I hadn’t made this connection before, but it seems to jump out at me now like red ink. I knew that the School of the Prophets was a select group of brethren who participated in an effort to prepare themselves for the missionary work, but it also had a much more spiritual side with hints and shadows of the pending promises and revelations of an endowment of power from on high. The School of the Prophets was preparing the Church for the temple.
I’m reading Dr. Richard Bushman’s excellent biography, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, and this impressed me when I read the following about the revelation of D&C 88 and the organization of this school:
The “Olive Leaf” placed as much emphasis on spiritual preparation as on subject matter. “Sanctify yourselves; yea, purify your hearts, and cleanse your hands and your feet before me, that I may make you clean.” They were told to be careful about idle thoughts and excessive laughter. They were to cease to be idle and stop sleeping longer than was needful. Lustful desires, pride and light-mindedness, and all “wicked doings” had to be abandoned. . . .
The revelation envisioned egalitarian rather than authoritarian instruction. To that end, the revelations concluded with instructions on how to mold the elders into a brotherhood. “Above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity,” they were told, and, to give that injunction form, a ritual was established for welding the students together. The president was to enter the schoolroom first and pray. As the students came in, he was to greet them with uplifted hand and the words
Art thou a brother or brethren? I salute you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, in token, or remembrance of the everlasting covenant, in which covenant I receive you to fellowship in a determination that is fixed, immovable and unchangeable, to be your friend and brother through the grace of God, in the bonds of love.
The brethren in turn were to lift up their hands and repeat the covenant or say amen. ((Richard Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, 211.))
Indeed, there are many aspects of the School of Prophets revelation that are temple-like:
- Impurities – “Remember the great and last promise which I have made unto you; cast away your idle thoughts and your excess of laughter far from you.” D&C 88:69
- Purification – “And I give unto you, who are the first laborers in this last kingdom, a commandment that you assemble yourselves together, and organize yourselves, and prepare yourselves, and sanctify yourselves; yea, purify your hearts, and cleanse your hands and your feet before me, that I may make you clean; That I may testify unto your Father, and your God, and my God, that you are clean from the blood of this wicked generation; that I may fulfil this promise, this great and last promise, which I have made unto you, when I will.” D&C 88:74-75
- Bindings & Sealings – “Therefore, tarry ye, and labor diligently, that you may be perfected in your ministry to go forth among the Gentiles for the last time, as many as the mouth of the Lord shall name, to bind up the law and seal up the testimony, and to prepare the saints for the hour of judgment which is to come;” D&C 88:84
- Vestments – “…their garments are not clean from the blood of this generation.” D&C 88:85
- House of God – “and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;” D&C 88:119 (This scripture is given as a first reference to a commandment to build the Kirtland temple.)
- Uplifted Hands – “that all your salutations may be in the name of the Lord, with uplifted hands unto the Most High.” D&C 88:120
- Impurity – “Therefore, cease from all your light speeches, from all laughter, from all your lustful desires, from all your pride and light-mindedness, and from all your wicked doings.” D&C 88:121
- Consecration – “See that ye love one another; cease to be covetous; learn to impart one to another as the gospel requires.” D&C 88:123
- Impurity – “Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another…” D&C 88:124
- Investiture – “And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace.” D&C 88:125
- Prayer – “Pray always, that ye may not faint, until I come…” D&C 88:126
- House of God – “Therefore, he shall be first in the house of God… And when he cometh into the house of God,…” D&C 88:129-130
- Prayer and Covenant making – “Let him offer himself in prayer upon his knees before God, in token or remembrance of the everlasting covenant.” D&C 88:131
- Uplifted Hands – “And when any shall come in after him, let the teacher arise, and, with uplifted hands to heaven, yea, even directly, salute his brother or brethren with these words:” D&C 88:132
- Covenants – “Art thou a brother or brethren? I salute you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, in token or remembrance of the everlasting covenant, in which covenant I receive you to fellowship, in a determination that is fixed, immovable, and unchangeable, to be your friend and brother through the grace of God in the bonds of love, to walk in all the commandments of God blameless, in thanksgiving, forever and ever. Amen.” D&C 88:133
- Holy House – “And he that is found unworthy of this salutation shall not have place among you; for ye shall not suffer that mine house shall be polluted by him.” D&C 88:134
- Covenant making – “And he that cometh in and is faithful before me, and is a brother, or if they be brethren, they shall salute the president or teacher with uplifted hands to heaven, with this same prayer and covenant, or by saying Amen, in token of the same.” D&C 88:135
- House of God – “Behold, verily, I say unto you, this is an ensample unto you for a salutation to one another in the house of God, in the school of the prophets.” D&C 88:136
- House of the Lord – “And ye are called to do this by prayer and thanksgiving, as the Spirit shall give utterance in all your doings in the house of the Lord, in the school of the prophets, that it may become a sanctuary, a tabernacle of the Holy Spirit to your edification.” D&C 88:137
- Worthiness requirement – “And ye shall not receive any among you into this school save he is clean from the blood of this generation;” D&C 88:138
- Washing of the feet – “And he shall be received by the ordinance of the washing of feet, for unto this end was the ordinance of the washing of feet instituted. And again, the ordinance of washing feet is to be administered by the president, or presiding elder of the church.” D&C 88:139-140
- Investiture – “It is to be commenced with prayer; and after partaking of bread and wine, he is to gird himself according to the pattern given in the thirteenth chapter of John’s testimony concerning me. Amen.” D&C 88:141
Certainly some of this revelation had broader reference to the building of a temple, not just the School of the Prophets, but the school is also clearly referred to as a house of God, and a house of the Lord. It is also interesting that here we first receive revelation on the sacred ordinance of the washing of the feet. It would seem that the School of the Prophets was a schooling in preparation of the higher ordinances of the temple that were shortly to be revealed as much as a school of doctrine and worldly things.
School of the Prophets in ancient times?
Joseph Fielding Smith gave a BYU devotional in 1956 titled, “A Knowledge of Countries and of Kingdoms.” He speaks of the School of the Prophets commanded to be in this dispensation, then references a similar school of the prophets in Old Testament times whose members were “sons of the prophets” and who, he feels, were not Levites but held the Melchizedek priesthood. These young prophets were “sent with special missions to anoint, to bless….”
“The school of the prophets is not something new to this dispensation. In ancient is Israel (especially in the days of Samuel, Elijah and Elisha) we hear of the activities of this school.” (~min 18:00) He references 1 Sam 10 and 1 Kings 2
He states that the Melchizedek Priesthood was generally taken from Israel, and they lived under the Preparatory Law. However under that law, there would be no one to perform anointings, etc. He states:
“And so the Lord had to keep someone with the Melchizedek Priesthood, although it was not scattered among the Tribes of Israel. Most of those who held the Higher Priesthood were not of the tribe of Levi. Some were, but they came from other tribes. And these prophets gathered around them choice young men and taught them, instructed them, and they followed in the footsteps of these prophets. And they became known as “sons of the prophets.” And it was a group of these young men that followed Elijah and followed Elisha and were present on the occasion when Saul was anointed King of Israel [1 Sam 10 ?]. Now, the Melchizedek Priesthood, I say, was not given to everyone. It was confined to a selected few. And there were a few that came out of the other Tribes of Israel who followed the prophets and by their faith and understanding became prophets themselves. Just how many were given the authority to officiate in ordinances, the higher ordinances, the Lord has not revealed. But it was by special appointment when this priesthood was given to any of the prophets.
“These students of Elisha and Elijah and a few others were chosen then by revelation and commissioned, at least many of them, to anoint and to bless, and they were sent to deliver prophetic messages from time to time.” (~minute 22:30 – 25:50)
“…the School of the Prophets, as far as we have a School of the Prophets today, is confined to the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve.” (~28:20)
audio found here: http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=1588
That’s a fascinating reference by Joseph Fielding Smith. Very enlightening. Thank you for sharing it.
While visiting Kirkland, Ohio around 20 years ago, a young lady missionary quoted from the diary of Zebedee Coltrin about seeing God the Father and Jesus Christ in the small room above the store after they started to live the Word of Wisdom. Do you have a source for her quote and who else was in attendance? I can not find a list of attendees to the school of the prophets nor the source of her testimony on the events in the upper room. Are similar quotes provided by others? What happened to Zebedee Coltrin? Did he go West?