Episode 153: D&C 53 – Sections 73 and 74

April 1, 2017


Episode 153: D&C 53 – Sections 73 and 74

Read along with us at Joelakuhn.com/dc-compare

The PR problem caused by Ezra Booth’s anti-Mormon shenanigans have died down, so now it’s time to return to what you were doing. Joseph and Sidney are to go back to translating the bible. Then we jump back in time to 1830 to talk about baptism (sort of). Did you know that circumcision and baptism are kinda sorta related? Bring on the Baptist perspective!
Drink count – 5, or barely a beer if you take huge swigs

Patreon Bonus Episode – My dad talks about baptism for the dead.

Support the show by becoming a Patron over at Patreon.com/MyBookofMormonPodcast
Drop me a line at comments@mybookofmormonpodcast.com
Podcastriarchal blessing: Jefferson D
Podcastriarchal music is Our Happy Life by Maps and Transit, edited for length

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7 Comments on “Episode 153: D&C 53 – Sections 73 and 74”

  1. Gottfried TheHirsute Says:

    Good morning Marie,

    I very much enjoyed your father on the podcast today. It was very interesting and enlightening to hear his perspective and insights on baptism. He’s charming and a good sport!

    However, Marie, the fact that Section 74 is out of chronological order caused you to unintentionally err. 😦

    In 1830, Sidney Rigdon was not Joseph’s scribe (or, more likely, co-author, but more on that in a minute). Rigdon doesn’t read the Book of Mormon until September 1830 and Joseph doesn’t move to Kirtland, Ohio, (where Sidney had a congregation and also had established a religious commune on Isaac Morley’s farm) until January 1831. So the ideas expressed this Section are ‘pure Joseph’ in my opinion (and fairly anti-Semitic to boot!)

    It is thought that Section 74 represents one of Joseph’s earliest attempts to be a theologian after he established the Church of Christ (the original name of the LDS Church) with himself in the role of “seer” and “prophet.” This method of ‘interpretation via revelation’ (rather than by more conventional methods such as literary criticism, or even just understanding the origin of words such as “baptism” – thanks, Dad!) will eventually lead to the Joseph Smith Translation (JST) of the Bible, where “translation” actually means “reinterpretation.”

    [As a side note, there’s an interesting reason why the JST Bible isn’t ordinarily used by the Brighamite LDS church, but that doesn’t occur until much, much later in the timeline. Sorry– no spoilers…]

    But here’s the twist: Sidney Ridgon was a Baptist prior to joining Smith’s church. For years he was a very successful minister for Alexander Campbell’s Disciples of Christ (part of the Stone-Campbell Tradition/Restoration Movement of Baptists – ask your dad), establishing many congregations in northeastern Ohio. But Rigdon had a acrimonious and very public falling-out with Campbell over the subject of – wait for it – the proper form of baptism.

    Rigdon firmly believed that the only proper baptism was adult baptism by immersion, and that the act of baptism itself had efficacy and was not merely a symbolic act representing a change in the person’s beliefs and intents.

    So after Rigdon joined Smith’s church, the question arose: at what point does a “little child” (which is holy [1 Corinthians 7:14] and needs “no repentance, neither baptism” [Book of Mormon, Moroni 8:11]) become an adult? D&C 18 and 20 both state that this occurs when the child has arrived “at the years of accountability.” D&C 29 says when the child “begin(s) to become accountable before me.” D&C 68 finally nails it down to a number – eight years old. Problem solved. 🙂

    D&C Section 68 was written at least a year (or possibly up to five years – the verses in question were added to the revelation by Joseph when it was published in 1835) after Section 74 and shows not only the evolution of Joseph’s theology, but also the influence of Sidney Ridgon’s theology, and by extension Baptist (Campbellite) theology, upon Mormonism.

    Of course, questions over the proper form of baptism and the authority to perform baptisms caused deep schisms within Baptist denominations also, but that’s another story… 😉


  2. Duke of Earl Grey Says:

    Up until the 2013 version of D&C, Section 74 was thought to be in proper chronological order, because of a quote in the History of the Church, in which Joseph Smith says, immediately following the revelation in D&C 73: “Upon the reception of the foregoing word of the Lord, I recommenced the translation of the Scriptures, and labored diligently until just before the conference, which was to convene on the 25th of January. During this period, I also received the following, as an explanation of the First Epistle to the Corinthians, 7th chapter, 14th verse”.

    Sometime in the last few years, though, LDS church historians working through Joseph Smith’s papers noticed that this revelation had been copied down by John Whitmer, written in between the two revelations from 1831 that would become D&C 40 and 41, and simply dated “1830”. I would suppose that Joseph Smith, in writing the church history, must have misremembered the circumstances of dictating D&C 74, and thought he had done it during the time period when he was translating the Bible. That’s a simple enough human error that even a true prophet (if there is such a thing) could hardly be criticized for making, but the church’s historians still made sure to place the blame for the slip up on the editors of the History of the Church, not on Joseph Smith himself.

    Speaking of misremembering, Bryce may have told you the age of 8 is called the “age of reason”, but I’d say his memory is a little fuzzy about that. Mormons actually call 8 years old the “age of accountability”. The only Age of Reason I’ve heard of is that particular period of philosophical thinking in the 1700s, otherwise known as the Enlightenment. It’s also the name of a song by Black Sabbath, I guess. It has nothing to do with Mormonism, sadly.


    • My Book of Mormon Says:

      I think Bryce called it the age of accountability? I’m fairly certain it was me not recalling the correct term on the fly and grabbing the closest term I could think of. Back in the day I had a roommate who read a lot of philosophy and was a big Black Sabbath fan. Hmmm… connection???


  3. MarsGirl Says:

    Gottfried, I look forward to your explanation as to why the Brighamite LDS Church doesn’t use the JST Bible because it seems to me that it is used by the Church when it seems convenient for them to do so.


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