I’ve been struck while researching Brigham Young’s early years as a Mormon by how significant speaking in tongues was for his spirituality. Before his conversion, witnessing a group of Mormon elders in Pennsylvania seemed to be a powerful testimony of God’s power. After his conversion, Brigham spoke in tongues himself on many occasions and may have helped introduce Joseph Smith to the practice. In Brigham’s published history, Joseph responds to Brigham speaking in tongues in November 1832 by announcing “it was the pure Adamic language.”
Lee Copeland, in his 1991 Dialogue article “Speaking in Tongues,” downplays Brigham’s role in introducing Joseph Smith and the church more generally to glossolalia. Among other pieces of evidence, he points to a March 1831 revelation to Joseph Smith (D&C 46) that “it is given to some to speak with tongues, And to another is given the interpretation of tongues.” This portion of the revelation, however, seems to be an expansion of I Corinthians 12:4-11 rather than a specific endorsement of tongues.
In any event, beginning at least in 1833 speaking in tongues appears to have been a very significant spiritual practice among the Latter-day Saints. Particularly given its role in the Kirtland temple, it seems to have been more than a “rare phenomenon in Mormonism,” as Leonard Arrington writes in American Moses (p. 32).
Are there any other studies of early Mormon glossolalia that I could consult? Am I correct that it was a significant and fairly widespread practice, at least in the 1830s? What was the significance of Brigham’s utterance being “the pure Adamic language?”