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Earliest Hint of Priesthood Restoration by Angels


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We would have to look for examples of complete apostasy. The earliest I am ware of is with the children of Israel in Egypt but I do not know of any references to Moses being ordained by an angel. The events were not recorded, or the records were lost.  

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9 minutes ago, Freedom said:

We would have to look for examples of complete apostasy. The earliest I am ware of is with the children of Israel in Egypt but I do not know of any references to Moses being ordained by an angel. The events were not recorded, or the records were lost.  

I mean just in early Mormonism. I'm looking for any early historical accounts/hints or even second hand or third hand claims of hearing accounts by JS or Oliver about the priesthood restoration via angels in the earliest period (1829-1833ish).

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7 minutes ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

I mean just in early Mormonism. I'm looking for any early historical accounts/hints or even second hand or third hand claims of hearing accounts by JS or Oliver about the priesthood restoration via angels in the earliest period (1829-1833ish).

Oh I see. I would have to do some searching through my files but by the time I have the time someone else will have responded. A good question. 

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1 minute ago, Freedom said:

Oh I see. I would have to do some searching through my files but by the time I have the time someone else will have responded. A good question. 

When you have a minute, please take a look. This is a pretty tough question.

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49 minutes ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

What is the earliest known account or even hint of priesthood restoration through angels? As far as I understand, Joseph Smith's unfinished 1832 history preamble is the earliest hint. Can anyone do better?

Great timely post with the GD lesson on Sunday.  I was doing a lot of research in preparation for that lesson, unfortunately, no opportunities arose for any nuanced comments by me during class, but I did learn a lot in my study.  Two interesting essays that I read on this topic I thought I'd share.  

Dan Vogel essay starts on page 58 here, he walks through the evolution of the Priesthood narrative, talked about how the generic term "ministering of angels" was used early, before it evolved into a specific named angels in 1835.  I learned some really interesting things walking through the history around specific revelations that I never knew before like the Bishop Partridge back and forth, this was very interesting to me.  

http://www.jwha.website/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Journal_14-1.pdf

The second one I've haven't finished reading yet, but it has been interesting as well.  By William V. Smith

https://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V46N04_103b.pdf

So in answer to your question, there are quite a few accounts of angels being a part of the early church experience, even non-lds sources in newspapers confirm this claim as early as 1830.  But naming of Angels, and specific purposes and meanings for the Angels developed later, I tend to find Dan Vogel's argument to be persuasive that this angel creation narrative that Oliver Cowdery asserted seemed to propel his influence in the church and helped to establish the authority of the founding events as a central pillar for divine authority of the church.  

This was a stronger foundational narrative than having people judge Joseph for his charismatic prowess and especially when failed prophesy with respect to specific events like the Zions Camp endeavor happen, they could point back to these original founding authority claims with angels granting specific authority to Cowdery and Smith.  

 

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10 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Great timely post with the GD lesson on Sunday.  I was doing a lot of research in preparation for that lesson, unfortunately, no opportunities arose for any nuanced comments by me during class, but I did learn a lot in my study.  Two interesting essays that I read on this topic I thought I'd share.  

Dan Vogel essay starts on page 58 here, he walks through the evolution of the Priesthood narrative, talked about how the generic term "ministering of angels" was used early, before it evolved into a specific named angels in 1835.  I learned some really interesting things walking through the history around specific revelations that I never knew before like the Bishop Partridge back and forth, this was very interesting to me.  

http://www.jwha.website/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Journal_14-1.pdf

The second one I've haven't finished reading yet, but it has been interesting as well.  By William V. Smith

https://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V46N04_103b.pdf

So in answer to your question, there are quite a few accounts of angels being a part of the early church experience, even non-lds sources in newspapers confirm this claim as early as 1830.  But naming of Angels, and specific purposes and meanings for the Angels developed later, I tend to find Dan Vogel's argument to be persuasive that this angel creation narrative that Oliver Cowdery asserted seemed to propel his influence in the church and helped to establish the authority of the founding events as a central pillar for divine authority of the church.  

This was a stronger foundational narrative than having people judge Joseph for his charismatic prowess and especially when failed prophesy with respect to specific events like the Zions Camp endeavor happen, they could point back to these original founding authority claims with angels granting specific authority to Cowdery and Smith.  

 

I was just reviewing the Dan Vogel video on the topic, and he makes a good case for priesthood restoration not involving angels until claims evolved in 1834 and 35. In light of that I'm wondering if there are any early hints (1829-1833) of angels being involved in priesthood restoration specifically. As far as I have discovered, the 1832 history is the earliest link between priesthood and angels, and that it is an outlier for the time period.

Edited by Benjamin Seeker
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3 minutes ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

I was just reviewing the Dan Vogel video on the topic, and he makes a good case for priesthood restoration not involving angels until claims evolved in 1834 and 35. In light of that I'm wondering if there are any early hints (1829-1833) of angels being involved in priesthood restoration specifically. As far as I have discovered, the 1832 history is the earliest link between priesthood and angels, and that it is an outlier for the time period.

Vogel's essay says this about the 1832 history reference to angels.

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Summer 1832—Joseph Smith began writing his history, the preamble of which outlined his special status as church leader and the authority upon which he founded the church. However, it did not mention angelic ordination, although it referred to the reception of two priesthoods. First, the “reception of the Holy Priesthood by the minist[e]ring of Angels [note the plural despite the later claim of one angel] to administer the letter of the Gospel, the Law and commandments as they were given unto him, and the ordinances.” Similar to the Articles and Covenants, this merely states that authority was derived from the appearance of angels (in association with
the coming forth of the Book of Mormon) and the reception of divine commands. At least, this is how the Whitmers and McLellin (and presumably other believers) would have read this passage. 

This preamble also stated that Joseph Smith received “a confirmation and reception of the High Priesthood,” which (as we know) came by revelation in June 1831. Still, there was no mention of John the Baptist, and no provision for Peter, James, and John.

 

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10 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Vogel's essay says this about the 1832 history reference to angels.

 

Yeah, the 1832 account can be interpreted as claiming angel(s) being correlated with the lesser priesthood. The bit about the greater priesthood has no similar claim, and of course no specific names are mentioned. I agree 100%.

However, there is room to interpret the lesser priesthood claim as involving ordination by angels, though it certainly is not stated explicitly as Dan points out, which is partially why I'm interested in any other contemporary hints at angels being involved in the priesthood restoration.

Btw, Dan's videos are that essay, word for word for a lot of it, and I've actually been reading the Smith essay too. Both are well documented and interesting presentations.

 

 

Edited by Benjamin Seeker
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12 minutes ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

Yeah, the 1832 account can be interpreted as claiming angel(s) being correlated with the lesser priesthood. The bit about the greater priesthood has no similar claim, and of course no specific names are mentioned. I agree 100%. 

Dan's videos are that essay, word for word for a lot of it, and I've actually been reading the Smith essay too.

 

 

Cool.  I was hoping to talk about the evolutionary nature of our priesthood theology a little during church, but the opportunity just didn't present itself.  I think the priesthood narrative is a good example of how things changed and how later theological ideas were anachronistically inserted into earlier texts to describe the new narratives.  I wanted to talk about how this is an example of line upon line revelation in the church, how things are fluid and how we should always be prepared for changes even large ones like the 1978 revelation. 

Hard to bring that up when the teacher has a specific outline and not many opportunities for comments in class.  

BTW, since you like to listen to things, I re-listened to one of Jared Anderson's Mormon Sunday School podcasts on this lesson where he had Greg Prince as a guest to talk about this subject of Priesthood restoration.  I had listened to it a while back, but I think I learned more this second time.  Wonderful discussion on the subject in case you're interested its on lesson 8, and it was originally recorded back in 2013.  

 

Edited by hope_for_things
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I'll look it up. Thanks. 

I did make a comment in our Sunday school about how the dating of the Melchizedek priesthood restoration has always been controversial and I also commented about how the BOM doesn't emphasize priesthood but instead emphasizes the Holy Ghost as the pathway to communion with angels and God, but I didn't go further and link the issues to evolving theology, so I'm sure most of went over the classes head in terms of historical implications...

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1 hour ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

What is the earliest known account or even hint of priesthood restoration through angels? As far as I understand, Joseph Smith's unfinished 1832 history preamble is the earliest hint. Can anyone do better?

Yesterday in church, a former missionary to the N.E. states mentioned that while on his mission, he came across a largely-unknown, early land deed that contained a surprising amount of detail on the topic, not addressed elsewhere, including the early dedication of nearby land for a temple. If he keeps his promise and relays a snapshot with details, I will do my best to return and report.

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45 minutes ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

However, there is room to interpret the lesser priesthood claim as involving ordination by angels, though it certainly is not stated explicitly as Dan points out, which is partially why I'm interested in any other contemporary hints at angels being involved in the priesthood restoration.

Paul speaks of the law of Moses being “ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.” (Galatians 3:19; and elsewhere, Acts 7:53 and Hebrews 2:2). The law of Moses operated under the keys of the Priesthood of Aaron. That may be the connection Joseph saw with John the Baptist, who used this same “ordination by Angels” to restore the Aaronic Priesthood through him, and so used the same term as Paul did.

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I think Dan Vogel makes a good case for angelic priesthood ordination being a later development, but I find it interesting that even Vogel sees a historical kernel underlying the claimed ordination by Peter, James, and John. He accepts that Oliver Cowdery had a vision of three angels while fleeing a mob with Joseph Smith in July 1830, and that Cowdery believed the angels gave him a "blessing," but Vogel thinks Cowdery probably originally interpreted these figures as the Three Nephites. Vogel speculates that Joseph Smith later "inserted himself into the experience as one who saw the personages along with Cowdery and used it to justify the 1835 ordination of apostles" (see Vogel, "Evolution of Early Mormon Priesthood Narratives," 76n52).

Assuming that Vogel is correct, what is at stake for the believer? Not a lot in my view. Cowdery is on record claiming an angelic visitation as early as 1829. It is not implausible, then, that he also believed he was visited by three angels in 1830. Could Joseph have implanted false memories in 1834/1835? Perhaps. But in any case they weren't just making stuff up out of whole cloth. If Cowdery had a memory of being visited by three angels—apostles of Jesus Christ—who laid hands on his head and gave him a blessing, I can see how he might later have interpreted that as a conferral of priesthood authority.

Edited by Nevo
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1 hour ago, notHagoth7 said:

Yesterday in church, a former missionary to the N.E. states mentioned that while on his mission, he came across a largely-unknown, early land deed that contained a surprising amount of detail on the topic, not addressed elsewhere, including the early dedication of nearby land for a temple. If he keeps his promise and relays a snapshot with details, I will do my best to return and report.

Please do!

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40 minutes ago, Nevo said:

I think Dan Vogel makes a good case for angelic priesthood ordination being a later development, but I find it interesting that even Vogel sees a historical kernel underlying the claimed ordination by Peter, James, and John. He accepts that Oliver Cowdery had a vision of three angels while fleeing a mob with Joseph Smith in July 1830, and that Cowdery believed the angels gave him a "blessing," but Vogel thinks Cowdery probably originally interpreted these figures as the Three Nephites. Vogel speculates that Joseph Smith later "inserted himself into the experience as one who saw the personages along with Cowdery and used it to justify the 1835 ordination of apostles" (see Vogel, "Evolution of Early Mormon Priesthood Narratives," 76n52).

Assuming that Vogel is correct, what is at stake for the believer? Not a lot in my view. Cowdery is on record claiming an angelic visitation as early as 1829. It is not implausible, then, that he also believed he was visited by three angels in 1830. Could Joseph have implanted false memories in 1834/1835? Perhaps. But in any case they weren't just making stuff up out of whole cloth. If Cowdery had a memory of being visited by three angels—apostles of Jesus Christ—who laid hands on his head and gave him a blessing, I can see how he might later have interpreted that as a conferral of priesthood authority.

That Addison Everett recollection was new to me when I read it, and very fascinating.  I think what is at stake for the believer if you consider the anachronisms by Oliver and Joseph when they edited their earlier revelations and inserted content about priesthood ordinations and visitations into those earlier texts, at the very least is the idea that the story was changing and fluid in the early church. Also it would require the believer to open his/her mind to the idea that Joseph and Oliver were re-interpreting earlier visions to meet their current evolutionary theological ideas, rather than this concept that God delivered this whole construct of Priesthood in a very precise and packaged way that is clearly spelled out and ready for implementation.  

In essence it requires a paradigm shift about how revelation is acquired and implemented in the church, that it isn't very specific or clear, and it certainly is changing over time.  Which in turn I believe teaches us that we should expect considerable change in the future as well, including the ideas of women's ordination to the Priesthood and other possibilities.  

Edited by hope_for_things
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One tidbit I shared in class that everyone found quite fascinating is that in addition to the "multiple accounts" of the First Vision, there are also multiple accounts of the Aaronic Priesthood Restoration (Oliver's and Joseph's), and both were originally included in the Pearl of Great Price before Oliver's was ignored in favor of Joseph's for inclusion in the D&C:

 

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While the Pearl of Great Price gave two alternate renditions of John the Baptist’s words for readers to draw on, both viewed by many members today as scripture, [2] the inclusion of Joseph’s account in the Doctrine and Covenants elevated its status and gave it primacy.

https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/you-shall-have-my-word/commissioned-jesus-christ-oliver-cowdery-and-dc-13

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9 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

BTW, since you like to listen to things, I re-listened to one of Jared Anderson's Mormon Sunday School podcasts on this lesson where he had Greg Prince as a guest to talk about this subject of Priesthood restoration.  I had listened to it a while back, but I think I learned more this second time.  Wonderful discussion on the subject in case you're interested its on lesson 8, and it was originally recorded back in 2013.  

 

That was a fantastic podcast. I highly recommend everyone take a listen. Thanks for the recommendation, Hope!

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10 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

So in answer to your question, there are quite a few accounts of angels being a part of the early church experience, even non-lds sources in newspapers confirm this claim as early as 1830.  But naming of Angels, and specific purposes and meanings for the Angels developed later...  

Yeah, Greg Prince referenced to these newspaper articles. I think the most important of these is the 1830 article (or maybe more than one?) that references Oliver Cowdery receiving the ministration of angels. I find this significant because Oliver wasn't involved with the angel Moroni, whose visitations any general references to JS receiving the ministration of angels can easily be interpreted as referencing. Oliver, as far as I know, is only on record, years after the alleged visitations, specifically interacting with John the Baptist and Peter, James, and John, so seeing these very early hints of experiences which would later develop into more officially significant experiences, is very heartening. It gives Joseph and Oliver more credibility in terms of their sincerity about these experiences. I'm not saying that they weren't molded and developed, but at least the seed of them was possibly there from the get go!

Edited by Benjamin Seeker
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10 hours ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

I did make a comment in our Sunday school about how the dating of the Melchizedek priesthood restoration has always been controversial and I also commented about how the BOM doesn't emphasize priesthood but instead emphasizes the Holy Ghost as the pathway to communion with angels and God, but I didn't go further and link the issues to evolving theology, so I'm sure most of went over the classes head in terms of historical implications...

Doesn't Alma 13 argue against that interpretation? I think one could strongly argue that prophets in the Book of Mormon aren't priests but I'm not sure the idea of priesthood not mattering makes sense. There are of course different ways to take Alma 13 and especially the apparent lack of Levite lineage among the Nephites. But priesthood is there and emphasized a fair bit.

A common apologist tactic of using Alma 13 against Vogel's theory is to note that if the Book of Mormon is a forgery, then Joseph Smith already had a reasonably developed notion of Melchezedek Priesthood in 1829. It might not match up with modern conceptions (nor would I expect it to for various reasons) but it is there to be explained. Alma 13:8 makes clear that in 1829 (assuming the fraud model) Joseph had some conception of a calling in terms of an ordinance tied to looking to Jesus. The text emphasizes ordination in many other passages as well such as Alma 6:1 or Alma 49:30.

Now if we don't accept the fraud model then of course it's quite a bit more defensible to have Joseph relatively ignorant of the text of the Book of Mormon despite it anticipating these later doctrines. However if we are adopting the more faithful view, then there are other reasons to question Vogel's construction of the history. It at minimum seems plausible we just don't have them being as aware of its significance until later. And the angels Vogel's mentioned need not be the fraudulent account of angels with the Book of Mormon coming forth.

None of this is to deny historical issues with the claims of the restoration. The fact the accounts by and large are late suggests they may not be as accurate and are colored by later theological development. It's possible they didn't fully understand what was going on when the ordination took place. The modern view of it all being clear and understood is almost certainly wrong. 

One thing possible is that this happened during the translation of these passages in the Book of Mormon. That'd actually fit both the fraudulent and faithful models. There's already some indication from Oliver that part was translating 3 Nephi (JSH 1:72) but that is late and might be misremembering the exact passages.

Edited by clarkgoble
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5 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

Doesn't Alma 13 argue against that interpretation? I think one could strongly argue that prophets in the Book of Mormon aren't priests but I'm not sure the idea of priesthood not mattering makes sense. There are of course different ways to take Alma 13 and especially the apparent lack of Levite lineage among the Nephites. But priesthood is there and emphasized a fair bit.

A common apologist tactic of using Alma 13 against Vogel's theory is to note that if the Book of Mormon is a forgery, then Joseph Smith already had a reasonably developed notion of Melchezedek Priesthood in 1829. It might not match up with modern conceptions (nor would I expect it to for various reasons) but it is there to be explained. Alma 13:8 makes clear that in 1829 (assuming the fraud model) Joseph had some conception of a calling in terms of an ordinance tied to looking to Jesus. The text emphasizes ordination in many other passages as well such as Alma 6:1 or Alma 49:30.

Now if we don't accept the fraud model then of course it's quite a bit more defensible to have Joseph relatively ignorant of the text of the Book of Mormon despite it anticipating these later doctrines. However if we are adopting the more faithful view, then there are other reasons to question Vogel's construction of the history. It at minimum seems plausible we just don't have them being as aware of its significance until later. And the angels Vogel's mentioned need not be the fraudulent account of angels with the Book of Mormon coming forth.

Alma 13 does emphasize the priesthood. I'm with you. I didn't say that the priesthood didn't matter. However, that is one chapter in the entire book. In large part, the Book of Mormon focuses on the Holy Ghost's role in bringing us into communion with God. Priesthood's importance becomes more and more emphasized later on in early Mormonism through revelations, the Book of Abraham, and the temple ordinances.

I do believe that there is an earlier understanding of high priesthood (Melchizedek) than what Vogel hypothesizes. Both Alma 13 and JST Gen. 14 (I think it's 14? the bit about Melchizedek, which would have been translated sometime between mid 1830 and early 1831) are both examples of an earlier conception of a "High Priesthood" than June 1831.

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One other quick point if you're gong by Prince's Power From on High. The McLellin Journals undermine his reading somewhat. (Not sure if you're referring to that or a more recent interview where he's dealt with these other arguments -- I'm afraid I just never have time to watch YouTube videos)

Gregory Prince’s recent study of the historical development of LDS priesthood makes at least two assertions that McLellin’s journal changes. Prince states that in June 1831 men were ordained to a new order called both the Order of Melchizedek and the High Priesthood. however, he asserts, “this did not yet refer to the office of high priest which, though appearing in the book of Mormon, was not yet applied to individuals in the Restoration,” and it was not until November 1831 that a revelation (D&C 68) established for the first time the office of high priest. Second, Prince asserts that, prior to September 1832, the term “priesthood” was used “exclusively in conjunction with High Priesthood.”

William G. Hartley, “The McLellin Journals and Early Mormon History,” in The Journals of William E. McLellin, 283.

I think the usual view these days is that the restoration didn't happen all at once but was a process. What exactly that means isn't entirely clear though. One theory is that there was a verbal call and then a later ordination. (This is actually still part of Mormon theology in some ways in the Temple where there are preparatory ordinances)

One interesting take on it all is Keller's although I'm not sure I buy it all.

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9 minutes ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

Alma 13 does emphasize the priesthood. I'm with you. I didn't say that the priesthood didn't matter. However, that is one chapter in the entire book. In large part, the Book of Mormon focuses on the Holy Ghost's role in bringing us into communion with God. Priesthood's importance becomes more and more emphasized later on in early Mormonism through revelations, the Book of Abraham, and the temple ordinances.

Ah. OK. That makes more sense since in the Book of Mormon few have the priesthood so it makes sense it's not emphasized as for all. Although I'm not sure I'd say it's just one chapter. It pops up as important in various places in odd ways. The Book of Mormon is interesting (either as fraud or scripture) precisely because there's this odd disconnect between the elite (who are doing most of the action in the narrative) and the regular people. Simply because the primary actors are often priests or prophets we get odd little insights in how they view it that don't necessarily apply when they're preaching to the masses.

Although it's important to note just how odd Alma 13 is since it's part of Alma and Amulek speaking to Zeezrom in 11-13. What's the point of the narrative? From the fraudulent model it has to be Joseph emphasizing some theological notions of priesthood he felt lacking in the types of Protestantism he was encountering (and perhaps masonry in the background depending upon how much one thinks he knew in 1829) In the historical model, Alma and Amulek appear to be debating Zeezrom before the crowds (thus the conversion of some and the anger of others). If so, what's the significance culturally for this digression on priesthood? It's also interesting that Alma emphasizes the connection off angels to priesthood in 13. From the fraudulent model this is a repetition of the basic Moroni trope. From the historical model what is the importance of the angels?

This is why the Oliver mention of baptism in 3 Nephi, while interesting, makes me wonder what they thought a month or two earlier when translating these passages. It's worth emphasizing since I mentioned the call/ordination separation model that something similar is in 13:3.  Because of their faith they are called with a holy calling with a preparatory redemption. Then there is an ordination (6) to teach.

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12 hours ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

Yeah, Greg Prince referenced to these newspaper articles. I think the most important of these is the 1830 article (or maybe more than one?) that references Oliver Cowdery receiving the ministration of angels. I find this significant because Oliver wasn't involved with the angel Moroni, whose visitations any general references to JS receiving the ministration of angels can easily be interpreted as referencing. Oliver, as far as I know, is only on record, years after the alleged visitations, specifically interacting with John the Baptist and Peter, James, and John, so seeing these very early hints of experiences which would later develop into more officially significant experiences, is very heartening. It gives Joseph and Oliver more credibility in terms of their sincerity about these experiences. I'm not saying that they weren't molded and developed, but at least the seed of them was possibly there from the get go!

Why are you ruling out Moroni showing Cowdery the plates as one of the three witnesses?   

Here is the Painesville Telegraph quote:

Quote

The Golden Bible.–Some two or three years since, an account was given in the papers, of a book purporting to contain new revelations from Heaven, having been dug out of the ground, in Manchester in Ontario Co. N.Y. The book, it seems, has made its appearance in this vicinity.–It contains about 600 octavo pages, which is said to be translated from Egyptian Hieroglyphics, on metal plates, by one Smith, who was enabled to read the characters by instruction from Angels. About two weeks since some persons came along here with the book, one of whom pretends to have seen Angels, and assisted in translating the plates. He proclaims destruction upon the world within a few years,–holds forth that the ordinances of the gospel, have not been regularly administered since the days of the Apostles, till the said Smith and himself commenced the work–and many other marvellous things too numerous to mention. In the neighboring township of Kirtland, we understand that twenty or thirty have been immersed into the new order of things; many of whom had been previously baptised.–The name of the person here, who pretends to have a divine mission, and to have seen and conversed with Angels, is Cowdray. We understand that he is bound for the regions beyond the Mississippi, where he contemplates founding a “City of Refuge” for his followers, and converting the Indians, under his prophetic authority.

“The Golden Bible.” Painesville Telegraph (Ohio) (16 November 1830).

Now this could be referring to a John the Baptist or Peter, James and John visit, but there is no specific reference to those individuals by name.  Also I don't see how you're saying that Oliver wasn't involved with the Angel Moroni.  But, one question I have is whether even Moroni is named at this point in November 1830.  I'm going to have to do some more research, but I seem to recall that the naming of Moroni also was evolutionary and happened later, and you're probably familiar with some sources where the named Angel was Nephi.  

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11 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

Doesn't Alma 13 argue against that interpretation? I think one could strongly argue that prophets in the Book of Mormon aren't priests but I'm not sure the idea of priesthood not mattering makes sense. There are of course different ways to take Alma 13 and especially the apparent lack of Levite lineage among the Nephites. But priesthood is there and emphasized a fair bit.

A common apologist tactic of using Alma 13 against Vogel's theory is to note that if the Book of Mormon is a forgery, then Joseph Smith already had a reasonably developed notion of Melchezedek Priesthood in 1829. It might not match up with modern conceptions (nor would I expect it to for various reasons) but it is there to be explained. Alma 13:8 makes clear that in 1829 (assuming the fraud model) Joseph had some conception of a calling in terms of an ordinance tied to looking to Jesus. The text emphasizes ordination in many other passages as well such as Alma 6:1 or Alma 49:30.

Now if we don't accept the fraud model then of course it's quite a bit more defensible to have Joseph relatively ignorant of the text of the Book of Mormon despite it anticipating these later doctrines. However if we are adopting the more faithful view, then there are other reasons to question Vogel's construction of the history. It at minimum seems plausible we just don't have them being as aware of its significance until later. And the angels Vogel's mentioned need not be the fraudulent account of angels with the Book of Mormon coming forth.

None of this is to deny historical issues with the claims of the restoration. The fact the accounts by and large are late suggests they may not be as accurate and are colored by later theological development. It's possible they didn't fully understand what was going on when the ordination took place. The modern view of it all being clear and understood is almost certainly wrong. 

One thing possible is that this happened during the translation of these passages in the Book of Mormon. That'd actually fit both the fraudulent and faithful models. There's already some indication from Oliver that part was translating 3 Nephi (JSH 1:72) but that is late and might be misremembering the exact passages.

I think most of the theological construction for Alma 13 you can get from Hebrews in the NT.  Last time I compared those chapters that talk about Melchezedek in Hebrews to what is found in Alma 13, I didn't find anything that really stands out as uniquely innovative about the content in Alma.

I think that reading the content of the BoM as anticipatory to later Priesthood revelations is anachronistic.  I'm influenced by Charlie Harrell's chapter on priesthood development in his informative book "This is my Doctrine".  If you haven't read it, I recommend it.  I haven't gotten Terryl Givens new Wrestling the Angel book, and I wonder if he covers this topic about the development of the priesthood doctrine.  

 

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