The first non-English Latter-day Saint work, Orson Hyde’s Ein Ruf aus der Wüste, was published in 1842 in Frankfurt. The section recounting the life of Joseph Smith and the translation of the Book of Mormon has been translated multiple times and is available at the Joseph Smith Papers Project, in Dean Jessee’s 1989 The Papers of Joseph Smith: Autobiographical and Historical Writings vol. 1, and in Dan Vogel’s Early Mormon Documents vol. 1. That leaves around 100 of the 115 total pages still untranslated. As a first step toward making this source more widely available, a translation of the title page and a few notes follow. To accompany this year’s “Come Follow Me” focus on the Doctrine and Covenants and church history, I’m planning to post additional sections in English translation as a way to look at how an early church member understood the restored gospel and presented it to others.
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Cry in the Wilderness,
Voice from the Bowels of the Earth.
A short overview
origin and doctrine of the church of “Jesus Christ
of Latter Day Saints” in America, known to
many by the designation: “The Mormons.”
a priest of this church.
Read, reflect, pray and act!
Self published by the author.
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One thing that immediately sticks out is that Ein Ruf aus der Wüste provides an early example of using the First Vision and Book of Mormon – both of which are extensively described in the pages available via the JSPP – for missionary work. The motto on the title page (the one addition compared to the booklet’s front cover) could be translated with equal accuracy as “read, ponder, pray and act,” attesting at an early date the approach to proselytizing still in use today.
As a self-publishing author, Hyde would have hired a printer in Frankfurt and assumed all responsibility for distribution. The printer may have had no opinion on Hyde or his message, while Hyde’s translator may have been at least fondly disposed toward Hyde personally, but neither attached their names to Hyde’s work.
I count four copies known today: one at the Church History Library, two in BYU Special Collections, and one available for checkout at the Universität Tübingen. The digitized CHL copy at archive.org bears the stamp: ANDREW JENSON’S PRIVATE LIBRARY, but I don’t know anything else about Jenson.
Folsom, Marvin H. “The Language of Orson Hyde’s ‘Ein Ruf aus der Wüste.’” Deseret Language and Linguistic Society Symposium 15.1 (1989), article 3. https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/dlls/vol15/iss1/3 My preliminary view is that Folsom’s first conclusion, that the text contains more “misspellings, inconsistencies and grammatical errors…than in those written by native speakers of German,” is incorrect. The text of Ein Ruf aus der Wüste would have been entirely impossible without a native speaker of German as translator. Folsom’s point of comparison is the language of printed Bibles, but the features Folsom points to in Ein Ruf aus der Wüste strike me as just what one would expect from a nineteenth-century translator working from an English source and a printer willing to print whatever was handed to him.
Wöllauer, Peter. “Orson Hydes Traktat Ein Ruf aus der Wüste, eine Stimme aus dem Schoose der Erde.” In Bericht vom Orson Hyde Symposium. Universität Regensburg 4.-5. Oktober 1991. This chapter in a book of (informally published?) conference proceedings provides an overview of the work’s structure, brief commentaries on the content and some investigation of Hyde’s sources.