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.
The King Follett Discourse is one of Joseph Smith’s most well-known sermons. Many consider it the pinnacle of the Prophet’s teachings, although Joseph had previously taught most of the ideas. Interestingly, the King Follett Sermon rarely makes an appearance in general conference or other official sources. BYU philosopher James Falcouner says that its role in Latter-day Saint theology is an open question.
The Council of Fifty minutes reveal that Joseph Smith asked a committee to draft a replacement to the U.S. Constitution. The effort was eventually replaced by a revelation from God wherein the Prophet was told that the council itself was to be a living constitution. Legal scholar Nathan B. Oman explains what that means—and what was going on behind the scenes.
Latter-day Saint theology has many questions without settled answers. Was Jesus married? Does God progress? How important is the King Follett Sermon? In each case, Latter-day Saint leaders have expressed differing opinions. Editor Eric A. Eliason discusses a new edition of BYU Studies Quarterly devoted to the concept of ‘open questions.’
What were the Kinderhook plates? Did the Prophet Joseph Smith fall for a hoax? What do and don’t we know about the story? In this interview, Don Bradley and Mark Ashurst-McGee look the the history of Joseph Smith and the Kinderhook forgeries.
We can learn a lot about the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith by studying the history of his parents, Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith. Mark Staker, a Master Curator for the Church History Department’s Historic Sites Division, has done precisely that. His landmark new volume is Joseph and Lucy Smith’s Tunbridge Farm: An Archaeology and Landscape Study (John Whitmer Historical Association, 2021).
Joseph Smith had a grand view of the ultimate relationship between politics and religion. He and the early Latter-day Saints also suffered greatly from political persecution (including rapes and murders), but rarely found relief from the government. The Nauvoo Council of Fifty attempted to draft a constitution for a united “kingdom of God,” but it yielded a different-than-expected result. With no obvious path for recourse, Joseph Smith launched a presidential campaign in 1844.
Spencer McBride, a Joseph Smith Papers Project scholar, details his new Oxford University Press volume, Joseph Smith for President: The Prophet, the Assassins, and the Fight for American Religious Freedom.