Saturday, July 29, 2017

School of the Prophets – Lectures on Faith

The School of the Prophets, or sometimes called School of the Elders, first met on January 23, 1833, in response to a revelation (D&C 88:119-133) instructing the Church to prepare priesthood members to carry the gospel to the world.
They then met through the winter and early spring of 1833, usually above Newel K. Whitney’s store. It was during the February 27, 1833, meeting, that Joseph Smith received the revelation known as the Word of Wisdom (D&C 89), which thereafter was binding upon members of the school, and eventually the Church.
    Joseph Smith presided and Orson Hyde was the instructor, with enrollment restricted to certain priesthood leaders and never exceeding 25 people. They were initiated through washing of the feet, then reaffirmed their commitment and mutual goodwill by exchanging a formal salutation at the commencement of leach class, which began at sunrise and dismissed in the late afternoon.
    The school ended in April 1833 when spring weather permitted active missionary work to begin and never reconvened. Instead, a series of educational efforts expanded on the original idea and took on additional responsibilities with one of these added areas known as the School of the Prophets (or School of the Elders), which took place in Jackson County, Missouri, during the summer of 1833 and in Kirtland from the Fall of 1834.
    These schools had larger enrollments and taught an expanded curriculum. The Kirtland school was led by Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams (the First Presidency) and William E. McLellan, and heard the lectures that were later published in the Doctrine and Covenants. The School was closed in 1836 and did not reconvene until the Church moved west. In 1867 in Salt Lake City Brigham Young reorganized the School of the Prophets in connection with the University of Deseret. The First Presidency presided over a theological class of ecclesiastical officers and selected priesthood holders that served as a forum for the discussion of questions related to the spiritual and temporal concerns of the Church. The class later separated from the University, and branch classes were established in major LDS communities throughout the Intermountain West, with a total enrollment that eventually exceeded 1,000 members.
President Brigham Young dissolved these branches of the Schools of the Prophets late in the summer of 1872 and then reorganized in November of that year a Salt Lake City School of the Prophets for General Authorities and other invited priesthood leaders. Participants numbering more than 200 discussed theology and also temporal concerns. This school helped introduce cooperative enterprises into LDS communities. When United Order organizations were incorporated in the spring and summer of 1874 to facilitate economic cooperation, the Salt Lake City School of the Prophets dissolved and some of its functions were absorbed by local united orders, but President John Taylor reconvened the School of the Prophets in the fall of 1883 and invited Church General Authorities and a select group of other Church leaders to participate. President Taylor followed the ceremonies of the original school, with a branch established in St. George, Utah, in December 1883. These schools probably ceased to operate in early 1884, with no subsequent attempt by the Church to organize further Schools of the Prophets.
    The First Lesson (Lecture First) was on the subject “of Faith,” and referred to as “Faith is the first principal in revealed religion, and the foundation of all righteousness, necessarily claiming the first place in a course of lectures which are designed to unfold to the understanding the doctrines of Jesus Christ.” The lesson was six pages long and in verse form contained 24 verses and was followed by Question and Answer period involving 13 questions and answers asked and given of those present.
    Then followed the Second Lesson (Lecture Second), which covered “The Object of Which Faith Rests.” This lesson was 18 ½ pages long, covering 56 verses and a Q&A of 150 questions and answers, of which the majority had to deal with dates of birth and longevity of the Old Testament Patriarchs, specifically from Adam to Abraham. As lesson verse 34 states: “The reason why we have been this particular on this part of the subject [i.e., the dates of birth of the Patriarchs, their ages and their lineage sons] is that this class may see by what means it was that God became an object of faith among men after the fall,” also “and the evidences which these men had of the existence of a God was the testimony of their fathers in the first place.”
The point being that “Adam thus being made acquainted with God, communicated the knowledge which he had unto his posterity; and it was through this means that the thought was first suggested to their minds that there was a God.”
    To further understand this, we know that Methuselah was 187 years old when Lamech was born and Lamech was 182 years old when Noah was born. Now Lamech, the father of Noah, as well as Methusaleh, Enoch, Jared, Mahalaleel, Cainan, Enos, Seth and Adam were all living at the same time—and Adam had walked and talked with God. Put a different way, Adam died in the 930th year of the world, Enoch was translated in the 987th year of the world Seth died in the 1042nd year, Enos in the 1140th year, Cainan in the 1235th year, Mahalaleel in the 1290th year, Jared in the 1422nd year, Lamech in the 1651st year, and Methusaleh in the 1656th year—it being the same year in which the Flood came” (vs 41).
    This means Noah was 84 years old when Enos died, 234 when Mahalaleel died, 366 when Jared died, 595 when Lamech died, and 600 when Methusaleh died which was “the year Noah entered the Ark.”
    We see from these dates in Genesis and the Pearl of Great Price “that Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Methusaleh, Lamach, and Noah all lived on the earth at the same time. And that Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Jethusaleh and Lamach were all acquainted with both Adam and Noah. From this it is not only how the knowledge of God came into the world, but upon what principal it was preserved—thus from the time it was first communicated, it was retained in the minds of righteous men, who taught not only their own posterity, but the world” (vs 43,44).
Thus we see that following all these dates down through time we have a complete and unquestionable dating system of the world and the time of the Flood—the latter having begun in Noah’s 600th year in the 1656th year of the world according to the Second Lecture, Genesis and the Pearl of Great Price, providing three witnesses to these dates. Thus the Flood began in 2344 B.C., lasted just over a year, ending in 2343 B.C. when Noah left the Ark—not in 3100 B.C. as the Mesoamerican Popol Vuh states, as Mesoamericanists John L. Sorenson, Alan C. Miner and David A. Palmer, and numerous others claim.
    The point is, this was such an important concept that the Prophet Joseph Smith wanted to get across to the leadership of the early Church, that he never would have used dates and information that was not absolutely accurate, and having translated the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price, in which these dates are found, as well as in Genesis of the Old Testament, of which he later went through and corrected information, though not changing any dates or sequences, it seems obvious that this information is absolutely accurate as it is found in the scriptures and was the basis of not only the Second Lecture on Faith, but one of the underpinning concepts of why this information was imperative to be taught in the Second Lesson, which is also shown to be of great importance when 150 questions were asked and discussed regarding it—almost all of the questions dealing with these very dates—to make sure the brethren well understood their correctness and the their impact of showing how all the early Patriarchs knew each other and that the information handed down was known to all at the basic same time and all came from its source—Adam—which they all knew and heard from his lips personally.
    Thus, we can safely understand that those dates, which show the Flood came in 2344 and ended in 2343 B.C. are absolutely, without a doubt, correct!
    Which should also give us an understanding of absolute knowledge as to the other information contained within the scriptural record of which Joseph Smith was involved and we have as our Standard Works. This alone should tell us that all those who try to fudge the record, alter it, change it, correct it, replace it, etc., are doing so not from any inspired point of view, but simply from their own arrogant speculation, believing they know more than did the prophet.


  1. Question is why do the professors at BYU reject what Joseph Smith wrote? It's not just this statement about the dates but a number of other things. Interesting

  2. They are "learned" men.. and have the wisdom of science on their side. Poor Joseph just did not fully understand the ways of the world.. he of course did the best he could.

    That was My attempt at sarcasm.

    Comment by Joseph Smith:

    “Would to God, brethren, I could tell you who I am!

    Would to God I could tell you what I know!

    But you would call it blasphemy, and there are men upon this stand who would want to take my life.” (Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, p. 322.)

    I am sure there was much that was revealed to the Prophet that he did NOT share with the world.

  3. MrNirom: You can count on that! What man knows in comparison could be written on a thimble with a grease pencil and have room to spare (my attempt at sarcasm :)

  4. Sidney Rigdon wrote lectures on faith, not Joseph Smith.