Believing History: Latter-day Saint Essays

Kobo ebook | May 11, 2012

byRichard Lyman Bushman, Reid L. Neilson, Jed Woodworth

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The eminent historian Richard Bushman here reflects on his faith and the history of his religion. By describing his own struggle to find a basis for belief in a skeptical world, Bushman poses the question of how scholars are to write about subjects in which they are personally invested. Does personal commitment make objectivity impossible? Bushman explicitly, and at points confessionally, explains his own commitments and then explores Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon from the standpoint of belief.

Joseph Smith cannot be dismissed as a colorful fraud, Bushman argues, nor seen only as a restorer of religious truth. Entangled in nineteenth-century Yankee culture-including the skeptical Enlightenment-Smith was nevertheless an original who cut his own path. And while there are multiple contexts from which to draw an understanding of Joseph Smith (including magic, seekers, the Second Great Awakening, communitarianism, restorationism, and more), Bushman suggests that Smith stood at the cusp of modernity and presented the possibility of belief in a time of growing skepticism.

When examined carefully, the Book of Mormon is found to have intricate subplots and peculiar cultural twists. Bushman discusses the book’s ambivalence toward republican government, explores the culture of the Lamanites (the enemies of the favored people), and traces the book’s fascination with records, translation, and history. Yet Believing History also sheds light on the meaning of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon today. How do we situate Mormonism in American history? Is Mormonism relevant in the modern world?

Believing History offers many surprises. Believers will learn that Joseph Smith is more than an icon, and non-believers will find that Mormonism cannot be summed up with a simple label. But wherever readers stand on Bushman’s arguments, he provides us with a provocative and open look at a believing historian studying his own faith.

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The eminent historian Richard Bushman here reflects on his faith and the history of his religion. By describing his own struggle to find a basis for belief in a skeptical world, Bushman poses the question of how scholars are to write about subjects in which they are personally invested. Does personal commitment make objectivity impossi...

Richard Lyman Bushman is Gouverneur Morris Professor of History emeritus at Columbia University.Reid L. Neilson is assistant professor of church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University.Jed Woodworth is a Ph.D. candidate in American history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

other books by Richard Lyman Bushman

Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling
Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling

Paperback|Mar 13 2007

$23.95

Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction
Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction

Kobo ebook|Apr 22 2008

$7.99

see all books by Richard Lyman Bushman
Format:Kobo ebookPublished:May 11, 2012Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231529562

ISBN - 13:9780231529563

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Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction
Faithful History
My Belief
Learning to Believe
The Social Dimensions of Rationality
The Book of Mormon and the American Revolution
The Book of Mormon in Early Mormon History
The Lamanite View of Book of Mormon History
The Recovery of the Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon and Its Critics
Joseph Smith and Skepticism
Joseph Smith in the Current Age
Making Space for the Mormons
The Visionary World of Joseph Smith
Was Joseph Smith a Gentleman?
Joseph Smith as Translator
"The Little, Narrow Prison" of Language
A Joseph Smith for the Twenty-first Century
Afterword

Editorial Reviews

Probably the greatest scholar who happens to be a Latter-day Saint, Richard L. Bushman is a historian of exceptional accomplishment.... A careful scholar, he has always balanced the academic with the religious.