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David O. McKay Diaries – “Book of Mormon”

Below you will find diary entries on the topic of “Book of Mormon.” You can view other subjects here.

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Sat., 15 Feb., 1941:

“Sister Lyman Horne called–She asked about the advisability of intimating that a certain Professor, mentioned in a book she proposes to publish, might be one of the three Nephites.  I told her not to make any mention of it.”

Tues., 6 Nov., 1945:

[Arizona Temple Dedication]  “8:30 a.m.–Sister McKay and I attended the first of the five scheduled Spanish-speaking sessions–the first temple sessions in this dispensation of the Gospel conducted in any but the English language.

There were assembled some two hundred Lamanites, gathered actually from Mexico City to Salt Lake City, and from Coast to Coast.”

Mon., 26 Mar., 1951:

“At 9:30 a.m. Brother Alma Petersen of Ogden, Utah and Brother Charles Reviliotis of 1483 36th St. Ogden called at the office with respect to the translation of the Book of Mormon into the Greek language.  Brother Reviliotis, a Greek, has been in the church for a number of years and is greatly interested in getting the Gospel to his people.  He showed me a card upon which was printed in Greek the Articles of Faith, this translation having been done by a Bro. Philagios and this man–Nicholas Philagios of St. Paul, Minnesota–was suggested by Brother Reviliotis as one being capable and willing to do the translation of the Book of Mormon.  I telephoned to Pres. John B. Hawkes of our North Central States Mission and made inquiry about Brother Theologios [Philagios].  Pres. Hawkes said this man has been in the church for about 20 years and has a good knowledge of the Gospel, and is very ‘enthused about it’ almost to the point where he ‘forces himself upon people, and becomes a little bit radical at times.’  His wife is not in the Church; she attends church occasionally.  Pres. Hawkes said he is very desirous of doing something for his people and wants to go to Greece on a mission.  Said he did not know about his ability so far as doing the translation is concerned.  I asked Pres. Hawkes to make confidential inquiry about this Brother and write us a letter about it.  (see letter 3/27/51)

The name of a Brother Thorup was also suggested for this translation work–called Joseph Fielding Smith who reported that he did not know anything about him, although he had been doing some work in the Library.  He will let us know if he learns anything about him.”

Sat., 16 Jun., 1951:

“While in New York I met by appointment Mr. Joseph F. Thorup, Jackson Heights, L.I., New York, who made a Greek translation of the Book of Mormon about forty years ago, two copies of which are in the Historian’s Office–the original and a carbon copy.  Bro. Charles Revellotus, Ogden, and Brother Nicholas P. Theodore, Salt Lake City, were given permission to take the manuscript out, and Brother Revellotus has it at the present time.

In my interview with Brother Thorup I found that he had translated into Greek the following books and pamphlets:  1.  Book of Mormon, 2.  Articles of Faith, 3.  Tracts by Charles Penrose, 4.  ‘Story of Mormonism’ by Talmage.  Original copy of Book of Mormon is in long hand–4 or 5 volumes.  A copy was given to Elder Levi Edgar Young, and a specimen of the translation is in the Improvement Era about 1908 or 1909.

Brother Thorup reported that Greek was spoken in Egypt, Smyrna, Constantinople.  The finest Greeks come from Smyrna.

It was decided that we would send the original manuscript to Brother Thorup that he might go over it, restore the page that is missing, and make his report–the manuscript to be microfilmed before it is sent.  (This matter was taken up at the meeting of the First Presidency upon my return home.)”

Fri., 22 Jun., 1951:

“[Telephone call] Asked Brother Levi Edgar Young if he remembered Brother Thorup who translated the Book of Mormon into the Greek language several years ago, and if he still has a copy of the translation in his possession.  Bro. Young said he remembered Brother Thorup, but that he would have to look in his files to see if he still has the copy.”

Tues., 26 Jun., 1951:

“Called A. William Lund–asked him to see if there is in the Historian’s Library a hand-written Greek Translation of the Book of Mormon left there by a Mr. Joseph Thorup many years ago.  Said he would make a search and let me know.”

Mon., 2 Jul., 1951:

“At 8:30 a.m. met by appointment Brother Alma L. Petersen and Brother Charles Revill relative to a Greek translation of the Book of Mormon.  Brother Revill, whohas been checking the translation, reported the following items missing from the translation made by Brother Joseph Thorup many years ago:

Missing from Page 61, II Nephi Chapter 1, verses 26 to 32

II Nephi, Chapter 2, verses 1 to 5

II Nephi, Chapter 5, verse 13 (mistake)

Other Items Missing

Mosiah, Chapter 20, verse 5

Book of Alma, Chapter 2, verse 22

Book of Ether–name of Limher missing

Book of Ether–Chapter 15, verses 2 to 14 left out

II Nephi, Chapter 9–verses 32 to 35 missing

Alma, Chapter 56–verses 32 and 33 transposed

It was decided that I should write to Brother Thorup and report these errors to him.”

Tues., 3 Jul., 1951:

“Brother A. William Lund of the Church Historian’s office was the next visitor–he came in to report on the Greek manuscript.  He says that there are two manuscripts in the Historian’s Office–one is in the Historian’s Office, and one is in the hands of Mr. Revilis (which is for the time being in the Historian’s Office for microfilming).  I was glad to learn these manuscripts are in the possession of the Historian’s Office, because I was given to understand by Mr. Thorup that Brother Levi Edgar Young had one, and he has been searching everywhere for it.  Brother Young remembered the manuscript and also thought it might be in his files at home.

I told Brother Lund to write back to Brother Thorup explaining to him just what manuscripts we have; also to inform him that we have evidence that some manuscript was sent back to him in 1932.  We shall therefore wait to hear the results of that correspondence.”

Mon., 29 Oct., 1951:

“[Telephone call]  Mr. William W. Thorup of Murray, Utah.  Called him with reference to his taking to New York to his brother–Joseph F. Thorup–two manuscripts of the Greek Translation of the Book of Mormon–one a hand-written copy, and the other a typewritten copy.  Mr. William Thorup will call us when he is ready to leave for New York, at which time we shall have Brother Lund of the Historian’s Office turn the manuscripts over to Brother Thorup.”

Wed., 28 Nov., 1951:

“Called Mr. William Thorup of 3984 South 4th East, c/o Smith-Faus Company, and told him that the manuscripts of the Greek translation of the Book of Mormon may be picked up by him at the office of A. Wm. Lund, 3rd floor, Church Office, that letter of authorization had been given to the Historian’s Office for him to receive them. Brother Thorup at the request of President McKay is taking these manuscripts to his brother–Joseph Thorup–in New York City who will edit them with a view to their being published by the Church.”

Fri., 4 Jan., 1952:

“[First Presidency meeting]  Decided to ask Pres. George Q. Morris to talk with Joseph F. Thorup of New York City and have an understanding with him regarding the Greek translation of the Book of Mormon, when he can have it done, what it will cost, etc.”

Tues., 22 Jan., 1952:

“In answer to a letter from Pres. George Q. Morris of the Eastern States Mission regarding the Greek translation of the Book of Mormon, it was felt that the work should include the new explanatory and supplementary material contained in the English edition.  It was also decided that we should pay Brother Thorup for the job, letting Pres. Morris make the necessary arrangements for him.”

Mon., 31 Mar., 1952:

“9 to 11:00 a.m.–Engaged in First Presidency’s meeting.  At this meeting, it was decided that the Pearl of Great Price be translated into Braille, thus completing the Standard Works in Braille.  Also that investigation be made regarding recordings of the Standard Works of the Church for the blind.”

Thur., 25 Sep., 1952:

“At 8:50 a.m.–Milton R. Hunter of the First Council of Seventy called at the office of the First Presidency at their invitation. The activities of Thomas Ferguson in Idaho Falls in raising funds for an expedition to South America were discussed with Brother Hunter, who had taken Mr. Ferguson to the Idaho Falls Stake Conference and invited him to speak.  I told Brother Hunter that I did not think it a proper thing to let this man go to quarterly conferences and foster an organization that is not sanctioned by the Church.  Brother Hunter was requested to get in touch with Pres. O’Bryant of the Idaho Falls Stake by telephone and explain to him that this is a private enterprise and that he had no intention of giving any official sanction to it, also to write to Pres. O’Bryant in explanation of the matter, and give the First Presidency a copy of what he says to Pres. O’Bryant.”

Wed., 1 Oct., 1952:

“[First Presidency meeting]  Consideration given to suggested text to be placed on the first page of the Greek Book of Mormon, which suggestions had come from Joseph F. Thorup, the translator, through Pres. Taylor of the Eastern States Mission.  Approved the text with certain suggested changes.”

Sun., 19 Oct., 1952:

“[Dedication of Lake View Ward chapel] [President McKay] cited the Book of Mormon as but one of four distinctive features of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  These four distinctive features he listed as being:

1. Belief in divine authority by direct revelation.

2. The organization of the Church.  There is nothing like it in all the world because it was divinely inspired.

3. The eternal nature of covenants and ceremonies.

4. The Book of Mormon as an added witness to the divinity of Jesus Christ.”

[Deseret News article of 20 Oct.]

Wed., 22 Oct., 1952:

“At 8 a.m.–Met by appointment Elder Spencer W. Kimball of the Council of the Twelve, who explained that there has been offered for sale some government buildings at Howard, Arizona–these buildings were erected during the war at a cost of several million dollars as a place for the Japanese.  They may now be purchased for a few thousand dollars, possibly not to exceed $5000, and President Golden R. Buchanan, President of the Southwest Indian Mission, thinks it can serve as an Indian School for the Navajos.

I told Brother Kimball that I have my doubts about it–first, because the school is not centrally located; secondly, becuase it costs so much for the students to travel to Parker.  However, I advised Brother Kimball to investigate the property, and suggested that he fly there tomorrow and take Brother Benson with him at which time they can get first-hand information.  That they should return by air in order to get back in time for their regular appointments–Brother Kimball to organize the Central American Mission, and Brother Ezra T. Benson to go back and assist in dividing the San Bernardino Stake.”

Tues., 7 Apr., 1953:

10 to 11:30 a.m.—First Presidency’s meeting.  President Stephen L. Richards met with us for the first time since he was taken ill several weeks ago.  We expressed our great joy in having him with us, and President Richards expressed his appreciation of being able to be with us again, and also his appreciation of the Conference.

We discussed somewhat the condition of Brother Albert E. Bowen and his desire that he should not linger indefinitely.

President Marriott of the Washington Stake called in the office of the First Presidency and discussed the matter of the Archaeological Foundation and tom Ferguson.  Told of his long acquaintance with Brother Ferguson and his interest in the Church and particularly his interest in Book of Mormon archaeology.  He mentioned that Dr. Jakeman of the B.Y.U. is also interested with him in this work and that Dr. Kidder head of the Archaeological Department of Carnegie Institute is interested (he is a non-member); he is about to retire and is willing to spend all his time working on the development of this thing.  Brother Marriott felt that the book by Brother Ferguson and Milton R. Hunter has more information in connection with the archaeology of the Book of Mormon than anything we have.  Dr. Kidder thought they had brought together a wonderful compilation of material.  Brother Ferguson would like to show the Brethren some pictures, to be thrown on a screen, of things they have found, the thought being whether the Brethren would feel that it is sufficiently important to assist in the financing.  The Presidency agreed to spend the time to see the pictures Thursday morning next at 8 o’clock.”

Thurs., 9 Apr., 1953:

“At 8 o’clock this morning President Richards, Clark, members of the Council of Twelve, and I witnessed slide pictures of archaeological discoveries in Central America, as presented by Thomas Ferguson, and in connection therewith he made an appeal for the Church to help their association financially.

Fri., 10 Apr., 1953:

“Note:  Mr. Charles Reveliotis ( Greek member living in Ogden—1486 36th Street)—called at the office.  He left Greek manuscript which had been sent to him for his reading and criticism.  It is that part of the translation of the Book of Mormon into the Greek language completed by Mr. Jos F. Thorup of New York.  Mr. Reveliotis said that so far as he is concerned ‘he is pleased with the translation and believes it to be correct.’  He offered his assistance in further proof-reading of the manuscripts to be sent by Mr. Thorup.”

Tues., 14 Apr., 1953:

9 to 10 a.m.

Discussed the picture slides of archeological artifacts presented by Thomas Ferguson, and his appeal that the church help his organization—New World Archaeological Foundation—by contributing $15,000 for this year and $30,000 per year for the next four years.  The brethren decided to make the $15,000 contribution this year, but to give no further commitment.  The brethren did not want to obligate the Church to finance this enterprise.  It was also the feeling that such contribution should be made through someone else and that the church should not be known in the transaction.”

Fri., 20 Aug., 1954:

First Presidency’s meeting

4.  Indian Converts and Catholic Persuasion

Letter was read from President Buchanan of the Southwest Indian Mission, stating that we have converted quite a number of young Indian people, and that the Catholic Church is giving to these young converts clothes and other help to persuade them to go to Catholic schools and come under Catholic instruction.

Wed., 10 Nov., 1954:

“Milton R. Hunter

Called and presented two matters:  (1)  Ordination of Indian to Seventy 

President Buchanan of the Southwest Indian Mission has recommended that we ordain Charles McGee, an Indian from his mission, a seventy.  He is a very capable man, owns several hundred acres of land, and is very successful.  He was formerly a branch President at Peach Springs, Arizona.  He and his wife are in the mission home to go on missions to the Southwest Indian Mission.  Brother Hunter says he is one of the most outstanding Indians in the Church.  The brethren, to whom I reported this matter at the meeting of the First Presidency this morning, authorized Brother Hunter to ordain him a seventy.

(2)  New Unpublished Evidences for Book of Mormon

Brother Hunter mentioned that he had found some good new evidences for the Book of Mormon that have not heretofore been published.  The Improvement Era has asked him to write some articles on the Book of Mormon.  Brother Hunter suggested that he be given permission to go to Mexico and Central America during the Christmas holidays to make further study and take pictures.  The Brethren gave their consent.  He would go on his own responsibility.  It would take about three weeks.  By getting about ten others to go on the plane he expects to get his own way free.”

Wed., 9 Mar., 1955:

“*(From Council Minutes, Thursday, March 10, 1955.)

The First Presidency had a visit from Brother Thomas S. Ferguson of Oakland yesterday, a man who is very much interested in Book of Mormon discoveries.  The Presidency were very favorably impressed by him, were profoundly impressed with his enthusiasm and also with his knowledge.  He is well acquainted with archaeologists and the discoveries they have made down in Mexico and Central America.  He has a great deal of enthusiasm for and a sound testimony of the Book of Mormon.   The Presidency are considering very seriously encouraging him financially in further research work.  He has organized a Board of Directors on which there are archaeologists, some non-members as well as members, and the First Presidency feel that they would be justified in encouraging him in the work he is attempting to do.”

10 Mar., 1955:

Report given by President David O. McKay at Council Meeting, Thursday, March 10, 1955.

The First Presidency had a visit from Brother Thomas S. Ferguson of Oakland yesterday, a man who is very much interested in Book of Mormon discoveries.  The Presidency were very favorably impressed by him, were profoundly impressed with his enthusiasm and also with his knowledge.  He is well acquainted with archaeologists and the discoveries they have made down in Mexico and Central America.  He has a great deal of enthusiasm for and a sound testimony of the Book of Mormon.  The Presidency are considering very seriously encouraging him financially in further reserach work.  He has organized a Board of Directors on which there are archaeologists, some non-members as well as members, and the First Presidency feel that they would be justified in encouraging him in the work he is attempting to do.

On March 15, 1955 Brother Ernest A. Strong, called at President McKay’s office (at President McKay’s request) and he was asked by President McKay to work with Brother Ferguson in this archaeological work.  On March 16, 1966 telephone call was made at President McKay’s request to Brother Ferguson at 439 30th Street, Oakland, Calif. (Tel. 4-8780), informing him of the appointment of Brother Strong to help him in his work on Book of Mormon discoveries.”

Sat., 12 Mar., 1955:

Telephone Calls

1.  Called Ernest A. Strong, at Springville, Utah about his going on the Board with Thomas S. Ferguson on his archaeological work.  –see note March 10.

On March 17, 1955, President McKay made the following report to the Council:

‘Pres. McKay stated that the First Presidency have had regular appointments with various groups in financial matters; also regarding the Church interests, one of which was with Brother Ernest A. Strong of Springville, whom the First Presidency had recommended be chosen as a member of the Book of Mormon Committee, headed by Brother Thomas S. Ferguson, Brother Ferguson, he said, called some time ago and presented in a very enthusiastic and intelligent manner the possibility of discovering a city that is buried in the southern part of Mexico.  The Committee is already organized, some members of which are not members of the Church, but prominent archaeologists, and the First Presidency looked with favor upon the work which the Committee would like to do, and promised some assistance on condition that we have another member of the Church on that Committee, one of practical experience in purchasing bulldozers and such equipment, in the work of uncovering ground, and they mentioned to Brother Ferguson the name of Ernest A. Strong of Springville.  Brother Strong accepted the responsibility gladly, and the Presidency were surprised to learn that he had been down there and was very much interested in this work.”

Tues., 15 Mar., 1955:

“5 p.m.  Ernest A. Strong of Springville, Utah called at the office in response to my phone call.  I asked him to work with Thomas S. Ferguson in his investigations, study, etc. regarding Book of Mormon discoveries.”

July 27, 1955

1.  Telephone Conversation with President Stephen L. Richards, Old Faithful, Wyoming.

President Richards called from Old Faithful, Wyoming where he has been for the past month on vacation.  I discussed with him the problem of the translation of the Doctrine and Covenants into the Tahitian language.  There has been a conflict with the translation opinions of Brother E. Bentley Mitchell and Brother Doyle Green.  President Richards felt that we could go along with Brother Mitchell’s translation, and I agreed with him, as Brother Mitchell had suggested that we send it to some of the people in Tahiti to look over it with the thought that the manuscript could be sent down there with Brother Othello P. Pearce who is going on a mission to New Zealand and would spend one day enroute in Tahiti.  However, information was obtained that Brother Pearce had already left.  We discussed whether or not to send it down with some other missionaries.  It has also been suggested that Brother Hilton, a son of Eugene Hilton, go over the manuscript.  He would be willing to do this, he is an expert in the Tahitian language.  He just returned from the Tahitian Mission about a year ago.  We came to the conclusion that if Brother Hilton had made a study of the language that we should avail ourselves of his services and have him go over the manuscript, and await his report.  We could go on forever with adverse opinions.  We decided that it would be best for Brother Pearce not to take the manuscript with him.  Later we called Brother Gordon Hinckley into the office and instructed him to call Brother Pearce and have him return the manuscript, and then we will put it into the hands of Brother Hilton.

Tues. Nov. 1, 1955:

“At the conclusion of our luncheon, we went over to the Paramount Studios at the request of Brother Arnold Friberg, for a sitting for a painting to be placed in the Los Angeles Temple.  Upon our arrival at the studio a group of people consisting of Ora pate Stewart, Brother Frederick S. Williams, Brother Wiberg and others, presented a proposition to remodel our Bureau of Information at the temple to provide a place in which to exhibit relics taken from the ruins of South and Central America, as evidences of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon.  They have evidence of steel manufacture which the scientists estimate was between 100 B.C. and 100 A.D.  They have evidences of the use of copper, and also evidences that there were buffaloes and elephants here during that ancient time.  I told them to write their proposition to the First Presidency and that it would be passed upon later.”

Sun., 8 Jan., 1956:

“In company with Brother and Sister Spencer Kimball attended the dedication of the Indian Church edifice at Brigham City, Utah.  I delivered the dedicatory address and prayer.

The dedication of the chapel and seminary building in Brigham City in connection with the Intermountain Indian School, a fulfillment of a seven-year dream that became a reality for hundreds of Navaho members of the Church.  Two hundred and eight of these people were reported as members of the Church.  I considered it a good illustration of the success that has attended Brother Kimball’s efforts in behalf of the Indians since he was called to membership in the Council of the Twelve.  Twenty three hundred Navahos were enrolled in that school and listened to the services, among them 208 student members of the Church.  The Indians furnished the singing and praying in the services, and they did it creditably.

I was surprised to meet Dr. and Mrs. William B. Giles at these services, whom I had met during my visit to Argentina in 1954.  Dr. Giles is the man who invited Sister McKay and me to speak to the American Society of Churches in Buenos Aires, and who attended the conference held in the large theatre the following Sunday, which theatre was furnished by President Peron.  Dr. Giles reported to me that his wife felt a premonition upon their return to Argentina last summer following their long journey to Utah, Hawaiian Islands, etc. that there would be trouble in Argentina, so he and Mrs. Giles left just prior to the anti-Peron uprising.  They have now decided to make their home in Utah.  Dr. Giles reported in a few words at the meeting in Brigham City of their decision to live in Utah, and also stated that his wife has Indian blood.  Pocahontas was one of her ancestors.”

Tues., 26 Jun., 1956:

10 to 11:50 – Expenditures Committee meeting.  Left this meeting to meet the following:

1.  Dr. and Mrs. S.Y. Wu made a courtesy call to my office.  They have been attending the Brigham Young University.  Mrs. Wu is a member of the Church, but her husband is not.

Mrs. Wu has translated by request Chapters 39 and 42 of the Book of Alma, Book of Mormon (request of President H. Grant Heaton, President of the Southern Far East Mission).  Mrs. Wu handed me the manuscript in Chinese which I shall have sent to Hong Kong for review there, and then we shall decide whether she should go on translating the Book of Mormon.  She expressed her desire to go on a Mission, but if she did go she could not re-enter the United States.  It would be necessary to have a bill introduced into Congress making her a citizen.

Thurs., 2 May, 1957:

“Museum at Mitla, Oaxaca

First Presidency’s meeting

This morning President Stephen L. Richards and I met with Elder Milton R. Hunter and Ernest A. Strong, and discussed with them an offer that a Mr. Frissell has made to Brother Hunter pertaining to the proposed transfer of his museum and other interests in Oaxaca, Mexico.  The First Presidency think it of sufficient importance to let Brother Hunter go to Oaxaca and get the facts concerning the matter.  The gentleman who has extended the offer is quite aged and ill, and Brother Hunter and Brother Strong think he has a good collection of artifacts.

Elder Harold B. Lee, commenting upon this matter when it was reported at Council meeting this morning, said that when he and Brother Kimball were in Mexico last June they had seen this collection, and Brother Lee felt that perhaps it was as fine a private collection of the kind as there is in Mexico.  Brother Lee raised the question as to whether the government would permit its removal, and suggested that President Claudious Bowman of the Mexican Mission be asked to cooperate with Brother Hunter in this matter, which suggestion I think should be followed out.

The Presidency think it would be well for Brother Hunter to go down there and see what right the man has to it, what he will give it to us for, and whether or not we can get legal possession of it.

(see letter from Brother Hunter giving a report on this matter which follows)

Note:  President McKay reported today that he had been fighting a cold; that he is having difficulty getting rid of it – it leaves him rather weak, and that he has rested as much as he could during the past week.  However, the problems and decisions pertaining to the Church has not left much time for rest.

Thursday, May 2, 1957

Re:  Museum in Mexico


The First Council of the Seventy

47 E. South Temple Street

Salt Lake City 1, Utah

May 1, 1957

President David O. McKay


Dear Pres. McKay:

President Ernest A. Strong and I had what we feel to be a very successful and worthwhile trip visiting the archaeological sites of the New World Archaeological Foundation in Chiapas, Mexico.  A complete report of our findings and recommendations will be submitted to the First Presidency in the near future.

A very important opportunity presented itself to us while in Mexico which needs immediate attention.  We feel it quite necessary to discuss the matter with the First Presidency, or at least with you, before action is taken.

Approximately fifteen years ago an American named Mr. Frissell and his wife established themselves at Mitla, Oaxaca, Mexico; and have established a very extensive and important archaeological museum.  The Zapotec Indians have opened many graves from Mitla south as far as the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and have sold their findings to Mr. Frissell.  Some of the artifacts definitely are Hebraic, some have Greek characteristics, others Egyptian and, of course, many of them are post Book of Mormon and Zapotec relics.  The photographs that I showed to the First Presidency of the Greek wheel and the Hebrew incense burners before I went to Mexico two years ago are among his collection.

The material has been gathered in what was perhaps the heart of the Jaradite country and also early Mulek lands.  At least in what is called Olmec which may have been originally Mulek.  The materials in his museum are very important to the Church.

I have become quite friendly with Mr. Frissell on my past trips to Mexico.  When visiting him on this trip, we found that he had had a stroke several months ago and his health is in rather bad condition.

He told me that he would like to turn the museum over to me, and by that I would think it would be the New World Archaeological Foundation.  He said that he didn’t want it to be left to unreliable people who would sell the valuable pieces in his collection and scatter them throughout the United States; nor did he want to turn it over to the Mexican Government.  It was his suggestion that we place a young couple there to take care of the museum and let him and his wife live there until he dies.

I asked him what he would charge for the museum and he said that he hadn’t figured on charging me anything, but we would have to work something out that would be agreeable.  So I don’t know what he will come up with if we finally, seriously talk business with him. 

Thursday (tomorrow) evening I go to Safford, Arizona, to conference and will not be back for nearly a week.  Mr. Frissell is coming to the United States on the 7th of this month.  In conversation with Pres. Strong yesterday, he and I agreed that we ought to contact Mr. Frissell before he leaves for the United States in case he has opportunity to turn the museum over to somebody in his home country back in Minnesota and we lose our opportunity.  We thought it quite urgent that we make a decision quickly, but we wanted your council first.

If you could spend a few moments time today with us or anytime tomorrow I could telephone to Pres. Strong and he could come up immediately in order that the two of us might present our recommendations and feelings towards this important project.

We both feel that it would take an untold amount of money and time to ever gather together as many ancient artifacts and relics as Mr. Frissell has in his museum, and it might be impossible for us to ever do so.

Sincerely yours,

Milton R. Hunter


Tues., 18 June, 1957:

9 a.m.  First Presidency’s meeting

Among items considered were the following:

1.  Proposed Gift of Mitla Museum to New World Archeological Foundation

A letter from Elder Milton R. Hunter was read in which he reported that Mr. E. R. Frissell, and his wife, owners of the museum at Mitla, Mexico, are agreed upon their desire and intention to give the museum to the New World Archaeology Foundation.  After consideration, it was agreed that Elder Mark E. Petersen and Dr. Wm. F. Edwards, Finance Secretary, be asked to go to Mitla and investigate this proposition fully with a view to advising the First Presidency as to the soundness of the transaction and the obligations which the Church would assume if the offer be accepted, President McKay to instruct Brother Petersen and Brother Edwards.  (see letter following)

Later I called Brother Mark E. Petersen and Brother Wm. F. Edwards about the Mitla Museum, and Brother Petersen asked if Brother Milton Hunter might accompany them on their tour of inspection about this property and the proposed gift by Mr. and Mrs. Frissell.  I said there would be no objection to Brother Hunter’s accompanying them.

Tuesday, June 18, 1957.

Telephone conversation with Elder Mark E. Petersen.

Re:  Visit to Mexico to investigate Museum.

I called Elder Mark E. Petersen by telephone and asked him if he was well.  He said, ‘Yes.’  I stated further that I hoped he was because we are crowding him to the limit.  Brother Petersen assured me that he is feeling very well.

I then informed Brother Petersen that we have a long letter this morning from Elder Milton R. Hunter regarding the receiving as a gift the museum in Milta, Oaxaca, Mexico.  The owner of this museum would like to present it as a gift to the Church through the New World Archeological Association.  Brother Petersen stated that Brother Hunter had told him a little regarding this organization.

I stated further that Brother Hunter was in Mexico recently, and the owner of this museum, Mr. Frissell and his wife, have agreed to present it to this Foundation instead of giving it to the Mexico City College.  I gave Brother Petersen the further infromation that Brother Hunter had wanted to go back East and get the signature of Mr. Frissell who was in the East confined to a hospital.  At that time we had said that we did not want to accept the gift if Mrs. Frissell wanted to give the museum to the College in Mexico, and we felt that we did not want to interfere.  Now Brother Hunter states that Mr. and Mrs. Frissell have changed their minds and now last Monday and Tuesday, both agreed to give the museum to the Church.  I stated further that we do not feel impressed to take this responsibility upon ourselves without first having two brethren go to Mexico and inspect the museum and come back and give us their recommendations.

I then told Brother Petersen that we should like Dr. Edwards and him to arrange to go down and look this museum over.  They are to see what the conditions are and come back and report.

Brother Petersen stated that they would be very happy to do this, and asked when I should like them to go, and I told him that if they could fly, it would not take too many days, but we should like their judgment on this matter.

I stated further that I had not spoken to Dr. Edwards, but that I would call him, and that we shall leave the arrangements to them.  I stated that I would send a copy of Brother Hunter’s letter to him.  Brother Petersen stated that he would be very happy to proceed.  I commended him for his willingness at all times to do what was asked of him, and Brother Petersen stated, ‘It is a pleasure, I love my work!’

I called Dr. William F. Edwards and told him that we would like to send him to Mexico with Brother Mark E. Petersen.  I then mentioned briefly that Brother Milton R. Hunter has been in touch with Mr. and Mrs. E.R. Frissell at Mitla, Oaxaca, Mexico regarding their turning over a museum to the Church through the New World Archeological Foundation.  I stated further that the Mexico City College has been trying to obtain this museum, but the owners have decided that they would rather give it to the Church under certain conditions.  The articles in the museum are valued by Mr. Frissell at $10,000,000.  I stated to Dr. Edwards that before we make any decision about this gift from Mr. Frissell  that we should like two of our brethren to go to Mexico and examine the museum, see the conditions, and make a report to us regarding its worth and check on its value as a Book of Mormon evidence.  We are not sure about the claims that have been made–that some of the collections date to Book of Mormon times, and other items date into Jaredite times, but we do know not anything about these claims.

I asked Brother Edwards if he would please accept this appointment with Brother Mark E. Petersen; that they go by air and look into this for us.  Brother Edwards stated that he would counsel with Brother Petersen, and if they need further instructions, they will check with us.

Tuesday, June 18, 1957.


      The First Council of the Seventy

47 E. South Temple Street

  Salt Lake City 1, Utah

        June 17, 1957

Gift of Mitla Museum

President David O. McKay


Dear President McKay:

I met with Mr. and Mrs. E.R. Frissell last Monday and Tuesday at Mitla, Oaxaca, Mexico, in regards to their museum.  They have both come to the conclusion that they want to give it to the New World Archaeological Foundation in preference to Mexico City College and in preference to anyone else.  That means, of course, that the Church is the owner if we accept the gift.

I also talked to Mr. Howard Leigh, an archaeologist who owns an excellent archaeological collection, at Mitla.  He will also turn his museum to us.  They are all completely in agreement as to whom should own their collections.

Wednesday morning for perhaps thirty minutes, I discussed with Mr. John Paddock, the Chairman of the Archaeology Department of the Mexico City College, the fact that Frissells had definitely decided to turn the museum to us.  John Paddock came on the plane from Mexico City, and I met him at the Oaxaca Airport.  After I visited with him, he went on to Mitla and spent the day with Mr. and Mrs. Frissell.  They informed him that they had come to a definite and absolute decision to turn the museum over to the New World Archaeological Foundation.  That evening, Major Joseph E. Vincent telephoned me in Mexico City, informing me that the Frissells had given the fore-given decision to the Mexico City College and that they had very agreeably withdrawn from the field.  They feel very good toward us and will cooperate with us in all respects.

Mr. and Mrs. Frissell will turn the museum over to us as soon as they sign a contract with us on terms of agreement for transfer of the museum to the New World Archaeological Foundation.  The decision rests in your hands regarding future procedure.

I highly recommend that the Church receive this museum.  It contains 10,000 pre-Columbian artifacts which are valued by Mr. Frissell at $10,000,000.  Some of the artifacts date in Book of Mormon times; and some others would even date into Jaredite times.  Many of them supply good evidence to confirm the Book of Mormon.

Indians are continuously opening graves and bringing artifacts to the museum to sell.  We would have that source of contact in the future which is possibly more important to us than what the museum now contains.  One would never know when something would be broght in which might be marvelous Book of Mormon evidence, such as Hebrew writing, Egyptian writing, gold plates, or something of that nature.  Two beautiful gold objects were brought to the museum recently by an Indian.

Mr. Frissell estimates that only one-half of one percent of the ancient tombs between Mitla and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec have been opened up to the present time.  From some of the tombs, wonderful collections of bowls, ancient artifacts, and other marvelous things have been found, including beautiful gold pieces–the gold collection, however, is in the Oaxaca Museum.

I feel that the Lord has blessed us greatly in making it possible for us to own this museum.

The expenses listed in these terms of agreement will continue during the lifetime of Mr. Frissell.  When the motel portion of the museum is turned over to us the expenses will be cut down to merely some arrangements with Mrs. Frissell for her sustenance.  From then on the opportunity will be ours to rent the rooms and to manufacture articles to sell to tourists.  I believe that thereafter the institution can be made self sustaining, or nearly so.  Mr. and Mrs. Frissell have made it nearly self sustaining since its establishment and have been able to buy many artifacts.  They claim that it has not been one hundred percent self sustaining, but they have made it nearly so; therefore, our heavier expenses would come during the next few years,and then they would be done away with almost completely.

I hope that in the near future, along with others, to establish one of the greatest archaeological museums in the world here in Salt Lake City, which will supply an abundance of evidence to sustain the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon.  Thomas Stuart Ferguson and I in the New World Archaeological Foundation have connections with the various great archaeologists in the United States and Mexico, and they have promised us that they will make available anything that has been found up to the present time and what will be found in the future for us to have duplicates made of the same to put in a museum here in Salt Lake City.

Everything is opening in a wonderful way to help sustain the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I want to devote every bit of energy that I have to help build the Kingdom of God and promulgate the Gospel of the Master.

Please advise me in regards to what should be done in respect to Mr. Frissell’s museum.  I shall be happy to discuss the matter with you if you should so desire and I will work completely in harmony with your directions.

I anticipate leaving for South America in ten days and so time is of importance in taking care of this great project.

Faithfully yours,

Milton R. Hunter”

Tues., 2 July, 1957:

“9 a.m.  First Presidency’s meeting was held

At this meeting, a letter received from Elders Mark E. Petersen and William F. Edwards, reporting their study of the Mitla Museum at Oaxaca, Mexico, was read, the recommendation being that the New World Archeological Foundation reject the offer of the owners and that the Foundation inform the owners of this action.  The report, however, suggested that the foundation might be interested in cooperating with the Mexico City College to gain access to the artifacts of the Museum.  (see following copy of report from Elders Petersen and Edwards)

Tuesday, July 2, 1957


TO:  The First Presidency

FROM:  Elder Mark E. Petersen Date:  July 1, 1957

  Elder Milton R. Hunter

  Brother William F. Edwards

Re:   Musuem at Mitla, Oaxaca, Mexico

In accordance with your assignment, we visited Mitla and Mexico City and investigated Mr. and Mrs. E.R. Frissell’s Museum which they have offered to transfer to the New World Archaeological Foundation.

It is our considered judgment that it would be inadvisable for the Foundation to become the owner of this Museum.  Therefore, we recommend that the proposal of Mr. and Mrs. Frissell be rejected.  

The economic value of the Museum is highly problematical, in our opinion.  Nevertheless, we believe that the Musuem could have considerable scientific and sight-seeing value because of its exceptional, although small, collection of artifacts related to the Zapotec culture.  We also believe that the Foundation is justified in exercising an influence to help preserve and ultimately improve the collection.

Mexico City College — a small, private, non-profit, non-denominational institution of higher learning, with a Department of Anthropology — is developing a station in Oaxaca and is very anxious to acquire this Museum.  If the College builds up a strong research center, including necessary library facilities, it may be possible for the Church to enjoy, through the use of the College facilities, all of the advantages anticipated with the New World Archaeological Foundation’s ownership, management, and financing.  Therefore, we recommend that the Foundation consider cooperating with the Department of Anthropology of Mexico City College to the extent it is mutually advantageous.  This cooperation may include seeking approval from the Mexican government to deposit and display in the Oaxaca Center of the Mexico City College excavated artifacts that are related to this collection in preference to delivering them to the National Museum.  It may also be advisable, at a later time, to assist the program of the College with relatively modest contributions.

There is attached a memo outlining in greater detail the reasons why we recommend that the Foundation reject the Museum.  Elder Hunter has left for a six week trip to Peru, although before leaving he read and approved of a draft of this memo.  Elder Petersen and Brother Edwards are available for consultation should you wish.  It is highly desirable that the decision in this matter be made known to Mr. and Mrs. Frissell at the earliest possible date and also to Mexico City College.

Sincerely your brethren,


Mark E. Petersen


William F. Edwards


Tuesday, July 2, 1957

Museum at Mitla, Oaxaca, Mexico

      Supplemental Memorandum

There are summarized below the reasons why a Committee of Elders Mark E. Petersen and Milton R. Hunter and Brother William F. Edwards recommended to the First Presidency that the proposal of Mr. and Mrs. E.R. Frissell be rejected:

1.  Mr. Frissell is a very unreasonable and difficult man to deal with.  It would be difficult to arrive at an initial agreement and possibly more difficult to avoid future disappointments.

2.  It is clear that Mr. Frissell desires to retain general control over the establishment and personnel, while having the New World Archaeological Foundation assume financial responsibility. Mr. Frissell lives as a king presiding over a small kingdom, with twelve Mexicans who respond to every command.

3.  There would almost certainly develop conflicts between Mr. Frissell and the Foundation over the management of the Museum, especially while he continues to operate the restaurant and controls the manufacturing and selling of items.  Some of these items are sold in the Museum by the employees who work in the Museum and there would be times when it would be difficult to distinguish between the function of selling and the function of displaying the Museum.

4.  There could be serious conflicts over politics of buying artifacts from the Indians.  It appears that Mr. Frissell has actually encouraged illegal digging for artifacts and he has followed policies inconsistent with the scientific objectives of the Foundation.

5.  Mr. Frissell is a collector of artifacts and not an archaeologist although he apparently pretends to be an authority on the Zapotec culture.  It is probable that he would frequently present to visitors points of view that would be undesirable in the judgment of the Foundation.

6.  It is very probably that a close association with Mr. Frissell would react unfavorably upon the reputation of the Foundation with government officials and other responsible people in Mexico.

7.  In connection with a transfer of the property to the Foundation, there could be trouble over the legal problems of transferring ownership and gift or transfer taxes.

8.  While Mr. Frissell refers to his proposal as a gift, actually the Foundation would be involved in a considerable initial investment and continuing operating expenses.

9.  There are further indications that the Foundation may avoid all of these difficulties and yet achieve most of its objectives.

a.  We met with the officials of the Mexico City College, the other party to whom Mr. and Mrs. Frissell considered transferring the Museum.  Those officials agreed to carry out all of the program at the Museum that the New World Archaeological Foundation anticipated carrying forward there.  They agreed that if they received the Museum from Mr. and Mrs. Frissell they would preserve all of the artifacts at the Museum and that they would open it for use of the New World Archaeological Foundation at any and all times and for use of students from the Brigham Young University and our other institutions, although this may involve some expense.

b.  If the Foundation withdraws from negotiations with the Frissells, the Frissells may be willing to deal more reasonably with Mexico City College.

c.  If Mexico City College builds up a good research center, including library facilities, it may be that the Foundation will find it desirable to deposit here certain of its excavated artifacts thus helping to create an ideal center for study of early American cultures.  It is very possible that the appropriate joint efforts of the College and the Foundation will create a more valuable Museum than could be achieved by the Foundation working alone.

10.  It is likely that any association of the Foundation with the College will add to the prestige of the Foundation and further strengthen the relationships between the Foundation and the Mexican government.  Dr. Ignacio Bernal, head of the Department of Anthropology at Mexico City College, is also Director of the Department of the Government responsible for all of the archaeological activities in Mexico.”

Thurs., 30 Jan., 1958:

“Brother Alvin Allen of Hyrum, Utah who is 86 years of age called at the office, and said that he would like to publish a book on the Book of Mormon, including in that book reasons why the plates were buried in the Hill Cumorah, and how they got there.  He would also like to print in this book a vision.

I said to Brother Allen:  ‘This is a free country–it is up to you as to whether you publish the book or not, but please do not include me in it in any way–do not use my name–and do not say that you called on me about it.

Brother Allen said:  ‘I shall not even mention your name, or that I called on you.’

Tues., 4 Feb., 1958:

“8:45 a.m.  By appointment at his request Brother Wilford C. Wood came in.  He had with him some pictures and materials which he would like to print into a book.  The materials covered events connected with the organization and early history of the Church, including uncut sheets of the first edition of the Book of Mormon.

I did not have time to go over all this material, but from a cursory glance told him that I could see no reason why he should not publish these materials in book form.

Later I received a letter from Dr. O. Preston Robinson, General Manager of the Deseret News Publishing Company who stated that Brother Wood had come to him stating that he had had a chat with me, and that I could see no reason why the material he has should not be published.  Brother Robinson then said:  ‘We have agreed to handle the printing of his book which, incidentally, I believe should have wide interest throughout the Church.’

I answered Dr. Robinson’s letter and told him that it is understood that Brother Wood alone is responsible for the printing of this book – that I had glanced through some of the pictures which he proposes to print with a copy of the first edition of the Book of Mormon, but that for these and whatever else is printed in the book Dr. Robinson and Brother Wood will be responsible; that it is not a Church publication.

Tuesday, February 4, 1958

    Deseret News Publishing Company

      P.O. Box 1257       EMpire 4-2581

    Salt Lake City, Utah

February 6, 1958

President David O. McKay

Office of the First Presidency

47 East South Temple Street


Dear President McKay:

A few days ago, Brother Wilford C. Wood came in with some pictures and materials which he wants us to print into a book for him.  In view of the fact that the materials covered in somewhat of an intimate way the events connected with the organization and early history of the Church, including uncut sheets of the first edition of the Book of Mormon, I suggested that he have a talk with you before we gave him our decision whether or not we would print the book.  He tells me he has had a chat with you and that you see no reason why the material should not be published.  Consequently, we have agreed to handle the printing of his book which, incidentally, I believe should have wide interest throughout the Church.

If you have any suggestions or instructions to us in respect to this matter, will you please let us have them.  Otherwise, we will move ahead with this project.

Thank you, and continued sincerest best personal wishes.


/s/ O. Preston Robinson

General Manager


Tuesday, February 4, 1958

February 6, 1958

Dr. O. Preston Robinson, General Manager

Deseret News Publishing Company

P.O. Box 1257

Salt Lake City, Utah

Dear Brother Robinson:

In reply to your letter of February 6, 1958 regarding Brother Wilford C. Wood’s request to print in book form pictures and manuscripts that he has assembled, I will say that it is understood that Brother Wood alone is responsible for the printing of this book.

For a few moments Wednesday morning I glanced through some of the pictures which he proposes to print with a copy of the first edition of the Book of Mormon.  For these and whatever else is printed in the book you and he will be responsible.

It is not a Church publication.

Very truly yours,

David O. McKay”

Sat., 15 Feb., 1958:

*Report of Elder Joseph T. Bentley, President Northern Mexican Mission

Among other things, President Bentley mentioned a tribe of Indians in Mexico who speak their own language and do not speak Spanish; that one man who had studied the Spanish language read from the Book of Job in the Bible where the Lord asked Job where he was when the foundations of the earth were laid and the sons of God shouted for joy.  He wondered where Job was.  He went to the Catholic priest and he told him he had no right to read those things.  When the Protestants came there he went to their ministers and they could not answer his question.  At length he heard of the Mormons and got the answer regarding the Pre-existant state.  He and his family joined the Church, and he is preaching among that people.  He said that there are 45,000 Indians in the group, and he (this Indian) thinks that they will all join the Church.

Thurs., 17 Sept. 1959:

“2:25 p.m.

Joseph Anderson came in in answer to my request about sending expense money to Joseph Thorup who has done some work in translating the Book of Mormon into the Greek language.*

*From the minutes of the First Presidency: Elder Thorup’s Greek translation of the Book of Mormon was considered.  Elder Gordon B. Hinckley was called into the meeting.  He reviewed a memorandum of a conference he had had with Brother Thorup, and also memoranda of appraisal of the translation by Brothers Revelotos, Kitros, Philagiosus, Dr. Hugh Nibley, and Mr. Peter Marthakis.  Brother Hinckley proposed that he obtain professional opinions in the United States and in Greece as to the suitability of the translation for reading by people living in Greece today and report to the First Presidency.  It was agreed that this proposal be approved.

Wednesday, October 14, 1959

Excerpts from the Minutes of the Meeting of the First Presidency held Wednesday, October 14, 1959 at 8:30 a.m.  Present – David O. McKay; President J. Reuben Clark, Jr.’ President Henry D. Moyle

Re: Visit of DeVere Baker – Lehi Raft Expeditions

DeVere Baker, of Redondo Beach, California, raftsman of Lehi I, II, III, and IV, came into the meeting of the First Presidency at the invitation of President McKay.  He exhibited a map of the world marked to indicate the route to be taken by his raft, Lehi V, from Mescat in Oman to Guatemala.

He explained that he had tried three times by raft from California to reach Hawaii.  He had failed three times, but he succeeded the fourth.  He said he owned two shipyards in San Francisco but sold them and is now engaged in building Lehi V.  He has been studying oceanography, and the Book of Mormon, to discover the route likely taken by Hagoth by which he reached the islands of the Pacific.  He stated that major currents in the Pacific are the Japanese, the Humbolt and the equatorial current.  Ships in distress are carried to the Hawaiian Islands.

He stated that once he and his associates on the raft tried to turn their raft around to sail back to the United States, but the raft drifted back to the Hawaiian Islands.  He referred to Elder Matthew Cowley’s telling the people of the Pacific Islands that their forefathers originally came from the Americas, and this accounted for the blood of Israel in the Islands.  Scientific theories, however, are that the Polynesians came from the Gilbert Islands.

He stated that this May (1959), newspapers in Hawaii published an article which reported an archeological find of the ruins of a small village near Hilo where there was unearthed for the first time evidence of pottery similar to South American pottery.  The clipping stated that by carbon dating, the occupancy is placed at 24 A.D.

His raft, Lehi IV, is now in Hawaii placed in storage for him by President Clissold.  It is 18 feet by 24 feet.  He explained that the ocean currents with which he travels have never changed for a million years, and are kept constant by the earth’s rotation.

He said the civic service clubs in Redondo Beach and city officials of that city have been helpful to him.  The next trip of the raft Lehi V which is being built in Redondo Beach is to be sponsored by the City of Redondo Beach.

He explained the plan is to train for six months off the California Coast before having the raft taken by vessel to Mescat in the country of Oman, from which it will sail for a period of 344 days and attempt to retrace the route of the Jaredites.  The route will be to Bombay, India where the raft will be re-provisioned.  He said that, ‘The Academy of Medicine’ has arranged for a doctor to accompany the raft to Bombay.  Dr. John Clark, of Honolulu, will accompany it from Bombay to Japan; Dr. Joseph Smith from Japan to Honolulu; thereafter, the raft will be without a doctor.  The last three months will be taken for the raft to drift from Redondo Beach to Guatemala.  The raft drifts in the ocean currents at the rate of forty miles a day.  He described the ocean currents as broad rivers 200 miles wide.  He said that the raft begins to move to the center of the current as it drifts.  He said the drift from Dakar in South Africa to the Caribbean is 62 days.

He sated that he had lectured about his experiences in many universities, before the Leadership Week of the BYU in Southern California, and before several service clubs.

He reviewed his Church activities as including the teaching of an Elders quorum, teaching the gospel doctrine class.  He submitted a letter from his bishop and said one from his stake president has been sent.  He said that the City of Redondo has made available to him equipment and an office and secretarial service.  His income is derived from his lectures.  He is scheduled for several radio and television programs on a national basis.

He stated that Rex Campbell of KSL (and two or three others of KSL staff) had suggested that he request that KSL have someone accompany the raft on this trip and send back news to be released from Salt Lake City.

He mentioned finding in South America a toy with a wheel though science says Cortez brought the wheel to the Americas.  He also mentioned accounts in the Book of Mormon where Shiblon refers to the earth as round.

President McKay said:  ‘Let me ask — we have been of the opinion that Hagoth went from South America and landed in Tahiti, and came from Tahiti to the Hawaiian Islands.  Do you think he went straight over?’

Brother Baker said: ‘Hagoth, the boat builder, launched into the west, and then went north.  This should account for both the Samoan and Hawaiian group of islands being populated.’

‘He went into the currents which would carry him to Hawaii and then south, and he would be carried to Tahiti.  Both absolutely right.’

President McKay said: ‘You also confirm what one of our Maori men said, that New Zealand was settled by one class of men who came from the west, east.  But the Maoris came from the east traveling west.’

Brother Baker:  ‘Right.  Yes.  There are two races in Maori-land.  Yes.  Both areas would follow the easy ocean currents.

Brother Baker said that Heyerdahl works south of the equator, and he north.

He reviewed opportunities he hopes to develop for getting information about his experiences before people in films, television, radio, newspapers, magazines, as means of arousing interest in the Book of Mormon.  He stated that his films are sponsored by industrial companies which bring him compensation.

He said that he would like permission to have a representative of KSL accompany the party by raft on the 344-day drift along the ocean currents, such as brought the Jaredites to the Western Hemisphere.  He also asked the privilege of bringing a report of his experiences to the First Presidency when he returns from the drift.

He withdrew from the meeting at this point.”

Thurs., 22 Oct. 1959:

“2:15 p.m.

Following the meeting in the Temple, I met in my private office Elders Mark E. Petersen and Richard L. Evans.  They presented the matter of publishing an abridged edition of the Book of Mormon, which will contain all the parts of the Book of Mormon as contained in the Sunday School lesson on the Book of Mormon for the year 1940.

The committee feels that this will prove to be a very convenient book for investigators.  They stated that no word or comment within the book will be other than the words of the Book of Mormon itself.

I told them to go ahead with the matter, and submit a prospectus to the First Presidency.”

Wed., 27 Jan. 1960:

“8:30 to 9:30 a.m.

Brother Thomas Stuart Ferguson of the New World Archaeological Society who lives in Oakland, California (Tele. Higatte 4-8780) called by appointment at his request on the First Presidency.  He is very enthusiastic regarding the accomplishments of his organization.  It would seem from what he says that they have done a good work.  The Church has contributed a considerable amount in support of work that his organization has been doing in Central America.  We referred him to President Ernest L. Wilkinson of the Brigham Young University, to whom this matter of archaeological work has been assigned.

Wed., 9 Nov. 1960:

“Following the departure of these brethren and sisters, we held our meeting of the First Presidency.  President Clark excused, he being confined to his home.

President Moyle submitted the cost for marking the passages in the Book of Mormon in red, by underlining, or by printing a new edition in bold type in lieu of hand-marking of passages selected by the general priesthood committee which are now marked by senior aaronic priesthood members by hand in the books sold and distributed by High Priests quorums in furtherance of the Book of Mormon project assigned to High Priest quorums.

I expressed disfavor for this practice, and did not approve of the making of books by printing or by hand.

Wed., 23 Nov. 1960:

“Wednesday, November 23, 1960


By Joseph T. Bentley and Ernest L. Wilkinson

On November 23, 1960, at 9:30 a.m. Joseph T. Bentley and Ernest L. Wilkinson had a conference with President David O. McKay at which the following decisions were made:

2.  Archaeological work in Central America

President Wilkinson reported that the committee appointed by the First Presidency composed of Elders Mark E. Petersen, Marion G. Romney and himself recommended that the Church spend approximately $100,000.00 a year on further archaeological explorations and excavations in Central America (mainly lower Mexico); and that this $100,000.00 be included in the Brigham Young University budget for next year.  He informed President McKay that it was necessary to go ahead and compensate men who are on the job rather than lose them until a final decision is made by the First Presidency.  President McKay expressed surprise at the recommendations of the committee.  President Wilkinson replied that he and the other members of the committee were themselves surprised, but that they had visited what had been done by the New World Archaeological Foundation with considerable doubt, and they were convinced that this work should continue.  President McKay authorized President Wilkinson to go ahead and make such expenditures as were necessary until a final determination was made.

Thurs., 1 June 1961:

“8:30 a.m.

Went to the office of the First Presidency where, according to appointment, I set apart Elder John Edwin Baird as President of the Southwest Indian Mission.  Sister Baird was set apart by President Moyle.

Brother Baird has been serving for the past two years as Indian Coordinator for the Church.  He stated that there are public schools and also Federal Schools on the Navajo reservation, and that we hold a modified seminary program with the Indian children.  The Government will only permit us to hold classes with them on Sundays and one hour during the week.  Most of the classes are for the children in the first to fourth grades.  The seminary is generally held from 3 to 4 p.m. and the buses wait for the children.  The missionaries do the teaching in the seminaries.  The parents must give their consent for this instruction.  We do not baptize the children without the written consent of the parents.  The missionaries live in trailer houses and in chapels where they are available.  He said that we now have fifteen chapels there.”

Wed., 15 Nov. 1961:

“8:30 – 10 a.m.

Attended the regular meeting of the First Presidency.

Devere Baker, Lehi Raft Project

President Brown reported that he had just been informed by Elder Stapley that he had received a letter from Ralph Frogley of Boise complaining that DeVere Baker has just recently made a talk in Boise saying that he had the endorsement and approval of the First Presidency of the Church for his project, and for what he is saying.  In his remarks he said that the end of the world is near and he has knowledge of about when it is going to happen.  I said we have never given endorsement of any kind to Baker or his project.  Elder Stapley may write back to Brother Frogley disclaiming any responsibility by the First Presidency for Baker and his projects.”

Thurs., 16 Nov. 1961:

9:15 a.m.

After Congressman King’s departure, we met with Elder Milton R. Hunter who showed us pictures of Gold Plates found in Mexico upon which were engraved hieroglyphics.  Brother Hunter explained that Jose Davila, one of our people in Mexico, has them in his possession.  He explained that Elders Howard W. Hunter and Joseph T. Bentley and he had talked yesterday about asking one of the principal lawyers in Mexico who is friendly to us – Martin Baez – to go to the federal government and obtain a permit to have these plates brought into the United States.  Brother Hunter said that the find was made in Oaxaca where the man who found the plates was excavating.  Then the missionaries happened to come in contact with him, and he told them about his find.  The missionaries asked the gentleman to keep this matter quiet.  Brother Davila paid $2000 for the plates.

Brother Hunter then said that if permission could be obtained to take them out of Mexico, it was thought that perhaps they could tell Mr. Baez to send them to Mr. Albright, and as far as possible keep the Church out of the matter.  We do not want Church ownership at the present time, and we might have to give Jose Davila some money.  If the plates prove to be genuine, Dr. Albright could perhaps arrange to have some article about them appear in a national magazine; however, the entire thing should be verified outside of the Church.

We told Brother Milton R. Hunter to go ahead with the matter; that, however, he should consult Brother Howard Hunter, the Chairman of the Committee, and do nothing without first consulting him.

Tues., 5 Dec. 1961:

“9 a.m.

Went in to the regular meeting of the First Presidency.  We considered many matters, among which were :  1) Indian Committee.  It was suggested that inasmuch as Elder Boyd K. Packer, the new Assistant has been a long associated with the Indian program, it might be well to have him serve on the sub-committee of the Indian Committee looking after the Lamanites.  I said that that would be all right

Wed., 10 Jan., 1962:

“[First Presidency Meeting] Miniature Gold Plates from Mexico – Elder Milton R. Hunter, by appointment, brought into the meeting Sister Hazel Davila, wife of a local missionary in Mexico, Jose Davila, residents of

Puebla, Mexico, who exhibited miniature gold plates upon which appear engravings resembling characters transcribed and appearing on the illustration of “characters” reproduced among illustrations in the Pearl of Great Price.

Sister Davila explained that the plates were found by a Mexican medical doctor, Dr. Padillo, who had accompanied four archaeologists to a remote part of Mexico where they had viewed from the air a plateau on which was an extensive burial ground. The doctor attempted to drive the tent peg into the ground with hard blows of his hammer and the ground which had been shaken with the surrounding area by earthquakes caved in under him and dropped him into a tomb where he found an ancient burial place in which were the remains of a corpse, the bones of which fell into dust when they were touched, and only the teeth from the skull were preserved since everything else had disintegrated.  On the stomach of this corpse was a small three-legged ball in which were these small plates of gold.

The doctor had a local jeweler prepare hinges to join the plates together into a charm bracelet for his wife. There was a small wire tied around them to keep them together. They were in this form when they were purchased from the doctor by the Davilas.

Sister Davila explained that the missionaries had contacted the doctor, and in the course of giving him the proselyting lessons the doctor had shown them the little gold plates. The doctor prepared an affidavit giving the details of the manner in which he had acquired the plates.

Sister Davila further said that during the Christmas holiday she took the plates to Richmond, Washington where her brother-in-law is an engineer at Hanfort and he had the metal assayed. He reported that it contains 8% silver, 25% copper, and the remainder is gold.

During the discussion regarding the plates, Brother Milton R. Hunter repeated statements that had been given by leading archaeologists of our day regarding the Book of Mormon. He related in particular the story of a woman archaeologist now living in San Diego, California, who had lived among the Indians of Mexico as a child, who had learned their language (thought to be the only person living who knows this language), and who, since reading the Book of Mormon, feels that these Indians are of the Jaredites. She made the statement that these Indians have large gold plates piled as high as a table, and that they are still writing on them. She is willing to takes Brother Hunter to visit these Indians, and I said to Brother Hunter, “You have an obligation to have that woman show you this place.”

After much consideration, it was decided that Sister Davila should keep the plates in her possession; obtain a certificate from the jeweler who made the hinges as to the condition of the plates when he first saw them, and to bring this together with the plates with her when she comes back to Salt Lake City in April.

(For complete details of this meeting, see minutes of First Presidency’s Meeting)”

Wed., 28 Mar., 1962:

Following the departure of the above named brethren, we held the regular meeting of the First Presidency. Among other matters, we discussed:

Greek Translation of the Book of Mormon

Elder Spencer W. Kimball’s letter of March 16, 1962, transmitted to the First Presidency a letter from Elder Lt. Garry Williams to Brother Nicholas Philagious relating to the baptism of his nephew, Alexander Kamariotis, in Athens, Greece, and included the request for Gospel tracts and for the Book of Mormon in Greek.

I said that we have the Book of Mormon in a Greek translation, and that I think we ought to publish it as there is such a warm feeling between the Greeks and the Church now. We can go right from the king through the Priesthood to the high priest. He (Archbishop Iakovos) was here the other day as an illustration of the good feeling between us. I mentioned that Sister McKay and I went up to the Pioneer Memorial Theatre at the University of Utah, to see the plaque which was installed there by the Greek Government as a tribute from the Greeks and the king of Greece. It is a beautiful thing. Before leaving the hotel, the Ambassador of Greece, who had made the presentation to the University, left a note in his own handwriting expressing appreciation of my sending an acknowledgement of the gift and signed his own name with the name of Mr. Chris Athas of Salt Lake City. The pastor of the Greek community, Reverend Steven A. Katsaris, sent a telephone message expressing appreciation for the way we treated Archbishop Iakovos, prelate of North and South America. The Archbishop was very favorable. He is a remarkable man. I said that I think that now is the time for us to translate the Book of Mormon in the Greek language and publish it.

President Moyle said that he would like to see us do it. I said, “If you feel that way, let us publish the Thorup manuscript. ” President

Moyle said that he thought we should go ahead, and I said, “If you feel that way, that is what we shall do. “

Tues., 29 May 1962:

“2)  Greek Translation of Book of Mormon Being Reviewed by Staff of Archbishop Iakovos — President Moyle reviewed President Wilburn West’s letter reporting that he had delivered the Joseph Thorup manuscript of the Greek translation of the Book of Mormon to the office of Archbishop Iakovos at 10 East 79th Street, New York City, New York, which is just around the corner on 79th Street from the headquarters of the Eastern States Mission.  Mr. Arthur Dore, who received the manuscript, assured him that the material will be reviewed as promised by the Archbishop and report would be sent to me promptly.  Mr. Dore said that the Archbishop was impressed by his visit in Salt Lake City, and to my office.  I wrote to Archbishop Iakovos following his visit to Salt Lake City, and asked him if he would have someone in his office give us his opinion of the Thorup Greek translation of the Book of Mormon (see letters following)

Tuesday, May 29, 1962


April 23, 1962

Most Reverend Archbishop Iakovos

Greek Arch Diocese

10 East 79th Street

New York City 21, New York

Your Eminence:

We remember with warm appreciation your gracious visit with us on the occasion of your being in Salt Lake City recently.

Several requests have come to us for the literature of our Church in Greek.  We have a manuscript of the Book of Mormon in Greek.  Whatever we release for publication we desire it to be of that quality of excellence that the divine word deserves.

We wonder if we may presume upon your kindness to ask if you will recommend to us someone who can give us an appraisal of the quality of the translation into Greek of the manuscript we have.

We shall be grateful to you and hope that we may have the privilege some time of reciprocating in some appropriate way.

Most sincerely and respectfully,

David O. McKay



Tuesday, May 29, 1962


may 2, 1962

Mr. David O. McKay, President

Church of the Latter Day Saints

47 East South Temple Street

Salt Lake City, Utah

Dear Mr. McKay,

In reference to your letter of April 23, Archbishop Iakovos who is presently absent on a pastoral tour has instructed me to inform you that the Greek Archdiocese will be glad to review the Greek translation of the literature of your Church.

If you will be so kind as to address the manuscript or volume to myself, I will try to give it to a properly qualified person for an appraisal.

Very sincerely yours,

Arthur Dore, Director

Office of Information


Wed., 27 Feb. 1963:

“8:30 a.m.

Was engaged in the meeting of the First Presidency.  Many matters of general importance to the Church were discussed and passed upon.  Among them were:

Lehi Raft – DeVere Baker

I explained that DeVere Baker is about to set out again on another cruise on the Lehi Raft.  I asked if anything has been said to him, and if the Presidency have any obligation.  President Moyle and President Brown said there is no basis for assuming that there is any obligation whatever to Captain Baker.  President Brown said the report had come to him that I had given Captain Baker my blessing.  I said that I had never done this.  President Brown said that he had remarked upon hearing that report that no one should make that statement.  I asked that the minutes of a meeting the Presidency held when DeVere Baker reported his earlier voyages be given to me.

My secretary reported to me that DeVere Baker had called at the office just recently, and that he had been told that President McKay was out of the city (President McKay was in Huntsville at that time.)

Thurs., 28 Mar. 1963:

“Greek Translation of the Book of Mormon

We read a letter from President Wilburn C. West of the Eastern States Mission, who reported his having conferred with Mr. Arthur Dor and Panos Peklaris in the office of the Archbishop of the Greek Archdiocese in New York City.  Mr. Peklaris has made a preliminary review of the Greek translation of the Book of Mormon (the work of Brother Joseph Thorup now in Switzerland).  He feels that the translation is hardly acceptable for a basic volume of scripture.  The style of the translation will be suitable for a magazine or text book article.  The Book of Mormon will be used for generations, parts memorized, and it cannot be edited and revised periodically.  The greatest accuracy should be achieved in the initial translation.  The translator has given a literal, exact, and almost mechanical translation, but has not breathed into the work the shades of meaning and the nuances.  Eight examples of words used to convey meanings which Mr. Peklaris thought to be inappropriate were given.  President West said that he declined to accept the material back and indicated that they could show it to someone who could do the work.  Both of the men indicated a desire to be helpful.  President West said he expressed the deep interest of the First Presidency in the matter, and indicated that I would be grateful to them and to the Archbishop if they could find a way to help us do the work.

I expressed appreciation for the report of President West, and for the work of the gentlemen at the office of the Archbishop.

I directed that President West’s letter be sent to Dr. Hugh Nibley at the BYU for his recommendation, and said that the manuscript should be left where it is for the present.”

Thurs., 18 Apr. 1963:

“Greek Translation of Book of Mormon

We read a letter prepared to be sent to Dr. Hugh Nibley of the Brigham Young University regarding bringing the Greek translation of the book of Mormon by Joseph Thorup from New York City, and sending it to Dr. Nibley for editing to be done under his direction by Brother Ktras, a Greek scholar at the BYU.  He recommended that the letter be re-written to include a paragraph about having in advance an understanding as to the payment of the cost of the editing and preparation of the manuscript for publication.

I approved the recommendation.  A letter has been prepared to Brother West of the Eastern States Mission to obtain the manuscript from the Office of the Greek Orthodox Arbishops in New York, and a letter also has been prepared to Elder Harold B. Lee, who is in New York, requesting him to bring the manuscript home with him.”

Thurs., 21 Nov. 1963:

“At 8:30 a.m., I had my counselors come over to the apartment so that we could hold the usual First Presidency’s meeting.  Among the matters considered were the following:

Book of Mormon – Aramaic Translation of

President Tanner said that Dr. Ebeid Sarofim, who joined the Church of England some time ago, would like to have the opportunity, with the President’s blessing, to translate the Book of Mormon into the Aramaic language.  President Tanner said Dr. Sarofim does not want to be paid for this work, but would like to know that we are behind him in making this translation.  He said that we could never find a better man to do the translating.  It was decided to tell Dr. Sarofim that we have no objection to his making the translation on the conditions mentioned, with no assurance that it will be printed.  The Brethren thought it would be well to have the translation on hand if and when we do missionary work in those countries.  President Tanner mentioned that Dr. Sarofim is a scholar who has taught in three universities and is an international lawyer.”

Tues., 1 Dec. 1964:

Dead Sea Scrolls – Offer of Opportunity to Photograph

President Brown reviewed the part taken by Brother Bigler in getting cattle from Holland to Jericho and in delivering them to Musa Bey Alami for the experimental farm operated by Mr. Alami of the Arab Development League.  He explained, also, that Brother Bigler, while in Jericho, had made a friend of a man who has some custody or access to scrolls in the Dead Sea Caves, and that this gentleman has visited Brother Bigler in Salt Lake County who has taken him to the Brigham Young University.  They have talked with President Joseph Fielding Smith, who recommended that they confer with Dr. Hugh Nibley of the BYU.  The Arab gentleman and Brother Bigler visited with President Brown and President Tanner and informed that that opportunity can be arranged for Dr. Nibley, to see the Dead Sea Scrolls and to photograph them.  They may not be removed from the present custody.  They are dry and brittle and will disintegrate if they are moved or touched, but by careful method of humidifying them, they absorb moisture and can be preserved.  They can be photographed.  The custodian invited Brother Bigler and Dr. Nibley to return with him to Jericho and Palestine to examine the scrolls and to take such photographs as Dr. Nibley may desire.  It is reported that Dr. Nibley regards this as the greatest opportunity that has come to the Church to have original, direct access to the scrolls and to have the opportunity to photograph them, and thus to obtain copies.  He would like to have the opportunity to do this and to translate them.  President Brown asked me if I am willing that the Church put up enough money to send Brother Bigler and Dr. Hugh Nibley over to the Dead Sea for this purpose, and I said, ‘I will approve of that — I think that is fine.’

Monday, January 11, 1965

Dr. Hugh Nibley’s Report of His Visit to Palestine

Dr. Hugh Nibley of the Brigham Young University, having recently returned from a visit to the Holy Land where he went with Louis B. Bigler, Jr. to obtain information regarding the Dead Sea Scrolls, met with the Presidency in response to their invitation and made a verbal report of his visit.  Dr. Nibley also submitted a typewritten report as of date December 28, 1964, a copy of which is incorporated into these minutes.  Supplementing his type-written report Dr. Nibley said that the information on these scrolls is very closely associated with the Book of Mormon.  He said there are things like the hymns of an unknown prophet and the story of the olive tree, some of which material he thinks will turn out to be the writings of Zenos, which book is mentioned in the Book of Mormon.  Brother Nibley said that they have tens of thousands of fragments, 45 drawers full, and that it takes months to put together one tiny bit.  He said the thing to do is to photograph them in infrared and hand them around for people to put them together.  He said you cannot read them in the original but you can hold up an infrared picture and read it.  He said that Dr. Saad, the head of the museum who is in charge of the whole thing, said that he would make a great effort to visit Utah.

President Tanner asked Dr. Nibley if there is anything the Church should be doing in addition to what we are doing.  Dr. Nibley said that there is nothing to do but wait, that many of these scrolls are in this country and the Arabs think they will never be returned to their country.  They think everything will be stolen over here.  He said that a number of the scrolls, a dozen of them, arrived here on the 27th of December.  Brother Nibley was there when they were sent out secretly.

President Brown said that he understood that one of the purposes of the visit was to see those scrolls that Joseph Saad had.  Brother Nibley said that he took them all around and showed them the scrolls, the caves and other things.  Brother Nibley mentioned that Vontella Kimball is the king pin in social life there, that she is a devoted member of the church, that she broke down all of Saad’s resistance and it was because of her influence that they were able to see everything that Joseph Saad had and hear his story.  Brother Nibley said that we have a number of documents at the ‘Y’ and are doing marvelous work there; as a matter of fact, that we are doing more than all the libraries around here combined, that the library is building up admirably, that our Egyptian collection is one of the four or five best in America in that particular field, and that we will get the scrolls as fast as they come out.  He said these things are marvelous and that all he wants is to be left alone with them for a while so that he can work on them.  Dr. Nibley said he met quite a number of archaeologists, etc., and it was nice to know that they do not know so much, in fact they do a lot of guessing.  He mentioned that everywhere he went the fact that he could read Greek and Aramaic inscriptions surprised them.  He said the person who had excavated some of these things was very greatly surprised when he, Dr. Nibley, read off the inscriptions on them and he couldn’t.  He said it was the same

thing in Beirut; also in Jerusalem, that the people who work on these things do not understand them very well.  He said he was not boasting in saying that he knows a lot more than they do because they don’t know very much, that their time is taken up principally with social life, they have to be politicians, etc.  He said the result is that no one does very much, they dig a little and they visit the sites.  Their excavation is just begun when they leave and go somewhere else.

President Brown asked Brother Nibley if he thought the trip was worthwhile.  He said that from his point of view it was.  He said we know what the scriptures are, that previously he never knew but he knows now why they put the Lord to death.  He said the situation in the New Testament is exactly what it is today and that is what the Lord and the apostles had to live under, like the Saints in the early days.  It explains so much, he said.  He said he understood now how it was that Herod put to death all the little children.  He said the stories they tell and the things they do are not very nice.  As far as finding out things is concerned, he said that he had written an article on Jerusalem for the Hebrew encyclopedia for publication; he found that he had written a general article because he had not been there, that his information came from temporary records; that, however, when you go there you get a warped idea, that the people have warped ideas about things, and he was glad he hadn’t been there when he wrote the article, that now he can see both angles of the story.

Again referring to the scrolls, Brother Nibley said that we cannot do anything about getting more scrolls or information from the scrolls until they have been made available through the Rockefeller Foundation; that, however, in the meantime there is a great deal of work to be done here, that the documents are here and the work is going very fast.  He mentioned that he had been writing to these people over in Palestine; also that he had had communication with the Jews.  He said the Jews are the only people who know anything about it and that we have good friends there, that we have good friends in Israel.  He mentioned that the last time that he was there, when he walked over the line three people were shot, that just as he was leaving he was talking to a Colonel Campbell of the Canadian Army who was with the United Nations, and he said that the tension is rising steadily.  He considered it quite desperate and he was uncomfortable, more so now than he was during the war.  Brother Nibley said the Jews were wonderful to him and the Arabs want to be but they are frightened to death.

President McKay asked Brother Nibley who possesses the scrolls.  Dr. Nibley answered that the Jordanian government possesses half of them and the other half belongs to the Hebrew university and Israel; also that four universities in this country possess some fragments.  Most of them, however, belong to the Jordan government.  He said that he got into the copper scrolls in Amman and saw about 45 jars full of tiny fragments.  He mentioned that there is no one in the Arab country who can read them as far as he could determine, that the Jews, however, can read them.  He said that they consider these scrolls to be the greatest asset of Jordan.  They say that tourism will be their number one attraction, and the principal attraction will be the Dead Sea Scrolls.

President McKay asked what is the relationship of the scrolls to the Book of Mormon.  Brother Nibley said they were written by Jews who were driven out of Jerusalem at various times, the same way that Lehi was driven out.  They established churches back as far as the time of Joshua.  The Jewish rabbis did not like them because they preached first of all the coming of the Messiah, they practiced baptism, they had an organization — a presidency of three and a council of twelve.  They had bishops by that name presiding over various units.  They baptized and practiced anointing, and had their strict rules like the Word of Wisdom.  The Jews in Jerusalem did not recognize their baptisms and so on.  They organized in groups of 50 and had a priest.  Elder Nibley said that is the way Alma organized, and he got it from Abinidi, and Alma tells us he quoted the Prophet Zenos.  These were prophets hundreds of years before Christ, and they tell the same story.  He tells that his enemies drove them into the wilderness and that his voice was heard in the wilderness.  Brother Nibley said these writings match the Book of Mormon very closely.  These records also refer to a prophet whose name is Zaddock.  He said the Dead Sea Scrolls were written by the Jews 150 years before Christ, and earlier, and they talk about the coming of Christ, the Holy Ghost, that Christ is the Messiah, etc.  He said it is so close to the Book of Mormon that he did not think one could deny it when the case is presented, that you cannot make anyone believe the Book of Mormon, but he felt sure the Lord has brought these things forth for that purpose along with the Coptic writings.  He mentioned that in these Coptic writings there are many things that are interpolations by the hands of men, and there are many things that are true and correctly translated.  He said that they have in common the following four points:  First, that the apostasy would happen in the second dispensation of the Church; second, these writings should never be handed down to the later Church; third, the doctrines of the Church to be handed down beginning with the council in heaven with a lot of our temple ordinances; fourth, the rites and ordinances that have come down.  He said they had the gospel and it is astounding what they did have; also that they knew about Lehi and his people.  Dr. Nibley said that the Jews do not like these scrolls and the Christians are not enthusiastic about them.  The Jews do not want them because they give an entirely different view of Judaism, and the Arabs don’t know what is in them.  These people, he said, were Jews who were cast out of Jerusalem.  They paid their tithes and their offerings exactly like Alma’s church, they kept the Sabbath but they also had one day a week for their special meetings.  He said they are not like the typical Jews.  They also had the sacrament of the bread and wine, looking forward to the coming of the Messiah who would come and partake of it with me.  They say that salvation does not come by the law of Moses but it will be given by the Lord when he comes.

President McKay asked what is the present condition of the scrolls.  Brother Nibley said they are available and waiting to be read and to be studied, that a new volume of them is just coming off the press this month.  All available ones, he said, have been prepared with a text and English translation.  He said it is like the Bible — everybody will have to read it for himself and make his own translations.  Brother Nibley said this is a priceless treasure as far as the gospel is concerned.

President McKay asked what should be done by the Church now.  Dr. Nibley said we should go on studying, that as far as making them available is concerned, that is being done for us.  The Gentiles have done the work and he said that we are doing all we can now to get hold of them and use them, that they are not quite ready for our use in teaching because we haven’t yet got them digested; that, however, we should have them in a year.  He said you have no idea how remarkable it is, that there is not a sour note in it anywhere, just as if we had written them.

Brother Nibley mentioned that in the beginning of the Book of Mormon Nephi wanted to write down the revelations of Christ to the apostles but he said that he would let John write them and they would be written up to come forth in their purity, so John’s writings are to come forth.  He said this is a very interesting thing, that everybody knows today that the Dead Sea Scrolls is John.  If we could understand John we could understand the Dead Sea Scrolls.  He said the Lord told Nephi that John will write these things.  The only New Testament name in the Book of Mormon is the name of John, and the Lord said these writings would be preserved in their purity and come forth in the due time of the Lord.  These people, Brother Nibley said, say ‘John, John, John,’ every time they look at them, that they are the language of John.  He said we must not muff it, but we must wait for developments.  There is a lot of work to be done.

President McKay asked who is doing the work now.  Brother Nibley said that he is doing it, that Richard Anderson is doing it, that we have some good people who can understand Hebrew.  Dr. Nibley said that this man, Sinai who comes from Israel, says that the Book of Mormon should be translated into Hebrew, that it cannot be understood except in Hebrew.  He suggested that the Book of Mormon be published in Hebrew and English with the Hebrew translation on one side and the English on the other to show the Jews what the Book of Mormon really says.

Minutes by Joseph Anderson

Monday, January 11, 1965

December 28, 1964

The First Presidency

Salt Lake City, Utah

Dear Brethren,

This is a report of the recent journey to Jordan by Brother and Sister Bigler and myself insofar as it concerns our immediate objective, which was:  to determine the extent, location, and accessibility of documents relevant to the study of the Gospel and in particular of the Book of Mormon.  It is known that because of political and academic complications a good deal of material is being held back — could any of this be made available for study?  That answer (to anticipate) is that the stuff that is not available to everybody is available to nobody.

Prologue:  In June of 1963 Brother Linton Claridge of Safford Arizona insisted on bestowing on me a ‘grant’ of $1000 to help me in my work.  Of course I refused, but after much discussion I accepted the money with the distinct understanding that it was to be used only for travel and only in the Lord’s work.  Accordingly, when it was suggested that I take this journey, for which I would otherwise have had no funds at all, I did not hesitate to accept without discussion, expecting from the first to defray all expenses from the means provided by the generosity of Brother Claridge.

Relationships with the Biglers were at all times cheerful and affectionate; there was no disagreement whatever, even of the most trivial nature, since we saw eye to eye in everything.  There was no hitch or delay in any appointment or connection; all parties were available just at the right moment, and all imparted without hesitation or reserve exactly the information we desired — usually without our having even to mention it.  I have never seen anything like it.

On Dec. 7 we were cordially received by the Jordanian Ambassador in Washington, Mr. Saad Juma, who supplied us with a special letter to the frontier guards which in time proved useful.  In Beirut we stayed at the home of President and Mrs. Norman Burns of the American University of Beirut (where my revered Stake President, Dean Christensen, made an enormous impression — my bet is that he is the best man they ever had there), and became well acquainted with Mr. Mousa Anz, who manages the household and who is one of a few hundred people in the world who speak Aramaic as their native tongue.  It so happens that he is a personal friend of Mohammed Dib, the shepherd who first discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls, and an old classmate of the Syrian clergyman who brought the Scrolls to America.  He confirmed at first hand certain stories about the discoveries, and said that the clergyman, who is now a bishop in America, may never show his fact in Jordan again, since he is now branded a traitor for having taken the Scrolls out of the country.

At the Burnses I had a long discussion with Prof. Burton Thurston of Harvard who for the past year has been working with the Coptic documents in Cairo.  These are of equal importance with the Dead Sea Scrolls and since I have a long article about them coming out in Holland Prof. Thurston was free and full in his communications.  He assured me, after a year of careful investigation, that no Coptic documents whatever are available at the present time aside from those of which I already have photographs.  This saved me a trip to Cairo.

On Dec. 16 we had dinner with Brother James Theodore Johnson and his family.  He was formerly a Bishop in Washington and is at present second secretary to the Embassy in Damascus.  He told us all about conditions in Syria and surrounding lands — in his opinion the situation is desperately dangerous.  It was a very gloomy picture he gave us.

Visiting ancient Jerash the next day, I ran across Mr. Sami Rashid, the archaeologist who has been excavating Pella.  Since all the artifacts from Pella are being assembled for restoration and classification in the little museum on the ruins of Jerash, Mr. Rashid allowed me to examine them all.  This was a most fortunate coincidence, since it was to Pella that the ancient Jewish-Christians fled after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., and it is to Pella that the experts look for any connections between the Dead Sea Scrolls and early Christianity; indeed, it is being hinted today that the greatest documentary find of all is perhaps awaiting discovery in Pella.  Since I wanted to know what was behind this, I was most happy in running smack into the one man on earth who could tell me:  no documents yet.

We had an hour’s talk with Robert Barnes, the American Ambassador in Amman.  Without our even mentioning the matter, he opened the conversation by remarking that for the past six months he had ‘eaten, slept, and thought nothing but Dead Sea Scrolls.’  He had been criticized for this, he said, but he knew that for the Jordanians the Scrolls have top priority at the present moment.  For months the Smithsonian Institute had been negotiating for permission to display the Scrolls in America, but the Jordanian authorities had been convinced that if they ever got over here they would be sold just as the first batch was, to the Jews.  All assurances were vain — they would not believe that the Mona Lisa or Michelangelo’s Pieta were really safe here, they were terrified at the thought of sending the Scrolls by air, and even after they had to yield to pressure from the King and other sources, the Jordan officials remain convinced, according to Mr. Barnes, that if the Scrolls ever leave their country they will never return again.  They are to be displayed at six places in America.  I asked Mr. Barnes if the Library of Congress had made any effort to acquire any of the fragments, to which he replied that that would be absolutely out of the question, since the Scrolls were not for sale.  When the Scrolls were first found and made available to the world through Rockefeller funds it was agreed that the six institutions (including two American theological seminaries) who had footed the bill in the beginning should be given the right of purchasing some of the documents in whose preservation, editing and publication they had assisted.  But this agreement was later cancelled by the Jordan government, which managed to raise enough money to buy off all the claimants.  Today the only possible owner of Dead Sea Scrolls is the Kingdom of Jordan, which resents the independence of the Palestine Museum with its Rockefeller endowment.  There is still a backlog of unedited texts, but a deadline for their completion has now been set, requiring the scholars at the Museum to finish their work by October 1965.

Upon arriving in Amman on Dec. 17, we went straight to the house of Mr. M. Mokhar, the architect, and were there joined by Mr. Saad Dajani, a friend of Mr. Bigler and a brother to Awni Dajani, the Director of Antiquities for Joran, to whom we were later introduced.  Mr. Mokhar took us to the Amman Museum where we had the privilege of examining the famous Copper Scrolls from Cave IV.  It is satisfying to report that these documents can be studied more advantageously from photographs in my possession than from the badly corroded originals.  From the Museum we went to call on Mr. Farid Murcos, the official photographer of the Dead Sea Scrolls and other antiquities.  He assured us, with some distress, that photographs of any arrangement relating to the Scrolls are now absolutely forbidden, all rights being jealously guarded by the Jordanese government.  In the evening we had a long talk with Mousa Alami’s cousin, a hydraulic engineer and former director of the water-works of Amman.  He had studied the water problems of the Dead Sea community, and reported that the famous spring of Ain Feshka contains at present too much magnesium and salt for human consumption.   

On the morning of Dec. 19, Awni Dajani, the Director of Antiquities, introduced me to his cousin Rafiq Dajani who has just finished a book on a subject on which I had just finished an article of monograph length, now being published in Paris.  Since we were the only two people in the world who had studied this particular subject he immediately became very friendly and took us out to examine his excavations at Raqim.  In my article, and knowing nothing of the recent and unpublished excavations, I had seen in the settlement at Raqim an important link between early Jewish and Christian sectarians; Mr. Dajani’s findings confirmed my own (purely literary) conclusions.  It was at Raqim that metal plates were found in a cave, inscribed with the history of a religious community very much like that of Qumran and also like Almi’s church in the wilderness.  I had never dreamed that I should ever get to the obscure and unknown site of Raqim, which in my opinion presents strong confirmation of things in the Book of Mormon.  Mr. Dajani also pointed out to me that artifacts and inscribed materials found beneath the prehistoric dolmens of the region show those monuments to be not 10,000 years old, as Albright and others had inferred from superficial inspection, but less than 3,500 years old, being from the 13th and 14th centuries B.C.

Arriving in Jerusalem on Dec. 21 we went directly to the Palestine Museum, entered as the doors were opened at 9 a.m., and were immediately given an interview

with the director, Dr. Joseph Saad.  Without any prompting from us, he immediately launched into a discourse on the Dead Sea Scrolls, which have been his sole concern for the past months.  He gave us a different slant from Mr. Barnes’s.  He said the Beduin were intensely excited by any hint of unexplored caves and were doing a thorough job of scouring the country, that they still bring in materials from time to time, which however he could not acquire since he did not have the ready cash on hand.  He allowed us to inspect all the materials that were not to be sent to America for the exhibit.  There were drawers containing 600 books (as he put it) from Cave IV, and 45 other drawers of fragments still in the process of being edited — against the October deadline.  He said that both the American School at Jerusalem and the Hebrew University had simply ‘played with’ the Scrolls, not realizing their significance or value, which were first recognized by Prof. W.F. Albright, whom Mr. Saad calls ‘the father of Dead Sea Scrolls studies’.  He informed us confidentially that he wants to accompany the Scrolls during their travels in America, and though their schedule is rigidly arranged for showing in the six most populous areas of the country, he would make a personal effort to get to Utah.  He said that what best served the purposes of preserving and using the Scrolls was NOT large grants of money but small contributions from many genuinely interested individuals, and he deplored the tendency to overlook the importance of a single center for the Scrolls due to the free-for-all battle for prestige.  I learned for myself that the Palestine Museum, being independently endowed and therefore not a branch of the Jordan government, is conscientiously boycotted by Jordan.

On the evening of December 22 I met Sister Vonella Kimball at the American Colony in Jerusalem (the Biglers were staying then in Jericho at the Farm).  This was another fortunate coincidence, since Sister Kimball is a very good friend of Dr. Saad was necessary to overcome his resistance or rather hesitation to take us to Qumran.  For the past three days the place had been closed due to military manoeuvres — some said there had actually been a military action there; we had heard a lot of shooting in the area, and nobody ever seems to know what is going on.  As Mr. Saad joined us in the car he announced with obvious relief that he had just received the cable reporting the safe arrival of the Scrolls in America — two days before the time that he had caused to be leaked out in the cafes.  We spent a wonderful afternoon at Qumran, with Dr. Saad explaining the ruins in detail and telling of the controversies and stupidities of the archaeologists.

As soon as I got to Jerusalem on Dec. 24, I went to the University, only to learn that it was the first day of Christmas (!) vacation and that everybody had taken off.  I did talk to Moishe Davis on the phone — he was just going away, and had dinner and a long walk with Prof. P. Shinar and his family, who are very dear friends.  We discussed the Scrolls, of course, and I learned that the Jews are making everything available as fast as possible.  It is significant that while there are literally thousands of Jews in Israel who can read the Scrolls, I was unable to learn of the existence of a single Arab, that is non-Jew, in the Middle East who could read them!  I am now completely satisfied that in the fields of documents and archaeology (which is 99% speculation anyway) far better work can be done right here in America than over there.  One thing that impressed me in particular was the ignorance of scholars in general:  if a man knew Arabic it was a cinch he didn’t know Hebrew, and if he knew Hebrew he didn’t know Greek, and if he knew Greek he didn’t know Coptic, etc., etc.,  Eminent archaeologists were surprised that I could read off simple Greek inscriptions which mean nothing to them, though they had excavated them!  It seems that social life consumes so much of a scholar’s time in the East that few are able to get any real work done.  That is why the trustees of the Palestine Museum had to set a deadline for the editing of the Scrolls which would otherwise, according to Dr. Saad, have dragged on for years, even though top scholars were doing the work.

Since it takes about a month for an expert to put together a single page of the remaining Scrolls in their fragmented condition, and since most pages when they are finally pieced together contain nothing very sensational, a scholar working a whole year in Jerusalem can only expect a poor return of his investment of time and energy.  Furthermore, there is no point to working with the original Scrolls:  Dr. Saad allowed us to compare original documents with infra-red photographs of the same, showing the latter to be superior in every respect — and we have the photographs right here, and, thanks to the Rockefeller stipulation, we are assured possession of the rest as fast as they appear.  The real work is to be done with the great treasures we now possess, which have never been examined in the light of the Restored Gospel or of the Book of Mormon.

Sociological Note:  The trip was very instructive and from a professional point of view most rewarding, but it was NOT a pleasant experience.  Three years in military intelligence have taught me to be alert to certain things; since foreigners do not speak Arabic, people often spoke freely in our presence and I was able to understand a good deal of what was said.  We were suspected of sinister motives in Syria and Jordan and watched all the time.  From former experience and instructions Brother Bigler was alert to some of what was going on, and I didn’t want to call his attention to other unpleasant details — after all, the Biglers were so transparently guileless that that was their best defense.  Our presence at the Philadelphia Hotel was the occasion of a carefully engineered riot at 3 A.M. on the morning of Dec. 19; I did not tell the Biglers that the cause of it was the young man at the primitive switchboard, who faithfully reported everything we did and ‘took care’ of our mail for us.  On my last night in Jordan I exchanged wartime reminiscences with a Colonel Campbell of the Canadian Army (to which my division was attached in Holland), he is working with the U.N. and said the week had been an extremely trying and dangerous one — three Israelis had been shot that day — and that the situation was absolutely desperate with no hope of relief, especially on the Syrian frontier.

The Jewish city of Jerusalem by contrast was a haven of calm; it is safer to walk in its streets at night than in the streets of Salt Lake, because the Jews, whatever else they are, are a law-abiding people.  I visited the families in Jordan of some of my Arab students at the BYU and from them and many others came away convinced that the Jews and NOT the Arabs have right on their side.  I did not believe this before.

  Hugh Nibley”

Wed., 10 Feb. 1965:

“Dead Sea Scrolls

There was read a letter from Dr. Hugh Nibley to whom had been referred a letter from Louis Bigler who accompanied Dr. Nibley to the Holy Land to make investigation regarding the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Brother Bigler had written stating that Joseph Saad was prepared to make available to us a jar in which some of these Dead Sea Scrolls were found; also certain other artifacts, and that the cost of securing these items and shipping them to us would be less than one thousand dollars.  Dr. Nibley states that he thinks this is a rare opportunity and recommends very highly that we secure these items.  It was accordingly decided to make an appointment with Brother Bigler to meet with the First Presidency at an opportune time to listen to his report and authorize the purchase of these items.

On February 16, 1965, it was decided to write to Brother Louis B. Bigler, authorizing him to make the purchase through Dr. Saad of one of the Dead Sea Scroll jars, and certain artifacts at a cost of a little over $800, including the cost of shipping.”

Tues., 5 June 1965:

“9:00 a.m.

Held a meeting with Presidents Brown and Tanner and Elders Spencer W. Kimball and Gordon B. Hinckley regarding missionary work.

Book of Mormon Edition – Illustrated by First Council of Seventy

Reference was made to the desire of the First Council of Seventy to print a large edition of the Book of Mormon for distribution under the program of the Seventies, which edition would be a paper bound book, and it is proposed that there be included in the book the reproduction of eight Book of Mormon paintings by Arnold Friberg.  It was mentioned that some of the brethren of the Twelve had questioned the advisability of using pictures in the Book of Mormon.

Reference was made to the fact that a seminary edition is already in circulation containing these pictures, as also the Holy Scriptures deluxe quadruple combination book.  After full consideration, authorization was given for the printing of the book with the illustrations mentioned.

I said that I could see no more objection to illustrating the Book of Mormon than having illustrations in the Bible.

Tues., 20 July 1965:

“8:00 a.m.

Arabia – Visit of Dr. Yusef (Joseph) Saad of Jordan — Dead Sea Scrolls

Dr. Yusaf Saad of Jordan called on me at the apartment.  There were present at the interview, President Hugh B. Brown, Howard W. Hunter, and Louis B. Bigler.

Dr. Saad is the man who is the curator of Palestine’s Rockefeller Archeological Museum where are located the Dead Sea Scrolls, and has these scrolls in his charge.

Dr. Saad expressed himself as very appreciative of the privilege extended to him of meeting with me, and said he would carry back to his people word of his meeting with the Prophet of our Church.  I asked Dr. Saad to take my best wishes and greetings to the Arabian people.

Brother Bigler mentioned that Dr. Saad was at the BYU yesterday and spoke to the students for about an hour and was given a standing ovation; also that last night he spoke to a large group in the Assembly Hall where the audience arose spontaneously and applauded him.

Dr. Saad made the following statement to me:  ‘I come, Holy Prophet, with the message that I have the honor of holding these Holy Scriptures.  These in my humble opinion were left by some very bright and religious people who wanted this revelation passed to us, the descendants of Abraham, to be preserved.  I have felt from the very beginning that I was nothing.  There were a hundred people working in that museum when the British mandate in Palestine picked me.  I was not the most brilliant or the cleverest.  I do not know why I was chosen.  In less than a month after that the news broke out about the scrolls and I was left to know about them.  That cave could have been lost forever.  I was guided and I found the cave.  I had no trouble beside the physical problem of getting and assembling all the manuscripts and fragments.  I am happy to report to you, Holy Prophet, that I have over 99 percent of those Holy Scriptures saved in that museum in Palestine.’

I commented that that was remarkable.  Dr. Saad further said that only 1.1 percent of these scrolls is still at large in other hands.  Said he, ‘I feel it is my duty to give a report to you, Holy Prophet, about these things, and with your blessing I assure you that I will continue my job and I will do my best to keep an eye on them.  All I want from you is your blessing and your prayer.’

I answered ‘You have that, gladly and wholeheartedly.’  I asked if these were found in Jerusalem.

Dr. Saad said, ‘No, that they were found about 25 miles or so East of Jerusalem in a place near the Dead Sea and the River Jordan and Jericho.  I am happy that in this very city and this very area you have also the River Jordan.  I am happy also that you have these huge Rocky Mountains.  We have them also.  This is in the Rocky Mountains on the West side of the Dead Sea and most probably where Jesus spent 40 days and 40 nights.  After that He got the inspiration and the courage to meet the world.  In this very wilderness the treasures were found by the shepherd boys.  They were in very good condition and we are doing our best to preserve them.  They are not so bad as everybody thinks.  The area where they were hidden is under sea level and totally dry.  It is a good thing there is no moisture there.  That is why these manuscripts were preserved and I am happy that they not only speak about the Old Testament, but anyone who is prepared physically and spiritually to question and read between the lines finds many things that throw light on the New Testament as well.  So I must be very clear that we have found no text of the New Testament, but anyone who can read between the lines, provided he is prepared and also educated, can find many hints of what our Lord was teaching when He came into the open.  What we have I know goes back to near the ninth century of our time.  The documents which the Jews, the ancients, preserved for us go back to the tenth century.  I am referring to that to show these are the most ancient.  These have passed through many hands and it was very scholarly, of high caliber and high culture.  It was from your country we obtained the first sign of how valuable they are.  This man said this discovery is the most important discovery ever made in the line of the Holy Bible.  He not only fired my imagination but stimulated my excitement.’

I exclaimed, ‘They go back to Abraham?’

Dr. Saad said, ‘This is the law of revelation and that is what I feel I came here to report to you, that I was more or less commissioned to look after them, take them and hold them, and that is why I come and I now give a report to you and hold your hands.  I hold these Holy manuscripts in my hands and I pass them on to you.’

I said, ‘This is a remarkable event.’

President Brown mentioned that it was very significant and timely.

Dr. Saad further stated, ‘We are so happy and I feel so privileged that time and chance brought me here to have this message brought direct to you through my good friends here, and I feel very grateful to them because they have opened all the doors in front of me and they are helping me and continue to help me, and I thank everyone here.’

I said, ‘We appreciate your interest and the fact that you came here in person to give us this message which you have given this morning.  We appreciate it.’

Dr. Saad said, ‘Holy Prophet, I feel I am happy now and my heart is even more light because I haven’t it always, and I want to pass it and now I pass it to you, and I want your blessing and your prayer that I may have the courage to continue my mission.’

I said, ‘You have it wholeheartedly and thankfully.’

Dr. Saad said, ‘Again I ask your blessing and prayer and permission to leave, and thank you.’

I said, ‘May the Lord bless and guide you in this great work.’

Dr. Saad then excused himself from the meeting and Elders Howard W. Hunter and Louis B. Bigler left with him.  President Brown and I discussed this entire matter at some length after Dr. Saad left.

I commented that this was a noteworthy event.  The explanation was made by President Brown that Dr. Saad represents the Arab nation; that, however, his headquarters are in Jericho.  President Brown stated that Dr. Saad had this morning invited him to come to Jericho and see the farm there and to go out and visit the caves where the scrolls were found, that he is the top man of the entire operation over there and had said to President Brown that he thought that our Church is the proper depository for these documents.  We questioned very much if it would be possible for Dr. Saad to bring these records out of Jordan, but expressed the hope that he might make them available to us for photographs.  President Brown expressed the hope that perhaps if we can keep our present friendly contacts with this man and with Musa Bey Alami, we might be able to render some service in bringing about some cooperation between Israeli and Jordan.

Tues., 14 Sept. 1965:

“Dead Sea Scrolls – Microfilming of

We considered a letter addressed to President Tanner by Brother Louis B. Bigler reminding the First Presidency that when Dr. Dajani was here in May he had recommended that we address a letter to him before October requesting permission to microfilm and translate the Dead Sea Scrolls.  It was Dr. Dajani’s desire that a letter be written by the Church to be presented to the board which meets the first week in October.  Dr. Joseph Saad stated that he would recommend that we be given exclusive rights to the scrolls.  In discussing the matter, we were agreed that it would be advisable to make application for the right to film these scrolls at this time while those who are in charge of the scrolls are friendly to us.  President Tanner stated that he is going to the BYU tonight and while there, would talk to Hugh Nibley about the matter.”

Tues., 21 Dec. 1965:

“8:30 a.m.

First Presidency’s meeting held in the office in the Hotel Utah.  Presidents Tanner and Smith were the only ones present.  President Brown and President Isaacson were excused on account of illness.  A number of items were discussed, some of which were:

Book of Mormon – Motion Picture Film on

Consideration was given to a letter from ‘EJ’ L. Fairbanks of Provo, Utah, expressing a desire to make a movie of the Book of Mormon.  Brother Fairbanks states that he has conferred with Judge Whitaker and others at the BYU in regard to the matter, that it is believed that it would cost about $800,000 to complete the project and Brother Fairbanks believes that he can get more to contribute the necessary money.  It was decided to obtain further information regarding Brother Fairbanks.

Tues., 4 Jan. 1966:

“8:30 a.m.

Held a meeting of the First Presidency with Presidents Brown, Tanner, and Smith, and Isaacson.

Among the matters we discussed were the following:

Book of Mormon Films

There was read to us a letter from Wetzel O. Whitaker, Director of the Department of Motion Picture Production at the BYU, in answer to an inquiry regarding Dr. ‘EJ’ L. Fairbanks, who had written the First Presidency expressing a desire to make a movie of the Book of Mormon.  Brother Whitaker reports that Dr. Fairbanks is a sincere and devoted Church member who has long had a desire to acquire enough money to finance a Book of Mormon film, which he thinks would have great missionary potential.  Brother Whitaker states that films of the Book of Mormon have long been in contemplation by the motion picture department and that some preliminary thinking has already been done on a series of such pictures.  He says that the program is being explored and when the material is put together it will be presented through the proper channels.

It was decided to refer this correspondence to the Church Information Service for their consideration.

Wed., 19 Jan. 1966:

“Book of Mormon – First Edition in the Chinese Language Presented

Elder Gordon B. Hinckley called at the office in the apartment, and presented to me a copy of the first edition of the Book of Mormon printed in Chinese, the language of 700 million people.  Elder Hinckley turned to the front page of the book (which to us would be the back page) and showed me the inscription which he had placed there, which reads:

‘This copy of the first edition of the Book of Mormon in Chinese was presented to President David O. McKay, who 45 years ago, on January 9, 1921, accompanied by Elder Hugh J.Cannon, in the ‘Forbidden City’ of Peking dedicated and consecrated and set apart ‘the Chinese realm for the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as restored in this dispensation through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

The Book of Mormon is now available in the language which is the mother tongue of more people than any other on earth.  May it go forth among them as a witness of the Son of God, the Savior of the World.

With sincere respect and deep affection.

/s/Gordon B. Hinckley

With great emotion I gratefully received this inscribed copy, and commented upon the publication of the Chinese Book of Mormon, saying: ‘This is a great event in the history of the Chinese people.  This brings back many fond and delightful memories, and especially of a warm and most delightful day in the early morning 45 years ago when I went with Brother Hugh J. Cannon into the Cyprus Grove.  We were all alone as we offered the prayer, dedicating China for the reception of the Gospel.’

Elder Hinckley said that the Book of Mormon in Korean would be published later in the Spring.  The Book of Mormon has been previously published in Japanese (1909), and now will be available in all three languages of the Orient in which the Church is now doing missionary work.

I expressed my deep gratitude that the Book of Mormon is now available in the Chinese language, as it will assist us tremendously in doing missionary work among those people.  (See newspaper clipping following.)

Tues., 1 Feb. 1966:

“8:00 a.m. to 9:50 a.m.

Held a meeting of the First Presidency.  Presidents Hugh B. Brown and Thorpe B. Isaacson still confined to the hospital.  Presidents Tanner and Smith were present at the meeting.

Brother Tanner reported an improvement in the physical condition of Presidents Brown and Isaacson; also, that Franklin D. Richards of the Assistants to the Twelve, who is confined to the hospital, is improving.

We discussed a number of general items, some of which were:

Dead Sea Scrolls, Microfilming of

We read a letter from Yusef Saad, Curator of the Palestine Archaeological Museum, reporting that the Board of the Museum had rejected our offer to microfilm the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Monday, April 18, 1966

April 18, 1966

(Original in File under Dead Sea Scrolls)

President David O. McKay

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

47 East South Temple

Salt Lake City, Utah

Dear President McKay:

I am writing this letter in behalf of the Palestinian Archaeological Museum in Old Jerusalem in the hope that I may show the need for a contribution by our Church for the preservation of the ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’.

When you gave me the assignment to go to Jerusalem, I left with the testimony that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Redeemer of the world, and that His Church is now upon the earth.  If I had not already had this testimony, I would never have gotten it by visiting Rome, Italy or the Holy Land, for there is no evidence of this truth in these so-called Christian centers.  The only exception to this, in my opinion, is the evidence given us by the ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’.  The scrolls are the only thing that come close to representing the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Holy Land.  Everything else seems foreign to the true Gospel.

When Dr. Saad visited Salt Lake City last July, he told us he would dedicate his life to preserving the Scrolls for the Church.  He offered to give the ground next to the Archaeological Museum to our Church for a building to house the Scrolls and to be our headquarters for the Church in Jerusalem.  Inasmuch as the Arabs constantly fear that the Scrolls will be taken from them by force and destroyed or changed, this appears to be a wonderful opportunity for us to preserve one of the original sources of the Gospel.

The ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’ belong to us.  We are the only people who can truly appreciate their religious and historical value to the Church of Christ.  If we, in my judgment, make a contribution toward preserving them or in being identified with them, we are doing it for ourselves in the cause of the Church.  There is still much work to be done to prepare the Scrolls for microfilming.  Our help would greatly aid this work and lead to the time, if the Lord decides, when we can microfilm them or even possess them.

I want to express my gratitude to you, President McKay, for the testimony I have of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is the only true Gospel of Christ on earth.  Sister Bigler and I constantly pray for you and Sister McKay, that you will live long and active lives to continue to bless us all.

Faithfully yours,

L.B. Bigler

Monday, April 18, 1966

May 31, 1966

Mr. Louis B. Bigler, Jr.

8650 South Thirteenth West

West Jordan, Utah

Dear Brother Bigler:

Thank you for your letter of April 18, 1966, in which you call attention to matters pertaining to the Dead Sea Scrolls.

I have this matter under advisement, and have received reports from Dr. Hugh Nibley, Professor of History and Religion at the Brigham Young University, and Elder Howard W. Hunter.  I appreciate your interest in this matter.

I received your note telling of the visit of Musa Bey Alami from Jerusalem, Jordan, in which he conveyed his love and warmest greetings.  I am sorry that he was unable to come to Salt Lake City, as I have always enjoyed meeting him.  When you write to him, please extend my greetings and best wishes to him.

Sincerely yours,

David O. McKay


Monday, April 18, 1966

May 19, 1966

President David O. McKay

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

47 East South Temple Street

Salt Lake City, Utah

Dear President McKay:

I am writing in answer to your request for an opinion on a letter from Louis B. Bigler, Jr., dated April 18.  In his letter, he recommended that the Church should take a positive position and provide financial and other help to preserve the Dead Sea Scrolls.

I have consulted with Hugh Nibley, Professor of History and Religion, who really knows more about the value of the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Church than anyone on the campus, and his considered opinion is as follows:

‘The preserving of the scrolls is a worthy cause and all should contribute to it who can afford it.  However, lavish Rockefeller grant has through the years more than provided for the need, and this grant has plenty of strings attached.  I can see no advantage whatever in our getting involved.  The Dead Sea Scrolls are already superbly housed, and what the Jordanese resent is that outsiders should have anything at all to do with them.  Not only they but the whole Christian and Jewish worlds would look askance at our interloping in an area already tense with intrigue.

Assuming that the Church possessed a portion or even most of the Dead Sea Scrolls, what good could they possibly do us?  All the work of restoring, editing, and examining the scrolls is done even in Jerusalem not with the original documents but with photographs, which are much easier to read and quite as authentic.

These photographs are accessible to us right now.  Anyone who feels as Mr. Bigler does that the scrolls are a peculiarly L.D.S. scripture is free to use them as such, but so far as I know, Brother Bigler has never displayed the slightest interest in the contents of these documents.  Let’s keep out of it.’

I personally agree with Brother Nibley’s logic and opinion.  Since the photos are already accessible to us, and since any effort on our part to establish something in that hotly contested area will only unnecessarily involve us, it seems wise that we stay clear of this proposal.

If you would like me to write to Brother Bigler and express these views, or if I can be of any further service in investigating this matter, I will be delighted to do so.

Our prayers are constantly with you and Sister McKay.


Ernest L. Wilkinson


Tues., 17 May 1966:

“8:00 a.m.

Held a meeting of the First Presidency.  Presidents Brown and Smith were present.  President Tanner was excused, being in Provo, attending a BYU meeting, and President Isaacson still confined to the hospital.

Holy Land – Report on Dead Sea Scrolls – Visit of Elder Howard Hunter

Elder Howard W. Hunter met with the First Presidency and gave a long report on his recent visit to servicemen’s bases in the Mediterranean, Turkey, Greece, etc.  He especially gave a report of his visit to the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem where the Dead Sea Scrolls are being processed, and Dr. Saad’s desire for the Church to contribute $500,000 to build a wing to the museum.  (See copy of minutes following containing Elder Hunter’s report.)

Tuesday, May 17, 1966

Minutes of the Meeting of the First Presidency

Held Tuesday, May 17, 1966, at 8:00 a.m., in President McKay’s Apartment

Present:  Presidents David O. McKay, Hugh B. Brown and Joseph Fielding Smith.

  President N. Eldon Tanner excused, being at the Brigham Young University 

  in Provo, and Thorpe B. Isaacson absent because of illness.

Howard W. Hunter’s Visit to Servicemen’s Bases

Elder Howard W. Hunter met with the First Presidency upon invitation and reported his recent visit to servicemen’s bases in the Mediterranean, Turkey, Greece, etc.  He mentioned that we have three bases in Spain, one in Tripoli, one in Crete, one in Athens, five in Turkey, one in Beirut; also that we have servicemen in Tehran.  Elder Hunter also went through Jerusalem to Iran, and at the suggestion of President Tanner had visited Dr. Saad, the curator of the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem where the Dead Sea Scrolls are being processed.  He said that this Rockefeller Museum has a world-wide board of directors and that they selected Dr. Saad as the outstanding man to take charge of the Museum.  He is the secretary of the Palestinian Archaeological Institute.  Brother Hunter mentioned that when Dr. Saad was in Salt Lake City about a year ago he met with the First Presidency, and he thought the purpose of the Doctor’s visit was in the interest of getting some financial help in the matter of building a proper laboratory where the Dead Sea Scrolls can be housed.  He mentioned that archaeologists and others travel from all parts of the world to see these exhibits.  Elder Hunter mentioned that when he called on Dr. Saad he suggested he wait until after the Museum closed, which was 4:30, when he spent considerable time taking him through the Museum, which he said was a very interesting experience.  The museum, he said, contains the very earliest archaeological discoveries in Palestine, and as you go through it you see archaeological items from the earliest periods in Palestine and continue through the different periods.  He said they have these periods outlined by the prophet who was living at that time so that one goes through the ancient archaeological artifacts and then those of a later period up to modern archaeology through the time of Christ.  He said that when they discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls the Museum immediately went to work to buy all that they could.  Some had been sold to other institutions but they have gradually purchased all of those and brought them into this Museum into their laboratories, and they now have 95 1/2% of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and there is a number of scientists working with them.  He said they still have a lot of these scrolls that have not yet been unrolled, that it takes months to get them unrolled without breaking or distorting them.  Most of the scholars working there, he said, are working for charitable institutions like the Ford Foundation and others.  Elder Hunter said that Dr. Saad is thoroughly familiar with every detail of the history of the Holy Land, including Mesopotamia and that area.  After he had taken him through the Museum he took him to see the scrolls.  Elder Hunter said that they have a small room where they have the Dead Sea Scrolls on exhibit to be viewed by people who come from all over the world, and that in addition they have a big laboratory which Brother Hunter judged to be about 100 feet long and 125 feet wide with many steel cases where they have all of these separated.  He said as they unfold the manuscripts they put them between glass and then they seal the edges of the glass so that they are airtight.  He said they are still working on translation and unrolling the scrolls.  All of this work is being done under Dr. Saad’s direction by these scholars and experts.  He said each of these experts has an assignment to work on separate scrolls in different areas.  After they get these in condition to be unrolled and photographed the scholars in many places of the world have access to the photographs so that they can do the translation.  Elder Hunter said that they have found in the Dead Sea Scrolls parts of every book of the Old Testament except the Book of Esther, that they have found actual scrolls concerning these writings.  He mentioned that one of the scrolls was on copper and they have had difficulty in unrolling the scroll because the copper was so thin and there has been some deterioration, but they are gradually getting it unrolled and have most of it translated.  Some of the scrolls are on papyrus but most of them are on animal skins, goat skins principally, and over the years it has become very hard, so they put these scrolls in a box and put controlled air into the box with moisture in it.  They control the moisture that is in the air, then they force moisture into the box so that the animal skins will absorb the moisture and become partially pliable, and they keep the right amount of moisture in there.  In that way they are gradually able to unroll the skin without cracking.  He said that some of the skin, when you look at it, is dark with age and appears to have no writing on it but when they get it unrolled and put it between glass and photograph it with infrared light, the writing becomes discernible.  Elder Hunter said that Dr. Saad spent an hour or an hour and a half with him in the laboratory and that very few people ever have this experience because they do not allow people to go into the laboratory.  Elder Hunter said that this work is of great importance in the world.  The directors of the Museum, since they have no further room, have wanted Dr. Saad to close one of the rooms in the Museum and take the exhibit out and use the laboratory.  The Doctor does not wish to do this.  He says that if he can get some religious or other organization to finance the building of this new laboratory it would be given the name of the organization that provides the finances.  He also stated that Dr. Saad is a religious man, that many people in connection with the Museum are not religious but have an interest in archaeology, anthropology and history.  He says that he has hoped and prayed that a religious organization would build the wing that would house the Dead Sea Scrolls work.  He says this is not history, it is religion.  Elder Hunter said that when he was here he apparently talked with the First Presidency about this and having received no indication since that the Church would wish to become involved in this project, he is now working with another religious institution but they have not given him a definite answer yet.  He would like the Church to reconsider the matter.  In answer to Elder Hunter’s question as to how much it would cost, he said the cost would amount to perhaps $500,000.  He said to Brother Hunter when he returned he would like him to talk to the brethren — Elder Hunter said he always speaks of the General Authorities as the brethren — to see if they would not renew their interest in doing something for these scrolls.  He mentioned that the Mormon Church is known all over the world and to have this laboratory known as the Mormon Wing of the Museum for Dead Sea Scroll research, would make the Church known in every corner of the world and they would be willing to give that publicity to our generosity.

Elder Hunter said he had no recommendation to make.  He said that when one sees these exhibits and this laboratory he becomes enthusiastic about it, that it is right in Jerusalem.

President Brown inquired if we would own anything or have any control whatever over the laboratory and Brother Hunter said no, it would be a gift to the foundation the same as the Rockefellers made to build the original building, that we would not be acquiring anything whatever.  If we did anything it would be for the good will involved and to assist in the work of the Dead Sea Scrolls. 

Elder Hunter said that Dr. Saad did not tell him the name of the other religious organization that they are working with at the present time.  He did say that he had talked this over first with the Mormon people because he felt closer to them than anyone else.

Brother Hunter mentioned that when Dr. Saad was here he visited the Cottonwood vaults.  It is understood that Jordan is a tinderbox with Israel so close, and those in charge worry a great deal about these things lest there should be a bombing and the records be destroyed.  They are wondering what to do with these treasures.  Dr. Saad had suggested that the scrolls that they have in their laboratory be microfilmed and stored in our vault here.  We had told him we could work out an arrangement for doing this perhaps better than anyone else.  He took this matter to his board but they did not act favorably upon it.  He has told them that we have the finest storage in all the world in our mountain vault.

Elder Hunter said that he was just bringing this to the brethren as a matter of report, that it is a fascinating and interesting matter.  He said that they cannot work any faster than they receive help, that they have no money of their own.  He also stated that they are doing excavation work at Qumran, that is the community near the Dead Sea, and they have practically excavated that whole city and are finding many interesting things there.  They did not heretofore know that this city existed until the scrolls were found.  They have uncovered cisterns, baths, houses, etc.  Elder Hunter said he wished it were possible for a member of the First Presidency and others to see some of these things, that they are fascinating, and particularly these scrolls.  President Brown suggested the advisability of sending Brother Nibley and perhaps one of the Twelve or one of the First Presidency to look into the situation to ascertain what Dr. Saad would like and what the results would be, and bring back a report.  Brother Hunter thought that an excellent idea.

President McKay asked Brother Hunter if while there he met Musa Bey Alami.  Elder Hunter said that he had not done so on this trip but that on a former trip he had visited the boys’ school that Musa Bey conducts and spent several hours there inspecting the work of the boys.  He mentioned that as a result of the dairy cows that were sent over there that Musa Bey now has a renowned dairy herd and that attempts are being made in other places to have dairies.

Elder Hunter mentioned his visit to the various servicemen’s bases.  He said that in Tripoli they have an organized Relief Society, Primary and Sunday School, that they conduct Mutual on a limited basis.  They conduct sacrament and priesthood meetings and everything is organized.  He said most of them are returned missionaries.  He said that down on the Persian Gulf we have a Primary of 19 children, that these families are very faithful and devoted in their attendance at the various services, that if one of the families did not come to the Church service on a Sunday evening the entire branch would be over there to see what was the matter.  He said that they are 100% in all that they do, priesthood meeting, Primary, etc.  There are no absentees except on account of illness.  He mentioned that we have a fine branch in Athens and that right across the Aegean Sea in Turkey in Izmir we have a branch of about 130 or 140 service people; that in Istanbul we have an American base where we have quite a few people.  He said that in Athens, not only do we have service people but Greek members and also some German people who were converted in Germany.  He said these people that he met were thrilled to see someone from the Church.  He stated that he visited some of the homes of these people and that they all had 100% home evening services in the various branches.  He mentioned a branch in Ankara of about 100 people and that every one of these families has adopted one or more students, children of servicemen who are sent there to attend high school.  They become their charge while they are away from home.  Elder Hunter stated that he visited Madrid, Spain, where we have about 150 people within a radius of five or six miles, that in Barcelona we have about 100 people in that area, that in Tripoli the air base is within three miles of the city and our personnel on the base live on the base but we have people there who are employees in Libya and they would be within six or seven miles of each other.  There are about 150 of that type.  He said that there is a place in Ankara, Turkey that they call Mormon Hill because all the people there have moved to one area where they can be together.  There are about 140 of them.  He said that most of these people have families, that there are only about 10 single men.  The government does not send many single men out into these areas.  Further, that most of these men are specialists, that they are there at listening posts.  This is our defense line.  The government provides housing for most of them.”

Fri., 3 June 1966:

“Pearl of Great Price – Original Papyrus of Book of Mormon

President Tanner called attention to a letter that he has received from Aziz Atiya, who is a Coptic and is teaching at the University of Utah.  Mr. Atiya claims to have located the original papyrus of the Book of Abraham, which the Prophet Joseph translated, and which now appears in the Pearl of Great Price.  With his letter, Mr. Atiya enclosed pictures of some of the papyrus and a copy of a letter which had been found dated May 26, 1846, signed by L.C. Bidamon and Emma Bidamon, and a son of Joseph.  The letter certifies to the sale of four Egyptian mummies with records, which mummies it is stated were found to be the family of Pharoah, King of Egypt.  Mr. Atiya says that this is the greatest find that he has ever had, that it thrills him more than anything else.  He states that if we are satisfied that this papyrus is bona fide, and if we wish to obtain it, he feels that he could arrange to secure it for us through some exchange arrangement.  He also suggests that if we should like Dr. Hugh Nibley to check these things he would be glad to have him do so.

It was our sentiment that these things be referred to Dr. Nibley for his study and report.”

Wed., 15 Feb. 1967:

“8:30 a.m.

Met with Presidents Brown, Tanner, and Smith in a regular meeting of the First Presidency.  Among matters discussed were:

Dead Sea Scrolls – Jordan Government Taken Over Museum in Jerusalem

President Tanner referred to an interview he had had with Louis B. Bigler regarding the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Mention was made of a letter that had been received by Brother Bigler from Mr. Dajani, whom we met about a year ago, conveying Season’s Greetings.  Mr. Dajani indicates that the government of Jordan has taken over the museum in Jerusalem, and that Joseph Saad has resigned because of bad health.  He states that after conferring with the Jordanian government his recommendation is that we need not pay large amounts of money to copy the scrolls, that these scrolls should be published so that they would become a blessing to the world.  He suggests that if we as a Church can get permission to do it, we should go over there and film these records.  President Tanner said that his feeling is that if we are interested in this, we should ask Brother Howard W. Hunter or Theodore M. Burton to look into the situation and see what, if anything, can be done.  President Tanner thought that Brother Bigler would like to go back to Jordan to look into the situation, but he thought that this would be unwise.  President Tanner said that nearly all of the records as far as the parchment is concerned have been microfilmed and are available to us.  He questioned the advisability of spending a large amount of money to get our own private records.

I said that I think we should not do this, and we agreed that we should not encourage Brother Bigler to go to Jordan on this project.

Pearl of Great Price – Book of Abraham Records

President Tanner stated that the Professor at the University of Utah who had said that he had access to the parchment from which the Book of Abraham was translated.  President Tanner said that in talking to him about two weeks ago, this gentleman said that he felt quite satisfied that we are going to be able to get this parchment but the matter has to be kept as quite as possible.  In answer to President Smith’s question as to where the parchment is, President Tanner said that we do not know exactly where it is, but that it is in a museum and that this gentleman is working with the museum people in an effort to make an exchange of artifacts for this parchment, that we will pay for the artifacts instead of for the parchment.

Thurs., 4 May 1967:

“8:00 a.m.

Hotel Utah – Deseret Management Corporation – Museum of Anthropology

Brother Gus P. Backman came in this morning and took up the following matters:

3)  Museum of Anthropology.  Brother Backman discussed with me the feasibility of a study to determine whether or not the Church should undertake the establishment of a great Museum of Anthropology to be located at a point in close proximity of the Temple Block.

Surely there are no other people in the world more interested in the history of Central and South America, yet many of the very important historical items are being removed and placed in museums throughout the world.  And it is Brother Backman’s opinion that there would be no greater contribution to our Missionary work than to have available here at the Church capitol a museum in which items tied to the history of this continent in the Book of Mormon could be displayed.

Brother Backman said that he feels there are some graduate students at the Brigham Young University interested in Archeology and Anthropology who might be willing to undertake a thesis on the feasibility, advisability and methods of development of such a museum in conjunction with some of the General Authorities, such as Elder Hunter, and in conjunction with some of the great anthropologists and archeologists who are now associated with our own universities.  He also thinks a reasonable subsidy to some graduate students might, in all probability, provide a very valuable report on the advisability of such an undertaking.”

Thur., 5 Oct., 1967:

“8:30 a.m. 

This morning held a meeting of the First Presidency in my apartment with Presidents Brown and Tanner. President Smith was meeting with the Twelve in the Temple. Among matters discussed were:

Book of Abraham Parchment 

President Tanner reported that Dr. Atiya of the University of Utah has made arrangements with the Metropolitan Museum of Arts in New York City for the Church to obtain possession of the Book of Abraham parchment which they now have in their possession, from which the Book of Abraham was translated. President Tanner explained that Dr. Atiya had been trying for some time to acquire this papyrus for the Church and had expected to exchange some other artifacts for it; that he has now received word that the museum will contribute the parchment to the Church without cost.

He stated that Dr. Hugh Nibley of the Brigham Young University has carefully checked pictures of the manuscript, that he is able to read some of the writings, and says that they are bona fide. It is suggested that Mr. Fisher, the curator of that part of the museum where the manuscripts are located, would like to present them to the Church the latter part of October or the first of November.

President Tanner asked if it would meet with my approval if he made arrangements with the museum people to meet with me or someone else whom I might designate to receive the parchment. I agreed with this suggestion and authorized President Tanner to make the necessary arrangements for this presentation.

Thur., 2 Nov., 1967:

“8:30 a.m. 

Held a meeting of the First Presidency in the office in the Hotel Utah apartment. Those present were: Presidents Brown and Tanner, and Elder Alvin R. Dyer. Some of the matters discussed were:

Pearl of Great Price — Original Paprus From Which Book of Abraham Was Translated 

President Tanner reported that the man who was supposed to turn over to us the original papyrus from which the Book of Abraham was translated, has been in Egypt for some time and accordingly we have been delayed in obtaining possession of these manuscripts.

However, Dr. Atiya of the University of Utah still says they are available and that they will be given to us before too long.

(See diary of November 27, 1967, containing newspaper article telling of presentation of the papyrus to President Tanner.)

Tues., 7 Nov., 1967:

“8:00 a.m.

Sat in the chair at the East window in the living room, where the autumn sunlight brightened the room, waiting for my meeting with the Counselors.

As they came in a little before 8:30, I greeted the Brethren and told them how pleased I was to see them.

8:30 a.m. 

Held our meeting in the living room. Presidents Brown, Tanner, and Smith, and Elder Alvin R. Dyer were present. Some of the items discussed, other than the routine ones, were:

Pearl of Great Price – Book of Abraham Papyrus 

President Tanner reported that arrangements have been made to receive the Book of Albraham papyri from the Metropolitan Museum of Arts in New York on Monday, November 27. President Tanner said that they are attempting to keep the matter quiet until that time when they will arrange for the press to have representatives present. President Tanner will go to New York with Dr. Atiya of the University of Utah on Monday, November 27, to receive the papyri.

The question was raised as to where these papyri should be placed, and President Tanner suggested that for the time being at least, they be placed at the Brigham Young University in Provo, where they could be in safekeeping or it the vault in Little Cottonwood Canyon, although he thought it would be preferable to have them at the BYU.

It was agreed that the Book of Abraham manuscript should be placed with the Brigham Young University.

(See diary of November 27, 1967, for presentation.)

Later, at the meeting of the First Presidency held Tuesday, November 28, 1967, it was decided to place these papyri in the vault in the Church Historian’s Office.

Wed., 8 Nov., 1967:

“8:30 a.m.

Held a meeting with my Counselors–Presidents Brown, Tanner, and Smith.  Elder Alvin R. Dyer who now meets with us in these meetings, is on his way to visit Nauvoo at my request.

Pearl of Great Price – Book of Abraham Papyrus

President Tanner mentioned again for the information of the Brethren that on Monday, November 27, the Metropolitan Museum of Arts in New York will transfer to us the papyrus from which the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price was translated, that this will take place in New York and President Tanner will be there with Dr. Atiya. President Brown will be attending a conference in Indiana, and if he can arrange to be in New York at that time, he will do so.

President Tanner said arrangements are being made with Brother Stanley McAllister to arrange a luncheon where the transfer will be made, and we are suggesting that President Eldredge of the Eastern States Mission and the two Stake Presidents be invited. President Tanner also said that he had talked to Earl Hawkes of the Deseret News and wolld talk to Elder Mark E. Petersen of the Church Information Service so that the matter will be given proper publicity. President Tanner will be meeting with Dr. Atiya, Hugh Nibley, and Earl Hawkes next week so that Brother Hawkes can have a copy of the pictures of the papyrus to publish in the News the day the transfer is made.

(See diary of November 27, 1967.)

Mon., 27 Nov., 1967:

“Note by CM

Parts of the Papyri from which Joseph Smith Translated the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price, presented to the Church by the Metropolitan Museum of Arts, New York City, New York.

Newspapers carry the story of the presentation of collection of papyrus manuscripts by the Metropolitan Museum of Arts in New York.

These long-lost papyri, believed to have been destroyed in the Chicago fire of 1871, originally came into Joseph Smith’s possession in 1835, along with four Egyptian mummies purchased by some Church members in Kirtland, Ohio. After the Prophet’s death in 1844, the mummies and papyri were sold by Emma Smith.

The museum has had the collection presented to the Church since 1947, at which time they purchased them from the late Alice Heusser of Brooklyn, New York, daughter of a housekeeper for the family to which the Prophet’s widow reportedly sold the items.

Only recently Dr. Aziz S. Atiya, a specialist on Middle East antiquity, and distinguished professor of the University of Utah, saw the original of the facsimile while researching coptic and Arabic papyri in a special room at the museum. He said, “It was one of my most important finds.”

The collection was turned over to President Nathan Eldon Tanner at a ceremony, arranged by him, held in New York City, and attended by G. Stanley McCallister, former President of the New York Stake; George H. Mortimer, Regional Representative of the Twelve in the area; George E. Watkins, President of the New York Stake; Bryan W. Rossiter, President of the Cumorah Stake; Arch L. Madsen, President of KSL; and E. Earl Hawkes, General Manager and Publisher of the Deseret News; and a Deseret News photographer. Dr. Atiya was an honored guest, and Dr. Henry G. Fischer, curator in the department of Egyptian Art for the New York museum, also attended the ceremony, and made the presentation of the papyri to the Church. (See following newspaper clippings; also letters of appreciation sent to Dr. Atiya and Dr. Hoving)”

“(President N. Eldon Tanner Reports to Council – Acquisition of P. of G. P. Papyri)


President Brown reported that through some of our friends we have been able to acquire some valuable documents which were presented to the First Presidency last Tuesday by President Tanner, and the President asked that they be brought here so that the brethren of the Twelve might see them and become acquainted with the procedure that resulted in their acquisition; and also know something of the authenticity of the documents we now have. President Brown asked President Tanner to present to the brethren a report of what happened, and also to show to them the documents themselves. He said that as they are very fragile it wouldn’t be wise to pass them around for each one to handle, that they would be placed on the table for each one to see.

President Tanner then made the following report. He said that just over a year ago Dr. Aziz S. Atiya, who is a Coptic and a great student of literature and ancient history, came to him and told him that while he was in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in the department where they have their papyri and materials of that kind, as he was going through these materials in his study, he accidentally came on to a little parcel which he opened, and recognized it immediately as the original papyrus, a facsimile of which appears at the beginning of the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price, and is numbered one, which facsimile was made by the Prophet Joseph Smith. When he saw this, he immediately recognized the great discovery he had made, and he told President Tanner about it.

President Tanner then reported the matter to the First Presidency and subsequently told Dr. Atiya that we were extremely interested, that we thought this was a tremendous thing, and he said that he thought possibly he would be able to make this available to the Church, if we were prepared to cooperate with him. He said he had no idea what it would cost but he knew they would not sell it for money. He thought possibly he could get some Egyptian artifacts that would appeal to them, that he might give them in exchange for these papyri. Accordingly Dr. Atiya was authorized to do that.

After negotiating with them for some time, he called President Tanner and asked to see him immediately, and told him that he had just received a phone call from Dr. Henry G. Fischer, curator of the Egyptian section, saying that Dr. Thomas P. F. Hoving, who is the Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, had given authorization to present these to the Church at no cost. President Tanner said that when he received this information he wrote to Dr. Hoving, and that Dr. Atiya also wrote him, arranging for the transfer of these items to the Church on November 27 at mid-day. President Tanner said that Dr. Hoving is an outstanding individual, and that he had been most gracious in all their dealings.

President Tanner stated that he had here for the brethren to see the original of Facsimile No. 1 that appears in the Book of Abraham. He said it is not entirely in the condition it was at the time the Prophet had it; and that he also had some other papyri and pictures of these various items, but it would seem advisable not to unwrap the papyri and handle them because of the fragility, and they were carefully packed when they were given to us. He said there are eleven of them.

President Tanner said that Dr. Hugh Nibley says there is no question about their authenticity, that Dr. Hoving, who is the director, Dr. Fischer, the Egyptologist, and Dr. Joseph V. Noble, who has been with the museum for years, all say that this is actually the original from which the facsimile in the Pearl of Great Price was made.

President Tanner said that in addition we have a letter, a typed copy of which he had brought with him to show to the brethren (he did not bring the original with him to the meeting). He said that in the typed copy there are two mistakes, that in the copy they have 1846 instead of 1856; and in the typed copy the word “his” is used instead of “her.” Elder Howard W. Hunter was requested to read the letter.

Elder Hunter said that this instrument is a bill of sale signed by L. C. Bidamon, who was the husband of Emma, after the Prophet’s death, and it is also signed by Emma Bidamon, his wife, and Joseph Smith III, a son of Joseph the Prophet. The letter is dated Nauvoo City, May 26, 1856. Elder Hunter reiterated what President Tanner had said that the copy shows the date 1846, but the original is 1856.

A copy of the letter is made a part of this record:

“Nauvoo City May 26/46

“This certifies that we have sold to Mr. A. Combs four Egyptian Mummies with the records of them. This (sic) Mummies were obtained from the catacoms of Egypt sixty feet below the surface of the Earth by the antiquaritan society of Paris forwarded to New York & purchased by the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith at the price of twenty four hundred dollars in the year eighteen hundred thirty five they were highly prized by Mr. Smith on account of the importance which attached to the record which were accidently found enclosed in the breast of one of the Mummies. from translations by Mr. Smith of the Records. these Mummies were found to be the

family of Pharo King of Egypt. they were kept exclusively by Mr. Smith until his death & since by the Mother of Mr. Srnith notwithstanding we have had repeated offers to purchase which have invariably been refused until his death which occured on the fourteenth day of this month

“L. C. Bidamon

Emma Bwidamon (pencil: former wife of Jos. Smith)

Joseph Smith” (pencil: son of Jos. Smith)


Hancock Co. Ill Amy 26″

(Letter is copied direct from First Presidency Minutes)

Elder Hunter said he thought the words “former wife of Jos. Smith” had been written by someone other than Emma.

President Tanner said that the museum people say that the parchment was turned over to Mr. A. Combs, and that when he died he left some of the material, a part of which is included in this collection, to his housekeeper; and then his housekeeper’s son or daughter took them to the museum in 1918 to see if the museum would be interested in them, and the museum was not interested; and then his or her daughter’s husband brought them to the museum in 1947, and the museum bought them at that time and has had them in its possession since that time.

President Tanner said that they went to the museum at noon on Monday, November 27, 1967, under assignment from the First Presidency and in accordance with previous arrangement. Provision had been made to have television cameras set up, and representatives of the UPI and the AP were present; Arch Madsen and Earl Hawkes were there with three of their men to take pictures and make reports. He said that at this meeting Dr. Hoving handed these items to President Tanner in the presence of Dr. Atiya, Dr. Fischer, and Dr. Noble. President Tanner said he had invited the five stake presidents in that area, and three regional representatives, and the mission president to attend this transfer, but some of them could not be present.

Following the presentation a luncheon was held to which all these men were invited; also Frank Wangemann, who is manager of the Waldorf-Astoria. He said that if anything ever touched Mr. Wangemann he thought this did, and that after lunch Mr. Wangemann talked to Dr. Atiya for some time.

President Tanner said that no one could have been more gracious than was Dr. Hoving. President Tanner said to him, “You cannot understand what this means to us and how much we appreciate it. ” Dr. Hoving said, “I think we can. We have things like this in our museum, thousands of them, but this is significant and important to your Church, and we think it should go home.”

President Tanner said he was very proud to be able to introduce to these gentlemen of the museum our stake presidents, mission presidents and regional representatives as follows, and they were impressed by them:

George H. Mortimer, Robert N. Sears and Roy Fugal, regional representatives of the Twelve; W. J. Eldredge, President, Eastern States Mission; George E. Watkins, president, New York Stake; J. Lorenzo Smith, president, New Jersey Stake; G. Stanley McAllister, former president of New York Stake; David D. Payne, first counselor, Long Island Stake Presidency; Arch L. Madsen, president of Bonneville International Corporation; Miller R. Gardner, vice president and general manager, Radio New York Worldwide, Inc.; Earl Hawkes, general manager, Deseret News; Jay Hesslop president of Salt Lake Stake, and representative of the Deseret News; Jack Gerard, representative, Deseret News; and Gail Loden, representative, KSL Radio.

President Tanner said that at the luncheon he asked Dr. Atiya and Dr. Noble to speak, that Dr. Moving was unable to attend the luncheon. Dr. Noble is the vice president of the museum. He said that Dr. Atiya was rnost complimentary to the people of the Church and the Church itself. He said how pleased he was to be a party to the turning of these manuscripts over to the Church. He said that he had made three very important discoveries in his life, and many important ones, but this was the crowning discovery of them all, knowing what it meant to the Church.

Dr. Noble made a statement to the effect that in their research they find artifacts here and there and put them all together and say that is the story, but he said that we have the actual thing here, and there is no question about it.

President Tanner said that when this was presented to the First Presidency, President McKay was deeply moved and suggested that the brethren of the Twelve should see it. The President said this as the most significant thing that has happened to the Church in a long time.

President Tanner mentioned that George W. Cornell, who came out here to attend the MIA Convention, talked with him and asked some questions, and prepared a story which he gave to the Associated Press, which report is as follows:

NEW YORK (AP) — A batch of ancient Egyptian papyrus documents,

linked to some scriptures of The Latter-day Saints (Mormon) Church and long believed lost in a fire, today were back in Church hands.

President N. Eldon Tanner, of the Church’s three-member First Presidium in Salt Lake City, Utah, expressed “excitement and great appreciation” at recovery of the material. He called it “Most valuable.”

The collection, turned up in Egyptian archives of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, includes the ancient original of a facsimile drawing accompanying some of the Church’s scripture, the Book of Abraham.

Whether the papyri script, in Egyptian hieroglyphic and hieratic symbols, contains any of the text of the book will be a matter of intensive study by experts, President Tanner said.

“We just aren’t sure yet,” he added.

The documents are a fractional portion or ancient papyri obtained by the Church’s founder, Joseph Smith, in 1835, along with four Egyptian mummies purchased by Church members in Kirtland, Ohio.

All of the material had been thought destroyed in the Chicago Fire of 1871, Church leaders said, until Dr. Aziz S. Atiya, a University of Utah authority on Middle East Antiquity, happened on some of it in the Museum here.

“There is no doubt that it is part of the original sources from which Joseph Smith worked,” he said.

The Book of Abraham is part of The Pearl of Great Price, one of four volumes of scripture accepted by Mormons, the others being the Bible, the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants.

In a foreword to the Book of Abraham, Smith says its text was translated from ancient papyri records from Egyptian tombs, hand-written by the biblical Patriarch of Israel.

The book tells of a stay in Egypt by Abraham, and of his being saved through prayer from sacrificial execution by idol-worshippers. No mention of such a period is made in the Old Testament account of Abraham.

Among the papyri fragments turned up here is a drawing showing a man stretched out on a slab with another figure raising a sword above him. It was identified as the original of a copy reproduced by Smith with the book’s text.

As to whether any of the text also is included in the documents, Dr. Henry G. Fischer, curator of the Museum’s Egyptian Department, said it appeared doubtful, but “this is something the Church will want to study.”

Both he and Church officials said much of the script is from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, with which mummies commonly were buried. The material dates back possibly 3,000 years, Dr. Fischer said.

Church officials said that after Smith’s death in 1844, his widow sold the Egyptian material, and that at least two of the four mummies were burned in the Chicago Fire. It was assumed that all of the documents had perished.

Dr. Fischer said the Museum obtained the collection in 1947 from the late Alice Heusser, of Brooklyn, daughter of the housekeeper of the family to which Srnith’s widow had sold the material.

Included with it was a letter from Smith’s widow, dated May 26, 1846, showing the material once belonged to him.

Dr. Atiya said he was doing research in ancient Coptic papyri when he stumbled accidentally on the documents. “It was one of my most important finds, ” he said. “I realized its importance to the Church.”

The collection was presented to President Tanner in a brief ceremony at the Museum Monday by its Director, Thomas P. F. Hoving, who said it was being given to the Church as the “logical, inevitable, historical way to handle it.”

“We’re happy that it’s going to its home,” he said.

President Tanner showed to the brethren pictures of the other ten pieces, of which we have the originals, and said that it is the intention to send these papyri to the Brigham Young University for safe keeping, and to make it possible for Dr. Nibley to carry on his careful research. He said that we know that the Book of Abraham was not written from these papyri of which we have the pictures. President Tanner stated that he would have a copy of these pictures made, a full set of them, for each one of the brethren. President Tanner further stated that these papyri are pasted on heavy paper, and on the back of the paper on each of the pieces is some drawing or sketching.

Elder Hinckley commented that there might be some reasonable assumption that there are some of these papyri somewhere else.

The brethren urged that the utmost care be taken to preserve these items, particularly the original papyrus from which Facsimile No. 1 was taken. President Brown moved that this particular piece of papyrus be left in the hands of President Tanner and Brother Hunter, with instructions to carefully preserve it, and prepare it for deposit either in the vault in the canyon or the church files in the Historian’s Office, President Tanner and Brother Hunter to determine this point, that it be not sent to the Brigham Young University. Motion was seconded by Elder Stapley and unanimously approved .

(Copied direct (sic) from Minutes of the Meeting of the First Presidency with the Quorum of the Twelve held in the Salt Lake Temple Thursday, November 30, 1967.)”

“November 29, 1967

Dr. Aziz S. Atiya

Middle East Center

University of Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah 84112

Dear Dr. Atiya:

We hereby express to you our sincere and deep appreciation for your part in assisting the Church to receive from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City their generous gift of the collection of papyri which they presented through President N . Eldon Tanner on Monday, November 27, 1967, in New York City.

This collection is most significant in that it ties in so closely with the early history of the Church, and supports completely the claim made by the Prophet Joseph Smith. These meaningful documents, which we appreciate so much having in our possession, will be treasured and preserved and will assist in future research and give further evidence of the authenticity of the Pearl of Great Price.

We appreciate your friendship and your keen interest and untiring efforts in making this available to us . We are so glad you were able to accompany the group to New York and participate in this exciting event.

Cordially and faithfully yours,


By David O. McKay

Hugh B. Brown

N. Eldon Tanner

Joseph Fielding Smith”

Tues., 28 Nov., 1967:

“8:30 a.m. Held a meeting of the First Presidency. Among items discussed were:

Wilford C. Wood — Book, “Joseph Smith Begins His Work” 

Attention was called to a letter from Don Melton of Torrington, Connecticut, a non-member of the Church who is engaged in a study of many aspects of Mormonism. He inquires regarding Wilford C. Wood and his book, “Joseph Smith Begins His Work”, Volume I. Mr. Melton states that in answer to a letter he addressed to Brother Wood, he replied that he has been a historian for the Church for over fifty years. He states that this book by Wilford C. Wood claims to be the Book of Mormon, 1830 First Edition.

It was decided to answer this man that Wilford C. Wood is not and has not been a historian for the Church, and that his book is written upon his own responsibility, that we are not familiar with its content.

Pearl of Great Price – Report on Obtaining Papyri of Book of Abraham President Tanner reported to us the matter of the turning over to the Church by the New York museum the original papyri from which the Book of Abraham was taken. President Tanner brought the papyri with him to the meeting in a box in which these papyri had been packed, together with pictures that had been taken of the papyri.

It was suggested that the papyri be turned over to Hugh Nibley of the Brigham Young University, so that he could continue his research of the papyri, to be kept during this time at the BYU, and Brother Nibley to be held responsible for it. It was felt that ultimately these should come back to the Historian’s Office.

I expressed my appreciation for what had been accomplished. President Brown stated that he felt that it is the biggest thing that has happened in the Churh in a long time.

(See copy of minutes by Alvin Dyer following; see diary of November 27, 1967, for newspaper clippings concerning the papyri.)”

“(Meeting of The First Presidency and Elder Alvin R. Dyer with President McKay)


President N. Eldon Tanner brought to the meeting a collection of papyrus manuscripts which had been given to the Church by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, (New York City.) These papyri contained the original of the facsimile published in The Pearl of Great Price, in the Book of Abraham, designated as ‘Facsimile No. 1’. The remainder of the papyri had also once belonged to Joseph Smith. They were found with the mummies that came into his possession; a part of these ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics were translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith, producing The Pearl of Great Price. It is doubtful that any of the papyri turned over to the Church contain the parts from which The Pearl of Great Price was translated other than the facsimile referred to.

With the papyri was the original letter, signed by Emma Smith Bidamon widow of the Prophet, and his son Joseph, which was sent to the Metropolitan Museum signifying that these belonged to the Prophet Joseph Smith. The letter is dated May 26, 1846.

Professor Aziz S. Atiya is responsible for the discovery of the papyrus manuscripts at the Museum, and was no doubt influential in having them turned over to the Church by the Museum, with Thomas P. F. Hoving, director, making the presentation in New York. Stake Presidents and other Regional Leaders were present upon the occasion, as also were Arch Madsen of KSL and E. Earl Hawkes of the Deseret News.

Virtually all of The First Presidency meeting was spent in viewing and discussing the papyri, which represents another great physical proof of the authenticity of the claims of the Prophet Joseph Smith.


It was unanimously decided that after a showing of the papyri to the Quorum of the Twelve on Thursday, it will be placed in the custody of Hugh Nibley of the BYU who will make a thorough study of the hieroglyphic and hieratic Egyptian funerary tests to determine what may be learned further from the writings, especially passages from the Book of the Dead commonly buried with Egyptian mummies.

When the study is completed, the papyrus manuscripts will be delivered to the Church Historian’s Office to be placed in the vault for safekeeping.”

Fri., 6 Dec., 1967:

“8:30 a.m. 

Held a meeting with Presidents Brown, Tanner, and Smith. President Isaacson still confined to his home from a stroke, and Elder Alvin R. Dyer in Independence with Architect Emil Fetzer to look over the site of the proposed new Visitors Center on Temple land property. Some of the items discussed were:

Pearl of Great Price – Report on Book of Abraham Papyri Handling and Disposition of

President Tanner reported that following the First Presidency’s meeting on Wednesday last, when the box was opened containing certain papyri that had been turned over to the Church through President Tanner by the director of the National Museum of Art in New York, these items were taken to the Council of the Twelve the following day and shown to the brethren for their information. Of particular interest was the original of facsimile #1 that appears in the Book of Abraham. It was agreed that these papyri should be sent to the Brigham Young University for safekeeping. President Tanner said that he got in touch with President Wilkinson, ascertained that they had a place of safekeeping and he said the place they have would be as safe as any place he knew of. President Tanner explained to him that we want to make the papyri available to Dr. Hugh Nibley to continue his studies, with which President Wilkinson agreed. President Tanner explained that at the meeting with the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, it was decided that we would keep the original of facsimile #1 in safekeeping here. It is not in proper shape for preservation in its present condition and is very fragile, so yesterday Hugh Nibley and the assistant to the curator at the BYU came up and President Tanner and Howard Hunter, who were assigned by the Council to take care of these things, turned over these documents in the wooden box to Dr. Nibley and this other brother, with the understanding that they would properly preserve them in glass and that they would take the necessary measures to provide proper preservation for the original facsimile #1, and return it to us so that we can place it in safekeeping here until such time as it should be decided where it might be placed permanently.

President Tanner explained that the way they take care of these items is to build up the humidity to what it should be, place the papyri under glass and seal it so that no air or moisture can get into it. In that way it can be preserved indefinitely. President Tanner said that Dr. Nibley suggested that one of these papyri, which is perhaps of least importance, might be placed with pictures of the collection in a window here where people could see them. He did not feel that we should display the originals. President Brown suggested that every precaution be taken to make certain that nothing shall happen to these papyri and that we will know where they are.

I asked President Tanner if he is sure that everything is all right, and President Tanner said that he felt quite satisfied with it, and I said that we would hold President Tanner responsible for it.

Wed., 13 Dec., 1967:

“8:30 a.m.

Pearl of Great Price (Book of Abraham Papyri) – Discovery of Reported by Dr. Aziz S. Atiya

Presidents Brown, Tanner and Smith, and Elder Dyer and I met with Dr. Aziz S. Atiya, Professor of the University of Utah in the apartment at the Hotel Utah.

Professor Atiya called on me to give his personal report of his discovery of the papyri in the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, and of the series of events leading up to the presentation of the papyri to the Church.

He expressed himself as attributing this experience as the crowning achievement of his life. He spoke of his Coptic studies and of a book he would soon have published, a copy of which he would present to me later. These Coptic studies refer to the teachings and beliefs of an ancient Egyptian Christian by the name of Copt, who lived in the pre-Nicean period.

Dr. Atiya, a non-member of the Church, but a good friend, said that he was browsing through the papyri collection of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, seeking for coptic or Islamic papyri when he saw the facsmile #1 (which he recognized immediately as being from the Pearl of Great Price) and other papyri. He said he knew it was the one Joseph Smith had had.

Upon his return to Salt Lake, he reported his find to the First Presidency through PresidentTanner, who reported it in a First Presidency’s meeting where it was suggested that Dr. Atiya be given authority to negotiate for the Church to see if they could come into possession of the collection. He subsequently, because of his friendship with Dr. Henry G. Fischer, curator of the Egyptian section in the Museum, made arrangements for the Church to receive this collection as a gift from the Museum.

Professor Atiya refer very feelingly to previous meetings he had had with me, and I expressed deep appreciation to him for what he had done for the Church in being instrumental in the return of the papyri to the Church — bringing them “back home” as the professor put it.

I asked him if there were any expenses he had incurred that the Church could reimburse him for, and Dr. Atiya said: “What I have done in time and money is my gift to the Church, which Church I regard very highly.”

All the Brethren present joined me in expressing commendation and appreciation to Dr. Atiya. (See following minutes, also copies of letter of  appreciation to Dr. Atiya signed by the First Presidency, dated November 29, 1967, and letter of appreciation addressed to me signed by Dr. Atiya, dated December 11, 1967.)

Dr . Atiya left shortly after 9:00 a.m., and the Brethren of the First Presidency and Elder Dyer remained to discuss the Pearl of Great Price papyri further, and to have a most interesting and important discussion concerning manuscripts and records of early Church history.

Reorganized Church – Appreciation for copies of Papyri letter 

Brother Dyer read a portion of a letter received just yesterday from Wallace Smith, President of the Reorganized Church, expressing appreciation for copies of the papyri and the letter of Emma Smith and his father, Joseph Smith, III, regarding the authenticity of the papyri.

He also gave a report of the Historian’s Office of the Reorganized Church, and mentioned that he is endeavoring to secure copies of records of early history that we do not have.

President Smith said that the records which the Prophet Joseph Smith had — his journal, etc. — came down to our Church, and that except for the records which Emma Smith had in her own possession and those withheld by John Whitmer, we possess the major part of the historical records.

I told Elder Dyer to keep up what he is trying to do in being friendly with the Reorganized Church, and then asked President Joseph Fielding Smith to prepare a listing of all the historical documents that we have in our archives.

We also talked about the “Inspired Version” of the Holy Bible, representing the translation and revision made by Joseph Smith, and that we should determine to what extent our current editions differ from the 1867 and prior editions. Elder Dyer reported that while he was President of the Central States Mission, he had secured a copy of the 1867 edition for Elder Delbert L. Stapley, and I asked him to get this copy from Elder Stapley and have the comparison study made.

This was a very significant meeting, both in view of the report of Dr. Atiya, and for the discussion we had concerning historical records and the “Inspired Version” of the Holy Bible and our decision thereto. I stated to the Brethren that this was a most sacred meeting and that the subjects discussed should be kept most confidential and that we should go ahead without fail with the matters as directed.

(See following copy of Elder Dyer’s minutes; also copy of First Presidency’s minutes.)”

“Minutes of the Meeting of the First Presidency Held Wednesday, December 13, 1967, at 8:30 A.M., in President McKay’s Apartment.

Present: Presidents David O. McKay, Hugh B. Brown, N. Eldon Tanner and Joseph Fielding Smith; also Elder Alvin R. Dyer. President Thorpe B. Isaacson absent on account of illness.

Book of Abraham Papyri Transfer

Dr. Aziz Atiya met with the First Presidency this morning at their invitation in order that President McKay personally might express his appreciation for the work he had done in arranging for the transfer to the Church by the National Museum of Art in New York of certain papyri including the original of Facsimile No. 1 in the Book of Abraham. President McKay asked Dr. Atiya to give him an account of what was done in securing this papyri. Dr. Atiya made the following statement:

“I have done many things in my life but I think this was the crowning discovery of my career because I found it was not just a discovery but a service to a community and a Church which has all my esteem. The way it came about is very bizarre in a sense because all great discoveries are just accidental. I was not looking for this. I have lived all my life with documents and I was putting the finishing touches on a book which will be presented to you in January on the history of the Eastern Church because the Eastern Church is sometimes forgotten. It is not really one church, it is many churches. I belong to one of them which was established inside the essentials of our law of Coptic Church. I am interested in anything that touches any church and I was looking for material to illustrate this book. And then behind bars, so to speak, where nobody is really allowed (they are all my friends in museums), I dug into papyri and there was this file staring me in the face. I took it to the Curator and said, ‘Look here, what is this file doing here? This doesn’t belong here, this must go home.’ My job was to make sure that the papyri in front of me were authentic before I could do that. I am familiar with papyri. I do not read hieroglyphics, but I am familiar with papyri and could establish what is right and what is fact. After this was established I began to look for concrete proof of these documents. There were eleven of them. These documents were genuine. The first one was published in the Pearl of Great Price. This was the thing that caught my eye. Then I found a very nicely written testimony signed by Emma Smith Bidamon and Joseph Smith, Jr. This is concrete proof, not that the documents are authentic as English but authentic of the documents that were in the hands of Joseph Smith. We had difficulty in reading the letter of testimony because it was faded. It was on nineteenth century blue paper. Blue ink was used. With gadgets we could recover the text. All this happened in the Metropolitan Museurn of Art in New York. So I had the documents photographed and brought the photographs home and through the good offices of a member of the Church in public relations I got myself introduced to President Tanner. I took the photographs to him and told him: ‘These photographs I have made. You look at them. If they are worthy, I will go on with the job and try to arrange for the transfer.’ Of course we had to take them at the beginning by the exchange of this priceless material with a nice Egyptian statue which President Tanner gave me the authorization to speak about. This was the opening of the door and was more than a year ago. Then I began to work on them slowly. This is a game of patience. We are a patient people, very patient, in our church. In our church we have suffered the tortures of the damned. We have survived. We are still a rarity through our patience and faith. So in applying my own technique with them and using some of my friends, I succeeded in the long run in getting the matter before the Board of Trustees. Until that moment, nobody outside the very close circle knew about these documents, and I think up to that time you did not know where they were.”

President Tanner: You said you would rather not tell me where they were.

Dr. Atiya: I would rather divulge the details when my hand is on the solution. I am sure the Lord has been on my side. The matter was put before the Board of Trustees only two or three months ago. I do not have the dates in my mind.

President Tanner said: It was about three months ago.

Dr. Atiya: Long distance telephone calls, visits to New York back and forth. I used to have some pretext to go to New York, and in the back of my mind there was nothing but these documents. In the end I succeeded in persuading them that the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a nonprofit institution which has so many papyri really should not be interested in these papyri as just ordinary papyri, that the Church is interested because these make part of its heritage. In the long run they were persuaded to say, ‘We will donate them as a good will donation to the Church,’ and the letter that was signed by the director of the museum was read to me. We had to keep our eye on every detail. Finally the letter from the museum came to me. As soon as the decision was made, I made it clear to President Tanner that the documents were in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and they were very, very good about it. They ceded the documents, set them in a sort of nice little box made specially for them. They didn’t used to be like that; they were just dumped in the files. They were placed nicely and I made an appointment when we decided on the date and we waited for the curator, for he was in Egypt for a time, to come back in order to attend the presentation, and Brother Tanner and I made the arrangements for a date. I made it a point to be there early in the morning for one reason. I do not say that I am a man of bad faith, but as a historian I am a Doubting Thomas. Unless my hand is on the whole treasure and the whole thing is finalized I won’t believe. I told President Tanner I would be there the first thing in the morning before the ceremony to make sure the documents were well preserved and together with them the letter signed by the family of the Prophet Joseph Smith. So I went early in the morning and found that everything was beautifully arranged by the curator and the associate curator. I had no qualms about it. I gave President Tanner a call from the museum. At a certain moment I met him on the gate and everything was done in the limelight with the television stations represented, with the international news agencies there. Everybody was there. I have had many clippings about the presentation ceremony from this company, but to my surprise a young man coming from Egypt on the 29th told me that the discovery had a prominent place on the first page of an Egyptian paper in Arabic, so it was all over the world. I am very happy that I have been instrumental in bringing these documents to the Church under your presidency, and I feel if I did not do anything before that in my long academic career I have done something for the world of learning and for the Church.

President McKay: We are very happy indeed to get from you directly the, story of this papyri.

Dr. Atiya: Of course you will be surprised, Mr. President, that I have a continual avalanche of letters from people everywhere. I feel proud of using probably half of my time answering these letters. When I saw that the papyri were presented to President Tanner to be taken home, I gave him all the photographs.

One of the things I forgot to tell you, Mr. President, is that the papyri are glued on 19th century paper. Papyrus is a plant. It is brittle and the Prophet, in order to preserve them, glued them on paper. When I had made that dazzling discovery at the beginning I never thought of looking on the back of the paper on which the papyri were glued, but the next time I thought I might as well look at the back of them and there were three pages of maps, lists of townships, and other material which is priceless for the history of the Church. I believe when these documents are studied, three pages in the Prophet’s handwriting at the back of the paper on which the papyrus is glued, the papyrus on one side and on the other side regarding maps and townships, some material which I think in our study may throw some light on the Mormon trek in these days.

President McKay asked Dr. Atiya how he first got in touch with this.

President Tanner commented that when Dr. Atiya came and told him about this discovery that he, President Tanner, reported to President McKay that he thought we might be able to acquire it by exchanging valuable Egyptian artifacts. He said that we then authorized Dr. Atiya to negotiate to see what he could do. President Tanner said that he and Dr. Atiya had been in touch with each other for a year, that the Doctor has patience but is a determined individual. He said that when he told the President we had it and when he showed it to him — the President doesn’t get very excited — but he was excited about that and he said, “I want to tell Dr. Atiya myself how much we appreciate them.”

Dr. Atiya said that this was a great privilege and a great honor. He said that he had just deposited two letters which he had signed yesterday after receiving President Tanner’s letter, one for President McKay and the other for the Presidency, thanking them personally for sending the wonderful document of recognition which is signed by the President and his counselors. He said this is a document which would go down in his autobiography.

President McKay said that he was very glad circumstances came about such as we had heard from him directly.

President Tanner said that he had sent Dr. Atiya a complete set of the pictures.

The Doctor said that he was sure that some of these pictures would be in his autobiography some day, that anyway his wife would have them. He mentioned that he had a daughter who married a young man of Mormon extraction of a pioneer family in this area, that now he and his wife have a grandchild who is of Mormon origin. Dr. Atiya further said that he has been very happy in this community. He said as a Copt of the original Christianity from which he believed some of our pre-Nicean institutions are represented in some parts of the Church theology, and as a Copt he had done more missionary work probably than many missionaries that the Church sends out. He said that because of his neutrality when he talks about this community it has value, more so than if a member of the Church were talking.

President Brown told Dr. Atiya that he had performed a great service for us and we very greatly appreciated it.

President Tanner reported to President McKay that while Dr. Atiya was in New York he had a sad experience, that his house was burglarized and some very valuable things were taken from his home while this transfer was being made.

Dr. Atiya responded that these are worldly things, that his wife was not interested in wearing her diamonds and her gold. He said the only thing about it that was really pathetic is that he had a handful of ancient coins, Israel coins, which are irreplaceable, which he had planned some day to pass on to museums in this country in recognition of what this country had done for him, and these also have disappeared. He said that the insurance would never pay one tenth of the loss, that he had valued each coin at $100 and that there was more than he would save in the remaining time of his service. He said not that he was complaining, that he had the philosophy of accepting these things but felt sorry for the man who took them. Dr. Atiya thought that the diamonds would be broken and the emeralds taken away from the rings, and that the gold would probably be melted and sold. The coins, he said, will not be valuable to the thief because if he tries to sell one coin he will be found out because all coin dealers in the country know about it. He mentioned that he had picked these things up all over the world and ultimately they should have been in museums rather than in his home.

President McKay said to Dr. Atiya that these papyri are very precious. The Doctor said that it was the least that he could do for this community which adopted him, a community in which he had lived happily for nine years. He further said that he and his wife have very great admiration for the Church.

Dr. Atiya said that on one occasion, because of hard work, he began to bleed and he lost 60% of his blood. He said they replaced the blood with American blood, probably Mormon blood, and he made a record recovery because no one in history has lost 60% of his blood and been able to move about in twelve days. President Tanner said the Doctor knows that he had our faith and prayers. Dr. Atiya said that he had told President Tanner that the fact that he had recovered is due to the fact that he had unwittingly been living the Mormon religion all his life. He also stated that President McKay’s son Llewelyn is his colleague and good friend, and mentioned that Dr. Atiya said he felt honored.

The Doctor said that when he gets the book completed that he is writing, which will be in January, he will see that the President and his associates receive a copy. This book he said is a history of eastern Christianity. Dr. Atiya asked President McKay to keep him in his prayers, that if the President didn’t remember his name to just think of his faith. President McKay said that he was going to take the Doctor’s name and keep it written in black and white. President McKay expressed his appreciation and compliments that Dr. Atiya came this morning, He said that he was glad to increase their acquaintance and asked the Lord to bless him and said that if we can be of service to him in any way to please let us know. The Doctor answered that he desired nothing but the President’s prayers, that what he had done was out of love and the job was finished and that is all he wanted. President McKay asked Dr. Atiya what expense he had been to and he said nothing, that he was very happy to have done this, that it was his privilege and that he was rewarded by the contribution that he had made. President McKay said that he did not want anyone to express sympathy for him, that he was just a young man. Dr. Atiya said, “You are the greatest man in the world, the most remarkable man in the world.”

Dr. Atiya was then excused from the meeting.

Papyri Manuscript

Elder Dyer mentioned his visit to President Wallace Smith of the Reorganized Church in Independence, Missouri, and the efforts that he is making to get any Book of Abraham records that the Reorganized Church may have. He said that the Reorganized Church has many documents pertaining to early Church history that are very valuable, that apparently were turned over to the Prophet’s wife, Emrna, by the Prophet, and that they had come into the hands of the Reorganized Church. Brother Dyer read to the brethren a letter that he had received from Wallace Smith, president of the Reorganized Church, expressing his appreciation to Brother Dyer for making available to him the photostatic copies of the papyri left in the archives of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and stating that they would be a subject for scrutiny by competent scholars.

President Smith mentioned that we have in our archives many very valuable papers dating back to the time of the Prophet. He said that we have practically everything that was brought from Nauvoo, most of the documents, although there were not very many. President McKay asked President Smith to furnish a list of these documents that we have in the Historian’s Office, and President Smith said that he would do so.

Elder Dyer said that he thought that if we could maintain a friendly relationship with the Reorganized Church we could perhaps arrange for an exchange of information that might be of benefit to us. In this connection he mentioned that they have the second copy of the manuscript of the Book of Mormon that was in the handwriting of Oliver Cowdery, that they also have the Bible that belonged to Joseph Smith that he used in translating the Bible. Elder Dyer said he had seen it and the Prophet’s footnotes in the markings on the margins, that the RLDS also have the original manuscript of the Book of Abraham and he had been trying to get a copy of these things. Brother Dyer further referred to the Inspired Version of the Bible which the Prophet Joseph had prepared and said that the RLDS has made revisions from time to time of the Prophet’s revised version, that we are selling this book in the Deseret Book Store as the Inspired Version and yet there are many mistakes in it, many changes that have been made by the Reorganized Church, and the book cannot be relied upon. He mentioned that some of our brethren are making quotations from the Revised Version and they should be sure that they are quoting the book as it came from the Prophet. He mentioned that when he was presiding over the Central States Mission Elder Delbert L. Stapley wrote him asking if he could get a copy of the book which was published in 1867, that he had talked to President Israel Smith about the matter and through his efforts he obtained a copy and turned it over to Delbert Stapley. He said that copy is authentic.

President McKay asked Brother Dyer to take the responsibility of finding an authentic Inspired Version and bringing it to him. It was understood that when President Smith furnishes the brethren with a list of the items referred to, consideration can then be given to what our future action should be.

* * * * * *

Minutes by Joseph Anderson”

“(Minutes of Meeting with The First Presidency in the Hotel Apartment)


WEDNESDAY, December 13, 1967

At 8:30 A. M. I met with The First Presidency. President McKay attended and seemed well and was alert, participating in the discussion that ensued.

(Professor Aziz S. Atiya Attends the Meeting)

By arrangement, Professor Aziz S. Atiya was present. He gave President McKay a first hand report of the discovery of the Papyrus, referred to previously in this Journal, at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, and of the series of events leading to it being given to the Church.

He expressed himself as associating this experience as the crowning achievement of his life. He spoke of his Coptic studies and of a book he would soon have published. He promised a copy to President McKay. (Note: Coptic studies refers to the teachings and beliefs of an ancient Egyptian Christian by the name of Copt, who lived in the pre-Nicean period.)

Professor Atiya spoke very feelingly to President McKay, recalling their previous meetings. When President Brown said that President McKay was the greatest man in the Church, Professor Atiya was quick to add, “In the whole world!”

President McKay gave deep expression of the appreciation he and the Church had for that which the Professor had done — being instrumental in the return of the Papyri to the Church — bringing them “back home” as the Professor put it.

President McKay asked if there were any expenses he had incurred that the Church could reimburse. The Professor said that what he had done in time and money was his gift to the Church, which he regarded too highly.

All of us joined the President in expressing appreciation for his unselfish accomplishment.

Professor Atiya left shortly after 9:00 A.M.

We remained to discuss the Book of Abraham Papyrus further and to also have a most meaningful discussion concerning manuscripts and records of early Church history.

“(Minutes of Meeting with The First Presidency in the Hotel Apartment)


WEDNESDAY, December 13, 1967

At 8:30 A. M. I met with The First Presidency. President McKay attended and seemed well and was alert, participating in the discussion that ensued.

(Professor Aziz S. Atiya Attends the Meeting)

By arrangement, Professor Aziz S. Atiya was present. He gave President McKay a first hand report of the discovery of the Papyrus, referred to previously in this Journal, at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, and of the series of events leading to it being given to the Church.

He expressed himself as associating this experience as the crowning achievement of his life. He spoke of his Coptic studies and of a book he would soon have published. He promised a copy to President McKay. (Note: Coptic studies refers to the teachings and beliefs of an ancient Egyptian Christian by the name of Copt, who lived in the pre-Nicean period.)

Professor Atiya spoke very feelingly to President McKay, recalling their previous meetings. When President Brown said that President McKay was the greatest man in the Church, Professor Atiya was quick to add, “In the whole world!”

President McKay gave deep expression of the appreciation he and the Church had for that which the Professor had done — being instrumental in the return of the Papyri to the Church — bringing them “back home” as the Professor put it.

President McKay asked if there were any expenses he had incurred that the Church could reimburse. The Professor said that what he had done in time and money was his gift to the Church, which he regarded too highly.

All of us joined the President in expressing appreciation for his unselfish accomplishment.

Professor Atiya left shortly after 9:00 A.M.

We remained to discuss the Book of Abraham Papyrus further and to also have a most meaningful discussion concerning manuscripts and records of early Church history.

Tues., 23 Jan., 1968:

“8:30 a.m.

Held a meeting with my counselors, Presidents Tanner and Smith, and Elder Alvin Dyer. President Brown was absent because of illness, and President Isaacson is still confined to his home with a stroke .

Pearl of Great Price – Deseret News Given Permission to Release Pictures of the Book of Abraham Papyri

It was mentioned that sometime ago the First Presidency decided that pictures of the papyri turned over to the Church by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Ned should not be made available for use by various publications u ntil Dr. Hugh Nibley had had an opportunity to make a study of the papyri and felt that the pictures of it could be released to those who want them.

President Tanner said that a representative of the Brigham Young

University periodical called and stated that they are using copies of the pictures of the papyri in this publication; that he was informed that this could not be done until Dr. Nibley feels that these pictures can be made available .

This brother then got in touch with Dr. Nibley, who later called on President Tanner and told him that pictures of the papyri are available through other sources; that the press in the East obtained copies of them at the time the transfer was made to us. Dr. Nibley feels that it is just as well to make the papyri public now. He said he had made a study of it and translated a portion of it. Dr. Nibley will send us a letter indicating that he feels it is now proper to release these pictures to the public. Brother Howard Hunter, to whom President Tanner talked, also agrees to this.

The proposal is to let the Deseret News know that the pictures may be made available to anyone who wants them, and they may inform the public that they can obtain copies of the pictures from the Deseret News.

A letter will be written to the Deseret News to this effect, signed by President Tanner for the First Presidency.

Wed., 17 Jul., 1968:

“(Minutes of Alvin R. Dyer of a meeting with President David O. McKay.)

The matters discussed were as follows:

(1) Indian and Various Youth Activities – Expansion of Personnel to carry on Programs

I explained to the President the assignment given to me to investigate the expansion of personnel with regard to the various youth activities of the Church other than those carried on by the Auxiliaries and Priesthood of the Church, referring specifically to the Youth Guidance and Indian Youth Placement Programs. I reported on the meeting that had been held with Elder Monson and Charles Stewart and that they were in agreement and were proceeding to analyze their own situation and come up with suggestions as to how these activities could be incorporated with the functions of the Stakes and the Wards without the need of continued expansion of personnel.

I mentioned to the President that the approach to the Indian Placement Committee would be more difficult, realizing the tremendous attachment which Elder Spencer W. Kimball has for this work; but needless to say they had increased their personnel from 20 (January 1, 1968) to 53 (July 1, 1968). All of these are paid employees working for the placement of Indian children into Latter-day Saint homes which, without question, is a worthy cause and should not be interfered with, but the question arises as to whether this continued expansion of paid employees is necessary to accomplish this purpose. It was pointed out that with all of these employees they were now seeking a building where the personnel could be housed.

I told the President that I would feel reluctant to approach the Indian Placement Committee on this without his complete support and approval. The President was completely in harmony with the assignment that had been previously given me to look into this matter and report to the Presidency and I had his full support in asking the Indian Placement Committee to re-analyze their situation to see if this work could not be done through the Stakes and Wards with merely a basic committee to handle necessary full information through the Correlation Committee to the Stakes and Wards.

Wed., 21 Aug., 1968:

“9:00 a. m.

Held a meeting of the First Presidency in my office in the apartment at the Hotel Utah – Presidents Brown, Tanner, Smith, and Dyer were present.

Book of Mormon – Restoration of Copy of Manuscript that was at the

Home of the Prophet in the Hands of Emma Smith

Attention was called to a letter from President Joseph Fielding Smith addressed to the First Presidency referring to the Book of Mormon manuscript in the Historian’s Office. President Smith explained that this is the copy of the manuscript that was in the home of the Prophet in the hands of Emma Smith. He states that the paper is becoming very fragile and breaks at the slightest touch, and that on most of the pages the writing has almost disappeared. It is recommended that this manuscript be laminated, which lamination procedure involves the deacidification of the paper and mounting it in tissue so that it can be handled without damage. President Smith reports that it is proposed to have Earl Olson, Assistant Church Historian, and one of the other brethren, take the manuscript to the W. J. Barrow Restoration Shop in Richmond, Virginia, which shop has indicated that they would handle the material while the brethren are there. This processing would take one or two days and the estimated cost is between $150 and $200.

The recommendation was approved with the understanding that the brethren who take the manuscript to this shop would remain with it during the process.

(See letter to President Smith which follows)

Tues., 27 Aug., 1968:

“9:30 a.m.

Held a meeting with counselors – Presidents Brown, Tanner, Smith, and Dyer.

11:00 a.m.

First Copy of the Doctrine & Covenants in Korean Presented

Elder Ezra Taft Benson, who has been appointed to supervise the Oriental Missions, called on me. He was accompanied by Brother Joseph Lundstrom and a photographer from the Deseret News.

Elder Benson stated that President Robert H. Slover, newly appointed President of the Korean Mission, had handed to him the first copy of the Doctrine & Covenants in the Korean language with a request that he (Elder Benson) present the book to me in behalf of all the missionaries and him with their love and greetings. The book was inscribed, “where the Church is growing and doing well.”

I was greatly touched by this gesture of love and respect, and accepted the book with deep appreciation. I am thankful and grateful that this inspired book is now available to the Korean people.”


DATE: August 27, 1968

TO: Clare Middlemiss 

FROM: Ezra Taft Benson

I kept my appointment with President McKay this morning at 11:00 a.m. Brother Lundstrom and a photographer at the Deseret News were there and took the picture of me presenting to President McKay the first copy of the Doctrine and Covenants in Korean. This was presented to me by President Robert H. Slover, new president of the Korean Mission, with a request on behalf of him and the missionaries that it be presented to President David O. McKay with their love and greetings.

President McKay was quite touched as this volume was presented to him and I think even more so, Clare, when I told him of the Japanese Youth Conference, the first to be held in Japan which I attended August 8-11. I mentioned particularly the 800 white-faced black-haired Japanese youth who participated and especially how they sing in spirit, We Thank Thee Oh God For A Prophet. They asked that I convey their love and greetings to President McKay whom they sustain as a Prophet of God. During a 4 and a quarter hour testimony meeting we heard 80 testimonies and 125 young people were standing in line waiting, hoping for a turn to bear theirs.

BOOK — President McKay’s Statement Concerning: 

At President Dyer’s suggestion made in the Expenditures Committee Meeting when I gave him a note indicating that I had the appointment, I discussed with President McKay briefly my forthcoming book which I believe now is back in the hands of the Reading Committee. President McKay said, “I hope, it is published soon,” and then he rather jokingly said, “Are you going to publish it in Korean also?” He thanked me for coming and said, “I hope you come again soon.” I said, “I would like to come every day.” He said, “I’d like to have you come every day.” His spirit was good and I enjoyed the visit so much.”

Thur., 21 Nov., 1968:

“Held a meeting of the First Presidency this morning.  Presidents Brown, Tanner and Dyer were present.

Reorganized Church – Photostat Copy of Book of Abraham Obtained

President Dyer reported that we have now succeeded in getting from the Reorganized Church a photostat copy of the Book of Abraham, which will be placed in the Historian’s Office.

Bible – Oxford — Modern Versions Now Being Published in England

President Dyer read to the brethren an article which appeared in a recent edition of one of the papers in California regarding a new edition of the Old Testament in five volumes that is being published by the Oxford Press in England, which volumes are illustrated with psychedelic paintings and drawings, some of them nude women. It is stated that the drawings and paintings are being made by recognized artists. In the article pertaining to this edition Dr. Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury, is quoted as stating that this edition will be a service to religion and art, and that he does not consider the illustrations in any way shocking. President Dyer said that he had arranged through the Deseret Book Company to get copies of three of the volumes from England; that they will not be available to the United States until next year. President Dyer referred to our objection to pornography and said that the publication of the Bible with illustrations as indicated would provide an argument to the publishers of pornographic materials that what they were distributing is not worse than what is in the Bible. He stated that we buy many Bibles from the Oxford Press but he did not think we should buy any more from them because of what they are now doing. President Dyer said that he had considered taking this to the brethren of the Twelve for their information to obtain their reaction.

President Dyer’s Report to the Brethren at Council Meeting Held

Today in the Temple

“The Oxford version of the Old Testament was brought up by me. I called attention to the brethren that, as they knew, there were many psychedelic emporiums established throughout the United States and that several of them were here in Salt Lake City. One of them had been in a Church-rented building until they were asked to vacate; that building being just east of the old Montgomery Ward building. These centers are places where supposed modern culture is exhibited. It attracts many misfits, hippies, and those who are involved in narcotic addiction.

“I further called attention to the fact that these centers reflect a very sinister cunning and somewhat subtle rebellion against that which they call the “establishment”, which means any organized system involving people of a civic, educational, or religious nature. I further stated that with this has developed a new art of portrayal in paintings and drawings which are subtle and vulgar and that now these paintings have invaded sacred books.

“I then gave a report of the content of the new Oxford Bible version

of the Old Testament and of the many vulgar paintings that are contained therein. It is possible that pornographers will use this as a balance of excuse and since we have been opposed to pornographic literature, they now can say that such paintings and drawings are contained in supposed sacred books. These, of course, would be of the modern variety as published by the Oxford Press. “

The brethren left at 9:45 a. m. to attend Council Meeting. I followed the advice of the doctors and did not attempt to go to this meeting.