40 years ago today - Feb 14, 1980-Thursday

[Leonard Arrington]

To my weekly meeting with Elder [G. Homer] Durham this morning he had invited Don Schmidt as well. ... The Brethren are very concerned about the leaks that have occurred in the past that have resulted in the Kirtland revelation book, the Joseph Smith diary, and the projected publication of other works by the [Jerald and Sandra] Tanners. [[In 1979 the Tanners had published both of the mentioned items, Joseph Smith's 1832-34 Diary and Joseph Smith's Kirtland Revelation Book, as reproductions of photographic images they had obtained from microfilm copies.]] With respect to our division, he wanted me to emphasize the importance of security with the staff. Specifically, he wanted to know what happened with the materials Sister [Edyth] Romney typed. ...

Jan said that Robert Hullinger, the Lutheran minister who was at Concordia Lutheran College in Kentucky, is now a minister in St. Louis or thereabouts. He called her one day to say he was in trouble. He had earlier prepared an article on why Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon. It was complimentary to Joseph Smith, but still was an interpretation based on the assumption that Joseph Smith wrote it; and the reason he wrote it, Hullinger said, was in order to show further evidence to the divinity and relevance of Jesus to contemporary America. Jan replied in her note to him at that time as follows: ["]If you assume that Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon, and if you assume that he was influenced by contemporary thought, this seems to be a sound approach." In the years afterwards, as we had known, Hullinger had expanded that article into a little book entitled Mormon Answer to the Skeptics: Why Joseph Smith Wrote the Book of Mormon. It was accepted for publication by the Lutheran Press. At Hullinger's suggestion, the press had placed on the back of this paperback book an abbreviated quote from Jan Shipps, which said simply, "I believe this is a sound interpretation of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon." Signed, Jan Shipps, President of MHA. Hullinger had finally realized he ought to have her permission to do this. She said under no circumstances would he have her permission and it must be removed. He said unfortunately the book was already out, and they would have to redo the back page, which would cost several hundred dollars-and he was putting up the money. She said that it must be removed, there was no way out of it. When he discovered he couldn't persuade her otherwise, he asked her to get in touch with the publisher. She phoned her university lawyer, who told her to try to persuade them to change it-in a nice way. If unable to do so, she should mention an injunction against them selling the book, but to hold that threat in reserve. She talked to the lady at the press, who was so upset that she was crying, but Jan pointed out it would have to be removed. She regarded herself as an intermediary between the Mormons and non-Mormons, and she was furthermore the president of the Mormon History Association and she could not possibly lose her standing and credibility and the confidence and trust in her by Mormon historians. And so it would simply have to be removed. They finally agreed to do it, and she didn't have to mention the threat of an injunction. So the book is now out and you can tell from the back page that something has been blotted out but it doesn't appear there.

[Confessions of a Mormon historian : the diaries of Leonard J. Arrington, 1971-1997, Gary James Bergera, editor, Signature Books, 2018]

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