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Brigham Young University Studies Vol. 22 (1982)
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have become increasingly aware that the restoration of the gospel did not occur in a vacuum inhabited only by Joseph Smith. Numerous individuals were involved, both as forerunners and as disseminators of newly restored or revealed principles. And not all of those involved were members of the Church. It is not necessary, however, to rely exclusively on the “great minds,” the strongest voices (like Wordsworth or Milton), to find elements in strong parallel with LDS doctrine. Other poets, often less well known, less widely accepted critically, were equally convinced of such doctrinal points as a preexistence and of an apostasy and the need for a restoration. One of the most fascinating is the “minor” poet Henry Vaughan.
In 1875, a few days before the first missionaries to Mexico were to depart, Brigham Young changed his mind: rather than have them travel to California where they would take a steamer down the coast and then go by foot or horseback inland to Mexico City, Brigham asked if they would mind making the trip by horseback, going neither to California nor Mexico City, but through Arizona to the northern Mexican state of Sonora—a round trip of 3,000 miles! He instructed them to look along the way for places to settle and to determine whether the Lamanites were ready to receive the gospel. But Brigham Young had other things in mind: the Saints might need another place of refuge, and advanced exploration was a logical course to pursue, should that need ever arise. The most promising site for such a refuge lay to the south, perhaps Mexico.
This article demonstrates certain similarities existing between texts in 1 Nephi in the Book of Mormon and a little-known document entitled “The Narrative of Zosimus.” The Narrative’s core material was written originally in Hebrew and appears to be at least as old as the time of Christ, and perhaps much older. There is no evidence that any knowledge about the Narrative of Zosimus existed in any English-speaking land prior to the publication of the Book of Mormon.