When I joined the Church in 1979, the Doctrine and Covenants contained, in places, some code words for some of the early leaders of the Church. Members were taught that these code names were used to hide the identities of Joseph Smith and some of his associates so they would not be used in lawsuits against the Church. A short time before I left on my mission in 1981, the new triple combination became available. In this new printing, the code names had been changed to the real name. Now, a student of the Doctrine and Covenants will no longer encounter "Barauk Ale," "Mehemson," or "Horah," but Joseph Smith, Martin Harris, or John Whitmer.
I think these names are fascinating--not in a Hugh Nibley sort of way, but because it interests me to speculate on who chose the names and why they were assigned to certain people. Oliver Cowdery's code name was "Olihah," which seems to be a sort of Book-of-Mormonization of his real name. Imagine using this type of secret code in the Bloggernacle--if you wanted to criticize someone, you could just call him "Stevihah." That way, everyone would know who you were talking about, but he wouldn't be able to sue you!
Other names seemed to be combined from two different Biblical characters: WW Phelps was referred to as "Shalemanasseh." Just look how well that technique fits when we apply it to fmhLisa. Since she hasn't told her mother about her blogging yet, she really needs a code name. How about "Debezebel?"
Then there's the name (title?) Baneemy. This code was such a secret that no one was quite sure who it referred to! Several men claimed to be Baneemy, including Charles B. Thompson (who published a periodical titled "Baneemy's Organ") and Lyman Wight. To solve the problem, Orson Pratt interpreted the word to mean "mine elders." We might get the same problem by publishing a statement such as this:
"Mulapul is far and away the most intelligent and talented writer in the Bloggernacle."I remember in the pre-1981 era, Sunday School D&C classes used to love to speculate about the use of these names. Did they show off Joseph Smith's knowledge of Hebrew? Were they proof that he knew the name of Enoch's father before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls? I'm afraid that some of you younger bloggers may have missed the fun. In fact, I wonder if some of you are even aware of these nicknames. Know ye, or know ye not? Feel free to date yourselves in the comments.
Borihah in Vern-ale