Saturday, September 22, 2007

Early Patriarchal Blessings

To be released November 2007

Early Patriarchal Blessings of
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
hardback. 500 Pages. / 1-56085-202-X / $70.00

Vilate Kimball wrote to her husband, Heber C. Kimball, then on a Church mission in England: "Father Smith has died since I last wrote. he ordai[ned] his son Hiram to be a Patriarch, and pronounced great blessing upon all his children before he died."

In the LDS Church, patriarchal blessings offer comfort to individuals and foretell possible future accomplishments. The blessings are pronounced in the form of a prayer by an ordained patriarch (an office in the church's lay priesthood). The Bible describes the Old Testament patriarch Jacob (Israel) blessing his twelve sons regarding their futures (see Gen. 49). In LDS procedure, drawing on Old Testament precedent, the patriarch rests his hands upon the individual's head, eyes shut while speaking without forethougth regarding what to say. In most cases, the blessing identifies the recipient's spiritual heritage and lineage as a member of one of the twelve tribes of Israel and thus heir to the blessings Israel bestowed upon his sons. The promises and counsel contained in one's patriarchal blessing—prophetic insight into the individual's life and future—are said to be contingent upon the person's worthiness. A patriarchal blessing is given only once in a person's lifetime.

Contained in this volume are 755 blessings from 1833 through 1845 delivered by the church's first oracles, Joseph Smith Sr., Joseph Smith Jr., Hyrum Smith, and William Smith. Prominent in these blessings is the promise that the reciepeints will live to witness the Second Coming, together with other period-specific expectations and doctrinally based beliefs. The compilation is an indispensible source of early Mormon intellectual history, as well as a valuable resource for historians, biographers, and genealogists.

H. Michael Marquardt H.Michael Maruardt is the author of Inventing Mormonism: Traditions and the Historical Record, The Joseph Smith Revelations: Text and Commentary, and The Rise of Mormonism: 1816-1844. His studies of Mormon history include monographs on Joseph Smith's diaries, the Joseph Smith Egyptian Papers, and the marriages of Sarah Ann Whitney. A retired civil servant, he is now the webmaster for the Mormon Origins site. He and his wife, Dorothy, live in Sandy, Utah, and have five children.

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