In my last post I demonstrated how early Mormons may have read ritualistic treasure-seeking into the Book of Mormon. But it was more than early Mormons that read treasure-seeking into their scriptures. According to town-historian Caleb Butler in Massachusetts in 1848, “the most devout, pious and godly Christians” participated in treasure-seeking, and we know that Palmyra, NY’s treasure-seekers saw no conflict between religion and the treasure-quest. These Christian treasure-seekers would also often carry a Bible with them on the treasure-quest in order to ward off the guardian.
It seems likely that those same Bible-carrying, treasure-seeking Christians would have read certain biblical passages as references to this phenomenon and, perhaps in some instances, even interpreted them as approval. Examples include:
“Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul; Which long for death, but it cometh not; and dig for it more than for hid treasures.” (Job 3:20-21)
“If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD.” (Proverbs 2:4-5)
“And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.” (Isaiah 45:3)
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.” (Matthew 13:44)
“And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with ausury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.” (Matthew 25:25-28)
It seems impossible that any Christian engaged in the treasure-quest could read these passages without being reminded of their midnight digs.