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Mudcat

When exactly was the Melchizedek Priesthood reestablished in the CoJCoLDS?

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I had in mind starting a thread regarding the CoJCoLDS and Holy Spirit epistemology. I still intend to, but thought I would do a bit of research first.

Seems I have nasty habit of starting threads, on occasion, that have some apparent answers that I was simply unaware of. I am trying to get better at that sort of thing, so I thought I would look into the matter as best I could before I opened a topic.

In part of my research, I was looking into the posited reestablishment of the Melchizedek Priesthood. As unreliable as Wiki can be at time, they did have an article on the topic. Full Article Sourced Here

Below was the main body of the article. I bolded the most relevant statement.

For the Aaronic priesthood, Joseph Smith, Jr. and Oliver Cowdery had said they were visited by John the Baptist, who laid his hands on their head and gave them the priesthood. Unlike this restoration, however, which Smith described in detail and gave an exact date when it happened, Smith never gave a description of any vision in which he saw an angel separately confer the Melchizedek priesthood. However, by the turn of the 20th century, Latter Day Saint theologians believed that such a separate ordination by angels had occurred prior to the organization of the Church of Christ on April 6, 1830.[7] This was largely because the early church organization contained the office of elder, which at least by 1835 was considered an office of the Melchizedek priesthood. As evidence for such a pre-organization angellic conferral, writers referred to a revelation in which Smith said he heard "The voice of Peter, James, and John in the wilderness between Harmony, Susquehanna county, and Colesville, Broome county, on the Susquehanna river, declaring themselves as possessing the keys of the kingdom, and of the dispensation of the fulness of times!"[8] Thus, most Mormons imagine the Smith and Cowdery were visited by the three angels and that they conferred the Melchizedek priesthood in the same way John the Baptist had conferred the Aaronic priesthood.

However, the official church history, supervised or written by Smith, states that "the authority of the Melchizedek priesthood was manifested and conferred for the first time upon several of the Elders" during a General Conference in early June 1831.[9] When Smith's official history was first published in 1902, the compiler B.H. Roberts thought that this was a mistake, because it would not be consistent with the then-common Mormon belief that the priesthood had been conferred prior to the church's founding in 1830.[10]

However, some recent Mormon historians accept Smith's history as correct and consistent with other historical records showing that other Mormons present at the conference dated the restoration of the Melchizedek priesthood to 1831.[11] This conference had been a very significant event in the early church history, coming soon after the conversion of Sidney Rigdon, who believed that Mormon missionaries lacked the necessary power to adequately preach the gospel.[12] Thus, in January 1831, Smith issued a revelation where he wrote that after Mormons relocated to Kirtland, Ohio, they would "be endowed with power from on high" and "sent forth".[13] In a revelation given to an individual, Smith assured the man that "at the conference meeting he [would] be ordained unto power from on high".[14] One of Smith's associates that was present at the conference expressed the view that this ordination "consisted [of] the endowment--it being a new order--and bestowed authority",[15] and later that year, an early convert who had left the church claimed that many of the Saints "have been ordained to the High Priesthood, or the order of Melchizedek; and profess to be endowed with the same power as the ancient apostles were".[16] In 1835, the historical record was muddled a bit when the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants altered pre-1831 revelations to make a distinction between the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods, and to classify the offices of elder and apostle as part of the Melchizedek priesthood.[17]

At least according to the article, their seems to be a lack of specificity on the issue.

The exact date of such a posited reestablishment of the Melchizedek Priesthood isn't central to the theme of my upcoming topic. But I am wondering if the CoJCoLDS actually does have a firm date on this, an official position, and so forth?

What do you think?

Respectfully,

Mudcat

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Where does P,J, & J fit into all this?

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At least according to the article, their seems to be a lack of specificity on the issue.

The exact date of such a posited reestablishment of the Melchizedek Priesthood isn't central to the theme of my upcoming topic. But I am wondering if the CoJCoLDS actually does have a firm date on this, an official position, and so forth?

What do you think?

The official position is this - no official date. Some have tried to narrow the date to sometime around June, 1829. Others claim the MP was not restored until after the re-organisation of the church. There is some evidence that the office of 'elder' was conferred prior to April 6, 1830 and was considered an office of the Aaronic Priesthood at the time of conferral.

I'm at work right now, so can't provide references at the moment.

H.

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In a conversation I heard between Joseph and Hyrum smith, Oliver Cowdery was spoken of. Joseph said, "Poor boy!"

He then said that at Colesville, New York, in 1829, he and Oliver were under arrest on a charge of deceiving the people. When they were at the justice's house for trial in the evenig, all were waiting for Mr. Reid, Joseph's lawyer; While waiting, the justice asked Joseph some questions, among which was this: "hat was the first miracle Jesus performed?"

Joseph replied, "He made this world, and what followed we are not told."

Mr. Reid came in and said he wanted to speak to his clients in private and that the law allowed him that privilege, he believed. The judge pointed to a door to a room in the back part of the house, and told them to step in there. As soon as they got into the room, the lawyer said there was mob outside in front of the house. 'If they get hold of you they will perhaps do you bodily injury; and I think that best way for you to get out of this is to get out right there." pointing to the window and hoisting it.

They got into the woods in going a few rods from the house. It was night and they traveled through brush and water and mud, fell over logs, etc., until Oliver was exhausted. Then Joseph helped him get along through the mud and water, almost carrying him.

They traveled all night, and just at the break of day Oliver gave out entirely and exclaimed, "Oh, Lord! Brother Joseph, how long have we got to endure this thing?

They sat down on a log to rest, and Joseph said that at that very time, Peter, James, and John came to them and ordained them to the apostleship.

They had sixteen or seventeen miles to go to get back to Mr. Hale's, his father-in-law;s, but Oliver did not complain any more of fatigue.

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If this second-hand, late record is accurate, then we can approximate the date.

First, it was not winter ("water", not "snow", the mud was not frozen). It was not the same time as the ordination by John the Baptist (15 May 1829), but was not long after, since it was still during the translation of the Book of Mormon (they were still at the Hale's, which they left in May). I haven't found any reference to a Colesville arrest, which would identify this date specifically.

Lehi

D. Michael Quinn's Origins of Power has a detailed treatment of the evidence around the date issue. It's an interesting read.

H.

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As noted, the Book of Commandments (1833) does not say anything about levels of priesthood, and even the names of the angels are not given; nor even the "revelation" that John the Baptist had bestowed the Aaronic priesthood at all: all of that was added in the next edition, the first D&C in 1835. John the Baptist is only specified by 1835, and Peter, James and John the apostles are not specified as empirically giving the Melchizedek priesthood until much later; while the dating of such an event is not recorded. While interesting, the above account is without provenance and any number of such could be added to the pile of anecdotal "records" without profit toward our knowledge of facts....

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Here's how the Church tells it:

In June 1829 Joseph was translating the Book of Mormon, and Oliver was writing for him. During this time Joseph and Oliver went into the wilderness area near the Susquehanna River between the towns of Harmony and Colesville, Pennsylvania. Peter, James, and John appeared and conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. Peter, James, and John said they held the keys of the kingdom, and they were to bring the Melchizedek Priesthood to the earth in the dispensation of "the fulness of times," or the latter days. (See D&C 27:1213; see also D&C 128:20.) Because of this great event, we have the Melchizedek Priesthood on the earth today. (See John A. Widtsoe, Priesthood and Church Government, rev. ed. [1954], 11011.)

tchg-pix.nfo:o:1c8.jpg

So who are you going to believe? The anonymous authors of a wikipedia article, or the Church itself?

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The exact date of such a posited reestablishment of the Melchizedek Priesthood isn't central to the theme of my upcoming topic. But I am wondering if the CoJCoLDS actually does have a firm date on this, an official position, and so forth?

I did attend a fireside where Richard Turley, the Church Historian, speculated on a date using similar reasoning to this FAIR article.

This Ensign article also discusses the issue.

The day, month, and year designation that so precisely identifies the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood (15 May 1829) is absent in the case of the Melchizedek Priesthood. Similarly, knowledge of the attendant circumstances of that restoration is limited. Even so, sufficient elements of the historical puzzle can be put together to give us a close approximation of the time sequence. Evidence suggests a date within the 13-day period from 16 May to 28 May 1829.

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The exact date of such a posited reestablishment of the Melchizedek Priesthood isn't central to the theme of my upcoming topic. But I am wondering if the CoJCoLDS actually does have a firm date on this, an official position, and so forth?

The Restoration of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods occurred during May of 1929.

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The Restoration of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods occurred during May of 1929 1829.

(fixed it for you)

Will you please present the historical evidence that suggests that the Melchizedek Priesthood was restored to Joseph Smith et al in the May of 1829?

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Will you please present the historical evidence that suggests that the Melchizedek Priesthood was restored to Joseph Smith et al in the May of 1829?

Not sure about "Al", but for Joseph and Oliver, please see my message above, #5.

Lehi

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I was recently listening to a presentation by Richard Bushman, who arguably knows more about Joseph Smith than anybody living, and is the author of Rough Stone Rolling (2005).

In addressing this issue, he said that there is no conclusive date. The Church wants to put it within several weeks after May 15, 1829, but other sources indicate a date as late as 1831.

In short, it is a vexed question.

My question is this--If Joseph Smith were, in fact, making it up, why would it be so difficult to assign a specific date to the event, even in retrospect, in order to increase verisimilitude, as he arguably would have done for the Aaronic Priesthood restoration?

The fact that there is no date provided is suggestive to me that it did, in fact, occur . . . whenever that might have been. :P

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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My question is this--If Joseph Smith were, in fact, making it up, why would it be so difficult to assign a specific date to the event, even in retrospect, in order to increase verisimilitude, as he arguably would have done for the Aaronic Priesthood restoration?

--Consiglieri

Consig, what were you doing on April 12 of 2008?

I suspect you can't immediately remember. And that would be the risk in assigning a specific event to that day if you weren't sure; it would be possible for someone to show that you were somewhere else doing something else on that exact day. But if you more generally say something happened in "April of 2008" or even "2008", it becomes nearly impossible to falsify.

This obviously doesn't prove anything, but when it comes to making stuff up, there's safety in generality.

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Consig, what were you doing on April 12 of 2008?

I suspect you can't immediately remember. And that would be the risk in assigning a specific event to that day if you weren't sure; it would be possible for someone to show that you were somewhere else doing something else on that exact day. But if you more generally say something happened in "April of 2008" or even "2008", it becomes nearly impossible to falsify.

This obviously doesn't prove anything, but when it comes to making stuff up, there's safety in generality.

I bet if he were being ordained to the Priesthood by ancient apostles sent as angels he would remember... if he was eating a ham sandwich probably not.

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Consig, what were you doing on April 12 of 2008?

I suspect you can't immediately remember. And that would be the risk in assigning a specific event to that day if you weren't sure; it would be possible for someone to show that you were somewhere else doing something else on that exact day. But if you more generally say something happened in "April of 2008" or even "2008", it becomes nearly impossible to falsify.

This obviously doesn't prove anything, but when it comes to making stuff up, there's safety in generality.

In addition to a lack of date, there also seems to be a lack of 'report', meaning, Joseph and Oliver never immediately reported the ordination. Once again, I'm at work, so I can't recall all the details, but there are a few interesting points to how the ordination story evolved.

H.

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Did I understand this correctly --

* the FIRST time that any distinction or mention of "Melchizedek Priesthood" was in the 1835 Doctrine & Covenants?

IF Joseph was making this religion up as he went along, WHAT would have been the motive for a sudden introduction of an ancient-thus-legitimate-sounding-priesthood in that time in Mormon history? Was he having a crisis of power that required more supernaturalistic experiences to validate the belief in his power base as being a legitimate prophet of God?

IF Joseph was telling the truth, and considering how ****-retentive everyone was about keeping records, why didn't the ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood make its way into Joseph's, Oliver's or early saint's personal journals or Church documentation until 1835?

And why should we accept late third hand accounts of the event that purportedly occurred 50 years after the fact? ARent' there a whole bunch of late hand third party accounts that we reject outiright -- other communications involving Oliver Huntinton come to mind (Quakers on Moon). What's the process for when we accept one but not the other? Does that come down to whatever makes the Church look bad we reject, and whatever makes the Church look more authoritative we accept?

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This obviously doesn't prove anything, but when it comes to making stuff up, there's safety in generality.

I hear what you are saying, Cinepro. Good points, as usual.

Do you have any idea why the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood would have a specific date assigned, when a similar danger might be involved?

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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What do you think?

More important than what anybody thinks is what the historical record shows:

Joseph Smith received the Melchizedek Priesthood "for the first time" from Lyman Wight in Kirtland Ohio on June 3rd, 4th or 6th, 1831.

Oliver Cowdery was ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood by Sidney Rigdon in Kirtland Ohio on August 28, 1831.

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I hear what you are saying, Cinepro. Good points, as usual.

Do you have any idea why the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood would have a specific date assigned, when a similar danger might be involved?

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

I suspect it was easier to remember the date for the Aaronic Priesthood restoration because it coincided with the annual Smith family Father/Son campout.

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Thanks all for your input.

Very appreciative of TAO's Ensign article

And also to Cinepro's Church History coverage.

Though I do see a bit of contention between the two provided sources from lds.org.

The contention between sources, still seems to keep an elusiveness to the topic. In some respects, as I am looking at this, I think the importance of the Melchizedek Priesthood was something that was perhaps a work in progress in this era.

I wanted to look at Mortal Man's matter of fact post in specific.

More important than what anybody thinks is what the historical record shows:

Joseph Smith received the Melchizedek Priesthood "for the first time" from Lyman Wight in Kirtland Ohio on June 3rd, 4th or 6th, 1831.

Wight's statement true or not, could likely be dismissed.. or at least held at arms length. From what I can gather he split from LDS, formed his own church, then joined with the RLDS a bit later. Somewhere along in there he was excommunicated. His excommunication detracts from his testimonial value IMO.

Certainly doesn't mean that he meant what he said when he said it.

Oliver Cowdery was ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood by Sidney Rigdon in Kirtland Ohio on August 28, 1831.

Though Rigdon made his own parting with LDS and Cowdery also, for a time. I think this statement has quite a bit more potence. Though I think the Far West Record minutes actually used the term "High Priesthood". It wouldn't take a rocket scientist to extrapolate that the term meant Melchizedek Priesthood.

The CoJCoLDS seems to be unspecific about the restoration of this priesthood but seems to hold a unified position that JS and OC were ordained together by P,J &J.

This is a stark contrast to the minutes of the Far West Record regarding Cowdery and no mention to Smith. Also noteworthy would be the fact that Cowdery had no mention of ordination the High Priesthood in the GC of 1831.

I dunno what how the CoJCoLDS felt in regards to the Far West Record though.

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I have got another question that I thought would be tied to the OP, so I didn't want to start another thread about it.

Does anyone know when the Gift of the Holy Ghost was conferred upon Joseph Smith?

I would have thought it would be at the time of the posited restoration of the MP, but I don't know really.

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Does anyone know when the Gift of the Holy Ghost was conferred upon Joseph Smith?

I believe (and will check later) that it was on 18300406 when he was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ along with the other five original members.

Here's the reference, although it's not as explicit as I remembered it:

We then laid our hands on each individual member of the Church present, that they might receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and be confirmed members of the Church of Christ. The Holy Ghost was poured out upon us to a very great degree-some prophesied, whilst we all praised the Lord, and rejoiced exceedingly. (1:78)

Lehi

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Though Rigdon made his own parting with LDS and Cowdery also, for a time. I think this statement has quite a bit more potence. Though I think the Far West Record minutes actually used the term "High Priesthood". It wouldn't take a rocket scientist to extrapolate that the term meant Melchizedek Priesthood.

No. Priesthood terminology has a complicated history. For a good long time 'High Priesthood' referred only to the office of High Priest. "Melchizedek Priesthood" as being something over and comprehending the office of High Priest was a later development.

Check out this article over at WVS' blog. It sheds a lot of light on the textual aspect of the development and process. Followed by this one.

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...IF Joseph was telling the truth, and considering how ****-retentive everyone was about keeping records, why didn't the ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood make its way into Joseph's, Oliver's or early saint's personal journals or Church documentation until 1835?...

Hi,

I still believe that Joseph actually DID give the date [June 1829] that he was given the Melchizedek Priesthood. And it is right there in the history of the church for anyone to see.

But because of misconceptions about the matter, people read it and they do not understand.

From History of the Church, Vol 1, Page 62:

We now became anxious to have that promise realized to us, which the angel that conferred upon us the Aaronic Priesthood had given us, viz., that provided we continued faithful, we should also have the Melchizedek Priesthood, which holds the authority of the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Here Joseph makes two things clear: 1. they had been promised the Melchizedek Priesthood, and 2. they had NOT recieved it yet. (Or why say they were "anxious to have that promise realized to us"?)

We had for some time made this matter a subject of humble prayer, and at length we got together in the chamber of Mr. Whitmer's house, in order more particularly to seek of the Lord what we now so earnestly desired; and here, to our unspeakable satisfaction, did we realize the truth of the Savior's promise--"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you"--

Here Joseph makes it clear that an answer to their prayers concerning the matter were answered. What was that answer?

...for we had not long been engaged in solemn and fervent prayer, when the word of the Lord came unto us in the chamber, commanding us that I should ordain Oliver Cowdery to be an Elder in the Church of Jesus Christ; and that he also should ordain me to the same office; and then to ordain others, as it should be made known unto us from time to time.

Here Joseph reports that he is commanded to ordain Oliver Cowdery to be an Elder in the church. But wait, how could he do that if he did not have the Melchizedek Priesthood? Just before Joseph stated that the purpose of the prayer meeting was to have the promised realized that "provided we continued faithful, we should also have the Melchizedek Priesthood". How did he suddenly have it?

I remain convinced that this account is a record of the Melchizedek Priesthood restoration-- just as it appears to be.

What has not been understood is that spirits in the pre-mortal existance were ORDAINED to the MP. And only those who were thus "fore-ordained" in the spirit world before the world began can have the MP in this world.

So Joseph and Oliver did not have to be "ordained" to the MP, there simply had to be a revelation activating the MP in them that they already had. And that is true for anyone who correctly receives the MP in this world-- it has to be done by revelation. And in fact revelation is required in D&C 20:60 for any Priesthood ordination.

So why did Peter, James and John come? They came to restore the keys of the Apostleship, not the MP itself. And the evidence is they came in July 1830, not in 1829, as explained here.

Richard

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