This publication boldly sets forth a nontraditional view of the origins and unfolding of the priesthood during the early years of Church history. The volume is the second in a series of monographs published by the Independence Press for the John Whitmer Association. Prince, a medical doctor, accumulated over ten thousand pages of sources from Joseph Smith's era, which he entered into a computer database. The result is a volume that will, no doubt, cause some readers to reevaluate several aspects of this significant subject. The monograph is now part of a larger book on priesthood during the lifetime of Joseph Smith.
Prince divides the development of the priesthood into five phases. He calls phase one, from September 1823 to March 1829, a period of "Implicit Authority." These were the years the Prophet was tutored by the Angel Moroni, the guardian of the gold plates of the Book of Mormon. Prince advocates nothing particularly unconventional in his discussion of this era. During this time, "Joseph Smith acted in his unique position by virtue of his relationship with Moroni, rather than formal ordination;" "his authority to act in God's name, however, was implicit rather than explicit."