SW10004: Judaic Primitivism: A New Model of Mormon Origins

Mormonism’s origins have been variously located in Christian primitivism, the bible, and esoterica. integrating these influences, Jan Shipps has proposed that Mormonism formed in successive layers: Christian primitivist, then Hebraic, and finally esoteric. Shipps’ model is informed, useful, and—I will argue—mistaken. Mormonism’s Judaic character is intrinsic, not acquired. The object of this paper is to demonstrate the insufficiency of even the best of the existing models, such as the “strata” model offered by Jan Shipps, and to propose a model that makes use of her insights, agrees with the earliest evidence, and accounts for Mormonism’s distinctively Judaic brand of Christianity.

Don Bradley