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Cover image: Facing Eternity by Del Parson. 

The Book of Mormon gives exact calendar dates for the birth and the death of Jesus Christ which correspond to the length of His life being 12,048 days, exactly 33 years from Passover to Passover. This value supports His birth date of April 6, 1 BC and His death date of April 1, 33 AD, with the resurrection date on April 3, 33 AD. These dates are dismissed by most scholars, both LDS and non-LDS, mainly because of the current historical records and data that Herod the Great died in April of 4 BC.[i]

The length of Jesus’ life is one of the calculations that can lead to a conclusion that the secular, religious and calendar information on Jesus Christ’s birth and death dates were intentionally left ambiguous by the Lord and constitute a test of our faith.

I believe that recent discoveries of ancient calendars that strongly testify of Christ, His life and the religious events documented in the Holy Scriptures may help resolve this ambiguity. These multiple ancient calendars such as the Nephite, Hebrew and Venus calendars provide interlocking supporting evidence for the 1 BC to 33 AD hypothesis for these all important dates in the life of the Savior and in the history of the world.

The Book of Mormon’s Calculation and Documentation of the Length of the Lord Jesus Christ’s Life

Astronomer and ancient calendar researcher John Pratt explained the logic behind this calculation of the length of the Savior’s life in an article in the January 1994 Ensign entitled “Passover: Was it Symbolic of His Coming?” The calculation is further explained in the two-part series in the Ensign published in June and July 1985 entitled “The Restoration of Priesthood Keys on Easter 1836, Part 1: Dating the First Easter” and “The Restoration of Priesthood Keys on Easter 1836, Part 2: Symbolism of Passover and of Elijah’s Return.”[link][ii]

 

“An exact length for the Savior’s life can be deduced from the Book of Mormon, which records that Nephite reckoning began at the sign of his birth (see 3 Ne. 2:8) and that he died on the fourth day of the thirty-fourth year (see 3 Ne. 8:5). If Jesus was born on the first day of the first Nephite year (which may be implied), and if the years each had 365 days (consistent with the Egyptian and Mesoamerican calendars used before and after the Nephites), then Jesus lived 12,048 days.

“Counting 12,048 days after a Passover feast day on Thursday, 15 Nisan—6 April 1 B.C.—brings one precisely to a Passover sacrifice day: Friday, 14 Nisan—1 April A.D. 33—the day indicated by the pattern in the law of Moses as the day of the death of the Lamb of God.”[iii]

The Gregorian calendar has leap days, but the 365 day Nephite calendar did not. This illustration shows how the length of Jesus’ life calculation can be expressed using the modern Gregorian calendar or the Nephi calendar. “JD” is Julian Day, or days since November 24, 4714 BC—used as a universal cross-reference table for calendars.

“Orson Pratt was the first to suggest that the Nephite year would probably have been the 365-day year of the Mesoamerican calendar. If this was the case, the length of the Savior’s life would have been 33 x 365 + 3 = 12,048 days. The Mesoamerican calendar yields this figure so easily because in that calendar the period of 33 years is not complicated by the addition of leap days. On our Gregorian calendar, however, one leap day is added every 4 years—that is, 8 leap days in the 33-year period of Jesus’ life. Hence, 33 years plus 3 days on a Mesoamerican calendar would represent the same elapsed time as 33 years minus 5 days on our Gregorian calendar.”[iv]

Unassailable “Historical Facts” and Prophetic and Apostolic Statements Resulting in Contradictory Assertions

BYU Archeologist Jeffrey Chadwick

BYU Archeologist Jeffrey Chadwick’s 2015 BYU Studies article entitled “Dating the Death of Jesus Christ” well illustrates why the birth and death dates of Jesus remain ambiguous and why Chadwick believes that an April 6, 1 BC birth date is impossible, even after postulating a 33 year value for the length of Jesus’ life supported by the Book of Mormon.

The date of Herod’s death, preceded by the coming of the wise men and the slaughter of the innocents, is a key event that affects the set of possible birth dates, and indirectly death and resurrection dates, for Jesus Christ.

“This is a matter of simple addition. Here is why. It is a historical fact that the death of Herod the Great occurred in April of 4 BC, but the birth of Jesus occurred prior to Herod’s death (see Matt. 2:1–20). And as demonstrated in the earlier study, Jesus’s birth cannot have occurred later than eight weeks prior to Herod’s death, meaning that the latest date Jesus can have been born was very early February of 4 BC (although I suggest it was even several weeks earlier, in December of 5 BC).”[v]

The crucifixion and resurrection of Christ definitely occurred during the spring Passover celebration of the year. The length of Christ’s life from the Book of Mormon data looks like a possible Passover birth to a Passover death interval, from the first day of the first month of the first year to the fourth day of the first month of the 34th year. The Book of Mormon data does not seem to support a February or December birth day, as Chadwick proposes, which would make the interval 33 years plus two to four additional months, not the nearly exact 33 years recorded in the Nephite calendar records.

So, in light of these “unassailable facts” where an April 6, 1 BC birthday of Christ is considered completely impossible by Chadwick and most modern scholars, a good question to ask would be: Why then, is April 6th mentioned time and again by the prophets and apostles as relating to the birthday of the Savior?

If it is so certain that Herod died in April of 4 BC, and that the Savior lived 33 years, not 34 or more years, then one would conclude that there should not be any discussion anywhere about April 6th as having anything to do with the birth of Jesus. The April 6th date would then have been specified by the Lord simply for the organization of the Church, nothing more, and that fact would be perfectly clear from statements from the general authorities.

I think that these contradictory assertions about the birth day of Jesus Christ are good examples of an “irresistible force/immovable object” kind of logical dilemma.

In my view, these ambiguous dates are a perfect scenario to encourage us to learn more, by study and by faith, about these most important dates in the history of the world. I don’t think that there would be as much of an increase in faith and knowledge if these events happened on well known, unambiguous, exact dates agreed upon by all. As Moroni asserts: “Ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” (Ether 12:7)

One example of a modern apostle discussing the importance of April 6th is Elder David A. Bednar in his April 2014 conference address: “Today is April 6. We know by revelation that today is the actual and accurate date of the Savior’s birth. April 6 also is the day on which The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized.”[vi]

Another recent example is Elder Russell M. Nelson in the December 2011 Ensign: “We commemorate the humble birth of the Savior at this time of year even though we know it did not occur in December. More likely, the Lord was born in April. Both scriptural and historical evidence suggest a time in the spring of the year, near the Jewish Passover (see D&C 20:1).”

Why So Bold a Declaration by Elder James E. Talmage?

The strongest, most unambiguous declaration by an apostle supporting April 6, 1 BC as Jesus’ birth date, which is coupled with the 33 AD death and resurrection dates, is contained in Elder James E. Talmage’s book Jesus the Christ, officially published and endorsed by the Church since 1915 and set to be republished as an electronic edition by Meridian Magazine,[vii]

Elder James E. Talmage’s book Jesus the Christ is the official book on the life of Christ in the Church’s Missionary Reference Library.

Apostle, scientist, university president and scholar James E. Talmage added a belief statement to the Church’s doctrinal list in his landmark book Jesus the Christ when he declared: “We believe that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea, April 6, [1 BC].”

Instead of a modest statement supporting the Dionysian designation of 1 BC as the year zero of the Christian era via the April 6, [1 BC] date; instead of a note in the preface or another footnote in his chapter 8 discussion of the birth of the Savior; instead of saying ‘it seemed to me that’ or ‘I believe after study and contemplation that;’ instead of any of those options, Elder Talmage boldly declared that we believe in April 6, [1 BC] as the birth date of the Redeemer of the world.

Elder Talmage indicated that his conclusion had come by faith in modern revelation and that the catalyst for that inspiration was D&C section 20, verse 1.

“We believe April 6th to be the birthday of Jesus Christ as indicated in a revelation of the present dispensation already cited, in which that day is made without qualification the completion of the one thousand eight hundred and thirtieth year since the coming of the Lord in the flesh. This acceptance is admittedly based on faith in modern revelation, and in no wise is set forth as the result of chronological research or analysis.”[viii]

There is much evidence that this powerful declaration was as Elder Talmage intended and that he was fully aware of all the issues regarding the Lord’s birthday and the confusion among scholars and historians as to that date. His lecture series on the topic “Jesus the Christ” that led to the book dates from 1904. After writing the final work in the temple in 1914-1915, each chapter of the book was approved before publication in an extensive series of meetings with the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve.[ix]

Elder James E. Talmage, scholar and Apostle, made that bold statement about the revelation and inspiration he received while preparing and writing this important a book about Jesus Christ, resolving in a stroke the confusion and ambiguity among scholars, historians and religious leaders as to the birthdate of Christ.

The book had an unprecedented level of approval and popularity after a careful review by the leadership of the Church. “If you don’t count the Standard Works, it’s probably is the no. 1- selling book in church history, with over [one] million copies sold.”[x]

In that context: Jesus the Christ’s writing, approval, publication and ongoing popularity, I think that the question as to whether April 6, 1 BC is the birthday of Jesus Christ becomes very important for the whole Church.

Elder James E. Talmage, author of Jesus the Christ, published in 1915 by the Church as the first book on the life of the Savior Jesus Christ covering His life from the preexistence to the Millennium.

Jesus the Christ: The Story behind the Story

During the centennial anniversary in 2015 of the writing and publication of Jesus the Christ, an article entitled “Jesus the Christ: The Story behind the Story,”describes an addition to the “Foundations of Faith Exhibit” in the Church History Library that documents the remarkable history of the writing and publication of this book.[xi]

In 1905 the First Presidency commissioned James E. Talmage to write a book on the life of Christ based on the course he was teaching at the University Sunday School which was similar to the Church’s Institute program we have today.

Before focusing on the writing of the book in 1914, Elder Talmage wrote “The Great Apostasy” and “The House of the Lord.” On December 7, 1911, he was called as an Apostle by President Joseph F. Smith.[xii]

Before completing “Jesus the Christ,” Elder Talmage wrote this landmark book on the Holy Temple in 1912.

“All the while, he had been pondering and preparing and looking forward to the day when he would be able to write the requested book. That day finally came in September of 1914, when the request was again made, this time specifying that he should write the book ‘with as little delay as possible.’”[xiii]

He was given a room in the Salt Lake Temple to write the book. “On April 19, 1915, just over seven months after beginning his draft, he completed the manuscript. ‘Had it not been that I was privileged to do this work in the Temple it would be at present far from completion,’ he wrote. ‘I have felt the inspiration of the place and have appreciated the privacy and quietness incident thereto.’

“His son John R. Talmage wrote, ‘[His] first words as he entered his home that night were to tell Maia [his wife] that the basic writing was finished, and to tell also his feeling that this was the outstanding book of all he had written, or would ever write.’

“With the writing complete, the editing process began. Chapter by chapter, Talmage read the manuscript to the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

President Joseph F. Smith, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve were intimately involved in the review, approval and publication of Jesus the Christ.

The reading took place over 18 sessions, the last chapter being read on June 24, 1915. When the manuscript was approved by the Brethren, it was sent to the printer, who then sent the proofs back to Talmage to make any final changes.” [xiv]

Original Handwritten Manuscript of Jesus the Christ

Here are several scanned pages of the original handwritten manuscript of Jesus the Christ, written in the temple and now available online that is relevant to the current discussion of the birth date of Christ boldly declared by Elder Talmage as being April 6, 1 BC in chapter 8 of this book.

The manuscript selections include the first page of chapter 8 on the birth of Christ, a discussion of the inspiration he received pondering the verse in D&C 20:1, and his discussion of the variety of theories on the birth date of Christ that preface his powerful declaration “We believe that Jesus the Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea, April 6, [1 BC].”[xv]

 

“Chapter 8 : The Babe of Bethlehem”

“We believe April 6th to be the birthday of Jesus Christ as indicated in the revelation of the present dispensation already cited [D&C 20:1]”

Manuscript of Elder Talmage’s bold declaration: “We believe that Jesus the Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea, April 6, BC 1.”

I go into this level of detail to show that such a declaration as Elder Talmage made in this monumentally important work was not made lightly, was carefully reviewed and approved and if it were not true, it would certainly threaten the validity of his whole work and his credibility as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ and a Prophet, Seer and Revelator.

This powerful assertion by Elder Talmage was made even though there are differing opinions that have been expressed by other General Authorities including Elder Hyrum M. Smith, who was in the Quorum of the Twelve during the approval process on the book.[xvi] Since Elder Talmage’s day, these differing opinions also include two of the most articulate writers among all of the modern Apostles, President J. Reuben Clark and Elder Bruce R. McConkie.[xvii]

President J. Reuben Clark (in First Presidency 1951-1961), in his work “Our Lord of the Gospels” supported the traditional scholarly research dates on the birth date of Christ. He did not support the view proposed by Elder James E. Talmage.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie (Apostle 1972-1985), in his multivolume “Messiah” series supported the traditional scholarly research on the birth date of Christ. He did not support the view proposed by Elder James E. Talmage.

President Clark and Elder McConkie’s Tactful Disagreement

In April of 2012 I listened to Jeff Chadwick on KBYU’s “Thinking Aloud” program talking about his BYU Studies article on the birth date of Christ. Brother Chadwick talked at length about President Clark’s statement in the preface and Elder McConkie’s statement in a footnote of their books on the life of Christ that did not support Elder Talmage’s view regarding April 6, 1 BC, but supported the traditional scholarly opinion of a 4-6 BC birth date.

The thought “President Clark and Elder McConkie pulled their punches” came to mind. “In the preface and in a footnote, but not in the main text!” “A test of our faith!” It seemed to me that President Clark and Elder McConkie did not intend to directly challenge the inspiration Elder Talmage’s had received on the birthday of Christ. However, they also had not received the same inspiration or validation themselves that Elder Talmage had received on the birth date of Christ, and noted it appropriately and tactfully.[xviii]

President Clark and Elder McConkie are not taking any major risks by supporting the current best scholarly research on the birth day or death day of Christ. And, interestingly, instead of a direct discussion, their comments critical of Elder Talmage are buried in the forward and in a tiny font footnote.

Elder Talmage, on the other hand, is taking a tremendous risk with his bold declaration as a scholar and as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. Following the inspiration that he received that could completely resolve of the confusion of opinions on Christ’s birth date is definitely going against conventional wisdom and the currently popular historical and scholarly conclusions.

How Do the Differing Views of the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles Become a Single Unanimous Decision?

Weighting the view of one apostle or prophet over another in a test of “who is the most credible or most senior?” is not consistent with the procedures of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve that require unanimity for decisions. (D&C 107:27-29) During their deliberations, opposing views are addressed. But, to openly declare significant differences among the Apostles before they achieve unanimity or not achieving unanimity at all is very, very rare.[xix]

“Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve related an experience common in meetings of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. He said that a proposal was brought to a meeting, and the president of the quorum at the time, President Howard W. Hunter (1907–1995), said, ‘This is so critically important [that] I would like to hear the feeling of each member of the Twelve independently about this proposal.’

“Elder Scott remembered, ‘We were going around the circle giving our feelings: ‘I think that’s all right; seems all right to me.’ [Then] it came to one of the members of the Twelve, and … he said, ‘I don’t know why; I can’t put my finger on any specific thing that I don’t feel good about, anything that I’d change, but I think we’re about ready to commit a disaster.’ Elder Scott said that this one comment stopped the discussion. He remembered that when the same item came up on the agenda at the next meeting, President Hunter looked around the room. No one said anything. Then President Hunter wisely said, ‘I see there’s still unsettled feelings about this; we’re not going to make a decision today.’

“Elder Scott continued, ‘Now that’s the way I think the Lord wants us to relate to each other—to not force things, not be in such a hurry … , but to truly let the Spirit guide, and sometimes that takes time. But it’s better to make the right decision guided by the Spirit than make one that meets a time schedule or to check off an agenda item.’”[xx]

James E. Talmage and April 6, 1 BC: Inspired or Uninspired?

Especially in light of the eighteen sessions where the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve considered and approved the text of Jesus the Christ, and the fact that this book is the official text on the life of Christ for missionaries today, it is a challenge to decide what course to take when Elder Talmage and Elder McConkie and President Clark clearly have opposing views.

I propose that all three Apostles are inspired and that the process where the Holy Ghost brings the Apostles to unanimity had not yet been completed during their lifetimes. And, with the extreme rarity of disagreement among the Apostles, I believe that the Lord must have had a reason to allow ambiguous evidence to exist regarding these dates. Perhaps that ambiguous evidence and disagreement among three of the highest respected apostles in the history of the Church is part of a test of faith for us.[xxi]

D&C 20:1: A Catalyst for Inspiration for a Modern Apostle of Jesus Christ

In the canonized scripture text, section 20 verse 1 is the only verse referencing both a modern calendar year and the phrase “the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh.” It is also tied directly to the date of the organization of the Church, April 6, 1830, as is section 21, and D&C 20:1 has this unique phrase: “it [the church] being regularly organized and established agreeable to the laws of our country, by the will and commandments of God, in the fourth month, and on the sixth day of the month which is called April.”

Elder Talmage’s interpretation also would validate the claim that the year number in our Christian calendar, also called the Gregorian calendar, which has become the universal world calendar today, was not made in error, but really is the number of years since the birth of the One for whom the calendar is named and celebrates, Jesus Christ.[xxii]

In all of these discussions, Elder Talmage’s detractors claim that section 20 verse 1 cannot have been given by revelation but is only the editing of scribes keeping track of the revelations and “a fancy 19th-century way of saying the date.” Therefore, they believe that it cannot be interpreted, even by an inspired prophet, seer and revelator, to refer to the birthday of Jesus Christ. But, if you look at the unique properties of that verse, and consider the tenacity of Elder Talmage in pursuing and defending the inspiration he received, there has got to be more to it than Elder Talmage having not understood the editing process of the scripture texts that eventually were published.[xxiii]

Writing the most ambitious biography ever of Jesus Christ, writing it in the temple by assignment from the First Presidency, scholar and internationally famous scientist, University of Utah president, widely published author, certainly one of the best writers in the Church, ordained as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ in 1911—can there really be any doubt that James E. Talmage is qualified to receive special inspiration for his book with the catalyst being a verse in the canonized scriptures of the Church?

For Elder Talmage to just invent an interpretation that is false or for him to be fooled by false inspiration from an evil source would be a catastrophe for this book by this author and would deny every premise about the importance of this work to him and to the Church.

If Elder Talmage, closely consulting with the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles, cannot detect a false revelation, then what hope would there be for the rest of us?

Missionaries Studying and Teaching Jesus the Christ

So, because President Clark and Elder McConkie accept the traditional view of scholars and historians on Christ’s birthdate, should a modern missionary avoid studying or teaching from chapter 8 in Jesus the Christ, when it is the official missionary library volume on the life of Christ?

The answer: Of course we should study and teach Elder Talmage’s inspired work. On my mission, studying Jesus the Christ was a major influence in strengthening my testimony of the Savior.

Elder Talmage is the one taking the high stakes risks by challenging conventional wisdom in this high profile book, listing him on the title page as an Apostle of Jesus Christ and copyrighted by the President of the Church. And, throughout his life he strongly affirmed the validity of the inspiration he had received by the Spirit on this subject, which had also been appropriately and diligently debated, reviewed and approved by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve in 1915. [xxiv]

Elder James E. Talmage followed every required procedure as an Apostle to teach truth and avoid deception in writing Jesus the Christ. The official missionary volume on the life of Jesus Christ is teaching true doctrine and that includes the famous quote: “We believe that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea, April 6, [1 BC].”

My home teaching companion, Kent Rust, called in 2011 as Mission President of the Russia Yekaterinburg Mission, commented on the importance of the pronoun “we” in Elder Talmage’s discussion of his inspiration about the Lord’s birthdate he received pondering the verse in the Doctrine and Covenants.

“As I reviewed chapter 8 again I noticed these words in the last paragraph of the chapter, ‘We believe April 6th to be the birthday as…….’ and ‘We believe that Jesus Christ was born …..’ The word which caught my attention was ‘we’ meaning this was not only Elder Talmage’s words but also those who approved it too. If this was just Elder Talmage’s words then it would say ‘I’ but he said ‘we,’ which I think then means that the First Presidency and Quorum of the 12 Apostles were also saying this.”[xxv]

Reliance on the Direction of the Holy Ghost as a Mission President

My friend Kent Rust added his account of the day that Janet and he arrived at the mission home.

Kent and Janet Rust were called to the Russia Yekaterinburg Mission.

“Janet and I were met at the airport in Yekaterinburg Russia by the outgoing Mission President, Pres. Allcott, his wife and his assistants. After visiting the mission office and the staff there we went to the mission home where I spent a short time with Pres. Allcott reviewing activities of the mission while Janet met with Sister Allcott.

“As our meetings concluded, which I thought at the time was way too short as I still did not feel that I knew enough about the mission, Pres. and Sister Allcott expressed their love and confidence in us. They walked to the mission home door said their final goodbyes and then handed us the keys to the mission home, mission office and other places along with their cell phones and the door shut.

“I looked at Janet bewildered while holding the keys and cell phone in my hands and said ‘what do we do now?’ I don’t think I have ever had a more inadequate feeling than at this time. However, I knew the Lord had not forgotten me or us. Through the direction of the Holy Ghost and help from our assistants we quickly learned those things that we felt like we needed to do.

“As we sought the will of the Lord along with being aided by the the Holy Ghost we learned that we could do many things which in the past we felt like we could not have done. What a blessing it was to totally rely on the Lord for knowing what He wanted us to do and accomplish as we served as his instruments in the mission field.”

In that context of how much those called on a mission must rely on the direction and promptings of the Holy Ghost, Kent then said that if a key book in the missionary library like Jesus the Christ was deemed seriously flawed it could have a negative impact on the faith of missionaries and the progress of the work.

The circumstance of the writing of this book and the extensive interactions and review by the Prophet Joseph F. Smith, the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles provide spiritual verification of the testimony of Christ, His history and doctrine contained in this unique book. The record of these detailed interactions between Elder Talmage and the First Presidency and the Twelve before the publication of this book also provide a testimony that we will not be led astray by the Prophet.[xxvi]

Book of Mormon 1920 Edition Chronology Notes

Another interesting addition to the Book of Mormon in 1920 is the chronology dates that were added in that new edition. Elder James E. Talmage was intimately involved in the creation of this new edition, which included many enhancements such as the chronology, chapter headings, a pronouncing vocabulary and index.

The Encyclopedia of Mormonism contains an article written by John Pratt about the Book of Mormon chronology.[xxvii]

Here are online scanned facsimiles of the title page, First Nephi chapter 1, Helaman chapter 13 and 3 Nephi chapter 8. The timeline uses the assumption of a 1 BC birth year for Jesus Christ.[xxviii]

Title page of 1920 edition of the Book of Mormon with chronology notes added.

1 Nephi chapter 1 – about BC 600.

Helaman chapter 13 – Samuel the Lamanite prophesy dated BC 6.

3 Nephi chapter 8 – “great storm” dated 34 AD.

The Grand 1931 Evolution Debate

Is there an example in Church history that might guide us where all of the Prophets’ and Apostles’ statements on an important issue ought to be considered inspired, even though many of the statements seemed irreconcilably contradictory?

I think that the debate during 1931 among the General Authorities that affected the Church’s positions on evolution and preceded the flood of new knowledge about DNA might be just that example.[xxix]

When Christian Minister Ken Ham and Aeronautical Engineer Bill Nye debated science and religion topics in 2014, their exchange can be studied as a good example of the handicap many Christian believers experience when they have to explain scientific issues from a literal interpretation of the Bible alone.

Ken Ham is one who believes that the entire universe was created on the fourth 24-hour earth day of Creation based on the biblical statement: “he made the stars also.” (Genesis 1:16). Following the logic of this fundamental belief would throw out much of modern science and astronomy and puts a believing Christian Biblical advocate at a huge disadvantage in discussing or debating these issues.[xxx]

In 1931, there was an intense discussion at the highest levels of the Church as Elder B. H. Roberts attempted to approve his new book for publication entitled “The Truth, The Way, The Life.” I believe that the results from this debate protect Latter-day Saints from pitfalls in science and religion topics that others like Ken Ham experience. I also think that it was important that many of the issues raised by this debate are still ongoing and that it was important that these General Authorities presented and espoused their differing views.

Elder B. H. Roberts of the Presidency of the Seventy sought approval from the Brethren for his new book “The Truth, The Way, The Life.”

A particularly controversial part of Elder Roberts’ book (“The Truth, The Way, The Life”) was a discussion of pre-Adamic human races and how they would fit in with our first parents, Adam and Eve, and the time line of the creation and the fall. Three General Authorities, some of the best writers in the Church, were particularly involved in the discussions: Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, Elder James E. Talmage and Elder B. H. Roberts.[xxxi]

Elder Joseph Fielding Smith presented a view including no death before the fall and no pre-Adamic human races. He later published “Man: His Origin and Destiny” in 1954.

“In an article about the meetings, at one juncture of the discussions, Elder Talmage ‘made it clear to his assembled brethren that all reputable geologists recognized the existence both of death and pre-Adamites’ prior to 6,000 years ago, the presumed date of the fall of Adam.

“This view, of course, was vigorously denied by [Elder Joseph Fielding] Smith, and a serious disruption between and among certain brethren’ was in the offing. It was at least partly to avoid such disruption that the First Presidency sought to settle the dispute quickly without committing themselves to one side or the other with their memo of 7 April.’

A conciliatory memo to the General Authorities, not to the general membership, contained the famous quote.

“Leave geology, biology, archaeology and anthropology, no one of which has to do with the salvation of the souls of mankind to scientific research, while we magnify our calling in the realm of the Church.”

Elder James E. Talmage delivered a landmark address in the tabernacle after these lengthy discussions among the General Authorities about science and evolution.

“There were two results of these meetings by the First Presidency and the other General Authorities on science and evolution. The first result was that Elder Roberts’ book was not endorsed nor published during his lifetime. The second result was to authorize Elder James E. Talmage to give an official address entitled ‘The Earth and Man’ in the tabernacle on August 9, 1931.

Elder Joseph Fielding Smith had earlier given an address in April 1930 at a genealogical conference and Elder Talmage’s talk brought out some views not espoused by Elder Smith as well as many that they agreed upon. This talk by Elder Talmage was later published as a pamphlet by the Church.”

In 1954, Elder Joseph Fielding Smith published his book “Man: His Origin and Destiny.”[xxxii]

The discovery of the structure of DNA and the start of understanding its role in all life led to the famous paper by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953.[xxxiii]

 

The discovery of DNA has been a great scientific leap to better understand the methods by which God creates and upholds the miracle of life.

Modern Evidence of Intelligent Design

More recently, the sequencing of the human genome and other genomes has led to monumental discoveries such as the ENCODE project where we are starting to understand how these amazing DNA programs function. The publication of these discoveries began in 2012 and has led to powerful proofs of intelligent design in living things.

Researcher Katherine Pollard declared:

“When we finished the chimpanzee genome in 2005 and lined it up next to the human genome, we made the amazing discovery that our DNA is almost 99 percent identical. That seems like a bit of a paradox given all the differences we see between ourselves and chimps. But, in fact, it’s not a paradox, because all it takes to make a new species, all it takes to make a human, is a few changes in just the right places.”[xxxiv]

Now that is not random, undirected, mindless mutation-driven evolution!

Dr. Katherine Pollard, an associate professor of biostatistics at the Gladstone Institutes at the University of California, San Francisco, is a leading researcher analyzing and comparing the two complete genomes for humans and chimpanzees.

I think that the discussions among the apostles and prophets in 1931 laid a foundation to receive and understand further light and knowledge that would come in our day. Their writings, even with their disagreements, are powerful witnesses of the creative hand of the Lord in all things and are being validated more and more in scientific research.

Importance of the Lord’s Birth, Crucifixion and Resurrection Dates

In a similar way that we can see great positive results coming from the discussions between Elder Roberts, Elder Smith and Elder Talmage in 1931, I believe that the discussions about the key dates in the Savior’s life, motivated by the writings of Elder Talmage, Elder McConkie and President Clark and others, are all important and inspired.

One of the reasons for this ambiguity in the Lord’s birth and death dates might be that it is important that we celebrate Christmas and Easter in different seasons and different days. The importance of separating these celebrations is evident in the fact that great inspirational Christmas albums are recorded by artists that we would usually classify as not inspirational artists at all. It is also interesting that one of the greatest testimonies of the Savior, the oratorio “The Messiah” by Handel, has become an annual Christmas tradition instead of an Easter tradition when it was originally performed.

Could one reason for the ambiguity on the dates of the Lord’s birth and death be to celebrate these key important events in different seasons of the year?

Perhaps another motivation is for the membership of the Church to also learn, discuss and understand through the power of the Holy Ghost the different hypotheses and proposals on this issue, making it a test of our faith.

Here is one of President Boyd K. Packer’s favorite scriptures regarding the testimony and gospel knowledge of individual members of the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world; That faith also might increase in the earth; That mine everlasting covenant might be established; That the fullness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world, and before kings and rulers.” (D&C 1:20-23)

Powerful Testimony from Recently Discovered Ancient Calendars

The scriptures assert that important historical events are synchronized with “holy days” on the Hebrew calendar. Ancient Americans used a calendar based on the planet Venus that they claimed was created before the foundation of the world to chronicle key earthly events. Astronomer John Pratt’s article, “Twelve Steps from Christ to Adam,” briefly shows how these two calendars working together can be used to discover important historical dates that testify of the truth of the biblical chronology and the life and Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The once highly respected biblical chronologies, such as Bishop Ussher’s, including the Flood, the Exodus and the lives of the Patriarchs, are today usually only referenced to mock them as ridiculous.[xxxv]

John Pratt, Ph.D. in astronomy, has been studying ancient calendars for over 45 years. I consider his work to be a powerful testimony of the hand of God in the solar system, the constellations and the history of the world.

These ancient calendars use orbital and rotational information from celestial bodies in the Solar System in the algorithms of the calendars as does our modern calendar that is used throughout the world.

Thus, the calendars provide a concrete test environment wherein different proposed versions of ancient calendars or theorized actual dates for important events, such as the birth, death and resurrection events, can be actually tested for consistency and validity.

Starting from two crucial anchor dates, the Lord’s resurrection date in 33 AD and the captivity of King Jeconiah in 597 BC, a chronology from Christ to Adam can be derived using two ancient calendars: The Hebrew and Venus calendars.

The sample derivation of Biblical dates described in John Pratt’s article depends on two “anchor dates,” the Sunday April 3, 33 AD resurrection date of Jesus Christ and the very well documented date of the beginning of the captivity of King Jeconiah in Jerusalem on Saturday March 10, 597 BC. Change the resurrection date to a different hypothesized date and the whole tightly linked structure of dates and calendar algorithms fails completely.[xxxvi]

The ancient Hebrew calendar, a very complex lunisolar calendar, intersects on many dates with the Venus calendar used in ancient America. Both calendars working together can be used to derive many key dates in sacred religious history.

Another method using a different anchor date is to derive the resurrection date from the known date of the Lord’s appearance in the Kirtland Temple. This approach is in John Pratt’s discussion of the lunar Saros cycle in his third Ensign article where April 3, 1836 is shown to be an exact 1803 year interval from April 3, 33 AD, a “Saros century.” [xxxvii]

I would highly recommend reading this article on the “Twelve Steps from Christ to Adam” and also John Pratt’s three Ensign articles.[xxxviii]

Study, Meditation and Prayer Recommended

The ambiguities the Lord has allowed on the information we currently have concerning the all-important dates of the major events in the Savior’s life can be very beneficial. I believe that our testimonies of the modern prophets and apostles should actually increase, in spite of these seemingly opposing views held by some of the most talented and inspired general authorities, scholars and researchers of modern times.

O that this effort may result in a stronger testimony for each of us that on the Lord’s calendar in heaven, on actual dates and times, these crucial real events are chronicled and recorded.

 

Notes: 

[i] “LDS Media Library,” Various pictures in this article. Retrieved 6/25/2017.

[https://www.lds.org/media-library/images?lang=eng]

RPMNote: All dates in this article use the modern Gregorian calendar even if it is necessary to project it back into time before the calendar was developed. For example, the Lord’s crucifixion date is April 1, 33 AD on the Gregorian calendar and April 3, 33 AD on the Julian calendar. John Pratt uses the modern calendar throughout his work for consistency.

“Gregorian Calendar,” Wikipedia.org, retrieved 6/28/2017.

[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregorian_calendar]

[ii] John P. Pratt, “Passover—Was It Symbolic of His Coming,”Ensign, January 1994.

[https://www.lds.org/ensign/1994/01/passover-was-it-symbolic-of-his-coming?lang=eng]

John P. Pratt, “The Restoration of Priesthood Keys on Easter 1836, Part 1: Dating the First Easter,” Ensign, June 1985.

[https://www.lds.org/ensign/1985/06/the-restoration-of-priesthood-keys-on-easter-1836-part-1-dating-the-first-easter?lang=eng]

John P. Pratt, “The Restoration of Priesthood Keys on Easter 1836, Part 2: Symbolism of Passover and of Elijah’s Return,” Ensign, July, 1985.

[https://www.lds.org/ensign/1985/07/the-restoration-of-priesthood-keys-on-easter-1836-part-2-symbolism-of-passover-and-of-elijahs-return?lang=eng]

[iii] John P. Pratt, “Passover—Was It Symbolic of His Coming,”Ensign, January 1994.

[https://www.lds.org/ensign/1994/01/passover-was-it-symbolic-of-his-coming?lang=eng]

“Julian Day,” Wikipedia.org, Retrieved 6/25/2017.

[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_day]

John P. Pratt, Illustration of calendar Interval for Jesus Christ’s length of life. 5/8/2017.

[iv] John P. Pratt, “The Restoration of Priesthood Keys on Easter 1836, Part 1: Dating the First Easter,” Ensign, June 1985.

[https://www.lds.org/ensign/1985/06/the-restoration-of-priesthood-keys-on-easter-1836-part-1-dating-the-first-easter?lang=eng]

[v] “How Does the Book of Mormon Help Date Christ’s Death?” BookofMormonCentral, Meridian Magazine, April 13, 2017.

[http://ldsmag.com/how-does-the-book-of-mormon-help-date-christs-death/]

Jeffrey Chadwick, “Dating the Death of Jesus Christ,” BookOfMormonCentral.org, 2015.

[https://archive.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/dating-death-jesus-christ]

“In December 2010, BYU Studies published a study by Jeffrey R. Chadwick entitled “Dating the Birth of Jesus Christ.” It presented historical and scriptural evidence showing that Jesus was not born in April of 1 BC, as popular Latter-day Saint thought supposed, but most likely in December of 5 BC. A significant component in “Dating the Birth of Jesus Christ” was the proposition that Jesus died at Passover in the early spring of AD 30. While this dating is widely accepted, a minority of scholars disagree. A great deal of historical and scriptural evidence suggests otherwise, however, and this study demonstrates, with some degree of certainty, that Jesus did in fact die in AD 30, on the eve of Passover, the 14th day of the Jewish month Nisan, which in that year fell on April 6 in the old Julian calendar. This study also presents evidence that the day on which Jesus died was not a Friday, but the fifth day of the Jewish week, the day we call Thursday. This paper introduces a great deal of data to support the author’s conclusions, including modern scholarly assessments, original primary historical references, citations from the New Testament and the Mishnah, astronomical information, and tables that display the timing of events.”

Michael De Groote, “What was the real date of Jesus’ birth?”, Deseret News, December 24, 2010.

[http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700094707/What-was-the-real-date-of-Jesus-birth.html]

“Since the early 20th century, many Mormons have thought they knew the exact date of the first Christmas. Elder James E. Talmage, an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, published a book in 1915 titled “Jesus the Christ,” in which he wrote, “We believe that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea, April 6, B.C. 1.””

“The date of April 6 comes from the date that the LDS Church was originally organized in 1830. D&C 20 begins with this introductory verse: “The rise of The Church of Christ in these last days, being one thousand eight hundred and thirty years since the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh, it (the church) being regularly organized and established agreeable to the laws of our country, by the will and commandments of God, in the fourth month, and on the sixth day of the month which is called April.”

“Steven C. Harper, a BYU assistant professor of church history and a volume editor of the Joseph Smith Papers, said in a phone interview that some people, including Elder Talmage, have read this verse as if it is the Lord speaking and revealing precisely that Christ was born 1,830 years before that day and that the revelation was given on April 6, 1830.

“The recent discovery of the Book of Commandments and Revelations manuscript of D&C 20, however, showed that the verse was actually an introductory head note written by early church historian and scribe John Whitmer — something he did for many of the revelations, Harper said. “So those are separate from the texts that Joseph produces by revelation.”

“The manuscript, published as part of the Joseph Smith Papers, also shows that the revelation was given on April 10 — not April 6. So although it references the organization of the church a few days earlier, the revelation — which topically has nothing to do with the birth date of Christ — and its introductory verses “shouldn’t be read as if it is a revelation of the birth date of Jesus Christ,” Harper said. “The interpretation that has been most popular over time is very much subject to question; that’s all I’m saying.”

“And this wasn’t the only time that John Whitmer would identify a date with similar language. Another time he wrote, “It is now June the twelfth, one thousand eight hundred and thirty one years, since the coming of our Lord and Savior in the flesh.””

“When all is said and done,” Chadwick wrote, “the facts from the New Testament, the Book of Mormon, and the history of Josephus, combined with input from archaeological and astronomical research, all point to a day in December of 5 B.C. (late in the Jewish month of Kislev) for the date of Jesus’ birth.””

Robert J. Woodford, “The Story of the Doctrine and Covenants,” Ensign, December 1984.

[https://www.lds.org/ensign/1984/12/the-story-of-the-doctrine-and-covenants?lang=eng]

“Joseph Smith’s purposeful changes are in a different category from copying errors. Orson Pratt, who worked closely with him, described some of these changes:

“Joseph, the Prophet, in selecting the revelations from the Manuscripts, and arranging them for publication, did not arrange them according to the order of the date in which they were given, neither did he think it necessary to publish them all in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, but left them to be published more fully in his History. Hence, paragraphs taken from the revelations of a later date, are, in a few instances, incorporated with those of an earlier date. Indeed, at the time of compilation, the Prophet was inspired in several instances to write additional sentences and paragraphs to the earlier revelations. In this manner the Lord did truly give ‘line upon line, here a little and there a little,’ the same as He did to a revelation that Jeremiah received. And even though this revelation was burned by the wicked king of Israel, the Lord revealed the central message again with great numbers of additional content. (See Jeremiah xxxvi.32.)” (Millennial Star 17 [25 Apr. 1857]: 260.)

“An example appears in section 20 [D&C 20]. When part of this revelation was originally given in 1830, the offices of bishop, high councilor, and high priest were not yet part of the Church, so Joseph Smith added them to the 1835 edition, as footnotes in the editions between 1876 and 1920 explain. Section 107 [D&C 107] is another example. Close textual study shows at least five separate revelations received between November 1831 and 28 March 1835, the latter date being assigned to the compilation.”

John P. Pratt, “Defense of April Sixth,” “Afterwords,” BYU Studies Spring 1983.

[http://www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/lds/aprilsixth.html]

“The following was published as a letter to the editor in response to a scathing review of John C. Lefgren’s book April Sixth (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1980). Following this defense of the book is the response of the authors of the review.”

RPMNote: This review and response about the book “April Sixth” began the chain of events that led to John Pratt’s Ensign articles discussed in this article.

Here is the original review in BYU studies that can be downloaded separately:

S. Kent Brown, C Wilfred Griggs and H. Kimball Hansen, “Review of John C. Lefgren’s book: April Sixth,” BYU Studies, Vol 22 number 3. 1982.

[https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/april-sixth]

“John C. Lefgren’s April Sixth purports to be a scholarly work that attempts to show that both the birth and resurrection of Jesus fell on April sixth and that the Church was organized exactly 1830 years to the day after Jesus’ birth. However, if one seeks a careful summary of the “latest evidence” (p. xv) promised in the “Foreword,” he has come to the wrong place. The work literally abounds in unjustified assumptions, misinformation, and misunderstandings on a number of levels.”

[vi] “Selected Teachings on the Date of Jesus’ Birth,” ScottWoodward.org, retrieved 6/25/2017.

[http://scottwoodward.org/jesus_christ_dateofbirth.html]

“David A. Bednar (Quorum of the Twelve)

“ Today is April 6. We know by revelation that today is the actual and accurate date of the Savior’s birth. April 6 also is the day on which The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized. (See D&C 20:1; Harold B. Lee, “Strengthen the Stakes of Zion,” Ensign, July 1973, 2; Spencer W. Kimball, “Remarks and Dedication of the Fayette, New York, Buildings,” Ensign, May 1980, 54; Discourses of President Gordon B. Hinckley, Volume 1: 1995–1999 [2005], 409.) (“Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease,” Ensign, May 2014)

[RPMNote: This quote, as specific and unambiguous as it gets, delivered in conference by an Apostle, has resulted in considerable criticism by those who believe any discussion of April 6 as the birthday of Christ is impossible.]

“Russell M. Nelson (Quorum of the Twelve)

“We commemorate the humble birth of the Savior at this time of year even though we know it did not occur in December. More likely, the Lord was born in April. Both scriptural and historical evidence suggest a time in the spring of the year, near the Jewish Passover (see D&C 20:1). (Ensign, December 2011, p.17)

“Harold B. Lee (President)

“This is the annual conference of the Church. April 6, 1973, is a particularly significant date because it commemorates not only the anniversary of the organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in this dispensation, but also the anniversary of the birth of the Savior, our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith wrote this, preceding a revelation given at that same date:

“The rise of the Church of Christ in these last days, being one thousand eight hundred and thirty years since the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh, it being regularly organized and established agreeable to the laws of our country, by the will and commandments of God, in the fourth month, and on the sixth day of the month which is called April” (D&C 20:1). (“Strengthen the Stakes of Zion,” Ensign, July 1973, 2)

“Spencer W. Kimball (President)

“My brothers and sisters, today [April 6] we not only celebrate the Sesquicentennial of the organization of the Church, but also the greatest event in human history since the birth of Christ on this day 1,980 years ago. Today is Easter Sunday. (“Remarks and Dedication of the Fayette, New York, Buildings,” Ensign, May 1980, 54)

“Gordon B. Hinckley (President)

“[I]n ancient times Christmas, commemorating the birth of the Christ child, was celebrated at this solstice season [on December 25]. Men had no knowledge of the time of His birth, and so they came to bond the celebration of Christmas with the celebration of the return of the sun.

“While we now know through revelation the time of the Savior’s birth, we observe the 25th of December with the rest of the Christian world. (Discourses of President Gordon B. Hinckley, Volume 1: 1995–1999 [2005], 409)

“James E. Talmage (Quorum of the Twelve)

“As to the season of the year in which Christ was born, there is among the learned as great a diversity of opinion as that relating to the year itself. It is claimed by many Biblical scholars that December 25th, the day celebrated in Christendom as Christmas, cannot be the correct date. We believe April 6th to be the birthday of Jesus Christ as indicated in a revelation of the present dispensation already cited [D&C 20:1], in which that day is made without qualification the completion of the one thousand eight hundred and thirtieth year since the coming of the Lord in the flesh. This acceptance is admittedly based on faith in modern revelation, and in no wise is set forth as the result of chronological research or analysis. We believe that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea, April 6, B.C. 1. (Jesus the Christ, p. 104)

“Bruce R. McConkie (Quorum of the Twelve)

“What is the date of our Lord’s birth? This is one of those fascinating problems about which the wise and the learned delight to debate. There are scholars, of repute and renown, who place his natal day in every year from 1 B.C. to 7 B.C., with 4 B.C. being the prevailing view, if we may be permitted to conclude that there is a prevailing view. How much the answer really matters is itself a fair question, since the problem is one, in part at least, of determining whether there have been errors made in the creation of our present dating system.

“We do not believe it is possible with the present state of our knowledge–including that which is known both in and our of the Church–to state with finality when the natal day of the Lord Jesus actually occurred. Elder James E. Talmage takes the view that he was born on April 6, 1 B.C., basing his conclusion on Doctrine and Covenants 20:1, which speaks of the day on which the Church was organized, saying it was “one thousand eight hundred and thirty years since the coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in the flesh.” April 6 is then named as the specific day for the formal oganization. Elder Talmage notes the Book of Mormon chronology, which says that the Lord Jesus would be born six hundred years after Lehi left Jerusalem (see Jesus the Christ, p. 102-104).

“Elder Hyrum M. Smith of the Coucil of the Twelve wrote in the Doctrine and Covenants Commentary: “The organization of the Church in the year 1830 is hardly to be regarded as giving divine authority to the commonly accepted calendar. There are reasons for believing that those who, a long time after our Savior’s birth, tried to ascertain the correct time, erred in their calculations, and that the Nativity occurred four years before our era, or in the year of Rome 750. All that this Revelation means to say is that the Church was organized in the year commonly accepted as 1830, A.D.” Rome 750 is equivalent, as indicated, to 4 B.C.

“President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., in Our Lord of the Gospels, a scholarly and thoughful work, says in his preface that many scholars “fix the date of the Savior’s birth at the end of 5 B.C., or the beginning or early part of 4 B.C.” He then quotes the explanation of the Doctrine and Covenants 20:1 as found in the Commentary, notes that it has been omitted in a later edition, and says: “I am not proposing any date as the true date. But in order to be as helpful to students as I could, I have taken as the date of the Savior’s birth the date now accepted by many scholars,–late 5 B.C., or early 4 B.C., because Bible Commentaries and the writings of scholars are frequently keyed upon that chronology and because I believe that so to do will facilitate and make easier the work of those studying the life and words of the Savior from sources using this accepted chronology.” This is the course being followed in this present work [The Mortal Messiah], which means, for instance that Gabriel came to Zacharias in October of 6 B.C.; that he came to Mary in March or April of 5 B.C.; that John was born in June of 5 B.C.; and that Jesus was born in December 5 B.C., or from January to April in 4 B.C.

“To illustrate how the scholars go about determining the day of Christ’s Nativity, we quote the following from Edersheim: “The first and most certain date is that of the death of Herod the Great. Our Lord was born before the death of Herod, and, as we judge from the Gospel-history, very shortly before that event. Now the year of Herod’s death has been ascertained with, we may say, absolute certainty, as shortly before the Passover of the year 750 A.U.C., which corresponds to about the 12th of April of the year 4 before Christ, according to our common reckoning. More particularly, shortly before the death of Herod there was a lunar eclipse which, it is astronomically ascertained, occurred on the night from the 12th to the 13 March of the year 4 before Christ. Thus the death of Herod must have taken place between the 12th of Moarch and the 12th of April–or, say, about the end of March. Again, the Gospel-history necessitates an interval of, at the least, seven or eight weeks before that date for the birth of Christ (we have to insert the purification of the Virgin–at the earliest, six weeks after the Birth–The Visit of the Magi, and the murder of the children at Bethlehem, and, at any reate, some days more before the death of Herod). Thus the birth of Christ could not have possibly occurred after the beginning of February 4 B.C., and most likely several weeks earlier” (Edersheim 2:704).

“We should add that if the slaughter of the Innocents by Herod occurred not weeks but a year or so after our Lord’s birth, as some have concluded from the recitation in Matthew 2, then this whole reasoning of Edersheim would be extended an appreciable period, so that Christ could have been born on April 6 of 5 B.C. We repeat, as President Clark repeated, that this is not a settled issue. Perhaps also it does not matter too much as long as we have an accepted framework of time within which to relate the actual events of his life, and one that gives us a reasonably accurate view of when those events took place. (Mortal Messiah, 1:349-350)

[vii] “Missionary Reference Library,” Deseret Book, Retrieved 6/25/2017.

[https://deseretbook.com/p/missionary-reference-library-lds-distribution-center-7631?variant_id=101706-paperback]

Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage

Our Search for Happiness by M. Russell Ballard

True to the Faith with message from the First Presidency

A Topical Guide on Church doctrines and history

Our Heritage: A Brief History of the Church…

Published by the Church

Ronald P. Millett, “Why So Bold a Statement? Elder James E. Talmage and April 6,” Meridian Magazine, November 12, 2012.

[http://ldsmag.com/article-1-11759/]

Elise Reynolds, “Jesus the Christ: The Story behind the Story,” history.lds.org, September 14, 2015.

[https://history.lds.org/article/the-story-behind-the-story?lang=eng]

“In the century since its publication, Jesus the Christ has become a classic work among Latter-day Saints. For 100 years, the book has never been out of print, going through numerous reprints and editions in multiple languages and formats. It has been used as a course of study for priesthood and Relief Society classes, is one of the texts in the approved missionary library, and has contributed to readers’ doctrinal understanding of the Savior the world over. It is a unique book not only in terms of its content and influence but also in terms of its own story, a story that deserves retelling during this centennial anniversary.”

[viii] James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, gutenberg.org, 1915.

[http://www.gutenberg.org/files/22542/22542-h/22542-h.htm#chapter_8]

[ix] “James E. Talmage,” Alchetron.com, Retrieved 6/25/2017.

[https://alchetron.com/James-E-Talmage-1208778-W]

Picture of James E. Talmage.

James P, Harris, ed., “Essential James E. Talmage, Chapter 24: Jesus the Christ,” Signature Book’s Library, Retrieved 7/3/2017.

[http://signaturebookslibrary.org/essential-james-e-talmage-24/]

“Sept. 18, 1904—Sunday: Forenoon committee meeting and afternoon consultation regarding University Sunday School. Decided to conduct the work this year as lecture courses, of which there will be one on the Book of Mormon by Brother John M. Mills, and one on the subject “Jesus The Christ” by myself… .

“Aug. 9, 1905—…In the course of the interview with the First Presidency, I was handed the attached letter, which has been awaiting me since the date thereof. Compliance with the request will require much time as not half the lectures have been delivered and not a line of one of them written, except as class notes.

Letter from the First Presidency in 1905:

“The First Presidency

of the

Church of Jesus Christ

of

Latter-day Saints

P.O. Box B

Salt Lake City, Utah

July 18th, 1905

Dr. James E. Talmage,

City.

Dear Brother:——

“We should be pleased to have you print and publish in book form the course of lectures being delivered by you before the University Sunday School on the subject, Jesus the Christ, believing they will prove a valuable acquisition to our Church Literature, and that the proposed work should be placed within the reach of Church members and general readers.

[p.164]Your Brethren,

Joseph F. Smith

John R. Winder

Anthon H. Lund

“Sept. 14, 1914—During the school periods of 1904-1905, and 1905-1906, I delivered a series of lectures entitled “Jesus The Christ” under the auspices of the University Sunday School. The sessions were held during Sunday forenoons in Barratt Hall. I received written appointment from the First Presidency to embody the lectures in a book to be published for the use of the Church in general. Work on this appointment has been suspended from time to time owing to other duties being imposed upon me. Lately, however, I have been asked to prepare the matter for the book with as little delay as possible. Experiences demonstrated that neither in my comfortable office nor in the convenient study room at home can I be free from visits and telephone calls. The consequence of this condition and in view of the importance of the work, I had been directed to occupy a room in the Temple where I will be free from interruption. I began the work in the Temple today and hope that I shall be able to devote the necessary time thereto…

“Nov. 19, 1914—Spent some time at the office of the First Presidency. During the afternoon attended a meeting of the First Presidency and certain invited members of the Deseret Sunday School Union Board. At this meeting I read aloud several chapters of the book, “Jesus The Christ” now in process of preparation. The purpose being to ascertain whether the book would be properly suited for the lower or higher grades in the theological department. As was intended the work is being prepared for our people in general and is not adapted for use as a textbook for immature students. It was decided by the First Presidency that the work be completed of the same scope and plan as here-to-fore followed, and that the theological department of the Deseret Sunday School Union provide their own outline of the students of the first years work in said departments. In connection with the matter of the book, it may be well to record here that since my beginning on the writing September 14th last, I have devoted every spare hour to that labor and have at present in written form though not all in revised condition, twenty chapters. According to present indications, the work of the book will be interrupted through other appointments already made. The pur-[p.165]pose is, however, to bring it to completion at the earliest possible time, though with some relief from the intense pressure under which the writing has been here-to-fore done…

“Apr. 19th, 1915—Finished the actual writing on the book, “Jesus The Christ” to which I have devoted every spare hour since settling down to the work of composition on September 14th, last. Had it not been that I was privileged to do this work in the Temple, it would be at [p.166]present far from completion. I have felt the inspiration of the place and have appreciated the privacy and quietness incident thereto. I hope to proceed with the work of revision without delay…

[reading of chapters 1-6 not detailed in this document]

“May 4th, 1915—At meeting of the First Presidency and Twelve in the Temple, I read three chapters of the book. At each of the meetings thus far held for this purpose, all members of the First Presidency and all of the Twelve who are not absent from the city on appointed duties were present. We have now read nine of the 43 chapters…[chapters 7-9, This reading would include chapter 8 on the birth of Christ and Elder Talmage notes that all members of the First Presidency and Twelve were present with the exception of the members of the Twelve on special assignments.]

“May 6, 1915—Attended committee meeting at 8:15 a.m. in the Temple. At 9:30 a.m. the Presidency and Twelve sat to hear another reading of the matter prepared for the book. Two chapters were read and passed. Then attended regular council meeting of the First Presidency and the Twelve. [chapters 10-11]

“May 7, 1915—Forenoon devoted to reading four chapters of the book to the First Presidency and the Twelve…[chapters 12-15]

“May 11, 1915—Forenoon devoted to meeting of First Presidency and Twelve at which three chapters of the book were read…[chapters 16-17]

“May 13, 1915—Attended an early morning meeting of the counselors of the First Presidency and Twelve at which three chapters of the book were read. The reading thus far finished includes chapter 21. President Smith was absent, he having left yesterday afternoon for a trip to the Hawaiian Islands… [chapters 18-21, President Joseph F. Smith departed for the Hawaiian Islands on May 12, 2015. Note that in this entry with President Smith now going to Hawaii, Elder Talmage refers to the “counselors of the First Presidency” instead of just the “First Presidency” emphasizing President Smith’s departure and the change it made to their meetings.]

“May 18, 1915—Read three chapters of the book to the Brethren during the forenoon…

“May 20, 1915—Attended early meeting of the First Presidency and Twelve and read to the Brethren two chapters of the book…

“May 25, 1915—Read two chapters of the book to the First Presidency and Twelve…

“May 27, 1915—Attended council meeting of First Presidency and Twelve in the Temple. Before regular services of the council began, I read to the brethren two chapters of the forthcoming book …

“June 1, 1915—Attended 12th sitting of the First Presidency and such members of the Twelve as were in town, held for the purpose of hearing read the book “Jesus The Christ”. Two chapters were read today. First installment of copy of the book “Jesus The Christ” was delivered to the printer today. Contract provides that the book shall be ready for delivery the first of September…

“June 3, 1915—Spent two and one-half hours in reading to the First Presidency and Twelve, then attended regular council meeting [p.167]of First Presidency and Twelve…

“June 8, 1915—Read two chapters of the book to First Presidency and Twelve…

“June 15, 1915—…then attended a late afternoon meeting of the First Presidency and Twelve at which two more chapters of the book were read…

“June 17, 1915—Read one chapter of the book to the First Presidency and Twelve.

“June 18, 1915—Immediately after the meeting, President Joseph F. Smith, President Anthon H. Lund, and I met as a committee appointed before President Smith’s departure on his recent tour to consider the section in chapter 11 of the book, “Jesus The Christ”, relating to the Son of Man. The section was passed in the form in which it had been written…

“June 24, 1915—Had an early meeting of the First Presidency and Twelve. I read the last installment of the matter for the book. This was the 18th sitting of the council to hear the reading of the manuscript. Printing is now in progress on the book… [18 meetings to consider the book]

“July 4, 1915—Sunday, Fast Day. I was engaged during the day in revising chapters of the book on which the printers are at work during my absence…

“July 10, 1915—Engaged during the afternoon in reading proofs of the book that have been sent me and telegraphed specifications of typographical errors.

“July 11, 1915—Sunday. Left for home. Engaged in proofreading on the train.

“July 12, 1915—Reached Salt Lake City about 9:00 p.m. Spent about 2 hours at the office examining the last proof sheets and then went to the house.

[x] Chris Larson, “’Jesus the Christ’ Revered 100 Years after Publication,” Daily Universe, BYU, August 17, 2015.

[http://universe.byu.edu/2015/08/17/jesus-the-christ-the-most-popular-quasi-official-book-of-the-lds-church/]

“James E. Talmage was a scientist, not a bible scholar. Yet he wrote one of the most enduring works ever published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To celebrate the centennial year of “Jesus The Christ,” two BYU religion scholars will examine the book — chapter by chapter — during the annual campus Education Week.

“’If you don’t count the Standard Works, it’s probably is the no. 1- selling book in church history, with over 1 million copies sold,’ said Richard Holzapfel, Ph.D., BYU religion professor and former mission president. Holzapfel said it is hard to determine the total number of copies sold because other publishers continued to print the book after its copyright expired.

“’What he wanted to do was to produce a volume on the life of Jesus the Christ that was different from everyone else’s because everyone else basically began with the birth and ended with the ascension,’ Holzapfel said. ‘He wanted to go all the way back in time from the LDS perspective as Jesus Christ is the Son of God, is Jehovah of the Old Testament, and to continue after the ascension of Christ.’”

[xi] Elise Reynolds, “Jesus the Christ: The Story behind the Story,” history.lds.org, September 14, 2015.

[https://history.lds.org/article/the-story-behind-the-story?lang=eng]

  1. Scott Lloyd, “Church Classic Jesus the Christ Puclished 100 Years Ago,” Church News, September 11, 2015.

[https://www.lds.org/church/news/church-classic-jesus-the-christ-published-100-years-ago?lang=eng]

“It is the only book in Church literature to have been written in longhand in a temple, directly commissioned by the First Presidency. Today, 100 years after its publication, Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage is still in wide use by Latter-day Saints and is what scholars reckon to be the best-selling doctrinal work in Church history.

“Frequently quoted by Church leaders, writers, speakers, and teachers, it has served at least twice as an instructional manual in Church classes. Over the decades, it has had a place among the very few books in the “reference library” that Church missionaries are allowed and encouraged to carry with them as they are transferred from place to place within their missions.”

“Included in the BYU exhibit is the July 18, 1905, letter to Brother Talmage from President Joseph F. Smith and his counselors in the First Presidency, President John R. Winder and Anthon H. Lund. It reads: ‘Dear Brother: We should be pleased to have you print and publish in book form the course of lectures being delivered by you before the University Sunday School on the subject, Jesus the Christ, believing that they will prove a valuable acquisition to our Church literature and that the proposed work should be placed within the reach of Church members and general readers.’”

[xii] James E. Talmage, “The House of the Lord,” Deseret Book, paperback edition,

[https://deseretbook.com/p/house-lord-james-e-talmage-77000?variant_id=21633-paperback]

“James E. Talmage,” Wikipedia.org, Retrieved 6/25/2017.

[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_E._Talmage]

“The House of the Lord: A Study of Holy Sanctuaries, Ancient and Modern,” Wikipedia.org, Book published in 1912. Retrieved 6/25/2017.

[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_House_of_the_Lord]

David R. Seely, “Explaining the Temple to the World: James E. Talmage’s Monumental Book, The House of the Lord,” 2000.

[https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1452&index=18]

[http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/msr/vol12/iss2/19/]

[xiii] Elise Reynolds, “Jesus the Christ: The Story behind the Story,” history.lds.org, September 14, 2015.

[https://history.lds.org/article/the-story-behind-the-story?lang=eng]

[xiv] Wikipedia.org, pictures of Joseph F. Smith and Bruce R. McConkie, Retrieved 6/25/2017.

[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_F._Smith]

[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_R._McConkie]

“Chapter Two: The Charted Course 1836-1952,” “By Study and also by Faith—One Hundred Years of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion,” lds.org. Retrieved 6/25/2017.

[https://www.lds.org/manual/by-study-and-also-by-faith/chapter-two-the-charted-course-1936-1952?lang=eng]

Picture of President J. Reuben Clark.

[xv] “Manuscript of Jesus the Christ,” “MS 1232: James E. Talmage collection 1879-1933,” Church History Library, Retrieved 6/25/2017.

[https://eadview.lds.org/findingaid/MS%201232/]

[xvi] Jeffrey E. Chadwick, “Dating the Birth of Christ,” BYU Studies, 49:4, 2010, pages 8-9.

[https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/dating-birth-christ]

“Elder Hyrum M. Smith of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in his 1919 commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, expressed less certainty about the meaning of D&C 20:1. Although Elder Smith agreed that “in all probability the 6th of April is the anniversary of the birthday of our Lord,” he acknowledged that ‘the organization of the Church in the year 1830 is hardly to be regarded as giving divine authority to the commonly accepted

calendar. There are reasons for believing that those who . . . tried to ascertain the correct time’ of the Savior’s birth ‘erred in their calculations, and that the Nativity occurred four years before our era. . . . All that this Revelation means to say is that the Church was organized in the year that is commonly accepted as 1830, a.d.’”

“This statement notwithstanding, the two highest-ranking General Authorities who subsequently published their writings on Jesus’s life and ministry took positions different from Elder Talmage’s. President J. Reuben

Clark, who served as both First and Second Counselor in the First Presidency, published Our Lord of the Gospels in 1954. This book was reprinted as an official publication of the Church when it was released as a Melchizedek

Priesthood manual for 1958. In Our Lord of the Gospels, Clark pointed to the traditional early winter time frame for the date of Jesus’s birth. He explained: “I am not proposing any date as the true date. But in order to

be as helpful to students as I could, I have taken as the date of the Savior’s birth the date now accepted by many scholars,—late 5 b.c. or early 4 b.c.” In the timetables he employed in his book, Clark listed his preferred time

range for Jesus’s nativity as December of 5 bc, and the time range of the Annunciation to Mary as nine months earlier in March of 5 bc. While not insisting on a specific date (such as December 25), President Clark noted

the historical strength of the early winter tradition.

“Elder Bruce R. McConkie was the third General Authority to prepare a systematic study of the life of Christ. Deseret Book Company published the four-volume series The Mortal Messiah beginning in 1979. In a lengthy

study note appended to chapter 20 of the first volume (on the Savior’s nativity), McConkie discussed several models for dating the birth of Jesus. In contrast to Talmage, McConkie stated: “We do not believe it is possible

with the present state of our knowledge—including that which is known both in and out of the Church—to state with finality when the natal day of the Lord Jesus actually occurred.”17 McConkie then reviewed the positions

and reasoning of both Talmage and Clark with regard to Jesus’s birth date and stated that he would follow Clark’s course. Accordingly, McConkie dated the Annunciation to Mary in March or April of 5 bc, and the birth

of Jesus in December of 5 bc (with the caveat that his birth could also have occurred from January to April of 4 bc). He also opined that the story of Dating the Birth of Jesus Christ V 9 the arrival of the wise men could perhaps be construed to point to a birth date earlier than December of 5 bc, perhaps as early as April of 5 bc, again

repeating that “this is not a settled issue.” For a review of the substance of Elder McConkie’s study, see the endnotes.

“It seems clear from the different approaches presented in these three studies that there is no authoritative agreement or position on the issue of the birth date of Christ that must be regarded as binding on the membership

of the Church. Comments by other General Authorities on the April 6 proposal have tended almost always to be heartfelt remarks that occurred during talks given on subjects other than the actual dating of the birth of

Jesus. Thus, as far as General Authority statements are concerned, the only three sources offering data that may be scrutinized are Talmage’s Jesus the Christ, Clark’s Our Lord of the Gospels, and McConkie’s The Mortal Messiah.”

[xvii] Ronald P. Millett, “Samuel and Nephi, Talmage and Kimball: Testimony of Christian Calendars in the New and Old Worlds,” Meridian Magazine, June 8, 2016l.

[http://ldsmag.com/samuel-and-nephi-talmage-and-kimball-testimony-of-christian-calendars-in-the-new-and-old-worlds/]

“Led by the prophets Samuel and Nephi, the calendar in the new world was restarted to align with the very day when the great sign of the Lord’s Birth occurred. Also, inspired particularly by the gospel of Luke, the year on the Roman calendar in the old world was updated to align with the year 1 BC, the zero year for the modern Christian calendar, indicating the Birth year of Jesus Christ.[i]

“In our modern day, most leaders and scholars deny that the old world Christian calendar was adjusted to the right year, preferring several possible years other than 1 BC for Jesus’ birth year. Citing modern revelation, Apostle James E. Talmage, President Spencer W. Kimball, and other apostles and prophets forcefully have proclaimed that the calendar was changed correctly to reflect the very year of His Birth. Their testimony is that the most important calendar change in history was made accurately.”

“This statement on the review process by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve before Jesus the Christ’s publication provides further support for the truth of Elder Talmage’s bold declaration on the birthdate of the Lord Jesus Christ. This powerful assertion by Elder Talmage was made even though there are differing opinions that have been expressed by other General Authorities. Most specifically, since Elder Talmage’s day, these differing opinions include President J. Reuben Clark and Elder Bruce R. McConkie.”

[xviii] Ronald P. Millett, “Why So Bold a Statement? Elder James E. Talmage and April 6,” Meridian Magazine, November 12, 2012.

[http://ldsmag.com/article-1-11759/]

“Apostle, scientist and scholar James E. Talmage added a belief statement to the Church’s doctrinal list in his landmark book Jesus the Christ when he declared: “We believe that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea, April 6, B.C. 1.”

“Instead of a modest statement supporting the Dionysian designation of 1 BC as the year zero of the Christian era via the April 6 BC 1 date; instead of a note in the preface or a footnote in his chapter 8 discussion of the birth of the Savior; instead of saying “it seemed to me that” or “I believe after study and contemplation that,” instead of any of those options, Elder Talmage boldly declared that “we believe” in April 6, BC 1 as the birth date of the Redeemer of the world.”

“Dating the Birth of Jesus Christ,” Thinking Aloud, KBYU, April 12, 2012.

[http://www.classical89.org/thinkingaloud/archive/episode/?id=4/18/2012]

“Jeffrey R. Chadwick, a member of BYU’s department of Church History and Doctrine, elaborates on possible historical dates for the birth of Jesus Christ. Chadwick’s article is titled “Dating the Birth of Jesus Christ,” and appeared in the December 2010 issue of BYU Studies.—Original airdate: 4/18/2012

[xix] Elder Richard G. Scott, LDS media library, retrieved 6/25/2017.

[https://www.lds.org/media-library/images/elder-richard-g-scott-lds-190790?lang=eng]

Michael De Groote, “What was the real date of Jesus’ birth?”, Deseret News, December 24, 2010.

[http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700094707/What-was-the-real-date-of-Jesus-birth.html]

“The manuscript, published as part of the Joseph Smith Papers, also shows that the revelation was given on April 10 — not April 6. So although it references the organization of the church a few days earlier, the revelation — which topically has nothing to do with the birth date of Christ — and its introductory verses “shouldn’t be read as if it is a revelation of the birth date of Jesus Christ,” Harper said. “The interpretation that has been most popular over time is very much subject to question; that’s all I’m saying.”

“And this wasn’t the only time that John Whitmer would identify a date with similar language. Another time he wrote, “It is now June the twelfth, one thousand eight hundred and thirty one years, since the coming of our Lord and Savior in the flesh.”

“In other words, this type of language was merely a fancy 19th-century way of saying the date.

“If a person accepts Chadwick, Harper, Elder McConkie and President Clark’s interpretation of the verse in D&C 20, when was Jesus born?”

“Chadwick’s article goes into great detail on the various clues the Bible and the Book of Mormon give for the date of Jesus’ birth.

RPMNote: The bottom line in discussions such as are in this excellent article is that Elder James E. Talmage with the assistance of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles evidently did not have the inspiration to discern this “fancy 19th-century way of saying the date.”

[xx] R. Val Johnson, “Obtaining the Spirit through Counseling Together,” Ensign, June 2012.

[https://www.lds.org/ensign/2012/06/obtaining-the-spirit-through-counseling-together?lang=eng]

[xxi] Gordon B. Hinckley, “A City upon a Hill,” Ensign, July 1990.

[https://www.lds.org/ensign/1990/07/a-city-upon-a-hill?lang=eng]

“In 1856, when the Latter-day Saints were largely alone in the Western valleys, some people thought we were safe from the ways of the world. To such talk, President Heber C. Kimball of the First Presidency responded: “I want to say to you, my brethren, the time is coming when we will be mixed up in these now peaceful valleys to that extent that it will be difficult to tell the face of a Saint from the face of an enemy to the people of God. Then, brethren,” he went on, “look out for the great sieve, for there will be a great sifting time, and many will fall; for I say unto you there is a test, a Test, a TEST coming, and who will be able to stand?” (Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1945, p. 446.)”

Robert L. Millet, “Whatever Happened to Faith?, Meridian Magazine, July 6, 2017.

[http://ldsmag.com/whatever-happened-to-faith/]

“The Sifting of Souls: In the nearly half a century since I first read those haunting words of [Heber C. Kimball], I have come to appreciate that the word sift may be used in many related ways. Each definition points toward a different way one may be sifted. Some synonyms for sift are separate, distinguish, scatter, screen, strain, filter, or eliminate. To sift is also to put a person to a test or trial.”

[xxii] Ronald P. Millett, “Samuel and Nephi, Talmage and Kimball: Testimony of Christian Calendars in the New and Old Worlds,” June 8, 2016.

[http://ldsmag.com/samuel-and-nephi-talmage-and-kimball-testimony-of-christian-calendars-in-the-new-and-old-worlds/]

[xxiii] Michael De Groote, “What was the real date of Jesus’ birth?”, Deseret News, December 24, 2010.

[http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700094707/What-was-the-real-date-of-Jesus-birth.html]

[xxiv] James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, gutenberg.org, 1915.

[http://www.gutenberg.org/files/22542/22542-h/22542-h.htm#chapter_8]

Sixth footnote in this chapter on the “Babe of Bethlehem:”

“6. The Year of Christ’s Birth.—In treating this topic Dr. Charles F. Deems (The Light of the Nations, p. 28), after giving careful consideration of the estimates, calculations, and assumptions of men who have employed many means in their investigation and reach only discordant results says: “It is annoying to see learned men use the same apparatus of calculation and reach the most diverse results. It is bewildering to attempt a reconciliation of these varying calculations.” In an appended note the same author states: “For example: the birth of our Lord is placed in B.C. 1 by Pearson and Hug; B.C. 2 by Scalinger; B.C. 3 by Baronius and Paulus; B.C. 4 by Bengel, Wieseler, and Greswell; B.C. 5 by Usher and Petavius; B.C. 6 by Strong, Luvin, and Clark; B.C. 7 by Ideler and Sanclemente.”

RPMNote: Elder Talmage details in his footnotes in chapter 8 of Jesus the Christ the amazing confusion about the birth date of Jesus Christ among historians and scholars.

[xxv] Personal email from Kent Rust, July 5, 2017.

“New Mission Presidents,” Church News, March 19, 2011.

[http://www.ldschurchnewsarchive.com/articles/60634/New-mission-presidents.html]

“E. Kent Rust, 57, and Janet Lamb Rust, five children, Russia Yekaterinburg Mission; Moscow Branch, Moscow Russia District. Brother Rust serves on a district council and is a former counselor in a bishopric, branch president, counselor in a branch presidency, and gospel doctrine teacher. Training manager, Chevron. Born in Roosevelt, Utah, to Erwin and Dorthy Iona Hansen Rust.

“Sister Rust serves as a counselor in a branch Relief Society presidency and is a former Relief Society president, counselor in branch Young Women and Primary presidencies and seminary teacher. Born in Panguitch, Utah, to Glendon LaNar and Irene Chamberlain Lamb.”

[xxvi] Ezra Taft Benson, “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet,” Liahona, June 1981.

[https://www.lds.org/liahona/1981/06/fourteen-fundamentals-in-following-the-prophet?lang=eng]

Fourth: The prophet will never lead the Church astray.

President Wilford Woodruff stated:

“I say to Israel, the Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of the Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God.” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pp. 212–13.)

President Marion G. Romney tells of this incident which happened to him:

“I remember years ago when I was a bishop I had President Heber J. Grant talk to our ward. After the meeting I drove him home … Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said: ‘My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.’ Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, ‘But you don’t need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.’” (Conference Report, October 1960, p. 78.)

[xxvii] John P. Pratt, “Book of Mormon Chronology,” Encyclopedia of Mormonism, BYU, 2007.

[http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Book_of_Mormon_Chronology]

[xxviii] “Book of Mormon 1920 edition scanned pages,” archive.org, Retrieved 6/28/2017.

[https://ia802503.us.archive.org/25/items/BookOfMormon1920SaltLakeCityEdition/]

[xxix] Ronald P. Millett, “Is the Context Important for This Popular Science and Religion Quote?” Meridian Magazine, November 18, 2013.

[http://ldsmag.com/article-1-13566/]

“In the recent “Science and Mormonism” conference on November 9, 2013 in Provo, Utah, one of the most popular statements from the First Presidency of the Church on science was emphasized. This quote has an interesting history and context.”

[xxx] Ronald P. Millett, “Science and Religion Debate: How Literally Must We Interpret the Bible?” Meridian Magazine, February 11, 2014.

[http://ldsmag.com/article-1-13926/]

“The debate at the Creation Museum between Bill Nye and Ken Ham is a great illustration of the polar opposites of possible interpretations of the Bible as people decide how literal or how figurative to take the Biblical account. Latter-day saints, with access to modern apostles and prophets plus the restoration of plain and precious parts which were taken away from Bible during the Great Apostasy, have a unique perspective on this discussion.”

[xxxi] Ronald P. Millett, “Is the Context Important for This Popular Science and Religion Quote?” Meridian Magazine, November 18, 2013.

[http://ldsmag.com/article-1-13566/]

[xxxii] Joseph Fielding Smith, “Man: His Origin and Destiny,” 1954, Salt Lake City, Utah, Deseret Book.

[https://deseretbook.com/p/man-his-origin-destiny-joseph-fielding-smith-78333?variant_id=20155-ebook]

[xxxiii] “The Discovery of DNA,” yourgenome.org, retrieved 6/28/2017.

[http://www.yourgenome.org/stories/the-discovery-of-dna]

“It is a common misconception that James Watson and Francis Crick discovered DNA? in the 1950s. In reality, DNA was discovered decades before. It was by following the work of the pioneers before them that James and Francis were able to come to their ground-breaking conclusion about the structure of DNA in 1953.”

“DNA Structure,” visual.ly, retrieved 6/28/2017.

[https://visual.ly/community/infographic/health/dna-structure]

[xxxiv] Ronald P. Millett, “Chimps and Humans 99% identical DNA: Proof of Intelligent Design?”, Meridian Magazine, January 31, 2016.

[http://ldsmag.com/chimps-and-humans-99-identical-dna-proof-of-intelligent-design/]

“The one percent different DNA between chimpanzees and humans has been discovered to contain complex genetic switches. This sophisticated programming activates human brain and other characteristics in the 99% portion of DNA that the two species have in common.

“These facts imply that the chimpanzee’s DNA contains human DNA programming that is never activated for the chimpanzee. Therefore, these human routines in chimpanzee DNA would have to be intelligently designed and were not created by evolution.”

[xxxv] Ronald P. Millett, “A Brief Example of the Connection of Sacred Calendars to World History,” Meridian Magazine, April 19, 2015.

[http://ldsmag.com/a-brief-example-of-the-connection-of-sacred-calendars-to-world-history/]

“John Pratt and I worked together in software development over many years beginning in 1993. I became an eye witness of the intricate astronomical, scriptural and historical research that has resulted in his approach to formalize ancient calendars. This research and its use to discover more than 200 dates in sacred history is a powerful testimony of God’s hand in all things and the truth of the information contained in the Holy Scriptures.

“In just twelve steps, Doctor Pratt illustrates calculating key dates for Father Adam, starting from the crucifixion, resurrection and birth of Christ.6 Using just two of the sacred calendars and only a handful of sacred holy days, the fall of Adam and Eve and the beginning of the earth’s seven thousand year clock end up aligned with amazing precision with the life of Christ.”

John P. Pratt, “Twelve Steps from Christ to Adam,” Meridian Magazine, April 19, 2015.

[http://www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/lds/meridian/2014/twelve_steps.html]

“Biblical Chronology,” creation.com, retrieved 6/30/2017.

[https://creation.com/images/pdfs/other/timeline_of_the_bible.pdf]

[xxxvi] John P. Pratt, “God’s Perpetual Hebrew Calendar,” johnpratt.com, February 28, 2017.

[http://johnpratt.com/items/docs/2017/phc.html]

“The Perpetual Hebrew Calendar is a masterpiece of implementing the day-year pattern and now correctly indicates sacred event dates throughout history.

“The traditional Hebrew Calendar is not accurate over long periods of time, so an improved version has been sought in my work. Moreover, decades of sacred calendar research indicate that God is using such a calendar for timing important holy events, but which differs from the Hebrew Calendar. My best approximation of His true version is called the Perpetual Hebrew Calendar (PHC) in my articles,[1] but the details of its workings have not been fully understood. This article announces the recent discovery of enough of those details to allow the PHC for the first time to correctly indicate the holy days for all 200 religious events listed in my Religious Chronology. This updated and more correct version has been implemented in all of the calendar conversion programs on this website.”

John P. Pratt, “Religious Chronology,” johnpratt.com, June 25, 2017.

[ http://johnpratt.com/items/docs/lds/dates.html ]

“Dates of religious events on our modern (Gregorian) calendar are listed on these sacred calendars: Sacred Round (SR), Venus (V), Mercury (M), Perpetual Hebrew (PH), Enoch (E), and Priest (P). In addition, there is a column called “Other” which lists a meaningful day from another sacred calendar: Uniform Enoch (UE), Uniform Hebrew (UH), Uniform Venus (UV), Uniform Mercury (UM), Mars (Ma), Uniform Mars (UMa), Jubilee (J), Uniform Jubilee (UJ), Star (S), or Uniform Star (US). The calendar is indicated by those abbreviations as subscripts.

“Gregorian years before Christ may be shown either in the usual BC notation (by default) or in astronomical notation (zero and negative numbers) by clicking the buttons above the table. The negative notation makes it easy to calculate intervals between years before and after Christ by simply subtracting. They differ from years BC (as used by historians and in my articles) by one year: 1 BC is the year 0, 2 BC is the year -1, etc.”

[xxxvii] John P. Pratt, “The Restoration of Priesthood Keys on Easter 1836, Part 2: Symbolism of Passover and of Elijah’s Return,” Ensign, July, 1985.

[https://www.lds.org/ensign/1985/07/the-restoration-of-priesthood-keys-on-easter-1836-part-2-symbolism-of-passover-and-of-elijahs-return?lang=eng]

“The interval of 658,532 days 15 (1,803 years) between 3 April A.D. 33 and 3 April 1836 is also impressive for an entirely different astronomical reason than that discussed above. To the very day, it is equal to 100 saros periods of 6,585.321 days each. The saros is a period of 18.03 years known to astronomers as the interval in which solar or lunar eclipses often repeat. 16 (See “The Saros” sidebar for details.)

“It should be emphasized that the fact that the same period of time (1,803 years) can be equal both to a lunisolar calendar realignment interval and to 100 saros periods is very surprising because the length of the saros is also determined by other factors. 17

“Is there any astronomical significance to the number 100? Yes, it turns out that 100 saros periods is the realignment interval for a saros with the solar year. That is, if one counts saros periods from the lunar eclipse that occurred on the proposed date for the Crucifixion, 1 April A.D. 33, the first time that a saros would again begin on April 1 would be in 1836.

“Note, however, that the saros alignment is only sufficient for eclipses to reoccur for up to 70 saros periods; thus, eclipses do not reoccur after 100 saros periods. 18 On the other hand, the orbital alignment is close enough to produce an interesting calendrical alignment. After 100 saros periods, the lunar orbit is in about the same orientation relative to the sun, which causes the Judean calendar to also begin to repeat (because it uses the actual observed lunar position rather than the average position.) 19 Calculations indicate that the Easter of 1836 was also calendrically best on the Judean observational lunisolar calendar.

“In summary, a period of 1,803 years (658,532 days) is simultaneously two realignment intervals: (1) for the day, week, month, and year of the Jewish calendar; and (2) for the saros and the year. It seems impressive enough to merit a special name; perhaps it could be called a “saros century,” being 100 saros periods.”

[xxxviii] “Graduate Program Alumni,” “Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory,” University of Arizona, Retrieved 6/28/2017.

[https://www.as.arizona.edu/steward_phds]

RPMNote: I believe that John Pratt is the most prolific and doubtless the most innovative writer and researcher in this area of ancient calendars. His Ph.D. is in astronomy (1976) from the very highly rated University of Arizona program. His dissertation was entitled “The dependence of theoretical binary star mass transfer rates on the assumption of synchronous rotation.”

Software Patents with John P. Pratt listed as an inventor:

  1. US patent #6,216,123, applied for: 06/24/1998, Issued: on 04/10/2001, Assigned to: Novell, Title: “Method and System for Rapid Retrieval in a Full Text Indexing System,”
  2. US patent #6,697,801, applied for: 08/31/2000, Issued: 02/24/2004, Assigned to: Novell, Title: “Methods of Hierarchally Parsing and Indexing Text,”
  3. US patent #6,772,141, applied for: 12/14/1999, Issued: 08/03/2004, Assigned to: Novell, “Method and Apparatus for Organizing and Using Indexes Utilizing a Search Decision Table,”
  4. US patent #7,774,353, applied for: 08/30/2007, Issued: 08/10/2010, Assigned to: Perfect Search Corp., “Search Templates,” Using multiple templates for ranked search based on microsearches.

RPMNote: As an example of Ph.D. level research in this area from a fully qualified astronomer and sixth generation Latter-day Saint, look at this new article where Dr. Pratt is trying to decode the specifications on the 364+7-star calendar described in the Book of Enoch.

John P. Pratt, “Star Calendar: A House of Order,” johnpratt.com, June 25, 2017.

[http://johnpratt.com/items/docs/2017/364_stars.html]

“Three decades ago when in my work it was noticed in the Book of Enoch that there are 364 faithful servants of the Lord who are each identified with a star on a 364-day Star Calendar, the task of identifying those stars seemed impossible. Enoch explains that the stars are sectioned into four quadrants of the zodiac circle, with each division marked by a bright star. Those four cornerstone stars and the four great servants they represent were identified in 2001, but almost no progress was made in identifying more stars until last year when some of the brightest stars were identified as corresponding to holy days on the Star Calendar. Even so, the task of filling in more than 300 remaining stars seemed beyond reach.

“Think about it! The sky is filled with 4,000 visible stars apparently randomly sprinkled around the night sky. From all of those, how is one to pick the right 364 (to which Enoch referred) and then organize them so that each corresponds to a day on a calendar which the Lord uses?”