After exploring historian Dan Vogel’s motivations behind his studies of the life of Joseph Smith in our first segments, we now delve deeper into Joseph’s treasure digging activities.
Dan devoted a portion of his book Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet to understanding not only the financial motivations for Joseph’s treasure digging practice, but also to explain how this practice possibly became the start of a chain of events leading to the creation of the LDS Church, best explained by a portion of the abstract in Dan’s book:
“Over time, Joseph became aware that people trusted him and that he could be an influence for good or ill, that even through nefarious means, God worked through him when his heart was right. He realized this when he led groups in search of Spanish treasure in New York and Pennsylvania. Although no treasure was found, the men sincerely believed that Smith had a spiritual gift and could see where casks of gold were hidden in the earth. This training ground in spiritual leadership was invaluable because the prophet learned how to create an environment for belief—one in which people could exercise faith and be converted to Christ through the sensible influence of the Spirit, all prior to the overarching work of restoring primitive Christianity.”
Dan has an extensive Youtube video collection devoted to many different aspects of the life of Joseph Smith. These highly informative and popular videos may be found here.
- 1051-1053: Dan Vogel – Preeminent Joseph Smith Historian
- 1056-1058: How the Book of Mormon was Created – Dan Vogel
This interview is also a part of our new Mormon Stories Podcast “Truth Claims” initiative, which includes a new essay on Folk Magic/Treasure Digging published on the Mormon Stories web site which provides the story of Joseph Smith’s treasure digging, along with a billboard campaign this month along I-15 to help build awareness of this important topic. To support the billboard campaign, click here.
Part 1 – Dan discusses the history of folk magic in Joseph Smith’s time and how the young prophet became involved:
Part 2 – Dan details some of Joseph Smith’s experiences with treasure digging: