Apartments that have been rented out to missionaries for awhile often have scans of materials that are designed to help missionaries resolve concerns that may go beyond Preach My Gospel material or its precursors. Perhaps these items were put into circulation by a well-meaning mission president or originally obtained from a parent or ward member and then scanned and distributed widely.
Unfortunately there is little quality control on some of these items and often the most sensational pieces get the widest circulation in the missionary underground. As an example, one of my mission apartments had a copy of Floyd Weston’s 17 Points that creates a fictitious back story involving Albert Einstein. I would be interested in hearing some of the materials that readers have encountered.
I bring these things up because it has been brought to my attention that an item written by Hyrum Smith (an entrepreneur whom I seem to recall speaking at a U. Institute devotional in the mid-nineties) has been circulating. I haven’t seen the actual item, but it seems to pose an unsupportable account of Roman succession in the early Church entailing two Linuses. I have read a considerable amount of literature that reconstructs the transition of authority between the apostles and bishops in the early Church from a variety of Mormon, Catholic, and Protestant scholars and none have considered Linus a deacon or postulated multiple Linuses.
Some Catholic literature I have read by Francis Sullivan, Raymond Brown, and John P. Meier theorizes that in Rome and elsewhere there was a hybrid presbyter-bishop office (elder-bishop though Catholics tend to think of presbyters as the equivalent of a priest). Peter and Paul were in Rome about the same time, though Peter longer than Paul. Both died under Nero’s persecutions.
It is likely that Linus, Anticletus, Clement were all presbyter-bishops that served simultaneously under Peter along with others. The rise of a single bishop (monepiscopate) over a city (see) took much longer to develop depending on the geographical region. Clement wrote a letter to the Ephesians in about 95-96 AD encouraging them to follow the presbyter-bishops that had been appointed by apostles and “eminent men” designated by the apostles.
It is unfortunate that material like Hyrum Smith’s gets circulated in the missionary underground. If someone has a copy, I would be interested to see if it needs any further review. It is essential for missionaries and converts to understand what is taught in the Preach My Gospel curricula before venturing into the hotly contested history of early Christian apostolic succession. If I were to write something for circulation it would look like this.