Benchmark Blog

EVENING WITH THE EDITORS

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We are excited to announce that Matthew J. Grow, Ronald K. Esplin, Mark Ashurst-McGee, Gerrit J. Dirkmaat and Jeffrey D. Mahas, editors of The Joseph Smith Papers: Administrative Records: Council of Fifty, Minutes, March 1844-January 1846 (published by the Church Historian’s Press) will be here Wednesday, Sep 21, to speak about and sign copies of their book. They will be here from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.—speaking at 6:00 p.m.—and will answer questions and sign books before and after that time. We hope you will be able to make it that night but, if not, we can mail a signed copy or hold one here at the store for pick-up. To RSVP, click here.

On 11 March 1844 in Nauvoo, Illinois, Joseph Smith organized a council that he and his closest associates saw as the beginning of the government of the literal kingdom of God on earth. The council, known both as the Council of the Kingdom of God and the Council of Fifty (it had roughly fifty members), operated under Smith’s leadership until his murder less than four months later. Following Smith’s death, the council met in Nauvoo under Brigham Young’s leadership from February 1845 to January 1846. The minutes of the council’s meetings, kept primarily by William Clayton, have never been publicly available. This volume of The Joseph Smith Papers publishes them for the first time.

 Participants saw the council as distinct from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and anticipated that the council would “govern men in civil matters.” According to Joseph Smith, the council “was designed to be got up for the safety and salvation of the saints by protecting them in their religious rights and worship.” Nevertheless, because Smith and Young were leaders of both the church and the council, ecclesiastical concerns were frequently reflected in the council’s discussions.

The minutes reveal much about early Mormon thought on earthly and heavenly governments as council members wrestled with what it meant to establish the kingdom of God on earth and how that kingdom related to the church and to existing civil governments. Though council members generally used the term “theocracy” to describe the ideal form of government for the kingdom of God, their model also incorporated democratic elements. They believed that a “theodemocratic” government would protect the rights of all citizens, promote free discussion, involve Latter-day Saints and others, and increase righteousness in preparation for the second coming of Jesus Christ.

At the practical level, the Council of Fifty was a significant decision-making body. For instance, the council helped manage Joseph Smith’s 1844 presidential campaign. The council also provided a forum for making decisions about matters in Nauvoo, including construction of the Nauvoo temple and how to protect and govern the city after the state of Illinois repealed the Nauvoo municipal charter in January 1845. In addition, the council played a major role in exploring possible settlement sites—which included sending a delegate to the Republic of Texas and sending emissaries to various American Indian tribes—and in planning the migration of the Latter-day Saints to the American West.

The minutes capture the principles, protocols, and activities of the Council of Fifty as it was formed and operated in Nauvoo. While many of the actions taken by the council have been known through other documents, the minutes chronicle the deliberations that led to these decisions, providing an unparalleled view of decision making at the center of what participants viewed as the nascent kingdom of God on earth. The minutes of the Council of Fifty thus shed new light on the development of Latter-day Saint beliefs and on the history of Nauvoo and the church during this critical era, while also providing new perspectives on American religious history, political culture, and western migration in the nineteenth century.
 

“The publication of the Council of Fifty minutes as the first volume of the Administrative Records series in the Joseph Smith Papers can only be described as a triumph. The new volume is sure to be celebrated for its annotation and editing, another excellent addition to the papers project. But the minutes are also a triumph of the new transparency policy of the Church History Department. Over the years, the council minutes attained almost legendary status, as a trove of dark secrets sequestered in the recesses of the First Presidency’s vault. Now the minutes are to be published for all to examine.”
— Richard L. Bushman

Matthew J. Grow, Ronald K. Esplin, Mark Ashurst-McGee, and Jeffrey D. Mahas are historians for the Church History Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Gerrit J. Dirkmaat is an assistant professor of religion at Brigham Young University.

The Joseph Smith Papers: Administrative Records: Council of Fifty, Minutes, March 1844-January 1846 by Matthew J. Grow, Ronald K. Esplin, Mark Ashurst-McGee, Gerrit J. Dirkmaat and Jeffrey D. Mahas. The Church Historian’s Press, 2016. 788pp. Hardback. $59.95 (save 10% as a subscriber!). 

**pre-order signed copies now–books will be available mid-September**

Other Titles by Matthew J. Grow

From the Outside Looking In: Essays on Mormon History, Theology, and Culture. Oxford University Press, 2015. Paperback. $35.00
Liberty to the Downtrodden: Thomas L. Kane, Romantic Reformer. Yale University Press, 2009. Reg. $40.00, SALE $24.99
Parley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism. Oxford University Press, 2011. Hardback. Reg. $34.95, SALE $24.99
The Prophet and the Reformer: The Letters of Brigham Young & Thomas L. Kane. Oxford University Press, 2015. Hardback. $39.95. Limited quantities also signed by co-editor Ronald W. Walker

Other Titles by Ronald K. Esplin

The Emergence of Brigham Young and the Twelve to Mormon Leadership. BYU Studies, 2006. Paperback. $19.95 (limited number of used copies of this title)

Other Titles by Gerrit J. Dirkmaat

From Darkness unto Light: Joseph Smith’s Translation and Publication of the Book of Mormon. Religious Studies Center/Deseret Book, 2015. Hardback. $24.99

Previous Volumes of the Joseph Smith Papers

1. Journals, Vol. 1 (1832-1839), $49.95 (2008)
2. Revelations & Translations: Manuscript Revelation Books – Facsimile Ed., Reg. $99.95, SALE $79.99 (2009)
Includes full-color scans for every page in the two revelation books as well as color-coded transcriptions on the facing page.
3. Revelations & Translations. Manuscript Revelation Books – Vol. 1, $79.95 (2011)
This volume is simply a different version of #2. This edition does not include all the full-color scans of the original manuscripts (there are a few examples, though) but does include the transcriptions. In addition, this version is the regular size (like #1 and #4). Thus, this is not technically a new volume but a smaller, condensed version of an already published volume.
4. Revelations & Translations, Vol. 2: Published Revelations, Reg. $69.95, SALE $19.99 (2011)
5. Journals, Vol. 2 (1841-1843), Reg. $54.95, SALE $19.99 (2011)
6. Histories, Vol. 1: Joseph Smith Histories (1832-1844), $54.95 (2012)
7. Histories, Vol. 2: Assigned Histories (1831-1847), Reg. $54.95, SALE $19.99  (2012)
8. Documents, Vol. 1: July 1828 – June 1831, $54.95 (2013)
9. Documents, Vol. 2: July 1831 – January 1833, $54.95 (2013)
10. Documents, Vol. 3: February 1833-March 1834, $54.95 (2014)
11. Revelations & Translations, Vol. 3: The Printer’s Manuscript of the Book of Mormon (2 parts), $89.99/ea (2015)
12. Journals, Vol. 3—May 1843-June 1844, $57.95 (2015)

Shipping: $6 for the first book—inquire for rates on additional books
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Utah residents—add 7.05% sales tax

Summer is here and so are the books. There have been some great new books published lately–see if something catches your eye! To check out the list, click here.

Reminder that Martha Bradley-Evans, author of Glorious in Persecution: Joseph Smith, American Prophet, 1839-1844 (published by the Smith-Pettit Foundation), will be here THIS WEDNESDAY, June 29 to speak about and sign copies of her book. She will be here from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and will speak at 6:00 and will answer questions and sign books before and after that time. We hope you will be able to make it that night but, if not, we can mail a signed copy or hold one here at the store for pick-up. To RSVP on Facebook, click here.

EVENING WITH THE AUTHOR

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We are excited to announce that Martha Bradley-Evans, author of Glorious in Persecution: Joseph Smith, American Prophet, 1839-1844 (published by the Smith-Pettit Foundation), will be here on Wednesday, June 29 to speak about and sign copies of her book. She will be here from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and will speak at 6:00 and will answer questions and sign books before and after that time. We hope you will be able to make it that night but, if not, we can mail a signed copy or hold one here at the store for pick-up. To RSVP on Facebook, click here.

Escaping imprisonment in Missouri in 1839, the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith quickly settled with family and followers on the Illinois banks of the Mississippi River. Under Smith’s direction, the small village of Commerce soon mushroomed into the boomtown of Nauvoo, home to roughly 12,000 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

For Smith, Nauvoo was the new epicenter of the Mormon universe: the gathering place for Latter-day Saints worldwide; the location of a modern-day Zion; the stage upon which his esoteric teachings, including plural marriage and secret temple ceremonies, played out; and the locus of a theocracy whose legal underpinnings would be condemned by outsiders as an attack on American pluralism.

In Nauvoo, Smith created a proto-utopian society built upon continuing revelation; established a civil government that blurred the lines among executive, legislative, and legal branches; introduced doctrines that promised glimpses of heaven on earth; centralized secular and spiritual authority in fiercely loyal groups of men and women; insulated himself against legal harassment through creative interpretations of Nauvoo’s founding charter; embarked upon a daring run at the U.S. presidency; and pursued a vendetta against dissidents that lead eventually to his violent death in 1844.

The common thread running through the final years of Smith’s tumultuous life, according to prize-winning historian and biographer, Martha Bradley-Evans, is his story of prophethood and persecution. Smith’s repeated battles with the forces of evil–past controversies as well as present skirmishes with courts, politicians, and apostates transformed into mythic narratives of triumph–informed Smith’s construction of self and chronicle of innocent suffering.

“Joseph found religious and apocalyptic significance in every offense and persecution–actual or imagined,” writes Bradley-Evans, “and wove these slights into his prophet-narrative. Insults became badges of honor, confirmation that his life was playing out on a mythic stage of opposition. By the time Joseph led his people to Illinois, he had lived with the adulation of followers and the vilification of enemies for more than a decade. Joseph’s worst challenges often proved to be his greatest triumphs. He forged devotion through disaster, faith through depression. Joseph interpreted each new event as God’s will set against manifestations of evil opposed to the restoration of all things.”

This is the first installment to be released in a three-volume biography of Joseph Smith. The next volume to be released—Natural Born Seer: Joseph Smith, American Prophet, 1805-1830, written by Richard S. Van Wagoner—will be published later this year. The final volume, dealing with the Ohio/Missouri period, is currently being written by Dan Vogel.

Martha Bradley-Evans is a professor in the College of Architecture and Planning and Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City. She previously taught history at Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah), where she received a Teaching Excellence Award. She has been vice chair of the Utah State Board of History, chair of the Utah Heritage Foundation, president of the Mormon History Association, and co-editor of Dialogue. In 2013, she received the Leonard Arrington Award for Meritorious and Distinguished Service to Mormon History from the Mormon History Association; and in 2014 was named a Fellow of the Utah State Historical Society.

Glorious in Persecution: Joseph Smith, American Prophet, 1839-1844. The Smith-Pettit Foundation, 2016. Hardback. 702pp. $39.95.

Also by Martha Bradley-Evans:

Kidnapped from That Land: The Government Raids on the Short Creek Polygamists. University of Utah Press, 1993. Paperback. $14.95

Pedestals and Podiums: Utah Women, Religious Authority, and Equal Rights. Signature Books, 2005. Hardback. $39.95

Plural Wife: The Story of Mabel Finlayson Allred (Life Writings of Frontier Women, vol. 13). USU Press, 2012. Hardback. $36.95

 

Shipping: $4.50 for the first book, $1 for each additional (USPS)–Priority/FedEx/UPS options available–inquire for details.

Utah residents–add 7.05% sales tax

EVENING WITH THE AUTHOR

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We are very excited to announce that Gregory A. Prince, author of Leonard Arrington and the Writing of Mormon History (published by the University of Utah Press), will be here on Wednesday, June 8 to speak about and sign copies of his book. He will be here from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and will speak at 6:00 and will answer questions and sign books before and after that time. We hope you will be able to make it that night but, if not, we can mail a signed copy or hold one here at the store for pick-up. To RSVP on Facebook, click here.

Leonard Arrington, author of Great Basin Kingdom, a book many saw as the most important history of Mormonism, became the principal driver of a dramatic turn towards scholarly truth in the study of Mormon history. His approach gained a temporary foothold in the governing bureaucracy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he became its church historian. That productive period of professional scholarship from inside the LDS Church ended with a controversial closing of the History Division, which had brought too much candor for some church leaders. Arrington and his colleagues had lit a spark, though, that would continue to energize Mormon historiography. The many scholars whom he mentored, encouraged, supported, and collaborated with helped maintain the growth of a newly enriched field of research and publication, bringing the historical record that had always been an essential aspect of Mormon identity into wide examination and discourse.

Gregory Prince follows his well-regarded biography of LDS President David O. McKay with the story of another key figure in the modern history of Mormonism. Leonard Arrington, a gregarious and generous history entrepreneur, used his success to advance the careers of many others and played a key role in the intellectual development of Mormonism by broadening Mormons’ understanding of themselves. Employing Arrington’s massive personal record (his diaries are slated to be published later this year) and dozens of interviews with his associates, Prince provides the most complete account yet of the remarkable successes and failures of this longtime face of Mormon history.

“This biography breaks your heart a little, stiffens your spine a lot, and makes you fall in love with a man who may be his generation’s best human being.”
—Lavina Fielding Anderson, editor of Lucy’s Book: A Critical Edition of Lucy Mack Smith’s Family Memoir

“This is a well-written, exceptionally documented biography of arguably the most important figure in twentieth-century Mormon intellectual history. It provides a captivating, highly readable history of Arrington’s personal and professional life, almost unmatched in LDS biography. It made me wish I could go back and talk with Leonard again, and deservedly will long be the definitive work on the subject.”
—Lester Bush, coeditor of Neither White Nor Black: Mormon Scholars Confront the Race Issue in a Universal Church

Gregory A. Prince earned doctorate degrees in dentistry (DDS) and pathology (PhD) at UCLA, and then pursued a four-decade career in pediatric infectious disease research. His avocation in history led him to write several dozen articles and book chapters and three books, including Power from on High: The Development of Mormon Priesthood and the award-winning David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism, coauthored with William Robert Wright.

 

Leonard Arrington and the Writing of Mormon History. University of Utah Press, 2016. 432pp. Hardback. $39.95

 

Also by Gregory Prince

David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism. University of Utah Press, 2005. $29.95

Power from on High: The Development of Mormon Priesthood. Signature Books, 1995. Reg. $24.95, SALE $12.99

 

Shipping: $6.00 for the first book (inquire for rates on additional books) via USPS–Priority/FedEx/UPS options available–inquire for details.

Utah residents–add 7.05% sales tax

Reminder that Matthew C. Godfrey, Brenden W. Rensink, Alexander L. Baugh and Max H. Parkin will be here TOMORROW Wednesday, May 18, to discuss the latest volume of the Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 4: April 1834 – September 1835 (published by the Church Historian’s Press). They will be here from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.—speaking at 6:00—and will answer questions and sign books before and after that time. We hope you will be able to make that night but, if not, we can mail signed copies (Alex Smith is not able to attend the event but will sign copies beforehand) or hold them here at the store for pick-up. To RSVP on Facebook, click here.

EVENING WITH THE EDITORS

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We are excited to announce that Matthew C. Godfrey, Brenden W. Rensink, Alexander L. Baugh and Max H. Parkin will be here on Wednesday, May 18, to discuss the latest volume of the Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 4: April 1834 – September 1835 (published by the Church Historian’s Press). They will be here from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.—speaking at 6:00—and will answer questions and sign books before and after that time. We hope you will be able to make that night but, if not, we can mail signed copies (Alex Smith is not able to attend the event but will sign copies beforehand) or hold them here at the store for pick-up. To RSVP on Facebook, click here.

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Accomplishing the “redemption of Zion” was Joseph Smith’s primary concern for much of 1834 and 1835. After the Latter-day Saints had been forcibly removed from their lands in Jackson County, Missouri—the place where they believed God had commanded them to build the city of Zion—Joseph Smith led numerous efforts to reclaim those lands and restore the Saints to their homes. Covering April 1834 through September 1835, the ninety-three documents featured in this fourth volume of the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers shed light on Joseph Smith’s attempts to redeem Zion and reveal his maturation as a leader and prophet for a growing church facing nearly constant challenges.

The project of redeeming Zion placed large demands on Joseph Smith’s time and resources. He left his home in Kirtland, Ohio, in May 1834 to lead a company of about two hundred individuals, known as the Camp of Israel and later as Zion’s Camp, to Missouri to aid the beleaguered Saints there. Smith also sought to redeem Zion through the construction of the House of the Lord (or temple) in Kirtland, where the elders of the church were to receive an “endowment of power,” and the publication of the Doctrine and Covenants, a collection of revelations that provided instruction to the Saints on church doctrine and theology. Funding these projects proved difficult, however. In part because of the loss of the printing press in Jackson County and the mounting construction costs of the Kirtland temple, Smith and the church faced severe financial problems in the mid-1830s. Several documents in this volume describe these projects, the church’s financial strain, and the resulting assignments given to some individuals to collect donations for the church.

Meanwhile, the number of Saints in and outside Kirtland continued to increase. To address the challenge of growth, Joseph Smith further developed the church’s governing bodies and created a more complex administrative structure. Some documents presented herein, for example, detail the creation of new leadership positions in the church, including the offices of apostle, seventy, and church patriarch.

The types of documents included in this volume range from minutes and administrative documents to personal letters and revelations. Particularly prominent are a number of recorded blessings. These documents reveal the growing importance that Joseph Smith placed on giving blessings that provided personalized instructions and promises to various individuals, including veterans of the Camp of Israel and new church leaders.

Matthew C. Godfrey is a general editor and the managing historian of the Joseph Smith Papers, and is a member of the editorial board. He holds a PhD in American and public history from Washington State University. Before joining the project, he worked for eight years at Historical Research Associates, a historical and archeological consulting firm headquartered in Missoula, Montana, serving as president of the company from 2008 to 2010. He is the author of Religion, Politics, and Sugar: The Mormon Church, the Federal Government, and the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company, 1907-1921 (2007), which was a co-winner of the Mormon History Association’s Smith-Petit Award for Best First Book.

Brenden W. Rensink is an Assistant Professor of History, Assistant Director of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies at Brigham Young University, and general editor of Intermountain Histories. Before joining the faculty at BYU he earned a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, was visiting faculty at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and a historian and editor for the Joseph Smith Papers. He co-authored A Historical Dictionary of the American Frontier (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015).

Alexander L. Baugh completed a master’s degree at BYU in history in 1986 with an emphasis in western American and Mormon history. He became a full-time faculty member in Religious Education at BYU after completing his PhD in American history. In addition to his professorship, he also serves as a co-director of research for the Religious Studies Center at Brigham Young University.

Max H. Parkin holds a Ph.D. from BYU in Church history. A former institute instructor, he is the author of Conflict at Kirtland and directs tours to Church history sites and to the Middle East.

 

The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 4: April 1834 – September 1835 ed. by Matthew C. Godfrey, Brenden W. Rensink, Alex D. Smith, Alexander L. Baugh and Max H. Parkin. Church Historian’s Press, 2016. 668pp. Hardback. $54.95 (10% off to subscribers to the series).

 

Other volumes in the Joseph Smith Papers:

Journals, Vol. 1: 1832-1839. 2008. $49.95

Journals, Vol. 2: 1841-1843. 2011. Reg. $54.95, SALE $19.99

Journals, Vol. 3: May 1843-June 1844. 2015. $57.95

Joseph Smith Papers, Revelations & Translations, Manuscript Revelation Books: Facsimile Edition. 2009. Reg. $99.99, SALE $59.99 **SIGNED BY ALL THREE VOLUME EDITORS** Very limited quantity available.

Joseph Smith Papers, Revelations & Translations, Manuscript Revelation Books: Facsimile Edition. 2009. Reg. $99.99, SALE $79.99. **SIGNED BY ALL THREE VOLUME EDITORS AS WELL AS THE THREE GENERAL EDITORS.  AS FAR AS WE KNOW, THESE FEW COPIES SIGNED BY ALL SIX EDITORS ARE AVAILABLE NOWHERE ELSE, WHICH MAKES THESE ALL THE MORE RARE AND VALUABLE!**

Joseph Smith Papers: Revelations & Translations, Vol. 1. 2011. $79.95. This “library edition” includes all of the color-coded transcriptions of the facsimile edition with limited full-color images of important manuscript pages (rather than all pages as in the Facsimile Edition) such as the “Sample of Pure Language” as well as pages showing editorial marks.

Joseph Smith Papers, Revelations & Translations, Volume 2: Published Revelations. Church Historian’s Press, 2011. Hardback. Reg. $69.95, SALE $19.99

Joseph Smith Papers: Revelations and Translations, Volume 3: Printer’s Manuscript of the Book of Mormon, Parts 1 & 2. 2015. $89.99/each part

Histories, Vol. 1: Joseph Smith Histories (1832-1844). 2012. $54.95

Histories, Vol. 2: Assigned Histories (1831-1847). 2102. Reg. $54.95, SALE $19.99

Documents, vol. 1: July 1828 – June 1831. 2013. Reg. $54.95, SALE $19.99

Documents, vol. 2: July 1831 – January 1833. 2013. $54.95

Documents, vol. 3: February 1833-March 1834. 2014. Reg. $54.95, SALE $19.99

Shipping: $6.50 for the first book (inquire for rates for additional books). Priority/UPS/FedEx options available–inquire for details.

Utah residents–add 7.05% sales tax.

20160509_102848We were invited to attend a release event for the latest volume in the Joseph Smith Papers: Documents, vol. 4 covering April 1834 to September 1835. To begin, Matt Grow (director of publications for the Church Historian’s Press), outlined the four major releases this year:

The First Fifty Years of Relief Society (the first non-Joseph Smith Papers publication from the Church Historian’s Press)

–George Q. Cannon journals (first online installment)

Documents, vol. 4

Administrative, vol. 1 (Council of Fifty minutes)—forthcoming in September

He noted that the two volumes to be published next year are Documents, vols. 5 & 6 which will be roughly the halfway point in that series.

jsp--docs 4We then heard from Matt Godfrey (lead volume editor) about the contents of this latest volume. He began by saying that, despite other high-profile releases this year, this volume is important as it reveals a lot about Joseph Smith and this period. The expulsion from Jackson County is still hanging over them during this time and manifests itself frequently. Several documents in this volume relate to Zion’s Camp (which is only referred to as such later) whose primary purpose is a bit different that commonly thought. Rather than serving as a miraculous demonstration of divine power, the company is designed to spur government help. However, Missouri governor Daniel Dunklin waits to see how things play out before he commits state assistance (and, ultimately, never does). A revelation received following the disbanding of the camp outlines steps the saints need to take before land can be redeemed.

Another prominent theme in this volume is the construction of the Kirtland Temple. Simultaneously, the high council in Kirtland also appoints a committee to compile Joseph Smith’s revelations (following an earlier attempt in Missouri that led to the Book of Commandments). The decision is made initially to include excerpts from other texts (such as the Book of Mormon) that deal with church administration. Plans would change and eventually a series of lectures (known today as the Lectures on Faith) were chosen to be included with the revelations instead.

A young Joseph has to face challenges to his leadership as well as mounting financial concerns (lingering Missouri debts, temple construction, etc.). At opportune times, key donors step forward and help out the leadership in tight straits. Following one such donation, they pray and make a covenant based on their gratitude that presages tithing several years later.

In previous volumes, women have been largely absent. While there aren’t large-scale appearances in this volume, there are some key inclusions. A list of donations to Zion’s Camp (along with disbursements to camp captains) serves as a stopgap resource to recreate a list of camp members in the absence of a contemporary roster. Included in the list is a woman (thought to be a single woman from Indiana) who donated $50—the second-highest amount incidentally—that leads to the guess that she in fact marched with the camp. Another document in this volume is a series of blessings (recorded in the patriarchal blessing book) given to Smith children and their spouses. Matt gleans from these blessings that saints at the time would have considered blessings given to husband and wife to be one blessing. The blessing given to Emma by Joseph Smith Sr. would have been a great comfort to her following the death of children and other hardships. A letter written by Joseph Smith to Sally Phelps (wife of W. W. Phelps) remarks on W. W.’s talents but also her sacrifices in allowing him to devote much time to the cause. A subsequent three-part letter includes Phelps writing to his wife (including part of the city plat that he warns her should not be shared with anyone), Joseph Smith writing to his cousin looking forward to the day when Mormons could return to Jackson County and then church leaders likely writing to the president of the elders in Missouri instructing them not to assume too much responsibility.

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city plat to be kept secret

This volume also includes a broadside of the first lecture on faith (likely a Sidney Rigdon project) as well as two items from the 1835 D&C as an appendix since authorship is in question. Several blessings recorded by Oliver Cowdery in the patriarchal blessing book are also included. These texts are intriguing because they are greatly expanded from earlier recordings of them (also in the appendix because it is not clear how much of the expansions can be tied to Joseph Smith).

Some interesting points that were brought out in the Q&A:

–The broadside of the first lecture on faith was possibly given out by missionaries, like with the case of the broadside of D&C 101.

–Regarding the statement on marriage included in the 1835 D&C, Matt Godfrey noted that Joseph is definitely in Michigan when it is presented but he was likely in Kirtland when it was composed. As documentary editors, they choose not to make a judgment on Joseph’s authorship (Matt said, if pressed, he would opine that Joseph did not write it).

–Regarding the meeting where the D&C is presented for approval (along with the statement on marriage and declaration on government), the assumption is that Oliver Cowdery presented things with Joseph Smith’s tacit approval rather than being a case of Cowdery trying to sneak them in.

–With Zion’s Camp, the relevant revelations in the D&C lead to the impression it will end in miraculous results. Circular letter outlines very clearly the goals camp will have and gives a more realistic picture of their mission.

–As for the structure relating to patriarchal blessings, there really isn’t a standard practice at that point—questions like whether single women could receive blessings (in light of the husband and wife dynamic describe above) have not yet been systematized.

Reminder that Laura Harris Hales, editor of the recently released A Reason for Faith: Navigating LDS Doctrine and Church History (published by the Religious Studies Center/Deseret Book)—as well as several of the contributors–will be here THIS WEDNESDAY, May 11 to speak about and sign copies of the book. They will be here from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and will speak at 6:00 and will answer questions and sign books before and after that time. We hope you will be able to make it that night but, if not, we can mail a signed copy or hold one here at the store for pick-up.

The following contributors will be in attendance:

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Don Bradley–The Kinderhook Plates

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Mark Ashurst-McGee

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Paul Reeve–Race, the Priesthood and Temples

Ron Barney–The Restoration of the Priesthoods

Brian Hales–Joseph Smith’s Practice of Plural Marriage

Laura

Laura Hales–The Practice of Polygamy (with Brian)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To RSVP click here.

EVENING WITH THE AUTHORS

Laura

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We are excited to announce that Laura Harris Hales, editor of the recently released A Reason for Faith: Navigating LDS Doctrine and Church History (published by the Religious Studies Center/Deseret Book)—as well as several of the contributors–will be here on Wednesday, May 11 to speak about and sign copies of the book. They will be here from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and will speak at 6:00 and will answer questions and sign books before and after that time. We hope you will be able to make it that night but, if not, we can mail a signed copy or hold one here at the store for pick-up. To RSVP on Facebook, click here.

A Reason for Faith was written to do just as the title implies, provide reasons for faith by offering faithful answers to sincere questions. Before the Internet, historical and doctrinal questions not addressed in LDS Church curriculum were mostly found in the scholarly articles of academic journals. This is no longer the case. These topics are now widely debated and discussed online and in other forums. And when members of the LDS Church come across information that is unfamiliar, they may feel surprise, fear, betrayal, or even anger. Laura Harris Hales has assembled a group of respected LDS scholars to offer help in A Reason for Faith: Navigating LDS Doctrine and Church History. Together these authors have spent an average of 25 years researching these topics. Their depth of knowledge and faith enables them to share reliable details, perspective, and context to both LDS doctrine and Church history. The information in these essays can begin an exciting process of discovery for readers as they learn from a source they can trust. Each chapter is engaging and thought-provoking, providing an invaluable resource for both the merely curious and the seriously concerned.

Chapters include “Joseph Smith and Money Digging” (Richard Bushman), “The Restoration of the Priesthoods” (Ron Barney), “The Kinderhook Plates” (Don Bradley & Mark Ashurst-McGee), “The Practice of Polygamy” (Brian and Laura Hales), “Freemasonry and the Latter-day Saint Temple Endowment” (Steven Harper), “Race, the Priesthood, and Temples” (Paul Reeve) and “Latter-day Saint Women in the Twenty-First Century” (Neylan McBaine).

Laura Harris Hales is a freelance copyeditor, author, and mother of five avid truth seekers. She received a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Brigham Young University and a master’s degree in professional writing from New England College. She has also worked as both a paralegal and as an adjunct professor of English.

 

A Reason for Faith: Navigating LDS Doctrine and Church History, ed. by Laura Harris Hales.  Religious Studies Center/Deseret Book, 2016. Hardback. 249pp. $24.99

 

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