Benito Juárez as Second Moses and the Infancy Gospel of Joseph Smith: The Persistence of Typological Historiography from Epictitus to Brigham Young

Saturday, January 7, 2012: 9:00 AM
Indiana Room (Chicago Marriott Downtown)
Stuart A. C. Parker, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
As in antique and late antique Christianity, there exists a hiatus between the apologetic deployment of typology in scripture by the faith’s founding generation and its analytical deployment by the “doctors of the church.” Hugh Nibley, Bruce R. McConkie and Joseph Fielding Smith were separated by more than a century and half a continent from the Burned-Over District and Midwest where Joseph Smith, Mormonism’s founding prophet spoke of “types” and “shadows” in the revelations he received. There is as much sign that Smith and his contemporaries in the first generation of Latter-day Saints saw typology as a universal means of historical knowledge-making as there is of the author of the Pseudopauline Hebrews understanding it as such. Yet, in both cases, the idea of self-similar narrative episodes in history functioning as a means of ordering all time arose from the flinty soil of the apostolic generation’s apologetic typology. This paper seeks to explain what appear to be episodes of the independent generation of a way of knowing the past in both Mormonism and Roman Catholicism and its ongoing dynamism in contemporary Mormon historical thought.
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