Patristic Writings in Early Mormon Periodicals

Kristian S. Heal

Kristian S. Heal, “Patristic Writings in Early Mormon Periodicals,” in Approaching Antiquity: Joseph Smith and the Ancient World, edited by Lincoln H. Blumell, Matthew J. Grey, and Andrew H. Hedges (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2015), 407–24.

Kristian S. Heal was a research fellow at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at Brigham Young University and the director of the Center for the Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts when this was written.

Early Mormon encounters with the early Church Fathers were intermediated and secondary, deriving from general histories, commentaries, and dictionaries. Though the Fathers seem to have had some notional cultural cache, scripture, scriptural figures, and the idea of the primitive church were preeminent. Thus it is no surprise that Joseph Smith’s restoration project is more concerned with retrieving the lost words of John the Beloved and the Gospel of Matthew than reading the works of Clement, Origen, or Augustine. Nonetheless, there are clear and interesting encounters with early Christianity that merit closer study.

This chapter focuses on the encounters between the Latter-day Saints and the Fathers documented in early Mormon periodicals, a new but limited contribution to the broader topic of the influence of patristic thought on early Mormonism. The difficulty in limiting the question to this body of material, however, is that in almost every case, Joseph Smith is one step removed from the sources. Thus, the documents offer, at best, a reflection of the views held by Joseph Smith and his immediate circle. More properly, these sources give a clear picture of what Latter-day Saints were writing and reading concerning early Christianity and the early Church Fathers in their own publications during Joseph Smith’s lifetime.

Patristic Study in Antebellum America

To give some context to the Latter-day Saints’ use of the Fathers, we can turn to Samuel Miller (1769–1850), the only American professor of ecclesiastical history active during the lifetime of Joseph Smith. Actually, Miller was professor of ecclesiastical history and church government at the Princeton Seminary from 1813 to 1849 and, “Although he claimed to keep the two subjects of his professorship separate, his teaching of church history focused strongly on polity.” In other words, his primary aim was, “to show that the Presbyterian form of church government was in place at Christianity’s inception.”[1] Miller, like Joseph Smith, believed in the same organization that existed in the primitive church. The difference between the two was that Miller turned to the patristic sources to defend his particular form of church government, while Joseph never did.

Miller was certainly not “enamored of patristics in general. . . . Nevertheless, he thought that budding Presbyterian ministers should know ‘the opinion and practice of our Fathers in all past ages.’”[2] Mostly, however, such knowledge was intended to serve apologetic rather than pastoral purposes since the Fathers were deployed by protestant professors in the nineteenth century “to batter down claims regarding doctrine and polity made by competing Christian groups”; to help “claim their denomination’s governance as faithful to that of the apostolic era;” and “to prove how soon in Christian history a ‘decline’ had set in that led precipitously towards Roman Catholicism.”[3] Only the last of these approaches applies to early Mormon discourse. Moreover, with the exception of the doctrine of baptism for the dead, early Latter-day Saint authors were not so quick to enlist the Fathers, “as allies or opponents in contemporary denominational battles over religious belief and practice and in the culture wars of the day.”[4]

The culture wars of the day were primarily fought over rights of association with the primitive church. As such, the battle ground lay in the correct interpretation of the Bible with the preferred weapons being theological science, as Robert Baird tells us in his 1844 survey of Religion in America.[5] “The best theologian,” states Baird “must be he who best understands, and who can best explain the Bible.” Moreover, this interpretation was detached from the historical development of Christian doctrine. “The questions, What did Edwards hold? What did the Puritans hold? What did the Reformers hold? What did Augustine, Jerome, or the earlier Fathers hold? though admitted to be important in their place,” says Baird, “are regarded as of small importance in comparison with the questions, What saith the Scripture? What did Christ and the Apostles teach?” Miller and Joseph Smith thus worked within a theological context in which, “the tendency of theological science, as well as of the popular exposition of Christianity from the pulpit, [was] towards the primitive simplicity of Christian truth.”[6]

Such a view necessarily prejudices against the Fathers. As Elizabeth Clark points out in her study of the development of the field of Early Church History, “In protestant America, appropriating the Church Fathers was always a negotiation with what interpreters believed were the authentic words of a Jesus who could be cordoned off from subsequent Christian history.”[7] How then were the Church Fathers appropriated in the early nineteenth century? The easiest answer is, with difficulty. Elizabeth Clark, for example, in commenting on the “academic ‘infrastructure’ . . . that attended the teaching of church history in early and mid-nineteenth-century America” observed that “suitable textbooks seemed nonexistent, let alone anthologies of primary sources in translation [and] libraries, conceived as book depositories for (shockingly) small collections, were open only a few hours a week.”[8]

From the composition of Miller’s personal library, it is not unreasonable to conclude “that many of the patristic writings that Miller cited in his polemics against Episcopalians and others were derived not from firsthand knowledge of the primary sources, but from secondary accounts.”[9] There is a certain irony in this fact, since “When, for example, Samuel Miller wished to impress upon his students the ‘decline’ that soon infected the early church, he exhorted them, ‘Read Cyprian! Read Origen! Read Eusebius!’—but there is no suggestion that these authors were required reading for the class, nor, for that matter, that students had access to these texts.”[10] In fact, it was not until the publication of the American edition of the Ante-Nicene Fathers series in 1885–96, and the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers series in 1886–1900, a project initiated by Philip Schaff, that students had ready access to the Fathers in translation. Even then, the focus was on the earliest period of patristic writing, that period most likely to aid a correct interpretation of the New Testament.[11]

Mormons Reading the Fathers

The profile of early Mormon encounters with the Fathers fits within the contemporary trends epitomized by Samuel Miller and his students. Thus, for example, it is not at all surprising that there is no evidence that the contributors to early Mormon periodicals had read any single patristic text in its entirety. Rather, all quotations from patristic sources or references to events and figures of the early church are taken from general church histories or dictionary articles. Moreover, even the articles reprinted from the newspapers and books of the day are derived from general works rather than from a reading of patristic texts.

We can draw two conclusions from a general survey of patristic citations in early Mormon periodicals: Firstly, Latter-day Saints of this period were reading several different general histories of Christianity and using what was relevant in their own publications. Secondly, readers of early Mormon periodicals were introduced or referred to many key figures and ideas from early Christianity, suggesting either a certain level of general literacy regarding early Christianity, or that patristic authors and early church events were evoked more for their cultural or apologetic potency than for any inherent value bestowed by the authors who mention them.


In turning from general considerations to specific examples, there are three themes treated in early Mormon periodicals that resort to the early Church Fathers in interesting ways. Two of the earliest articles that mention the Fathers are on the theme of persecution. The articles appear in the June 1832 issue of the Evening and Morning Star and the August 1835 issue of the Messenger and Advocate, and both are extracted from other sources. Importantly, however, both are framed by deliberate prefatory remarks that provide the hermeneutical lens through which the pieces should be read. We could even go so far as to say that the reproduced articles serve as the rhetorical flag pole upon which the introductory comments are raised.

The theological setting of the June 1832 article is charged with apocalyptic feeling, a fact observable not only be seen from the publication of Doctrine and Covenants 45:1–71 and 3 Nephi 30 earlier in the issue, but also from other editorial remarks, such as that which prefaced news regarding a cholera epidemic then raging in the Middle East: “It is with no ordinary feelings, that we select an item or two, in relation to the Cholera Morbus. Its ravages, for the past year, on the eastern continent, have been great, so that, if ever the pestilence walked in darknes, or destruction wasted at noon day, now is the time; but the Lord has declared that it should be so before he came in his glory, and we have only to rely upon him for deliverance, when he sweeps the earth with the besom of destruction.”[12] The editor is W. W. Phelps, and the same sort of heightened rhetoric introduces a subsequent article on persecution in the early Christian church.[13] This article is reprinted from a contemporary newspaper, but ultimately derives from James Wheatley’s 1751 volume entitled, The Lives, Tryals, and Sufferings of the Holy Apostles, Primitive Fathers and Martyrs, Who Have from Time to Time Suffered for the Faith and Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ, with lines interpolated from Foxe’s Book of the Martyrs. In the course of recounting the suffering and martyrdoms endured by the early Christians under the reign of Nero, the author refers specifically to Eusebius as a source for the narrative and to a quotation by Tertullian regarding persecution. The point is not so much to evoke empathy for the early Christian saints as it is to evoke a sense of kinship. As Phelps remarks, “The following article has lately appeared in the news papers of the day, and we copy it to show that the religion of Jesus Christ, has always been persecuted. But when a saint lives to God, persecution or applause is all one: the soul is above them.”

Three years later, Oliver Cowdery, in his role as editor of the Messenger and Advocate, published another article entitled, “Persecution,” which reproduced chapter 6 of “Fox’s history of the Martyrs.”[14] We know that copies of Foxe’s Book of the Martyrs had been circulating among the saints at least from 1834, and that one such copy came into the hands of Joseph Smith.[15] Oliver Cowdery did not engage with the text in the tradition of learned ministry, as did John Wesley, who produced an abridgement of the Acts and Monuments. Rather he was concerned with emphasizing the inevitability of persecution following the saints.

“Few men in our day,” Cowdery observes, “know of the extreme persecution the ancient saints endured for the sake of the gospel of the Lord Jesus.” This would be less true if Cowdery were talking about the saints of the New Testament church. As his readers would well know, “Paul, who also suffered death for the testimony which he bore, has given us to understand that those who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution, and the author of the epistle to the Hebrews has mentioned the fact, that those who lived before him, were under the necessity of excluding themselves from society, and wander in dens and caves of the earth.”[16] However, Cowdery reproduces a chapter from Foxe that describes fourth Century and not first-century persecutions. Cowdery thus, perhaps inadvertently, sets up a tension between a belief in the decline of earliest Christianity and a recognition, motivated by personal experience, of the sincerity of the faith of the persecuted Christians of later centuries. However, the choice of the Galerian persecutions (303–11) may have been further validated by a belief that the authenticity and priesthood authority of early Christianity had been retained at least until the council of Nicea. Certainly this much could be understood from a statement made in an article published a year earlier in the Evening and Morning Star.[17]

The purpose of including this extract, however, was not to make a theological point, nor simply to inform the Saints about the faithful who were persecuted in the early fourth century, but rather to give Cowdery’s readers, “an idea of the unanimity of the enemies of truth, and the eagerness to deprive the saints of their privileges and rights.”

Apostasy from or Decline of the Christian Church

The tendency to generate sympathy for and recognize the faith of the early Church was vastly outweighed by a desire to demonstrate the decline, degradation or Apostasy of early Christianity. This was a common motif among protestant and especially restorationist movements; however, the theme of the declension and Apostasy of the early Church took on a personal aspect for the Latter-day Saints in the Kirtland crisis of 1837.[18] Certainly Warren Cowdery aimed to make this point in the July 1837 issue of the Messenger and Advocate by reprinting a long extract from Joseph Milner’s Church History, which recounted episodes from the first Christian century.[19] He was concerned in this selection to show “the propensity of mankind to deviate from that course which the God of heaven has pointed out for his servants to pursue,” thus reiterating the traditional narrative of decline. However, the extract was intended to have a more specific and immediate message, which was to demonstrate that “even in the first century, while those eminent men were yet living who received their instructions from the great head of the church, and held communion with the unseen world through the medium of that Spirit which was promised them, to lead them into truth, the great proneness in mankind to apostatize, or substitute something for religion, or some of its ordinances which the God of heaven never accepted.”

The text is a warning, repeating the warning of Paul, “grievous wolves [shall] enter in among you, not sparing the flock.” Cowdery concludes the introduction by simply affirming, “The history of the church subsequent to that period fully verifies that prediction. We therefore recommend the candid perusal of this extract, and hope our readers may profit by the instruction contained in it.” In this extract then, readers are invited to encounter a polyvalent text, seeing evidence of both ancient decline and its possible repetition during the restoration due to the “great proneness of man to apostatize” even when living among “those eminent men were yet living who received their instructions from the great head of the church.”[20]

Baptism for the Dead

Belief in vicarious baptism, Guy Bishop notes, “was not a part of mid-nineteenth-century American religions.”[21] This may be true in practice. However the subject, at least as raised by 1 Corinthians 15:29, was a controversial issue in the exegetical literature of the day. Thus, the early-nineteenth-century English New Testament scholar Samuel Thomas Bloomfield wrote, “If we were to judge of the difficulty of the passage from the variety of interpretations, . . . we should say that this is the most obscure and least understood passage in the N. T. The learning and labour expended on ascertaining the sense has been immense, and the matter contained in the various Dissertations would form a good sized volume.”[22] Bloomfield himself rejected the attempts to construe the passage figuratively or metaphorically, since such interpretations were deemed to be simply philologically insupportable, and instead he concluded that “there can be no doubt but that the expression is to be taken in the natural sense.” And it seems that he is initially convinced by the interpretation of the ancient Fathers (Tertullian, Epiphanius, and Ambrose) as well as “many eminent modern Expositors” who consider that the verse is in fact making a matter-of-fact allusion “to the practice of vicarious baptism; i.e. of baptizing a living person in the place of, and for the benefit of one who has died unbaptized.”[23]

However, before Bloomfield can settle into this exegetical solution he is caught in his tracks by concerns that “no certain proof has been adduced that the practice [of vicarious baptism] was prevalent so early as the time when this passage was written.”[24] And at last, Bloomfield’s own prejudices decide the day: “Nor is it to be believed that the Apostle would, for the sake of so precarious an argument (for the practice was, doubtless, very rare and secret), countenance so grovelling a superstition, involving a profanation of Baptism.”[25] Thus, for Bloomfield, the argument turns on the simple implausibility of vicarious baptism being an authentic early Christianity practice, with the concomitant implausibility of Paul referencing an aberrant practice simply in order to make a point about the resurrection.

Bloomfield’s analysis (his Greek Testament was first published in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia in 1837) provides part of the intellectual and exegetical context within which we should place Joseph Smith’s early remarks about baptism for the dead,[26] such as the statement in his letter to the traveling high council, dated June 19, 1840, that baptism for the dead was “certainly practiced by the ancient churches.”[27] Here Joseph Smith’s new doctrine is positioned as the only correct exegesis of Paul’s problematic saying about an early Christian practice—thus, even though Joseph says that he gained this knowledge, “independent of the Bible,” the religious potency of the doctrine of baptism for the dead is magnified by Joseph’s insistence that he has reached, without the aid of theological science, the correct interpretation of scripture. Thus, although the Fathers and Paul are in no way presented as being catalytic in the development of this doctrine, they are readily mustered as confirming witnesses to Joseph’s Restoration doctrines.

It was almost two years after the doctrine of baptism for the dead was first preached that a Mormon publication included a confirming quotation from the Fathers.[28] This quotation was used to confirm two things simultaneously: that baptism for the dead was known to be practiced in the early church; and that this practice had inevitably devolved into a degenerate state. This is the passage:

Crysostum says that the Marchionites practised baptism for the dead, “after a catachumen was dead they hid a living man under the bed of the deceased; then coming to the dead man they asked him whether he would receive baptism; and he making no answer, the other answered for him, and said that he would be baptized in his stead; and so they baptized the living for the dead.”

The passage first appear in an editorial on the doctrine of baptism for the dead, published in the Times and Seasons April 15, 1842.[29] The editorial is simply signed Ed., and since Joseph Smith is listed as the editor for this issue it is reasonable to assume that he is the author of this piece. However, Crawley does argue that although Joseph Smith’s name appears as the editor, the editorial responsibility in the period was actually being carried jointly by John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff,[30] a conclusion based on an entry in Woodruff’s journal, in which he writes on February 19, “Joseph the Seer is now the Editor of [the Times and Seasons] & Elder Taylor assists him in writing while it has fallen to my lot to take charge of the Business part of the establishment.”[31] Wilford Woodruff is indeed credited in this issue with the report of a sermon on baptism by the prophet. It is reasonable then to conclude that the editorial on baptism for the dead was at least a joint production of john Taylor and Joseph Smith.[32]

The Chrysostom quotation is drawn from the article on “Baptism of the Dead” in Buck’s well-known Theological Dictionary, which was published in Philadelphia in 1830,[33] and which is now known to be the source of the first paragraph of the Lectures on Faith and has therefore been in active use among Latter-day Saints since at least 1835.[34] Benjamin Winchester is also reading Buck and gives this same quotation in his Synopsis of the Holy Scriptures, also published in 1842.[35] This gives us an extremely interesting opportunity to observe the subtle but significant difference in the handling of this quotation in these two publications. Buck warns the reader in his dictionary that vicarious baptism was, “practiced among the Marcionites with a great deal of ridiculous ceremony”; emphasis added. Of course such remarks participate in the generally held belief that the extravagant rituals of Catholicism are a sure sign of a decline from the simplicity of primitive Christianity. Nonetheless, Winchester includes this phrase when he cites this passage, and he also extends his quotation from Buck to include some of the reservations expressed in Buck about dating the practice of vicarious baptism back to Paul, even citing a commentator who interprets 1 Corinthians 15:29 quite differently. What is more, whereas the Times and Seasons editorial simply appropriates this quotation without attribution, Winchester cites his sources.[36]

Winchester’s caution is thrown to the wind by the more confident author of the editorial for the Times and Seasons. The allusion to this being a “ridiculous ceremony” is removed. More important, the quotation in the Times and Seasons is framed by a statement that guides the reader to immediately apprehend its significance: “The church of course at that time was degenerate, and the particular form might be incorrect, but the thing is sufficiently plain in the scriptures, hence Paul in speaking of the doctrine says . . .” and so on. Thus, no doubt is raised about the straight line that can be drawn, even through the mists of degeneration, between Paul’s statement and the passage from Chrysostom.


Joseph Smith’s relationship to the ancient world is charged by the claim that “‘Mormonism’ is not a new religion.”[37] Yet, unlike other Christian sects that claimed continuity with the primitive church, Mormonism did not appeal to the authority of the Fathers to justify their claim. Certainly, their usage of patristic citations for apologetic purposes fits with broad contemporary trends, yet there is no evidence that the Fathers were ever turned to as a source for new knowledge. Nor were “Joseph Smith and his followers [. . .] content to rely on the Bible alone.”[38] Rather, the key to Mormonism’s vitality was Joseph’s willingness and ability to generate new knowledge “independent of the Bible.”[39]

The centrality of this quest for new knowledge perhaps explains the encounters between Joseph Smith and his followers and early Christianity. The intent is not restoration but validation—the impulse to identify material among the ancient religious texts and cultural remains that would validate Joseph Smith’s revelations. There is no holy eclecticism here. The Christian Fathers were not put in service in the quest for truth. Rather, they are seen as barely plausible witnesses to a truth that had seeped away from the once pristine primitive church. Therefore the Fathers were relevant to the Restoration project only as reluctant witnesses, not as conduits of lost truth.

This is however only a partial conclusion—one that is limited to our discussion of the use of patristic sources in early Mormon periodicals. To gain real purchase on the broader topic of the influence of patristic thought on Joseph Smith and early Mormonism will require quite a different methodological approach that has been adopted in this chapter, one that can tease out the intellectual effects of the recovery of the early Church Fathers in the renaissance and enlightenment periods that could be felt long after the connection between the theological ideas and the patristic texts had been severed.[40] Thus the next step in this project is to understand the intellectual genealogy of the various strands of theological thought that shaped Christianity and Mormonism in antebellum America.[41]


[1] Elizabeth A. Clark, Founding the Fathers: Early Church History and Protestant Professors in Nineteenth-Century America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011), 36.

[2] Clark, Founding the Fathers, 36.

[3] Clark, Founding the Fathers, 11. See Jonathan Z. Smith, Drudgery Divine: On the comparison of Early Christianities and the Religions of Late Antiquity (Urbana, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1990), 19–25. For further remarks on anti-Catholic bias in early Protestant qcholarship.

[4] Clark, Founding the Fathers, 3.

[5] Robert Baird, Religion in America; or, an Account of the Origin, Progress, Relation to the State, and Present Condition of the Evangelical Churches in the United States (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1844), 291. Baird observed that “the increased attention which the theologians of America are giving to the accurate and learned investigation of the Holy Scriptures, may be regarded as an indication of the tendency of theological science in this country.” Such a view was founded on the premise “that the Scriptures are the only authority in matters of faith,” a premise that Baird states was “not only universally acknowledged in theory, but more and more practically acted upon.”

[6] Baird, Religion in America, 291.

[7] Clark, Founding the Fathers, 11.

[8] Clark, Founding the Fathers, 55. “By 1830, the libraries at Andover, Yale Divinity, Princeton Seminary, and Gettysburg each reported more than 6000 volumes.” Clark, Founding the Fathers, 363, note 90; referencing Natalie A. Naylor, “The Theological Seminary in the Configuration of American Higher Education” History of Education Quarterly 17, no. 1 (Spring 1977): 17–30.

[9] Clark, Founding the Fathers, 88. At his death in 1850 Samuel Miller had a personal library of 2,400 items, many of which were donated to the seminary. However, only a very few of which were devoted to patristic texts or histories. Interestingly, just a few years earlier (1832), the library of the Princeton Seminary could only boast 6000 items. In 1860, the Astor Library in New York (the foundation of the New York Public Library) housed 80,000 volumes, slightly more than Harvard’s 76,000. By comparison, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris had 1.8 million volumes in 1862. (Founding 86–94).

[10] Clark, Founding the Fathers, 83.

[11] What of the later Fathers? Well, “professors devoted little or no time to the Cappadocian Fathers [who wrote in the mid-fourth century],” for example, most probably because, “their theology and rhetoric represented a ‘decline’ from primitive simplicity,’” Clark, Founding the Fathers, 84.

[12]“The Cholera Morbus,” Evening and Morning Star, June 1832, 10. The following article on “Foreign News” is similarly introduced with similar purpose: “We select an item or two of foreign news to give the reader an idea of the world, and its agitations at the present day.”

[13]“Persecution,” Evening and Morning Star, June 1832, 14.

[14]“Persecution,” Messenger and Advocate, August 1835, 170–76.

[15] Edward Stevenson records lending a copy of Foxe’s Book of the Martyrs to Joseph Smith in the early 1830s; McConkie dates this to 1834. Edward Stevenson, Reminiscences of Joseph, the Prophet, and the Coming Forth of The Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: n.p., 1893), 5–6; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, They Knew the Prophet (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974), 85; Mark L. McConkie, Remembering Joseph: Personal Recollections of Those Who Knew the Prophet Jospeh Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2003), 112. On the early reception of this volume, see King, Foxe’s Book of the Martyrs.

[16]“Persecution,” Messenger and Advocate, August 1835, 170–71.

[17]“The Gospel,” Evening and Morning Star, April 1833, 161–67. “When the savior come to the Jews he called and chose twelve, (Judas excepted) to them he gave authority to build up his church; and they, by his authority, commissioned others, and so the gospel was preached to men, that they might turn unto the Lord.—This state of order in the church of Christ, lasted for some time; perhaps till the Nicean council, and from that time till the book of Mormon came forth, the fulness of the gospel of our Lord and Savior to the Gentiles, and also to the house of Israel, there were many sects, that had a form, in some degree, of godliness,” 165.

[18] Ronald K. Esplin, “Joseph Smith and the Kirtland Crisis,” in Joseph Smith: The Prophet and Seer, ed. Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and Kent P. Jackson (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, 2010). 261-90.

[19] Messenger and Advocate 3, no. 10 (July 1837), 529–76. The passage is taken from, Joseph Milner, History of the Church of Christ. Volume the First: Containing the Three First Centuries 2nded., ed. Rev. Isaac Milner (London: T. Cadwell and W. Davies, 1812: 136–44; Cambridge: John Burges, 1830: 156–65).

[20] Messenger and Advocate 3, no. 10 (July 1837), 530.

[21] M. Guy Bishop, “‘What Has Become of Our Fathers?’ Baptism for the Dead at Nauvoo,” in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 23, no. 2 (Summer 1990): 85.

[22] Reverend Samuel Thomas Bloomfield, The Greek Testament, with English Notes, Critical, Philological, and Exegetical, Vol. 2 (Philadelphia, PA: Clark and Hesser, 1854), 166.

[23] Bloomfield, The Greek Testament, 166.

[24] Bloomfield, The Greek Testament, 166.

[25] Bloomfield, The Greek Testament, 166–67.

[26] Other sources for the exegetical context are: Simon Patrick et. al., A Critical Commentary and Paraphrase on the Old and New Testament and the Apocrypha (London: Richard Priestly, 1822), 6: 69 70; Joseph Bingham, The Works of the Learned Joseph Bingham (London: Robert Knaplock, 1726), 1:47778. This latter volume was still on the Harvard College reading list for Ecclesiastical History in 1860s (Clark, Founding the Fathers, 81). On Joseph Bingham, see L. W. Barnard, “Joseph Bingham and the Early Church,” Church Quarterly Review 169 (1968): 192–205.

[27] Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 2nd ed. rev. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1978), 4:231.

[28] On the development of the doctrine and practice of vicarious baptism, see Bishop, “Baptism for the Dead”; Ronald O. Barney, “Letters of a Missionary Apostle to His Wife: Brigham Young to Mary Ann Angell Young, 1839–1841,” BYU Studies 38, no. 2 (1999): 156; Glen M. Leonard, Nauvoo: A Place of Peace, A People of Promise (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2002), 238–39; Samuel M. Brown, In Heaven as It Is on Earth (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 219; John G. Turner, Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2012), 432n7.

[29]“Baptisms for the Dead,” Times and Seasons, April 15, 1842, 761.

[30] Peter Crawley, “A Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church and Studies in Mormon History, 1830–1997,” BYU Studies 39, no. 4 (1997): 92.

[31] Scott G. Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 1833–1898 Typescript (Midvale, UT: Signature Books, 1983–85), 2:155.

[32] The article was clearly popular and was republished in the History of Joseph Smith (later the History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint by Joseph Smith) in 1858; the Millennial Star, June 6, 1857, 359; Millennial Star, August 28, 1882, 547; The Contributor, 3 (1882): 195. It was also selected for inclusion in the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, ed. Joseph Fielding Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976), 222, under the subtitle, “What of the Fathers?”

[33] Charles Buck, A Theological Dictionary: Containing Definitions of All Religious Terms (Philadelphia: Dickinson, 1807), 63.

[34] Matthew Bowman and Samuel Brown, “Reverend Buck’s Theological Dictionary and the Struggle to Define American Evangelicalism, 1802–1851,” Journal of the Early Republic 29, no. 3 (Fall 2009): 469. However, it is not unimportant to note that Buck’s entry is heavily dependent upon, and reproduces the Chrysostom quotation from the 1823 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica (vol. 3, 368), which has precisely the same content as the Encyclopædia Londinensis or Universal Dictionary of Arts, Sciences and Literature published in 1810 (vol. 2, 701). Note, however, the way in which Buck is unique—use of proxy language, etc.

[35] Benjamin Winchester, Synopsis of the Holy Scriptures, and Concordance in which the Synonymous Passages are Arranged Together (Philadelphia: United States Book and Job Printing Office, 1842), 16. The timing might suggest that the quotation was first found by the author of the Times and Seasons editorial, which appeared on April 15, since we know from Julian Moses, who helped Winchester compile the synopsis, that he did so from May to July, and that the synopsis was likely printed in late July or early August.

[36] It is interesting to note Daniel P. Kidder, Mormonism and the Mormons (New York: G. Lane and P. P. Sandford, 1842), 243, also using Buck, but with a different effect.

[37] Repeated here by B. H. Roberts, A New Witness for God (Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon and Sons, 1895), i.

[38] Jon R. Stone, “Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century American Millennialisms,” in The Oxford Handbook of Millennialism, ed. Catherine Wessinger (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 498.

[39] Bishop, “Baptism for the Dead,” 87.

[40] It clearly could be argued, for example, that the reinterpretation of the endless torment and the eternal punishment of hell found in Doctrine and Covenants 19:6–12 has an intellectual history that begins with the rediscovery of the works of Origen in the 15th century. This recovery of Origen and the subsequent challenges to the traditional ideas of hell is ably described in D. P. Walker, The Decline of Hell (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1964).

[41] Most recently tackled by Stephen Fleming, “The Fulness of the Gospel: Christian Platonism and the Origins of Mormonism” (PhD diss., University of California Santa Barbara, 2014).