Papers of Martin Van Buren, Series 1.

Association for Documentary Editing has posted a note on the Cumberland University Martin Van Buren project, begun in February 2016. The work has many themes of tangential interest to Mormon Studies scholars. The project will digitally publish about 13,000 documents.

https://www.documentaryediting.org/wordpress/?p=4477

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Weller’s Book Works April 14, 2018 Conversation about “The Plural Marriage Revelation” (D&C 132)

I’ll be at Weller’s Book Works at Trolley Square in Salt Lake City tonight at 7pm with religious studies scholar Cristina Rosetti talking about my book Textual Studies on the Doctrine and Covenants: The Plural Marriage Revelation. Drop by if you’re in the neighborhood!

George Laub and the Spiritual Roots of Human [Existence]

Yes, I went there. Nearly. George Laub (1814-1880) was an early Mormon convert who spent some time in Nauvoo. While there, he took notes of speeches by early leaders of the Church, including Joseph Smith. Laub left second order summaries of those notes in a little journal/reminiscence produced between 1845 and 1857.[1]
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Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Vol. 6 Editors Talk about the volume.

Lead editor, Mark Ashurst-McGee, gives an overview of the period for the volume.

Documents 6 is an especially important volume in the Documents series, covering the period where the Saints exit Kirtland and establish Far West, Missouri. There is an explosion of revelation during this 1838–1839 period and of course, the Mormon–Missouri War is represented in the volume, along with Danites, Hawn’s Mill, Crooked River, Liberty Jail, and the exodus to Commerce, Illinois. Take a look as the editors give more details: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjLTIocks0c&feature=em-subs_digest

Early National Systems. Slavery and Its American Social Constructs: part 2.

By the time Joseph Smith moved from Vermont to New York, ca. 1816, there were 8.5 million people in the US. Of those 8.5 million, 1.5 million or so were part of a hereditary slavery system, the property of their white male owners (a few were held by Native Americans).
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Textual Studies of the Doctrine and Covenants: The Plural Marriage Revelation

I’ve got a book in the editing process at Greg Kofford Books. With luck, it may appear this December or possibly February 2017. Here’s a bit of the preface (excuse typos, it’s in progress):

The July 12, 1843 revelation was the last of Joseph Smith’s formal written revelations and it was a watershed in Mormonism. Textual Studies of the Doctrine and Covenants: The Plural Marriage Revelation, constitutes a study of the text of that revelation, its genetic profile as an endpoint for a number of trajectories in Mormon thought, liturgy, and priestly cosmology, together with a brief exploration of its historical influence and interpretation.

Here's the planned cover. It's Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar (my original title was: The Restoration of Hagar: Doctrine and Covenants 132, or something of the sort.

Here’s the planned cover. It’s Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar (my original title was: The Restoration of Hagar: Doctrine and Covenants 132, or something of the sort.


Polygamy, the main theme of the July 12 revelation, is a complex subject in Mormonism. This short work can only hope to discuss a few aspects of that institution as it relates specifically to that revelation. Essentially beginning in Nauvoo, Mormon polygamy functioned as a threshold of loyalty to Joseph Smith and his priestly office. Taking the step of participating in polygamy was a high cost commitment for women and men, and that high cost generally translated to high value in the memories of those who participated in it. Thus, polygamy not only tested loyalty to Smith, —it increased that loyalty well beyond the death of the Prophet. While Smith generally invited those into polygamy who were already close to him and had demonstrated their commitment to Mormonism, it was risky to challenge fundamental boundaries of the religious and social landscape— and that risk turned to danger in some cases when initiates could not pass the threshold of belief and practice. Some of those dissenters, like First Presidency counselor William Law, acted to publically oppose
Smith.

My general plan follows from the shift in scripture studies in the academy over the last few decades. Instead of appealing just to the historical-critical method, I consider the evolving influence and interpretation of the revelation over time. Peter Martens’s work on Origen is an example (Origen and Scripture: The Contours of the Exegetical Life (Oxford Early Christian Studies).

In other news, I’ve been working with the Joseph Smith sermon book, the current working title is this: Every Word Seasoned with Grace: A Textual Study of the Funeral Sermons of Joseph Smith. I like the title for its reference to the text of one of Smith’s sermons that in turn depends on one of Paul’s letters (Col. 4:6).

Early National Systems: Millennial Hopes, III (Catholics in America)

Catholics in America were Millennialists, not in name or official doctrine, but in other more fundamental ways. Should a visiting alien observe antebellum America’s religious practice, he/she/it would find rather interesting parallels among the practices of Protestant pre-millennialist sects, post-millennial socialism, and Roman Catholics. To be sure, Catholics were more staid, less free to experiment in some ways, but they didn’t shy from revival methodology, and centuries long Catholic practice could be seen in double exposure among various American Millennialist offshoots, including Shakers, Owenites, Albert Brisbane, and others.
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