I ask that your comments demonstrate civility. All religions have embarrassing figures, doctrines, traditions, etc. By pointing out this one bit of skullduggery, I do not mean to suggest that Mormons are unique. I'm simply trying to get to the bottom of a riddle. Also, I've been looking for a chance to use the word skullduggery.
When the early "Mormonites" emerged from the mainline/evangelical primordial ooze, there was no evidence of polygamy. In fact, the Book of Mormon suggests that monogamy ought to be the default. From 1829, through the 1830s: no plural marriage. Then, in the mid-1840s, prophet Joseph Smith started acquiring "spiritual wives" in secret (polygamy was illegal in most states including Illinois where the sect was based). It wasn't long before the cat was out of the bag and the sect was persecuted for this practice. The first public advocate for the doctrine of plural marriage, Orson Pratt, made his case in a 1853 publication. A year later, Jedediah M. Grant made a similar defense. One of the standard arguments (and there were many) in support of the doctrine was that Jesus was a polygamist. Here is a quotation from Grant:
What does old Celsus say, who was a physician in the first century, whose medical works are esteemed very highly at the present time. His works on theology were burned with fire by the Catholics, they were so shocked at what they called their impiety. Celsus was a heathen philosopher ; and what does he say upon the subject of Christ and his Apostles, and their belief? He says “The grand reason why the Gentiles and philosophers of his school persecuted Jesus Christ, was, because he had so many wives ; there were Elizabeth, and Mary, and a host of others that followed him.” After Jesus went from the stage of action, the apostles followed the example of their master (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 1 , p.345).So you probably already see the riddle: what is this kuso about Celsus? If Grant is correct, we have a first-century (adversarial!) witness to Jesus' career. Moreover, this witness confirms that women were common companions among Jesus' band of misfits. Boy, that would be impressive! Unfortunately, it looks like Grant is either misinformed, a rascal, or both.
First, the Celsus who wrote "medical works" and who lived in the first century (to my knowledge) never produced any theological works as Grant claims. I will ask my classicist colleagues to help me out here, but my impression is that Aulus Cornelius Celsus (ca.25 BC—ca.50) wrote about agriculture, oratory, medicine, military tactics—not theology and not about Jesus. Second, if I'm right, none of his works survive accept his De Medicina. It could be that there is an unknown document in a Salt Lake City archive that no one else knows about, but this is highly unlikely. It is far more likely that Grant has invented this source to fashion Jesus into a proto-Mormon.
So a few questions: (1) Am I correct in thinking that nothing from the pen of Aulus Cornelius Celsus survives sans De Medicina? (2) Could it be that Grant has confused Aulus Cornelius Celsus for the second-century Celsus made famous by Origen? (3) Or is Grant crazy like a fox? Has he chosen the name Origen to create a ring of authenticity but given this voice more authority by locating him in the persona of the first-century medical philosopher?
I would really appreciate some help here.