Reed C. Durham
Reed Connell Durham, Jr. (born 1930) is a historian of the Latter Day Saint movement and former director of the Institute of Religion in Salt Lake City, Utah for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Durham is remembered for a controversial speech given in 1974 about Freemasonry and the Latter Day Saint movement.
Durham was born in Long Beach, California. He was one of the four children of Reed C. Durham, Sr. and Violet E. Cottrell. His father was a professor at Utah State University in Logan, Utah and served as bishop in the LDS Church three times. As a young man, Reed Jr. served as an LDS missionary for two years.
Having earlier attended school in California, Durham's higher education was in Utah. He received his M.S. from the Department of Speech at Utah State Agricultural College in 1957 (the year it became Utah State University), followed by his Ph.D. in history from Brigham Young University (BYU) in 1965, writing his dissertation on the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. Historian Donald Q. Cannon considered Durham's dissertation part of the "major scholarly contribution to the study of Mormon history" that occurred during the 1960s.
Church Educational System
Durham began teaching for the Church Educational System (CES) in 1955 while attending school in Logan. After receiving his master's degree, he stayed in Logan and in 1958 became associate director of the LDS Church's Institute of Religion adjacent to Utah State University. He was elected as a national vice president of Lambda Delta Sigma, the LDS fraternity, in 1959. By 1966 he was associate director of the Institute adjacent to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, where he would serve for years as Institute Director and coordinator of Seminaries and Institutes throughout the Salt Lake Valley.
In addition to his church employment, Durham served in various ecclesiastical positions. For a time he taught Sunday school in his local ward (congregation) and he also was a member of the Sunday School General Board, planning and overseeing the church-wide Sunday School program. He also served in various auxiliaries and in two stake high councils.
Durham was active in the historical community. In the 1960s he was involved with the Organization of American Historians. In 1970 Durham was one of several prominent LDS historians forming a committee that consulted the creation of the LDS Church Historical Department. Durham was an early supporter of Sunstone magazine, which was founded in 1974 by a former student. In 1974 Durham took a year off as Institute Director to work on a book in the church's 16-volume sesquicentennial history to be published in 1980.
In the Mormon History Association (MHA) Durham served as its eighth president, from 1973–74, and second executive secretary, from 1969–71. While he was president, the MHA launched the Journal of Mormon History, whose inaugural issue received criticism from some CES personnel for an article by Jan Shipps about Joseph Smith. In 1974 he delivered a controversial presidential speech to the MHA which startled the LDS historical community, causing Durham to issue a letter of clarification and withdraw from future participation in the MHA.
After his year of research ended, Durham was offered the choice of returning as the Director of the Salt Lake Institute or a promotion to area director of LDS educational programs. He turned both down so he could focus on research and full-time Institute teaching, which he did for years.
By 1991 Durham had been living in Logan, Utah where he still taught for CES. In 1995 he taught at BYU's travel study program in Nauvoo, Illinois, and he was a service missionary at Brigham Young University–Hawaii from 1996 to 1999. In 2009 he taught a class on the Book of Mormon to single adults in Providence, near Logan.
1974 Nauvoo speech
At the Mormon History Association (MHA) conference in Nauvoo, Illinois, on April 20, 1974, Durham delivered his presidential address on the connections of Mormonism and Freemasonry, entitled "Is There No Help for the Widow's Son?". During a thunder storm that day, Durham discussed Masonic parallels with the LDS priesthood, the Masonic Enoch Legend, the occultic Jupiter Medallion attributed to Joseph Smith, and Masonic elements in Mormon temple design and ceremony. About the temple ceremony, Durham famously stated:
There is absolutely no question in my mind that the Mormon ceremony which came to be known as the Endowment, introduced by Joseph Smith to Mormon Masons initially, just a little over one month after he became a Mason, had an immediate inspiration from Masonry. This is not to suggest that no other source of inspiration could have been involved, but the similarities between the two ceremonies are so apparent and overwhelming that some dependent relationship cannot be denied.
Durham said he was attempting to raise questions and he appealed to the historical community to clarify Joseph Smith's relationship to folk magic and Masonry, rather than burying their heads "in the traditional sand".
Jan Shipps said the speech ignited an explosion, leaving attendees in a "tension-filled aftershock". It was the only time she saw Leonard J. Arrington angry, who had worked for years to open the church archives and now feared they would be closed. The next day, the Nauvoo Visitors' Center removed a Nauvoo Temple weather vane display, which Durham had shown in slides for its Masonic symbols.
The speech seemed to support critics who wanted to discredit Mormonism. Durham's leaders were upset and he was rumored to have been disciplined. Durham denied that his church membership was ever threatened and he was even offered a promotion with CES, where he continued his career. The church had asked him "to do no more with the subject again" and "not to release information" and he declined public comment. His paper went unpublished and he ceased involvement in the MHA.
After friends and colleagues criticized his conclusions and questioned his faith, Durham circulated a letter to all participants. He stated that he had been misunderstood by not incorporating his faith into the speech. He reasserted his belief in Joseph Smith, the temple ceremonies and divine revelation.
Durham's speech became famous and made him into "a kind of pivotal figure in the Mormon (LDS) Church". It is still cited by critics of the Mormon temple rites, though his colleague Gilbert W. Scharffs believes Durham's statements have been exaggerated. While Durham didn't publish his paper, unauthorized transcripts were made and circulated as the "underground presidential address", though Durham's notes and citations were absent.
Looking back during the 1980s, Durham privately wished he had presented some material differently, noting that the evidence for the Jupiter Talisman was actually quite weak. Matthew B. Brown claimed that Durham had abandoned his speech's claims.
The speech is seen as one factors in the LDS Church's waning tolerance toward open and revisionist history during the 1970s and 1980s. It is thought to be one reason CES began to discourage its faculty from involvement in the MHA.
Some Mormon historians, such as D. Michael Quinn, built upon the speech to argue that early Mormonism was heavily influenced by folk magic. Jan Shipps believed the speech was part of Mark Hofmann's inspiration in creating the Salamander Letter, a hoax document which seemed to support Quinn's and Durham's work linking Joseph Smith's religious experiences with "magic".
Durham was known for his unorthodox approach and research into LDS history and controversy. Scott Kenney, one of Durham's Institute students who would later found Sunstone magazine, was inspired to study theology and teach Institute because of Durham's classroom explorations of controversial issues in a historical context, which highlighted the humanistic elements of the church.
Despite his position as a religious teacher for the church, Durham was on good terms with Jerald and Sandra Tanner, well-known opponents of Mormonism, and was known to have purchased materials from them. In an 1972 speech he explained how he is motivated by the Tanner's criticisms:
I can't help but think that when they raise these issues it does something to us to have to defend... When I see something that counters what I've been taught or what I know or what I understand or what I feel, the way to counter research...unpleasant to me is not by sticking my head in the sand like an ostrich, but by more research. I may have to revamp, and knowledge sometimes is a dangerous thing. But I will revamp, and I will understand better my heritage. ...what I'm trying to say is that they have become, in a sense, catalysts to sharpen our own historical understanding. We've had to get on the stick and do some study, and do some homework that sometimes we haven't done.
In 1992, Durham remembered explaining to Sandra Tanner how he reconciled LDS historical controversies with his faith in the 1960s:
I explained to Sandra that I look at revelation as a process and that line upon line a church or a prophet or anyone for that matter can learn and improve. I told her that we all make mistakes and errors and said, 'But Sandra, you look at it differently. If you find one little mistake with a church or a prophet you believe they cannot be of God. I see a process of growing and learning. God sometimes has trouble helping us because of our limitations, not his. Oh sure, he could coerce us, but he doesn't and so we can only progress as fast as our limitations let us.'
His colleague Gilbert W. Scharffs said, "I have seldom found a man with a firmer conviction of Jesus Christ and the LDS Church. There are few in the LDS Church who have a deeper knowledge of LDS history and doctrine than Reed C. Durham, Jr."
In 1972 the LDS Church planned a new sixteen-volume sesquicentennial history to be published in 1980, and Durham was commissioned to write the volume on the crossing of the Great Plains. However, these contracts were all canceled in 1981 and Durham's volume was never published, though he did write an article on the subject for the Encyclopedia of Mormonism and two journal articles on the Mormon pioneer sojourn in Iowa.
- Durham, Reed C., Jr. (1957), The Use of Choral Reading in the Various Programs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Master's thesis, Logan: Department of Speech, Utah State Agricultural College.
- —— (1965), A History of Joseph Smith's Revision of the Bible, Ph.D. thesis, Provo, Utah: Department of Graduate Studies in Religious Instruction, Brigham Young University.
- —— (1966), The Great and Abominable Church (PAMPHLET), Institute of Religion, p. 12.
- —— (1971), Various Accounts of the Election-Day Battle at Gallatin, Missouri on August 6, 1839—Arranged in Chronological Order, Salt Lake City, Utah: Salt Lake Institute of Religion.
- —— (1971), Revelation and Scripture: A Collection of Significant Statements. Unpublished manuscript in the BYU Harold B. Lee Library.
- —— (April 20, 1974), Is There No Help for the Widow’s Son?, Nauvoo, Illinois: Mormon History Association Convention. Presidential Address. (Unauthorized publication by Mervin B. Hogan as "An Underground Presidential Address".)
- —— (1974), To Whom It May Concern. Privately circulated letter.
- —— (1980), Some Recent Historical and Archaeological Evidences for the Book of Mormon, R. C. Durham.
- Durham, Reed C., Jr. (Autumn 1966). "[Book review of] The Everlasting Spires: A Story of the Salt Lake Temple, by Wallace Alan Raynor". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 1 (3): 169–170.
- —— (July 1967). "... Mary Was Espoused to Joseph ...". The Instructor: 265.
- —— (Spring 1968). "[Book review of] Joseph Smith and the Restoration, by Ivan J. Barrett". BYU Studies 8 (3): 342–345.
- —— (Summer 1970). "Joseph Smith's Own Story of a Serious Childhood Illness". BYU Studies 10 (4): 480–482.
- —— (May 1972). "And Blossom as the Rose". Ensign: 74.
- —— (Autumn 1972). "The Election Day Battle at Gallatin". BYU Studies 13 (1): 36–61.
- —— (May 1973). "Revelation: The Plainest Book Ever Written". New Era: 21.
- —— (September 1973). "Questions and Answers: What is the Hosanna Shout?". New Era: 14–15.
- —— (September 1975). "Questions and Answers: What is the mantle of the prophet?". New Era: 15–16.
- —— (Fall 1981). "The Iowa Experience: A Blessing in Disguise". BYU Studies 21 (4): 463–474. Also printed in Pioneer (1996)
- —— (1992). "Nauvoo Expositor". In Ludlow, Daniel H. Encyclopedia of Mormonism. New York: Macmillan Publishing. ISBN 0-02-879602-0. OCLC 24502140.[page needed]
- —— (1992). "Times and Seasons". In Ludlow, Daniel H. Encyclopedia of Mormonism. New York: Macmillan Publishing. ISBN 0-02-879602-0. OCLC 24502140.[page needed]
- —— (1992). "Westward Migration: Planning and Prophecy". In Ludlow, Daniel H. Encyclopedia of Mormonism. New York: Macmillan Publishing. ISBN 0-02-879602-0. OCLC 24502140.
- —— (Spring 1996). "The Iowa Experience: A Blessing in Disguise?". Pioneer: 10–12, 14. Also published in: BYU Studies 21:4 (Fall 1981)
- Backman, Milton V., Jr.; Durham, Reed C., Jr.; Tate, Charles D. (Fall 1996). "The Nauvoo Experience, 1844-1846". Dispatch (Illinois State Historical Society): 12–13.
- Durham, Reed C., Jr. (1997). "The Iowa experience: a blessing in disguise?". Pioneer: Sesquicentennial, 1847, 1997. Midvale, Utah: National Society of the Sons of Utah Pioneers. OCLC 37448774. Also printed in BYU Studies 21:4 (Fall 1981)
- "The use of choral reading in the various programs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints". Library Catalog. Utah State University Merrill-Cazier Library. Retrieved 2010-01-06.
- "New Teachers Named For Seminary Posts". Deseret News. April 26, 1958.
Joining the staff as associate director of the Institute of Religion at Logan, Utah, is Reed Durham Jr. He was born in Long Beach, California...[page needed]
- "Death: Reed C. Durham, Sr.". Deseret News. May 21, 1991. Retrieved 2010-01-05.
- Durham, Reed C., Jr.; Heath, Steven H. (1970). Succession in the Church. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft. dust-jacket back flap. LCCN 72119915. OCLC 69197.
- Mayer, C. Lamar, ed. (2004). "The Descendants of Eliza C. Anderson Jensen". James Jorgen Andersen and Ane Kjirstine Eskesen, Ancestors and Descendants. Monterey Park, California: C.L. Mayer. p. 498. OCLC 865857903.[unreliable source?]
- Matthews, Robert J. (1975). A Plainer Translation: Joseph Smith's translation of the Bible, A History and Commentary. Provo: Brigham Young University Press. p. 16. LCCN 75005937. OCLC 1230845.
- Cannon, Donald Q. (Spring 2004). "[Review of] Leland Homer Gentry. A History of the Latter-day Saints in Northern Missouri from 1836 to 1839". Journal of Mormon History 30 (1): 241. Retrieved 2009-12-31.
- Durham, Reed C., Jr. (Spring 1968). "[Book review of] Joseph Smith and the Restoration, by Ivan J. Barrett". BYU Studies 8 (3): 342–345. Retrieved 2009-12-30.
- "Lambda Delts Select New Officers". Deseret News Salt Lake Telegram. October 24, 1959. p. 15. Retrieved 2009-12-30.
- "Salt Lake: Series Books Pres. Brown". LDS Church News. December 3, 1966. p. 4. Retrieved 2009-12-30.
- Durham, Reed C, Jr. (May 1972). "'And Blossom as the Rose'". Ensign: 74. Retrieved 2009-12-30.
- "Cache Singles.org". Retrieved 2009-12-30.
The instructor will be Reed Durham, retired BYU religion instructor, with the course being “Insights and Evidences of the Book of Mormon”.
- Henstrom, Richard H.; Oakes, Keith R. (1997). The World Is Our Campus: The History of the Division of Continuing Education at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 1875–1997. Provo, UT: The Division of Continuing Education, BYU. p. 812. OCLC 81856390.
- Program: annual meeting, Volumes 61-66, Organization of American Historians, 1969, p. 10, retrieved 2009-12-31
- Arrington 1998, p. 77
- Warthen, Lee (June 1999). "The Scott Kenney Years, Summer 1974 – June 1978" (PDF). Sunstone: 52, 61. Retrieved 2009-12-31.
- Scharffs 1989 a
- Bitton, Davis (1991). "Taking Stock: The Mormon History Association after Twenty-Five Years". Journal of Mormon History 17: 13. Retrieved 2009-12-31.
- Scott, Patricia Lyn; Crooks, James E.; Pugsley, Sharon G. "'A Kinship of Interest': The Mormon History Association's Membership". Journal of Mormon History date= Spring 1992 18 (1): 156. Retrieved 2009-12-31.
- Ludlow, Daniel H, ed. (1992). "List of Contributors". Encyclopedia of Mormonism. New York: Macmillan Publishing. p. xlii. ISBN 0-02-879602-0. OCLC 24502140.
Reed C. Durham, Jr., Church Educational System, Logan, UT
- "BYU again offering 'semester in Nauvoo'". LDS Church News. October 29, 1994. Retrieved 2009-12-30.
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- "Scholars Share Diverging Interpretations of Nauvoo" (PDF). Sunstone (71): 53–55. June 1989. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2014-12-09.
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- Hogan 1974
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- "Arrington's optimism regarding honest discussion of Mormon history was tested in 1974 when Reed Durham, director of the LDS Institute of Religion at the University of Utah, presented a presidential address at the annual conference of the Mormon History Association in Nauvoo, Illinois. In his paper, Durham explored Joseph Smith's links with Masonry and his possession of a magical Jupiter talisman. Negative repercussions following Durham's appeal for an open discussion of the influence of folk magic and Masonry on Mormonism led to his public apology and reaffirmation of faith. The backlash which caused some Mormons to question Durham's faith continued in a number of public speeches made by Ezra Taft Benson in 1976 during which he criticized efforts to revise traditional interpretations of the history of his church." Dobay, Clara V. (Spring 1994). "Intellect and Faith: The Controversy Over Revisionist Mormon History". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 27 (1): 96. Retrieved 2010-01-05.
- Shipps, Jan (Spring 1982). "An 'Inside-Outsider' in Zion". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 15 (1): 153–54. Retrieved 2010-01-05.
- Melvin B. Hogan wrote, "I have been informed that the particular [weather vane] illustration referred to, in the Visitors' Center, had been removed when the Center opened the next morning." (Hogan 1974)
- Scharffs 1989 b
- "The anti-Mormon community was overjoyed at this presentation, while Dr. Durham's LDS colleagues were stunned and called his faith and good sense into question." (Brown 1998)
- The Tanners, LDS critics, wrote, "We feel that Dr. Durham's identification of Joseph Smith's talisman is one of the most significant discoveries in Mormon history and that he should be commended for his research." (Tanner 1980, p. 90)
- Bergera, Gary James; Priddis, Ronald (1985). "Chapter 2: Integrating Religion, Academics". Brigham Young University: A House of Faith. Salt Lake City: Signature Books. ISBN 0-941214-34-6. LCCN 85234010. OCLC 12963965.
- Givens, Terryl (2007). People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 233. ISBN 9780195167115. LCCN 2007007587. OCLC 85623152.
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- Homer, Michael W. (Fall 1994). "'Similarity of Priesthood in Masonry': The Relationship between Freemasonry and Mormonism". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 27 (3): 1–2. Retrieved 2010-01-05.
- Decker, Ed; Hunt, Dave (1984). The God Makers. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers. p. 97. ISBN 0890814023. LCCN 83082319. OCLC 10893804.
- Durham, Reed C., Jr. (c. 1974), To Whom It May Concern, Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research, retrieved 2009-12-31
- "Reed Durham was severely criticized by Mormon scholars and officials for giving this speech." (Tanner 1980, p. 90)
- Durham "finally found it necessary to issue a letter in which he reaffirmed his faith in Joseph Smith and said that he was sorry for the 'concerns, and misunderstandings' that the speech had caused." Tanner 1980, p. 90
- "From his letter we learn that (1) Dr. Durham had spent only a few months in researching his subject, (2) he was 'not skillful' in handling his material, and (3) he was not sufficiently 'erudite' in the matter. ... Erudition is defined as 'knowledge acquired by study or research,' in Random House Webster's Dictionary, 1996 ed., 221." "Reed Durham admitted that his misconceptions about the temple came from a lack of learning." (Brown 1998)
- Shugarts, David A. (2005). Secrets of the Widow's Son: The Mysteries Surrounding the Sequel to the Da Vinci Code. New York: Sterling Publishing. p. 5. ISBN 9781402728198. LCCN 2005013723. OCLC 60401732.
- Brown 1998
- Groat, Joel B. "Occultic and Masonic Influence in Early Mormonism". Institute for Religious Research. Retrieved 2010-01-05.
- McKeever, Bill. "Masonic Influence in the Endowment Ceremony". MRM.org. Mormonism Research Ministry. Retrieved 2010-01-05.
- "[The God Makers]' overdramatized account [of Durham's speech] is grossly exaggerated. In effect Durham merely said, 'Although we all know of Joseph Smith's association with Masonry, here's information that he was involved to a greater extent than what we have known.' ... Dr. Durham also told me he was trying to play the 'devil's advocate' in his Nauvoo speech, which is what many there, including myself, sensed. Unfortunately others took the words to further their purposes." (Scharffs 1989 b)
- Hogan, Mervin B. "Forward". Is There No Help For The Widow's Son?. Salt Lake City: Research Lodge of Utah, F. & A. M. Masonic Temple. Retrieved 2009-12-31.
- Buerger, David John (Winter 1987). "The Development of the Mormon Temple Endowment Ceremony". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 20 (4): 71. Retrieved 2010-01-05.
- "Buerger gets this idea from Reed Durham's 'Widow's Son' lecture, but in his footnote he fails to tell readers exactly where Durham's quotation can be found. None of Reed Durham's transcribed comments are supported by any references, but they deserve to be scrutinized nevertheless." Brown 1998
- "But in recent years a number of publications have sprung up on the fringes of Mormonism that champion the very same anti-Mormon theory abandoned by Dr. Durham." (Brown 1998)
- "Magic in Mormonism: From Denials It Was Practiced to Exaggerations". Salt Lake City Messenger. November 1987. Retrieved 2010-01-05.
- Geoghegan, G. P. (2007). Protestantism: The Dark Night of Christianity. Lulu.com. p. 64. Retrieved 2010-01-05.[unreliable source?]
- Durham obtained a statement by Bruce R. McConkie, which was later circulated, about the physical conception and birth of Adam. Watson, Eldon (May 2002). "Different Thoughts - #7: Adam - God". EldenWatson.net. Retrieved 2010-01-03.[unreliable source?]
- Durham's description the contested 1886 John Taylor revelation on polygamy has been used by Mormon fundamentalists to defend the validity of that revelation. Watson, Marianne T. (Spring 2007). "The 1948 Secret Marriage of Louis J. Barlow: Origins of FLDS Placement Marriage" (PDF). Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 40 (1): 119. Retrieved 2010-01-03.
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- Roper, Matthew (1997). "Unanswered Mormon Scholars". FARMS Review 9 (1): 145. Retrieved 2009-12-31.
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- Arrington 1998, p. 165
- Arrington 1998, p. 173
- Foster, Lawrence (Summer 1984). "Career Apostates: Reflections on the Works of Jerald and Sandra Tanner". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 17 (2): 45. Retrieved 2009-12-30.
- "Sesquicentennial History - Volumes and Current Status". LDS-Bookshelf. May 1997. Archived from the original on 2001-01-04.
- "Westward Migration, Planning and Prophecy". Encyclopedia of Mormonism. 1992.[full citation needed]
- "The Iowa Experience: A Blessing in Disguise". BYU Studies. 1981.[full citation needed]
- Durham 1981
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- "Revelation and scripture: a collection of significant statements". iLink BYU Online Catalog. Brigham Young University. Retrieved 2009-12-31.
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- Scharffs, Gilbert W. (1989a), "'A Marvelous Work' (Isaiah 29:14)", The Truth About "The God Makers", Salt Lake City, Utah: Publisher's Press.
- Scharffs, Gilbert W. (1989b), "Original Christian Concepts Returned", The Truth About "The God Makers", Salt Lake City, Utah: Publisher's Press.
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