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Journal of Discourses Definition

Journal of Discourses. A twenty-six-volume set of books containing sermons from various Mormon leaders until 1886, including General Conference addresses. Most of the volumes were published under the direct supervision of an LDS General Authority.  According to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, “In all, the collected Journal of Discourses contains 1,438 speeches given by fifty-five people, including Presidents of the Church, members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, members of the seventy, and sixteen other speakers. Brigham Young gave 390; John Taylor, 162; Orson Pratt, 127; Heber C. Kimball, 113; and George Q. Cannon, 111. Twenty-one people gave a single speech, and the rest gave from 2 to 66 speeches” (2:769). In earlier times, Mormons were told that they should read these sermons. “Every Latter-day Saint should take this opportunity of owning the written words of remarkable teachings from the LDS pulpit. To the clear and vigorous exposition of Latter-day Saint doctrine is added the unmistakable authority of divine inspiration” (Advertisement for the Journal of Discourses in the Deseret News, 3/21/1963). However, in recent years these sermons have often been categorized by many Latter-day Saints as mere opinions of the individual speakers, even though many of these sermons are still being quoted in LDS Church manuals and conference messages. 

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