The Book of Mormon indicates that temples were important in the New
World, but it gives very little information about what kinds of activities
occurred within their walls. There were temples in the cities of Nephi,
Zarahemla, Lehi-Nephi, and Bountiful, and the text also refers to
other temples among both the Nephites and Lamanites. Jacob, king Benjamin,
and king Limhi all called their people to their respective temples
to receive instruction, and Benjamin's people performed sacrifices
and burnt offerings, when they gathered to the temple. But the Book
of Mormon tells us little more than these few facts.
Joseph Smith organized a School of the Prophets, and Section 88
of the Doctrine and Covenants (December 1832) specifies the form
of ritual which was to be observed in the school. The president
of the school was to be the first to enter the house of God, where
he was to offer prayer while kneeling. As others entered, he was
to rise, lifting his hands to heaven, and say:
"Art thou a brother or brethren? I salute you in the name of
the Lord Jesus Christ, in token or remembrance of the everlasting
covenant, in which covenant I receive you to fellowship, in a
determination that is fixed, immovable, and unchangeable, to be
your friend and brother through the grace of God in the bonds
of love, to walk in all the commandments of God blameless, in
thanksgiving, forever and ever. Amen" (D&C 88:133).
Those who entered were also to raise their hands to heaven and
repeat the covenant, but anyone who was found to be unworthy was
to be excluded. Anyone who was received into the school also had
to undergo a ritual washing of the feet:
"And he shall be received by the ordinance of the washing of
feet, for unto this end was the ordinance of the washing of feet
instituted. And again, the ordinance of washing feet is to be
administered by the president, or presiding elder of the church.
It is to be commenced with prayer; and after partaking of bread
and wine, he is to gird himself according to the pattern given
in the thirteenth chapter of John's testimony concerning me. Amen"
John 13:4-5 states that Jesus "laid aside his garments; and took
a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a
bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with
the towel wherewith he was girded." Section 88 seems to be the prototype,
which formed the basis for later temple rituals.
On 1 June 1833 Joseph dictated a revelation, in which the Lord
called for the building of a house, "in the which house I design
to endow those whom I have chosen with power from on high" (D&C
95:8). The upper portion of the house was reserved for "the school
of mine apostles."
The cornerstones of the Kirtland temple were laid on 23 July 1833,
and the temple was dedicated on 27 March 1836. As completion of
the temple neared, Joseph continued to refer to the promised endowment
and insisted that it was necessary to perform the ordinance of washing
of feet "in order to make the foundation of this church complete
and permanent" (Joseph Smith 1984, 81). The ordinances of washing
and anointing were finally performed on 21 January 1836. After receiving
his anointing and blessing, Joseph beheld a vision of the celestial
kingdom (D&C 137), while heavenly visions were opened to others:
"some of them saw the face of the Saviour, and others were ministered
unto by holy angels, and the spirit of prophesy and revelation was
poured out in mighty power" (Joseph Smith 1984, 147).
During the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland temple on 27 March
1836, Joseph specifically compared the endowment with the New Testament
Pentecost: "Let the anointing of thy ministers be sealed upon them
with power from on high: let it be fulfilled upon them as upon those
on the day of Pentacost: let the gift of tongues be poured out upon
thy people, even cloven tongues as of fire, and the interpretation
thereof. And let thy house be filled, as with a rushing mighty wind,
with thy glory" (Joseph Smith 1984, 176-77; D&C 109:35-37). In the
gospel of John, Jesus promised the disciples that the Father would
send another Comforter, the Spirit of truth, the Holy Ghost, which
would teach them all things and guide them in all truth ( John 14:16-17,
26; 16:13). In the gospel of Luke, the resurrected Christ told the
disciples, "and, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you:
but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power
from on high" (Luke 24:49). Acts describes the descent of the Holy
Ghost: "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were
all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound
from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house
where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues
like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all
filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues,
as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:1-4). Acts claims further
that this event was a fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel: "And
it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out
of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall
prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men
shall dream dreams" (Acts 2:17). On 30 March about 300 people met
in the temple, where they witnessed the washing of the feet of the
twelve apostles. Joseph then stated that he "had now completed the
organization of the church and we had passed through all the necessary
ceremonies, that I had given them all the instruction they needed"
(Joseph Smith 1984, 183).
The climax of the temple dedication and endowment occurred on
3 April. During the afternoon service in the temple, Joseph Smith
and Oliver Cowdery stood at the pulpit, while veils were lowered
around them. Behind the veils, a vision unfolded: "They saw the
Lord standing upon the breast work of the pulpit before them, and
under his feet was a paved work of pure gold" (Joseph Smith 1984,
186; D&C 110:2). Then Moses, Elias, and Elijah appeared in turn.
Moses gave to Joseph and Oliver the keys of the gathering of Israel
and the ten tribes; Elias conferred the dispensation of the gospel
of Abraham; and Elijah committed to them the keys of this dispensation.
These spiritual manifestations have biblical parallels. Moses, Aaron,
and other elders of Israel saw God, "and there was under his feet
as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone" (Exod. 24:10). In the
gospel of Matthew, Jesus said that he would give Peter the keys
of the kingdom and the power to bind and loose. Six days later,
Peter, James, and John witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus and
the appearance of Moses and Elijah.
During a discourse at the funeral of Seymour Brunson on 15 August
1840, Joseph Smith enunciated a new doctrine of baptism for the
dead. Joseph received a revelation on 19 January 1841, in which
the Lord stated that the ordinance of baptism for the dead had been
instituted before the foundation of the world and was practiced
within the tabernacle which Moses was commanded to build (D&C 124).
On 11 June 1843 Joseph taught that Jesus knew of and practiced the
temple ordinances, including baptism for the dead. Referring to
1 Peter 3:19, Joseph said that Christ preached to the spirits in
prison, after his death, so that they could receive the gospel and
"could have it answered by proxey by those who live on the earth
&c" (Joseph Smith 1980, 211). The object of performing baptism and
all of the other ordinances for the dead was not merely to obtain
their salvation. The temple rites were also meant to seal the living
with the dead, forming an unbroken chain all the way back to Adam,
thereby organizing all of the families of the earth into kingdoms,
each man standing at the head of his own posterity and adding his
kingdom to that of his father.
The temple endowment contains elements which are undeniably derived
from Masonic ritual, including tokens, names, signs, grips, and
penalties for revealing the secret rites. Joseph Smith had in fact
been accepted into the Nauvoo Lodge of Freemasons on 15 March 1842.
On 24 June 1843 the cornerstone for a Masonic temple was laid by
Hyrum Smith, who was the Worshipful Master of the lodge of ancient
York Masons. Many Mormons joined the Masonic lodge, and King Follett,
who gave his name to Joseph's famous discourse on the plurality
of gods, was buried with Masonic honors, not long after the Masonic
temple was dedicated. Nonetheless, it must be acknowledged that
Joseph had been planning temples for many years and had formulated
ordinances of washing and anointing for the Kirtland temple, long
before he was initiated into Masonry. He had also already enunciated
many major doctrines prior to becoming a Mason. Indeed it could
be argued that Joseph incorporated Masonry, not because it had anything
substantial to contribute to Mormon doctrine, but because Joseph
wanted and needed the loyalty and support of the worldwide fraternity
It is significant that Joseph's first formulation of the endowment
was in conjunction with the school of the prophets and that the
primary ordinance of washing of feet was in imitation of the acts
of Jesus. This indicates that the endowment originally drew upon
Hebrew and Christian tradition, rather than Masonry. The Book of
Mormon may have described such an endowment, together with its teachings
on the holy order of God, or the high priesthood. The concept of
a school of the prophets was probably derived from Hebrew myth.
According to Jewish tradition, Melchizedek, who held the high priesthood,
was Shem, the son of Noah, and Abraham obtained his wisdom by studying
in the school of Shem and Eber for thirty-nine years. Isaac and
Jacob were also students in the school, and Jacob passed on what
he had learned to his son Joseph. Furthermore, Joseph Smith taught
that although God had removed Moses and the greater priesthood,
because of the hard-heartedness of the Israelites, the priesthood
was continued among the prophets. The Old Testament gives us further
information about what might be described as a school of prophets.
After the prophet Samuel anointed Saul with oil, he told Saul to
go on the road to Bethel: "thou shalt meet a company of prophets
coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and
a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy: and the
Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy
with them, and shalt be turned into another man" (1 Sam. 10:5-6).
Again, after Samuel had anointed David, David fled from Saul to
Samuel at Ramah and both of them went to Naioth: "And Saul sent
messengers to take David: and when they saw the company of the prophets
prophesying, and Samuel standing as appointed over them, the Spirit
of God was upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied"
(1 Sam. 19:20). This company of prophets, headed by Samuel, might
be interpreted as the successor of the school of Shem and Eber.
Thus the concept of an endowment, which was conferred upon the
members of a school of prophets, could easily have been derived
from the Bible and Jewish tradition. In addition, Paul frequently
uses the language of the mysteries in his epistles. He states that
God ordained the true mysteries before the world was made (1 Cor.
2:6-7), that Christ revealed the mysteries to his apostles and prophets
(Eph. 3:3-5), and that the mysteries have been hidden for ages (Col.
1:25-28). Paul also relates his experience of being caught up into
the third heaven, where he "heard unspeakable words, which it is
not lawful for a man to utter" (2 Cor. 12:4). Furthermore, the New
Testament uses language referring to Christ as the chief cornerstone,
which was later adopted as a symbol in Masonry (Acts 4:11, 1 Cor.
3:10-11, Eph. 2:20-22, 1 Peter 2:7). According to the Book of Moses,
which Joseph Smith wrote in 1830, Cain entered into a compact with
Satan, sealed by an oath, which gave Cain mastery over a great secret,
and Cain was called Master Mahan. Cains' secret combination, instituted
by Satan, was obviously a perversion of the holy order of God, and
its secret oaths and covenants must have mimicked the true oaths
and covenants of the priesthood. This again provides evidence that
the Book of Mormon originally described an endowment in connection
with the greater priesthood.
Joseph Smith's decision to introduce baptism for the dead was
clearly influenced by his discovery of evidence which seemed to
support the practice. In a letter to the apostles written on 15
December 1840, Joseph said that he had knowledge independent of
the Bible that the rite had been practiced by the ancient churches.
In a discourse on 15 April 1842, Joseph may have revealed what this
Chrysostum says that the Marcionites practiced baptism
for their dead. "After a catechumen was dead, they had a living
man under the bed of the deceased; then coming to the dead man,
they asked him whether he would receive baptism, and he making no
answer, the other answered for him, and said that he would be baptized
in his stead; and so they baptized the living for the dead." The
church of course at that time was degenerate, and the particular
form might be incorrect, but the thing is sufficiently plain in
the Scriptures, hence Paul, in speaking of the doctrine, says, "Else
what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead
rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?" (I Cor.
xv:29) (Joseph Smith 1976, 222)
Furthermore, in a sermon which he delivered on 1 May 1842, Joseph
"There are signs in heaven, earth, and hell, the Elders must
know them all to be endowed with power, to finish their work and
prevent imposition. The devil knows many signs but does not know
the sign of the Son of Man, or Jesus. No one can truly say he
knows God until he has handled something, and this can only be
in the Holiest of Holies" (Joseph Smith 1980, 120).
This may reveal some knowledge of Gnosticism and the pagan mysteries.
During the mysteries, sacred symbols were revealed to the initiate
and were sometimes handled. In addition, some Gnostic sects believed
that the dead had to be able to recite secret formulae, in order
to pass by those beings who acted as the guardians of heaven. Kurt
"Irenaeus also discussed the motif of the ascent of soul using
the secret agencies and describes an actual ceremony for the dead
which was organized for this purpose. Secret sayings were imparted
to the dead man which he had to recite against the 'powers' in
order to ascend on high" (Rudolph 1987, 174).
Another ceremony is also described:
"The performance of this 'redemption' ritual for the dying,
as Irenaeus informs us in the same chapter, involves pouring 'oil
and water' on their head, together with the above-named invocations,
in order that 'they may become unassailable by and invisible to
the powers and authorities, and that their "inner man" may ascend
above the realm of the invisible, whilst their body remains behind
in the created world, and their soul is delivered to the Demiurge'.
For safe passage through the barriers of the archons the well-known
pass-words were imparted to the deceased . . . ." (Rudolph 1987,
Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants states that if a man
and a woman are married for time and eternity, but are not sealed
by the Holy Spirit of promise, through someone who is anointed with
the keys of the priesthood, their marriage is not valid after death:
"when they are out of the world it cannot be received there, because
the angels and the gods are appointed there, by whom they cannot
pass." However, if a man and woman are sealed by the Holy Spirit
of promise, "they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which
are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath
been sealed upon their heads" (D&C 132:18-19).
During the temple endowment ceremony, participants receive the
secret signs and tokens of the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods,
which they must be able to recite after death in order to pass through
the veil and be admitted into the presence of God.
According to Joseph Smith's doctrines, a person who dies without
the law will go to a spirit prison in the terrestrial kingdom, where
he must hear and accept the gospel, and baptism and other rites
must be performed for his salvation. The 1918 vision of Joseph F.
Smith also insists that the dead are taught "repentance from sin,
vicarious baptism for the remission of sins" (D&C 138:33) However,
Mormon clearly and emphatically rejects this doctrine:
"For behold that all little children are alive in Christ, and
also all they that are without the law. For the power of redemption
cometh on all them that have no law; wherefore, he that is not
condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent;
and unto such baptism availeth nothing -- but it is mockery before
God, denying the mercies of Christ, and the power of his Holy
Spirit, and putting trust in dead works. Behold, my son, this
thing ought not to be; for repentance is unto them that are under
condemnation and under the curse of a broken law" (Moroni 8:22-24).
The conditions which Joseph Smith imposed make everyone subject
to the law. Therefore, everyone has need of repentance and baptism
for the remission of sins. It follows that baptism for the dead
is an absolute necessity.
Mormon's denunciation of baptism for those who die without the
law occurs in a letter to his son Moroni, in which he also rejects
the baptism of children. Mormon's epistle is proof that baptism
for the dead was being practiced among the Nephites, although it
is not described anywhere else in the Book of Mormon.
In the early years of the church, the ordinance of sealing included
not only the sealing of wives to their husbands, but also the adoption
of men by other men. The law of adoption is mentioned frequently
in the journals of John D. Lee. Lee was the second man to become
the adopted son of Brigham Young, and he referred to Brigham as
his "father in Israel." Those who were adopted became the "family"
of the adoptive father and regarded him as their "counselor."
But the law of adoption had far-reaching effects upon the salvation
of the adopted sons and their posterity. The law of adoption and
seal of the covenant were intended to extend the chain of the priesthood
all the way back to Adam, thus making all of those who are sealed
the family of Adam. Although each man was to stand at the head of
his own family, Brigham stated, "Those that are adopted into my
family and take me for their counsellor, if I continue faithfully
I will preside over them throughout all eternity and will stand
at their head" (Lee 1984, 83).
This doctrine led to jealous competition among some church members
to adopt the most sons and build up the largest kingdom, in order
to obtain the highest exaltation.
Apparently, the law of adoption was necessary, because of the
difficulty of tracing one's ancestry all the way back to Adam. Adoption
was the means through which unrelated people were welded together
as links in the chain of the priesthood. The law of adoption was
rooted in the Lord's promise to Abraham (Gen. 12:2-3).
In Paul's epistles, we find the clearest delineation of the concept
of adoption into the family of Abraham. In Romans, Paul argues that
those who are led by the Spirit receive "the Spirit of adoption"
and become the sons of God, joint-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:14-17).
In Galatians 3:29, Paul declares, "And if ye be Christ's, then are
ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
Joseph Smith often spoke of becoming joint-heirs with Christ,
and he taught that the effect of the Holy Ghost upon someone who
was not a literal descendant of Abraham was "to purge out the old
blood & make him actually of the seed of Abraham" (Joseph Smith
The law of adoption also has parallels in Roman history. Beginning
with Julius Caesar, adoption became a means by which emperors designated
their successors. Caesar adopted Gaius Octavius, who became known
as Augustus. Augustus adopted his two grandsons, Gaius and Lucius,
but after both met with early deaths, he adopted his stepson Tiberius
and ordered Tiberius to adopt his nephew Germanicus. Tiberius became
emperor and was succeeded by Gaius (Caligula), the son of Germanicus.
After Caligula died at the age of twenty-nine, Claudius became
emperor and adopted his nephew Nero. Nero was succeeded by Galba,
who had been adopted by his stepmother. Galba in turn adopted Piso.
However, this chain of adoptions was ended by Otho, who overthrew
Galba. Later, the emperor Nerva adopted Trajan, who in turn adopted
After Aelius Verus, who had been adopted by Hadrian, met with
an untimely death, his son was adopted by Antoninus Pius. Hadrian
adopted Pius and designated him as his successor, on condition that
Pius adopt his younger brother Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, who followed
Pius as emperor.
Thus the transference of the office of emperor from father to
son was purely fictitious, relying upon the adoption of one man
by another. It should also be remembered that Jacob adopted as his
own sons the sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were given
a place among the twelve tribes of Israel. Since the law of adoption
has parallels in both the Bible and Roman history, it is likely
that it formed a part of the Book of Mormon.
The law of adoption was one application of the sealing power and
one way to increase the extent of the kingdom over which a person
would rule. But, of course, the primary sealing ordinance was the
binding of a wife to her husband for eternity. And as the doctrine
developed, not merely one wife, but any number of wives could be
sealed to one man, thereby increasing his posterity and his kingdom.
However, the Book of Mormon again opposes this doctrine. It condemns
the polygamy practiced by David and Solomon, the Nephites, king
Noah, and Riplakish (Jacob 1:15, 2:23-27; Mosiah 11:2; Ether 10:5).
There is evidence that Joseph Smith was privately teaching the principle
of plural marriage as early as 1832, but it was not until after
John C. Bennett publicly exposed the practice of polygamy among
the Mormons in 1842 that Joseph dictated a revelation on celestial
The revelation begins by contradicting the Book of Mormon, stating
that David and Solomon and other biblical figures were justified
in having many wives and concubines (D&C 132:1-4, 38-39).
However, the Book of Mormon does provide a loophole, forseeing
the possibility that conditions might arise in which polygamy would
be permitted: "For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up
seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken
unto these things" (Jacob 2:30).
The Book of Mormon requires that if Gentiles are to share in the
promises given to the Nephites concerning the land of liberty and
the New Jerusalem, they must be adopted into the family of Lehi.
This might necessitate intermarriage, and therefore, polygamy would
be acceptable as a method for hastening the integration of Gentiles
into the family of Lehi, guaranteeing them an inheritance in the
New Jerusalem and creating a righteous branch of the house of Joseph.
Some writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries voiced
approval of polygamy. In his essay Of Cannibals, Montaigne
described the marriage customs of the noble savages of the New World.
The men there have several wives, and the higher their
reputation for valour the greater is the number of their wives.
It is a remarkably beautiful feature in their marriages, that the
same jealousy that our wives have to keep us from the love and favors
of other women, they have to an equal degree to procure it. Being
more solicitous for their husbands' honour than for anything else,
they use their best endeavours to have as many companions as they
can, seeing that that is a proof of their husbands' worth.
In his poem Absalom and Achitophel, John Dryden wrote:
Ours will cry 'miracle', but it is not so. It is after all a
proper matrimonial virtue, but of the highest order. And in the
Bible, Leah, Rachel, Sarah and Jacob's wives accommodated their
husbands with their fair handmaids ... . (Montaigne 1980, 1311)
In pious times, ere priestcraft did begin,
Before polygamy was made a sin;
When man on many multiplied his kind,
Ere one to one was cursedly confined;
When nature prompted and no law denied
Promiscuous use of concubine and bride;
Then Israel's monarch after Heaven's own heart,
His vigorous warmth did variously impart
To wives and slaves ... .
(Dryden 1986, 1794)
In the early years of the church, polygamy was often referred
to as the patriarchal order of marriage. Sentiments like those of
Montaigne and Dryden may have provided the suggestion that polygamy
among the Indians was a vestige of the true patriarchal order of
marriage and that the more wives a man had, the higher was his status
in the priesthood.
John C. Bennett joined the Mormons, after they had settled in
Nauvoo, Illinois, and quickly rose to positions of importance as
mayor of the city and assistant president of the church. After charges
were brought against him of teaching a system of "spiritual wifery"
and improper conduct with women, Bennett was separated from the
church. He wrote an exposé, alleging that Joseph Smith had established
three orders of women, known as the Cyprian Saints, the Chambered
Sisters of Charity, and the Cloistered Saints or Consecratees of
According to Bennett, the Cyprian Saints were women who had been
interrogated by members of the Relief Society and were found guilty
of lapsing from the straight path of virtue. They were excluded
from the Relief Society and were "set apart and appropriated to
the gratification of the vilest appetites of the brutal Priests
and Elders of the Mormon Church" (Bennett 1842, 221). Bennett described
the Chambered Sisters of Charity as follows:
This order comprises that class of females who indulge
their sensual propensities, without restraint, whether married or
single, by the express permission of the Prophet. Whenever one of
the "Saints," (as the Mormons style themselves,), of the male sex,
becomes enamored of a female, and she responds to the feeling by
a reciprocal manifestation, the loving brother goes to Holy Joe,
and states the case. It makes, by the bye, no difference whatever
if one or both the parties are already provided with conjugal helpmates.
The Prophet gravely buries his face in his hat, in which lies his
peep-stone, and inquires of the Lord what are his will and pleasure
in the matter. Sometimes, when Joe wants the woman for his own purposes,
an unfavorable answer is given; but, generally, the reply permits
the parties to follow the bent of their inclinations ... . (Bennett
The Cloistered Saints were "composed of females, whether married
or unmarried, who, by an express grant and gift of God, through
his Prophet the Holy Joe, are set apart and consecrated to the use
and benefit of particular individuals, as secret, spiritual
wives" (Bennett 1842, 223). As in the former case, the prophet
inquired of the Lord, and if a favorable answer was received, the
two parties went through a ceremony in the lodge room.
It is doubtful that the three orders described by Bennett ever
existed, but his allegations had some elements of truth. The Relief
Society did in fact interrogate at least a few women concerning
rumors of improper and unvirtuous conduct. But rather than consigning
these women to the ranks of Cyprian Saints, the Society, under the
leadership of Emma Smith, actually worked against the teaching of
Nonetheless, unknown to Emma, Joseph secretly married a number
of the leading women of the Society. Furthermore, some older women,
such as Elizabeth Durfee and Elizabeth Allred, were used by Mormon
leaders to approach other women:
"Sometimes referred to as 'Mothers in Israel,' they assisted
Joseph by contacting women, explaining the new order of marriage
to them, and occasionally delivering marriage proposals" (Newell
and Avery 1984, 109).
Although the Book of Mormon refers to the wives and concubines
of the Jaredites and Nephites, it does not describe the existence
of various orders of women. Nonetheless, there is the possibility
that Bennett derived his account of the three orders from the record
which contained the history of the secret works and abominations
of the Jaredites.
Bennett's allegation that Joseph inquired of the Lord through his
peep-stone concerning sexual and matrimonial liaisons also recalls
the stone of Gazelem (Alma 37:23), which was for the purpose of
discovering secret works and abominations.
If a system of prostitutes and spiritual wives was described in
the Book of Mormon, an important source may have been Eusebius's
account of certain heretics. Eusebius quotes from a report of a
church synod regarding Paul of Samosata, who became bishop of Antioch
and taught that Christ was an ordinary man:
Yet those who sing hymns and praises to him in the congregation
say that their blasphemous teacher is an angel come down from heaven;
and he allows this to go on even when he is there to hear, such
is his vanity. And what of his 'spiritual brides', as the Antioch
people call them? and those of his presbyters and deacons, with
whom he joins in concealing this and their other incurable sins
... we are aware also how many through taking 'spiritual brides'
have fallen, while others have become suspect. ... How could he
reprove another man, or advise him not to associate any longer
with a 'bride', for fear of a slip -- as Scripture warns us --
when he has dismissed one already and now has two in his house,
both young and pretty, whom he takes round with him whenever he
leaves home ... . (Eusebius 1965, 317-18)
In another passage, Eusebius quotes Irenaeus on the "mysteries"
of a man named Marcus:
"Some of them fit out a bridal chamber, and celebrate a mystery
with invocations on those being initiated, declaring that what
they are doing is a spiritual marriage on the pattern of the unions
above; others take the candidates to water and baptize them ...
." (Eusebius 1965, 164).
Bennett's 1842 exposé also described ceremonies which took
place in the Order Lodge:
"One of the most curious and ludicrous ceremonies, connected
with the initiation into Order Lodge, is this: After the precious
ointment has been poured upon the candidate, a hole is cut in
the bosom of his shirt. This shirt must never, on any account,
be worn again, but must be sacredly preserved, to keep the Destroying
Angel from them and their families. These shirts are committed
to the care of the wives of the members, and none but them must
touch them, or know of their existence. They believe that these
shirts will preserve them from death, and secure to them an earthly
immortality ... ." (Bennett 1842, 277).
Joseph Smith later designed temple garments which were to be worn
under regular clothing, and Mormons continue to believe that the
garments have the power to guard the wearer from bodily harm. The
temple garments obviously symbolize the clothing which God gave
to Adam and Eve before they were expelled from the Garden of Eden:
"Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats
of skins, and clothed them" (Gen. 3:21).
But the beliefs concerning the magical power of the garments also
reveals the influence of Jewish legend. Rappoport relates the history
of Adam's garment:
This garment Adam had left to Enoch, Enoch to Methuselah,
and Methuselah to Noah who took it with him into the ark. Here Ham
stole it and left it to his son Kush. It was in this garment that
Nimrod arrayed himself, thus becoming invulnerable and invincible.
He easily conquered all his enemies and slew all the hostile armies.
Arrayed in the clothes which God had made for Adam and Eve, Nimrod
was possessed of great power. . . . Esau, the son of Isaac, who
was also a mighty hunter, saw the coats which the Almighty had once
made for Adam and Eve, and he coveted them in his heart. He was
very anxious to make himself possessed of this precious raiment,
hoping thus to become a mighty and powerful hunter and hero by means
of these clothes. Esau, therefore, slew Nimrod and took the raiment
from him, and was thus enabled to catch the animals and become a
cunning hunter. The clothes were subsequently concealed in the earth
by Jacob, who said that none was worthy to wear them. (Rappoport
Another version of this myth says that Shem/Melchizedek gave the
garment to Abraham and that it passed from one generation to another,
until Moses gave it to Aaron as the robe of the high priest.
The teachings of the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants,
and the Lectures on Faith reveal that their author took
an eclectic, philosophical approach. The theological and cosmological
views are gleaned not only from the Bible, but also from Sabellianism
and the writings of Plato, Philo, the Greek Atomists, and Descartes.
The cosmology of the Book of Abraham and the Egyptian Alphabet
and Grammar also draws upon Cicero and Philo. It is impossible to
believe that Joseph Smith would have consulted these philosophical
sources or that he could have integrated them into a coherent and
rational explanation of God and the universe.
The haphazard manner in which he introduced his later teachings
on God, wholly inconsistent with the earlier doctrines, demonstrates
that he did not have the intellectual depth and training to craft
a cosmology, and that he was revising another person's scheme.
The Book of Mormon must have distinguished between different orders
of the priesthood. In fact, the Doctrine and Covenants seems to
give information about the Aaronic, Melchizedek, and patriarchal
priesthoods, which is missing from the Book of Mormon.
Joseph and Oliver tried initially to suppress the distinction
between greater and lesser orders of the priesthood, opting for
a more simplified structure. If Joseph had written the Book of Mormon
and had worked out the history of the priesthood and its various
orders, it is unlikely that he would have first removed the information
from the Book of Mormon and then later reintroduced it in such a
There are strong disagreements between the Book of Mormon and
Joseph Smith's later teachings on baptism for the dead and polygamy.
If Joseph had written the Book of Mormon, it is difficult to believe
that he would have changed his views so drastically as to proclaim
new doctrines which directly oppose those of the Book of Mormon.
The new teachings reveal that they came from the same mind that
conceived the Book of Mormon, for they seem to draw upon such sources
as the Bible, Roman history, Hebrew legends, Eusebius, and Montaigne.
It is unlikely that Joseph Smith would have utilized all of these
sources in formulating new doctrines. We are led to conclude that
Joseph did not write the Book of Mormon and that even his new teachings
did not come from his own imagination.
- Arrian. 1971. The Campaigns of Alexander.
- Rev. ed. Translated by Aubrey de Sélincourt. Revised
by J. R. Hamilton. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin
- Augustine. 1984. Concerning the City of God Against the
- Translated by Henry Bettenson. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England:
- Bennett, John C. 1842. The History of the Saints; or, an
Exposé of Joe Smith and Mormonism.
- Boston: Leland & Whiting.
- Cicero. 1971. Cicero: On the Good Life.
- Translated by Michael Grant. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England:
- Descartes, Rene. 1960. Meditations on First Philosophy.
- 2d rev. ed. Translated by Laurence J. LaFleur. Indianapolis:
The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., The Library of Liberal Arts.
- Dryden, John. 1986. Absalom and Achitophel. In The
Norton Anthology of English Literature.
- Vol. 1. 5th ed. Edited by M. H. Abrams. New York: W. W. Norton
- Eusebius. 1965. The History of the Church from Christ to
- Translated by G. A. Williamson. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England:
- Josephus, Flavius. 1974. The Works of Flavius Josephus.
- 4 vols. Translated by William Whiston. Grand Rapids, Michigan:
Baker Book House.
- Lee, John D. 1984. Journals of John D. Lee, 1846-47 and
- Edited by Charles Kelly. Salt Lake City: University of Utah
- Livy. 1960. The Early History of Rome.
- Translated by Aubrey de Sélincourt. Harmondsworth, Middlesex,
England: Penguin Books.
- Lundwall, N. B., comp. A Compilation Containing the Lectures
- Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, n.d.
- Montaigne, Michel de. 1980. Of Cannibals. In The
Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces.
- Vol. 1, Literature of Western Culture through the Renaissance.
4th ed. Edited by Maynard Mack. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
- Newell, Linda King and Valeen Tippetts Avery. 1984. Mormon
Enigma: Emma Hale Smith.
- Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company.
- Plato. 1961. The Collected Dialogues of Plato, Including
- Edited by Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns. Bollingen Series
LXXI. New York: Bollingen Foundation, Pantheon Books.
- Plutarch. The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans.
- Translated by John Dryden. Revised by Arthur Hugh Clough. New
York: Modern Library, n.d.
- Rappoport, Angelo S. 1987. Ancient Israel: Myths and Legends.
- 3 vols. in 1. New York: Bonanza Books.
- Rudolph, Kurt. 1987. Gnosis: The Nature and History of
- Translated by Robert McLachlan Wilson, P. W. Coxon, and K.
H. Kuhn. San Francisco: Harper & Row.
- Saunders, Jason L., ed. 1966. Greek and Roman Philosophy
After Aristotle. Readings in the History of Philosophy. New
York: Free Press.
- Smith, Joseph. Joseph Smith's Egyptian Alphabet & Grammar.
- Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, n.d.
- -------. 1976. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
- Compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book
- -------. 1980. The Words of Joseph Smith.
- Compiled and edited by Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook. Religious
Studies Monograph Series, vol. 6. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University.
- -------. 1984. The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith.
- Compiled and edited by Dean C. Jessee. Salt Lake City: Deseret
- Smith, Joseph F. 1939. Gospel Doctrine. Salt Lake City:
Deseret Book Company