Early Mormon Writings on Christian History/Apostasy: A Query

By August 2, 2011

Steve Fleming and I are currently working on a paper examining early Latter-day Saint understandings of what Mormons today refer to as “the Great Apostasy.” Among other things, we are looking at sustained treatments of the subject authored by early Mormons (defined for our purposes here as works written and/or published between 1830 and 1850). While Steve and I feel like we have a pretty good grasp of the most obvious sources, we want to make sure we have all of our bases covered, and that’s where we need your help. What essays, books, pamphlets, etc. attempted to examine the history of the Christian church and/or the apostasy of the early Christian church? Here are a few we’ve already identified:

Any and all input is appreciated here, but we’re especially interested in this sort of sustained treatment of the Apostasy.

Article filed under Categories of Periodization: Origins Christian History


  1. The first thing that comes to mind of those things not in your list is the British printings, including the Millennial Star. Particularly the Orsons Pratt, Hyde, and Spencer, and David Candland (aka David Kimball). The British conference minutes also have lots of goodies. The Frontier Gaurdian is mostly reprinting stuff, but may be worth checking out.

    You might just troll through Crawley’s descriptive bibliography, as well.

    Comment by J. Stapley — August 2, 2011 @ 6:48 pm

  2. …I also think BY’s sermons regarding temple priethood between 1845 and 1848 are particularly interesting, though they may complicate your narrative a bit. I can shoot you specific refs by email if you would like.

    Comment by J. Stapley — August 2, 2011 @ 7:06 pm

  3. Thanks, J. I plan on surveying all relevant periodicals and have started to go through Crawley. I’ll be sure and check the British conference minutes. And any BY references you could pass along would be great.

    Comment by Christopher — August 2, 2011 @ 7:26 pm

  4. Not sure if it’s what you’re looking for, but There are some specific recurring references and themes on this subject spattered throughout Rigdon’s series, “Faith of the Church of Christ in These Last Days” beginning in the February 1834 Evening and Morning Star (2:17). The series ends in the August 1835 Messenger and Advocate (1:11). The whole series is a bit of a ramble, but it may have some info useful to you.

    Comment by David T — August 2, 2011 @ 7:38 pm

  5. Thanks, David. That’s exactly the sort of thing we’re interested in.

    Comment by Christopher — August 2, 2011 @ 7:48 pm

  6. Excited to see this effort bear fruit!

    Comment by Jared T. — August 2, 2011 @ 7:53 pm

  7. I don’t have any sources to contribute, but the project sounds interesting. Good luck!

    Comment by Edje Jeter — August 2, 2011 @ 8:53 pm

  8. This isn’t what you asked for, but I immediately thought of Eric Durstler’s “Inheriting the “Great Apostasy”: The Evolution of Latter-day Saint Views on the Middle Ages and the Renaissance” (which doesn’t talk much at all about early LDS understandings). http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/books/?bookid=42&chapid=202

    Comment by Craig M. — August 3, 2011 @ 12:25 am

  9. I’d also recommend Benjamin Winchester’s 1843 History of the Priesthood from the Beginning of the World to the Present Time for its fifth chapter on “Apostacy from Primitive Order”, as well as Orson Spencer’s sixth letter (1847) to William Crowell, if either of those count as sufficiently ‘sustained’.

    Comment by JB — August 3, 2011 @ 1:03 am

  10. Thanks, Craig. I’ve read Eric’s article, but appreciate you mentioning it here.

    Great recommendations, JB. Thanks!

    And thanks Jared and Edje.

    Comment by Christopher — August 3, 2011 @ 6:56 am


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