According to the Law of Moses, priesthood holders had to be from the Tribe of Levi. Lehi was from the Tribe of Joseph, so that’s a problem. Nephi built a temple on the model of Solomon’s Temple. So how did the Nephites get priesthood? Historian Don Bradley says the answer might be in the lost pages, and speculates how Nephite priesthood functioned.
Don: That model of priesthood, where you have a king, who is a priest, has biblical precedent. The precedent is not ancient Israel’s Levitical priesthood. The precedent goes back earlier to the time of Abraham, when you have Melchizedek who is portrayed as a king and a priest. So the idea of people being ordained kings and priests, the gendered equivalent of which might be queens and priestesses, might be familiar to some people associated with Mormonism. I don’t know, maybe, the model for that, and one that Joseph Smith explicitly invokes in Nauvoo, talking about people being made kings and priests, queens and priestesses is Melchizedek.
So the model of priesthood among the Nephites is not Levitical. They replace a Levitical model priesthood with a Melchizedek model of priesthood. Those terms, Levitical or Aaronic, among others, are so familiar to Latter-day Saints. But they’re kind of familiar to us mostly in a different context that would give a different twist on what they mean. The model of priesthood here is Melchizedek in the biblical sense of Melchizedek being both King and high priest. So that’s the Nephite model of Priesthood.
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.
In our final conversation with polygamy expert Anne Wilde, Anne will discuss the surprising popularity of Ogden Kraut’s book “Jesus Was Married.” Christ’s Church apostle David Patrick will also add his final thoughts on why this is such an important and influential book over the past 50 years.
Anne: At BYU, the religion professors were being asked, was Jesus married? And I’m not going to mention names of the professors but there were two of them that said, “Well, you know, we’re not supposed to talk about this. We’ve been advised.” So anyway, to lay a little groundwork, the next day or two, after we took them down to the Seventies Bookstore, Brother Whitehead calls out and he says, I sold all 10 of those copies. Can you bring me 20 more? So we did, and we couldn’t figure out why. And I don’t know if Brother Whitehead knew until later. What was happening is that these religious professors found out about Ogden’s book down there and Ogden was friends with them. And so they knew the book was coming out. So what they did was they tell the students “As religion professors at BYU, we’re not supposed to say one way or the other. But there’s a book down and Seventies Bookstore if you want to go down and get that, that has the whole story. And so he sold 20 and then 50 more. And then we just kept taking them down there because of BYU students were coming down and buying. So I just thought it was kind of ironic because about the same time you know. And we have sold thousands of copies of that. It’s been an eighth printing. Its Ogden’s best-seller.
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