Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter June 23, 2017

The Prophetess of Endor: Reception of 1 Samuel 28 in Nineteenth Century Mormon History

  • Christopher James Blythe EMAIL logo

Abstract

This article documents one strain of Mormon thought concerning the Woman of Endor narrative in 1 Samuel 28, in which the woman was interpreted as a prophetess enabled to raise the dead through her spiritual gifts. Church leaders eventually condemned this narrative because of its similarities with Spiritualist exegesis and American Christianity’s use of the narrative to condemn Spiritualism as necromancy. Through establishing an orthodox reading of the passage, leaders strengthened the boundaries separating the two faiths – boundaries that many Spiritualists had argued were at best blurry and overlapping.

Acknowledgments

The author would like to express his appreciation for those who read and commented on drafts of this paper, including Mason Kamana Allred, Matthew Godfrey, Courtney Jensen Peacock, Joseph Spencer, Joseph Stuart, Jeff Turner, and Kris Wright.

Works Cited

Manuscripts

The Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

General Church Minutes.

MS 1862

MS 8988

MS 9628

MS 14590

Newspapers

Common Sense: A Journal of Lived Ideas

Elders’ Journal

Elder’s Journal of the Southern States Mission

Improvement Era

Juvenile Instructor

Millennial Star

New York Herald

Saints’ Advocate

Seer

Spiritualistic Free Press

Times and Seasons

True Latter Day Saints Herald

Printed Books:

Anon. 1889. A Debate on Spiritualism between Moses Hull and Eld. W. R. Covert. Chicago: Progressive Thinker Publishing House.Search in Google Scholar

Allred, Rulon C. 1982. Treasures of Knowledge: Selected Discourses and Excerpts from Talks by Rulon C. Allred. Hamilton, Montana: Bitterroot Publishing Company.Search in Google Scholar

Angert-Quilter, Theresa and Lynne Wall. 2001. “The ‘Spirit Wife’ at Endor.” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 92: 55–72.10.1177/030908920102509204Search in Google Scholar

Barlow, Philip. 1991. Mormons and the Bible: The Place of the Latter-day Saints in American Religion. New York: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Brown, Samuel. 2012. In Heaven as it is on Earth: Joseph Smith and the Early Mormon Conquest of Death. New York: Oxford University Press.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199793570.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Brown, Samuel. 2008. “The Translator and the Ghostwriter: Joseph Smith and W. W. Phelps.” Journal of Mormon History 34: 26–62.Search in Google Scholar

Carroll, Bret E. 1997. Spiritualism in Antebellum America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Clayton, William. 1991. An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton, edited by George D. Smith. Salt Lake City: Signature Books.Search in Google Scholar

Corbett, Pearson H. 1963. Hyrum Smith, Patriarch. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1963.Search in Google Scholar

Derr, Jill Mulvay, Janath Russell Cannon, and Maureen Ursenbach Beecher. 1992. Women of Covenant: The Story of Relief Society. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company and Brigham Young University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2013 [1981].Search in Google Scholar

Forster, Thomas Gales. 1868. What is Spiritualism? Boston: William White and Co.Search in Google Scholar

Greer, Rowan and Margaret M. Mitchell. 2007. The “Belly-Myther” of Endor: Interpretations of 1 Kingdoms 28 in the Early Church. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature.Search in Google Scholar

Harris, Martin. 1855. A Proclamation and a Warning Voice to All People. Cleveland, OH.Search in Google Scholar

Hickman, William. 1872. Brigham’s Destroying Angel. New York: George A. Crofutt.Search in Google Scholar

Holy Scriptures, Translated and Corrected by the Spirit of Revelation by Joseph Smith, Jr., the Seer. Philadelphia, Penn.: [Reorganized] Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1867.Search in Google Scholar

Homer, Michael W. 1994. “Spiritualism and Mormonism: Some Thoughts on Similarities and Differences.” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 27: 171–190.10.4000/books.pul.10770Search in Google Scholar

Josephus. 1934. Jewish Antiquities, trans. H. St. J. Thackeray and Ralph Marcus. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Journal of Discourses. 26 vols. Edited by George D. Watt, et al. Liverpool: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.Search in Google Scholar

King James VI of Scotland. 1597. Daemonologie. Edinburgh, Scotland.Search in Google Scholar

Kramer, Heinrich and James Sprenger. 1928 [1480]. Malleus Maleficarum of Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger, translated by Montague Summers. London: John Rodker.Search in Google Scholar

Matthews, Robert J. 1985. “A Plainer Translation”: Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible, A History and Commentary. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Ogden, D. Kelly and Andrew C. Skinner. 2013. Verse By Verse The Old Testament, vol. 1, Genesis through 2 Samuel, Psalms. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book.Search in Google Scholar

Old Testament Student Manual Genesis-2 Samuel. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2003 [1980].Search in Google Scholar

Pimple, Kenneth D. 1995. “Ghosts, Spirits, and Scholars: The Origins of Modern Spiritualism,” In Out of the Ordinary: Folklore and the Supernatural, edited by Barbara Walker. Logan: Utah State University Press.10.2307/j.ctt46nwn8.10Search in Google Scholar

Pratt, Parley P. 1855. Key to the Science of Theology. London: L. D. Saints’ Book Depot.Search in Google Scholar

Quinn, D. Michael. 1998. Early Mormonism and the Magic Worldview, revised and enlarged. Salt Lake City: Signature Books.Search in Google Scholar

Schmidt, Leigh Eric. 2000. Hearing Things: Religion, Illusion, and the American Enlightenment. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Smelik, K. A. D. 1979. “The Witch of Endor: 1 Samuel 28 in Rabbinic and Christian Exegesis till 800 AD.” Vigiliae Christianae 33: 160–179.10.1163/157007279X00048Search in Google Scholar

Smith, Elizabeth Oakes. 1852. Shadow Land; or the Seer. New York: Fowlers and Wells.Search in Google Scholar

Smith, Joseph. 2008. The Joseph Smith Papers: Journals, vol. 1, edited by Dean C. Jessee, Mark Ashurst-McGee, and Richard L. Jensen. Salt Lake City: The Church Historian’s Press.Search in Google Scholar

Smith, Joseph. 2015. The Joseph Smith Papers: Journals, vol. 3, edited by Andrew H. Hedges, Alex D. Smith, and Brent M. Rogers. Salt Lake City: The Church Historian’s Press.Search in Google Scholar

Tanner, Annie Clark. 2006. A Mormon Mother: An Autobiography of Annie Clark Tanner, 4th edition. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Tanner Trust Fund.Search in Google Scholar

Taves, Ann. 1999. Fits, Trances, and Visions: Experiencing Religion and Explaining Experience from Wesley to James. Princeton: Princeton University Press.10.1515/9780691212722Search in Google Scholar

The Book of Mormon. Palmyra, New York: E. B. Grandin, 1830.Search in Google Scholar

The Book of Mormon. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2013 [1981].Search in Google Scholar

Tullidge, Edward William. 1878. Women of Mormondom. New York: Tullidge and Crandall.Search in Google Scholar

Underwood, Grant. 1984. “Book of Mormon Usage in Early LDS Theology.” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 17: 35–74.10.2307/45227937Search in Google Scholar

Walker, Charles. 1980. Diary of Charles Lowell Walker, edited by A. Karl Larson and Katherine Miles Larson. Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Walker, Ronald W. 1998. Wayward Saints: The Godbeites and Brigham Young. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press.Search in Google Scholar

Whitmer, David. 1887. An Address to All Believers in Christ. Richmond, Missouri.Search in Google Scholar

Zucker, Louis C. 1968. “Joseph Smith as Student of Hebrew.” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 3 (2): 41–55.10.2307/45227257Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2017-6-23
Published in Print: 2017-4-25

©2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

Downloaded on 24.9.2023 from https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/jbr-2017-2002/html
Scroll to top button