Joseph Smith/Alleged false prophecies/Forged Rocky Mountain prophecy/Tanners use of sources
- Jerald and Sandra Tanner claim that a prophecy from Joseph about the Saints' move to the Rocky Mountains was forged after the fact and inserted into the History of the Church. They provide the following sources for this claim:
- History of the Church 5:85.
- Joseph Smith's Manuscript History, Book D-1, page 1362
- Brigham Young University Studies, Summer 1971, p.469
- Davis Bitton, Joseph Smith in the Mormon Folk Memory, The John Whitmer address, delivered at the Second Annual Meeting of the John Whitmer Historical Association, Lamoni, Iowa, September 28, 1974, unpublished manuscript, p.16" [This article is now available in "Joseph Smith in the Mormon Folk Memory," in Restoration Studies, ed. Maurice L. Draper, vol. 1, (Independence, Missouri, 1980).]
None of these citations support their claim.
This use of sources is dishonest and misleading.
None of these sources support the argument:
- The BYU Studies article from 1971 is Dean Jessee's account of the authorship of the History of the Church. It says nothing about adding a "Rocky Mountain Prophecy," and the Tanners neglect to provide the perspective on authorship practices in 19th century history that Jessee provides. They thus hide the material that answers their objection. Readers can fortunately access these ideas on the FAIR wiki.
- The History of the Church article contains the prophecy mentioned, and has a footnote about the source for it.
- Davis Bitton's article specifically rejects the Tanners' claim:
- Two errors have been made regarding this Rocky Mountains prophecy. The first is to reject it out of hand as a later invention of the Utah Mormons. There is enough discussion of possible westward moves during the later Nauvoo period to think that Joseph Smith, in one of his prophetic moods, might well have said something of the sort. The second error, even more serious, is to seize upon these fragments as the basis for concluding that Joseph knew exactly what the future held in store for the Saints down to every last detail. Like the constitution-by-a-thread prophecy, the Rocky Mountains prophecy probably had a basis in an actual statement. The two prophecies are alike, too, in the fact that they were extremely popular later on when they served the needs of the Saints for encouragement (italics added).
- [note] B.H. Roberts notes in the History of the Church footnote: It is thought important that the following statement from a biography of Anson Call, by Edward Tullidge, should be made part of the history of this prophetic incident, as doubtless the testimony of Brother Call relates to the same incident as that described in the Prophets text of the History, notwithstanding some confusion of dates that exists in the Call testimony. It will be seen that the Prophet fixes the date of his prophecy on Saturday, the 6th of August, 1842. In Whitney's History of Utah, Vol. 4. (Biographical section of the history, p. 143), the date on which Call heard the prophecy, is given as the 8th of August, 1842. While in Tullidge's biography of Call the date is given as the 14th of July, 1843, evidently an error. There is no entry in the Prophet's journal for the 8th of August, 1842, and the entries for the 8th of August, 1843, and the 14th of July, 1843, relate to matters of quite a different character. Tullidge, in relating Anson Call's recollection of the incident also says that J. C. Bennett was present on the occasion, which must also be an error, as the rupture between Bennett and the Church and its authorities occurred and he had left Nauvoo previous to the 6th of August, 1842. In the Call statement as published by Tullidge, the name of Mr. Adams, the Deputy Grand Master Mason in charge of the ceremonies, is given as George, it should be James. [The Call statement then follows.]
- [note] Davis Bitton, "Joseph Smith in the Mormon Folk Memory," in Restoration Studies, ed. Maurice L. Draper, vol. 1, (Independence, Missouri, 1980), 85.