on the cover:
“Prince’s interpretations, calm and responsible, are good examples of well-focused and defined research. The extent of his documentation is excellent. I support much of this large, elaborate perspective. It is, and will be, a major, if not a definitive, accomplishment.”
—Paul M. Edwards, dean, Park College Graduate School of Religion; former president, Mormon History Association
“Prince has gathered an impressive array of sources and lets them speak for themselves. While he is not at all critical of Joseph Smith, he places the development of priesthood in a historical framework that can be understood by outsiders. Prince gives us a deeper understanding of Mormon priesthood as it was described by those who observed it coming into being. It is both supportive of ad challenging to the existing tradition and, as history is, first-rate.”
—A. Bruce Lindgren, World Church Secretary, Reorganized Church
[left inside flap:] Authority and priesthood were concepts that developed gradually in Mormon theology, not as thunderbolts but as ideas that acquired meaning and momentum over time. Acting initially on the basis of implied leadership, Joseph Smith moved toward explicit angelic authority and an increasingly defined structure drawn from biblical models.
All the while the structure of higher and lower priesthoods fluctuated in response to pragmatic needs. Priests were needed to perform ordinances, teachers to lead congregations, bishops to manage church assets, and elders to proselytize—responsibilities which would be redistributed repeatedly throughout Smith’s fourteen-year ministry.
These developments are charted with impressive interpretative skill by Gregory A. Prince. Besides the obvious significance to Mormon sacred history, Prince underscores the implications for current Mormon governance.
[right inside flap:] Gregory A Prince is Director of Research for Virion Systems, Inc., a Maryland pharmaceutical corporation. He is a visiting Assistant Clinical Professor of Pathology, UCLA School of Medicine, and Research Professor of Pediatrics, F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine, USHUS, Bethesda, Maryland.
In addition to professional articles on medical themes, Prince has authored a historical monograph, Having Authority: The Origins and Development of Priesthood During the Ministry of Joseph Smith, published by the John Whitmer Historical Association. He is currently writing an administrative biography of former Latter-day Saint president David O. McKay.
He lives with his wife JaLynn and three children in Potomac, Maryland.
Power From On High:
The Development of Mormon Priesthood
by Gregory A. Prince
Salt Lake City
Dedication: To JaLynn, who appreciated before I the necessity of writing this book
Jacket design by Brian Bean
Power From On High was printed on acid-free paper
and was composed, printed, and bound in the United States.
(c) 1995 Signature Books. All rights reserved.
Signature Books is a trademark of Signature Books, Inc.
99 98 97 96 95 6 5 4 3 2 1
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Power from on high : the development of Mormon priesthood/
Includes bibliographical references and index.
1. Aaronic Priesthood (Mormon Church)—Controversial literature.
2. Melchizedek Priesthood (Mormon Church)—
Controversial literature. 3. Priesthood—Controversial liberature.
4. Authority—Religious aspects—Mormon Church. I. Title
Acknowledgements [see below]
01 – Authority
02 – Offices
03 – Ordinances, 1829-30
04 – Ordinances, The Endowment
05 – Ordinances, 1831-36
06 – Ordinances, The Second Anointing
07 – Judicial Systems
08 – Women and Priesthood
[p.vii] I am indebted to several institutions and individuals associated with them for their support. Steven Sorensen and Ronald Barney, representing the archives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Ronald Romig, representing the Library-Archives of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Independence, Missouri, were particularly helpful. Without their cooperation this book could not have been written. I am also grateful to David Whittaker and the Harold B. Lee Library of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and to the Hungtington Library in San Marino, California, for permission to use materials from their collections.Most of the materials cited in this book are from my own library. I am indebted, in more ways than one, to Sam Weller and Joan Nay of Zion Book Store, in Salt Lake City, for assistance spanning two decades in making these resources available to me.The sections of this book dealing with the office of patriarch and the ordinance of the patriarchal blessing reflect the insight and research of Gary Smith and Irene Bates, who generously provided me with copies of all patriarchal blessings in their extensive collection which were given during Joseph Smith’s lifetime. These blessings, both in hard copy and electronic format, are now available to researchers as the Irene Bates Collection at the Library-Archives of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
I am grateful to Lester Bush and Val Hemming for their critical review of the manuscript and their long-standing friendship. Only my wife, JaLynn, has had to endure me more than they during the decade since I embarked on this project. For her love, endurance, and understanding I dedicate this book to her.
My professional training is in science, not history or theology, and [p.viii] readers familiar with the tools of science will recognize their use in the writing of this book. Whatever contribution it may make to the field of Mormon studies will rest, in large measure, on the training I received from my scientific “father,” Dr. David D. Porter of the UCLA School of Medicine; my “uncles,” Dr. Harold S. Ginsberg of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, Dr. Robert M. Chanock of the National Institutes of Health, and Dr. William H. Carnes (deceased); and my “grandfathers,” Dr. Frank J. Dixon of the Scripps Clinic & Research Foundation and Dr. Albert B. Sabin (deceased).