He Founded a Church and Stirred a Young Nation ; A Rich, Detailed Portrait of Joseph Smith, Father of Mormonism

By Lampman, Jane | The Christian Science Monitor, December 2, 2005 | Go to article overview

He Founded a Church and Stirred a Young Nation ; A Rich, Detailed Portrait of Joseph Smith, Father of Mormonism


Lampman, Jane, The Christian Science Monitor


How did a young man from a poor farm family - who as a boy received minimal education and had little religious background - come to found a church that today boasts millions of members worldwide?

A religious leader for only 14 years until his assassination in 1844, Joseph Smith drew thousands during his lifetime to his vision of a theocratic New Jerusalem in the American heartland. Possessing what one critic called a genius for "religion making," Smith wrote new scriptures and created a complex institution that has long survived his death.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints celebrates its 175th anniversary this year, and on December 23, the 200th anniversary of Smith's birth.

In Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, historian Richard Bushman, professor emeritus at Columbia University and a practicing Mormon, fashions a fascinating, definitive biography of the rough-hewn Yankee who stirred controversy from the start.

Bushman's intimate, 740-page portrait explores all the corners of controversy but does not resolve them, suggesting that - given the nature of the man and his story - such resolution is never likely to occur. An honest yet sympathetic portrayal, the book is rich in its depiction of developing Mormonism.

During an era of revivals and religious ferment, Smith saw himself as a major prophet and revelator - a restorer of the one true church. Despite a story that appeared fantastical to many, Smith's teaching caught the interest of others in search of a faith different from that offered by the churches of the time.

As a youth, Smith engaged with family and friends in magic and treasure-digging. He also prayed to know which church to attend. He said later that he was then told by God and Jesus that the existing churches were in apostasy.

In a second vision, Smith said, an angel named Moroni directed him to buried golden plates that were to become the source for his Book of Mormon, which he translated from hieroglyphs through the use of a seer stone and spectacles that he called the Urim and Thummim. (The angel later retrieved the plates.)

The Book of Mormon is understood by Latter-day Saints to be the history of Jews who traveled to the Western hemisphere around 600 BCE, and of Jesus' visit to them after his resurrection. (The assumption that the Indians of the Americas are the descendants of the people in the book has been upset recently by DNA studies - done by Mormons - which show no connection to the ancient Hebrews.)

Smith - called simply "Joseph" by Mormons - published the book in 1830, and later published others ("The Book of Abraham" and "The Book of Moses") purporting to provide true histories that go far beyond the Bible.

It was not preaching, but his ongoing "revelations" that shaped the developing religion and its practices. They were full of biblical phrasings, and many practices derived from Old Testament teachings (such as restoration of Aaron's priesthood). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

He Founded a Church and Stirred a Young Nation ; A Rich, Detailed Portrait of Joseph Smith, Father of Mormonism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.