Members of the original Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Top row, left to right:
Thomas B. Marsh (no picture available), David W. Patten (no picture available),
Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball. Middle row: Orson Hyde, William E.
Mc’Lellin, Parley P. Pratt, Luke S. Johnson. Bottom row: William B. Smith,
Orson Pratt, John F. Boynton, Lyman E. Johnson (1835).
Original plans
More original plans
More plans
Kirtland Temple Side View
Kirtland Temple rear view. The central panel of the lower windows (the arched
window) is the window of the Holy of Holies of the temple. It was inside this
window that Jehovah, Moses, Elias, and Elijah appeared to Joseph Smith and
Oliver Cowdery (110). The most upper room (third floor) open into the fifth
room where the vision of the Celestial Kingdom was given (137).
Kirtland Temple Front View
Melchizedek Pulpits: Located on the west end of
the first floor.
Melchizedek Pulpits and Veil
On April 3, 1836, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery dropped the veil that separated the
pulpits from the rest of the room and offered prayer. In response to that prayer, one of
the most important events of the restoration took place. First, Jesus Christ, calling
himself Jehovah, appeared. After his appearance, Moses, Elias, and Elijah appeared
committing the necessary keys to perform temple ordinances (D&C 110).
Across the front of the pulpits is a folding sacrament table shaped like an oxen
yoke. The Melchizedek Priesthood pulpits represent the line of authority in the
Melchizedek Priesthood.
Presidency Elders Melchizedek
(bottom row)
Melchizedek High Priesthood
High Priests (second row from
Presiding Melchizedek High
Quorum of the Twelve
(third row from bottom)
Melchizedek Presiding Council
First Presidency (top row)
This is an inside view of the translating room, president’s office. Hebrew
School was held here in Jan. and March of 1836. Anointing heads with oil was
done here.
Doctrine and Covenants 137 (vision
of the celestial kingdom) was
received in that room.
Joseph also beheld the Twelve Apostles of the
Lamb who were then on the earth, who held
the keys of this last ministry, in foreign lands,
standing together in a circle, much fatigued,
with their clothes tattered and feet swollen,
with their eyes cast downward, and Jesus
standing in their midst, and they did not behold
Him. The Savior looked upon them and wept.
Joseph beheld Elder McLellin in the south, standing
upon a hill, surrounded by a vast multitude, preaching
to them, and a lame man standing before him
supported by his crutches; he threw them down at his
word and leaped as a hart, by the mighty power of
God. Also, I saw Elder Brigham Young standing in a
strange land, in the far south and west, in a desert
place, upon a rock in the midst of about a dozen men
of color, who appeared hostile. He was preaching to
them in their own tongue, and the angel of God
standing above his head, with a drawn sword in his
hand, protecting him, but he did not see it. And I
finally saw the Twelve in the celestial kingdom of God.
I also beheld the redemption of Zion, and many things
which the tongue of man cannot describe in full (HC,
The third level was divided into five rooms. Windows on both the north and
south sides of each room. The fifth or last room on the west side was the
translating room.
Glorious Days in Kirtland
The Egyptian Mummies:
Joseph purchased them (4) in July of 1835 from a man named
Michael Chandler who lived in Philadelphia.
The mummies came from tomb #22 in the “Valley of the Kings”
in Egypt (King Tutt’s tomb is #62).
The scroll of Abraham was never translated in it’s entirety.
It was purchased for somewhere in the range of $2,000$2,400 dollars.
W.W. Phelps and Oliver Cowdery scribed as Joseph began
translating the papyri in 1835.
The mummies had been discovered on the west bank of the Nile
River across from the ancient city of Thebes by Antonio Lebolo,
and Italian who was licensed by the French government to deal I
artifacts. In 1830, following Lebolo’s death in Italy, eleven of the
mummies and some of the ancient papyri were shipped to the
United States; and in the spring of 1833 they were claimed by
Chandler, Lebolo’s nephew. A man at the customs house told
Chandler that no one in Philadelphia could translate the papyrus,
but he referred Chandler to Joseph Smith, who “possesses some
kind of power or gifts, by which he had previously translated
similar characters” (HC, 2:349).
Mr. Chandler, gave Joseph by way of a test, to see if he could
translate the characters. The Prophet translated the characters
and returned them, to Mr. Chandler (JD 20:65).
After seeing the characters that Joseph translated, Chandler gave
the following account:
Kirtland, July 6, 1835
This is to make known to all who may be desirous, concerning the
knowledge of Mr. Joseph Smith, Jun., in deciphering the ancient
Egyptian hieroglyphic characters in my possession, which I have, I
in many eminent cities, showed to the most learned; and, from
the information that I could ever learn, or meet with, I find that of
Mr. Joseph Smith, Jun., to correspond in the most minute
Michael H. Chandler, Traveling with, and proprietor of,
Egyptian Mummies (HC, 2:235).
Chandler subsequently settled near Kirtland, in Parkman, Ohio.
Oliver Cowdery gave a vivid description of the records of Abraham
and Joseph. “The record is written in papyrus with black, and a
small part, red ink or paint, in perfect preservation. The
characters are such as you find upon the coffins of mummies,
hieroglyphics and etc. with many characters or letters exactly like
the present, though perhaps not quite so square form of the
Hebrew without points” (Oliver Cowdery to Mr. Wm. Frye, Esq.,
December 22, 1835, in Stanley R. Gunn, Oliver Cowdery, Second
Elder and Scribe (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1962, 235-36).
A certificate signed by six Philadelphia doctors described the
mummies and also the writing: “The features of some of the
mummies are perfect expression. The papyrus covered with black
or red ink, or paint, in excellent preservation, are very interesting”
(Oliver Cowdery to Mr. Wm. Frye, Esq., December 22, 1835, in
Stanley R. Gunn, Oliver Cowdery, Second Elder and Scribe (Salt
Lake City: Bookcraft, 1962, 237).
“Much to our joy found that one of the rolls contained the writings
of Abraham, another the writings of Joseph of Egypt (HC, 2:236).
The Prophet translated the scrolls at home until January 1836,
when the upper west room in the temple was designated as a
translating room.
During the translation, Joseph “engaged in translating an alphabet
to the Book of Abraham, and arranging a grammar of the
Egyptian language as practiced by the ancients” (HC, 2:238).
Unexpected knowledge came as a by-product of these efforts, for
he stated that he learned principles of astronomy from the
writings of Abraham and “many things concerning the dealing of
God with the ancients, and the formation of the planetary system”
(HC, 2:334).
The artifacts were later put on display in
the translating room in the temple. Wilford
Woodruff, who visited the room, said:
“We…viewed four Egyptian mummies and
also the Book of Abraham written by his
own hand and not only the hieroglyphics
but also many figures that this previous
treasure contains are calculated to make a
lasting impression upon the mind which is
not to be erased” (Kirtland Diary of Wilford
Woodruff, 371).
First Two Stakes of the Church:
1. Kirtland Stake
Joseph Smith Jr.
2. Liberty Stake
David Whitmer
Oliver Cowdery served as assistant to the
President of the Church.
Keep in mind that the men on the High Council
were viewed like today’s General Authorities.
Future Presidents of the Church:
It was in Kirtland that Joseph Smith groomed four future
presidents of the Church for responsibilities to come.
Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and
Lorenzo Snow were baptized during the Kirtland years
and led the Church, in succession, until 1901.
In addition, the next three presidents --- Joseph F.
Smith, Heber J. Grant, and George Albert Smith, whose
administrations lasted until 1951 --- were direct
descendants of stalwart Kirtland pioneers.
Seven months after his baptism, Brigham Young
met the Prophet. He described the experience.
In September, 1832, Brother Heber C. Kimball took his horse and
wagon, Brother Joseph and myself accompanying him, and
started for Kirtland to see the Prophet Joseph. We visited many
friends on the way, and some branches of the Church….We
proceeded to Kirtland and stopped at John P. Greene’s, who had
just arrived there with his family. We rested a few minutes, took
some refreshments and started to see the Prophet. We went to
his father’s house and learned that he was in the woods chopping.
We immediately repaired to the woods, where we found the
Prophet, and two or three of his brothers, chopping and hauling
wood. Here my joy was full at the privilege of shaking the hand
of the Prophet of God, and receiving the sure testimony, by the
spirit of prophecy, that he was all that any man could believe him
to be as a true prophet (Millennial Star 25:439, in History of the
Church 1:297).
John Taylor, who had been a Methodist preacher in
Canada, first came to Kirtland in 1837, almost one year
after he was converted by Elder Pratt. Although hesitant
at first to listen to Elder Pratt, John gradually warmed up
to the message brought from Kirtland. He boldly told a
group of friends, “I desire to investigate his doctrines
and claims to authority, and shall be very glad if some of
my friends will unite with me in this investigation. But if
no one will unite with me, be assured I shall make the
investigation alone. If I find his religion true, I shall
accept it, no matter what the consequences may be;
and if false, then I shall expose it (B. H. Roberts, The
Life of John Taylor, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1963, 3738).
Lorenzo Snow, who lived near Kirtland, experienced a spiritual
conversion similar to that of the other future prophets. He first
met Joseph Smith at the John Johnson home in Hiram, Ohio:
As I looked upon him and listened, I thought to myself that a man
bearing such a wonderful testimony as he did, and have such a
countenance as he possessed, could hardly be a false prophet.
He certainly could not have been deceived, it seemed to me, and
if he was a deceiver he was deceiving the people knowingly; for
when he testified that he had a conversation with Jesus, the Son
of God, and had talked with him personally, as Moses talked with
God upon Mount Sinai, and that he had also heard the voice of
the Father, he was telling something that he ether knew to be
false or to be positively true. There for the first time I heard his
voice. When I heard his testimony in regard to what the Lord had
revealed to him, it seemed to me that he must be an honest man.
He talked and looked like an honest man. He was an honest man
(LeRoi C. Snow, “How Lorenzo Snow Found God,” 83).
At a meeting at the schoolhouse on the hill above the Morley Farm, Wilford
Woodruff heard the Prophet make an astounding prophecy:
On Sunday night the Prophet called all who held the Priesthood to gather into
the little log school house. I was a small house, perhaps 14 feet square. It
held the whole of the Priesthood of the Church in who were then in town.
The Prophet said, “Brethren, I have been very much edified and instructed in
your testimonies here tonight. But I want to say to you before the Lord, that
you know no more concerning the destinies of this Church and kingdom than a
babe upon it’s mother’s lap. You don’t comprehend it.” I was rather surprised.
He said, “It is only a little handful of Priesthood you see here tonight, but this
Church will fill North and South America – it will fill the world….This people will
go into the Rocky Mountains; they will there build temples to the Most High.
They will raise up a posterity there” (Conference Report, April 6, 1898, 57).
Though Wilford Woodruff recorded the
instruction and prophecy, he did not understand
it at the time. Sixty-four years later, however,
standing in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, he
declared: “I want to bear my testimony before
God, angels and men that mine eyes behold the
day, and have beheld for the last fifty years of
my life, the fulfillment of the prophecy. I never
expected to see the Rocky Mountains when I
listened to that man’s voice, but I have, and do
today” (Conference Report, April 6, 1989, 57).
The Steve Young Story
22,000 cars passed through the street every day that
separated the different Church Historical sites in
President Kimball was almost hit by a car while
crossing the street during a visit.
Karl Anderson was asked by the “Brethren” to try and
convince the City Council to change the roadway so it
would be safer.
The council met on the subject, but voted it down.
Later that same month Steve Young and Joe Montana were
pictured in the May 31st, 1993 Sports Illustrated.
Steve Young just happened to be wearing his lucky “Kirtland tshirt” that read “Kirtland, City of Faith and Beauty.”
In the article Steve Young mentioned that he wore the t-shirt
under his shoulder pads for all of his games and that it was his
lucky t-shirt.
Some of the locals in Kirtland saw the picture and were pretty
excited about it.
By chance (?) Steve Young was scheduled to play an
exhibition football game in Ohio later that month and was
asked by the “Brethren” to pitch the idea again of changing the
street so it would be safer. Amazingly, this time it passed 7-0.
The Church paid for all the work that was done.
Newel K. Whitney Store and Home
Newel K. Whitney Store
The Kirtland Temple
D&C 108-109
Dedicatory prayers are always read (Some members
left the Church over it).
The dedicatory prayer was pronounced by Joseph
Smith in the afternoon.
Joseph announced that Peter the Apostle had been in
their midst to accept the dedication.
Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Warren Cowdery and Elder W.
Parrish, and myself assisted in writing a prayer for the
dedication of the house (Oliver Cowdery’s Journal).
The Kirtland Temple cost $70,000 dollars and took three years
to build at great sacrifice to the people.
Neither the Church not its poverty-stricken members had ever
undertaken such a task. The cost of the building, estimated at
about $40,000, was a staggering sum for the 1830’s (This
$40,000 figure is used by many early sources, including John
Corrill, A Brief History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter
Day (St. Louis, 1839), 21; Christopher Crary; James Eells;
Frederick Mather; and History of Lake and Geauga Counties.
Relative to the meager
resources of the Saints at
the time, the Kirtland
Temple is probably the
most costly temple ever
constructed by the
The Church still owed $13,000 dollars on the Kirtland
Temple and took collections at the door on the day of
the dedication.
They raised $1,000 dollars that day.
Frazier Eaton donated $700 dollars and was not
allowed in the Temple because he arrived late and no
seating was available.
Frazier felt like his substantial donation guaranteed
him a “saved seat” for the dedication.
He left the Church because of it.
The Kirtland Temple was dedicated on March
27th, 1836.
It was never intended to be a full endowment
The First Presidency provided the ushering at
the dedicatory service.
The “Spirit of God” was sung by the Saints and
it is still sung today at every Temple dedication.
The Service lasted 7 hours and no one left.
About 800 Saints were turned away and went to the
school house and conducted a meeting of their own.
The Sacrament was passed. Frederick G. Williams
saw the Savior, Peter attended and sat by Joseph
Smith Sr.
Joseph blessed the congregation, and the meeting
concluded with the Hosanna Shout.
That evening 416 bearers of the priesthood gathered
and witnessed more marvelous manifestations.
Of these days in Kirtland Elder Heber C. Kimball
in his Journal said:
“The Church was in a state of poverty and distress, in
consequence of which it appeared almost impossible that the
commandments could be fulfilled relative to the Kirtland
Temple; at the same time our enemies were raging and
threatening destruction upon us, and we had to guard
ourselves night after night, and for weeks were not permitted
to take off our clothes, and were obliged to lay with our fire
locks in our arms” (Times and Seasons, vol. vi, 771).
Though many contributions were collected, at least fourteen
thousand dollars had to be borrowed to finance the temple
(Messenger and Advocate 3 April, 1837: 488; John Corrill, A
Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, 21).
At a meeting in Kirtland, Joseph Smith asked the
brethren for their views about how the temple
was to be constructed. Lucy Mack Smith
described their responses: “Some were in favor
of building a frame house, but others were of a
mind to put up a log house. Joseph reminded
them that they were not building a house for a
man, but for God; ‘and shall we, brethren,’ said
he, ‘build a house for our God, of logs? No, I
have a better plan than that. I have a plan of
the house of the Lord, given by himself; and you
shall soon see by this, the difference between
our calculations and his idea of things’” (Lucy
Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith, 230).
Initially the brethren desired to construct the temple out of brick.
The Stannard Stone Quarry was only two miles away. Joseph
himself helped quarry the stone.
The height of the building was 110 feet to the dome of the
steeple, so scaffolding was erected. It was very dangerous.
Daniel Tyler described the results of one accident:
Father Fisher fell from the scaffold, and was disabled for
performing manual labor. He had no way of making money and
Joseph told him to get a subscription paper and present it to
those who were best able to donate. He did as he was directed,
and received the full sum of seventy-five cents. One person gave
fifty and another gave twenty-five cents.
This so disgusted the Prophet that
he preferred a charge against them
before the High Council “for a lack
of charity to the Church, and
benevolence to the poor.” One of
them made a humble
acknowledgment, and the other
was dis-fellowshipped (Juvenile
Instructor, January 15, 1880, 283).
One apparently apocryphal story was that the women furnished
their finest glass and crockery to be mixed with the stucco for the
outside walls. And when it was finished, the temple did sparkle
when the sun shone on it.
The biography of Artemus Millet explained: “When the wall of the
Temple was finished, Artemus sent men and boys to the different
towns and places to gather old crockery and glass to put in the
cement which he had invented. Not the glass and crockery had
any adhesive property but it had its use….Many ladies would
smooth their hands over the plaster, which looked smooth, then
look at their hands and tell where the fine glass had cut them and
made them bleed” (Biography of Artemus Millet, Millet Family
Book, 93-95).
D&C 109:5
That the Son of Man might have a place to manifest
himself to his people.
D&C 109:6-9
A House of learning!
D&C 109:10-14
When dedicating a building, we present if officially as
our gift to the Lord. This means tomorrow morning
when anyone enters this building, they come here as
guests of the Lord. It then belongs to him (Boyd K.
D&C 109:35-37
“Thy Lord’s Acceptance”
D&C 109:44
“Thy will be done”
D&C 109:79-80
The word hosanna as we know it, originated
from two Hebrew words found in Psalm
118:25, and roughly means, “save us, we
beseech thee.”
D&C 110
After this meeting, Fast days began and were held on
the first Thursday of every month. It was an all day
The Kirtland Temple was used for many meetings
besides the performance of sacred ordinances.
Active and worthy Saints as well as less active Saints
were invited to attend the meetings held.
Children were also allowed to enter the Temple.
On April 3rd, 1836, the Jews were expecting Elijah to
come and he came. It was Easter Sunday --Passover Sunday.
President Joseph Fielding Smith noted an interesting
aspect of Elijah’s return to the earth on April 3rd 1836.
“Edersheim in his work, the Temple says: ‘To this day,
in every Jewish home, at a certain part of the Paschal
service (i.e., when they drink the “third cup”)- the
door is opened to admit Elijah the prophet as
forerunner of the Messiah, while appropriate passages
are at the same time read which foretell the
destruction of all heathen nations. It is a remarkable
coincidence that, in instituting his own Supper, the
Lord Jesus connected the symbols, not of judgment,
but of his dying love, with his “third cup.’”
“It was, I am informed, on the third day of
April, 1836, that the Jews in their homes at the
Paschal feast, opened their doors for Elijah to
enter. On that very day Elijah did enter – not
in the home of the Jews to partake of the
Passover with them but he appeared in the
house of the Lord in Kirtland, and there
bestowed his keys to bring to pass the very
things for which these Jews, assembled in their
homes, were seeking” (Doctrine of Salvation,
D&C 110:1-10
“The Lord’s Acceptance”
Although we do not normally think of the Lord as bestowing
keys on this occasion, as did the other heavenly visitors, Orson
Pratt informs us that He did indeed give “keys of instruction
and counsel and authority to his servants.”
The main object was to build unto the Lord a house whereby
He could reveal unto His people the ordinances of His house
and the glories of His kingdom, and teach the people the way
of salvation; for there are certain ordinances and principles
that, when they are taught and practiced, must be done in a
place or house built for that purpose (Temple Ordinances).
The gospel of Abraham was one of Celestial Marriage. This
power and commission is what Elias restored (Mormon
Doctrine, 219-20).
A man called Elias apparently lived in mortality in the days of
Abraham, who committed the dispensation of the gospel of
Abraham to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland
Temple on April 3rd, 1836. We have no specific information as
to the details of his mortal life of ministry (Bible Dictionary,
Elijah restored the sealing power that comes with the fullness
of the Melchizedek Priesthood (Teachings, 330).
Three-fold Mission of the Church:
1. Perfect the Saints
Gospel of Abraham
2. Missionary Work
Gathering of Israel
Aaronic Priesthood
3. Redeem the Dead
Sealing Power
Calling and Election
D&C 110:11-16
All of this brings us to a most
interesting comparison between the
activities that took place at the
Kirtland Temple pulpits during the
visions we have discussed and those
that transpired on the Mount of
Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-9,
Mark 9:2-9, Luke 9:28-36).
The location was a secluded and high
The Savior was engaged in prayer.
The Savior’s clothing was white.
The angels who appeared on the holy mountain
were the very same ones that visited the
Kirtland Temple.
A cloud appeared that veiled the Father and
through which his voice was heard.
The Father gave his Son “honor and glory,” which may
have reference to the keys of the priesthood (D&C
124:34, 95).
The Savior received the “More Sure Word of
A vision was seen of the earth in its paradisiacal state.
A charge was given by the Savior not to reveal what
had been experienced.
If one considers that the Kirtland Temple pulpits
somewhat resemble a miniature mountain, then the
parallels are even more striking.
John Tanner and His Generosity
According to today’s standards John Tanner would be
considered a multi-millionaire.
Jared and Simeon Carter taught and baptized him.
It took John Tanner two years to liquidate all of his
assets and join the Church.
In 1834 the Church was $2,000 dollars in debt for the
Temple property and John Tanner gladly paid it.
Shortly after he had bailed the church out with $2,000
dollars for the temple property, the Prophet again,
needed more money for the Church.
John Tanner gave him $15,000 dollars. Joseph gave
him a note stating that the Church would pay him
back in full.
Ten years later on the streets of Nauvoo, Joseph came
upon across John Tanner. He was embarrassed and
apologized for not having paid back the money he
John Tanner said, “you owe me nothing.” He then
took the promissory note Joseph had given him in
Kirtland and burned it in the fire.
Joseph began to weep and asked if he
could give him a blessing. John accepted
his request and Joseph placed his hands
on his head and blessed him saying,
“Because of your faith and obedience,
there will never come a time when your
family will want for temporal things.”
John Tanner was a faithful man and was
blessed with many descendants (N. Eldon
Tanner and O.C. Tanner, to name a few).
My mother comes from the Tanner line!
Appearance of the Father and the Son:
The visions and appearances of Deity in the Kirtland
area that have been documented number at least into
the teens and took place at four separate sites:
Joseph Smith, Lyman Wight, and Harvey Whitlock
received a vision of both God the Father and his Son,
Jesus Christ, in the log schoolhouse on the Isaac Morely
farm during a conference held from June 3-6, 1831.
Levi Hancock recorded that the Prophet was speaking to
the elders when he “stepped out on the floor and said, ‘I
now see God, and Jesus Christ at his right hand, let
them kill me, I should not feel death as I am now’” (The
Life of Levi Hancock, 33).
On February 16, 1832:
In an upper room of the John Johnson home at Hiram,
Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon received a glorious
vision in which they beheld the Father and the Son as
well as “the holy angels, and them who are sanctified
before his throne” (D&C 76:21).
At this time, both Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were
permitted to see in vision the fall of Lucifer, which gave
them an understanding of Lucifer’s role as well as the
role of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
John Murdock experienced a vision of the Savior similar to that of
John the Revelator:
I saw the form of a man most lovely! The visage of his face was
sound and fair as the sun. His hair, a bright silver grey, curled in
most majestic form, His eyes, a keen penetrating blue, and the
skin of his neck a most beautiful white (Murdock, “A Brief
Synopsis of the Life of John Murdock, 14).
Zebedee Coltrin related that he also saw the Savior, following
which he saw God the Father, who “was surrounded as with a
flame of fire, which was so brilliant that I could not discover
anything else but His person. I saw His hands, His legs, His feet,
His eyes, nose, mouth, head and body in the shape and form of a
perfect man. I felt it in the marrow of my bones” (School of the
Prophets, October 3, 1883).
D&C 137:
April 3, 1836:
The Vision of the Celestial Kingdom. The blazing
throne of God, whereon was seated the Father and
the Son.
Oliver and Joseph saw the Lord standing
upon the breastwork of the pulpit.
Orson Pratt recalled, “In that house the veil was taken away from
the eyes of many of the servants of God and they beheld his
glory” (JD, 14:273).
According to one estimate, “hundreds of others” had such
experiences (JD, 25:158).
Joseph Smith promised, “All who are prepared, and are
sufficiently pure to abide the presence of the Savior, will see him
in the solemn assembly in the temple” (HC, 2:310).
January 21, 1836
In the presence of about 10 Church leaders, Joseph Smith “saw
the Twelve….and Jesus standing in their midst….The Savior
looked upon them and wept.” Later, in a meeting of about thirty
some “saw the face of the Savior” (HC, 2:381-82).
January 28, 1836
Some one hundred Melchizedek Priesthood members --- high
priest, seventies, and elders – were assembled when Zebedee
Coltrin “saw the Savior extended before him, as upon a cross, and
a little after, crowned with glory upon his head above the
brightness of the sun” (HC, 2:387).
Those present also heard Joseph exclaim aloud, “I behold the
Savior, the Son of God” (HC, 2:387).
March 30th, 1836
With three hundred priesthood leaders assembled in
the temple, “the Savior made his appearance to some,
while angels ministered to others” (HC, 2:432).
Warren Snow declared: “I have seen the power of God
manifested….I remember when receiving my
endowments in the Temple at Kirtland, I heard the
voice of God as plain as I hear my own, and this
testimony I have borne for thirty-one years” (Millennial
Star, 26 January 23, 1964: 51).
The Savior’s presence was felt by many who were not privileged
to see him in Kirtland. Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner described
one such experience that occurred at the Morley farm in 1831:
Said he, [Joseph Smith,] “There are enough here to hold a little
meeting.” Joseph looked around very solemnly. It was the first
time some of them had ever seen him. They got a board and put
it across two chairs to make seats. Martin Harris sat on a little
box at Joseph’s feet. They sang and prayed. Joseph got up and
began to speak to us. As he began to speak very solemnly and
very earnestly all at once his countenance changed and he stood
mute. Those who looked at him that day said there was a search
light within him, over every part of his body. I never saw
anything like it on earth. I could not take my eyes off of him. He
got so white that anyone who saw him would have thought he
was transparent. I remember I thought I could almost see the
bones through the flesh. I have been through many changes
since, but that is photographed on my brain.
I shall remember it and see in my mind’s eye as long as I remain
upon the earth. He stood some minutes. He looked over the
congregation as if to pierce every heart. Said he: “Do you know
who has been in your midst?” Martin Harris said: “It was our
Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Joseph put his hands down on
Martin and said: “God revealed that to you. Brothers and Sisters,
the spirit of God has been in your midst. The Savior has been
here this night and I want to tell you to remember it. There is a
veil over your eyes for you could not endure to look upon Him.”
…Then he knelt down and prayed. I have never heard anything
like it before or since. I felt that he was talking to the Lord and
that power rested down upon us in every fiber of our bodies, and
we received a sermon form the lips of the representative of God
(Lightner, address at Brigham Young University).
The dispensation of the fullness of
times was launched by the Father and
Son themselves, and they personally
prepared Joseph Smith and others for
their leadership roles in the restored
church. Like Moses, who was told,
“put off thy shoes… [for] the place
whereon thou standest is holy ground”
(Exodus 3:5), these modern leaders
truly stood on holy ground in “the
Many Manifestations
In a fifteen week period starting in January 1836, there were
more revelations given than any other similar time frame in the
History of the Church.
Jan. 21, 1836, Joseph received section 137, “a vision of the
Celestial Kingdom.” He said he saw resurrected beings,
mortals, and departed spirits.
On Jan. 22, 1836 many people saw visions and experienced the
gift of tongues. Angels mingled their voices with those of
mortals. It lasted for over an hour and a half.
On Jan. 28, 1836 Roger Orton saw six angels, one was riding a
beautiful white horse outside of the temple with the assignment
to keep the legions of evil spirits away.
Several non-members of the Church saw the
temple with a beautiful glow. Some saw angels
walking back and forth along the roof acting as
sentinels to ward off evil spirits hovering in the
air, trying to get in to the temple.
Zebedee Coltrin saw the Savior in the Kirtland
Temple in all of His glory. In his journal he
wrote that he had viewed the crucifixion of
Christ. He said that they wrapped a white
sheet around his waist and then drove into his
hands metal spikes similar to railroad spikes
Others have had that same vision (Orson F. Whitney and David
B. Haight).
On March 27th 1836, (Sunday and also the dedication), Peter
entered the temple and sat by Frederick G. Williams and Joseph
Smith Sr. on the stand.
Heber C. Kimball described Peter as being tall, with “black eyes,
white hair, and stoop shouldered; his garment was whole,
extending to near his ankles; on his feet he had sandals. He
was the one sent to accept the dedication of the Kirtland
Temple (Heber C. Kimball, JD 9:376).
Father Smith calmed a mother who was nervous about having
her baby at the dedication. He assured her that it would be
okay. He later recorded that the two month old baby joined in
when the congregation when they gave the Hosanna Shout.
(Truman Madsen).
David Whitmer saw three other angels at the dedication though
they were not identified.
Jesus Christ came later.
During the Priesthood meeting (316 present) that night angels
came down through the ceiling and the temple was filled with
the hosts of heaven. This was the same evening that a strange
light rested upon the outside of the temple which people could
see from a distance and knew that it was filled with the glory of
Even those outside the temple could hear the heavenly choirs.
The Kirtland Dedication Program:
It started at 9:00 a.m. (the doors opened at 8:00 a.m.)
Joseph estimated that by 7:00 a.m. more than 1,000 persons
waited near the temple doors. After the temple filled, hundreds
were turned away.
President Rigdon read Psalms 96 and 24 followed by the
congregation singing “Ere Long the Veil will Rend in Twain.”
Sidney Rigdon offered the invocation.
They sang “O Happy Souls who Pray Where God Appoints to
Sidney Rigdon read and preached from Matthew 8:18-20. He
spoke for two and a half hours.
Joseph said that Sidney’s talk was eloquent.
A repeat of the dedicatory services was also scheduled for the
following Thursday.
The choir and congregation sang “Now Let Us Rejoice in the
Day of Salvation.”
They took a fifteen to twenty minute intermission. Most
remained in the building.
The service continued with another song, “This Earth Was Once
a Garden Place,” also know as “Adam-ondi-Ahman.”
After some brief remarks by Joseph Smith, Church officers were
sustained. It was unanimous to the affirmative.
The service then continued with another song, “How Pleased
and Blessed Was I.”
Joseph then read the dedicatory prayer which had been
revealed to him.
They then sang “The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning.”
The quorums accepted the dedicatory prayer and the
sacrament was passed to members of the Church.
Testimonies were born by many and then the congregation
gave the Hosanna Shout three times.
Brigham Young then arose and spoke briefly in tongues while
David W. Patton interpreted, and David W. Patten delivered a
short exhortation in tongues.
At about four o’clock, the Prophet concluded the seven-hour
dedicatory service by blessing the congregation.
Eliza R. Snow testified that a babe in arms participated in the
Hosanna Shout (Tullidge, Women of Mormondom, 95).
Summarizing this extraordinary event, she said, “As marvelous as
that incident may appear to many, it is not more so than other
occurrences on that occasion.
It was reported that hundreds spoke in tongues, prophesied, or
saw visions
It is interesting that Sidney carried the bulk of the meeting.
We need to remember that he was a gifted man (The Lord
would not have allowed him to do that had he been out of
On March 30th, 1836 many saw angels and the Savior.
John the Beloved was in attendance and Joseph stood up at
the end of the meeting and apologized to him for failing to
recognize him earlier.
Joseph was so familiar with these men that he sometimes
forgot to recognize them in the presence of others.
On April 6th, 1836 Joseph saw angels administering unto many.
It was a day of Pentecost.
It is not hard to understand why it has been called the
“Glorious Days of Kirtland?”
Unseen forces also protected the Saints and their efforts. In
January 1836, prior to completion of the temple, Joseph Smith
reported: “Elder Roger Orton saw a mighty angel riding upon a
horse of fire, with a flaming sword in his hand, followed by five
others, encircle the house, and protect the Saints, even the Lord’s
anointed, from the power of Satan and a host of evil spirits, which
were striving to disturb the Saints” (History of the Church 2:38687).
Many journals of the Saints testify that the year 1836 was indeed
the “year of jubilee,” a “time of rejoicing,” when communication
with the heavens was constant and real.
Missionaries go forth from Kirtland:
Joseph taught the priesthood holders in Kirtland that “the greatest
and most important duty is to preach the gospel.”
Steamships, which averaged about twenty miles an hour, were a
favorite mode of travel.
For most missionaries, travel was by foot, carrying cloth
knapsacks or leather valises. Walking for thirteen or fourteen
hours, they could go about forty miles a day if the weather was
favorable and the roads were good.
Joseph often gave this advice to missionaries, “Preach short
sermons, make short prayers, and deliver your sermons with a
prayerful heart” (Memoirs of George A. Smith, 29).
Many men would serve on their
missions for as long as possible,
return to Kirtland to accomplish
necessary tasks at home and
receive further inspiration and
instruction from the brethren,
and then leave on another
Hebrew School
In January 1836, at the Kirtland Temple, the
Hebrew School was started.
Joseph indicated that the members of the
Church needed to meet “the learned” on their
Joseph had a gift for Hebrew and learned a lot
on his own.
As many as 150 attended sessions of the school
held in the winter of 1836-37 in the temple.
Orson Pratt was also very good at it.
There were eventually four Hebrew Schools with forty students
per school.
Joshua Seixas was hired to teach the class. He was a brilliant
man who knew many languages. We don’t know if he ever
joined the Church or not.
He was an instructor at a seminary in Hudson, Ohio. He was
hired for seven weeks at a salary of $320.00 dollars and was
given an office in the Temple. Forty-five students initially
enrolled for the series of one-hour lectures.
On January 1836, the School of the Prophets moved into the
Brigham Young had a hard time learning Hebrew.
The Spirit of God Like A Fire is
The following two verses were taken out of the
original hymn written by William W. Phelps for
the temple dedication:
We’ll wash and be wash’d, and with oil be
Withal not omitting the washing of feet
For he that receiveth his penny appointed,
Must surely be clean at the harvest of wheat.
We’ll sing and we’ll shout, etc.
Old Israel that fled from the world for his
Must come with the cloud and the pillar,
A’Moses, and Aaron, and Joshua lead him,
And feed him on manna from heaven
We’ll sing and we’ll shout, etc.
Other Interesting things that took place
in Kirtland!
Lorenzo Young was called out of the congregation to serve on
the Kirtland High Council. He declined the calling and was
never called to another calling while Joseph was alive.
Lorenzo Young did go on the exodus to Salt Lake City and
would serve in many capacities of the Church.
Martin Harris made the comment that he knew more about the
Book of Mormon than Joseph Smith ever would.
Joseph was called to a hearing (Church Discipline) because of
Sylvester Smith and his accusations from Zion’s Camp.
Other Interesting things that took
place in Kirtland!
In 1834 Joseph received “Lectures on Faith” (School
of the Elders).
On Feb. 7th, 1835 Brigham and Joseph Young sang to
Joseph at Joseph’s request. After they finished
Joseph told Brigham Young that he would be called as
one of the Twelve the next week and that Joseph
Young would preside over the 70’s. This was the
same time period in which Joseph received a
revelation about the status of those who died from
cholera in Zion’s Camp and the reward they would
received in heaven (almost a year later).
Church government began to unfold during the
Kirtland period.
On Feb. 14th, 1835 the calling of the Twelve
took place. They were called right out of the
Seniority among the Twelve was determined by
The three witnesses had been called to choose
the twelve. They had six years to prepare for it
(D&C 18:37).
Thomas B. Marsh
D&C 31:9, 12 Govern Your House!
The wife of Thomas B. Marsh (President of the Twelve
Apostles) and Sister Harris concluded they would
exchange milk in order to make a little larger cheese
than they otherwise could. To be sure to have justice
done, it was agreed that they should not save the
strippings, but that the milk and strippings should all
go together (the strippings were the part of the milk
richest in cream).
Mrs. Harris, it appeared, was faithful to the
agreement and carried to Mrs. Marsh the milk
and strippings, but Mrs. Marsh, wishing to
make some extra good cheese, saved a pint of
strippings from each cow and sent Mrs. Harris
the milk without the strippings.
Mrs. Harris learned that Mrs. Marsh had saved
the strippings, and it became a matter to be
settled by the Teachers. They examined the
matter and it was proved that Mrs. Marsh had
saved the strippings…
An appeal was taken from the Teachers to the
Bishop, and a regular Church trial was held.
President Marsh did not consider that the
Bishop had done him and his lady justice, for
they (the Bishop’s court) decided that the
strippings were wrongfully saved, and that
Sister Marsh had violated her covenant.
Marsh immediately took an appeal to the High
Council…, but the High Council confirmed the
Bishop’s decision (Mrs. Harris’s husband
George, was on the High Council).
Marsh not satisfied, made an appeal to the First Presidency of
the Church.
Joseph and his counselors sat upon the case and they
supported the decision of the High Council.
This little affair kicked up a considerable breeze, and Thomas B.
Marsh then declared that he would sustain the character of his
wife, even if he had to go to hell for it.
Heber C. Kimball wished him well on his way.
Thomas B. Marsh would later sign a document that
brought mobs against the Saints which caused deaths
to the Saints and much suffering.
The then President of the Twelve Apostles, the
man who should have been the first to do
justice and cause reparation to be made for
wrong, committed by any member of his
family, took that position (JD 3:283-84).
David W. Patton returned after his death from
the Spirit World and asked Thomas, “How could
you have forgotten so soon?”
Thomas B. Marsh and David W. Patton had
made a covenant to keep each other in line
while in mortality.
President Gordon B. Hinckley
Pres. Hinckley repeated the story in General Conference and
then commented:
“The man who should have settled this little quarrel, but
who, rather, pursued it,… literally went through hell for it.
He lost his standing in the Church. He lost his testimony of
the gospel. For nineteen years he walked in poverty and
darkness and bitterness, experiencing illness, and loneliness.
He grew old before his time. Finally, like the prodigal son in
the parable of the Savior, he recognized his foolishness and
painfully made his way to this valley (Salt Lake), and asked
Brigham Young to forgive him and permit his re-baptism into
the Church.
He had been the first President of the
Council of the Twelve, loved,
respected, and honored in the days of
Kirtland, and the early days of Far
West. Now he asked only that he
might be ordained a deacon and
become a doorkeeper in the house of
the Lord (C.R. April, 1984, 111).
Path to Apostasy
You that don’t know him, have heard of Thomas B.
Marsh, who was formerly the President of the Twelve
Apostles, but who apostatized some years ago, in
Missouri. He is on his way here, a poor, decrepit,
broken down, old man. He has had a paralytic stroke
--- one of his arms hangs down. He is coming out
here as an object of charity, destitute, without wife,
child, or anything else. He has been an apostate
some eighteen years. Most of you know his history..
In meeting with some of the apostates, Thomas B. Marsh said
to them, “You don’t know what you are about; if you want to
see the fruits of apostasy, look on me…”
Many have said to me, “How is it that a man like you, who
understood so much of the revelations of God as recorded in
the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, could fall away?” I told
them not to feel to secure, but to take heed lest they also
should fall; for I had no scruples in my mind to the possibility of
men falling away.
I can say, in reference to the Quorum of the Twelve, to which I
belonged, that I did not consider myself a whit behind any of
them, and I suppose that others had the same opinion; but, let
no one feel too secure; for, before you think of it, your steps
will slide. You will not think for a moment as you did before
you lost the Spirit of Christ; for when men apostatize, they are
left to grovel in the dark.
I have sought diligently to know the Spirit of Christ since I
turned my face Zion-ward, and I believe I have obtained it. I
have frequently wanted to know how my apostasy began, and I
have come to the conclusion that I must have lost the spirit of
the Lord out of my heart.
The next question is, “How and when did you lose the
I became jealous of the Prophet, and then I was double,
and overlooked everything that was right, and spent all my
time in looking for evil; and then, when the Devil began to lead
me, it was easy for the carnal mind to rise up, which is anger,
jealousy, and wrath. I could feel it within me; I felt angry and
wrathful; and the Spirit of the Lord was gone, as the scriptures
say, I was blinded, and I thought I saw a beam in brother
Joseph’s eye, but it was nothing but a mote, and my own eye
was filled with the beam… (Thomas B. Marsh, J.D., vol. 5,
115, 206-7).
The School of the Elders
The School of the Elders started in December, 1834 to
prepare Elders to become full-time missionaries. They
studied history, geography, literature, philosophy,
politics, grammar and theology.
They were given “7 major lectures.”
Hiram Page was the teacher.
Joseph taught grammar and Hebrew before Joshua
Seixas became their teacher.
We consider that God has created man with a
mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which
may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and
diligence given to the light communicated from
heaven to the intellect; and that the nearer
man approaches perfection, the clearer are his
views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he
has overcome the evils of his life and lost every
desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at
that point of faith where he is wrapped in the
power and glory of his Maker, and is caught up
to dwell with Him (Joseph Smith, HC, vol. 2, 8).
The Twelve Apostles called in 1835
1. Thomas B. Marsh, (age 35, apostatized and came
2. David W. Patton, (age 35, didn’t know his birth
year, martyred).
David rode a white mule and had the gift of healing.
He is the one who President Spencer W. Kimball in
Miracle of Forgiveness mentioned his encounter with
Cain. He said that Cain was dark and covered with
hair and had no clothing on. Cain told David that he
was seeking death.
David asked God if he could die as a martyr.
His reason may have been because he had rebelled and caused
some degree of trouble for the Church. We don’t know what
he did.
Joseph later said after David’s death, “There lies a man who did
what he said he would do, give his life for God.”
David once threw a heckler at a meeting over 10 feet in the air
into a wood pile after the heckler said, “I understand Mormons
kick out devils, is that true?” The people in the building who
saw it said it was true after David threw him. He possessed
great strength.
Later in vision, Joseph Jr. said that David Patton was welcomed
with great excitement into the Spirit World as he had been
commissioned to teach the John Wesley family.
3. Brigham Young:
Age 33, faithful to the end! He presided over the Church for 33
years, no one has served as Prophet longer in this dispensation
(June 1844-1877), he was formally sustained in 1847.
4. Heber C. Kimball:
Age 33, faithful to the end! Joseph said that if he ever needed
someone to prophesy it was Heber. He once rebuked the wind
at the bowery on Temple Square and commanded it to be
silent, and it was done. Moroni visited him two weeks before
he died and told him the Savior was pleased with him.
5. Orson Hyde:
Age 30, faithful. Dedicated the Holy Land, learned the German
language in eight days, learned Hebrew and memorized the
Bible in English. Later in his life he got a disease that caused
him to become obese. He was so large that he couldn’t roll
6. William E. McLellen:
Age 29, not faithful, became a bitter enemy to Joseph and the
Church. He was an evil man who later sought the blood of
Joseph. He tried to write a revelation but failed. He was
excommunicated in 1838 and never returned.
7. Parley P. Pratt:
Age 27, martyred in Arkansas at the age of 50 in May of 1857.
He was the second Apostle killed in this dispensation.
8. Luke S. Johnson:
Age 27, faithful. He lost his membership but came back.
However, Brigham Young would not put him back in the
Twelve. He died in Tooele, Utah while serving as a Bishop. He
helped convert his friend Ezekiel in the middle of the night.
9. William Smith:
Age 23, not faithful.
10. Orson Pratt:
Age 23, faithful. First to view the Salt Lake Valley, and was the
first President of the Elders Quorum. Brigham Young said once
of him, “You can cut him up into little tiny pieces and every
piece would cry out saying, ‘Mormonism is true!’” He crossed
the ocean 16 times serving missions for the Church.
11. John F. Boynton:
Age 23, not faithful. Great Scientist, invented the soda
fountain and some small electrical appliances. He left the
Church in 1837 and said, “I have never seen a happy moment
since I joined the Church.” He was with Warren Parrish and
Lyman Johnson when they took 100,000 dollars from a bank
through fraud. He was excommunicated and never returned.
12. Lyman E. Johnson:
Age 23, not faithful. Excommunicated and never
returned. He cursed Joseph Smith at the top of his
lungs until his face went black.
The Apostolic Charge was given to the Twelve by
Oliver Cowdery.
In the meridian of times, the Savior himself gave that
This should give you and idea of the importance and
the strength of Oliver Cowdery.
A Home Teaching Experience in Kirtland
In Kirtland, members of the priesthood were assigned to visit the
homes of the Saints and teach them. D&C 20:47 was given about
nine months before Joseph moved to Kirtland.
William Cahoon, one of the earliest Ohio converts, later recalled
his experience as home teacher to the Prophet’s family:
I was called and ordained to act as a teacher to visit the families
of the Saints. I got along very well till I found that I was obliged
to call and pay a visit to the Prophet.
Being young, only about seventeen years of age, I felt my
weakness in visiting the Prophet and his family in the capacity of
a teacher. I almost felt like shrinking from duty. Finally I went to
the door and knocked, and in a minute the Prophet came to the
door. I stood trembling, and said to him:
“Brother Joseph, I have come to visit you in the capacity of a
teacher, if it is not convenient for you.”
He said, “Brother William, come right in, I am glad to see you; sit
down in that chair there and I will go and call my family in.”
They soon came in and took seats. He then said, “Brother
William, I submit myself and family into your hands,” and then
took his seat. “Now Brother William,” said he “ask all the
questions you feel like.”
By this time all my fears and trembling had ceased, and I said,
“Brother Joseph, are you trying to live your religion?” He
answered “Yes.” I then said “Do you pray in your family?” He
said “Yes.” Do you teach your family the principles of the
gospel?” He replied “Yes, I am trying to do it.” “Do you ask a
blessing on your food?” He answered “Yes.” “Are you trying
to live in peace and harmony with all your family?” He said that
he was.
I then turned to Sister Emma, his wife, and said “Sister Emma,
are you trying to live your religion? Do you teach your children to
obey their parents? Do you try to teach them to pray?”
To all of these questions she answered “Yes, I am trying to do
I then turned to Joseph and said, “I am now through with my
questions as a teacher; and now if you have any instructions to
give, I shall be happy to receive them.”
He said “God bless you, Brother William, and if you are humble
and faithful, you shall have power to settle all difficulties that may
come to you in the capacity of a teacher
I then left my parting
blessing upon him and his
family, as a teacher, and
took my departure (Elder
William Farrington Close,
Juvenile Instructor 28 August
15, 1892: 492-93).
Visitors in 1835
By the mid-1830's, Joseph was spending hours each week with
visitors. He said, “I have been hindered by a multitude of
Joseph created a Tran biblical world unlike anything known in
Christian churches and had no interest in forming alliances with
less venturous souls.
Joshua the Jewish Minister came to Kirtland. Some speculated
that he was the notorious Robert Matthias, who had recently
stood trial for murder in New York and served time for
whipping his adult daughter. Later he admitted that he was
Matthias and claimed he was a descendant of the apostle
Matthias who was chosen to replace Judas. He taught that
Matthias’s spirit was resurrected in him.
Joseph told Matthias that “his doctrine
was of the Devil and that he was in reality
in possession of a wicked and depraved
spirit.” Joseph told him to leave and as he
reflected in his journal, “cast our the Devil
in bodily shape.”
Joseph’s historical role, as he understood
it, was to give God a voice in a world that
had stopped listening.
Texts --- 1835
William E. McLellin, was chosen as an apostle in
February 1835. He left the church a year later,
disillusioned by his failure to receive a manifestation at
the Kirtland temple dedication. The journal he kept of
a missionary journey with the Twelve from may
through September 1835 is the best account we have
of Mormon missionary work in the early years.
Missionaries had no plan, no pamphlet for
investigators to study, no standard message. The
Book of Mormon was the only printed literature they
carried with them.
The 1835 Doctrine & Covenants was meant to
summarize the Church’s major beliefs and
provide a handbook of its policies.
The “Lectures on Faith” were a perfect example
of orderly presentation. Given in the fall of
1834 by Sidney Rigdon and others, with input
from Joseph Smith, the lectures were included
in every edition of the Doctrine & Covenants
from 1835-1921.
In 1835 Michael Chandler came to Kirtland with
four mummies and some rolls of papyrus.
Chandler’s account of the mummies was full of
contradictions. He claimed he inherited the
artifacts from his uncle, Antonio Lebolo. Lebolo
had indeed obtained Egyptian artifacts around
1829 but never mentioned Chandler. Lebolo
sold eleven mummies to a Trieste merchant in
new York. Chandler probably purchased them
in New York.
Joseph announced that one roll contained the
writing of Abraham of Ur and the other the
writings of Joseph of Egypt. He purchased the
four mummies and the papyri for $2,400, a
huge sum when money was desperately
needed for other projects.
Joseph would continue to show the relics until
his death.
The reader was suddenly dropped into
Abraham’s mind and world, and Joseph the
translator was entirely invisible.
The exclusion of black men from the priesthood was publicly
stated only after his death.
Except for a brief lapse in early 1836, Joseph advocated taking
the gospel to “both bond and free,” ignoring race.
Nothing was done during Joseph’s lifetime to withhold
priesthood from black members.
Joseph knew Elijah Abel, a black man who was ordained as a
seventy, and was said to have entertained him.
Blacks “come into the worlds slaves, mentally and physically,”
he once said in private conversation. “Change their situation
with the whites and they would be like them.” He favored a
policy of “national Equalization,” though he retained the
common prejudice against intermarriage and blending of races.
Now with the Egyptian papyri before
them, Joseph again let the men with the
greatest interest in such undertakings —
Oliver Cowdery, William W. Phelps,
Warren Parrish, and Frederick G. Williams
—attempt translations. Parrish was told he
“shall see much of my ancient records,
and shall know of hidden things, and shall
be endowed with a knowledge of hidden
Eventually they pulled their work together into a
collection they called “Grammar & Alphabet of the
Egyptian Language,” written in the hands of Phelps
and Parrish.
Of all the men working on the papyri, only Joseph
produced a coherent text.
In 1967, that view of translation suffered a blow when
eleven scraps of the Abraham papyri, long since lost
and believed to have been burned were discovered in
the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and
given to Latter-day Saint leaders in Salt Lake City.
Color pictures were printed and scholars
went to work. The texts were thought to
be the Abraham papyri because Joseph
had published facsimiles from the papyri
with his translation, and the same pictures
appeared on the museum fragments. The
translation of these texts by expert
Egyptologists would finally prove or
disprove Joseph’s claims to miraculous
translating powers. Would any of the
language correspond to the text in his
book of Abraham?
Some Mormons were crushed
when the fragments turned out to
be rather conventional funerary
texts placed with mummified
bodies, in this case Hor’, to assure
continuing life as an immortal god.
According to the Egyptologists,
nothing on the fragments
resembled Joseph’s account of
Some Mormon scholars, notably Hugh Nibley, doubt
that the actual texts for Abraham and Joseph have
been found.
His book of Abraham picked up themes found in texts
like the Book of Jasher and Flavius Josephus’s
Antiquities of the Jews.
Dr. Daniel L. M. Peixotto, a professor of medicine at
Willougby University four miles from Kirtland, was
hired to teach Hebrew in the School of the Prophets.
When Peixotto could not come, the brethren hired
Joshua Seixas, a Jewish convert to Christianity then
teaching at the Western Reserve College.
Joseph proudly recorded Seixas’s comment that
“they were the most forward of any class he
had ever taught.” Joseph was one of ten to
meet for extra sessions with the professor.
Seixas called Joseph and “indefatigable”
student. Excited by his learning, Joseph
resolved “to pursue the study of languages
until he should become the master of them, if
he were permitted to live long enough.” The
Hebrew classes continued until the dedication
of the temple in March, when Seixas dropped
from sight.
Every attempt to regularize belief was diffused
by new revelations. Who could tell what would
be revealed next—what new insights into the
patriarchal past, what stories of Abraham,
Moses, or Enoch, what glimpses into heaven?
Joseph himself could not predict the course or
Mormon doctrine. All he could say he summed
up [in a later article of faith: “We believe all
that God has revealed, all that he does not
reveal, and we believe that he will yet reveal
many great an important things pertaining to
the kingdom of God.”
Strife August — December 1835
Be assured brethren I am willing to stem the
torrent of all opposition, in storms in tempests
in thunders and lightning by sea and by land in
the wilderness or among false brethren or
mobs or wherever God in his providence may
call us and I am determined that neither
heights nor depths, principalities nor powers,
things present or to come, nor any other
creature shall separate me from you (Joseph
Smith to the Twelve Apostles, January 1836).
Joseph’s journal for September 22, 1835,
through April 3, 1836 was the most extensive,
comprehensive, and revealing he ever kept.
The 1835-36 journal contains almost daily
entries for six months.
Like everyone raised in the culture, the Smiths
had a clannish loyalty to one another and a
fiery resentment against the slightest
derogation of their worth. In the culture of
honor, one would battle to the death in defense
of reputation. An honorable man who suffered
an insult would spare nothing to get even.
Through the fall of 1835, he engaged in a series of small
quarrels, domestic disturbances, and squabbles. He did not
rise above the fray in the serene majesty of his calling.
While Joseph was sensitive to the spirit of others, he may have
been tone-deaf to the spirit of his own words. Unable to bear
criticism, he rebuked anyone who challenged him. Benjamin
Johnson, a great admirer, said, “Criticism, even by associates,
was rarely acceptable, and contradiction would rouse in him the
lion at once, for by no one of his fellow would he be
superseded or disputed.”
Joseph admitted sometimes being too “harsh from the impulse
of the moment.” Then his affection returned. “In as much as I
have wounded your feelings, he implored the Twelve, “I ask
your forgiveness, for I love you and will hold you up with all my
heart in all righteousness before the Lord.” A flood of pledges
Once people gave way, Joseph forgave and forgot the
matter. When he could not have his way, Joseph
sometimes rained down curses on his opponents.
Once Joseph said that William was as ugly as the
devil. At this, William rushed Joseph, who had pulled
off his coat to defend himself. Joseph had to be
rescued from William’s blows. When he got home, he
could not sit or stand without help. Ashamed at being
beaten, Joseph explained why his younger brother
had won the fight.
Joseph had been “marred” by mobbers who had
debilitated his body, he reminded William.
Joseph often complained of injuries to his hip and
back spasms
On the other hand, he warmly welcomed them back
when they were contrite.
In a remarkable passage in his journal, he moved
from simple gratitude to exaltation of the woodcutters
who had cut his winter’s wood in December.
In the name of Jesus Christ I invoke the rich benediction of
heaven to rest upon them and their families, and I ask my
heavenly Father to preserve their health, and those of their
wives and children, that they may have strength of body to
perform their labors in their several occupations in life, and the
use of activity of their limbs, also powers of intellect and
understanding hearts, that they may treasure up wisdom,
understanding, and intelligence, above measure, and be
preserved from plagues, pestilence, and famine, and from the
power of the adversary, and the hands of evil designing men
and have power over all their enemies; and the way be
prepared before them, that they may journey to the land of
Zion and be established on their inheritances, to enjoy
undisturbed peace and happiness forever, and ultimately to be
crowned with everlasting life in the Celestial Kingdom of God,
which blessings I ask in the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
Joseph prayed for 800 to 1,000 wellarmed men to accomplish the work of
going back and taking Jackson
County. David Whitmer was appointed
“Captain of the Lord’s Host.” In
September Joseph challenged the
Kirtland High Council that “we go next
season to live or die in Jackson
The Order of Heaven
January — April 1836
The winter and spring months of 1836 were among
Joseph’s happiest. For a time, everything went right.
Life in Kirtland
How the Smiths paid the bills in those years was a
mystery. Joseph’s journal showed no evidence of
working for money. He opened a store in Kirtland, but
the store was not profitable. The Smith’s never lived
well, but in their small house on the hill neither did
they starve.
The temple committee was so far in debt it
appealed constantly for contributions in order
to pay the workers. Joseph negotiated loan
after loan until the size of the debt drove him
to pleading and bargaining with the Lord.
Heber C. Kimball later estimated final
construction cost at between $40,000 and
$50,000, a huge sum when a laborer was lucky
to receive $400 a year. A large part was paid
by one wealthy convert, John Tanner, who
donated $13,000 and may have loaned another
The elders were meeting in the temple primarily to
prepare for the “endowment of power.” Spiritual
blessings, much like an endowment, were received at
first session of the school of the Prophets in 1833.
Oliver Cowdery told the Twelve, when they were
ordained in February 1835, that they were “not to go
to other nations till they received their endowments.”
Because they had not known Jesus in mortality, these
modern apostles had to know Him by revelation.
“Never cease striving until you have seen God face to
face,” Cowdery told them.
Joseph was preoccupied with the right
order of everything. Church councils
had to follow the pattern of the
ancients. His history said the
cornerstones of the Kirtland temple
were laid “after the order of the
priesthood,” which was to divide
twenty-four priesthood holders into
four groups of six and assign each to
a corner.
Beginning at the Southeast
A variant of this assemblage of authorities,
called “the Grand Council,” William W. Phelps
wrote his wife that the “Grand Council” was
“one of the most interesting meetings he ever
Women remained invisible in the organization
and were absent from most ritual events. Some
resented it. But in this spiritual season,
weddings and dinners involving women were
turned into holy celebrations.
During the winter, a small committee under
Joseph’s direction worked out rules for temple
No going up the stairs during worship.
2. No marring the house with knife or pencil.
3. No children playing in the rooms.
4. Speakers were not to be interrupted by
laughter, whispering, or “menacing gestures.”
5. Presiding officers were not to be insulted.
Decorum apparently had to be perfect for the
Saints to receive the outpouring of heaven.
Later the Saints removed their shoes and
dressed in white on entering the temple.
In January 1833, Joseph had washed the feet
of thirteen brethren following the example of
Jesus Christ in the gospel of John. In 1836, a
new kind of washing, one for the whole body,
was instituted, following Old Testament
Oliver Cowdery gave a full description of washings performed
the previous Saturday.
Met in the evening with Brother Joseph Smith Jr. at his house,
in company with Brother John Corrill, and after pure water was
prepared, call upon the Lord and proceeded to wash each
other’s bodies, and bathe the same with whiskey, perfumed
with cinnamon. This we did that we might be clean before the
Lord for the Sabbath, confessing our sins and covenanting to
be faithful to God. While performing this washing unto the Lord
with solemnity, our minds were filled with many reflections
upon the propriety of the same, and how the priests anciently
used to wash always before ministering before the Lord. As we
had nearly finished the purification. Brother Martin Harris came
in and was also washed.
When the brethren met the following Thursday,
they added an anointing with oil. While the
high councils from Kirtland and Missouri waited
in two adjoining rooms, Joseph and six other
men attended to “the ordinance of anointing
our heads with holy oil.” Joseph Sr. rose and
anointed the others in order of age.
One searches in vain for such rituals among
Joseph’s Protestant contemporaries. Joseph
drew upon ceremonies in Exodus. Later the
Saints clothed themselves in holy garments like
After Joseph’s anointing, he wrote, “the heavens were
opened upon us and I beheld the celestial kingdom of
God (D&C 137). He saw the Twelve Apostles in a
foreign land “standing together in a circle much
fatigued, with their clothes tattered and feet swollen,
with their eyes cast downward, and Jesus standing in
their midst, and they did not behold him, the Savior
looked upon them and wept.” All through the night,
Joseph saw visions: Elder McLellin in the south healing
a lame man, and Brigham Young in a southwest
desert preaching from a rock to a “dozen men of
color, who, appeared hostile.” Young was protected
by an “angel of God standing above his head with a
drawn sword.” Joseph said that many of the brethren
“saw glorious visions also.”
Washings and anointings were done from oldest to youngest.
Through January and February, the brethren read Hebrew by
day, and washed, anointed, prayed, and beheld visions by
Joseph’s method for bringing his people to holiness differed
from the approach of evangelical preachers. Rather than
convicting people of their sins, thus humbling them before God,
Joseph relied upon the power of ritual to arouse their spirits.
Joseph said nothing about a revelation on washings and
anointings. The only scriptural authorization came from Exodus.
Yet Joseph assured the brethren that the orders were
“according to the mind of God.” He introduced the washings,
anointings, and sealings as rigorously as any commandment.
After the seven-month suspension, the missionaries
were to return to the field to gather Israel,
empowered now by their spiritual experiences.
The next Sunday, about a thousand people attended
the morning service and returned in the afternoon for
the sacraments. At the conclusion, Joseph and
Cowdery went into one of the pulpits and had the veil
dropped, cutting them off from view of the
congregation. In seclusion, they experienced one of
Joseph’s most spectacular visions, later recorded by
Warren Cowdery, Joseph’s clerk and Oliver’s brother
(D&C 110).
The frequency of announced
revelations slowed in ensuing
years. Doctrine came through
sermons. The revelation behind
the veil suggested that Joseph
was moving ahead of his
followers. He began to speak of
revelations they could not bear.
Daniel Tyler: “I had the inestimable blessing of
receiving my endowments and teachings given in the
George A. Smith: “I passed through the ordinances of
endowments and received much instruction and many
manifestations of the spirit.
Artemus Millet: “I was then ordained an Elder, and got
my endowments in the Temple and in 1836 went on a
Heber C. Kimball: “I….received my washings and
anointings…and…all the blessings and ordinances of

Glorious Days in Kirtland