Producing Ancient Scripture


Joseph Smith's Translation Projects in the Development of Mormon Christianity

Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and of the broader Latter-day Saint movement, produced several volumes of scripture between 1829, when he translated the Book of Mormon, and 1844, when he was murdered. The Book of Mormon, published in 1830, is well known. Less read and studied are the subsequent texts that Smith translated after the Book of Mormon, texts that he presented as the writings of ancient Old World and New World prophets. These works were published and received by early Latter-day Saints as prophetic scripture that included important revelations and commandments from God.
 
This collaborative volume is the first to study Joseph Smith’s translation projects in their entirety. In this carefully curated collection, experts contribute cutting-edge research and incisive analysis. The chapters explore Smith’s translation projects in focused detail and in broad contexts, as well as in comparison and conversation with one another. Authors approach Smith’s sacred texts historically, textually, linguistically, and literarily to offer a multidisciplinary view. Scrupulous examination of the production and content of Smith’s translations opens new avenues for understanding the foundations of Mormonism, provides insight on aspects of early American religious culture, and helps conceptualize the production and transmission of sacred texts.

Michael Hubbard MacKay is associate professor in the Department of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University and a former historian and coeditor at the Joseph Smith Papers project.
 
Mark Ashurst-McGee is a senior historian in the Church History Department and the senior research and review editor for the Joseph Smith Papers project, where he serves as a specialist in document analysis and documentary editing methodology.
 
Brian M. Hauglid is associate professor and visiting fellow at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship.
 

Praise and Reviews:“These essays collectively revise our understanding of Joseph Smith's many translation projects. I found each essay stimulating and thought-provoking. I cannot imagine writing or teaching about the Joseph Smith period of Mormonism without having this book nearby as a source to consult.”
—John Turner, professor of American religion, George Mason University, and author of The Mormon Jesus: A Biography and Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet  
 
“A fantastic contribution—both to the field of Mormon studies and to the larger field of religious studies as well. The volume will immediately become the standard work on the subject of Joseph Smith’s translation projects, far and away the best analyses of the topic available.”
—Joseph Spencer, assistant professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University and editor of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies