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About nealr

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  1. Does it not look like this when you click on fn. 13? (I've highlighted Tullidge for convenience): Snow is the only one linked to because it's the only one in the Church's archives, but it's not the only one cited. As for the repeated complaint about "late" sources: almost EVERYTHING we know about early polygamy comes from late sources which are polemically motivated one or the other. Be skeptical of the sources all you want, but you can't really knock any history for using them. They're just about all we've got. On the whole, it would be wise to read the note on sources, if you haven't already: https://www.lds.org/languages/eng/content/history/saints-v1/sources-intro You may also find it helpful to check the ~120 topical essays, which would consistute another 500 printed pages if they published it in hard copy, which explore issues in greater depth, talk over some of the ambiguities in the historical record, and provide additional further reading: https://www.lds.org/languages/eng/content/history/topics/adam-ondi-ahman From what you are saying, it sounds like you disagree about the reliability of some of the sources. OK, fine. That's all fine and good. No one I know is denying that there's room for disagreement on such things. You can even disagree with aspects of the story, or the story as a whole. There's room for disagreement on all of those fronts. But that's not the same thing as it being bad history, or only "loosely based on history." Nor does it mean that they used their sources "uncritically" simply because you think it was a poor source to use, or disagree with how they are interpreting the source. Frankly, I will say again that there are very few people outside the folks at the Church History Department worth taking seriously on such assessments of the sources, and to my knowledge none of them comment on this board. Thus far, none of the comments I've seen so far even betray much of a genuine effort to even understand how they are putting the pieces together, which should be a fundamental first step to critically evaluating a history in the first place (none of this random source look-up hit-and-run garbage).
  2. Pro-tip: check all the sources listed in the footnote before jumping to conclusions. Footnote 13 has 2 sources listed: 1. Lorenzo Snow, Affidavit, Aug. 28, 1869, Joseph F. Smith, Affidavits about Celestial Marriage, Church History Library 2. Tullidge, Women of Mormondom, 368. The Lorenzo Snow affidavit appears to be there to support the part earlier in the paragraph: "After receiving the commandment, Joseph struggled to overcome his natural aversion to the idea. He could foresee trials coming from plural marriage, and he wanted to turn from it." I think the Snow affidavit reasonably supports that assertion. As for the timing, Snow is reporting that he learned about it in 1843. Anything Joseph told about his reluctance to practice would naturally apply to whenever the revelation was first given to him. The claim that the angel told Joseph to keep the revelation private comes from the Tullidge source, which is reporting the recollection of Elizabeth Ann Whitney: "He had been strictly charged. by the angel, who committed these precious things into his keeping, that he should only reveal them to such ones as were pure ... that to spread them abroad would only be like casting pearls before swine; and that the most profound secresy was to be maintained, until the Lord saw fit to make it known to the world." https://archive.org/details/womenofmormondom00tullrich This too places the events in 1842-43, but I'm not gonna do all the leg work for you on sorting out the dating. I presume (I haven't read this far yet, and only jumped to this paragraph because you brought it up) it's mentioned and sourced elsewhere in the narrative, and if you are interested it would probably only take a bit of digging to figure out. The practice of putting several sources supporting different assertions from multiple sentences in one footnote is not uncommon in professional history writing, and in fact can be found in, say, Bushman's Rough Stone Rolling. Likewise, it is not uncommon to use a source for a piece of information, but reconstruct the chronology differently than the source. Indeed, I would expect that to happen sometimes in a history that uses it's sources critically. But if you are expecting every source to support the claims of Saints in the exact way they have reconstructed the history, you will indeed be sorely disappointed. Any and all histories would fail under such an expectation. That is simply not how history writing works. While there is of course room to disagree with the narrative, I will say this again: based on everything I've seen so far, Saints is a defensible history.
  3. It needs to be pointed out that just because Saints is presented as a narrative, or "story" does not mean it is not rigorous history. Narrative history or narrative non-fiction is a legitimate form of professional history writing, and it is often used when writing for a popular audience. The Preface stresses, "Every scene, character, and line of dialogue is founded in historical sources, which are cited at the end of the book." The Church History Department has gone through pains to make sure nothing is undocumented. In a lot of ways, this is more rigorous than most narrative non-fiction, which typically has some embellishments and flourishes for narratives sake. Even if some details are based on later sources, that is still better than having unsupportable embellishments, in my opinion. So this really lives up to a higher standard than most narrative histories do. Commenting that the sources were chosen "uncritically" is judgement unjustified by the Preface or any other publicly available source. The fact is, the critical analysis that went into choosing which sources to use (and not use) is not publicly available, and so unless someone personally has insider knowledge as to why source X was chosen over source Y, they are merely jumping to conclusions, based on their personal views of specific sources---and I am willing to bet that with exception of very few people, Steven Harper and the other folks at the CHD are better qualified to make judgements about the quality of sources than those who are accusing them of using sources uncritically. Now, that being said, I am willing to bet that how "dialogue-able" a source was played a role in their choice to quote directly from it (rather than just refer to it), but that is not the same thing as uncritically using a source to support their story. So calling this "loosely based on history" is, in my view, absurd. No history ever written is perfect, and no doubt this will need to be revised in the future. But it's as soundly based on history as Bushman's Rough Stone Rolling is, even if there are differences between the two in terms of both style and interpretive choices. Saints is a defensible history.