School of the Prophets

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In the early Latter Day Saint movement, the School of the Prophets (also called the "school of the elders" or "school for the Prophets") was a select group of early leaders who began meeting on January 23, 1833 in Kirtland, Ohio under the direction of Joseph Smith for both theological and secular learning.


The phrase "the School of the Prophets" has been identified[1] as the naioath or "dwellings" in Ramah in 1 Samuel 19:18-24 where the fellowship or "school of the prophets" assembled to worship, pray, and ask God for wisdom. It was also applied to Harvard University in 1655 when the Reverend Thomas Shepard asked the United Colonies Commissioners to find "some way of comfortable maintenance for that School of the Prophets that now is" and suggested that each family in New England give one-quarter bushel of wheat to the college.[2] It was more commonly applied in the 18th century to Yale University,[3] and it was the title of a history of Yale from 1701 to 1740 by Richard Warch.[4]

Historian Joseph F. Darowski has called attention to earlier Old Testament and Protestant precedents, stating that Harvard and Yale were both once commonly called schools of the prophets.[5]

In LDS History[edit]

A revelation in the "Doctrine and Covenants" begins by commanding that a house be prepared for the Presidency of the School of the Prophets. (D&C 88:127-141) The School is to instruct all the officers of the Church in all things expedient. This revelation goes on to describe how the meetings of the School are to begin—including a special salutation and the washing of the feet of all members of the School. Another D&C revelation (D&C 90) reveals that the "keys" of the School of the Prophets have been given to the church Presidency "That thereby they [the church] may be perfected in their ministry for the salvation of Zion, and of the nations of Israel, and of the Gentiles, as many as will believe. That through your administration they may receive the word, and through their administration the word may go forth unto the ends of the earth, unto the Gentiles first, and then, behold, and lo, they shall turn unto the Jews. And then cometh the day when the arm of the Lord shall be revealed in power in convincing the nations, the heathen nations, the house of Joseph, of the gospel of their salvation."

The first meeting of the school was held at the home-based store owned by Newel K. Whitney. The school provided a setting for spiritual experiences and in-depth discussions of gospel principles. A series of seven lectures presented at the school were published as part of the Doctrine and Covenants in 1835 and later came to be known as the "Lectures on Faith." Another branch of this school existed under the direction of Parley P. Pratt in Independence, Missouri for a short while. Though the school went into a sort of recess, it is apparent Joseph Smith planned to revive it after the completion of the temple at Kirtland, Ohio.[6]

Brigham Young began several schools of the Prophets during his tenure as church president, beginning in 1868 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and spreading to Provo, Logan, Brigham City, Spanish Fork, Nephi, Ephraim, American Fork, and Ogden. His successor, John Taylor, also organized such schools in Salt Lake City and St. George in 1883.


  1. ^ Wiersbe, Warren W., The Bible Exposition Commentary, Volume 1, David C Cook, 2004, ISBN 0896936597, 9780896936591, p. 260
  2. ^ New England’s First Fruits (London, 1643), quoted in Samuel Eliot Morison, The Founding of Harvard College, p. 432; ibid., p. 315.
  3. ^ Warch, Richard, School of the Prophets: Yale College, 1701-1740, Yale University Press, 1973, Chapter 11 – “The Liberal, & Religious Education of Suitable Youth". Warsh notes as his sources, Stephen Buckingham, The Unreasonableness and Danger of a People's renouncing their subjection to God, p. 21; Jonathan Marsh, An Essay, To Prove the Thorough Reformation of a Sinning People is not to be Expected (New London, 1721), p, 46; Eleazar Williams, An Essay To Prove That when God once enters upon a Controversy, With His Professing People; He will Manage and Issue it (New London, 1723), P. 37: Phineas Fiske, The Good Subject's Wish Or, The Desirableness Of The Divine Presence With Civil Rulers (New London, 1726), P. 32; Eliphalet Adams, A Discourse Showing That so long as there is any Prospect of a Sinful People's yielding good Fruit hereafter, there is hope that they may be Spared, p. 73.
  4. ^ Warch, Richard, School of the Prophets: Yale College, 1701-1740, Yale University Press, 1973
  5. ^ Darowski, Joseph F. (Spring 2008), "Schools of the Prophets: An Early American Tradition" (PDF), Mormon Historical Studies 9 (1): 1–13 
  6. ^ Joseph Smith, "Journals, Volume 1: Journal, 1835–1836", The Joseph Smith Papers (Church History Department, LDS Church)  |chapter= ignored (help)