Questions and Answers, 8 May 1838
- Source Note
On 8 May 1838, JS prepared responses to a collection of questions he and other church leaders were asked approximately six months earlier while traveling from , Ohio, to , Missouri. The leaders had embarked on the trip in September 1837 in order to locate new gathering places for the and to organize church affairs in Far West. JS explained that on the journey, they held public meetings and were asked questions “daily and hourly . . . by all classes of people.” Upon his return, JS prepared a list of twenty questions—ranging from how the gold plates were discovered to whether the church practiced polygamy—and then published the list in the November 1837 issue of the Elders’ Journal, promising that the next issue would include answers to the queries. The next issue was not published until July 1838, after JS relocated from to and the periodical was reestablished in Far West.JS’s journal entry for 8 May 1838 notes that he spent “the after part of the day, in answering the questions proposed.” He may have begun developing answers at the time the questions were asked in late 1837, perhaps in the public meetings the church leaders held in towns and villages in , , and along the way to . JS noted that the meetings “were tended with good success and generally allayed the prejudice and feeling of the people, as we judge from the treatment we received, being kindly and hospitably entertained.” Whatever the tone of JS’s initial oral responses to interested non-Mormons, he adopted a playful attitude in his written answers for the Latter-day Saint audience of the July 1838 issue of the Elders’ Journal. It is unknown whether JS or others continued working on the answers after 8 May 1838. Because the original document is apparently not extant, it remains unclear whether JS wrote the answers himself or relied on a scribe.