I’ve been working on discovery lately, and in reviewing of documents (board minutes, internal e-mails) I often come across the term “quorum.” Of course, for a board meeting, a quorum has a particular meaning: It is the minimum number of board members who must be present for the board to make decisions.
We use the word a little differently in the church (or do we?) — we typically refer to the word’s second definition of “a select group.” But beyond that difference, what exactly do we mean when we talk about quorums?
I recently noticed that the New Testament does not refer to a Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. (Check for yourself: The first time the term appears in the Standard Works is in D & C 107).
This creates the interesting question of whether the first twelve apostles were a quorum of twelve, or merely twelve called apostles. (And does this make a difference? I’m not sure.)
If the first apostles were a quorum, then why is this not mentioned in scripture? (It doesn’t even appear in the Book of Mormon, in reference to either the Old or New World groups — is there a reason for that?)
If the first group was not a quorum, then why is the present group a quorum? What is gained from having a quorum of twelve, rather than just twelve apostles? And why have we made that change now?
And (to tie it back to the first definition of quorum) might the advent of quorums have to do with granting authority to a body of people, to run the affairs of the church? (But if so, why was this not necessary prior to Joseph Smith first setting up the Quorum?)