Is Jesus Christ writing law books? We might be forgiven for thinking no. Recently, the library received a gift book from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The title of the book is Message to all Nations, and its author is, according to the title page and other publisher information, Jesus Christ. The book’s copyright claim, listed three pages later, is dated 2012 and is made by Warren S. Jeffs, who declares himself “the Mouthpiece of God.” The statement goes on to repeat the claim of authorship by Jesus Christ. Warren S. Jeffs is, of course, the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He is now serving time in prison for sexual assault. The question arises, who wrote this book? Should Jesus Christ be considered its author as Mr. Jeffs insists?
A brief review of the rules librarians use to catalog scripture may be useful here. Scriptures are given their “authorized access point” in catalog records under title rather than by means of author-title entries, which attribute a work to a person. Hence, the bible is not attributed to God or to Jesus Christ; the Qu’ran is not attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, or Allah. An additional author entry may be made for a translator or for a scholar who comments on the scripture in question, but the work is not attributed to that person. Who, then, would be considered responsible for Message to all Nations?
Our rules lead us to Warren S. Jeffs, who, remember, is ”God’s mouthpiece.” Further evidence for this rests in the book’s later claim to be a collection of prophecies by Jeffs, or, rather, prophecies given to him by Jesus Christ. An author added entry is made for Jesus Christ, as he appears on the title page as author. Some might dispute this, yet the claim of his authorship warrants a place in the catalog record. For a variety of reasons, library users may wish to know about works attributed to Jesus. For example, the trial of Jesus is a subject of interest to legal scholars. Jesus would be given a catalog entry as both subject and as someone responsible for that famous trial, in this case, as defendant.
The book remains an interesting document. The prophecies were written between 2010 and 2012, when Warren S. Jeffs was in prison. Message to all Nations calls for his release. It reaffirms Jeffs’ claim to the presidency of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It covers a variety of other topics as well, such as the history of the Mormon Church, doctrines of his own church, including plural marriage, and even current events such as the uprising in Syria. It is an appellate brief for Warren S. Jeffs, one directed at his followers and to anyone who will listen. Law schools are always interested in the appellate process. This work will be of interest to anyone researching Jeffs or his church.
Further information on this title may be found at: http://ringding.law.yale.edu/record=b1280877
Patrick Lavey, Lead Cataloger, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.