I want to say to you, read the book, the Pearl of Great Price, and read the Book of Abraham. The Pearl of Great Price I hold to be one of the most intelligent, one of the most religious books that the world has ever had; but more than that, to me the Pearl of Great Price is true in its name. It contains an ideal of life that is higher and grander and more glorious than I think is found in the pages of any other book unless it be the Holy Bible. It behooves us to read these things, understand them: and I thank God when they are attacked, because it brings to me, after a study and thought, back to the fact that what God has given He has given, and He has nothing to retract." - Levi Edgar Young, Conference Report (April 1913), 74

"...it must be evident to all who seriously consider the matter, that if the Book of Abraham as given to us by Joseph Smith be true, it must have been translated by a greater than human power." - George Reynolds, The Book of Abraham: Its Authenticity Established as a Divine and Ancient Record (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1879), 4

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Responses to Franklin Spalding - John A. Widtsoe

In 1912, Bishop Franklin Spalding published his pamphlet, Joseph Smith, Jr., As A Translator. While it was meant to destroy faith in the Book of Mormon, it was much more effective in raising non-Mormon awareness of the Book of Abraham and redirected much of the Latter-day Saint's attention to addressing issues raised by Spalding. Both the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham were translated by the Prophet from various forms of Egyptian writing. The Reverend's attempt to disprove Joseph's ability as a translator would, by inference, destroy confidence in him as a Prophet. The responses by Latter-day Saints acknowledged Bishop Spalding's seemingly courteous approach, but also identified the deceit that he employed in masking his true intentions in attacking Latter-day Saint scriptures. While non-Mormons believed that the publication was immensely successful, most Latter-day Saints found it to be unconvincing. Spalding's pamphlet was published in November 1912. Forthcoming responses appeared in the Deseret News and were subsequently printed in the Improvement Era. Subscribers to the periodical were notified of pending responses in the January 1913 issue (IE 16/3:280), as follows:

In the February 1913 issue, responses by B.H. Roberts, Janne Sjodahl, Frederick Pack, Junius F. Wells, John Henry Evans, Levi Edgar Young, and the Prophet Joseph F. Smith were all included to address some of the issues raised by Spalding and the Egyptologists. Notice was also posted regarding follow up responses in the subsequent issue (IE 16/4:404):

In the March 1913 issue of the Era, responses included Robert C. Webb (alias for J.E. Homans), Elder John A. Widtsoe, and Richard W. Young. These articles were summarized thus (IE 16/5:530):

The following extract is from John A. Widtsoe:

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