Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism
It is as history that Richard L. Bushman analyzes the emergence of Mormonism in the early nineteenth century. Bushman, however, brings to his study a unique set of credentials - he is both a prize-winning historian and a faithful member of the Latter-day Saints church. For Mormons and non-Mormons alike, then, his book provides a very special perspective on an endlessly fascinating subject. Building upon previous accounts and incorporating recently discovered contemporary sources, Bushman focuses on the first twenty-five years of Joseph Smith's life - up to his move to Kirtland, Ohio, in 1831. Bushman shows how the rural Yankee culture of New England and New York - especially evangelical revivalism, Christian rationalism, and folk magic - both influenced and hindered the formation of Smith's new religion. Mormonism, Bushman argues, must be seen not only as the product of this culture, but also as an independent creation based on the revelations of its charismatic leader. In the final analysis, it was Smith's ability to breathe new life into the ancient sacred stories and to make a sacred story out of his own life which accounted for his own extraordinary influence. By presenting Smith and his revelations as they were viewed by the early Mormons themselves, Bushman leads us to a deeper understanding of their faith.
University of Illinois Press
Mormonism, history, religion
Church History | History of Religions of Western Origin | New Religious Movements | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion
Bushman, Richard. Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984.