Joseph Smith and the Bible : "Extending the Text and Filling the Silences"
Utah State University
"In the first chapter, the underlying argument of the thesis indicates that Smith was very familiar with the Bible. His written work that reflects the scriptural nature of the Bible and is today canonized by Mormons is argued that it "extends the Bible's text and fills [many of] its [doctrinal] silences." A complete reading of this thesis could make some readers think that the doctrine of a plurality of Gods is integral to the sense of the Bible and a novel explanation for the existence of the universe. The second chapter indicates that many have grappled with the summary doctrine of the Mormon Godhead, the plurality of Gods teaching, as taught by Joseph Smith (1805-1844) in last weeks of his life. This doctrine was accepted by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) during the lifetime of those who knew Joseph Smith personally. First Presidency leader Franklin Richards championed the teaching in his writings. Church president John Taylor is quoted supporting the teaching. At the beginning of the twentieth-century, leaders felt uneasy with the plural Gods doctrine. The teaching began to be left out of the Mormon discourse and to this day is not mentioned in official writings, meetings, and conferences of the church. The final two chapters contain a detailed listing of and commentary on the concepts within Joseph Smith's unique explanation for the nature of God. While Smith said that he had ever been teaching the ideas relative to this final doctrine throughout his ministry, their summary presentation in two final discourses caused his listeners to find his teachings surprisingly unconventional. Two sermons contain Smith's teachings, the better known "King Follett Discourse" and the lessor known "Sermon in the Grove." While the first discourse is familiar to many, the complete doctrine cannot be understood without the supplementary information in the second lessor known sermon. In his last discourse, Smith taught of a hierarchal progression of Gods, indicating endless Gods. The nature of the Gods is for the Son to become a Father and produce a new God the Son, who will in turn become a Father. Smith explained, "Hence if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that He had a Father also?" Smith further paraphrased the concept by saying, "where was there ever a son without a father? And where was there ever a father without first being a son?""[Author's abstract]