Saturday, December 28, 2013

Problems in exemplary Event Analysis

In his book History of Mormonism (1834), E. D. Howe reports the following deposition of Abigail Harris, regarding a conversation she had with Lucy Smith (née Mack), mother of prophet Joseph Smith Jr, probably in the Summer of 1828, right after Joseph and Emma's first child was still-born (though this is not evident from the deposition).
The old lady [i.e. Lucy Smith, RCK] took me into another room [of Martin Harris' house, where the Smiths and Abigail Harris were visiting, RCK], and after closing the door, she said, "have you four or five dollars in money that you can lend until our business [i.e. the publication of the Book of Mormon, which the Smith Srs expected to be a money maker, RCK] is brought to a close ? the spirit has said that you shall receive four fold." I told her that when I gave, I did it not expecting to receive again---as for money I had none to lend. I then asked her what her particular want of money was ; to which she replied, "Joseph [Smith Jr, RCK] wants to take the stage and come home [to Manchester/Palmyra, RCK] from [Harmony, RCK] Pennsylvania to see what we are all about." To which I replied, he might look in his stone and save his time and money. The old lady seemed confused, and left the room, and thus ended the visit. [p.254]
We are not concerned here whether this event happened or not, and whether some of the presuppositions that the deposition makes---e.g. that the Smiths were expecting to make money with the Book of Mormon---are true or not. We merely assume that the story is understandable to its contemporaries, i.e. exhibits habitual stances and behaviors.

If this is so, then there are aspects to this event that we in the 21st century still can readily understand.

  • Since Lucy wants to talk with Abigail in private, they go into another room (even though it is in someone else's house) and close the door; both actions minimize eavesdropping.
  • Since Lucy wants to talk with Abigail about borrowing money, it is appropriate for her to want privacy.
  • Lucy wants to borrow money until the expected arrival time of a successful business venture.
  • Lucy wants to sweeten the deal with the promise of 400% of interest.
  • Abigail rejects the notion of lending on interest.
  • Abigail has no money to borrow.
  • If rejecting a lending request, it is appropriate to see if the underlying problem that caused the request can be resolved in some other fashion.
  • People want to know how their families are doing by visiting with them.
  • Mothers want their sons to come visit.
  • The stage coach from Harmony, Pennsylvania, to Manchester/Palmyra, New York, cost around four to five dollars.
  • An unnecessary trip is wasteful in terms of time and money.
  • Seers are supposed to be able to see other information than mere mortals.
Some things we simply do not know from this information.
  1. Was four to five dollars a lot of money in general in 1828?
  2. Was it reasonable to ask for support for a stage coach trip, or where there cheaper alternate modes of travel that would have been better to ask to support?
  3. How much of the money would have gone to the fare? Where there other expenses that Smith Jr would have been expected to pay from this money (thus lowering the part allocated for the coach), e.g. dinner at an inn along the way, etc? 
  4. When could Smith Jr pay for the stage coach trip? How was he supposed to get the money if he had to pay up front? Was it possible to pay upon his arrival in Manchester/Palmyra, NY, or to pay with a promissory note realized at arrival time?
  5. Is the refusal to accept 400% interest a general aversion to usury, possibly even on religious grounds, or part of the strategy for rejecting this particular lending request?
  6. How is Abigail's comment about the seer stone to be interpreted? Was she going for levity or wit? Was she insulted by the request and responded in a way that expressed her discomfort? Notice that Lucy Smith seemed confused about how to take it as well, but her leaving the room could suggest that she felt mocked.
Questions #1 to #4 have to do with a general lack of knowledge about the times of 1828. Research into general information about prices in 1828 for question #1 and travel modalities and procedures for #2 through #4 would allow us to understand those part better. 
Question #5 requires information about moral attitudes, and religious discourse about these attitudes, to make progress on. Question #6 requires more biographical information about Abigail, though some knowledge about acceptable attitudes could be helpful as well.

Mayflower related sources

There is a good list of sources related to the "Mayflower" at the "Primary Sources and Books" link on the Mayflower History website.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Rapp, Harmony and Smith

The town of Harmony, Pennsylvania, was founded in 1804 by the Harmonists movement, whose acknowledged leader was Georg Rapp. 

The Harmonists were celibate, disavowed all tobacco, lived as a commune, and were preparing for the 2nd coming of Christ. Rapp was taken to be in constant communication with the Divine. 

The Harmonists stayed in Pennsylvania until the lack of space for expansion and the bad climate for growing wine made them decide to head for Indiana; they sold their community to a Mennonite by 1814 or 1815. 

In 1825, Joseph Smith Jr met his future wife Emma Hale there, when he boarded with her father Isaac. In December 1827 they moved from Manchester, New York, to Harmony, Pennsylvania, to claim some of Emma's possession and work a farm near their in-laws.

John Clark's reflection from Upstate New York

This one Google books contains John A. Clark's Gleanings by the Way, published in Philadelphia in 1842, but one has to read it online. However, Gutenberg has a copy, and BYU offers a PDF.

The Rev. John A. Clark was the rector of St. Andrews church in Philadelphia, but had traveled in Upstate New York and Pennsylvania, including the Susquehanna valley.
Clark covers the Golden Bible story starting with Chapter 22, p.216 to the end of the book.
Clark is also awesome because he contains notes about Mormon banking in Chapter 31.

Maximillian von Wied as fellow traveller

Thanks to the Google book search features, I was able to procure a travel description of the interior US of A for the important years of 1832-1834, when Prinz Maximilian von Wied-Neuwied crossed through the continent and wrote a 500+ page travel description description. This should help flesh out some of the travel descriptions that I have gathered so far form the primary documents.

I was actually looking for Kennedy's "Early Days of Mormonism" (1888) and Linn's "The Story of the Mormons" (1902), both available at the Salomon Spalding info website, but neither of these are scanned in Google books.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Toward the Spalding Enigma

Spent some time this morning looking into the clues of the Spalding Enigma, when I finally got into that section of the Howe story -- who first published the materials on Spalding and Rigdon.

The Wikipedia article seems oddly biased toward the apologetic LDS position.

Broadhurst's website has a reconstruction that lacks the footnotes (sigh) but makes sense as a narrative, if the omissions from the official LDS history that they record are indeed correct. Specifically, the claim is that Smith and Cowdery met before 1827 (in 1822) and that Rigdon knew Spalding and his work and was instrumental in the publication of the Book of Mormon, faking a conversion experience when Pratt and Cowdery came to missionize.

A separate group of guys that are friends of Broadhurst and did a lot of the legwork of the Spalding-Rigdon theory wrote a book about the enigma in 2005; the have a website for their efforts.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Revelation as Unencrypted Communication

I think there is a nice way of reconstructing Fichte's argument for the Critique of all Revelation in a mode that uses just modern communication channels and cryptology.

Basically, we have a communication channel between God and some believer, say Joseph. We also have the Devil, who is the adversary and has all the advantages that adversaries have in cryptological setups, i.e. unlimited access to prior communications, channels, etc. Notice that due to the spiritual speed at which both God and the Devil can work (Boolos 1974), the usual mathematical "trapdoor" ciphers that humans use are pointless, because spiritual entities can bring arbitrary amounts of brute force to bear on cracking the cipher.

God is trying to send Joseph a message. The Devil can intercept and substitute part or all of the message. Joseph needs to be able to determine whether the message is from God or the Devil. Since the structure of the message can be forged, the determination has to be by the contents.

The clearest choice is to say something already known. By repeating something that God has already said, Fichte basically argues, Joseph can be convinced of the authenticity of the contents. Even if the Devil repeats something God has already said, the Devil has technically ursurped the channel, but made no progress in misleading Joseph.

Notice that it is insufficient to prefix new contents with known contents; the Devil can trivially do that as well (e.g. "God created Heaven and Earth. Kick ten puppies a day").

This means that for any true believer, all revelation is already over. For Fichte this was no problem, because he was convinced that all the properties of God that mattered, esp. the moral doctrine, could be deduced logically as natural religion anyway. For revelatory religions like Mormonism, this is a big issue; there is no way at all to provide the day-to-day guidance of the type found in Doctrines and Covenants. None of them are above the suspicion that they could be substitutions of the Devil.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

E. D. Howe unveiling Mormonism (Part 3)

Howe then proceeds to quote at length the letters of former Mormon elder Ezra Booth, formerly a Methodist clergymen, who wrote about his move to Missouri (p.175b).

Ezra Booth's Letters (p.175b-p.221)

Introductory Letter

Booth begins his process of disenchantment with the arrival in Western Missouri.
On our arrival in the western part of the State of Missouri | (p.177) the place of our destination, we discovered that prophecy and vision had failed, or rather had proved false (p.176f).
This disenchantment was even present in the upper echelons of the Mormon hierarchy.
The fact was so notorious, and the evidence so clear, that no one could mistake it -- so much so, that Mr. Rigdon himself said that "Joseph's vision was a bad thing." (p.177)
Booth claims that he followed up his investigations with discussions with Rigdon and Cowdery which only deepened in his mind the impression that there was massive deception on foot.

Booth commences by pointing out that Smith Jr abuses his prophesying spirit to settle matters that have no spiritual aspect, such as whether a bucket of water gains weight by putting in a fish.

The massive deception has one key point
the establishment of a society in Missouri, over which the contrivers of this delusive system, are to possess unlimited and despotic sway. (p.178)  

Second Letter

For the benefits of others, who could or have been misled as Booth has been, Booth commences in the second letter to
... as far as I have ability, unfold a system of darkness, fraught with glaring absurdity, and deceptive as falsehood itself. (p.179)
Booth then sketches the apocalyptic stance of the Mormons, with their expectations of the Second Coming, the pouring out of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the Esther-like expectation of avenging themselves against their enemies and taking their riches (p.180). Booth comments on the lack of success of the display of apocalyptic powers, esp. in the healing arts. The flock keeps failing the shepherd.
In the commandment given to the churches in the State of New York, to remove to the State of Ohio, they were assured that these miracles should be wrought in the State of Ohio; but now they must be deferred until they are settled in Missouri. (p.181)
Booth then sketches the cardinal role of these continued commandments within the Church, and the authority they have within the apocalyptic assumption of corruption:
When they [i.e. Joseph Smith Jr.'s prophetic commandments] and the Scriptures are at variance, the Scriptures are wrongly translated; and Smith, though totally ignorant of the original, being a translator or an alterator, can easily harmonize them. (p.181)
The commandments can be as mundane as giving Smith Jr a house or a thousand dollars, in Booth's reconstruction (p.182). Smith either originates all revelations, or judges the origin of a revelation as either divine or devilish that others receive (p.182), thus preserving exclusive control.

Booth then corroborates his interpretations by talking with the principle members of the Church, which he was able to do during this time there.
Joseph Smith, Jun., Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, may be considered as the principals in this work; and let Martin Harris tell the story, and he is the most conspicuous of the four. (p.182)

Third Letter

Booth detects a change of character in Mormonism since its foundation, with some of its roots now being relegated to oblivion (p.183). There is first the ability to speak in tongues (p.184), which was then discarded as the devils work (p.185). Then people would receive commissions from the Heavens, written onto parchment or a Bible cover, or similar (p.185). Furthermore, there were visions, of the New Jerusalem (p.185) or the position and condition of the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel (p.186), which they expect to be hiding in the polar region behind a wall of ice and snow. Only Joseph Smith Jr still sees with his spiritual eye, either translations or angels. Finally (p.187), the Mormons expect there to be many treasures in the earth and that the fulness of time will put them into their command.

Fourth Letter

Booth now describes the apocalyptic expectations of the Mormons (p.188f), esp. with respect to bodily healing. Booth narrates the incident of Brother Murdock (p.190) whose hand Smith Jr attempted to heal through faith; the incident of the elder, who could not use his legs; even the situation of a child, two days dead, that was commanded to rise again. 
Booth then narrates how, during the disappointment of the Mormons over the faith healing not succeeding, Sidney Rigdon sent everyone home instead of preaching to them; Booth speculates he was scared of the congregation and their sentiments (p.191). 

Fifth Letter

Booth now relates how the move to Missouri came about (p.192). Commandments were issued to send the Elders to do missionary work there, but the provisions were unequal.
They were commanded to go two by two, with the exception of Rigdon, Smith, Harris, and Partridge; and it was designed that these should find an easier method of transporting themselves, than to travel that distance on foot. They were careful to make suitable provision for themselves, both in money and other articles, that while on their journey, they might carry the appearance of gentlemen filling some important station in life; .... (p.192)
For Booth this was a disappointing experience
I seldom proclaimed Mormonism with that liberty which I enjoyed in my public exercises, while a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. (p.193)
In Missouri the missionaries expected displays of divine power and a community in full-swing, created by the missionary work of Oliver Cowdery. Little like that materialized.
We expected to find a large church, which Smith said, was revealed to him in a vision, Oliver had raised up there. This large church was found to consist of four females. (p.194)
We expected to witness the exercise if those miraculous gifts, to which some were ordained while in the State of Ohio. But the same difficulty, the same want of faith among the people, which counteracted them here, prevailed there; consequently no miracles could be wrought. (p.194)
Even the consecration of the newly begun rebuilding of Zion was a disappointment.
The childish exultation of the Mormonite leaders, while they echoed and reechoed, the Lord has given us this whole region of country; "this whole region of country is ours;" when it was manifest, agreeable to the commandment, that the gift was only obtained, by purchasing it at a dear rate with money, .... (p.195)
And since the pursuit involved such mundane approaches, the socio-economic status of the converts interfered with the success story.
... Mormonites as a body, are comparatively poor, and destined so to remain, until they pursue a different course as it relates to economy and industry, from what they have hitherto pursued. (p.196)

Sixth Letter

Booth points out that the head quarters of the Mormons in Independence, Mo, is a mere 12 miles from the Indian reservations (p.196), which the Mormons were visiting to preach to the Indians (p.197). Booth denies however that any conversions took place when he was there, to he acknowledge polite interest in some of the prophecies about the Indians expelling their enemies.

The second part of the letter (p.198) concerns the laying of the foundation stone for the new Zion. Rigdon and Cowdery were both present on that occasion, according to Booth.
He [i.e. Sidney Rigdon, RCK] enjoined it upon them to express a great degree of gratitude for the free donation, and then, as the Lord's Vicegerent, he gratuitously bestowed upon them, that for which they had paid an exorbitant price in money. (p.198)
Cowdery placed the cornerstone for Zion proper (p.198), while Joseph Smith Jr placed the cornerstone for the temple of Zion (p.199).
[Visitors, RCK] can there have the privilege of beholding the mighty work, accomplished by about thirty men, who left their homes, traveled one thousand miles, most of them on foot, and expended more than $1000 in cash. (p.199)
The general whereabouts of Independence did not appeal to the Mormons, however, being still a frontier settlement.

Having completed the work, or rather finding but little business for us to accomplish in Missouri, most of us became anxious to return home. And none appeared to be more so than Rigdon and Smith, whose plans for future subsistence were considerably frustrated. They expected to find a country abounding with the necessaries and comforts of life. (p.200)
But no matter for that, it [i.e. returning to Kirtland, OH] will save them [Rigdon and Smith Jr] the difficulties and hardships incident to the settling of a new country; and also the dangers to which they would be exposed, in case the Indians should commence hostilities upon the whites; and moreover, they have an easy method [i.e. commandments] to supply themselves with cash at any time when occasion requires. (p.200)
Booth sticks with that economic interpretation of the motivation for the Mormon leadership for the remainder of the letter.
The authority of a commandment will easily untie the purse strings of those whose consciences are under their [the Prophets and his head men, RCK] control; ..., [Joseph, RCK] Smith [Jr, RCK] has commanded himself not to labor, and by his mandate, has enjoined it upon the church to support him. The Bishop [Edward Partridge, RCK], when we were in Missouri, intimated that he [i.e. Joseph Smith Jr] and others were too much inclined to indolence. -- He [i.e. Joseph Smith Jr] replied, "I am commanded not to labor." (p.200)

Seventh Letter

Booth now turns to describing how he wrote a letter to Bishop Edward Partridge concerning his impressions of the arrangement in Missouri with respect to the Kirtland Saints. However, this necessitates some background information about Partridge from Booth's point of view.
The Bishop [i.e. Edward Partridge, RCK] is, in reality, the Vicegerent of Smith, and those in coalition with him; and holds his office during their will and pleasure. (p.200)
Booth then describes how the bishop began to doubt, due to the way the commandments for the professionals and the believers were incommensurate.
The conference last year, gave him [i.e. Bishop Ezra Partridge, RCK] a tremendous shock, from which with difficulty he recovered. The law of the church enjoins, that no debt with the world shall be contracted. But a thousand acres of land in the town of Thompson could be purchased for one half its value, and he was commanded to secure it; and in order to do it, he was under the necessity to contract a debt to the world. He hesitated, but the command was repeated, "you must secure the land." (p.201)
Booth therefore thinks Partridge will not last.
He [i.e. Edward Partridge] saw the impropriety, and it shook his faith. I am suspicious the time is not far distant, when by commandment, this office will be bestowed upon a more trusty and confidential person; perhaps Smith's brother or father, or some one who has been disciplined in the State of New York. Then it will become his business to make over the whole property, by deed of conveyance, to the person appointed by the commandment to supercede him. (p.201)
[Booth is mistaken, Partridge remained a Bishop until his death in 1840; after all, he had been one of the earliest converts, so he was "disciplined in the State of New York" (p.201) already, as Booth had put it. RCK]

Only now is Booth in a position to quote his own letter to Bishop Partridge in full (pp.201-2??).
Booth first explains to Partridge how his faith had been shaken by the overestimate of the size of the church established by Cowdery in Missouri, which had been estimated to be several hundred when it turned out to be "three or four families" (p.202). Booth then reminds Partridge of an interaction he had with Smith Jr in Missouri
When you [i.e. Bishop Partridge, RCK] intimated to Joseph that the land which he and Oliver had selected, was inferior in point of quality to other lands adjoining, [he abused you, RCK]. (p.202)
According to Booth, Partridge had called Smith Jr out on the size of the church, and Smith Jr merely answered evasively. Booth then wants to know whether Partridge has not observed these contradictions on his own in Smith Jr before.
Now, permit me to inquire, have you not frequently observed in Joseph, a want of that sobriety, prudence and stability, which are some of the most prominent traits in the christian character? Have you not often discovered in him, a spirit of lightness and levity, a temper easily irritated, and an habitual proneness to jesting and joking? Have you not often proven to your satisfaction that he says he knows things to be so by the spirit, when they are not so? (p.203)
Booth goes on to relate the story of a canoe trip that formed part of the journey, and how Smith Jr. and Cowdery and Rigdon behaved during that journey. When a controversy broke out, Smith Jr tried to get the upper hand over his elders but failed.
Joseph [Smith Jr] seemed inclined to arm himself, according to his usual custom, in case of opposition, with the judgments of God, for the purpose of pouring them, like a thunder bolt upon the rebellious elders; but one or two retorted, "None of your threats:" which completely disarmed him, and he reserved his judgment for a more suitable occasion. (p.205)
In Booth's recollection, Smith Jr the next morning sidestepped the issue of the river journey by revoking the previous with a new commandment:
... and he [Joseph Smith Jr, RCK] again had recourse to his usual method, of freeing himself from the embarrassments of a former commandment, by obtaining another in opposition to it. (p.206)
In addition, the prophet demanded a privileged mode of transportation for himself and his head men through the commandment.
Joseph, Sidney, and Oliver were to press their way forward with all possible speed, and to preach only in Cincinnati; and there they were to lift up their voices, and proclaim against the whole of that wicked city. The method by which Joseph and Co. designed to proceed home, it was discovered, would be very expensive. "The Lord don't care how much money it takes to get us home," said Sidney. (p.206)
Such blatant inequality raised Booth's ire, and he expressed this to the bishop. In addition, he complained to Partridge about Smith Jr and his head men neglecting the preaching part of the commandment and giving divergent excuses for this (p.207).

Booth then points out that other of his travel companions had learned secrets about Oliver Cowdery that put him on par with the outcase Apostle and Elder Ziba, but that the same transgressions caused no expulsion in the case of Cowdery (p.208).

Booth closes his letter to Partridge by reminding him that Partridge's description of Zion is in conflict with Rigdon's, for which Rigdon's claimed infallible inspiration of the holy spirit; such contradiction with Rigdon which moved Partridge onto the "bad" list of Rigdon's, as he told Booth (p.208).  For this reason alone, Partridge should fly the false association of these men (p.209).

Once the letter to Partridge has ended, Booth points out that Sidney Rigdon ends up twisting the truth by his penchant for exaggeration (p.209) and that in his disputations he is less compelling by virtue of argument than by being a verbal bully, as Rigdon himself shows when reiterating how he "defeated" his former master Alexander Campbell by yelling him down (p.210).

Eight Letter

Booth questions whether the origin of the American natives is even a topic suited to the religious improvement of mankind (p.210). Nevertheless, in the Book of Mormon, that information is given, for the Mormonite, and is intimately related to the mission among the Lamanites (p.211), a charge committed to Oliver Cowdery, specifically in D&C 28, which Booth then cites (p.211-212). Booth also presents a contract-like response of Cowdery, his co-missionaries--Parley P. Pratt, Peter Whitmer, and Ziba Peterson---and other Mormon leaders--Joseph Smith Jr and David Whitmer--(p.212-213) from October of 1830, where Cowdery and his co-missionaries accept the charge in the presence of the Mormon leaders. The response also includes the charge to put up a pillar where the new Zion will be located, a task not explicitly given in the revelation (p.213).

But Booth then points out the other aspects of D&C 28, as a rejection of Cowdery's attempts to prophesize and the clarification on the almost inviolate status of Joseph Smith Jr as a prophet, which puts the revelation into the context of a power struggle between Smith Jr and Cowdery (p.214). Smith Jr had taken a similar approach with Brother Hiram Page, but had delegated Cowdery to be the executioner of the chastisement (p.215); similarly with a female prophetess in Kirtland, Ohio (p.216).

Ninth Letter

Booth (p.216) returns to his description of the mission to the Indians. While traveling thence, Cowdery detoured to Kirtland, Ohio, where he met Pratt's friend Rigdon and brought him into the fold. Rigdon had visions that supported his conversion to Mormonism, involving the absolute truth of the Book of Mormon as divine revelation (p.217). The actual missionizing began in Sandusky, but was unsuccessful (p.218), and so Cowdery and partners moved on to Missouri, where the were evicted from the Indian reservation by U.S. agents. Booth pours scorn on the simple fashion in which Cowdery let himself be despirited and pushed aside.
But alas! he [i.e. Oliver Cowdery] was arrested by man in his course, and by the breath of man the mighty undertaking was blown into the air, and Cowdery was thrown back among the Gentiles, to wait for the spirit to devise some new plans in the place of those which had been frustrated.  (p.219)
Which meant that solutions had to be found that violated the original commandment.
But as the city and temple must be built, as every avenue leading to the Indians was closed against the Mormonites, it was thought that they should be built among the Gentiles, which is in direct opposition to the original plan -- ... foreign from the design of the spirit, expressed in several commandments .... (p.219)
Alternate Indian plans were conceived of, including a letter of recommendation by the Elders for the US Agent (p.219f) and the use of the "Storehouse for the Lord" as a base of what amounts to smuggling goods to the Indians (p.220). Finally, one man was declared as divorced from his non-Mormon wife, so that he could go and marry an Indian woman, which would allow for him to live amongst them, US Agent or not; but that plan did not come to fruition because the person was worried about the legal repercussions should they ever return to New York (p.220).


Booth then concludes this enterprise, which he considered unpleasant to himself. He hopes that his reward will be that someone will be kept out of the clutches of the delusion. (p.221)

End of Part 3 -- See Part 4 for the continuation


Monday, December 16, 2013

E. D. Howe unveiling Mormonism (Part 2)

Howe then turns to how Pratt introduced Smith to Sidney Rigdon (p.100), who as a preacher had the skill and eloquence to spread the Mormon faith, in Howe's mind.

Howe indicates how with the revelations (p.101f), which no longer require peep or seer stones but are performed with the eyes shut, Cowdery and Ms Smith are subdued and the prophet is established as the court of last appeal.

Howe points out that the move to Kirtland, Ohio (pp.110-112), where Rigdon originally resided, did not crystallize until Rigdon joined and worked with Smith over a period of two months. Howe also insinuates that many of Rigdon's "sheep" were wealthy and that their support of the prophet was the actual motif behind the efforts.

Howe then describes the spread of the Mormon movement from Kirtland:
Many, even in the New England States, after hearing the frantic story of some of these "elders," would forthwith place their all into a waggon [sic!], and wend their way to the "promised land," .... (p.115)
In Howe's reconstruction, Smith Jr was unsympathetic to the unorganized happenings in Kirtland and got a prophecy to stop them.
On the arrival of Smith in Kirtland, he appeared astonished at the wild enthusiasm and scalping performances, of his proselytes there, as heretofore related. He told them that he had enquired of the Lord concerning the matter, and had been informed that it was all the work of the Devil. (p.116)
Howe then begins citing a long letter by Thomas Campbell to take up Rigdon's challenge on debating anyone on the new bible (p.116). The letter is in the wordy eloquent style of the 19th century, and some of its contents has to do with the modalities of the debate--but the specific direction of Campbell's attack is the sufficiency of the Biblical revelations as received in AT and NT, requiring none of long list of "isms" (p.120) to achieve human salvation. Conversely, Campbell is ready to disprove the dispensation of the Mormon Church (pp.120ff).

Campbell's argument in the end boils down to the problem of prophetics:
The obvious conclusion of this sixth argument is evident, that if the Mormonite prophets and teachers can show no better authority for their pretended mission and revelations than these impostors [i.e. the Shakers, the French Prophets, etc. RCK] have done, we have no better authority to believe them than we have to believe their predecessors in imposition. But the dilemma is, we can't believe all, for each was exclusively right in his day, and those of them that remain, are still exclusively right to this day; and if the Shakers be right, the whole world, the Mormonites themselves not excepted, are in the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity -- quite as far from salvation as you yourself have pronounced all the sectarians on earth to be, namely, in a state of absolute damnation. (p.122)
Howe (p.124) then turns to the apocalyptic expectations of the Mormon community that they would not taste death, and that they should rely in the medical treatments not on physicians of the present world, but on prayer, Mormon elders and roots. However, when Emma Smith encountered obstetrical complications, Smith Jr got external doctors anyway--a breach of protocol that required smoothing over. A young man named Dota, however, was not so lucky (p.124), could not be healed by the prophet, and expired, renouncing Mormonism on his deathbed (p.125).

Howe now describes the problems that the early Mormon converts encountered coming to Kirtland (p.125), specifically that the majority of arrivals were poor and that holding things in common primarily meant that the prophet and select relations of his were supported by the Church. The lack of means required purchasing cheap land in the wilderness, and such socio-economic depravations shook many converts' faith, either causing them to leave or to enquire of the prophet with very high frequency.

Howe claims (p.126) that the positive accounts of Independence, Ms, where the Indian missionaries surrounding Oliver Cowdery had wintered as day laborers, caused the Mormons to consider moving there, under the assumption of cheap land, and in a June 1st meeting, a long revelation prepared the effort (pp.126f). Cowdery and Rigdon purchased land and lay the foundation stone for the new Zion (p.127), for which the Mormons had high hopes of splendor that expressed themselves in visions. Once Smith, Rigdon and Cowdery had returned to Kirtland, the local Mormon community began selling off their property, often at loss, to migrate to Missouri--supported by specific prophecies (p.128). Howe then cites D&C 42 (p.129f), which describes the structure of the commonly held property while allowing for individual stewardship. Howe notes, however, that the following year (p.130), the Mormon hierarchy still remaining in Kirtland began to purchase additional land in Ohio.
The next year commenced with something like a change of operations. Instead of selling their possessions in Ohio, they [i.e. the prophet and his head men, RCK] again began to buy up improved land, mills and water privileges. It would seem that the Missouri country began to look rather dreary to the prophet and his head men, supposing that they could not enjoy their power there as well as in Ohio. (p.130)
Howe then reports on the Bible revisions (p.130) taking place during 1832, on which Joseph Smith Jr was working. Howe is intrigued how the corrections and modifications will compare to the large parts of the Old Testament cited in the Book of Mormon, esp. Isaiah (p.131).

Howe also reports limitations in the prophecies of Smith Jr during that time, specifically the failure for the predicted forceful return of the Cholera epidemic in New York (p.132). Howe also reports another outbreak of "speaking in tongues", this time supported by the hierarchy, about which a pamphlet of one and a report of another ex-Mormon has come down, which Howe cites (pp.132-135) and paraphrases (p.135-137). But Howe then turns to the philosophical problem of tongue speaking.
[One has to ask, RCK] whether it be possible, that the great and intelligent Ruler of the Universe, can be thus miraculously engaged in bestowing all sorts of language upon a few people merely for their own amusement? -- languages that can neither benefit themselves, or any one else, because no one can understand them. (p.137)
For the gift of speaking in tongues as reported in Acts is designed to assist the missionaries of the early Church in working across the world, not as a parlor trick (p.137). And just as the Apostles in Act had been enabled to speak understandable languages, it would be more helpful for the Spirit to let the Mormons speak in existing languages before audiences of native speakers (p.138).

By 1833, the situation in Missouri, under Bishop Edward Partridge from Ohio (p.139) was heading for a disaster.
Their numbers [i.e. of poor pioneers coming from all over the US, Canada and even Europe, RCK], men, women and children, were now about 1200 in Jackson county [, Missouri, RCK]. Besides the printing apparatus, they had also a mercantile establishment, (denominated the "Lord's Store House,") and some mechanic shops in Independence. (p.139)
 Representational democracy was the issue at hand.
Under these circumstances, the people of Jackson Co., became somewhat excited and alarmed for their civil rights. (p.139)
The apocalyptic predictions and missionary efforts did not ease the situation (p.140)
[The committee of concerned citizens claimed in their statement that, RCK] the citizens were daily told that they were to be cut off, and their lands appropriated to the Mormons for inheritances -- that they sometimes said this was to be accomplished either by the destroying angel, or by their own power, under the direction of God ... (p.140).
The Committee felt that they would not be ruled properly by people with an apocalyptic set of mind--as indubitably they would, if the Mormon numbers kept increasing. The meeting of the Committee resulted in an ultimatum, requiring (p.141) a stop to all further Mormon arrival; the departure of the present Mormons; and an end to their businesses such as the newspaper.

Howe then relates that (p.142) twelve influential civilian and military leaders were elected to help implement the resolution by talking with the Mormon leaders. However, these wished to confer back with Joseph Smith Jr in Kirtland, Ohio, whereupon the assembly took immediate action and shut down the printing store. Howe reports that the Committee and the Mormons have diverging opinions on the level of violence with which this takes place and what the agreed upon forms of reparations were.

Three days later, on July 22nd 1833, seventeen influential leaders negotiated a contract with the Mormon Elders that Howe cites (pp.142ff), that gave all Mormons until April 1834 to leave, required half of them to be gone by January 1834, stipulated the wind down procedure for the businesses, and kept the newspaper shut down, in return for orderly proceedings (p.143). When the Mormons attempted to obtain redress first through the Governor and then through the courts, the citizens of Jackson County inferred that the Mormons were not interested in sticking to the contract and vigilante justice broke out, leaving in the end several people killed and the Mormon community fleeing across the Missouri river into Clay County.

Lest anyone be confused, Howe now gives his opinion about these matters, rejecting all frontier justice.
These proceedings, on the part of the people of Jackson county, were in total disregard of all law, and must be condemned by all. They were wholly at war with every principle of right, and the genius of our institutions. Outrages can never be justified upon any ground, although the reasons which induced them, ought to be stated. (p.144)
Howe re-iterates that the apocalyptic stance, the prediction of doom for the non-believers, and the expectation of a rise of the Indians contributed to this atmosphere (p.145-146).

Howe reports then how the loss of the "eternal inheritance" is in Joseph Smith Jr's revelation--D&C 101--blamed on internal dissension among the Mormons (p.147-155). The published revelation inspired a feeling of crusading against their enemies in the Mormons (p.155).
About the first of May the grand army of fanitics [sic!], commenced its march, in small detachments, from the different places of concentration. On the 3d, the Prophet, with a life guard, of about 80 men, the elite of his army, left his quarters in Kirtland, with a few baggage wagons, containing their arms, am[m]unition, stores, &c. (p.156)
In the spring of the same year, the Mormon elders had found out that there would be no court prosecutions in Independence of the expulsion, since all of the members of the Grand Jury had been involved (p.157).

Howe relates how the Mormon army approached and prepared for the battle.
During their stay here, the troops were kept under a constant drill of manual exercise with guns and swords, and their arms put in a state of repair -- the Prophet became very expert with a sword, and felt himself equal to his prototype Coriantumr. He had the best sword in the army (probably a true model of Laban's, if not the identical one itself,) an elegant brace of pistols, which were purchased on a credit of six months, a rifle, and four horses. (p.159)
Just before reaching Liberty, Clay County, Missouri, the Mormon army was intercepted by the concerned citizens of another county, which dissuaded them from continuing. A suitable revelation was found (though Howe gives insufficient detail to identify it) and the army honorably discharged in Liberty, Missouri (p.162). Howe points out that the collected money of the army, which Joseph Smith Jr was the treasurer of, allowed the Prophet and his head men to travel like gentlemen, while the remainder had to beg their way back to Kirtland (p.162).

Thus, when the Prophet returned to Kirtland, a veritable revolution was on, leading to a trial in which Smith Jr regained control of the flock by being judge, jury, and witness in one person (p.163). Order was restored by the expulsion of several church members.
It would seem that the Prophet anticipated trouble, on his return, as he secured a deed of a valuable farm, just before starting, by the contributions of his followers. He also took a deed of the ground on which stands a huge stone temple, sixty by eighty feet; and which is now nearly completed. Possessing himself, personally, of this edifice, gave such dissatisfaction, that the deed was finally altered, so as run to him and his successor. (p.163)
Howe next relates how the threatened approach of the Mormon army had led the people of Jackson County to propose a buy-out scheme to the Mormon elders in Clay County (pp.164-166). During the approach Smith Jr. and his head man had issued a position paper of sorts, signed by themselves, on the problem of Jackson County (pp.167-169). But as the local newspapers show, the fact that the army hailed from Ohio and none of the signers held any land in Jackson County, according to the land records, (p.171) suggested some sort of deception to the locals.

Howe cites the newspaper post discussion of the Mormon Proclamation as follows (written by Samuel C. Owens, of the Jackson County Committee, cf. (p.172)):
What abuse, we ask, did the Prophet Jo. Smith, Jr., receive in this county last Fall, and he not in the State? None, indeed to his person. Again, they say that they never intended to get possession of Zion, (that is Jackson,) by the shedding of blood! But, in Revelation No. 54, given in Kirtland, Ohio, August, 1831, near three years since, which we find in a Book of Revelations, printed by the Mormons, we discover the following in the thirteenth verse, to wit: 'Wherefore, the land of Zion shall be obtained but by PURCHASE or by BLOOD, otherwise there is no inheritance for you,' Thus it would seem, that either the Revelation is false, or the statement made by Jo. Smith and others to the people of Clay county is false. (p.171)
The separation of lands was not to be
We have already offered them two prices for their lands; they will not sell -- neither will they buy ours on the same terms. (p.171)
 Howe then cites a letter from June 1834 written by the Governor Daniel Dunklin
A more clear and indisputable right does not exist, than that of the Mormon people, who were expelled from their homes in Jackson county, to return and live on their lands, and if they cannot be persuaded as a matter of policy, to give up that right, or to qualify it, my course, as chief Executive officer of the State, is a plain one. (p.173)
Indeed, there is nothing so absurd or ridiculous, that | (p.174)  they have not a right to adopt as their religion, so that in its exercise, they do not interfere with the right of others. (p173f)
Howe thus ends the description of the Mormon war (p.176).

End of Part 2 -- See Part 3 for the continuation


Sunday, December 15, 2013

E. D. Howe unveiling Mormonism (Part 1)

Howe is not impressed with the character of the Smith family.
[The Smith family, RCK] ... emigrated from the town of Royalton, in the State of Vermont, about the year 1820, when Joseph, Jun. was, it is supposed, about 16 years of age. (p.11)
Howe blames the Smith's family interest in treasure hunting on their economic situation.
Being miserably poor, and not much disposed to obtain an honorable livelihood by labor, the energies of their minds seemed to be mostly directed towards finding where these treasures were concealed, and the best mode of acquiring their possession. (p.11)
Martin Harris appears as a religious will-o-wisp that wants to profit financially from the Book of Mormon.
He [i.e. Martin Harris, RCK] engaged in the new Bible business with a view of making a handsome sum of money from the sale of the books, as he was frequently heard to say. The whole expense of publishing an edition of 5000 copies, which was borne by Martin, to secure the payment of which, he mortgaged his farm for $3000. (p.13)
Howe reports how Harris was financially ruined by that publishing venture. Harris continued to prophecy himself (p.14) and engage in complex theological discussions with whoever will listen (pp.14-15).

Oliver Cowdery is represented as a trained blacksmith and now pro-Mormon newspaper editor (p.15), which meant as no compliment.

David Whitmer is represented as part of a family of credulous people and his description of the plates presented in detail (p.16).

Howe points out that the translation process (p.18) due to the function of the seer stone actually required none of the plates, and that the alternate story of the Urim and Thumim has the same problem.

Howe comments on the odd defense against the stolen transcription of the plates (p.22) and the impossibility of the resolution of how the transcription became lost.
Again, an important record which had been made by a miracle, (p.22) kept for ages by a miracle, dug from the ground by a miracle, and translated by a miracle, was stolen by some one, so that even a miracle could not restore it .... (p.23)
Howe suggests that the bad King James imitation and use of phrases gives the book a uniformity that precludes the plurality of the supposed authors of the books (p.23). The convoluted language also seems an inappropriate mode for God to reveal Himself (p.24), and Howe contrasts it with the straight-forward language of Jesus in the New Testament.

Howe complains about the use of steel by Nephi in the slaying of Laban (p.25).

Howe notes that the prophecy of Lehi for the plates taken by murder from Laban were not fulfilled, because instead of the plates, only a translation has been found and furnished to the world (p.27). The absence of the tools and the metals that Nephi was asked to leave behind makes it difficult for Howe to see how the plates that Nephi is now supposed to fashioned were made in a non-miraculous way (pp.27-28).

Howe also notes the temporal problems in Lehi's prophecy (pp.28-30) and their detailed presupposition of the King James version of the New Testament. Equally, Nephi's vision (p.31) that follows presupposes not only the Catholic Church but the Protestant Reformation.

Howe observes that Nephi (p.33) when mining the ore for building the tools to build the ship has no tools to convert the ore into tools.

Once Nephi's party lands in the Promised Land (p.35), they find oxen in the forest, which requires a surgical procedure on bulls to accomplish. Howe also notes that finding gold, silver and copper ores wont be sufficient to make brass plates which requires zinc, as Nephi is instructed (p.35).

Howe is suspicious of the prophecy of Lehi at this point, which predicts details of the crucifixion, using prophets whose names are not known elsewhere (p.36). Since Lehi then cites two chapters of Isaiah, in King James diction, Howe becomes concerned about the change of English since then and why the Lord chose not to reveal 19th century English. There is also the stylistic problem that the English of the two chapters of Isaiah is so much better than the remainder of the Book of Mormon (p.39), and even uses the modern chapter divisions. The word-for-word match is suspicious to Howe: No Old Testament prophet prophesied word-for-word speeches of the Savior, nor do the evangelists agree completely in style and diction when they quote the Savior (p.40)--only Lehi manages that feat.

Howe suspects that the base forgery that is the Book of Mormon in his eyes is due to Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith Jr (p.42).

The style riles Howe again (p.44)
Would it not be reasonable to conclude, that any book, whose author was the Holy Ghost, would be clear and perfect in all its parts; so plain that the wayfaring man need not err? particularly if the translation and style be chosen and dictated by himself, as it is pretended that the book of Mormon was.
When Nephi separates from the Lamnites and goes to found the city of Nephi with his small band of followers (p.46), Howe points out that the group has only been tracking around for about 30 years and cannot possibly have grown large enough that they could seriously defend themselves against any large group of people, swords or not.

When Lehi makes the sons of Joseph to priests, Howe points (p.48) to the fact that Paul would not even admit Jesus as priest while he was on earth, given that he did not descend from Levi.

Howe continuously points to the temporal quagmire that the an Israelite of the 6th century should talk about New Testament matters
The doctrines which are found in the new Testament, in relation to the coming Messiah, and his rejection by the Jews, is explained; a task not very difficult for any one in the nineteenth century. (p.51)
But even the general chronology does not work out correctly:
Here we see the ignorant author has made too great a mistake, for, according to the Bible, Jerusalem must have been besieged six years before the pretended departure of Lehi from Jerusalem, and the city destroyed, and the Jews carried captive into Babylon, four years and six months, for the siege lasted only eighteen months. (p.51)
The recurrent theme of the riches also causes Howe consternation
There seems to be a prevailing passion in the writer to represent the Nephites as being great miners after the precious metals. They are often represented as diging and searching after gold and silver -- which will perhaps be an apology for Joseph Smith's early habits in searching after hidden treasures, he being a remnant of the Nephites. (p.55)
Again, the amount of time that has passed in the Book of Mormon is insufficient to allow for a numerous people, kings and wars, and all the other trappings of the narrative.
According to the most extravagant calculation, in point of increase among five or six females, the whole could not have amounted to more than about sixteen hundred, in the time mentioned, allowing no deaths to have occurred; besides, about one half of that number would be under ten years old. The story of wars and contentions, and of kings having passed away, is too ridiculous and inconsistent to be noticed and refuted in a serious manner. (p.56)
Howe also notes the problem of assuming that descendants of the Jew Lehi would write in reformed Egyptian (p.59f).

Howe re-iterates the quotation argument
The fact that so great a proportion of the whole book being made from quotations from the Bible, a part of which was not written until six hundred years after the pretended period of our author, places the matter beyond controversy, and is conclusive testimony that the author was an infidel. (p.64)
In the context of the judgeship of Alma, Howe points out that no coins of the denominations given have ever been found (p.72).

Howe pokes fun at the story of Ammon (p.75-76), who in his frontier mentality takes out some of the Lamnites with stones and the others by lopping off their arms with his sword.

Howe then points out (pp.77f),  that the process of the seer stone translation in the hat makes the testimony of the three men of the plates unhelpful, because they had no process of determining whether the translation matched the plates they had seen.

Among the other anachronisms, Howe finds the reviling of freemasonry, which makes only sense for 19th century contexts.
Freemasonry is here introduced and is said to have originated with a band of highwaymen. This institution is spoken of in very reproachful terms, in consequence of the members having bound themselves by secret oaths to protect each other in all things from the justice of the law. (p.81)
Howe notes how politically appropriate this is.
The Nephites are represented as being Anti-masons and Christians, which carries with it some evidence that the writer foresaw the politics of New York in 1828-29, or that work was revised at or about that time. (p.81)
Or how astronomically astute the Book of Mormon is, eschewing the Ptolemaic view of the solar system (p.82).

Howe wonders why the Nephites succeeded against the free masons using prophetic leaders, when latter day prophet Joseph Smith Jr failed to predict the troubles they would run into in Missouri (p.84).

Howe now turns to the question of the witnesses and (p.96) points out that the interests of the witnesses in the matter undercut the validity of their oath to the point that no court would accept them. Martin Harris after all put up the publishing money and would stand to profit by the sales. Similarly for Oliver Cowdery, who was poor then but (p.97) in comfortable circumstances at the point in time when Howe was writing. Ditto for David Whitmer, who as an "inconsiderable person" became a leader of high standing within the Mormon community.

Howe makes similar short shrift (p.99) of the eight witnesses, four of which come from the Whitmer family, and three from the Smith, and attest to nothing except that they saw plates and handled them.

End of Part 1 -- See Part 2 for the continuation


Han China on the problem of accountability

In his book, The bureaucracy of Han times, Cambridge University Press 1980, Hans Bielenstein makes the sage observation about the Han censorship system, the root of any accountability system.
The repeated alternations in rank between 600 shih and 2000 shih [i.e. bushels, here a symbolic system of rank designation, RCK] must have stemmed from the difficulty of devising a system whereby scrutiny of local administration would function as intended. Should one appoint junior officials at the beginning or senior officials at the end of their career? Would junior officials act vigorously in the hope of furthering their advancement, or, would they, on they contrary, fear to ruin their chances by impeaching powerful men of higher rank? Would elderly senior officials do their duty unflinchingly, since they had nothing to lose and none of the local administrators outranked them? Or would they avoid their responsibilities, being close to retirement and not wishing to be embroiled? Both approaches had their advantages and disadvantages, neither was without flaws, and the government could never make up its mind which to adopt permanently. [p.91]
A tough puzzle indeed.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

E.D. Howe's 1834 Mormonism Unveiled on the Web

Like so many other documents having to do with early Mormonism, Dale R. Broadhurst's set of webpages at has a scanned copy of Eber Dudley Howe's 1834 book Mormonism Unveiled.

Unfortunately, the Broadhurst scan as of December 2013 is incomplete; I communicated with Dale, but I don't know if I found everything and when he will have time to fix it. We communicated and agreed that more proofing is necessary, but we need to see when we two get around to that.

At any rate:

  • The Google books version is here
  • The Internet archive's version of the Google scan is here.
  • The Internet archive's version sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Library System is here.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Encyc of Mormonism on Nauvoo (Vol 3, pp.987-993)

Article "Nauvoo" 

(by Glen M. Leonhard; pp.987-993)

Nauvoo was the home of the LDS from 1839 to 1846, from the time they fled the Missouri persecutions in the 1838-9 [in what is commonly called the Mormon War, RCK] to the exodus west to the Rockies [after the death of Joseph Smith Jr, RCK] (p.987). Nauvoo was the main settlement of an area extending from Eastern Iowa to Western Illinois where the LDS found refuge.

Nauvoo grew on
land purchased from settlers and speculators willing to sell on contract (Vol 3. p.987)
For example
Joseph Smith [Jr, RCK] acting as agent for the Church, bought the Illinois farms of Hugh & William White and investment tracts from Isac Galland and Horace Hotchkiss—in all, 660 acres.(Vol 3. p.987)
Smith Jr sold 1 acre lots on the river flats, other LDS developers sold lots on the buffs. The area had been mapped out with the "paper" towns of Commerce and Commerce City, but a new layout of streets three rods wide took its place.

In 1840, the Illinois legislature issued the Nauvoo Charter, which made Nauvoo a legal entity.

Not only Ohio and Missouri LDS came to Nauvoo (p.990), but also newly missionized members from the United States, Canada and Britain (due to the success of the Missions of the Twelf to the British Isles). The converts used a plurality of modes of transport.
Some used canal boats and lake steamers, others covered wagons and horseback, and a few simly walked. (p.990)
Beginning in 1840, thousands sailed the Atlantic from Liverpool, England, and took steamboats up the Mississippi from New Orleans. (p.990)
The migrations (see also Art. Immigration and Emigration) were assisted by the Church
[The migraints were] aided by Church emigration agents in Liverpool, who organized companies and appointed shepherds for those fleeing to Zion .... (p.990)
The influx was more than the boom town could handle.
Renting a room or finding other temporary quarters became increasinglz difficult during the boom years 1841-1843. (p.990)
While resources such as lumber and clay for brick making was available, the contractors were scarce.


Joseph Smith [Jr, RCK] and his family moved into the Mansion House in August 1843. Later a wing was added to the east side of the main structure for a total of twenty-two rooms. Beginning in January 1844, Ebenezer Robinson managed the Mansion House as a hotel, and the Prophet maintained six rooms for himself and his family. Emma Smith lived here until 1871, when she moved into the Nauvoo House, where she died in 1879.
(Caption, p.990)


Many of the maps from the article where actually available on the web as well--yay me!

Map of the City of Nauvoo, Illinois, on the Mississippi River, c. 1842 

Church History Sites near Navuoo, Illinois, 1839-1846 (p.988)

Street Map of Nauvoo, 1846 (p.989)


Daniel H. LUDLOW (ed), Encyclopedia of Mormonism. The History, Scripture, Doctrine, and Procedure of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, New York - Toronto (Macmillan) 1992, 5 volumes.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Literature on rituals and religious stances

This list of books and papers is based on the presentation given by Sarah Demmrich at the DoktorantInnen Kolloquium
Dipl Psych Demmrich also mentioned the following tests
  • the PANAS for affect measures (now PANAS-X)
  • the FEEL-KJ questionaire for determining emotional regulation in children and juveniles
  • the Mysticism Scale in Hood, Ralph W. Jr. 1975. The Construction and Preliminary Validation of a Measure of Reported Mystical Experience, in: Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 14(1), p.29-41, which is in turn based on the research by Walter Terence Stace, Mysticism and Philosophy, London 1961.
  • the Tellegen Absorption Scale described in Ritz & Dahme (1995)
The Ekstase Scale (Wolfredd 2013) was not findable given that information.

In the discussion, Prof. Danz pointed out that some of the considerations in
  • Monika Wohlrab-Sahr, Religionslosigkeit als Thema der Religionssoziologie, in: Pastoraltheologie 90: 152-167.
seemed to be lacking from the research design.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Fichte vs Joseph Smith Jr

I managed to find the section today where Johann Gottlieb Fichte points out that the contents of all revelation cannot differ from what the moral imperative already states—to say it somewhat informally.

Here's the money shot:
Das allgemeine Kriterium der Göttlichkeit einer Religion in Absicht ihres moralischen Inhalts ist also folgendes: Nur diejenige Offenbarung, welche ein Princip der Moral, welches mit dem Princip der praktischen Vernunft übereinkommt, und lauter solche moralische Maximen aufstellt, welche sich davon ableiten lassen, kann von Gott seyn. 
—J.G. Fichte, Versuch einer Kritik aller Offenbarung, §11, S.177.
That's not quite how Joseph Smith Jr saw the matter ... ;)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

La Longue Durée and Petitio Principii

After both the analysis of the Ur-Matriarchy and the discussions regarding the restructuring of the dissertation project, I have begun to think about the Braudelian Longue Durée as the moral equivalent of a petitio principii, in that in many instances, including some that Braudel applies in his book on the Mediterranean, the unchanging nature of the historical structure is assumed rather than demonstrated, thus undermining the quality of the argument.

Furthermore, as the micro-historical turn would suggest, a detailed analysis of the assumed longue durée would discover both variability within the structure across time and would suggest less Procrustian research paths whose questions cannot be suggested up front; more research into Danto's observations regarding the "Monassian rule problem" is required to firm up thinking here.

Thus, it might be that the trichotomy of longue, médian and court re-collapses to the distinction of event and structure well-attested with German historiographical tradition (e.g. Reinhart Koselleck). This is not to deny that post-facto of the historical reconstruction, the structures can be sorted temporally by their duration, which is independently useful, providing terminus ante and post quem information. But unless the work has been done up front, it cannot be presupposed for the argument.

Rather, the claim will have to be weaker, i.e. that in a specific historical reconstruction, a specific structure turned out to be temporally stable across a long, medium or short range of time--with no claim how that would play out in alternate settings, reconstructions, in the future, or for even the same topic assuming additional research work. It is an empirical argument, and can be swayed by a single counter example, not an analytic category. It is a werksimmanente Eigenschaft.

As a research strategy, it will be permissible to assume that a specific temporal structure might be of long duration, but that has the quality of a heuristic and not of a binding assumption.

Furthermore, it stands to reason that the longer the duration of a temporal structure, the higher the probability that its duration will be invalidated by an event.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

introductory book on US religious history

The book
Ahlstrom, Sydney E.: A religious history of the American people  / Sydney E. Ahlstrom. Foreword and concluding chapter by David D. Hall . - 2. ed. . - New Haven, Conn. [u.a.]  : Yale Univ. Press , 2004 . - XXIV, 1192 S. . - 0-300-10012-4
is available under signature KG-8088 at the FB Theology in Vienna.

A new research structure

Yesterday evening, my advisor and I tossed the basic setup of the research endeavor into early Mormon history and started over. We kept many of the parts, but he streamlined the process that I will have to go through to simplify the tasks. Of the key topoi that I had presented at the November colloquium, we tossed the question of the Book of Mormon and its connection to Gnostic, Hermetic, Romantic and philosophical concerns, the magical world view and the Second Great Awakening.

Instead, we opted to focus on the financial administration of the young Latter Day Saints congregation; on urbanization as communication in Nauvoo and its temple; and on the general principles of mobility during the time period. It is only when these topics are covered with a "naive" Braudelian tri-partite scheme of temporal structure that we match the interpretative structures to the Mediterranean, eliminating the need to reconstruct models that are unhelpful.

Having thus focused the palette based on contextual use, we can still apply the palette in a fifth chapter to the Mormon War of the 1830s and evaluate its helpfulness and/or omissions and insufficiencies.

With a good 50 pages for each chapter, 20+ pages for Introduction and Conclusion, this puts us at ~300 pages of effort. Furthermore, the approach disentangles the first three chapters on financial administration, urbanization and mobility from the model-theoretic framework, allowing them to stand on their own.

Finally, this approach eliminates a methodological straight-jacket and allows the sources to influence both the findings and the directions of the research, rather than fixing the validity and the schematics of the categories up front.

Rejecting the Ur-Matriarchat


The base problem of the Ur-Matriarchat, based on the shared religion of the Great Goddess, is the paralogism of a petitio principii; rather than showing that all of the various tribes and locales of the Paleolithic to the demise of the Cretan culture ~1250 bc shared a common notion of the Great Goddess, it presupposes that shared notion.

This is also the main, though not the only way, in which the theory of the Ur-Matriarchat exposes its roots in the 18th and 19th century mode of historical, sociological and anthropological research. Other aspects are:
  • Its dependence on patriarchical accounts of the main data points, such as Bachofen and Engels for the idea of the matriarchy, or James Mellaart and Sir Arthur Evans for the excavation and interpretation of Çatalhöyük and Knossos.
  • Its dependence on simple process models of historical change, such as the conquest account of the matriarchical tribes through patriarchical Indo-Europeans.
  • Its focus on the Western part of Eurasia to the exclusion of all other parts of the world for telling a definitive story of civilization.
Core archaeological components of this story are limited to selected subsets of the evidence of
  • paleolithic female statuettes and French cave paintings
  • the Cretan palace of Knossos
  • the neolithic site of Çatalhöyük 
  • the paleolithic and neolithic sites excavated by Marija Gimbutas
which ignore the steadily increasing other forms of evidence--settlement sites for the paleolithic, other statuettes from paleolithic, non-Knossian sites from Crete--for the time period under question that do not readily point toward a Matriarchy of the forms described.
The evidence is especially problematic when looking at the physical anthropology for the interred at Çatalhöyük, which reveals the population to have been on the brink of starvation, severely undernourished and suffering from all forms of nutritional deficiencies--hardly a paradise in any sense of the word.

Ute C. Schmidt has labelled this type of assimilation of the present condition to the past while ignoring the historical evidence as "illusionäre Vergangenheitsaneignung" (illusionary appropriation of the past) [p.142] and warns against it, because it obscures the view for analyzing the actual problems, pinning women down with an immobile conception of a past paradise that is unfortunately lost.

Finally, the lack of reflection of the historiographical setup causes unintended consequences; for example, the Ur-Matriarchat hypothesis is unintentionally racist and anti-semitic: Since the duality is either patriarchy (bad) and matriarchy (good), and there is no argument for matriarchy in the South-East of Çatalhöyük, Israel and the majority of Asia, Africa and the Americas must by necessity be counted on the patriarchical side.


  • Meret Fehlmann, Die Rede vom Matriarchat, 2011.
  • Brigitte Röder, Juliane Hummel, Brigitte Kunz: Göttinnendämmerung, 1996 (München : Droemer Knaur), ISBN: 3-426-26887-6.
  • Ute C. Schmidt, Vom Rand zur Mitte: Aspekte einer feministischen Perspektive in der Geschichtswissenschaft, Zürich-Dortmund (edition ebersbach), 1994.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Term Culture in Archaeology

In her book
Röder, Brigitte, Hummel, Juliane, Kunz, Brigitte: Göttinnendämmerung, 1996 (München : Droemer Knaur), ISBN: 3-426-26887-6
Juliane Hummel points out (p.172) that while culture is a concept that for existing societies includes non-material aspects such as belief systems or social conventions, while for archaeology the term is restricted to the material remains and is used in a very circumscribed sense.
Wie diese Beispiele [i.e. Linearbandkeramische Kultur, Horgener Kultur, etc] zeigen, ist der Kulturbegriff in der Archäologie sehr eingeschränkt. Er dient in erster Linie als Arbeitstitel für die fachinterne Verständigung und ist als Sammelbezeichnung für räumlich-zeitlich übereinstimmende archäologische Quellen zu verstehen, wobei der Grund der Übereinstimmung jeweils zu klären ist (Wotzka 1993, 25ff). [p.173]
As these examples show [e.g. Linear band ceramics culture, Horgener Kultur, etc], the term 'culture' is very restricted in archaeology. It serves primarily as a working title for internal communication and is a collective term for spatio-temporally agreeing archaeological sources, where the reason for the agreement requires explanation (Wotzka 1993, 25ff). [p.173]
Since the archaeological sources are restricted to material objects, the notion of culture cannot include "living things" such as conceptualizations.
Eine archäologische Kultur ist strenggenommen eine "tote Kultur" (Eggers 1986, 258). [p.173]
An archaeological culture is essentially a "dead culture" (Eggers 1986, 258). [p.173]
And this means that some of the questions laypeople are most interested in cannot be covered by the archaeological term of culture.
Da die archäologische Kultur ausschließlich über die materiellen Hinterlassenschaften einer Gemeinschaft verfügt, betrachtet sie lediglich einen Ausschnitt der ehemals "lebenden Kultur" .... Die "lebende Kultur" einer Menschengruppe umfaßt alles, was dort erdacht und geschaffen sowie sozial akzeptiert oder geduldet ist. Materielle Gegenstände, z.B. Werkzeuge, gehören ebenso dazu wie nicht-materielle Inhalte, etwa religiöse Vorstellungen, Rechtsnormen oder geschlechtsspezifische Verhaltensregeln (Rudolph 1988, 43). [p.173]
Since archaeological culture only has available the material remains of a society, the term only captures a slice of the then-existing "living culture" .... The "living culture" of a group of people includes everything that was conceived or created there, socially accepted or tolerated. Material remains, for example tools, belong into that as well as non-material contents, such as religious ideas, norms of law or gendered rules of conduct (Rudolph 1988, 43). [p.173]
This subtle distinction between "living culture" and "dead culture" foils some of the interpretative attempts that people make with respect to archaeological knowledge.
Ob die Menschen einer archäologischen Kultur, wie etwa Marija Gimbutas annimmt, sich selbst als Gemeinschaft verstanden, eine gemeinsame Sprache benützten, die gleichen religiösen Vorstellungen hatten -- kurz: ob sich die einzelnen Gruppenmitglieder als ein 'Volk' subjektiv zusammengehörig fühlten, darüber sagt der archäologische Kulturbegriff nichts aus. [p.174]
Whether the people of an archaeological culture, as Marija Gimbutas assumes, saw themselves as a society, used a common Language, shared religious conceptualizations -- in short, whether the individual members of the group felt subjectively as belonging together as a 'people', is a discussion that the archaeological sense of culture cannot contribute to. [p.174]

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Analogy in Archaeology

The book
Röder, Brigitte, Hummel, Juliane, Kunz, Brigitte: Göttinnendämmerung, 1996 (München : Droemer Knaur), ISBN: 3-426-26887-6
suggests on p.168 that p.16 in Ian Hodder's 1982 book
Ian Hodder, The present past: An introduction to anthropology for archaeologists, London 1982. 
is helpful in thinking about archaeological analogy.
Analogien sind ganz allgemein eine Form des Informationstransfers von einem Objekt zum anderen, wobei verbindende Vergleichbarkeiten vorhanden sein müssen (Hodder 1982, 16). [p.168]
Analogies are generally speaking a form of information transfer from one object to another, where comparable features are present (Hodder 1982, 16). [p.168] 
Juliane Hummel, who contributed this chapter, continues
Jede analoge Schlußfolgerung ist an die sozialen und historischen Umstände der interpretierenden Person gebunden und spielt sich grundsätzlich vor dem Hintergrund des jeweiligen persönlichen Wissens und der individuellen Überlegungen über die Welt und die Menschen ab, .... [p.168]
Every analogical conclusion is tied to the social and historical circumstances of the interpreting person and essentially plays out in front of the backdrop of personal knowledge and individual musing about the world and humanity, .... [p.168]  
though she points out that the interpreting persons need not be aware of these limitations and cites Sir Arthur Evans of Krete fame as a good example.

All of this is fundamentally hermeneutic in the iterative deepening circle sense of the word.
Es kann nur das gefunden werden, was dem Interpreten oder der Interpretin bekannt ist. [p.168]
As interpreters, we can only find what we are familiar with. [p.168]
As a minor criticism, I would disagree with that conclusion in the limit case, as its truth would eliminate the possibility of ever learning about any new objects. We are quite capable of realizing that we have never seen anything like it and that a new term is in order.

But I am with Brigitte Röder when she observes that any act of identification is an act of interpretation already.
Schon allein die Feststellung, daß es sich bei ... [einem] ... Bronzeobjekt um ein Schwert handelt, ist eine Analogie auf dem Hintergrund heutigen Wissens. Letztendlich kann nämlich nicht mit endgültiger Sicherheit ge- [p.168] sagt werden, ob ein solcher Gegenstand, nur weil er eine Form aufweist, die uns als "Schwert" vertraut ist, wirklich als Waffe benutzt wurde (Sangmeister 1967, 202). Vielleicht diente er ja als Grabstock oder als Webschwert? [p.168f]
Even the mere identification of some bronze object as a sword is an analogy grounded in present day knowledge. In the limit no one can say definitively [p.168] whether such an object, just because it has a shape that is familiar to us as a "sword", was truly used as a weapon (Sangmeister 1967, 202). Maybe it was used to dig or during weaving? [p.168f]
Thus, analogies never amount to proofs, just as providers of plausibility.
Analogien ... sind der einzige Weg, über einen archäologischen Befund und über Funktion von Gerätschaften Hypothesen zu bilden und den Blick auf Aspekte und Strukturen zu lenken, die die Quellen von sich aus nicht verraten. [p.169]
Analogies ... are the only way to form hypotheses about an archaeological finding and about the function of tools and to put into view aspects and structures that the sources do not reveal by themselves. [p.169] 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Project Presentation Feedback

Here are my unvarnished notes from the feedback discussion after the presentation of my project.

  • Braudel is actually missing part three of his book on the Mediterranean, where the long and the middle duration meet the history of events
  • TRE4 should probably be RGG4; otherwise Markschies would be still in high school.
  • In his co-presentation, Berhard emphasized
    • the dualism of theory and content as positive, but worried about the balancing
    • worried that the title was showing that the interpretation is more important
    • missing the hypotheses that powered the theological part
    • was unclear as to the specifics motivating Fernand Braudel
  • in her comment, Elizabeth Morgan emphasized
    • the romantic slant of the book of Mormon
    • wondered whether the historiographical models of the book of Mormon itself might be interesting or helpful
  • in his contribution, Robert Schelander emphasized
    • the worry that the Archival material might be to heterogeneous to support the efforts intended

Friday, November 1, 2013

Reed Peck's sketch of Mormon history

Up to and including the Mormon War in Missouri, the historical sketch by contemporary Reed Peck gives an account, almost eyewitness-like, of the rise of Mormonism.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

dissertations for Early Mormonism

From a footnote in
Compton, Todd M.; Gentry, Leland Homer (2012-01-26). Fire and Sword: A History of the Latter-day Saints in Northern Missouri, 1836-39 (ebook Part 1) (Kindle Locations 218-227). Greg Kofford Books. Kindle Edition. 
comes the suggestion of some places to look, including
Larry C. Porter, “A Study of the Origins of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the States of New York and Pennsylvania, 1816–1831” (Ph.D. diss., Brigham Young University, 1971); Max H. Parkin, “A History of the Latter-day Saints in Clay County, Missouri, from 1833 to 1837”; and Milton V. Backman Jr., The Heavens Resound: A History of the Latter-day Saints in Ohio, 1830–1838. Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith. Several of the women I researched had significant Missouri experiences: Emily and Eliza Partridge, daughters of Bishop Edward Partridge; Agnes Coolbrith Smith, wife of Don Carlos Smith; Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner; Eliza R. Snow; Lucy Walker; and Martha McBride Knight, wife of Bishop Vinson Knight. Stephen C. LeSueur, The 1838 Mormon War in Missouri; Alexander L. Baugh, A Call to Arms: The 1838 Defense of Northern Missouri.

Mormonism and authorship attribution

An interesting reference (though no details as of yet) on how Sidney Rigdon rigged up the book of Mormon by talking the writings of a fantasy writer of that age, Solomon Spaulding, and giving them a theological work-over.

Alexander Campbell on the book of Mormon

Ah, the ease of the Internet. Turns out that Dr Alexander Campbell's book Delusions, a contemporary refutation of the book of Mormon, is available here and here.

His key points of internal evidence, by which Campbell means, as in light with the remainder of the Bible, are:

  • (p.11) God separated the Aaronite and the Levite priesthood so strictly that Hebrews 7 points out that even Jesus could not approach the altar and usurp the position of Levi.
  • (p.12) The departure from Jerusalem and Canaan, far from being experienced as a curse and punishment (see Deuteronomy 29,21), is accepted happily by Levi & Nephi. But positing any other land makes God into a liar, breaking His prophecies. 
  • (p.12) Neither do the Jews show any sadness for Jerusalem and the Temple of the Lord, as they did in Babylon.
  • (p.13) Paul states that some of his knowledge about the Apostles are secrets that are only now being revealed (e.g. Romans 11), but the Book of Mormon gives them out hundreds of years earlier.
  • (p.13) Campbell is suspicious of the fact that so much doctrinal controversies discussed in New York during the 1820s, citing "infant baptism, ordination, the trinity, regeneration, repentance, justification, the fall of man, the atonement, transubstantiation, fasting, penance, church government, religious experience, the call to the ministry, the general resurrection, eternal punishment, who may baptize, and even the question of freemasonry, republican government, and the rights of man" (p.13).
  • (p.13) John the Baptist is said to preach in Bethabara and Jesus claimed to be born in Jerusalem.
His key points of external evidence are:
  • Smith and his collaborators cannot bear witness for themselves, as John 5:31 ("If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.") points out.
  • The test for prophets is whether their prophecies have come true (Deut 18,22; not 18,3 as in the pamphlet).

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ian Gregory on Maps as Bad Graphs

I strongly suspect that I completely agree with the sentiment of Ian Gregory implied by the title
Gregory I.N. (2008) “‘A map is just a bad graph:’ Why spatial statistics are important in historical GIS” in Knowles A.K. (ed.) Placing History: How maps, spatial data and GIS are changing historical scholarship. ESRI Press: Redlands CA. pp. 123-149
In fact, walking back from the Institute for European Ethnology yesterday, where I had picked up a copy of Henri Lefebvre's Production of Space, I was thinking the same thing. But boy, is it difficult to get a hold of that article.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Elizabeth Morgan on Holy Scripture as fundamental category of Systematic Theology

In her presentation, Ms Morgan focused on the question of how the Holy Scripture is available, especial with respect to the question of the Middle of the Holy Scripture.

The theme is the middle of scripture, which is treated from various theological disciplines, and from various interests--canonical, polemical for exclusion of old writings, unification of OT and NT (possibly via the middle of the OT then as a precondition.

The main systematic sketch is the one proposed by Ingolf Dalferth, who defines
Jesus Christus ist die externe Mitte der Schrift.
Identification of categories of that conceptual framework pile, and figuring out functions and definitions. This plays into practical efforts as well, for example, in the selection of pericopes within the EKD.

The term middle of Holy Writ because it has organizing influence and is a rhetoric figure, possibly even a tropos.

The middle itself is related to medium. Historically it was called centrum scripturae, the midpoint of the circle, possibly even the Archimedian, but is only attested for with Johann Gerhard (Loci Theologici), who claims to have this from Luther (though we have no record for that).

Alternate terms such as Evangelium, Kanon and Wort Gottes are all related to this term, but the specific details are complicated to explicate.

"Schriftprinzip" is itself a very late term, from the 19th century; the principium primum is the term that Luther employed.

Martin Kähler argued that the "eklektische Rezitation einzelner Bibelbelege" was not sufficient to fulfil the principium primum.

Scripture comes from the Latin scriptum, which is both the line and the act of writing, as well as the writ. But there is an oscillation between the singular and the plural; the Greek plural byblia becomes a singular in the biblia. "katas tas graphas" is translated as "gemaess der Schrift" in Luther's translation.

Scripture becomes the principium cognoscendi of the theology, which means it also becomes the norma normans.

Dalferth wants to see scripture inseperably tied to church and interpretation.

Sola Scriptura is the key with Luther. There are additional solae, specifically adding Christus, gratia and fide. But Luther does not provide the four as a block. The English tradition has a fifth, from Bach, where the glory of God is emphasized. What about verbo (which Jüngel suggested in reaction to the 19th century criticism) and experientia

The function of writs in the early protestant orthodoxy is expressed in five functions, namely auctoritas causativa, auctoritas normativa, sufficientia, Claritas and Efficiata.


  • Maybe the christological focus of Luther became the middle of the scripture focus in the reprocessing.
  • Systems of thought get worked out in later phases, though Luther may not have had all the bits and pieces put together, but that does not deny the prevent them being present.
  • The question of the OT needs separate treatment, and a focusing of the terminology needs to happen sooner rather than later.
  • Exposition present middle and scripture rather separately, but they are theologumena already and maybe cannot be treated helpfully without that context.
  • There is a common reformatorical pattern here, that can be found in Zwingli and Calvin as well.
  • Lectio continua does not require a middle of the scripture in the same way.
  • The positioning of scripture and tradition is key here, the role of the wildcard, which the middle can accept. 
  • Maybe the organization of the pericopes should be the umbrella of the whole effort.
  • Check Morphologie des Luthertums in the two volumes for details on the construction of the sola complex.
  • Spickermann's publication of a new biblical theology.
  • Problem of the lack of literature and littera as terminology.


  • Maybe the term is an exclusionary term, not an organizing term? 
  • Maybe you only need a middle if you have a historical canon that is actually heterogeneous?
  • Shouldn't there be just one sola?

Vischer's early copper print of Korneuburg

This image is of a fresco in the Niederösterreichische Hilfswerk in Korneuburg, replicating a colored copper print of M. Vischer of the city of Korneuburg from 1671.

The picture is almost a case study of the problems of interpreting historical art for historical purposes. 

Vischer needed to make money, so he had to generate appealing views if the cities in question; and he worked on a large number of cities in the Hapsburg empire. So he polished up and tightened up the vistas, leaving one to guess as to how accurate they were.

Several cases in point, in no particular order

• the city condition is way too good; the Swedish commander Torsten and his troops had destroyed some 60 houses when taking the city during the 30 Year War, blown corners off the city tower, etc
• the castle of Kreutzenstein is too proximate to the city and in too good a condition, as Torsten had the fortifications blasted before departing
• the Hungarian Gate had additional structures (Vorwerk) that are not depicted
• the relationship to the Danube and the absence of the shipping channels cannot be right

Of course, Vischer got many things right
• one can make out the city tower, the city church St Aegid, and the tower if the Capuccian monestary
• the large buildings in the center are most likely the roof tops of the salt silos
• due to being a landesfürstliche city there were to be no buildings around the outside fortifications, which is what Vischer depicts

But that still leaves two church spires unexplained (the Augustine priory? Private house chapels?) and gives in general no confidence in the specifics of the rooftops depicted.