Times and Seasons (, Hancock Co., IL), 2 May 1842, vol. 3, no. 13, pp. 767–782; edited by JS. For more complete source information, see the source note for Letter to Isaac Galland, 22 Mar. 1839.
The 2 May 1842 issue of the Times and Seasons, a periodical published in , Illinois, was the thirteenth number in its third volume.JS purchased the and the newspaper from in February 1842 and was identified as its editor from 15 February to 15 October 1842. Although JS was named as the editor in the 15 February issue, he did not consider himself the editor of the newspaper until the 1 March 1842 issue. , , and others helped JS produce the Times and Seasons from March through October 1842, but JS was directly responsible for the content of the newspaper.
The fifth issue that JS oversaw as editor was dated 2 May 1842 and contained a letter to the Saints from the , urging them to fund the construction of the ; letters from missionaries and church members in the eastern and Europe; an extract of the “History of Joseph Smith,” which was printed serially in the newspaper; and reprinted articles from several other newspapers, including the church newspaper in , the Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star. In addition to this material, the issue also contained editorial content, meaning content created by JS as the editor or his editorial staff for the paper. This content in the 2 May issue included commentaries on articles about mummies, an editorial on the Nauvoo temple, news from proselytizing , commentary on an article about Judaism, and notices concerning temple donations and a position with the printing office staff. Selected editorial content from the 2 May issue is featured here, with individual introductions for each passage.
Note that only the editorial content created specifically for this issue of the Times and Seasons is annotated here. Articles reprinted from other papers, letters, conference minutes, and notices, are reproduced here but not annotated. Items that are stand-alone JS documents are annotated elsewhere; links are provided to these stand-alone documents.
gard to either the Mosaic, or the Christian economy. The closing remarks of the missionary however manifests weakness and folly to a degree. “Then you will have no part in the world to come, you will reject the message which has been sent to you by the prophets which we quote.” As if the Rabbi was going to be damned for not bowing with deference to his ipse dixit; or for not being governed by his quotations, and interpretations. The Rabbi had the prophets before the missionary took them to him and was capable of quoting them: and on this ground was as likely to be damned before the missionary went to him as after; or had he the folly to suppose that his barely quoting passages of scripture would condemn the Rabbi to perdition, if he rejected his testimony? The Rabbi had as good ground to say that the missionary would be damned if he rejected the testimony of the Rabbi; but the missionary might with propriety say that the Rabbi was an unbelieving Jew; and the Rabbi might say in as good faith that the missionary was a gentile dog;—but the missionary had been sent by the London Society; and the Rabbi had been set apart by the laws and ordinances of Moses;—yet the laws and ordinances of Moses are abrogated in Christ. The London Society however had never been acknowledged by either Moses, or Christ; nor the missionary set apart, nor sent by either. So look at it which way we will the Rabbi had as good ground to go upon as the missionary, and he was as capable of going on a mission to teach the missionary, a[s] the missionary was qualified to teach him.
What consummate ignorance is displayed in missionaries quoting the New Testament to the Jews, as proof of the divine mission of Jesus Christ;—says the Jew in answer, “well well you believe it well I do not.” And how could it be otherwise, for, “how can they believe on him of whom they have not heard? and how can they hear without a preacher? and how can he preach except he be sent?[”] Yet the missionary was sent by the “London Society:” did God ever tell the London Society, to send out missionaries—if the above named gentleman had been sent by God instead of by the London Society he would have known his business better.—Ed.
A fifth editorial item was written in response to an article titled “A Catacomb of Mummies Found in Kentucky,” reprinted from an unidentified newspaper. The article related the existence of an ancient town near Lexington, Kentucky, where a catacomb of mummies had reportedly been found in 1775. The article concluded with a reflection by a “Mr. Ash,” who expressed his astonishment at the discovery and admitted that he was “lost in the deepest ignorance,” since he had “neither read nor known of any of the North American Indians who formed catacombs for their dead, or who were acquainted with the art of preservation by embalming.” Responding to Mr. Ash’s comment, the editorial staff used the Book of Mormon to explain the existence of the mummies and the Bible to argue that both Egyptians and Jews practiced embalming.
A CATACOMB OF MUMMIES FOUND IN KENTUCKY
Lexington, in Kentucky stands nearly on the site of an ancient town, which was of great extent and magnificence, as is amply evinced by the wide range of its circumvalliatory works, and the quantity of ground it once occupied.
There was connected with the antiquities of this place, a catacomb, formed in the bowels of the limestone rock, about fifteen feet below the surface of the earth, adjacent to the town of Lexington. This grand object, so novel and extraordinary in this country, was discovered in 1775, by some of the first settlers, whose curiosity was excited by something remarkable in the character of the stones which covered the entrance to the cavern within. They removed these stones, and came to others of singular appearance for stones in a natural state; the removal of which laid open the mouth of a cave, deep, gloomy, and terrific, as they supposed.
With augmented numbers, and provided with light, they descended and entered, without obstruction, a spacious apartment; the sides and extreme ends were formed into niches and compartments, and occupied by figures representing men. When alarm subsided, and the sentiment of dismay and surprise permitted further research and inquiry, the figures were found to be mummies, preserved by the art of embalming, to as great a state of perfection as was known among the ancient Egyptians, eighteen hundred years before the Christian era; which was about the time that the Israelites were in bondage in Egypt, when this art was in its perfection. * * * * * On this subject Mr. Ash has the following reflections:
“How these bodies were embalmed, how long preserved, by what nations, and from what people descended, no opinion can be formed, nor any calculation made, but what must result from speculative fancy and wild conjecture. For my part, I am lost in the deepest ignorance. My reading affords me no knowledge, my travels no light. I have neither read nor known of any of the North American Indians who formed catacombs for their dead, or who were acquainted with the art of preservation by embalming.
Had Mr. Ash in his researches consulted the Book of Mormon his problem would have been solved, and he would have found no difficulty in accounting for the mummies being found in the above mentioned case. The Book of Mormon gives an account of a number of the descendants of Israel coming to this continent; and it is well known that the art of embalming was known among the Hebrews, as well as among the Egyptians, although perhaps not so generally among the former, as among the latter people; and their method of embalming also might be different from that of the Egyptians. [p. 781]
See Book of Mormon, 1840 ed., 7–50 [1 Nephi chaps. 1–18]. The belief that Israelite descendants had traveled to North America was not limited to Latter-day Saints but was held more broadly in America. (See Shalev, American Zion, chap. 4.)
Shalev, Eran. American Zion: The Old Testament as a Political Text from the Revolution to the Civil War. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2013.