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Mormonism LIVE: 111: Joseph Smith’s Secret Education – The Dartmouth Connection

The running narrative within Mormonism is that Joseph Smith was an uneducated backwoods farm boy and that his lack of sophistication leaves the the Restoration as a miracle that no country bumpkin could have pulled off. But what happens when, with critical thinking skills, we take a look at the the Education he did have or had potential access to. Was Joseph Smith uneducated? Was he a middle school dropout as a surface level reading intimates? And what do we see when we look at the education of those around Joseph Smith and specifically within his family?

CORRECTIONS [ There were two errors in the video presentation for this episode. #1 Randall Bell conflated incorrectly that Joseph’s uncle, John Smith (July 16, 1781 – May 23, 1854) was same John Smith (December 21, 1752 – April 30, 1809) who played a prominent role in the early history of Dartmouth. #2 The letter put up on the screen of Joseph Smith to Oliver Cowdrey, is in the handwriting of Frederick G Williams.]


Dartmouth Arminianism And Its Impact on Hyrum Smith And the Smith Family –

PDF Reassessing Joseph Smith Jr.’s Formal Education William Davis Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought (2016) 49 (4): 1–58. –

Randall Bell’s PDF Presentation –

Joseph Smith’s Pre-1830 Education –

List of Books Joseph Smith owned –

Treasures and a Trash Heap: An Early Reference to the Joseph Smith Family in Palmyra (Page 201 of the document) –

William Davis wrote an article “reassessing Joseph Smith Jr’s Formal Education” and notes that when one tallies up all the evidence including the final term with Stowell’s son in Bainbridge such “increases the overall estimated time that Joseph spent in formal education to the equivalent of approximately seven full school years —a notable increase to that proposed in previous historical representations, and one that will require the careful evaluation of future historians”

reddit discussion around the Dartmouth Connection –

Adam Clarke’s Book on Tobacco –,among%20religious%20people….%20by%20Clarke%2C%20Adam%2C%20approximately%201762-1832

History of Moor’s Indian Charity School –


12 thoughts on “Mormonism LIVE: 111: Joseph Smith’s Secret Education – The Dartmouth Connection”

  1. Awwwwww! I’m so disappointed. I was amazed when I heard on the podcast that Dr John Smith was a relative of the Smith family. It answered so many questions. I’ve just read on the website that this was a mistake. It’s a huge mistake. Very disappointed.

    1. Does the retraction only apply to conflated pictures of Dr Smith and Uncle Smith? Or was Joseph related to both Uncle John Smith and Cousin Dr. John Smith??

  2. Is there a way of sending a copy of an unknown oil painting of Joseph Smith from the eighth (unnumbered) page of Wilford Woodruff’s Joseph Smith Begins His Work, Vol. I? It’s caption claims the following: “An oil painting of the Prophet showing Joseph Smith as a young man.” I think it is valuable in light of your Episode 111, that it looks far more like Hyrum than Joseph. Twenty years ago when I first saw this, I almost came to the conclusion that Hyrum was the mind of the Joseph’s work, and Joseph was the face of Mormonism.

  3. Thank you for bringing the Smith family education into focus.

    Regarding Joseph Smith’s borrowed theology:
    Joseph Smith’s narcissism cannot be ignored in the development of Mormon “doctrine”.

    As an example: Joseph Smith’s polygamy. The historical record indicates it almost certainly develops out of his uncontrolled lust and greed –like most any narcissistic, power-obsessed cult leader. When he is found out, JSmith suddenly needs a revelation, and produces new doctrine.
    I do not believe this is a thought he “borrows” from Mohammad.

    1. all the records available of those who personally knew Joseph in no way support your view of him as narcissistic or driven by lust. The facts simply don’t support such a distorted perspective. As just one example, read about his actions during the Nauvoo Malaria epidemic. His wife, family, and close associates all held him in high esteem, even decades after his death. Check your bias.

  4. Pingback: Detailed notes on the Neophyte Problem in the BOM – TOYBOM: The One Year Book of Mormon

  5. Does Bill have any idea how much damage he has done by asserting false claims through shoddy research about Joseph Smith being related to Dartmouth Professor John Smith????

    1. I never insinuated that. Randy Bell was a guest on our show and he asserted such and we corrected him during the program. So come again…… what is your claim?

  6. Is Dr. Bell JUST saying that he conflated the “picture” of Joseph’s Uncle John Smith, with that of Professor John Smith, but meanwhile that Professor John Smith was in fact related to Joseph as a cousin thrice removed from Joseph Smith???

    The Rutgers database of scholars says “[Professor John Smith] was a cousin of Joseph Smith (1805-44), founder of the Latter Data Saints movement”

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