Textual Studies of the Doctrine and Covenants: The Plural Marriage Revelation (William Victor Smith)

Greg Kofford, summer

The July 12, 1843 revelation was the last of Joseph Smith’s formal written revelations, and it was a watershed in Mormonism for many reasons. Textual Studies of the Doctrine and Covenants: The Plural Marriage Revelation constitutes a study of the text of that revelation, its genetic profile as an endpoint for a number of trajectories in Mormon thought, liturgy, and priestly cosmology, and a brief exploration of its historical impact and interpretation.

Dixie Saints: Laborers in the Field (Douglas D. Alder)

RSC, hb, 416pp, $21.99, July

This book a compilation of stories describing the daily lives of people who lived in the villages of southern Utah and nearby Nevada and Arizona. These individuals tell of their childhood in large families, their experience in one-room schools, their physical work from ages 10 and beyond (all without machines), their health and medical challenges and herbal medicine, their experiences with Indians and with exiles from Mexico from the 1912 Revolution.

Doing the Works of Abraham, Mormon Polygamy: Its Origin, Practice, and Demise (B. Carmon Hardy)

University of Oklahoma, 452pp, paperback, $29.95, August

Joseph Smith Papers: Documents, Volume 6: February 1838–August 1839 (Mark Ashurst-McGee, David W. Grua, Elizabeth Kuehn, Alexander L. Baugh, and Brenden W. Rensink, eds.)  

Church Historian’s Press, hardback, $54.95, September

The sixth volume of the Documents series contains personal letters, revelations, discourses, minutes, legal documents, and financial documents, among other documents. The documents in the volume trace the establishment of Far West, Missouri, as the center place of Zion; the spread of Mormon settlements in northwestern Missouri; Joseph Smith’s incarceration in Clay County, Missouri; the Saints’ expulsion from the state; and initial efforts to establish church settlements in Illinois and in Iowa Territory. The documents highlight Smith’s continued efforts to remove dissension from the church, establish a city of Zion, protect the Saints from anti-Mormons, and prepare the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for a mission to Europe. 

Race and the Making of the Mormon People (Max Perry Mueller)

University of North Carolina, 352pp, pb–$32.50/hb–$90, September

The nineteenth-century history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Max Perry Mueller argues, illuminates the role that religion played in forming the notion of three -original- American races–red, black, and white–for Mormons and others in the early American Republic. Recovering the voices of a handful of black and Native American Mormons who resolutely wrote themselves into the Mormon archive, Mueller threads together historical experience and Mormon scriptural interpretations. He finds that the Book of Mormon is key to understanding how early followers reflected but also departed from antebellum conceptions of race as biblically and biologically predetermined. Mormon theology and policy both challenged and reaffirmed the essentialist nature of the racialized American experience.

The Book of Mormon presented its believers with a radical worldview, proclaiming that all schisms within the human family were anathematic to God’s design. That said, church founders were not racial egalitarians. They promoted whiteness as an aspirational racial identity that nonwhites could achieve through conversion to Mormonism. Mueller also shows how, on a broader level, scripture and history may become mutually constituted. For the Mormons, that process shaped a religious movement in perpetual tension between its racialist and universalist impulses during an era before the concept of race was secularized.

The Council of Fifty:What the Records Reveal about Mormon History (Matthew Grow and Eric Smith, eds.)

RSC/Deseret Book, hb, 160pp, $21.99, Sep

Three months before his death, Joseph Smith established the Council of Fifty; a confidential group that he believed would protect the Latter-day Saints in their political rights and one day serve as the government of the kingdom of God. The Council of Fifty operated under the leadership of Joseph Smith and then Brigham Young. The council’s minutes had never been available until they were published by the Joseph Smith Papers in September 2016. This book is a compilation of essays that will give an initial appraisal of how the council’s minutes enhance our understanding of Mormon history during the critical era of the last months of Smith’s life to the trek west. Some fifteen leading Mormon scholars—including Richard Bushman, Richard Bennett, Paul Reeve, and Patrick Mason—narrate and analyze the contributions of the records of the council to key questions.

1. Richard Bushman, “The Separatist Impulse in the Nauvoo Council of Fifty”

2. Richard E. Turley Jr., “Injustices Leading to the Creation of the Council of Fifty”

3. Spencer W. McBride, “The Council of Fifty and Joseph Smith’s Presidential Ambitions”

4. Patrick Mason, “God and the People Reconsidered: Further Reflections on Theodemocracy in Early Mormonism”

5. Benjamin E. Park, “The Council of Fifty and the Perils of Democratic Governance”

6. Nathan B. Oman, “’We the People of the Kingdom of God’: Constitution Writing in the Council of Fifty”

7. Gerrit J. Dirkmaat, “Lost Teachings of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and Other Church Leaders”

8.R. Eric Smith, “Insights into Mormon Record-Keeping Practices from the Council of Fifty Minutes”

9. Matthew J. Grow and Marilyn Bradford, “’To Carry Out Joseph’s Measures Is Sweeter to Me Than Honey’: Brigham Young and the Council of Fifty”

10. Jeffrey D. Mahas, “American Indians and the Nauvoo-Era Council of Fifty”

11. Matthew C. Godfrey, “A Monument of the Saints’ Industry: The Nauvoo House and the Council of Fifty, 1845–46 141”

12. Christopher James Blythe, “With Full Authority to Build Up the Kingdom of God on Earth”: Lyman Wight on the Council of Fifty 151

13. Richard E. Bennett, “’We Are a Kingdom to Ourselves’: The Council of Fifty Minutes and the Mormon Exodus West”

14. Jedediah S. Rogers, “The Council of Fifty in Western History”

15. W. Paul Reeve, “The Council of Fifty and the Search for Religious Liberty”

Women of Faith in the Latter Days, vol. 4: 1871-1900  (Richard E. Turley, Jr., and Brittany Chapman Nash, eds.)

Deseret Book, 384pp, hardback, $34.99, Oct

Reading Scripture, Reading Creation: The Ancient Near Eastern Context of Genesis 1 (Ben Spackman)

Maxwell Institute, 2017

Salt Lake City School of the Prophets, 1867-1883 (Devery S. Anderson, ed.)

School-of-the-Prophets-200x300Signature Books, hardback, 600pp, $47.95, 2017

Ministerial training was an early goal of Mormonism. The priesthood-led institution called the School of the Prophets, established in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1833, was basically a divinity school for prospective missionaries. However, topics of study included, instead of prophecy and revelation, penmanship, English grammar, arithmetic, philosophy, literature, government, geography, and history. For seven weeks there was even a course in Hebrew, but it was discontinued. Still, it was in this setting that Joseph Smith received his revelation on diet and health and some of the spiritual manifestations associated with the Kirtland temple dedication. Brigham Young re-established the school in the Salt Lake Valley in 1867; his successor, John Taylor, resuscitated it for a while in 1883. Young’s emphasis was theology, first as an appendage to Deseret University, and then as a separate institution. Presented here for the first time are all available minutes for the Utah period.

Confessions of a Mormon Historian: The Diaries of Leonard J. Arrington, 1971-1999, 3 vols. (Gary James Bergera, ed.)

Signature Books, hardback, 2500pp, $150/set, October

Leonard Arrington (1917–99) was born an Idaho chicken rancher whose early interests seemed not to extend much beyond the American west. Throughout his life, he tended to project a folksy persona, although nothing was farther from the truth.

He was, in fact, an intellectually oriented, academically driven young man, determined to explore the historical, economic, cultural, and religious issues of his time. After distinguishing himself at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) and serving in the army during World War II in North Africa and Italy, Arrington accepted a professorship at Utah State University. In 1972 he was called as the LDS Church Historian—an office he held for ten years until, following a stormy tenure full of controversy over whether the “New Mormon History” he championed was appropriate for the church, he was quietly released and transferred, along with the entire Church History Division, to Brigham Young University. It was hoped that this would remove the impression in people’s minds that his writings were church-approved.

His personal diaries reveal a man who was firmly committed to his church, as well as to rigorous historical scholarship. His eye for detail made him an important observer of “church headquarters culture.”

The Mormon Hierarchy: Wealth and Corporate Power (D. Michael Quinn)

Mormon-Hierarchy-Wealth-203x300Signature Books, hardback, 800pp, $49.95, September

Early in the twentieth century, it was possible for Latter-day Saints to have lifelong associations with businesses managed by their leaders or owned and controlled by the church itself. For example, one could purchase engagement rings from Daynes Jewelry, honeymoon at the Hotel Utah, and venture off on the Union Pacific Railroad, all partially owned and run by church apostles.

Families could buy clothes at Knight Woolen Mills. The husband might work at Big Indian Copper or Bullion-Beck, Gold Chain, or Iron King mining companies. The wife could shop at Utah Cereal Food and buy sugar supplied by Amalgamated or U and I Sugar, beef from Nevada Land and Livestock, and vegetables from the Growers Market. They might take their groceries home in parcels from Utah Bag Co. They probably read the Deseret News at home under a lamp plugged into a Utah Power and Light circuit. They could take out a loan from Zion’s Co-operative and insurance from Utah Home and Fire.

The apostles had a long history of community involvement in financial enterprises to the benefit of the general membership and their own economic advantage. This volume is the result of the author’s years of research into LDS financial dominance from 1830 to 2010.

Alexander Campbell and Joseph Smith: Two Nineteenth-Century Restorationists (RoseAnn Benson)


Canadian Mormons: History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Roy and Carma Prete)

RSC, hb

This book gives a panoramic view of the rise and progress of the Church in Canada. It has all the elements of a great saga, including that of early faithful missionaries preaching in eastern Canada without “purse or scrip” in the 1830s and 1840s, and the exodus of early Canadian converts who joined with the main body of the Church in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois, and then trekked across the Great Plains to Utah in the Rocky Mountains. It tells of Mormon pioneers from Utah arriving in southern Alberta after 1887, having made a second grand trek to escape their persecutors, this time north rather than west, and details the settlement of Mormons in Alberta. It is the story of an ongoing missionary effort from late nineteenth century, throughout the twentieth, and into the twenty-first with a vast number of missionaries and the sustained effort of thousands of lay leaders and members laboring relentlessly to build up a Church that now consists of nearly 200,000 members.

Book of Remembrance: Mormon Sacred Kinship in America (Fenella Cannell)

William Bickerton: The Untold Story of an American Prophet (Daniel P. Stone)

Signature Books 

Foundational Texts of Mormonism: Critical Studies of Major Sources in Early Mormon History (ed. by Robin Jensen and Mark Ashurst-McGee)

Oxford University Press

Faith and Reason, Conscience and Conflict: The Paths of Lowell Bennion, Sterling McMurrin, and Obert Tanner (Robert A. Goldberg, L. Jackson Newell, and Linda Newell, eds.)

University of Utah

My Dear Sister: Letters Between Joseph F. Smith and His Sister Martha Ann (David Whitchurch and Richard Holzapfel)

Deseret Book, oversize hardcover, 544pp, $39.99

This book contains a transcript of all 164 letters written by Joseph F. Smith to his sister, Martha Ann Smith Harris (along with 44 letters from Martha), and includes a large sampling of photographic images of the originals. These letters provide a treasure- trove of personal insights into the lives of Joseph and his sister

  • Seven decades of correspondence between the orphaned children of Hyrum and Mary Fielding Smith as they share their innermost feelings, joys, heartaches, decisions, and family happenings.
  • Letters dated from 1854, when Joseph was a fifteen-year-old missionary in Hawaii, to 1916, just two years before his death.
  • Joseph F. Smith’s reflections on the death of his parents and his remarks about the visit of the Prophet Joseph’s sons who had traveled from Nauvoo to Salt Lake City.

The Words of Joseph Smith, rev. and enl. ed.(Andrew F. Ehat, ed.)

hardcover (2 vols.?) 

Ezra Taft Benson and Anticommunism: A Documentary History (Matthew Harris)

University of Utah Press

Ezra Taft Benson: Mormon Apostle-President, Outspoken Conservative, and Crusading Cold Warrior (Matthew Harris, ed.)

University of Illinois Press

The Mormon Church and Its Gospel Topics Essays: The Scholarly Community Responds (Matthew Harris & Newell Bringhurst, eds.)

University of Utah Press

“The Long Awaited Day”: The LDS Church, African Americans, and the Lifting of the Priesthood Ban, 1945-2015 (Matthew Harris)

The Lioness of the Lord: Letters of Augusta Adams Cobb Young to Brigham Young (Connell O’Donovan)

University of Utah

The Joseph Smith Papers: A Complete Edition of the Abraham and Egyptian Manuscript Collection (ed. by Robin Jensen and Brian Hauglid) 

Church Historian’s Press

The Expanded Canon: Perspectives on Mormonism and Sacred Texts

Maxwell Institute

Mormonism Among Christian Theologies (Brian Birch and Grant Underwood)

Oxford University Press

Underground but in the Light: The Plural Community of Centennial Park (Jennifer Huss Basquiat)

Every Word Seasoned with Grace: A Textual Study of the Funeral Sermons of Joseph Smith (William V. Smith)

A Compilation of Historical Selections from the General Handbook of Instructions of the LDS Church: 1899-2006 (Michael Paulos)


The Reed Smoot Hearings: American Politics and American Religion (Michael Paulos/Konden Smith)

University of Utah

Mormonism in America (Phil Barlow and Jan Shipps)

Columbia University Press, hardcover, 320 pp, $45.00 

Convictions: Mormon Polygamy and Criminal Law Enforcement in Nineteenth-Century Utah (Sarah Gordon/Kathryn Daynes)

University of Illinois

biography of Jane Manning James (Quincy D. Newell)

Oxford University Press

biography of Joseph F. Smith (Steve Taysom)

biography of Ezra Taft Benson (Patrick Mason)

biography of William H. Chamberlin (James McLachlan)

biography of Margarito Bautista (Elisa Pulido)

intellectual history of James E. Talmage (Spencer Fluhman)

Oxford University Press, 2019

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