The discovery of the Nag Hammadi third-century Gnostic Library has awakened interest in this very early form of Christianity. My proposal is that if Joseph Smith restored true Christianity, then it should share many similarities with Gnosticism. Indeed, there are many strong parallels between these two theologies, starting with a shared sense that humans are saved by intimate knowledge of God and that the eternal unity of the sexes is necessary for “exaltation.” Further, this historical record shows us that churches run by the spirit will be brought under control by hierarchy.
When I was writing In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith, I had to decide which women could be safely documented as authentic wives of Joseph Smith. I eventually came up with a list of 33 women, but I added another list of “possible wives” (8 women) and another of “early posthumous marriages” (8 more women). So Joseph Smith, Jr. could have very easily married 40-50 women, rather than the conservative 33 I discuss in depth in my book. In this paper, I examine the evidence for Joseph Smith’s marrying the eight “possible wives,” and give a brief overview of their lives.