The writing of history does not occur in a vacuum. The scholarship that went before set the stage for the debates of the present. This is particularly evident as one studies the historiography of Joseph Smith's First Vision. Toward the middle of the twentieth century, Latter-day Saint historians came to understand that they could use research from scholars with opposing viewpoints as a catalyst to propel their own work forward and strive for a more accurate depiction of the past. This disciplinary shift influenced Mormon historical studies of the First Vision.
About the Authors
Steven C. Harper, previously a professor of Church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University and an editor of the Joseph Smith Papers series, is a historian for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After serving a mission to Canada and graduating from BYU, he earned a Ph.D. in early American History from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and taught for two years at BYU-Hawaii before teaching for a decade at BYU. He has written award-winning articles on Church history topics and is the author of several book, including Making Sense of the Doctrine and Covenants: A Guided Tour through Modern Revelations (Deseret Book, 2008).
Brother Harper has served in the Church as a Sunday School teacher, high councilor, and temple ordinance worker and as branch clerk while he taught at the BYU-Jerusalem Center. He and his wife, Jennifer Sebring Harper, are the parents of five children.
by Jeanine - reviewed on December 05, 2012
This is the most fascinating book on the First Vision of the prophet Joseph Smith I have ever read. It takes concerns and criticisms that have come up over the years, and lays them to rest with fine scholarship and research. I have truly enjoyed this book - and will make it part of my permanent research library. JRD