Correspondence between Zoramites and Episcopalians

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Dr Moore
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Correspondence between Zoramites and Episcopalians

Post by Dr Moore »

I'm curious if anyone has written about correspondences between the Zoramites (Alma 31) and Episcopalians.

Two early critics of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon noted:
A. Campbell wrote:Before this time synagogues with pulpits were built, ‘for the Zoramites,’ a sort of Episcopalians…
E. Howe wrote:The next sect was a kind of Episcopalians, who were also heretics …
(and in another place)
The Episcopalians and Universalists can claim, on Mormon authority, great antiquity for their orders, at least fifty years before the gospel dispensation
In considering the many possible inspirations for BofM peoples, beyond the observations above, I haven't found much exploring the possibility that Episcopalians may have served as inspiration for the BofM's Zoramites.

How would one consider the question of whether the Zoramites may have been a parody of the Methodist Episcopalian church? What clues might exist in the text if Joseph's bricolage moved him to dictate a not so subtle condemnation of the same congregation he attended with Emma and the Hales during translation of Alma 31? By the way, this same congregation was headed by minister Nathaniel Lewis, who was also Emma's Uncle (Nathaniel's sister was Isaac Hale's wife, Elizabeth). So adding to the tension between Joseph and Isaac, we have Isaac's brother-in-law running the congregation and leading study classes, some of which we know Joseph attended, with a controversial ending. Separately, Adam Clarke was a Methodist Episcopal, and we know that Joseph was intimately familiar with Clarke's writing, thanks to the work of Wayment and Wilson.

Anyway, have any of you seen this explored before?

For your consideration, some interesting data points I found through reading. Episcopalian liturgical prayers and worship procedures are documented in the Book of Common Prayer (BOCP). The BOCP covers the practice of meeting on the Lord's day, specific rote prayers to recite while standing, in an elevated place, sometimes with a loud voice. Some of the prayers begin with "Holy, holy..." and invoke a recitation of parts of the Nicene creed. It discusses election and predestination/preordination, and discusses status as a holy, chosen people. Thanks is given for holiness and for God's election. All incredibly similar to the Zoramites. It is easy to see why Campbell and Howe noticed and simply labeled the Zoramites as Episcopals.

Later, as we transition from Alma 31 to 32, the motifs of pride, vanity, and being puffed up, all leading to denying Christ and, worse, grinding the face of the poor. A number of phrases here are in common with a heading to Matthew Henry's Exposition, in the preview and commentary on Corinthians re Paul's response to "gross disorders" during his absence. Henry notes that Paul had labored with "great success," but that wealth and pride led to lust and vanity, manifest in luxury dress, being "puffed" and ultimately leading the people to "dispute against the doctrine of the resurrection." Further on, Henry notes that these gross errors led to mistreatment of the poor by the rich during the Lord's supper, "the rich despised the poor, and ate and drank up the provisions that they themselves brought, before the poor were allowed to partake; and thus some wanted while others had more than enough. This was profaning a sacred institution, and corrupting a divine ordinance, to the last degree." Henry continues still later, "such behavior tended much to the shame and discouragement of the poor, whose souls were as dear to Christ, and cost him as much, as those of the rich."

So it's an interesting set of correspondences between Zoramites and Episcopalians, noted by at least two of Joseph's contemporaries. After a little bit of digging, I found some expanded correspondences between the pattern of apostacy > denying Christ > grinding the face of the poor. If Alma 31 opens a parody of Methodist Episcopalians to which Joseph had direct experience while translating, then the adaptation also includes, via chapters 31-32, a damning rebuke of its members by incorporating the pattern found in Henry's Exposition, namely that when converted members fall away, the grossest perversion leads to denying Christ, which is revealed by the action of cutting off the poor from formal worship.

Sources can be provided, for any of the quotes or summaries above.

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Physics Guy
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Re: Correspondence between Zoramites and Episcopalians

Post by Physics Guy »

The Church of England in the Thirteen Colonies became known as “Episcopal” after the Revolution but it is still an Anglican church today, in communion with Canterbury. The Church of England spread with the British Empire so there are now Anglican churches all over the world. Connections between the church bodies in different countries are symbolic. The Archbishop of Canterbury isn’t in charge like the Pope. The Book of Common Prayer has been revised several times but it keeps trudging on. Every country has its own version, though the differences are generally minor.

Methodism began as an offshoot from Anglicanism; the American Revolution made the decisive break. The “Methodist Episcopal” denomination is now only one of many Methodist churches.

Methodist missionaries had a good 19th century and according to Wikipedia there are currently about 80 million Methodists in the world. There are also about 80 million Anglicans, the majority now in Africa. The most famous Anglican in recent times was probably Desmond Tutu. So I guess the Zoramites outnumber the Nephites by a fair bit.

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Hagoth
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Re: Correspondence between Zoramites and Episcopalians

Post by Hagoth »

There might also be some crossover with a millennialist restoration movement called the Zoarites. They were the American transplants of the German Harmony Society, who had all kinds of wacky ideas that were right at home in the religious experimentation that followed the 2nd Great Awakening, (e.g. their fascination with Emanuel Swedenborg). Their worship does not appear to fit the description of the Zoramites and their Rameumptom, but they were a society that Joseph Smith would certainly have known about, having first settled in... wait for it... Harmony, Pennsylvania, in 1805, and eventually moving to Zoar, Ohio in 1817 where they became known as Zoarites. They obtained property along the Erie and Ohio Canals where they ran pack barges (like Jaredite barges but with windows) and became quite prosperous.
"Be excellent to each other." - Bill and Ted
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Rick Grunder
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Re: Correspondence between Zoramites and Episcopalians

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The grand but narrow pulpits of some of the richer Congregationalist and Presbyterian churches of Joseph Smith’s day made nice rameumtums indeed. Perhaps even more transparent was the place where the Zoramites lived, in the land of Antionum. What better place for Antinomians to live, after all! Here are my two cents on the subject, with a side-entry on Zoar:

http://www.rickgrunder.com/parallels/mp131.pdf (Antinomians)

http://www.rickgrunder.com/parallels/mp346.pdf (Zoar)
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Dr Moore
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Re: Correspondence between Zoramites and Episcopalians

Post by Dr Moore »

Hi Rick,

Thank you for these links.
Rick Grunder wrote:Perhaps even more transparent was the place where the Zoramites lived, in the land of Antionum. What better place for Antinomians to live, after all!
Fascinating. Adam Clarke's commentary includes numerous notes on the heresy of Antinomianism. Joseph would surely have been familiar. For instance:
Clarke, on Hebrews 3:1 wrote: Verse 1. Holy-brethren. Persons consecrated to God, as the word literally implies; and called, in consequence, to be holy in heart, holy in life, and useful in the world. The Israelites are often called a holy people, saints, etc, because consecrated to God; and because they were bound by their profession to be holy; and yet the appelations are given to them in numberless instances, where they were very unholy. The not attending to this circumstance, and the not discerning between actual positive holiness, and the call to it, as the consecration of the persons, has led many commentators and preachers into destructive mistakes. Antinomianism has had its origin here; and as it was found that many persons were called saints, who, in many respects, were miserable sinners, hence it has been inferred that they were called saints in reference to a holiness which they had in another; and hence the Antinomian imputation of Chrust's righteousness to unholy believers, whose hearts were abominable before God, and whose lives were a scandal to the Gospel.
Clarke, on Numbers 9:2 wrote: Reader, however it may be with thee, Antinomianism is more general among religious people than is usually imagined. What multitudes of all denominations are expecting to enter into the kingdom of God, without any proper preparation for the place! Without holiness, none shall see the Lord; and from this decision of the divine justice, there shall never be any appeal.
What a perfect name for the city of the Zoramites, indeed!

Rick, what do you make of the unique name, Rameumptom? Rameumptom is one of a very small subset of unique names introduced to the reader with the language, "which, being interpreted, is".

This "being interpreted" pattern is used in the New Testament with words such as Golgotha, Emmanuel, Messias, and Rabbi. In the Book of Mormon, the phrase is also deployed to define Liahona, Rabbanah, Irreantum.

lemuel
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Re: Correspondence between Zoramites and Episcopalians

Post by lemuel »

Don't know much about the episcopalians, but the zoramites fit modern Mormons pretty well.

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Rick Grunder
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Re: Correspondence between Zoramites and Episcopalians

Post by Rick Grunder »

Hi, Dr. Moore - and many thanks for these valuable Clarke references to Antinomians.

One of the largest tomes in my entire book-burdened house is an 1816 single-volume edition of Clarke’s “grand folio Bible” with commentary. I’ve delayed analyzing it until I can study the Wayment article and see what has already been done.

Regarding the term Antinomian, I’m certainly no scholar of ancient theological language, but it is my understanding that the word was coined during the early modern era by Martin Luther or his associates. But to young Joseph Smith, I think it would have sounded ancient. Smith seemed to like the prefix “Anti-,” perhaps noticing it in the name of the city of Antioch?

Regarding the genesis of Smith’s term Rameumptom, that’s something I’ve pondered for decades. My personal far-fetched theory is too ridiculous to share, so let’s all keep watching for something that might be sustainable.
“I prefer tongue-tied knowledge to ignorant loquacity.”
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Dr Moore
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Re: Correspondence between Zoramites and Episcopalians

Post by Dr Moore »

Ah hah, well I too have a far fetched theory about a possible Smith-etymology for Rameumptom. I’ll send it via DM for a hopefully a good chuckle at the least.

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