A few weeks ago Proud Daughter of Eve asked for suggestions for leading a discussion of lesson #6 of the Joseph Smith manual.

I was given the opportunity to teach the same lesson last Sunday. I took the advice that I gave PDoE and asked first off about the depiction of the Aaronic Priesthood restoration that appears with this lesson in the manual.

Now I don’t know about you but this isn’t the picture that I was shown in Primary. I went to the ward library and tried to find the old picture but had no luck. Google image search was only slightly helpful. It didn’t get me to the picture I remember, but I did find a statute depicting the event near the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City.

I also found another statue:

This one is located near the site where the priesthood restoration occurred.

Perhaps statues are harder to change than paper…

In any case, why is there confusion over whether the ordination was simultaneous or not? Here’s Joseph Smith Jr.’s record of the event in the Joseph Smith History section of the Pearl of Great Price:

68 We still continued the work of translation, when, in the ensuing month (May, 1829), we on a certain day went into the woods to pray and inquire of the Lord respecting baptism for the remission of sins, that we found mentioned in the translation of the plates. While we were thus employed, praying and calling upon the Lord, a messenger from heaven descended in a cloud of light, and having laid his hands upon us, he ordained us, saying:
69 Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.
70 He said this Aaronic Priesthood had not the power of laying on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, but that this should be conferred on us hereafter; and he commanded us to go and be baptized, and gave us directions that I should baptize Oliver Cowdery, and that afterwards he should baptize me.
71 Accordingly we went and were baptized. I baptized him first, and afterwards he baptized me—after which I laid my hands upon his head and ordained him to the Aaronic Priesthood, and afterwards he laid his hands on me and ordained me to the same Priesthood—for so we were commanded.

This seems to indicate that there was a simultaneous ordination. Oliver’s recollection of the blessing is very similar:

But, dear brother, think, further think for a moment, what joy filled our hearts, and with what surprise we must have bowed, (for who would not have bowed the knee for such a blessing?) when we received under his hand the Holy Priesthood as he said, ‘Upon you my fellow-servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer this Priesthood and this authority, which shall remain upon earth, that the Sons of Levi may yet offer an offering unto the Lord in righteousness!’

So how is it that this new depiction of the event, which seems to contradict scripture, has become the standard visual aid used when teaching about the priesthood restoration? Are we uncomfortable with the idea that the method John the Baptist seems to have used is now foreign to LDS sensibilities? Am I just reading these passages incorrectly? Does a small change such as this in how something is depicted matter?

How did John the Baptist confer the Aaronic Priesthood to Joseph Smith Jr. and Oliver Cowdery?

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