Joseph Smith’s Papyri

Laura Harris Hales of LDS Perspectives Podcast interviews Dr. John Gee about the history of Joseph Smith’s papyri.

Dr. Gee has studied the papyri and the Book of Abraham for over thirty years, yet believes there are still many mysteries still to be unraveled.

He shares with listeners fascinating details regarding what we know about Joseph Smith’s purchase of the papyri in Ohio in 1835 to the Church’s acquisition of its remaining fragments from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the late sixties.

Along the way he shares some interesting stories about the Book of Mormon translation, its teachings, and how Mother Smith used the papyri and mummies to provide for herself as a widow.

He also sheds light on issues regarding the provenance (where it came from) of the Book of Abraham and how its teachings on the pre-existence proliferated throughout the Church in the years after Joseph Smith’s death.

Be sure to check the links to articles written by Dr. Gee on both of these topics on the LDS Perspectives website.

Happy New Year!

2017 rang in quietly at my home. We watched a DVD someone got for Christmas. Five minutes before midnight, we shifted to TV.

We opened a couple of bottles of Welch’s Sparkling Grape Juice and poured it into cobalt blue goblets in preparation for the countdown. Then it was 3, 2, 1… And we all hugged and kissed as appropriate.

This was the baby’s first New Year celebration, but she’s always up for consuming food and drink. So she eagerly downed a tablespoon of white grape juice, her emerging teeth clinking on the glass.

A minute or so later, the juice came back up, with a bit more from other adventures in eating. Her father, duly decorated, went down to shower and clean both of them up. Then they fell asleep. And baby’s mother snapped a photo of her sleeping loved ones.

In a prior age this moment would have been remembered only briefly, possibly forgotten the next morning. But now we have a photograph. And now there is IMGUR.

“At our New Year’s Party, A girl drank too much, puked on my husband, and then fell asleep with him… Best night of my year!”

To the baby mother’s initial delight, the post started getting traction. Then IMGUR told her it was officially viral (at 300 likes). Then she started getting Facebook comments from friends who asked, “Is that your husband and baby on the front page of IMGUR?!?!?!?”

Less than a day after going live, the post has over 10,000 likes. And the author is both delighted and a bit anxious, because her IMGUR persona is a bit more outré than even the persona her friends knew in college.

May your New Year be delightful. May you have those around you to love and cherish. May you find deep truths that fill your soul with joy and peace. And may you live a life that in reflection brings a smile to your face.

Dubious Anniversary

Joseph Smith Red Brick Store in Nauvoo175 years ago Brigham Young reportedly attempted to convince Martha Brotherton to be his “wife.” The conversation between Martha and Brigham Young reportedly occurred in the Red Brick Store (pictured above). The exact date is not know, but the conversation almost certainly occurred in the latter half of December 1841.

Many have presumed that the conversation was a “legitimate” proposal that Martha become Brigham’s plural wife within the context of Joseph Smith’s teachings regarding Celestial Marriage and the New and Everlasting Covenant. After all, Martha claimed that Joseph Smith was one of the three men who spoke with her that day, urging her to accept Brigham’s proposal.

However it should be remembered that Martha placed Joseph Smith at the scene in an affidavit written at the express invitation of Dr. John C. Bennett, who was attempting to tarnish Joseph Smith’s reputation. From the contemporary journal of a faithful Mormon, it appears Joseph Smith felt Brigham’s attempt to coerce Martha Brotherton was a transgression so serious that Joseph feared Brigham would be struck down and die. 1 As discussed in my post Saul, Alma the Younger, and the tale of Martha Brotherton, it is plausible that Martha’s account was largely based on actual events. However the third man participating in the conversations Martha described was likely an unwitting Hyrum Smith, rather than Joseph Smith.

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  1. Clayton, William, journal entry of June 23, 1843. See An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton, George D. Smith editor, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, UT, 1995, p. 108.

Women’s Voices of the Restoration

While working on her dissertation, Janiece Johnson came up with the idea to create a resource for members to use while preparing lessons. She felt there would be value in infusing women’s voices into our gospel teaching.

Women’s stories have traditionally been shared in biographical format, but Janiece’s idea was to piece these testimonies together in a more easily accessible format. Five years later, she and her coauthor, Jenny Reeder, have put together a collection of thoughts arranged topically that is now available through Deseret Book.

Author Jenny Reeder points out that this format allows us to identify common themes. No two pioneer women lived the same experience. They approached the gospel in different ways. Like now, there was not one “right way.” These differences should not only be noticed but also appreciated, validated, and understood.

Knowing a bit about the lives of these women adds punch to their testimonies. Life wasn’t perfect for these women. They had stuff going on in their lives similar to us now, but they were resourceful and did the best they could in their circumstances.

Join Laura Harris Hales of LDS Perspectives Podcast for a journey back in time as we get to know a little bit more about some of the incredible women of the early Church.

Be sure to check out LDS Perspectives to access an excerpt from the book.

Four favorite Christmas videos

Merry Christmas from all of us at The Millennial Star. Thank you for taking the time to read and support our blog this year. We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Here are four of my favorite Christmas videos.

John Rhys-Davies’ narration of the Nativity from Luke 2:

And my favorite author and historian, David McCullough tells the story of Christmas Eve 1941, and of the Christmas hymn, “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”:

Longfellow’s Christmas, narrated by Edward Herrmann:

Christmas from Heaven: the Story of the Candy Bomber, Gail Halvorsen: