Jeffrey A. Trumbower

in Rescue for the Dead

Published in print October 2001 | ISBN: 9780195140996
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834747 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Historical Theology


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The introduction looks at the posthumous salvation of non‐Christians in the nineteenth‐century American context as practiced by Shakers and Latter‐day Saints (a.k.a. Mormons), in order to set the stage for the study of the ancient texts. The Shakers experienced a form of spirit possession by which dead non‐Christians, especially Native Americans, would enter into the bodies of living Shakers and thereby be saved. Joseph Smith, prophet and founder of the Latter‐day Saints, introduced the ritual of vicarious baptism for the dead based on his reading of 1 Corinthians 15:29 and his encounter with the biblical prophet Elijah. This ritual is still practiced today in the LDS church.

Keywords: baptism for the dead; Elijah; Latter‐day Saints; Mormons; Native Americans; Shakers; Joseph Smith; spirit possession

Chapter.  3440 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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