2014_6_12 Gerrit Dirkmaat and Mike MacKay

from darkness unto light












We are excited to announce that Michael Hubbard MacKay and Gerrit J. Dirkmaat , authors of From Darkness unto Light: Joseph Smith’s Translation and Publication of the Book of Mormon (published by Religious Studies Center/Deseret Book) will be here on Wednesday, May 20th to sign and discuss their book. 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 a signed copy or hold one here at the store for pick-up. To RSVP on Facebook, click here.

The process of translating and publishing the Book of Mormon, according to the witnesses of the event and the earliest primary sources, is generally unknown to members of the Church because Joseph Smith placed little emphasis upon the actual process. This book attempts to capture the first-person point of view of Joseph Smith and those who witnessed the translation and publication of the Book of Mormon. The authors draw on their experience editing volumes in the Joseph Smith Papers to provide carefully documented conclusions.

Readers will likely discover many new findings in this work. For example, in translating, Joseph Smith probably first used the stones set in spectacles that came with the plates. Then, for most of the translation period, he substituted these stones with one that he found. Joseph placed this seer stone in a hat to exclude the light and to read off the translated text by looking at the stone. All the while, the plates lay wrapped in a cloth in a table. According to newly discovered primary sources, Joseph did not look at the plates through most of the translation.

Another way in which this work deals with the problem of the inaccurate portrayal of the translation process is by adding artistic depictions of the translation. Anthony Sweat, a colleague of the authors at BYU, has contributed original artwork portraying events surrounding the translation that more closely align with the testimonies of scribes and witnesses. An essay (in an appendix) discusses how images of the translation—often conveying inaccurate perspectives—have been used over the years.

“Readers of this book will find enlightenment on each page. The narrative gives us access to the new knowledge they developed at the Joseph Smith Papers Project…The work of MacKay and Dirkmaat is very much their own and does not have an official stamp of approval, but it represents the breadth of new knowledge soon to be available to Church members and people everywhere as the Papers volumes appear.”—Richard Bushman, from the preface

MICHAEL HUBBARD MACKAY received an engineering degree from the US Air Force and a master of arts degree from the University of York in England. His doctorate of philosophy degree was also awarded by the University of York. He is now an assistant professor in the department of Church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University.

GERRIT J. DIRKMAAT received his PhD in history in 2010 from the University of Colorado. He worked as a historian/writer for the Joseph Smith Papers Project (JSP) from 2010 to 2014. He is now an assistant professor of Church history and doctrine at BYU but continues to work as a volunteer historian/writer on the JSP.


From Darkness unto Light: Joseph Smith’s Translation and Publication of the Book of Mormon. Religious Studies Center/Deseret Book, 2015. 256pp. Hardback. $24.99


Joseph Smith Papers Volume to Which MacKay and Dirkmaat Contributed

The Joseph Smith Papers: Documents, vol. 1: July 1828 – June 1831. The Church Historian’s Press, 2013. Hardback. $54.95

The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents Vol. 3: February 1833-March 1834. The Church Historian’s Press, 2014. Hardback. $54.95

**if you aren’t a subscriber to the Joseph Smith Papers series, sign up now and save 10% on each volume!


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

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