Tag Archives: Emma

A revisit of an old post: Thoughts on Emma Smith

I just reviewed a post I had written back in 2010 on D&C 25. A lot to think about here, in how we apply scripture. Can we apply D&C 25 to all women? Why do we want to? Can we apply D&C 24 to all men? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Here are some thoughts especially on the question of application:


Reception of Moses 2-3 & D&C 24-26

This isn’t yet directly related to my research on the Abrahamic Covenant, but I thought this was cool & something to study more about.

Kerry Muhlestein wrote an article that is now in the Sperry volume published in 2008 where he charts out which D&C sections were being revealed at the same time as specific parts of the New Translation. To be honest I had my hopes that Emma Smith’s turn as scribe had happened during the parts about Eve, but it turns out her turn was just part of the beginning of the Enoch story. But then I found that the revelation to Emma (Section 25) was received during the same months (more details aren’t available yet) as Moses 2-3, where we get the beginning of the Adam and Eve story. This makes me wonder how the two might have influenced Emma’s understanding of the other. If her revelation was received first, how did it influence the way she heard the story in the book of Moses? If Moses 2-3 were received first, how did that influence the way she understood her own revelation?

The most obvious connection to me is between Moses 3:20-25 and D&C 25:5-6. Eve was an “help meet” for Adam (a help equal too, up to the task, etc.). Emma is asked to be a “comfort” for Joseph in his afflictions, and also to “go with him at the time of his going, and be unto him for a scribe.”

The next chapters in Moses describe more of Eve’s relationship to Adam. I was hoping those were the ones received so close to Emma’s revelation. And it looks like Moses 4-5 were received after. But then again, I suppose regardless of even that, I can look at connections between Moses 4 and D&C 25 if I want to, huh? ๐Ÿ™‚

So here are some of the things I like. D&C 25 gives Emma huge opportunities and responsibilities. She is going to expound scripture, teach, write, learn, etc., all alongside Joseph as he does his work (which includes most if not all of the things she is going to do). This reminds me of Moses 5:1, which says in simplicity, “And Eve, also, his wife, did labor with him.”

Ironically, Adam had to eat by the sweat of his brow (and Eve labored with him), but in D&C 24-25, Joseph is told he won’t have strength in temporal labors and needs to rely on the church for support! And Emma is told she can be comforted and they really will be taken care of financially. Interesting difference between Adam and Eve and Joseph and Emma! But both of course were by faith. To us, now, working to get money or food is normal and responsible. But to Adam and Eve, this was new and probably required a lot of faith!

I also like Moses 5:4’s description of “Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord” together. This reminds me of Joseph and Emma going to get the plates together. And probably all sorts of moments not recorded (or yet published anyway) where the two of them together called on God or received revelation, etc.

Moses 5:10-11 actually mirror Emma and Joseph’s relationship well too. There Adam prophesies about all the families of the earth, etc. Then Eve hears it, is glad, and then expounds on what her husband said:

And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.

And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.

Emma, in section 25 again, is told that she will be ordained under Joseph’s hand to expound scripture (which had to include the very things that her husband was receiving as revelations):

And thou shalt be ordained under his hand to expound scriptures, and to exhort the church, according as it shall be given thee by my Spirit.

For he shall lay his hands upon thee, and thou shalt receive the Holy Ghost, and thy time shall be given to writing, and to learning much.

I like the parallel relationship a lot, especially when I know that the verses in Moses 5 and in D&C 25 were received within months of each other. I wonder if Emma pondered these things? Is it just our generation that mines the scriptures for verses on women? Was that a question to the early LDS women as well? Would Emma have been as interested in more information on Eve as I am?

Good questions. I still get to learn from the connections I guess, and it’s still fun. I wonder what she (and other women) thought, though? I wonder if I could learn from what resources I have on Joseph Smith Papers etc.? I don’t know. A question for some historian friends…

Thoughts on Emma Smith

I’ve had my attention called to D&C 25 several times lately. It is, of course, often considered the “women’s” section in scripture. In some sense I appreciate lessons directed to women. On the other hand, those sorts of lessons (especially when it’s meant to be scriptural) always seem to be a bit forced and awkward. In imagine there are probably fantastic insights having to do with women in the scriptures, but we ought to be a bit more careful than we usually are.

In any case, I would like to spend some time in D&C 24 and 25. I’ll be sharing some ideas and exploring what possibilities I see in these verses.

D&C 25:4 – poor Emma is usually labeled as “a righteous women, strongheaded, but of course she murmured. And then there’s that unfortunate event of not going west….” Poor Emma. I think we so misread her. But to get to this verse specifically:

It seems plausible to me (without any training or experience in the history books, mind you!) that Emma wasn’t so much murmuring against God, but wondering if she was being left out due to mortal opinions. I am very aware now that there are some practices in the Church that are part of God’s plan, and some that are just mortal opinions turned into policies. I suppose we could call them the “precepts of men.” At times, I have wondered if something I was asked to do was by revealed assignment, or out of “habit” or “tradition” or “cultural opinions” etc. Perhaps Emma had similar experiences. Maybe she didn’t, as the institute manual suggests, think she was “entitled to some special favors.” Perhaps she, with whatever she saw firsthand, wondered if she was being left out because of mortal opinions rather than God’s direction. I wonder what may have been said by others around her about why she didn’t see the plates. Did some criticize her? Suggest she was unworthy? Suggest that this was just for men? This revelation may have provided her with some much-needed reassurance.

The word “murmur” reminds me of Sariah. It seems in her case, she was having trouble by separating Lehi the father and Lehi the prophet. Did God really communicate with Lehi? There was a bit of doubt. She knew when her sons returned that she could trust him.

It is always calming to know that what someone says is actually from God. How can we gain that trust? We would like to assume that all priesthood holders were faithful and full of the spirit. But to be honest there are great numbers of them that aren’t living with the spirit. (Beyond my own observations, see D&C 121!) Does God still communicate through them? If I have concerns that they aren’t living with the Spirit, how do I respond to their direction? What about a blessing – a sort of personal revealed will for me?

I can sympathize with these two women in scripture. I am fortunate to have several priesthood holders that I trust completely. I realize more all the time that the absolute trust I have in them is rare. I am happy Emma and Sariah received reassurance, as needed, that their husbands were indeed communicating with the divine. We count women like them lucky, that they are married to such great men. And they are very blessed and they themselves are great women. But to be so close to revelation, where it is both common and real, does challenge faith in a unique way.

Continue reading