Rogers, et al, eds, “The Joseph Smith Papers Documents Volume 5: October 1835 – January 1838” reviewed by Andrew Hamilton)


Title: The Joseph Smith Papers Documents Volume 5: October 1835 – January 1838
Editors: Brent Rogers, Elizabeth Kuehn, Christian Heimburger, Max Parkin, Alexander Baugh, Steven Harper
Publisher: The Church Historians Press
Genre: Documentary History
Year Published: 2017
Number of Pages: 694
Binding: Cloth
ISBN: 13:978-1-62972-312-9
Price: $54.95

Reviewed by Andrew Hamilton for the Association for Mormon Letters

At some point early on in my life I became fascinated with the Kirtland period of Restoration history. My interest in this time started, I suppose, in my teens in either seminary or Sunday school. This is when I first learned that during the Kirtland time period a number of the Book of Mormon witnesses, apostles, and other high church leaders chosen by Joseph Smith left the fledgling Church of the Latter-day Saints. I was captivated by the idea that such an apostasy would happen. My attraction to this time period was deepened during my LDS mission when I learned about the various spiritual experiences and miracles said to have taken place in relation to the dedication of the Kirtland temple and the various meetings held therein.

For those who like me see an allure in the goings on during the Kirtland time period of Restoration history, “The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents Volume Five: October 1835-January 1838” is truly a treasure trove of precious and captivating documents. To borrow a religious phrase, after reading the documents and notes provided by the Joseph Smith Papers scholars in this volume, truly my cup runneth over.

The contents of Documents Volume Five are from a very busy and challenging time in the life of Joseph Smith and the organization then known as “The Church of the Latter-day Saints.” Highs in the life and ministry of Joseph Smith during this time include the dedication of the Kirtland temple, the acquisition and translation of the “Book of Abraham” manuscripts, and, according to Smith and Oliver Cowdery, a visitation from Jesus Christ and several ancient prophets. Lows in this time period include the collapse of the Church bank known as the Kirtland Safety Society, Church members being forced to leave Clay County, Missouri, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon being forced to flee Kirtland, and the aforementioned defection of many of the Church’s top leaders and early stalwart members. The documents included in this volume that tell the story of this turbulent time period include revelations, letters, prayers, discourses, minutes from meetings, documents associated with the Book of Abraham manuscripts, blessings, legal deeds, and much more.

As with the previous volumes in this series, the documents in Volume 5 are separated chronologically into several different “Parts” for ease of finding the documents and identifying their footnotes. Most documents are accompanied by source notes, historical introductions, and footnotes meticulously produced by the Joseph Smith Papers scholars. Also, as with previous volumes, this one is generously filled with maps, photographs, charts, a chronology, a geographical directory, a biographical directory, as well as several organizational charts that explain the Church leadership during this time period. At the end of the main text this volume includes one appendix consisting of blessings given to Don Carlos Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Frederick G. Williams, and Sidney Rigdon that were recorded on the first and second of October, 1835. The blessings were originally given by Joseph Smith in December of 1833. In 1835 they were added to the Patriarchal Blessings book number one with significant modifications. Because it is unknown how much Joseph Smith was involved with the modifications, these blessings were added as this appendix instead of being included in the main text.

In a book that is nearly 700 pages long, there is a lot to enjoy and learn from. If I included in this review a description of or my reaction to everything I liked in this book, the review would be as long as the book itself. I will spare you that tedium and instead illustrate just a few of the documents, essays, and notes in this volume that captivated and enthralled me.

One of the things that I found fascinating about this volume was that I felt that many of the included documents really highlighted just how Joseph Smith viewed his prophetic role, or I might say, how prophetic he viewed his role as being. There are a number of Smith’s recorded revelations in this volume, including several that have been made sections in the LDS version of the Doctrine and Covenants (for example D&C 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, and 137). There are also revelations on major decisions and questions relating to the young Church of the Latter-day Saints where one might expect that Joseph Smith would be called upon to determine God’s will before moving forward. For example, there are three revelations that were dictated on the 12th of January, 1878 as Joseph Smith was preparing to leave Kirtland, Ohio for Far West Missouri. These three revelations cover: procedures for holding church disciplinary courts for a member of the First Presidency (revelation “A”), a revelation answering questions about establishing new “Stakes” of Zion/new Latter-day Saint Communities (Revelation “B”), and a revelation directing the then members of the First Presidency to move themselves and their families from the Kirtland area to Missouri as soon as possible (Revelation “C”, see pp 494-502 for these revelations, their introductions, and their footnotes).

What I found so interesting is that “Documents Volume 5” shows that along with issuing these kinds of “major” revelations, Joseph Smith seemed to be completely comfortable dictating what he felt to be revelations from God on what were much more personal issues relating to his followers’ lives and even about things that might seem to be rather normal or mundane. There are several such revelations in this volume. They are mostly from 1835 with one from 1837. They are all pretty brief, none being much more than a single short paragraph, or even one long run-on sentence. They include a revelation chastising Reynolds Cahoon for his “iniquity” and being “covetous” and “dishonest,” a revelation on whether or not Frederick G. Williams should travel to New York, a revelation chastising the then members of the Quorum of 12 Apostles, a revelation stating that God is pleased with Isaac Morley and Edward Partridge that also instructs them to attend the “Elders School,” a revelation condemning W.W. Phelps and John Whitmer for “iniquity,” a revelation stating that God had forgiven Warren Parrish of his sins and giving him certain responsibilities, a revelation instruction a Mr. Holmes on where he should be baptized and on how he should travel home, and a revelation stating that John Whitmer and W.W. Phelps did things that were not pleasing in the sight of the Lord (see pp. 25-39, 51-53, 63-64, and 431-433).

Reading these documents you could get the feeling that Joseph Smith and/or his followers felt that almost every situation required a revelation from God to the prophet. In the modern LDS Church it is taught that these kinds of situations, instead of involving the president of the Church, would fall under the category of “personal revelation” or maybe revelation from local leaders. But in relation to their time, these documents could help provide the foundation for some potentially interesting studies on the personality and thoughts of Joseph Smith. Smith is known for having been an outgoing, dynamic, gregarious, and charismatic person. These traits attracted others to him and caused him to be attracted to others. He was also known for frequently freely expressing his emotions, everything from joy, happiness, and love to sadness, grief, and anger. An enterprising individual might use these documents as a starting place to form any number of studies of Smith, his personality, and his view of his prophetic calling. For example, since Joseph Smith felt that he had a divine calling to open a new gospel dispensation and to return prophetic utterances to the earth; did Smith feel that a part of his prophetic role/calling required him to issue revelations on every small question or situation that his followers experienced? Or perhaps one could examine a question like, did Smith issue these kinds of revelations to help attract people to him, to keep them in his confidences and perhaps, were they issued out of some need that he had for friends, family, and companionship? Were these revelations connected to his outgoing personality and his ease of emotion, did they just sort of flow from him because he was such an emotional individual?

Or, going down another road, was Smith willing to issue so many revelations out of a need to gain some control in his life? Reading any biography of Smith will show that his life was in constant turmoil from the time he was very young. Money, stability, substance, etc. always seemed to be just out of the reach of the extended Smith family. During Joseph’s entire young life and well into his adulthood, the Smiths were constantly moving from place to place in an attempt to eke out their meager survival. Was Smith willing to issue so many revelations on such very small matters out of a need to stabilize and control his life and the lives of those around him?

Another potentially fascinating study that could originate with these documents in Volume Five relates to Smith’s use of power. Smith would later write while he was incarcerated in Liberty Jail that it was a serious sin for a man to use the priesthood “to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men,” and that he had “learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, (to) immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion… No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood” (see LDS D&C 121:36-41). But in some of these revelations in Documents Volume Five, it could possibly be asserted that using the priesthood to exercise “control … dominion …(and) compulsion” is just what Smith *was* doing. For example, the revelation directed at W.W. Phelps and John Whitmer simply says:

“The Word of the Lord came unto me saying that President [William W.] Phelps & President J[ohn] Whitmer are under condemnation before the Lord, for their iniquities” (Revelation, 8 November 1835, pp 38-39)

When you live in a society where the leader speaks for God, and can declare that you are under condemnation by God, without even saying what you did to merit that condemnation, it puts you in a position where you could easily be forced to acquiesce to anything that leader asks or says without any ability to defend or appeal for yourself. If such a leader were not speaking for God, or even if they had been speaking for God at one time and then later, as Joseph Smith warned in his Liberty Jail letter, “beg(a)n to exercise unrighteous dominion,” then that person’s followers would be in a precarious position. I think that these revelations would frame a great study to see just what kind of dominion Joseph Smith exercised.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, I have long been fascinated by the stories behind the building and dedication of the Kirtland temple and the associated spiritual experiences and the various activities and ordinances that Smith taught and performed in the temple. For those who are likewise interested, this volume does not disappoint. I was truly delighted to learn that, along with early versions of the documents now known as LDS D&C 109 (the Kirtland Temple Dedicatory Prayer) and LDS D&C 110 (Vision of Jesus and other heavenly messengers in the Kirtland Temple), this volume also included the minutes from the various meetings held in preparation for the temple dedication, many of which included the administration of anointings and the washing of feet, and the actual minutes of the temple dedication itself, which I probably should have realized existed, but until I got this book I did not realize were even available.

Reading these Kirtland temple documents and the associated introductions and notes by the JSPP editors proved to be a true delight and a highlight for me of this volume, both for my “spiritual side” and for my “historically and intellectually curious” side. I’ll note two things that stuck out to me, one from the work by the editors, and one from the documents themselves (though the editors do write about this one too).

There are many stories of people who had great spiritual manifestations during the Kirtland Temple dedication. In their introduction to the minutes of the dedication the editors chose to highlight one: the story of a baby who is said to have participated in the “Hosanna Shout.” Many Latter-day Saints will have heard this story because Truman Madsen tells a version of it in his famous “Joseph Smith tapes.” The editors of Documents Volume Five tell it from its original source. After stating that a woman showed up at the dedication with her two month old baby, the editors quote the record of Benjamin Brown stating that after the woman asked Joseph Smith Sr. if she could enter the temple with her baby (small children were not supposed to be allowed in). Smith responded: “Brethren we do not exercise faith [:] my faith is this child will not cry a word in the house to day.” The editors then tell the rest of the story by quoting Brown’s journal:

“On this the woman & child entered and the child did not cry a word from 8 till 4 in the after noon. But when the saints all shouted Hosana the child was nursing But let go & shouted also when the saints paused it paused when they shouted it shouted for three times when they shouted amen it shouted also for three times then it resumed its nursing without any alarm” (p. 190).

I had read this account before; it had been previously published in an issue of BYU Studies and in a book from the BYU Press titled “Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations, 1820-1844,” but for me it was really cool to see it receive “Official approval” of sorts by having it appear in this Joseph Smith Papers volume. I find this story fascinating for a couple of reasons. One: if Brown’s account is accurate and this actually happened, it is obviously a very amazing experience. Two: in a way, this experience could provide the beginning of an interesting anthropological study of changing attitudes in Mormonism and American society regarding breast feeding and modesty over time. Today, women are strongly discouraged from openly breast feeding in Mormon meetings. Many are even discouraged from doing it period. They are expected to leave the meeting and go to the “Mother’s Room” if they need to feed their child. But here, in an official copy of the Joseph Smith papers, we now have an account from one of the most significant meetings from Mormon history of a woman participating in the meeting while breast feeding. I would love to see this be the beginning of a discussion about changing ideas in Mormonism on “modesty” and participation by women in meetings, etc.

There was one minor thing about the use of this story that I found odd. In the footnote for the story, the editors cited the original source in the Church History Library along with the long out of print “Women of Mormondom” by Edward Tullidge. I can understand referencing the original record, but neither of these sources is overly accessible to most readers. I would have thought that they might include a reference to the “Opening the Heavens” volume by BYU which is available online, but they did not. This seemed like a missed opportunity to me.[1]

The thing that I found fascinating about the documents from this time period of the Kirtland temple dedication from a historical perspective is that they demonstrate how much the young Church of the Latter-day Saints was growing, changing, and evolving and help to demonstrate how there was confusion later on after Smith’s death in figuring out who should lead the Church. A number of the documents in this section are notes of meetings. In these meetings “resolutions” are discussed and debated. People are appointed to such positions as “Chairman” and “Clerk pro-tempore.” Various quorums, leaders, and priesthood holders are allowed to openly disagree with each other. Three of the apostles, Orson Pratt, John Boynton, and Lyman Johnson even openly object to some proposed resolutions by Joseph Smith for a time. This period seems to be filled with a “spirit of democracy” where ideas, directions for, and practices of the Church seem to be open for debate and discussion. This is all very different from the modern LDS Church or even how things were handled in the Nauvoo time period when the Church hierarchy became more regimented. It is very interesting to follow in the documents the evolution of how things were being run and see how this might of affected the way Church members would have thought about who was supposed to replace Joseph Smith (see various documents and notes from pages 167-185, as well as several documents from parts four and five, especially the items that concern the calling and then replacement of members of the presidency of the 70). These documents also highlight the evolving role of the 12 Apostles and some possible confusion about their importance. For example, the version of the Kirtland temple dedication minutes as presented in Documents Volume 5 *never* mentions the 12. When it comes to the “sustaining” of Church leaders this version states that Joseph Smith:

“rose, and after a few preliminary remarks, presented the several Presidents of the Church, then present, to the several quorums respectively, and then to the church as being equal with himself, acknowledging them to be prophets and seers” (Documents V 5: 197-198).

But when you go to Joseph Smith’s journal for the dedication it states that Joseph Smith recorded (or someone recorded in the first person for him in his journal):

“I then made a short address and called upon the several quorums, and all the congregation of saints to acknowledge the Presidency as Prophets and Seers, and uphold them by their prayers, they all covenanted to do so by rising; I then called upon the quorums and congregation of saints to acknowledge the 12 Apostles who were present as Prophets and Seers and special witnesses to all the nations of the earth, holding the keys of the kingdom, to unlock it or cause it to be done among them; and uphold them by their prayers, which they assented to by rising” (Joseph Smith Journal Vol 1: 204).

Now maybe there is “nothing to see here,” no controversy, and no discrepancy. Back then these records were all generated by people writing and making notes as fast as they could with no recordings or shorthand to help. Things were bound to be missed, and yet, this is a significant difference. I find it interesting that one note taker/historian/clerk felt the need to emphasize the 12 apostles, while another left them out entirely. Could it be that the different individuals had different understandings of the importance of the apostles? I have no idea, maybe the beginnings of another study, but still an interesting example of how roles and callings that are seen one way in the modern LDS Church were seen differently back then and with an importance that was in a state of flux that would affect how differing Church members in Nauvoo in 1844-1846 viewed and understood the “Succession Crisis.”

I will quickly mention one more document where the editors of this volume worked extra hard to provide lots of context. Pages 231-243 cover a “Letter to Oliver Cowdery, circa 9 April 1836.” This letter is about slavery and abolitionism. Many if not all readers will be disappointed to find out that in 1836 Joseph Smith refused to denounce slavery and did denounce abolitionism. There is no way to defend those views, and the editors don’t. But they did write what I thought was a well-crafted essay that explains just how complicated the issue of slavery and abolitionism was in the US in the 1830s, along with Joseph Smith’s evolving position on slavery (he of course, was against it by the time that he ran for president, but he also wanted to ship all of the slaves back to Africa). For some readers this essay won’t be enough; they will see it as an apologetic attempt to defend indefensible views from a man who called himself a prophet who they would say should have been speaking for God in behalf of all people and not turning a blind eye to the evils of slavery. I will not tell anyone who feels that way to feel differently, but as I read it I did feel that the editors really did their research and did their best to provide background and information to try and explain why Smith would have taken the position that he did at the time. Whether you agree with it or not, it is a well written essay and is worth reading and discussing.

There were a couple of places where I had some questions in relation to the editors’ work — mostly these were issues related to footnotes that I either questioned, felt were a little biased, or were lacking in information that I would have liked to have seen included for more context. For example, one of the included documents is “Visions, 21 January 1836 [D&C 137].” This is a revelation that discusses both the Reorganization belief of the “Celestial Kingdom” and the Quorum of the Twelve in Joseph Smith’s time. I had two concerns here. Footnote 290 says in part:

“Following biblical precedent, JS designated the Twelve as a ‘traveling high council,’ responsible for ‘presiding over all the churches of the saints among the Gentiles, where there is no presidency established.’” (p. 159).

To connect the revelation to the New Testament the footnote cites Mark 16:15 and Luke 9:1-2,6. To me, to claim that there is a “biblical precedent” for calling the Twelve Apostles a “traveling high council’ is a *very* Mormon thing to say. High Councils are a part of the Restoration Churches, not Christianity in general. I doubt that anyone outside of Mormonism would agree with this statement. In the two cited scriptures, Jesus sends his 12 disciples out to preach his gospel to the world. There is no mention of them functioning as some sort of “Council” in the cited verses, and at no point in the New Testament does the phrase “High Council” or anything resembling it ever get mentioned, so for the editors of Documents Volume 5 to assert in an otherwise scholarly volume that there is a “biblical precedent” for the 12 apostles to function as a “high council” was to me a strange claim.

My second concern related to this document was that I wanted to see more context than was provided. Most of the documents in this book have lots of excellent context given about them. Overall in this and the other volumes the editors provide lots of information in the introductions and footnotes about the history behind the various documents and the people named in them and who were involved in their production. I was really looking forward to the context for this document as some people consider it to be slightly controversial. The first part of this revelation/vision is included in modern editions of the LDS Doctrine and Covenants. The portion starting with the opening lines of “The heavens were opened upon us…” through the mention of “children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven” has been canonized by the LDS Church. The rest of this “vision” was never canonized, and therein lays the controversy. Some see this document as a “failed” prophecy of Joseph Smith. As related by Smith his vision included seeing the 12 men then in the Quorum of the 12 Apostles:

“in foreign lands, standing together in a circle much fatiegued, with their clothes tattered and feet swolen, with their eyes cast downward, … I also beheld Elder McLellen [William E. McLellin] in the south, standing upon a hill surrounded with a vast multitude, preaching to them, and a lame man standing before him, supported by his crutches, he threw them down at his word, and leaped as an heart hart by the mighty power of God

“Also Eldr Brigham Young standing in a strange land, in the far southwest, in a desert place, upon a rock in the midst of about a dozen men of colour, who, appeared hostile He was preaching to them in their own toung, and the angel of God standing above his head with a drawn sword in his hand protecting him, but he did not see it,— and I finally saw the 12 in the celestial kingdom of God, …”(pp 159-160).

Unfortunately, there is no record that any of these events ever took place. Six of the apostles seen by Smith in this vision, including McLellin, left the LDS Church, never to return and Brigham Young , who of course eventually became the LDS Church President, never had the experience described in this vision. While several of the apostles did serve foreign missions, the entire 12 as a body never journeyed together to a foreign land and while there stood in a circle, etc. The only context provided to all of this was one footnote that states:

“In April 1836 McLellin journeyed south and eventually reached Kentucky on a proselyting mission” (fn 291 p. 159)

The footnote includes a citation to “The Journals of William E. McLellin, 1831-1836” which was published by BYU. Unfortunately nothing on those pages or that I could find in the book made mention of McLellin preaching to a large crowd and/or healing a lame man. There *was* a bit of a disclaimer from BYU professor Larry Porter who was one of the editors of the McLellin diaries. He provided an attempt to explain why the prophesied event never happened by saying on page 320 of that book:

“We do not know of any sequel in which this scene was actually played out in the life of McLellin. Perhaps the vision represented a negated opportunity due to a variety of circumstances which followed.”

Maybe the JSPP editors did all they could. Maybe there is no more context to be provided past Porter’s comment. Maybe they thought it best to ignore the controversy of the “unfulfilled” portion of this vision. I don’t know, I am not the scholar and do not have access to what the JSPP people do and obviously was not a part of the thought process on this. I was just disappointed to not see this issue in relation to this vision addressed.

One of the documents in Volume 5 is titled “Indenture from Warren A. Cowdery, 23 November 1836” (see pp. 312-317). This is a document indenturing Warren Cowdery’s son to Joseph Smith in return for Smith paying for the boy’s education. The document introduction and footnotes explain the 19th century practice of a family “indenturing” their child out to an individual or family in exchange for such things as schooling and apprenticeship opportunities to learn trade skills. Footnote 123 on page 314 explains that one individual who was possibly “indentured” to Joseph Smith during the Nauvoo time period was Lucy Walker, a teenage young woman who it says, “served as a maid and worked for her board and education…where Lucy’s necessities and the cost of her education were provided in exchange for her work.” I found it interesting that the editors left out the tidbit of information that Lucy also happened to be a plural wife of Joseph Smith during this time period which certainly influenced her being in Smith’s house and receiving such things as “necessities” and her “cost of education.”

These questions I had about the editors’ ideas and notes are mostly quibbles along the lines of “it was convenient or disappointing that they left that out or were a little one sided.” Overall, they are not serious disagreements with the editors or their work. I did have a larger problem with the way they wrote about the “Book of Abraham Manuscripts” and the “Egyptian Alphabet” documents that are found on pages 69-88. I hate to use a trite phrase, but to put it simply, in the notes and introductions to these documents I felt as if the LDS scholars who worked on this volume were trying to “have their cake and eat it too.” The editors mention in several places that the surviving scrolls and many of the characters copied by Joseph Smith have been identified by modern Egyptologists as coming from the “Breathing Permit of Hor” and that “Modern Egyptologists agree that the Book of Abraham text is not a translation of the characters” (p. 75, see also p. 82). They also admit that the “translations” for the copied characters included in this volume by Smith are *not* accurate translations as rendered by modern scholars (see p. 82). I am *very * glad that they stated this when they could have left this information out of the book, especially since this is information that has challenged the testimonies of some modern LDS Church members. Had they left it there, or maybe concluded by saying something like “based on this information, we really don’t know how Joseph Smith created the text of the Book of Abraham.” I would have completely loved this section. But unfortunately for my tastes, the apologia began to creep into their introductions to these documents when they still insisted that Smith “translated” the Book of Abraham from these documents, perhaps utilizing portions that no longer exist, even though they admitted that Smith was copying and using characters from the existing portion of the “Hor” manuscripts and that his translations were incorrect (see especially pp. 72 and 74-75). It seemed to me that they were tying really hard to say, “We admit, there is no way that the Book of Abraham was translated from these documents, but even so, we promise that somehow it really was!” One final odd thing in relation to this section and footnotes: I noticed in this section that note 328 (p. 75) and note 350 (p. 82) were word for word the same. I could not tell if this was on purpose or if it was a printing error.

While I may question a few of Documents Volume Five’s footnotes and the handling of the “Book of Abraham” document introductions, please know that I am not trying to be too critical of this excellent book. I would expect that the editors of the Joseph Smith Papers, being LDS Church employees, would write at least some things that are from the LDS perspective and defend or put forth their version of Restoration doctrine. It’s to be expected. In fact, I want to thank the editors for their in-depth and intensive work. The “Works cited” section in this volume is 29 pages long and is filled with a great variety of research material that was studied, quoted, and used to flesh out the stories and information on the included documents. Among the many original and scholarly documents cited are a wide variety of titles with different views on Mormon/Restoration history such as “Things in Heaven and Earth: The Life and Times of Wilford Woodruff, a Mormon Prophet” by Thomas Alexander, “A Call to Arms: The 1838 Mormon Defense of Northern Missouri” by Alexander L. Baugh, and “Indian Origins and the Book of Mormon: Religious Solutions from Columbus to Joseph Smith” by Dan Vogel. There were also many books with no overt connection to Mormonism/Restoration history that still added a richness of information to this book. Examples of these include: “U.S. mail: The Story of the United States Postal Service” by Arthur Summerfield, “‘Miscegenation’: Making Race in America” by Elise Lemire, and “The Epidemic Streets: Infectious Diseases and the Rise of Preventive Medicine, 1856-1900” by Anne Hardy. I only list these as a sampling to demonstrate that the editors of this volume really did their homework.

I will conclude by stating that Documents Volume Five, just like the previous Joseph Smith Papers Volumes, is a finely crafted book that is filled with precious historical documents that were edited and compiled following the highest of scholarly standards. At $54.95, admittedly, this book is a bit of an investment, but it is worth it. There is something in this volume for everyone. Those Latter-day Saints and Restoration believers who are looking for spiritual enlightenment or who want to know more about the experiences and teachings of Joseph Smith are sure to find it as they read documents of blessings, revelations, and the detailed documents of the Kirtland Temple dedication and many others. Historians and scholars will find new insights and interesting facts as they explore these same documents as well as the various legal deeds, the minutes of meetings, letters, and the Book of Abraham documents. You cannot go wrong in buying this book. While many if not all of these documents will eventually be made available on the Joseph Smith papers website, there is just something about holding this volume in your hands and exploring the pages. So go, invest, explore, discover!


[1] Interestingly enough, they list “Opening the Heavens” in the “Works Cited” section of this volume, so that makes it even stranger to me that it was not mentioned in the footnote.

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