Event Title

Headline or a Footnote: Revisiting Hiram Edson’s Cornfield Vision

Location

Room S215

Start Date

7-2-2020 9:00 AM

End Date

7-2-2020 9:30 AM

Description

Hiram Edson’s cornfield vision is a soundbite that can definitely stick in young minds learning about the history of the Seventh-day Adventist church. It is too convenient not to be used as a ready apologetic to explain the disappointment of 1844. The hypothesis pursued in this article is that there is no oral history regarding Hiram Edson’s cornfield vision. This will be done by tracking down the early publications of the account and evaluating the emergence of the manuscript in understanding how Adventists view the story. The sources will be limited to those that have direct or at least a secondary connection to the account. There are three streams where the story is brought fore to the collective consciousness of the church: (1) J. N. Loughborough’s first retelling of the account, (2) A. W. Spalding’s first adaptation of a manuscript, and (3) H. M. Kelley’s first verbatim quotation of the manuscript. It is shown that the publications, except for Loughborough’s, relied one way or another on a manuscript. There is a great agreement between the three streams of accounts which means that there were not enough telling and re-telling throughout the decades that ensued after 1844 to allow for other stories to creep in. With the manuscript recovered, it became the final word on the account. Thus, it can be concluded that there was no oral history regarding the vision. This implies that the story was either not widely known or disseminated. Therefore, citing this as the impetuous to the study of the sanctuary or making Hiram Edson’s vision as the rallying call for the despairing Advent bands was anachronistic and a gross retconning of what exactly happened in the immediate aftermath of 1844’s disappointment.

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Feb 7th, 9:00 AM Feb 7th, 9:30 AM

Headline or a Footnote: Revisiting Hiram Edson’s Cornfield Vision

Room S215

Hiram Edson’s cornfield vision is a soundbite that can definitely stick in young minds learning about the history of the Seventh-day Adventist church. It is too convenient not to be used as a ready apologetic to explain the disappointment of 1844. The hypothesis pursued in this article is that there is no oral history regarding Hiram Edson’s cornfield vision. This will be done by tracking down the early publications of the account and evaluating the emergence of the manuscript in understanding how Adventists view the story. The sources will be limited to those that have direct or at least a secondary connection to the account. There are three streams where the story is brought fore to the collective consciousness of the church: (1) J. N. Loughborough’s first retelling of the account, (2) A. W. Spalding’s first adaptation of a manuscript, and (3) H. M. Kelley’s first verbatim quotation of the manuscript. It is shown that the publications, except for Loughborough’s, relied one way or another on a manuscript. There is a great agreement between the three streams of accounts which means that there were not enough telling and re-telling throughout the decades that ensued after 1844 to allow for other stories to creep in. With the manuscript recovered, it became the final word on the account. Thus, it can be concluded that there was no oral history regarding the vision. This implies that the story was either not widely known or disseminated. Therefore, citing this as the impetuous to the study of the sanctuary or making Hiram Edson’s vision as the rallying call for the despairing Advent bands was anachronistic and a gross retconning of what exactly happened in the immediate aftermath of 1844’s disappointment.