Subject: PLAGARISM: True origin of the "Celestial Kingdom"
Date: Jan 16 00:47
Author: Deconstructor

I've often wondered where Smith got his descriptions of the afterlife as first described in Section 76 of the D&C.

In D. Michael Quinn's excellent book "Early Mormonism and the Magic World View," he gives a very fascinating source of Smith's "revelations." Quinn offers an exhaustive examination of the sources for the 1832 D&C Section 76 "Vision" of the "three degrees of glory."

In fact, Smith's descripton of the "Celestial Kingdom" was not only a copy from earlier written works, but also VERY controversial to the Latter-Day Saints.

The diaries of Orson Pratt and John Murdock from the 1830's record their efforts to reassure members who questioned the 1832 vision of heaven. The two men described countless excommunications of Mormons, including branch presidents, who denounced "the degress of glory" as a "satanic revelation." Even Brigham Young had a hard time with it at first and described it as "a trial to many."

Why were Mormons choking on this idea of three heavens?

Quinn explains that it's because members correctly recognized it as coming from the occult. The only other sources of separate degrees in heaven came from occult writers during and before Smith's time.

For example, in 1784 a man by the name of Emanuel Swedenborg wrote a book about his visions of the afterlife. Swedenborg insisted: "There are three heavens," described as "entirely distinct from each other." He called the highest heaven "the Celestial Kingdom," and stated that the inhabitants of the three heavens corresponded to the "sun, moon and stars."

By Joseph Smith's own statements, he was familiar with Swedenborg's writtings. Smith told a convert by the name of Edward Hunter that "Emanuel Swedenborg had a view of the world to come, but for daily food he perished." In other words, Smith liked Swedenborg's concepts of the afterlife, but criticized him for not profiting from them.

I was so fascinated by the connection that Quinn documented, that I bought a copy of Swedenborg's book myself from It's called "Heaven and Hell and Its Wonders and was written way before Joseph Smith. Yet it describes the three Mormon degrees of glory to the tee, along with many other concepts including "the veil," "sprit prison," "celestial marriage," and more.

Not only does Quinn make a strong case that Smith knew all about Swedenborg's ideas, but he also shows that his book "Heaven and Hell and Its Wonders" was a book in Smith's hometown library since 1817. Quinn also writes that "Nine miles from Smith's farm, in 1826 the Canandaigua newspaper also advertised Swedenborg's book for sale. The bookstore offered Swedenborg's publications for as little as 37 cents."

If you ever want to know details about the Mormon afterlife, read Swedenborg's book. Smith liberally plagarized from it to come up with his D&C "visions" of the celestial, telestial and terrestrial kingdoms. But Swedenborg's works are definately the originals.

Date: Jan 16 23:04
Author: Deconstructor
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Nowhere have I said that Swedenborg was the first one to suggest three heavens in the afterlife. Yes, some early gnostics compared heaven to the trinity and suggested each figure in the godhead pertained to a level. That's not my point.

Anyone who has actually read Swedenborg's book "Heaven and Hell and Its Wonders will recognize that Smith plagarized many names and ideas. There's all kinds of parallels between the 1778 English translation of Swedenborg's book and Smith's preaching of the 1830s.

My point isn't that Swedenborg was the first to suggest three heavens, but that he was the true orgin of terminology that ended up in Mormonism.

For example, Swedenborg writes about:

- the "Celestial Kingdom"

- after death, all people go to a waiting place called "The Spirit World" divided into a "Spirit Prison" for the unbaptized and a "Paradise" for the baptized

- Angels from the Celestial Kingdom are naked except for a white robe/garment given to them by "The Lord" which shines and glimers (See the late-1830 "First Vision" description of Moroni)

- Sprits and angels are in human form and one can converse with them "as one man to another." No singing, wings or halos.

- The "Sprit World" is this earth, but we cannot see the spirits because of "the veil".

- Marriage exist only in the highest Celesital Kingdom.

Granted, Swedenborg's book is almost 500 pages and Smith did not plagarize the whole thing. But since Smith admitted to reading this work, it's likely Smith borrowed key concepts in order to come up with D&C Section 76.

There really is very little in Mormon scipture detailing the afterlife, wheras Swedenborg dedicated a whole book to it. There was plenty for Smith to take from for his purposes.