An Introduction to the Book of Abraham (John Gee)

introduction-to-the-book-of-abraham

RSC/Deseret Book, 160pp, hardback, $19.99, 2017

When the Book of Abraham was first published to the world in 1842, it was published as “a translation of some ancient records that have fallen into {Joseph Smith’s} hands from the catacombs of Egypt, purporting to be the writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt, called “The Book of Abraham, Written by his Own Hand, upon Papyrus.” The resultant record was thus connected with the papyri once owned by Joseph Smith, though which papyrus of the four or five in his possession was never specified. Those papyri would likely interest only a few specialists except that they are bound up in a religious controversy. This controversy covers a number of interrelated issues, and an even greater number of theories have been put forward about these issues. Given the amount of information available, the various theories, and the variety of fields of study the subject requires, misunderstandings and misinformation often prevail. An Introduction to the Book of Abraham makes reliable information accessible to the general reader.

At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women (Jennifer Reeder and Kate Holbrook, eds.)

Church Historian’s Press, 484pp, hb, $29.99, February

At the Pulpit showcases the tradition of Latter-day Saint women’s preaching and instruction by presenting fifty-four speeches given from 1831 to 2016, with selections from every decade since the founding of the Church. The discourses, given by women both well known and obscure, represent just some of the many contributions of women to Latter-day Saint thought. In addition to being a scholarly history, At the Pulpit is intended as a resource for contemporary Church members as they study, speak, teach, and lead. These discourses allow readers to hear the historical and contemporary voices of Latter-day Saint women—voices that resound with experience, wisdom, and authority.  

What is Mormonism?: A Student’s Introduction (Patrick Mason)

what-is-mormonism

Routledge, 224pp, paperback–$44.95/hardback–$130, April

What is Mormonism?: A Student’s Introduction answers its title’s question with an easy-to-read but rigorous and informative overview of the religion founded by Joseph Smith in 1830. The short and lively book covers Mormonism‘s history, core beliefs, rituals and devotional practices, as well as the impact on the daily lives of its adherents and the communities and nations in which they reside. Most of What is Mormonism? focuses on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Salt Lake City-based church of 15 million members that is the largest and best-known expression of Mormonism, but it also explores some of the other churches and sects that claim descent from Smith’s original revelations. Designed in particular for the undergraduate history or religious studies classroom, the book provides a reliable and easily digestible orientation to a steadily growing religion that continues to befuddle even learned observers of American religion and culture.

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

Greg Kofford, April

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.

Emmeline B. Wells: An Intimate History (Carol Cornwall Madsen)

University of Utah, hardback, 512pp, $49.99, April

Emmeline B. Wells was the most noted Utah Mormon woman of her time. Lauded nationally for her energetic support of the women’s rights movement of the nineteenth century, she was a self-made woman who channeled her lifelong sense of destiny into ambitious altruism. Her public acclaim and activism belied the introspective, self-appraising, and emotional persona she expressed in the pages of her forty-seven extant diaries. After reconciling herself to the heartaches of plural marriage, she pursued a self-directed life in earnest and wrote, “I have risen triumphant.”

This new biography tells the story of the private Emmeline. The unusual circumstances of her several marriages, the complicated lives of her five daughters, the losses and disappointments interspersed with bright moments and achievements, all engendered the idea that her life was a romance, with the mysterious, tragic, and sentimental elements of that genre. This volume, drawing heavily on Emmeline Wells’s own words, tells the complicated story of a woman of ambition, strength, tenderness, and faith.

Pioneer Women of Arizona, Second Edition (Roberta Flake Clayton, Catherine H. Ellis and David F. Boone)

RSC/Deseret Book, hb, $49.99, April

These are the life stories of Mormon girls, young women, mothers, and grandmothers who traveled to Arizona by covered wagons and by train. These women drove teams and knitted socks while their men trailed the cattle. They settled the Arizona Strip and along the Little Colorado, San Pedro, Gila, and Salt Rivers. With references to recent publications, footnotes to explain long-forgotten phrases and events, and over three hundred photographs, this second edition will not only keep these stories alive for descendants and general readers but also provide a wealth of information for specialists in women’s studies, Arizona history, Mormon history, and Western Americana.

The Joseph Smith Papers: Documents, Volume 5: October 1835–January 1838 (Brent M. Rogers, Elizabeth A. Kuehn, Christian K. Heimburger, Max H Parkin, Alexander L. Baugh, and Steven C. Harper, eds.)

Church Historian’s Press, hb, 768pp, $54.95, May

Documents, Volume 5: October 1835-January 1838 covers nearly two and a half years of Latter-day Saint history as it documents some of the highest and lowest points of Joseph Smith’s life. The fall and winter of 1835-1836 saw a flurry of activity to finish the House of the Lord in Kirtland as well as Joseph Smith’s work to unify the priesthood quorums. In March 1836, the Saints dedicated the new temple to God and experienced tremendous outpourings of His Spirit, many of which are documented here. The story of the next twenty-two months is one of financial hardship and challenges to the Prophet’s leadership. The establishment and failure of the Kirtland Safety Society Bank loom large. The volume ends with Joseph Smith, fearful for his life, departing Kirtland to move his family to Missouri.

Mountain Meadows Massacre: Collected Legal Papers, 2 vols. (ed. by Richard Turley, Janiece Johnson and LaJean Carruth)

mountain-meadows

University of Oklahoma Press, 1170pp, hardback. $130, May

vol. 1–Mountain Meadows Massacre: Collected Legal Papers, Initial Investigations and Indictments

vol. 2–Mountain Meadows Massacre: Collected Legal Papers, Selected Trial Records and Aftermath

On September 11, 1857, a group of Mormons aided by Paiute Indians brutally murdered some 120 men, women, and children traveling through a remote region of southwestern Utah. Within weeks, news of the atrocity spread across the United States. But it took until 1874 seventeen years laterbefore a grand jury finally issued indictments against nine of the perpetrators. Mountain Meadows Massacre chronicles the prolonged legal battle to gain justice for the victims. The editors of this two-volume collection combed public and private manuscript collections across the United States to reconstruct the complex legal proceedings that occurred in the massacres aftermath. The documents they unearthed, transcribed and presented here, cover a nearly forty-year history of investigation and prosecutionfrom the first reports of the massacre in 1857 to the dismissal of the last indictment against a perpetrator in 1896. Volume 1 tells the first half of the story: the records of the investigations into the massacre and transcriptions of all nine indictments, eight of which never resulted in a trial conviction. Volume 2 details the legal proceedings against the one man indicted to go to trial, John D. Lee. Lees trials led to his confession and conviction, and ultimately to his execution on the massacre site in 1877, all documented here. Historians have long debated the circumstances surrounding the Mountain Meadows Massacre, one of the most disturbing and controversial events in American history, and painful questions linger to this day. This invaluable, exhaustively researched collection allows readers the opportunity to form their own conclusions about the forces behind this dark moment in western U.S. history.

The Field Is White: Harvest in the Three Counties of England (Carol Wilkinson and Cynthia Doxey Green)

RSC, $21.99, June

This book explores the story of Church growth that was initiated by Wilford Woodruff’s missionary efforts in the Three Counties of England in the mid-1800s. Readers will learn how the socioeconomic, political, and religious background in this part of England prepared people to accept the restored gospel. We describe the efforts of American and British missionaries in the area, as well as the lives of some the early converts who either emigrated or stayed in England. Finally, we look at how current Church members in this area have forged links with the legacy of this amazing time of harvest.

Feeding the Flock: The Foundations of Mormon Practice: Sacraments, Authority, Gifts, Worship (Terryl Givens)

feeding

Oxford University Press, 416pp, hardback. $34.95, July

Feeding the Flock, the second volume of Terryl L. Givens’s landmark study of the foundations of Mormon thought and practice, traces the essential contours of Mormon practice as it developed from Joseph Smith to the present. Despite the stigmatizing fascination with its social innovations (polygamy, communalism), its stark supernaturalism (angels, gold plates, and seer stones), and its most esoteric aspects (a New World Garden of Eden, sacred undergarments), as well as its long-standing outlier status among American Protestants, Givens reminds us that Mormonism remains the most enduring–and thriving–product of the nineteenth-century’s religious upheavals and innovations.

Because Mormonism is founded on a radically unconventional cosmology, based on unusual doctrines of human nature, deity, and soteriology, a history of its development cannot use conventional theological categories. Givens has structured these volumes in a way that recognizes the implicit logic of Mormon thought. The first book, Wrestling the Angel, centered on the theoretical foundations of Mormon thought and doctrine regarding God, humans, and salvation. Feeding the Flock considers Mormon practice, the authority of the institution of the church and its priesthood, forms of worship, and the function and nature of spiritual gifts in the church’s history, revealing that Mormonism is still a tradition very much in the process of formation. 

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, September, hardback, $54.95

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.

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

Maxwell Institute, 2017

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

University of North Carolina, fall 2017

Analyzes the racialized scriptures, histories, and doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) as case studies to consider how nineteenth-century Americans turned to religion to solve the early American republic’s “race problem.”

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, 2017

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, 2017

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.

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

RSC

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

RSC

Council of Fifty Minutes (Matthew Grow, ed.)

RSC, late 2017

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)

Smith-Pettit

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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