Elden Watson

May 1998

Contemporaries of Joseph Smith

In a previous pamphlet entitled "The 'Jehovah' Doctrine," several things were clearly demonstrated:

  1. That Jehovah and Jesus Christ are the same individual was confirmed to be a doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1916 through a doctrinal exposition of the First Presidency and the Twelve.(1)
  2. This doctrine is clearly taught in the Bible.
  3. The doctrine is further substantiated and supported by the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price.
  4. Joseph Smith knew and understood this doctrine and used it correctly throughout his writings and teachings.

Joseph Smith's Contemporaries

Although Joseph Smith knew that Jehovah and Jesus Christ were the same individual, this was not necessarily true of his contemporaries in the church. A few prominent church leaders seemed to understand this principle from the first, while others possibly did not.

Most of Joseph's contemporaries did not leave sufficient documentation on this subject to enable us to tell for certain how they believed. The material we have is sketchy at best. Sketchy data can allow jumps of thought which frequently lead to misinterpretation (particularly when one is predisposed and trying to prove a point). For example, in 1840 John Taylor published a poem in which the name "Jehovah" is definitely applied to God, the Father of Jesus Christ. The assumption is easily made that John Taylor did not understand the distinction at that early date and misused the word. There are, however, several other possibilities and a dearth of data to substantiate any of them.(2) Similar comparisons can be made with Brigham Young and Parley P. Pratt.

In Kirtland in 1836 the First Presidency and Quorum of the twelve sponsored a seven week course in Biblical Hebrew. Most of those we would now call General Authorities attended. Hour-long classes were held twice daily, five days per week. It is inconceivable that anyone could have attended seventy hours of instruction in biblical Hebrew and not understood that the word "LORD" in the King James Old Testament identifies Jehovah. It is only slightly less conceivable that any LDS church member having taken the Hebrew class could have written about, or even read, Old testament prophecies relating to either the first or the second coming of the Savior without identifying Jehovah with Jesus Christ. This identification would not necessarily preclude a belief that the word "Jehovah" is applicable to both the Father and to Jesus Christ. In evaluating the existing data one must also realize that the Hebrew course attendees not only had access to, but were profoundly interested in both the Book of Mormon and the published revelations of Joseph Smith, both of which contain abundant references identifying Jesus Christ as Jehovah. They were also associating daily with Joseph Smith, both in and out of class, and in Part I we have clearly demonstrated his understanding of Jehovah.

Interpreting small amounts of data can be problematic because we must always interpret what data we have according to their understanding and not according to our understanding. Sometimes the data base is so small that we can not be certain what their understanding was. There are, for example, a few instances when the terms "Jehovah" and "the Father" are equated where the context seems to imply that the author is not calling God the Father "Jehovah," but is calling Christ "the Father."

Usage also plays a prominent role. It appears that neither Joseph Smith nor his contemporaries typically used the word "Jehovah" as a cognate for "Jesus Christ," yet generally they seem to have understood that it was Jesus Christ who established Joseph in Egypt, who spoke to Moses from the burning bush, and who would come in the clouds of heaven to destroy the wicked and usher in the thousand years of peace. When used, the word "Jehovah" tended to depict a god of power and strength, a god of battle, war and might, a fierce god of retribution, jealousy and even anger. On the other hand, the words "Jesus" and "Christ" seem to have been more frequently used when depicting a God of love and longsuffering, of forbearance and gentle guidance, a God of mercy, atonement and redemption. These distinctions should not be surprising because they still predominate today when considering separately the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. Such usage, however, does not imply a lack of understanding that Jesus Christ was Jehovah.

Most of the early Church members were converts from either the Church of England or from one of the many Protestant denominations, all of which believed in the "Trinity" concept of the Catholic church. Therefore the issue was not one of vital importance to them, and church writers and speakers did not make it an issue. Those who understood, were content to use the name Jehovah properly when the circumstance arose, and allow any misuse of others to go uncontested. After all, there were plenty of venomous anti-Mormon articles and authors to declaw without having to publicly malign someone in their own camp. Harmony and unity among the early church members seems to have been more important than either having the most knowledge or being the most correct. Any doctrinal corrections or suggestions must have been made personally and privately, because we find no evidences of them on this subject in public writings and speeches.

Sidney Rigdon

Sidney Rigdon was one church writer who seemed to know very early that Jesus Christ was Jehovah. We are not encumbered by an overabundance of material by Sidney, but he did write a series of articles, beginning in December of 1833 in The Evening and the Morning Star and continuing in The Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate, entitled "Millenium" which (even though misspelled) gives us some insight into his beliefs on the subject. Typically, Sidney Rigdon is not regarded highly by modern members of the Church because of his attitude and his ultimate apostasy about the time of the death of Joseph Smith.(3) Nevertheless, when he joined the church in 1830 he had been a Campbellite minister, and he had an exquisite knowledge of the Old Testament. Joseph's understanding of the Old Testament was certainly enhanced by his close association with Sidney Rigdon, and Joseph seems to have intentionally copied and then further developed Sidney's methodical way of dissecting a passage of scripture to get the most possible from it.

In one portion of his article on the millennium, Sidney Rigdon develops numerous Old Testament passages which deal with the second coming of Christ. All of these passages depict the coming of "the LORD" (ie Jehovah). With his knowledge of the Old Testament, it is probable that Sidney understood that the words "the LORD" in the King James Bible are translated from "YHWH" in the original Hebrew (and indeed he finally verifies that connection for us). We quote somewhat extensively from this section of his article to allow an appreciation of his use of the Old Testament as well as his method of wringing passages dry.

Millenium, no. v.

In the 24 chapter of Isaiah, and 23 verse, the prophet, after having described one of the greatest desolations ever pronounced on the head of any generation of men, says, "Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously." We have before seen that this reign was to last a thousand years; and his ancients, before whom he was to reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, gloriously, were all the redeemed from among men, of every tongue, language, kindred, and people. According to Daniel, he was to come to the ancient of days: here he is said to reign before his ancients, that is, all the saints from our father Adam, down; for who could the ancient of days be but our father Adam? surely none other: he was the first who lived in days, and must be the ancient of days. And to whom would the Savior come, but to the father of all the race, and then receive his kingdom, in which he was to reign before, or with his ancients gloriously? Let it here be remarked, that it is said to be in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, where the Lord is to reign before his ancients gloriously. We shall have occasion for this hereafter. Zachariah says in the 14 chapter of his prophecy, and the 5 verse, "And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal; yea, ye shall flee like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the Lord my God shall come and all the saints with thee." This corresponds with what John says in the Revelations; for if he brings all the saints with him, they will be of every tribe, tongue, people, and kindred.

That all these passages refer to his second coming to reign on the earth a thousand years, does not admit of a doubt in the mind of the believer in the bible; for there is no other time of his coming mentioned in the scriptures, but his coming first in the flesh to suffer and die for us, and his second coming to reign on earth a thousand years, with all those who obey his will. As to his coming at the end of the earth, or at the final issue of all things, there is no such thing mentioned in the bible, nor is their one syllable said on it in any revelation which is extant; for so far from his coming at the end of all things, all revelations agree that he will be here more than a thousand years before. So that every thing in the bible said about his coming, which does not relate to his first coming in the flesh, relates to his second coming to reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously, and this reign to continue a thousand years, or the Millennium. On the subject of this coming, and this reign, the scriptures abound. In the testimony of Matthew we have the following sayings of the Savior, 24 Chapter, 30 verse, "And then shall appear the sign of the son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." In the 26 chapter, and 64 verse, the Savior says to the high priest, "Nevertheless, I say unto you, hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Here the Savior says himself, that he will come in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, for the purpose as the prophet Isaiah informs us, that he may reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously--he will therefore come in power and great glory. In Mark's testimony, 13 chapter and 26 verse, and 14 chapter and 62 verse, we have the same account that is given by Matthew. Luke also, in the 21 chapter of his testimony, and 27 verse gives the same account.

I want it distinctly understood by my readers, that in every instance where the coming of Christ is mentioned, either by the Savior, or the apostles, it has an allusion to his second coming to reign on the earth a thousand years; for it was after his first coming that all the apostles wrote; and surely it was at the time of his first coming that the Savior was here on earth, so that there need be no mistake on this subject. As for any other coming of the Savior, save these two, it has originated else where than in the bible, or any revelation of God to man: it is one of the discoveries of modern times, and modern religionists; for neither Moses nor the prophets, Jesus nor the apostles, had knowledge of any such coming of the Savior. They all knew of two comings: first, his coming in the flesh, being born of a virgin; made under the law; taking upon him flesh for the suffering of death; partaking of flesh and blood because the children were partakers of the same, that through death he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is the Devil, and deliver those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. They knew of his being smitten, buffeted, scourged, and wounded for our transgressions; bruised for our iniquities; of the chastisement of our peace being upon him, and of our being healed by his stripes. And they also knew of his resurrection, and, of his ascension, as well as of his coming again in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, to convince all, to judge all, and to reign on earth a thousand years; and of his bringing all the saints with him, and of his reigning until all enemies were put under his feet; but of any other coming they had no knowledge, or if they had, they kept it to themselves, for they never wrote anything about it.

We shall now see what the apostles have said about this coming of Christ to reign on the earth where he once suffered; for he promised his disciples that he would come again without sin, for the salvation of them who looked for him.

[At this point there are numerous New Testament references to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ]

Isaiah shows in the 24 chapter of his prophecy, that an innumerable train of judgments shall fall on those who have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances, and broken the everlasting covenant, until the earth shall be utterly wasted; and all of this when the Lord comes to reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously. And in the 35 chapter, as before mentioned, in speaking to Israel of the coming of their God, or Messiah, that he would come with vengeance: "even God with a recompense he will come and save you." See the 4 verse.

Daniel says, that he will break in pieces and destroy all the kingdoms of the world, and his kingdom shall stand forever. Compare the 7 chapter, 13 and 14 verses, with the second chapter and 44 verse, as before quoted.

From the complete harmony there is among these writers, there can no doubt exist in the mind of any canded (sic) person, that they all understood the subject alike, and have written for the benefit of the last days.

. . .

Jude also makes mention of his coming in his epistle, 14 and 15 verses; which is a quotation from the prophecy of Enoch, which is not extant at present; but Jude having preserved this item, shows to us thereby that the coming of the Lord was understood at a very early date in the history of the world, and that Enoch also the seventh from Adam was made acquainted with it. "And Enoch also the seventh from Adam prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints." Zachariah in the 14 chapter of his prophecy and 5 verse as before mentioned says, that all the saints will be with him. John in the Revelations says, all them that are redeemed from among men are to be with him. Paul says, that his mighty angels will be with him.

All these doubtless refer to the same time and to the same beings, namely, the saints who are at that time to reign with him on the earth, to execute judgement upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.(4)

In this and subsequent installations of the article, the following references are quoted, relating to the second coming of Christ. All except the reference in Daniel make specific reference that it is the LORD who will come. Daniel refers to "one like the Son of man."

  • Isaiah 24:23 (E&MS 154, 155, 161)
  • Zachariah 14:5 (E&MS 154, 155)
  • Daniel 7:13 (E&MS 155)
  • Malachi 3:1-3 (E&MS 155)
  • David, Ps 50:3,5 (E&MS 155, 161)
  • Habakkuk 3:3 (E&MS 161)
  • Isaiah 64:1 (E&MS 161)
  • Joel, 2: 58-end (E&MS 161)
  • Isaiah 60:2 (E&MS 169)
  • Isaiah 28:8-23 (E&MS 170)
  • Psalms 97:1 (M&A 53)
  • Psalms 93:1 (M&A 53)
  • Psalms 96:10 (M&A 53)
  • Isaiah 35:1-8 (M&A 54)
  • Psalms 144:4-end (M&A 67)
  • Isaiah 11 and 12 (M&A 68)

Although this series of articles was written before the Kirtland Hebrew classes, in quoting Psalms 144:4, Sidney Rigdon gives us a further explanation of the passage, thus establishing the connection between "LORD" and "Jehovah" needed to verify that even in 1833 he understood that the Old Testament references were referring to Jehovah:

"Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord. (or whose God the Lord Jehovah is.)"

Brigham Young

Brigham Young made such infrequent use of the word "Jehovah" that it is difficult to determine exactly what his views were. When he did make use of the word, it seems he was not always as precise or consistent as we would like.

In January of 1841 Brigham Young and Willard Richards published an article in the Millennial Star entitled "Election and Reprobation." In this article Brigham Young identified Jehovah as the speaker in Isaiah 41:1, which identifies "my servant" and "mine elect" as Jesus Christ, being the servant and elect of the Father.

The Lord (Jehovah) hath spoken through Isa. (42,1) saying, behold my servant, whom I uphold, mine elect in whom my soul delighteth; evidently referring to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God chosen or elected by the Father, ...(5)

This quotation has been used to "prove" that Brigham Young believed that Jehovah was God the Father. This assumption extrapolates far beyond available data. As we have discussed in Part I, his accessment here is correct, and how can we justify ourselves in glibly assuming that in spite of not understanding either the principle of divine investiture of authority, or the identity of Jehovah, the two mistakes cancelled each other out and he accidentally interpreted the verse correctly? We feel it is more reasonable to assume that he understood both principles.

That Brigham Young's early comprehension of the relationship between the godhead and the plan of salvation was both detailed and orthodox is evident from this synopsis of an 1844 discourse:

The Kingdom is first organized with putting a head to it, then the various members belonging to the body, first Joseph, then the Twelve, then the High Priests, then the Seventies and Elders, then the lesser priesthood and Teachers and Deacons and members. This fills the whole body and if we take any of these offices away the body has a vacancy or schism is in the body. But Christ is the head of all, for he is our head and Elder Brother. For we was once organized before God, and Jesus was the first born or begotten of the Father and we were sent here upon this Earth to choose bodies and dwell here in the flesh as our Father who is in heaven. God sent our father Adam first and Eve. He placed them in the garden. Then he gave Adam a commandment to people this Earth, to multiply and replenish the Earth, and told him not to eat of the tree of forbidden fruit, but the devil, being one of the organized of the heavenly body, third in power, prince of the Air, he had a spirit like Cain. He saw that Jesus was the most accepted before the Father, for he loved righteousness and hated iniquity. This gave a jealousy to him and he began to accuse the brethren, which soon hurled him out, Adam and Eve then being sent to this Earth. Satan then went forth and told Eve that she should know good and evil if she eat of the forbidden or of the tree of knowledge, and she did eat, for he told her many truths and some lies. But yet this was the decree of the Father, for when he sent Adam on this Earth he decreed it too that he might forget all about his former estate, and this is the way that God first introduced sin into the world that man might be exalted and bring about the great purpose of God. For this was foreordained from before the foundation of the world, that men might be exalted and first to descend below all things that he or they might rise above all things as the Father did before us and be able to created worlds and go from [one] world to another. Therefore the heavens cannot contain him because he can go where he pleases and any that are no higher than himself, and this is what he wants us to do and the relationship we sustain to God is that we are sons of God and heirs, Joint heirs with Jesus. For he came and partook a body as we did, left the Father that he might exalt himself and redeem this world among his brethren by establishing the priesthood after the order of Melchisedek and was a Saviour to the brethren, and now we are to be saviours of men of our brethren to redeem our dead friends and the friends of those who will not save their own friends, to exalt ourself until we are all linked together again. For one dispensation will hand in their work after another, till the Son Jesus hath them all or our elder Brother. And so we will return home to our Father who sent us that we may exalt ourselves and glorify him who sent us. Then we shall have power to create worlds ourselves and rule them as Jesus did, for Jesus when on the earth called the twelve disciples his brethren and all who do the will of the Father in heaven, and the scripture also tells us of the prodigal son who left his fathers house and went [on] a far journey, also that there is none our father but one who is in heaven.(6)

There were times when Brigham Young distinctly applied the name "Jehovah" to Jesus Christ. In April conference of 1852 he said:

It is true that the earth was organized by three distinct characters, namely, Eloheim, Yahovah, and Michael, these three forming a quorum, as in all heavenly bodies, and in organizing element, perfectly represented in the Deity, as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.(7)

One year later, at the laying of the south-east corner stone of the Salt Lake Temple, President Young identified Jehovah as Jesus Christ with the following remarks:

From the day the children of Israel were led out of Egypt to the days of Solomon, Jehovah had no resting place upon the earth, (and for how long a period before that day, the history is unpublished,) but walked in the tent or Tabernacle, before the Ark, as it seemed Him good, having no place to lay His head. ... Why, then, did Jesus exclaim to the man who volunteered to follow him wheresoever he went, that "the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head?" Jesus knew the pretended Saint and follower to be a hypocrite, and that if he told him plainly that he would not fare as well as the birds and foxes, he would leave him at once, and that would save Him much trouble.

But how could Jesus' saying, that he had "not where to lay his head," be true? Because the house which the Father had commanded to be built for his reception, although completed had become polluted, and hence the saying, "My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves," and he made a scourge of cords, and drove the money-changers and dove-sellers, and faro-gamblers, all out of his house, and overthrew their tables; but that did not purify the house, so that he could not sleep in it, for an holy thing dwelleth not in an unholy Temple.

If Jesus could not lay his head in an unholy, polluted temple, how can the Latter-day Saints expect that the Holy Spirit will take and abide its residence with them, in their tabernacles and temples of clay, unless they keep themselves pure, spotless, and undefiled?(8)

In October conference of 1854, President Young spoke of an individual whom he designated as "Yehovah Michael." In the discourse, this individual is distinct from both Elohim and Michael, because Elohim commands him to create a world, and after it is created, Michael (ie Adam) goes down to live on the new world. The most consistent interpretation appears to be that "Yehovah Michael" is Jesus Christ (who created the world at the direction of Elohim, and Adam was the first mortal to dwell upon it) perhaps upon the basis that "Yehovah" means "LORD," and "Michael" means "who is like God." This is consistent with Brigham Young's usages of the word "Jehovah," in other instances. He seems to have used "Jehovah" in a very generic manner, in much the same way he used the word "Lord."

It is interesting to note that in April of 1852 Brigham Young clearly distinguished between Jehovah and Eloheim:

It is true that the earth was organized by three distinct characters, namely, Eloheim, Yahovah, and Michael(9)

However, in November of 1867, Brigham Young specifically identified Jehovah as Eloheim:

We obey the Lord, Him who is called Jehovah, the Great I AM, I am a man of war, Eloheim, etc. We are under many obligations to obey Him.(10)

Then, in February of 1877, Brigham Young again distinguished between the two, repeating almost verbatim the April 1852 statement:

and then this earth was organized by Eloheim, Jehovah and Michael who is Adam our common father.(11)

Jumping to the conclusion that Brigham Young was either totally inconsistent in his usage of titles or not smart enough to understand the differences immediately terminates any possible understanding of his thought process. Great men do not babble and people will not follow a babbler for long. Brigham Young was too great a man for too long a time to have been inconsistent in either his own thoughts or in his verbal delivery. Any approach to understanding Brigham Young must be to assume that he was consistent and see where that leads. Such an approach would ultimately resolve most of the problems people have in understanding Brigham Young. In the above apparent inconsistency it is useful to know that he attended the Kirtland Hebrew School,(12) so he would have been aware that in the Hebrew, the word "Eloheim" means "gods (in the plural)." He used the term "the great Eloheim" (i.e. the great one of the gods) to designate God the Father:

I want to tell you, each and every one of you, that you are well acquainted with God our heavenly Father, or the great Eloheim. You are all well acquainted with Him, for there is not a soul of you but what has lived in His house and dwelt with Him year after year; and yet you are seeking to become acquainted with Him, when the fact is, you have merely forgotten what you did know.(13)

The term "Eloheim" by itself, however, like "God," may have been used in more of a generic sense, and hence on occasion applicable to any "God." It appears that Brigham Young was consistant in not applying the same title (e.g. Lord) to two distinct entities within the same discourse. Although we are more precise with some words today, we still have similar difficulties with such words as "Lord," and "God," often supplying subtle distinctions to make sure the audience knows who is meant.

An example of Brigham Young's application of the word "Jehovah" to God the Father is at his dedication the Manti temple site in April of 1877:

O God, our Father who art in heaven, even the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and of the prophets and the holy men who called upon thy name in ancient days, we present ourselves before thee on this occasion, in the name of Jesus Christ thy Son, our Saviour, who is the Saviour of the world, for the purpose of dedicating this spot of ground whereon we expect to erect a temple to thy most holy name, in which to receive the ordinances of the holy priesthood, which thou hast restored in these the latter-days.

We approach thee as thy children, thy servants and handmaidens, to offer our thanks unto thee, in the name of Jesus Christ our Saviour ...

We ask thee, our father, in the name of Jesus, to bless...

We ask thee, Holy father, to receive our thanks...

And wilt thou, O father, help thy people to erect this building with holy hands, with pre hands, with holy hearts, with pure hearts and holy desires? We ask thee, in the name of Jesus Christ thy Son, that thou wilt hide up the treasures of the earth, that no more may be found in this section of the country. Wilt thou, O Father, rule and overrule this? ...

Wilt thou, O Lord, bless each one now before thee, and bless the ground, this temple site, this hill, and the hills and valleys ... Bless O our Father and pour out thy Spirit upon thy people to this end.

We ask thee, O Lord God of israel, that thou wilt hold in remembrance...

We also ask thee, O God, our father, to bless our families ...

Wilt thou hear our supplications and answer these our petitions, for we ask all, O Jehovah, in the name of Jesus Christ our Saviour?(14)

It is possible that Brigham's prayer to Jehovah in the name of Jesus Christ at this dedication could have been influenced by D&C 109:4. It seems likely that he may have carefully read Joseph Smith's dedication of the Kirtland Temple shortly prior to his dedication of the Manti temple site.

After a careful consideration of all of the references to Jehovah by Brigham Young that we have located, it appears first of all that President Young made only infrequent use of the word "Jehovah." Secondly, when he did use it, he used it as a cognate for "Lord," which he applied to either God the Father or to Jesus Christ. There seems to have been no specific attempt to limit the use of the word "Jehovah" to Jesus Christ exclusive of God the Father.

Because Brigham Young was President of the Church for such a long time during its developmental period, (34 years counting the 6 years during which he presided over the Church as President of the Quorum of the Twelve), his usage of names, titles and terms had considerable influence on church members and other church leaders.

References by Brigham Young to Jehovah

Arranged by date

01/ /41 HC 4:256 The Lord (J) hath spoken

oath of J would have been

04/09/44 HC 6:322 the God of A, I, and Jacob
10/01/44 HC 7:282 till J shall say it is enough
01/14/45 T&S6:779 power and spirit of the great J
12/23/47 MFP1:333


overflowing scourge of J shall

on the bosses of J's buckler

knowledge of the great J; from

04/04/52 JD 1:051 Eloheim, Yahovah, and Michael
06/13/52 JD 1:089 J is the "Mormonism" of this
02/27/53 JD 1:116

JD 1:119

from the government of J

obeying the behests of J

04/06/53 JD 2:030

JD 2:032

J had no resting place upon the

-searching eye of the Great J

07/24/53 JD 1:238

JD 1:240

the God of A, I, and Jacob,

to thwart the plans of J, or do

10/08/54 BYA2 p08 "Yahovah Michael, see that

"Yehovah Michael, go and create

Yahovah Michael goes and does

Yahovah Michael had organized

12/10/56 MFP2:210 the Great J has seen proper to
05/31/57 JD 4:323 The God of A, I, and Jacob,

trials by the arm of J, by the

06/28/57 JD 4:369 they are contending against J.
03/21/58 BYA4 p01 Leader was and is the Lord J.
07/03/59 JD 7:004 the Holy One of Israel--that Being who gave the law.
07/31/59 JD 6:343

JD 6:345

My law, says J, is pure:

J has decreed and plainly fore-

08/04/59 JD 7:208 eternal law of J, and of the
10/09/59 BYA3 p01 to the great I AM in your
10/07/60 JD 8:038 they would dethrone J; had they
10/14/60 JD 8:205

JD 8:206

that flow from the Lord J? God

salvation, the purposes of J,

10/21/60 JD 8:224 the Lord J has decreed it.
10/21/60 JD 8:228 calling the name of J in vain,
07/14/61 BYA4 p02 by the decree and the law of J
03/02/62 JD 9:240 the invisible blessings J has
03/30/62 BYA4 d02 appear before the Great I AM?
03/08/63 JD10:111 Who can stay the hand of J,
11/06/64 JD10:357 "I am that I am," no matter
04/25/65 MFP2:169 in the hands of the Great J, in
02/10/67 JD11:321 who led Abraham, and talked to Noah, Enoch, Isaac, and Jacob
11/17/67 JD12:099 Him who is called Jehovah, the Great I AM, I am a man of war, Eloheim, etc.
05/08/70 JD14:041 J, the great I Am, the Lord
10/27/76 LBY 272 cause to trust in the arm of J
04/25/77 BYA6 p02 we ask all, O J, in the name
02/01/77 NJ date this earth was organized by Elohim, J & Michael who is Adam
04/29/77 JD19:006 received into, the arms of J

HC: History of the Church.

JD: Journal of Discourses.

MFP: Clark, Messages of the First Presidency.

LBY: Jessee, Letters of Brigham Young to his Sons.

NJ: Nuttall Journal (Lecture at the Veil).

John Taylor

John Taylor was a prolific writer and publisher of newspapers, pamphlets and books, and his writing provides a good example of typical early church usage of the term "Jehovah." He was baptized a member of the Church by Parley P. Pratt in May of 1836, visited Kirtland early in 1837, and was shortly thereafter called to be an Apostle. He apparently did little or no public writing prior to his mission to England with the Quorum of the twelve Apostles in 1839. One of his earliest published references to the word "Jehovah" is in a hymn published in England in 1840:

As in the heavens they all agree,

The record's given there by three,


Jehovah, God the Father's one

Another His Eternal Son,

The Spirit does with them agree,

The witnesses in heaven are three.(15)

The identification here is clear that Jehovah refers to God the Father, distinct from his son Jesus Christ. As in the similar instance by Brigham Young, this has been used to "prove" that John Taylor believed that Jehovah was God the Father. His subsequent usage of the word, however, makes that assumption tenuous.

In 1882, after having clearly demonstrated the knowledge that Jesus Christ is Jehovah, John Taylor again seems to have applied the name "Jehovah" to the Father. This should make one hesitant to ascribe John Taylor's 1840 usage to lack of knowledge.

Elder Taylor returned from England to settle in Nauvoo in 1841, where he became editor of The Wasp (which he renamed The Nauvoo Neighbor) and the Times and Seasons. Early in his career as editor of the Times and Seasons, he made good use of expressions which use the word "Jehovah," but typically did not attach the name to an entity. The following list is a sample from John Taylor's writings, taken from the columns of the Times and Seasons, from December 1, 1842 to March 15,1843:

  • 4:24 the...future designs of Jehovah,
  • 4:24 principles...by which Jehovah governs himself in the eternal world
  • 4:25 the secret purposes of Jehovah,
  • 4:25 endure...the presence of Jehovah
  • 4:74 the plans of Jehovah,
  • 4:74 the designs of Jehovah,
  • 4:74 the future designs of the Great I AM,
  • 4:75 designs of the great Jehovah;
  • 4:75 the future purposes of Jehovah,
  • 4:117 truth, which the Great Jehovah has revealed
  • 4:121 the great Jehovah has had it in his mind
  • 4:121 the great Author of our existence, Eloheim, Jehovah, to redeem the earth(16)
  • 4:121 The eternal plan of Jehovah
  • 4:122 forfeited the favor of Jehovah
  • 4:122 the time appointed by Jehovah
  • 4:136 sustained by the mighty hand of Jehovah
  • 4:137 under the tuition of Jehovah
  • 4:137 the prophets...conversed with Jehovah

Note that these expressions contain but little information about the identity of Jehovah. This is typical not only of John Taylor's writings, but also the vast majority of all early church literature, including the writings of Joseph Smith. This style never did disappear from John Taylor's sermons and writings - they persisted right up to his death.

The 12th reference in the above list attracts immediate interest, because in it John Taylor appears to equate Elohim and Jehovah, bringing the immediate thought that the word "Jehovah" here refers to God the Father.

... before God said "let there be light, and it was so," or ever this world rolled into existence, or the morning stars sung together for joy a plan was formed in the councils of heaven, it was contemplated by the great Author of our existence, Eloheim, Jehovah, to redeem the earth from under the curse.

When one realizes that John Taylor believed that it was Jesus Christ who said "let there be light," and it was so, and that the quote says "it was contemplated by the great Author of our existence ... to redeem the earth (not to have it redeemed), then what he was trying to say is not so immediately obvious. The usage here would seem to apply the term "Elohim" to the Redeemer, rather than the term "Jehovah" to the Father.

The significant thing to be aware of here, is that there is little else. With a very few exceptions, anything identifying Jehovah as either God the Father or as Jesus Christ is essentially lacking. Even the exceptions usually require an interpretive bias.

One more item is of interest - the expanded quotation of the last item on the above list is as follows:

While Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses and the prophets, walked with God, had the ministering of angels, the visions of heaven unfolded, and the purposes of God developed; saw and conversed with Jehovah, gazed on the glories of the eternal world, and wrote and prophesied of events that should transpire through all succeeding ages.

this quotation states that it was Jehovah with whom Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Moses conversed. In a subsequent Times & Seasons editorial, John Taylor specifies that it was Jesus Christ who spoke with Moses from the burning bush (quoted below). The evidence is clear that by at least 1844 and probably as early as 1841 (the beginning of his Nauvoo editorial carreer) he knew that Jesus Christ was Jehovah.

In February of 1845, in an Editorial entitled "The Living God," John Taylor demonstrated clearly his knowledge of who it was who created the world, and who spoke from the burning bush. He declares "that Mormonism embraces a plurality of Gods," and also explicitly identifies Jesus Christ as "the very eternal Father of this earth."

There is no subject, among men, that engrosses so much time and attention, and, at the same time, is so little understood, as the being, knowledge, substance, attributes, and disposition of the living God. In the first place, christians and believers in christianity, with a few exceptions, believe in one God; or perhaps we should say, in their own language, that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, are one God. But to be obedient unto the truth, we will not thus transgress upon reason, sense and revelation.

It will be necessary to treat the subject of the 'Living God,' in contra-distinction to a dead God, or one that has, 'no body, parts, or passions,' and perhaps, it may be well enough to say at the outset, that Mormonism embraces a plurality of Gods, as the apostle said, there were 'Gods many and Lords many.' In doing which, we shall not deny the scripture that has been set apart for this world, and allows one God; even Jesus Christ, the very eternal Father of this earth; and if Paul tells the truth,--'by him the worlds were made.'

It was probably alluded to by Moses, when the children of Israel were working out their salvation with fear and trembling in the wilderness, at the time that he spake these words: [Dieut. v:23-26] "And it came to pass when ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, (for the mountain did burn with fire,) that ye came near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders. And ye said, Behold, the Lord our God hath shewed us his glory, and greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth. Now therefore why should we die? For this great fire will consume us. If we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, then we shall die. For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?"

The facts embraced in the foregoing verses, destroy the belief of all christendom without remedy. The divines, or in deference, we will say the 'learned clergy,' publish to all the world that 'no man hath seen God, at any time; that no man can see God and live; and that John the Evangelist said: [St. John VI:46.] "Not that any man hath seen the father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father."

Again, Moses in the before mentioned quotation uses our text, the 'living God;' and who will undertake to say that he meant any other person than Jesus Christ, the holy one of Israel? 'Before Abraham was, I am." 'Oh,' say the learned world, 'the scripture is a mystical matter, we must let it remain, till some commentator fathoms the mystery.' In all probability that meant Christ, for there is but one God.(17)

Later in the same article John Taylor displays a knowledge of Hebrew, which is interesting because after his conversion, he arrived in Kirtland too late to participate in the Kirtland Hebrew classes.

This is not all: the first line of Genesis, purely translated from the original, excluding the first baith (which was added by the Jews,) would read:--Rosheit (the head) baurau, (brought forth,) Eloheim (the Gods) ate (with) hah-shau-mahyiem (the heavens) veh-ate, (and with) hauaurates, (the earth.) In simple English. The Head brought forth the Gods, with the heavens and with the earth. The 'Head' must have meant the 'living God,' or Head God: Christ is our head. The term 'Eloheim,' plural of Elohah, or ale, is used alike in the first chapter of Genesis, for the creation, and the quotation of Satan. In the second chapter, and fourth verse, we have this remarkable history: "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth, when they were brought forth; in the day that the Lord of the Gods made earth and heavens., The Hebrew reads so.(18)

Without question, by at least 1845, John Taylor knew that Jesus Christ was the God of the Old Testament, and that he was identified in the Hebrew scriptures as Jehovah. What is interesting is that his usage of the word "Jehovah" was not always rigorously consistent with that understanding. Although not frequent, he did not seem to mind making occasional statements which have been interpreted by some to mean that he believed that Jehovah was God the Father of Jesus Christ. One such example appears in his 1882 Mediation and Atonement as follows:

We are told that "without shedding of blood is no remission" of sins. This is beyond our comprehension. Jesus had to take away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, the just for the unjust, but, previous to his grand sacrifice, these animals had to have their blood shed as types, until the great antitype should offer up Himself once for all. And as He in His own person bore the sins of all, and atoned for them by the sacrifice of Himself, so there came upon Him the weight and agony of ages and generations, the indescribable agony consequent upon this great sacrificial atonement wherein He bore the sins of the world, and suffered in His own person the consequences of an eternal law of God broken by man. Hence His profound grief, His indescribable anguish, His overpowering torture, all experienced in the submission to the eternal fiat of Jehovah and the requirements of an inexorable law.(19)

It is true that this could be interpreted in an orthodox manner, but the present interpretation is not forced and appers to be a reasonable. And yet earlier in the same volume he specifically identified Jehovah as Jesus Christ:

"His name shall be called Immanuel," which being interpreted is, God with us. Hence He is not only called the Son of God, the First Begotten of the Father, the Well Beloved, the Head, and Ruler, and Dictator of all things, Jehovah, the I Am, the Alpha and Omega, but He is also called the Very Eternal Father. Does not this mean that in Him were the attributes and power of the Very Eternal Father? For the angel to Adam said that all things should be done in His name. A voice was heard from the heavens, when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased," and when the Father and the Son appeared together to the Prophet Joseph Smith they were exactly alike in form, in appearance, in glory; and the Father said, pointing to His Son, "This is my beloved Son; hear Him." There the Father had His apparent tabernacle, and the Son had His Apparent tabernacle; but the Son was the agency through which the Father would communicate to man; as it is elsewhere said, "Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son. And thou shalt repent, and shalt call upon God, in the name of the Son, for evermore."(20)

In summary, in his early years as a Mormon, John Taylor may not have known that Jesus Christ and Jehovah were the same individual. Such a lack of knowledge could account for his application of the word "Jehovah" to God the Father in his 1840 hymn. There are other possibilities, however, such as an application the same name to both the Father and the Son. Available data is insufficient, at least at present, to determine precisely what his reasons were. His writings indicate that at least by 1845 (and perhaps as early as 1840) he was fully aware of the identification of Jehovah with Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, even after demonstrating a full understanding, there were occasions when his usage of the word "Jehovah" could lead one to believe that he was referring to the Father of Jehovah. As we have said before, that usage is not scripturally wrong, it is just unusual.

References to Jehovah by John Taylor

Arranged by date

/ /40 SHSS 295 Jehovah, God the Father's one
12/01/42 T&S4:024




purposes or future designs of

J by which J governs himself in

the secret purposes of J

nor the presence of J; but

01/16/43 T&S4:074





views of the plans of J, and

enter into the designs of J

designs of the Great I Am

and designs of the great J

future purposes of J, as they

03/01/43 T&S4:117






truth, which the Great J has

the great J has had it in his

the great Author of our existence, Eloheim, J, to redeem

The eternal plan of J however

had forfeited the favor of J

time appointed by J had not

03/15/43 T&S4:136



-tained by the mighty hand of J

Under the tuition of J, they

conversed with J, gazed on the

05/15/43 T&S4:203 Zion of the Holy one of Israel
/ /52 GoG p006

GoG p056

GoG p079

GoG p080

-nity to bear the impress of J.

thus thwart the designs of J

however, bears the impress of J

impress of J, even in his fal-

08/22/52 JD 1:016 come to learn, of the great J
04/08/53 JD 1:223

JD 1:228

the unveiled purposes of J in

injustice, as is the bosom of J

06/12/53 JD 1:154 bearing the impress of J
04/19/54 JD 1:368

JD 1:370

and know the purposes of J

the designs of the Great J; if

12/06/57 JD 6:109

JD 6:110

JD 6:112

JD 6:114

-ies that dwell in mind of J?

and unravel the designs of J?

from the mouthpiece of J

guidance and protection of J.

01/17/58 JD 6:163

JD 6:164

the great purposes of J per-

from the eternal blaze of J

04/28/61 JD 9:234

JD 9:235

JD 9:237

supported by the hand of J

the all-protecting arm of J

the movements of the Great J

04/13/62 JD 9:342 rely on the arm of J, and who
05/18/62 JD10:054


complain at the hand of J for

I am a servant of the Great J

10/10/63 JD10:258 understand the designs of J in
12/11/64 JD11:022 part, as it were of the Great J
04/14/67 JD12:397 messengers of the Great J, whom
05/19/67 JD12:049


who fulfil the dictates of J

who fulfil the dictates of J

05/06/70 JD13:223





that dwells in the bosom of J

will bow to the dictates of J

of following the council of J

of God and the revelations of J

the arm of J will be made bare

03/20/70 JD14:191 concerning the purposes of J
10/08/71 JD14:246



engaged is like the Great J

let me have the favor of J, let

bring to pass the purposes of J

10/22/71 JD14:252 JD14:253 ascend into the presence of J

to stay the progress of J

12/17/71 JD14:270 the fierce boss of J's buckler
02/23/73 JD15:349 the man that fights against J
10/07/74 JD17:206



from the precepts of J, might

he obeyed the behests of J

the buckler of the Great J

04/08/75 JD17:372 the course of the Great J in
10/10/75 JD18:137



comprehended the mind of J

strength and power of J, and as

of God, the mouthpiece of J

04/06/76 JD18:196 to carry out the designs of J
07/30/76 JD18:196 It is by the power of J
11/05/76 JD18:210 we cannot change the fiat of J
12/31/76 D18:327



in their lot as decreed by J

and our dependence upon J

first command of J was for man

07/29/77 JD19:077 the plans and purposes of J
10/07/77 JD19:123


by the almighty power of J

that they are the servants of J

10/14/77 JD19:138 carrying out the designs of J
10/21/77 JD19:144




decrees of J before the world

the eye of the great J is over

the decrees and designs of J

eye of the great J is over us

12/15/78 JD20:226 purposes of J in relation to
07/06/79 JD20:301


the one great purpose of J

the bosses of J's buckler

08/31/79 JD21:002 the designs of the great J
10/07/79 JD21:373 the plans and designs of J
12/07/79 JD21:167 a stink in the nostrils of J
02/08/80 JD21:017


and to stop the purposes of J

inscrutable justice of J

01/02/81 JD21:341 the plans of J and his designs
08/28/81 JD22:298 JD22:302


purposes and designs of J

rises into the nostrils of J

ascends into the nostrils of J

10/09/81 JD22:290



plan which was ordained by J

will and eternal designs of J

will bow to the behests of J

01/01/82 JD22:336 not obey the commandments of J
/ /82 M&A p056

M&A p056

M&A p102

M&A p118

M&A p120

M&A p123

M&A p127

M&A p138

M&A p150

M&A p166

your redeemer, the great I AM,

Jesus Christ, the great I AM

"My name is J, and I will make

I am he that gave the law

obtaining the voice of J, that

power and authority of J and

eternal plan of J, should

J, the I Am, the Alpha and Ome-

to the eternal fiat of J and

the I AM, in other words, I AM THAT I AM, because of those

07/24/82 JD23:178 and observe the commands of J
08/20/82 JD23:235 can stay the purposes of J
01/21/83 JD24:034 JD24:035

JD24:036 JD24:037


fiat of the great J and he

commissioned of the great J to

commissioned of the great J to

can successfully fight against J

commissioned of the great J to

02/11/83 JD23:376 commissioned by the great J to
/ /83 JD24:227 Lord J, of Jesus, the Mediator
06/24/83 JD24:265 What, turn our backs on J!
10/06/84 JD25:306 commissioned by the Great J to
10/19/84 JD25:356


ancient worthies whom J honored

dared to obey the behests of J

02/20/84 JD26:351 obedience to the mandates of J
01/17/87 MFP3:106 have mocked at the power of J

SHSS: Sacred Hymns and Spiritual Songs.

T&S Times and Seasons.

JD: Journal of Discourses.

GoG: Taylor, Government of God.

M&A: Taylor, Mediation and Atonement.

MFP: Clark, Messages of the First Presidency

Parley P. Pratt

One of the more interesting contemporaries of Joseph Smith was the early convert, pamphleteer and apostle, Parley P. Pratt. Many of his early writings went through several publications, with modifications, which allows a brief study of how some of his concepts of the Gospel developed over a span of years.(21) Parley P. Pratt almost always either associated the word Jehovah with God the Father, or used it in a generic sense.

Like the others of the Quorum of the Twelve, Parley P. Pratt attended the Kirtland Hebrew School in Kirtland in 1836.

In a pamphlet written in 1838, Parley P. Pratt distinguished between Jehovah and Jesus Christ:

Here then is the Methodist God, without either eyes, ears or mouth! And yet man was created after the image of God; but this could not apply to the Methodist God, for he has no image or likeness! The Methodist God can neither be Jehovah nor Jesus Christ, for Jehovah shewed his face to Moses and seventy elders of Israel, and his feet too; he also wrote with his own finger on the tables of stone. Isaiah informs us that his arm is not shortened, that his ear is not dull of hearing, etc., and that he will proceed to make bare his arm in the eyes of all nations. And Ezekiel says his fury shall come up in his face; and Zechariah xiv says his feet shall stand in that day, upon the Mount of Olives, and they which behold shall say, what are these wounds in thy hands, and in thy feet, etc. Consequently, Methodism is a system of idolatry.(22)

In 1840 in England, he published a hymn book containing the following familiar and specific identification of Jesus with the great I am:

Hymn 189(23)

Jesus once of humble birth,

Now in glory comes to earth;

Once he suffered grief and pain-

Now he comes on earth to reign.

Once a meek and lowly lamb-

Now the Lord, the great I AM;

Once with thieves was crucified-

Now on yonder cloud he rides.

Once he groaned in blood and tears-

Now in glory he appears;

Once rejected by his own-

Now their king he shall become


Once forsaken, left alone-

Now exalted to a throne;

Once all things He meekly bore-

But he now will bear no more.

In 1844 Parley P. Pratt specifically identified the great Eloheim as Jehovah, but be aware, that Parley may have considered Jesus Christ to be the "Great Elohim" (i.e. the great one of the Gods).

But it [the nature of divine government] is a theocracy, where the great Eloheim, Jehovah, holds the superior honor.(24)

Again, in an 1845 proclamation of the Twelve which was written by Parley P. Pratt, he made the same identification. This time the possibility of Jesus Christ being "the great Eloheim, Jehovah," is precluded by the subsequent description of the eternal High Priesthood "after the order of his Son.

The great Eloheim, Jehovah, has been pleased once more to speak from the heavens, and also to commune with man upon the earth, by means of open visions, and by ministrations of Holy Messengers.

By this means the great and eternal High Priesthood, after the order of his Son (even the Apostleship) has been restored or returned to the earth.(25)

Elder Pratt published a limited number of this Proclamation in New York. His original intent was to send the document west and have it signed by the Twelve before a major publication and distribution throughout the world. It is unlikely that the identification of Jehovah with the great Elohim in the Proclamation had anything to do with its failure to receive the desired signatures and worldwide publication.(26)

It seems inconceivable that Parley P. Pratt could have written and published the Millennial Star article which is quoted with minor variation on pages 19 and 20, with all of the comparisons between the Old and New Testament prophecies of the second coming, and not make the connection that Jesus Christ is Jehovah.

Some have declared that the statements of Parley P. Pratt must be correct, otherwise Joseph Smith would have corrected them. It is true that Joseph on occasion corrected some of Parley P. Pratt's writings, however, a classic example of this is found in Parley's The World Turned Upside Down, or Heaven on Earth which was written in 1838 in prison but first published in England in 1840. On page 16 of this pamphlet the following statement is made:

This view of the resurrection is clearly exemplified in the persons of Enoch and Elijah, who never tasted death, but were changed instantaneously from mortal to immortal, and were caught up into the heavens, both body and spirit. This change upon their physical systems was equivalent to death and the resurrection. It was the same as if they had slept in the grave for thousands of years, and then been raised and restored to eternal life.

Joseph corrected this idea in his October Conference address in 1840. Note that Joseph makes no reproof, and does not direct his comments at anyone - his method of correction is to teach correct principles.

Many have supposed that the doctrine of translation was a doctrine whereby men were taken immediately into the presence of God, and into an eternal fullness, but his is a mistaken idea. Their place of habitation is that of the terrestrial order, and a place prepared for such characters He held in reserve to be ministering angels unto many planets, and who as yet have not entered into so great a fullness as those who are resurrected from the dead. "Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection." (See Hebrews 11:35.)(27)

References to Jehovah by Parley P. Pratt

1837 VoW p013

VoW p021

VoW p021

VoW p024

VoW p088

VoW p088

VoW p109

unless inspired by the great J

of the power and majesty of J

let us bow before the great I AM, in the name of Jesus

The great J never did nor ever

conversing with the Great J

mighty works of the Great I AM

eternal purposes of J must roll

1838 MU p018

MU p043

seal up the mouth of J, forbid

can neither be J nor Jesus Christ; for J shewed his face

1842 HoE p006

HoE p010

durable as the throne of J

where their fathers praised J

1840 MS 1:008 J's arm will be made bare in
1841 FoK p017 by means of the voice of J; by the ministry
1851 Proc p007 earnestly pray to J that you may understand

VoW Voice of Warning (1837)

MU Mormonism Unveiled (1838)

HoE The World Turned Upside Down, or Heaven on Earth (1838, Pub 1842)

FoK Fountain of Knowledge (1841)

Proc Proclamation (1851)

MS Millennial Star

Erastus Snow and Benjamin Winchester

The only reason Erastus Snow and Benjamin Winchester are included in this study is because of a proclamation, the conclusion of which was published in the November 1, 1841 (it says Nov 15) issue of the Times and Seasons. It forcefully defines the identity of Jehovah.

We believe in God the Father, who is the great Jehovah and head of all things, and that Christ is the Son of God, co-eternal with the Father; yet he is our Savior, Redeemer, King, and Great Prototype,--was offered as a sacrifice to make an atonement for sin--rose from the dead with the same flesh and bones, not blood, and ascended to heaven, and is now seated at the right hand of the father.(28)

It has been asked why Joseph Smith did not correct this error if it was so blatantly wrong? We respond: for the same reason he did not correct Lyman O. Littlefield two months earlier if the opposite concept were so blatantly wrong:

A messenger [Orson Hyde], bearing the glad tidings of salvation, has been sent to the deserted countries of Palestine, and those silent and gloomy regions--once the theatre of many mighty miracles, wrought by the Omnipotent hand of Jehovah and his apostles--will soon re-echo with its long silent and almost forgotten sound.(29)

Erastus Snow joined the Church in 1833, moved to Kirtland in 1834 and was one of those who attended the Hebrew classes in Kirtland in 1836. He wrote some articles for the Gospel Reflector, published by Benjamin Winchester in Philadelphia, and some of his discourses are recorded in the Journal of Discourses and the Improvement Era, but we have been unable to locate any other published usages by him of the word "Jehovah" which even intimate that Jehovah is God the Father. Because of his knowledge of Hebrew, we are reticent to believe that he would have penned the statement in question, and are inclined to believe that it was more the responsibility of Benjamin Winchester. Published data on Benjamin Winchester's views are even more meager, as he was excommunicated in September of 1844. A review of his writings in the Gospel Reflector reveals no other inclination, even on his part, to equate Jehovah with the Father of Jesus Christ.

Summary and Conclusions

From the scriptures it is evident that "Jehovah" and Jesus Christ are the same individual. Indeed the Bible alone is sufficient to confirm this identity beyond any reasonable question, and with the unanimous and overwhelming support of the remaining standard works one is led to wonder that many have been slow to understand. From data available in church writings and publications, it is apparent that during the Joseph Smith period of the church, the word "Jehovah" was generally used in much the same sense as the word "God," to designate deity without any attempt at distinguishing whether it was God the Father or his son Jesus Christ being spoken of. In most instances no effort was made to distinguish between members of the godhead: after all, did not the testimony of the three witnesses say that they were one God? and did not anything that could be said about one of them also apply to the other(s)? Coming from a long tradition of belief in the catholic trinity, early converts did not concern themselves unduly with distinctions between members of the godhead, and apparently Joseph Smith never considered this a problem sufficient to warrant his immediate attention. It is evident that Joseph Smith understood the distinction himself, and was careful to use proper terminology, but he allowed others who were astute enough to take notice, to grow into their concepts of the gospel line upon line and precept upon precept. He guided and encouraged, and taught correct principles, but beyond the basic essentials for salvation, he never criticized or chided any honest seeker after truth for not understanding as much about the godhead, or any other concept of the restored gospel, as he did.

There are a few quotations from others than Joseph Smith that might indicate some early understanding that Jehovah was Jesus Christ. It is more likely that the term "Jehovah" was applied to both the Father and the Son. There were also some discourses and articles about the second coming of Christ which, although not specifically making the identification, went into enough depth and detail that it would have been difficult for the author not to have made that connection, especially for those who had studied some Hebrew.

It is tempting to ascribe variations in usage of the word "Jehovah" to a simple learning process:

  1. During early years individuals did not properly understand that Jesus Christ was Jehovah, so they misused the word.
  2. Later, as they learned who Jehovah was, they began to make proper usage of the word.

In actuality however, this process, although present, seems to have been secondary. By far, the more prevalent and common practice appears to have been to use the word "Jehovah" as a cognate for "Lord," or "God," and use it in a generic sense irrespective of any specific designee. Even Joseph Smith used the word in this manner.

We have presented data from selected contemporaries of the Prophet Joseph Smith which show variety in the usage of the word "Jehovah." The quantity of meaningful data available is meager in the extreme, and of such a nature that preclude any sweeping statements that early church members believed that Jehovah was either Jesus Christ or God the Eternal Father.



1. A few exceptions were noted in which the name "Jehovah" has been scripturally and properly applied to God the Eternal Father.

2. See the discussion under John Taylor below.

3. In March of 1832 in Kirtland, Sidney Rigdon was taken by a mob and dragged by his heels over the frozen ground, which severely lacerated the back of his head. He was delirious with a high fever for several weeks, and some felt that after that time he was never quite the same. See HC 1:262-263.

4. The Evening and the Morning Star, Independence, Missouri, page 154b, May 1834 (hereafter E&MS).

5. Millennial Star 1:217; Times & Seasons 4:1 and HC 4:256. Interestingly, Joseph Smith praised the article calling it "one of the sweetest pieces that has been written in these last days," see HC 4:256.

6. Dec. 1844, from the journal of George Laub, as printed in BYU Studies 18:177-178.

7. Journal of Discourses 1:51. That Brigham Young regarded Elohim as God the Father can be seen from JD 4:216: "I want to tell you, each and every one of you, that you are well acquainted with God our heavenly Father, or the great Eloheim." The statement quoted in the text does not imply that Michael is or was the Holy Ghost.

8. Journal of Discourses 2:30, emphasis in original.

9. JD 1:51

10. JD 12:99

11. L. John Nuttall Journal, "Lecture at the veil."

12. Although Brigham Young stated that eleven days was the extent of his schooling (see JD 13:176), apparently this referred to his elementary schooling and excluded both the Kirtland Hebrew School which he attended (see HR 1:25) and the School of the Prophets.

13. February 8, 1857, JD 4:216.

14. Elden J. Watson, Manuscript Addresses of Brigham Young, volume 6, 25 April 1877, page 2 [emphasis added].

15. Sacred Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Published by Parley P. Pratt in England, 1840, p 295 No. 254.

16. The usage here would seem to apply the term "Elohim" to the Redeemer, rather than the term "Jehovah" to the Father.

17. Times and Seasons 6:808.

18. Times and Seasons 6:808-809.

19. John Taylor, Mediation and Atonement, 1882, pp 149-150.

20. John Taylor, The Mediation and Atonement, 1882, p 138 [emphasis added].

21. Care must be taken in studying the writings of Parley P. Pratt to use the original publications, or the student will learn less about the feelings of Parley P.. Pratt and more about attempts of his descendants to make his writings orthodox.

22. Mormonism Unveiled, Zion's watchman unmasked, and its Editor, Mr. L. R. Sunderland, Exposed - Truth Vindicated, the Devil mad, and Priestcraft in Danger! New York, 1838; [republished in A Reply to Mr. Thomas Taylor's "Complete Failure," etc. and Mr. Richard Livesey's "Mormonism Exposed," Manchester, 1840.] Also in Parker Pratt Robison, Writings of Parley Parker Pratt, Deseret News Press, 1952, p 189, also p 233 [emphasis in original].

23. A Collection of Sacred Hymns, for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Europe. Selected by Brigham Young, parley P. Pratt, and John Taylor, Manchester England, 1840 p 206.

24. The Angel of the Prairies; a Dream of the Future, [written in the winter of 1843-1844, first published in 1880], pp 23-24. Since the verb is in the singular, this statement identifies Jehovah with Elohim.

25. Proclamation of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. April 6, 1845, copy of original found in Historical department of the Church. Copies with minor modifications can be found in Pratt, Writings of Parley Parker Pratt p 1, and Clark, Messages of the First Presidency 1:252. Despite William H. Reeder, Jr. Improvement Era 52:149 (quoted by Clark), the Proclamation was not written by Wilford woodruff, see History of the Church 7:558.

26. See announcement of limited publication and intent to obtain signatures in The Prophet, April 19, 1845, p 4.

27. Joseph Fielding Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith p 170.

28. T&S 3:578 [emphasis added]. This declaration does have somewhat of an authoritative ring to it, and this and other difficult statements may have been part of the reason Joseph Smith decided to take over the editorship of The Times and Seasons. The following notice appears in the March 15 edition, p 710:


This paper commences my editorial career. I alone stand responsible for it, and shall do for all papers having my signature henceforward. I am not responsible for the publications, or arrangement of the former paper; the matter did not come under my supervision. JOSEPH SMITH.

29. T&S 2:547 [emphasis added].