19th Century Biography Joseph Smith Latter-day Saint History Polygamy

The Remarkable Legacy of Emma Smith

Emma Hale Smith is sometimes viewed only as “Joseph Smith’s wife, Emma.” Stories are told of her wrestles with polygamy or her decision to remain in Nauvoo. But Emma is more than a story. In this interview, Jenny Reeder shares insights from her Emma Smith biography, First: The Life and Faith of Emma Smith.

Ancient history

Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?

The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered 75 years ago in a series of caves near the ancient settlement of Masada in the Judean Desert. The manuscripts include the influential Book of Enoch and Book of Isaiah, and have even inspired modern forgeries. Scholars continue to debate related mysteries, such as who wrote the scrolls. Professor Jean-Pierre Isbouts discusses his National Geographic special feature, The Dead Sea Scrolls: 75 Years Since Their Historic Discovery.

19th Century 20th Century Ancient history Latter-day Saint History

What Did It Mean to “Shake Off the Dust of Thy Feet”?

The Prophet Joseph Smith revealed a form of ritual cursing similar to the New Testament practice of shaking off the dust of one’s feet. It was primarily practiced by missionaries in the wake of rejection and persecution. The ritual was rarely reported to have resulted in immediate effect, and it was commonly seen as a designation of destruction at the Second Coming. In this interview, author Samuel Weber says that the practice was basically extinct by the early 1900s.

19th Century Brigham Young Latter-day Saint History

What’s Really in the Journal of Discourses?

The Journal of Discourses is a 26-volume series of sermons by Latter-day Saint pioneers like Brigham Young, John Taylor, and Orson Pratt. However, the accuracy of the published transcriptions is questionable. Bruce R. McConkie even attempted to publish a shorter 10-volume edition that removed what he viewed as false doctrines. LaJean Carruth says that most of the discourses contain significant unauthorized changes, and rarely represent what was actually said.


Grace vs. Works: Has the Pendulum Swung Too Far?

Few questions divide Christianity as much as whether we’re saved by grace or works. In this interview, Terryl Givens notes that a recent flood of talks and books by Latter-day Saints have swung the pendulum in the direction of grace. He says that while it’s an open question whether the rhetorical shift represents an overcorrection, Latter-day Saints should beware of forsaking doctrines unique to the Restoration—or embracing a false dichotomy.

19th Century 20th Century 21st Century Joseph Smith Latter-day Saint History

What’s in the Relief Society General Board Minutes?

The Church History Department and Relief Society General Presidency recently published Relief Society general board minutes covering the years 1842–2007. The minutes include notes from the first meeting of the Nauvoo Relief Society, preparations for World War II, and the impact of global events. Anne Berryhill explains that the Relief Society minutes also contain accounts of prominent Latter-day Saints such as Emma Smith, Eliza Snow, and Zina D. H. Young.