Joseph Smith Papers 3

Volume 4 of the Documents put the Lecture First of the Lectures on Faith into an appendix in the back of the book. The Historian’s Office explains in the “Historical Introduction” the reason for putting it at the end in an appendix, rather than where it would belong chronologically as part of the main volume.

First, they question the authorship. Although they admit Joseph Smith edited and vouched for the Lectures, they note, “it seems likely that Sidney Rigdon had a large hand in composing the lectures.” (JS Papers Documents Vol. 4, p. 458.) They concede on the next page that “JS was apparently involved as well.” (Id., p. 459.)

Taking this point first, consider the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. Joseph did not compose any of the original 66 books in the LDS/King James version of the Bible. Joseph edited and “corrected” the text.

John 6:44 in the KJV reads: “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”

JST John 6:44 reads: “No man can come unto me, except he doeth the will of my Father who hath sent me draw him. And this is the will of him who hath sent me, that ye receive the Son; for the Father beareth record of him; and he who receiveth the testimony, and doeth the will of him who sent me, and I will raise up at the last day in the resurrection of the just.”

Since Joseph did not compose the original text of John, but merely edited it, should it or should it not be regarded as Joseph’s product. Would it be Joseph’s as soon as he approves an edit, no matter how much of the original is left?

The LDS Historian’s Office rejects this idea for Lectures on Faith, and explains:

Because JS’s role in producing the lectures cannot be clearly determined, the first lecture is presented as an appendix of the volume rather than as a featured text. (JS Papers Documents Vol. 4, pp. 459-460.)

The volume published after Volume 4 of the Documents is the first volume of the Administrative Records containing the minutes of the meetings of the council of 50. The LDS Historian’s Office takes a different approach in this volume of minutes than their treatment of Lecture First:

[T]he minutes are published as part of The Joseph Smith Papers even though much of the record covers events in the eighteen months following Smith’s death on 27 June 1844. This volume is divided into four parts that correspond with the council’s periods of activity. Part 1 contains a record of the meetings held on seventeen days from 10 March through 31 May 1844. Part 2 of this volume covers the meetings held on fifteen days from 4 February through 10 May 1845. The final two parts contain, respectively, the minutes for three meetings held in September and October 1845, and for two meetings held in January 1846. (JS Papers Administrative Records, p. xiii.)

Only the first part of this new volume has any connection with Joseph Smith at all. The first 204 pages are the only pages covering events prior to Joseph’s death. Pages 205 to 526 are entirely a product of others. Joseph Smith, who, being deceased, did not contribute to the meetings. Yet none of these four parts are put into an appendix, as Lecture First was done.

The disparate treatment forces the conclusion that by relegating Lecture First to an appendix and questioning the authorship, the Historian’s Office hopes to undermine confidence in Lectures on Faith and bolster the inappropriate administrative decision to delete them from LDS scripture in 1921 without approval by the body of the church. Likewise, by putting into the JS Papers project, meetings held after Joseph’s death which were presided over by Brigham Young, the Historian’s Office wishes to convey the impression of continuity and trustworthiness in the LDS institution following Joseph’s death. They want to convey the impression it was “business as usual” and nothing changed.

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