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Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (2005)

Tekijä: Richard L. Bushman

Muut tekijät: Jed Woodworth (Avustaja)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
6701635,399 (4.41)15
Founder of the largest indigenous Christian church in American history, Joseph Smith published the 584-page Book of Mormon when he was twenty-three and went on to organize a church, found cities, and attract thousands of followers before his violent death at age thirty-eight. Richard Bushman, an esteemed cultural historian and a practicing Mormon, moves beyond the popular stereotype of Smith as a colorful fraud to explore his personality, his relationships with others, and how he received revelations. An arresting narrative of the birth of the Mormon Church, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling also brilliantly evaluates the prophet's bold contributions to Christian theology and his cultural place in the modern world.… (lisätietoja)
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Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 16) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
Really interesting take on Joseph Smith from a Latter-Day Saint perspective. It gives an intimate history of Smith's rise as a religious figure, as well as the Church's past and present teachings. It's helpful to read this in conjunction with other books about the faith in the modern world to get a bit more context and a better understanding of how history shaped the current Church. ( )
  ddallegretto | Jan 11, 2024 |
I found this book to be a very well researched and written biography of a very controversial man. As a believer, I found that the book was balanced. I was very familiar with most of the items in this book previously - the information provided enriched my viewpoint of a man that I consider a prophet. I suppose that most people don't know what to expect from a prophet, or I should say, they have a preconceived notion of what to expect. To many people, that notion did not match up with the reality of Joseph Smith. As Joseph himself says, "you never knew my heart" - the same can be said for each one of us to even our closet associates. We only know ourselves, and even at that we are imperfect. ( )
1 ääni quinton.baran | Mar 29, 2021 |
This is a book by a historian who strives to be as objective as a person can possibly be. That made it rather disappointing to me since there were things I though should have been emphasized that only got mentioned. However, a person could look up the endnote for more information. Although a thick book, most things did not get an in-depth treatment.

I was impressed that although the book was chronological, the chapters were topical. I wonder how hard that was to pull off.

He seemed to ignore the credibility of the sources, perhaps assuming that the reader already knows which are and are not reliable sources.

I came away with a lot more "facts" having gone through my head, and a much more nuanced view of The Latter-Day Saint history. ( )
  bread2u | Jul 1, 2020 |
Richard Lyman Bushman is a recognized and distinguished historian. He is also a believing, practicing Mormon. So, though his book is the best researched biography of Mormon prophet and founder Joseph Smith and well-written, it is also a sly apologetic for Joseph Smith.

First, the good. It is a fine update when compared to Fawn Brodie's No Man Knows My History, which was written by a historian who was an apostate from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There is some good new material out there that Brodie never had. Also, while Bushman's book suffers from being too laudatory of Joseph Smith, Brodie's book suffered from always taking the negative when it came to Smith. (Though, I lean more towards Brodie's less than flattering view of Joseph Smith.)

Now, the bad. There are numerous instances where Bushman tries to explain away any bad aspects of Joseph Smith's life, character, and prophethood. There are numerous instances where Bushman just takes Joseph Smith's word for it. (Or some random Mormon apologist's word for it.)

Bushman does not see the Smith family's sorcery, magick, and money-digging treasure seeking as signs of occult practices and devilry, but actually states that it was necessary for the Smith family to believe in spirits, angels, and magick in order for them to believe the spirits, angels, and miracles of Mormonism. Bushman treads down the well-trod path of stating that the unschooled Joseph Smith was too uneducated to have come up with the complex Book of Mormon out of his own head: it must be God-breathed. (Or, as later Mormon doctrine would have it, one-of-the-planetary-gods-breathed.) Joseph Smith could have written the meandering mess. He was a smart enough fellow. Bushman blithely and naïvely accepts Joseph Smith's version of the "lost 116 pages" incident. Bushman accepts Martin Harris's faulty account of the Anthon transcript debacle. Bushman absolves Joseph Smith of blame for almost any bad incident, be it the anti-Bank in Kirtland, or the fiasco of Zion's Camp, or the idea that Adam-ondi-Ahman is where Adam and Eve lived. Take Bushman's account of the Book of Abraham and the Egyptian papyri that Joseph Smith supposedly translated. Bushman has a large section trying to explain why Joseph Smith's translation of the rather late (400 BC), standard Egyptian funerary documents are not really a translation but an inspired "translation" that just used the papyri as a springboard for divine revelation. It's a sad attempt to absolve Joseph Smith of fabrication and mendacity. We have sections of Joseph Smith's papyri still extant. They are nothing like the "Book of Abraham" (written directly by the biblical patriarch Abraham!) Joseph Smith said they were. And the "Egyptian Characters" document Bushman fobs off on Joseph Smith's secretaries. Bushman absolves Joseph Smith of any blame for the Danites and their actions, though he has to admit that Joseph Smith spoke at Danite meetings all over Missouri. Bushman absolves Joseph Smith of any wrongdoing in the Missouri Mormon War. Bushman mentions but then quickly dismisses Joseph Smith's "translation" of the Kinderhook plates, which were a hoax from the get-go. (Shouldn't a prophet had known that? But, no, Joseph Smith declares: "I have translated a portion of [the plates] and find they contain the history of the person with whom they were found. He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the ruler of heaven and earth.")

Pshaw!

The worst, though, is how Bushman tries to absolve Joseph Smith of any moral turpitude when it comes to polygamy. Bushman takes Joseph Smith's argument at face value in the Fanny Alger affair, when Joseph Smith said, basically, "Hey, it wasn't technically adultery, was it?" Poor Oliver Cowdery. And the Bushman tries to insinuate several times that Joseph Smith wasn't marrying women for sexual reasons, just for spiritual, religious reasons. "Look he wed an old lady," Bushman basically says. But then he is forced to slyly and quickly admit several paragraphs later that Joseph Smith is indeed bedding some of his teenaged and twentysomething plural wives. And, again, Bushman takes Joseph Smith's word when it comes to polygamy. Joseph Smith straight up told people and his congregations (and for a long time his wife) that he was not practicing polygamy, when indeed he was (ostensibly because he viewed society's definition of polygamy differently than he viewed his idea of Mormon plural wives). I'm sorry, but Joseph Smith let his "prophecy" and power go to his head and started bedding the comely daughters of his friends (a true cultic power play), and threatened the young, deluded girls with hellfire and damnation if they did not bend to his (and "God's") will. It's sad and degenerate, and Bushman downplays and excuses all the lies and skullduggery behind it. Bushman doesn't mention, for instance, that one of Joseph Smith's prophecies, it's in the official Doctrines and Covenants, a scripture of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 132:51-54, that God would destroy Joseph Smith's wife Emma if she did not accept Joseph Smith's plural wives. Destroy. Bushman doesn't mention it. (Doctrine and Covenants 132:51-54: " And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph.... But if she will not abide this commandment she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law." Destroy!)

Phooey!

Because this book is so fawning to Joseph Smith and so much of an apologia for his "prophecy," skullduggery, and turpitude, it fails as a definitive biography of Joseph Smith. I would recommend Fawn Brodie's work first. Then read this one for an opposite view, then read Remini's short bio for a sort of middle ground. (Then read Turner's Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet/, then read anything by Jerald and Sandra Tanner.) ( )
  tuckerresearch | Mar 24, 2020 |
Bushman is a respected historian and a devout Mormon. The blend didn’t work for me when Bushman got into commentary on Smith’s revelations. The rest of the history is interesting, and you definitely get a sense almost despite Bushman of how frustrating it was to deal with Smith, but Bushman repeatedly insists that, given Smith’s limited education and poor upbringing, it’s hard to imagine how he could have come up with such elaborate stories, especially ones that have some correspondences with other Biblical apocrypha, absent divine inspiration. I have a couple of things to say about that. (1) Humans are really inventive and creative, even ones from bad circumstances! It’s kind of our thing. Bushman sounds like a Shakespeare truther when he insists that such a lowly creature couldn’t have created an elaborate cosmology. (2) Bushman acknowledges that prophets of Smith’s type were thick on the ground in the US and England in this period, as part of the Christian revival that was ongoing, but he neglects the resulting base-rate problem: even if we accept that producing an elaborate, successful set of revelations was unlikely for any given prophet, people do win lotteries! Bushman is of course free to believe, but I wish he hadn’t neglected the idea of survivor bias if he was going to opine on the unlikelihood of non-divine revelations. (3) As for correspondences, the corollary of human inventiveness is our tendency towards tropes. I’m actually not shocked that both Smith and earlier apocrypha independently produced a story of Abraham’s father worshiping idols in Abraham’s pre-Yahweh youth—are you? ( )
  rivkat | May 8, 2018 |
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Woodworth, JedAvustajamuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
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Founder of the largest indigenous Christian church in American history, Joseph Smith published the 584-page Book of Mormon when he was twenty-three and went on to organize a church, found cities, and attract thousands of followers before his violent death at age thirty-eight. Richard Bushman, an esteemed cultural historian and a practicing Mormon, moves beyond the popular stereotype of Smith as a colorful fraud to explore his personality, his relationships with others, and how he received revelations. An arresting narrative of the birth of the Mormon Church, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling also brilliantly evaluates the prophet's bold contributions to Christian theology and his cultural place in the modern world.

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