Foundational Texts of Mormonism

Foundational Texts of Mormonism

Mark Ashurst-McGee, Robin Jensen, and Sharalyn D. Howcroft

Print publication date: 2018

ISBN: 9780190274375

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Abstract

In the 1970s Mormon historian Dean C. Jessee began carefully studying the letters and other papers of Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since that time, the archival availability, publication, and use of early Mormon documents has taken vast leaps forward. Foundational Texts of Mormonism contributes to that advancement by presenting various chapters investigating and analyzing several essential primary sources that are commonly used in research on the founding era of Mormonism (through 1844, the end of church founder Joseph Smith’s life). The depth of and sustained interest in the content of the documentary record of the LDS church has, ironically, offered historians a wide array of source material from which to draw, but without a deep understanding of the production of those historical records. Many of these essential sources—including journals of early church members, histories of Joseph Smith, religious epistles, sermons, and sacred texts—have complex production histories that must be understood in order to use the sources responsibly. The chapters of this volume draw on the fields of history, archival studies, documentary editing, material culture, descriptive bibliography, textual diplomatics, and others to provide a careful and critical look at several major sources with which historians attempt to reconstruct the early Mormon past. This book offers historians more solid footing in the documentary record in the advancing field of Mormon studies.