Joseph Smith: the making of a prophet
It was not uncommon for early Americans to report and interpret metaphysical experiences as direct communications from God. Joseph Smith's father had dreams that he considered to be divinely inspired. The difference with Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism, is that his experiences involved elements from the tangible world: a stone box, gold plates, and silver spectacles. Even his detractors said they felt the metal plates through a cloth and sampled their weight. On the other hand, the plates were not present when Joseph translated them, and the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon saw the plates only in the hands of an angel. The question is: was Joseph transcribing a text that existed in a spiritual rather than a temporal realm or, stated otherwise, were the physical plates simply an aid to faith? These and other significant questions form the basis of this thoughtful, superbly documented biography of Smith's seminal years in New York and Pennsylvania and the impact of his early ministry.
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Joseph Smith: The Making of a ProphetUser Review - Book Verdict
Vogel is nothing if not ambitious. He aims to write "an interpretive biography of an emotional and intellectual life" of Joseph Smith (1805-44), the founder of Mormonism. This volume covers the first part of Smith's career, up to 1831. Smith provoked controversy from early adolescence until his death-and it didn't stop then. There are hundreds of Smith biographies, ranging from the hagiographic to the muckraking, but the best most can do is provide a piece of what has been called the prophet puzzle. Vogel edited the five-volume Early Mormon Documents covering the same period. His expertise serves him well as he deals judiciously with questions about such issues as the nature of Smith's treasure-seeking claims and the origins of the Book of Mormon. His analysis of the Book of Mormon is creative, psychologically astute, and grounded in a close reading of the sources and the secondary literature. This is certain to be the definitive biography for this part of Smith's life for a long time. One can only hope Vogel will be able to cover the later periods as exhaustively and with such care and skill.-David Azzolina, Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib., Philadelphia ...
A Wilderness of Discontent
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