suspicion has been squarely laid at the feet of Lucy Harris, Martin’s wife. Historian Don Bradley believes that Lucy is innocent of the charge. How does he come to that conclusion?
Don: Lucy Harris was a very devout Quaker. She also was someone who really tended to speak her mind. She had a reputation for being combative. She’s not somebody who tended to slink around, lie, do things behind people’s back and hide them. She was very forthright, and she was very devout in her Quaker beliefs. For her to say before God, on her death bed, which is what the account says, that she didn’t know what happened to the manuscript gives us pretty good reason to believe that she didn’t know what happened to the manuscript. Someone who was completely convinced by this was Martin Harris. So even though they had been estranged for eight years, Martin Harris was no stranger to the fact that his wife had become an enemy to Mormonism. She was certainly an antagonist to him. She was a combative person. She had her faults, but he could not bring himself to believe, when he found out she said this on her deathbed, that she had lied on her deathbed about this as she’s about to meet God. He couldn’t believe it. So he then completely abandons the view for the rest of his life that Lucy Harris had anything to do with the theft. Recall, he never thought she burned the manuscript.
Don further explains how the story about her burning the manuscript came about decades later. (By the way, here is a link to Don’s book on Amazon.) Check out our conversation….
It has been generally accepted that the LDS endowment ceremonies are based on Masonic ceremonies Joseph learned in the 1840s. However, historian Don Bradley says there are clues to masonry in the Book of Mormon’s lost pages that are also related to the LDS temple endowment ceremonies.
Don: This [non-Mormon] Fayette Lapham guy, he’s not just confabulating. He’s remembering what Joseph, Sr. told him and the narrative that he gives has everything to do with temples. It’s Nauvoo endowment stuff. The thing is, Lapham was never a Mormon, was never a Latter-day Saint. He wouldn’t come through the temple. At this time, neither would Joseph, Sr. Joseph, Sr. never goes through the Nauvoo Temple. He dies before the endowment is instituted. So why is there Nauvoo endowment material in the lost pages of the Book of Mormon narrative translated in 1828? Joseph Smith doesn’t become a Freemason until 1842. That’s 14 years later. I had been absolutely convinced that Joseph didn’t know anything about the Nauvoo endowment until he becomes a Freemason in March 1842.
GT: Yeah, that’s the traditional story.
Don: I thought, “[Joseph became] Freemason in mid-March 1842. In early May like five weeks later, [we have the] endowment.” You sort of connect the dots. Sure, that’s causation. This is what I was thinking. I’m not saying they’re unrelated, but Joseph has much of the structure and content of the Nauvoo endowment in his mind, as he’s bringing forth the Book of Mormon in 1828, because so much of it’s already there. In my mind, this was interweaving with the different narratives about the First Vision that I had, different pieces of evidence about what was in it. I was looking at parallel narratives in Latter-day Saints scripture. Abraham, Enoch, Moses, how did they become seers? The brother of Jared is the big one. So the brother of Jared, I’d never read this narrative this way. We don’t read it this way. But think about this. I just told the narrative from Joseph Smith, Sr. of how the Nephites got the interpreters. How did the Jaredites get the interpreters? Ether 3 says, “The Brother of Jared,” whose name, by the way is withheld from us, right? It’s secret. It’s esoteric. There’s sort of like an idea of secret, sacred names.
GT: Mahonri Moriancumer.
Don: Later that’s revealed, but it’s deliberately withheld. So we call this guy “the brother of Jared” in the narrative. The brother of Jared goes up on a mountaintop while he’s on an exodus, kind of like Sinai, right? Joseph Smith in Nauvoo says anciently mountaintops were temples. When God’s people didn’t have the means to build the temple, like in the days of Moses and the Exodus, he says, God accepted mountaintops as the place to give people keys, to give the endowment. Joseph says this explicitly in a Nauvoo sermon and I quote the exact sermon in my book, in chapter 14 about Mosiah the First. So the brother of Jared is on a mountaintop. That should cue temple. He talks with the Lord through the veil. It doesn’t mean a cloth veil, of course, like in the temple, it means the veil that that cloth veil represents. But he hasn’t dialogue with the Lord through what it calls the veil. I don’t know that sounds kind of familiar to me.
This week in Sunday School, we’re talking about the story of Nephi killing Laban in the Book of Mormon. Historian Don Bradley has some extra information about this story! Have you ever wondered why Laban was drunk? Historian Don Bradley thinks Laban was celebrating the Passover feast. What else does Don know about this story that is part of the missing pages of the Book of Mormon? Don tells about an account from a non-Mormon named Fayette Lapham. Lapham gives details from the Lost Pages telling additional information not found in our current Book of Mormon.
Don: Again, he doesn’t remember names, so he doesn’t name Nephi and Laban but he’s describing them. [Lapham says] This prophet’s son goes back to get this record and he finds the guy who he tried to get it from. That guy is lying drunk in the street–it’s obviously [Laban] who he’s talking about. But he says that the reason that the guy was drunk is because there was a great feast going on in the city at the time. So think like Jewish festival, right? So [there is a] Jewish festival being celebrated in Jerusalem. Now think about that. Our Book of Mormon text doesn’t say that. The small plates don’t say that. Think about what the small plates do say. They say, among other things, that Laban was out by night among the elders of the Jews, and he comes home drunk. If he’s just out carousing, he’s got really high-profile drinking buddies, right? He’s out with the elders. Notice something else that’s crucial to the story. He’s wearing armor and he’s carrying a sword. He got with his drinking buddies? I mean, the first and final days of Passover, in Judaism are known as holy convocations, per the Hebrew Bible. They are group celebrations where the Israelites get together, they have these feasts. This would be an occasion to dress up, if you will. So this account that Laban was drunk, from Joseph, Sr., that Laban was drunk because of the feast being celebrated, would help to explain why Laban is out in armor and sword, drinking by night with the elders of the Jews, and why when Nephi pretending to be Laban goes to Zoram and he’s like, “Hey, yeah, let’s go get the brass plates/scriptures and take them out to the elders, my brothers. Zoram’s like, “Yeah, that makes sense.” He doesn’t seem to bat an eye about that. Well, if it’s Passover and there’s a religious celebration that makes sense. If Laban’s out carousing with his drinking buddies, it kind of makes less sense.
Don also discusses a bit about his spiritual journey in this episode. Check out our conversation….