, Certificate, to JS, , Geauga Co., OH, 30 Mar. 1836; handwriting of ; one page; JS Collection, CHL. Includes dockets.
One leaf, measuring 9¾ × 7⅞ inches (25 × 20 cm). The top, bottom, and right edges of the recto have the square cut of manufactured paper; the left edge is torn. The leaf contains a watermark: “DEWDNEY & TREMLETT | 1831”. Dewdney & Tremlett was a papermaker in Bradninch, Devon, England. The embossed left corner of the recto is now illegible. The verso of the certificate was docketed by prior to folding. The certificate was folded in a parallel fold twice, then folded again to 3⅞ × 2½ inches (10 × 6 cm). The placement of ’s docket suggests the certificate was folded when it was docketed. It also suggests the certificate was in institutional custody as early as the , Ohio, period.
On 29 March 1836, JS and other members of the in , Ohio, finished their seven-week course of study under , the Hebraist who began teaching the class on 26 January. JS and the other students of the school—which had grown from a single class to four classes by early February—gathered each Monday through Saturday to receive oral instruction in Hebrew grammar; pupils also read aloud from and translated parts of the Hebrew Bible. On 30 March, Seixas issued a certificate to JS verifying that he had completed the Hebrew course to Seixas’s satisfaction and had been “indefatigable in acquiring the principles of the sacred language.”
By all accounts, JS was a diligent student of Hebrew. After returned to with “a quantity of Hebrew books” on 20 November 1835, JS commenced an earnest study of the language. Though he participated in the formal classes taught by , he also devoted considerable time to studying the language on his own. Between 23 November 1835 and 29 March 1836, JS’s journal mentions his studying of Hebrew—whether in class, with colleagues, or by himself—no fewer than seventy times. JS was apparently among a small group of students selected by Seixas for private instruction beyond regular class time; he may have also received individual instruction from the Hebrew teacher on occasion. According to JS’s journal, Seixas remarked that JS and the other students in the class were “the most forward of any class he ever taught, the same length of time.” The document featured here affirms JS’s progress in learning the Hebrew language. Besides JS, at least one other student, , was issued a similar certificate by Seixas attesting to his linguistic proficiency.
JS, Journal, 1 and 4–5 Feb. 1836; 7–8 Mar. 1836; Cowdery, Diary, 1–2 and 4 Feb. 1836; Seixas, Manual Hebrew Grammar, iii–iv; Joshua Seixas, Supplement to J. Seixas’ Manual Hebrew Grammar (New York: West and Trow, 1836).
Mr Joseph Smith Junr has attended a full course of under my tuition; & has been indefatigable in acquiring the principles of the sacred language of the Old Testament Scriptures in their original tongue. He has so far accomplished a knowledge of it, that he is able to translate to my entire satisfaction; & by prosecuting the study he will be able to become a proficient in Hebrew. I take this opportunity of thanking him for his industry, & his marked kindness towards me
Concerning his study of Hebrew, JS’s 17 February 1836 journal entry notes, “Read and translated with my class as usual, and my soul delights in reading the word of the Lord in the original, and I am determined to persue the study of languages untill I shall become master of them.” (JS, Journal, 17 Feb. 1836.)