Joseph Smith Jr. has been a topic of conversation since his First Vision in 1820. Today, the discourse continues. Whether discussing the possibility of a Joseph Smith photograph or his relationship with Brigham Young, historians continue to learn new things about the first prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The relationship between Latter-day Saint women and the priesthood is complex. Joseph Smith famously “turned the key” during a Nauvoo Relief Society Meeting, but it’s unclear precisely what he meant. Church leaders have since taught different things about priesthood keys, authority, and power. Despite a surge of new prophetic teachings, the role of women and the priesthood remains an open question. In this interview, Lisa Olsen Tait explains the history of women and priesthood in the church.
Section 131 of the Doctrine and Covenants states that “in the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees.” Modern Latter-day Saints often view “celestial glory” as synonymous with “Celestial Kingdom.” However, the historical record suggests several potential problems with this interpretation—meaning that the current reading of D&C 131:1–4 may be an open question. In this interview, Bryan Buchanan expounds on Shannon Flynn’s research on the subject.
Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code introduced a new generation to the idea that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married. A decade later, a forgery of “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” capitalized on the issue’s sensational nature. In this interview, historian Christopher Blythe expounds on his BYU Studies Quarterly article about open questions and says that Latter-day Saints have been comfortable with different answers to this quandary at different times.
The nature of Joseph Smith’s revelatory experiences has become a subject of intense academic focus. Some scholars have looked at what the Prophet meant by translation, while others have mused about the purpose of the gold plates. In this interview, Jeffrey Bradshaw talks about the relationship between Freemasonry and the Latter-day Saint temple endowment.
Many believe that the Lord gave the Law of Tithing as a lesser commandment after pioneer Latter-day Saints failed to live the Law of Consecration. However, early church history reveals a different story. In this interview, historian Steven C. Harper explains that tithing is part of consecration—and that living both laws is a necessary prerequisite to building Zion.
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.