Though most of the substance of Volume 1 in the Journal series was previously publised by Scott Faulring (Signature Books) or Dean C. Jessee (Deseret Book), the editing standards and annotations have improved dramatically. It is probably worth the price. Once all of the volumes of the Journals series are published, you'll be able to dispose of the earlier, more limited edits of JS Journals. Later volumes should have more content that has not been published previously. If you are looking for something never before published, purchase Volume 1 of the Revelation series, due in the fall of 2009. This will have the earliest known manuscripts of most of what is now the Doctrine & Covenants, some of which has never been published before.
I gained insight to the Prophet much more than just lessons. To feel him in his own manner of expression and to see him when the Spirit spoke through him. To feel when he was pained. Could not put it down. Waiting for more!
I picked up a copy the first or second day the first printing came out. Visually, the book is very appealing. The binding is wonderful. Even better is what the reader finds inside. I own Jesse's previous two volumes on Joseph Smith; I love them; Joseph Smith Papers is all the more engaging. As a student studying to become a professional historian I am struck by the brillance of this first volume. The notes, biographies, and essays are tremendously helpful. The book meets all the rigorous standards of well-done historical research. I will use the book for the rest of my life.
I have heard conflicting reviews of this book and understand where people are coming from. I don't think I have ever heard of a book or anything that pleased EVERYone. I received the book for Christmas and have read about 80% of it. For me, I'm just grateful to have access to the words of Joseph's actual journals! The book makes attempts to briefly present the history between journals and some entries, which I appreciate. Some people have a problem with how the history is presented, but I didn't see any bias or misleading information. You have the choice to completely ignore or skip the extra snippets of information and just read the journal entries. What is important to remember is the ENTIRE history is not going to be recorded here. Just some historical footnotes that relate to the "PAPERS". There are other places to get the full story. This is a book of his journals, plain and simple; I don't know what else anyone wants from it, really. I have greatly enjoyed having access to these documents and the additional insights they give me to the mind of Joseph Smith. I gave the book five starts because it has what it is advertised to have: journals.
While the presentation of the actual documents and writings of Joseph Smith are interesting, the other filler materials such as the glossary and historical background information cause me some concern. Such material seemed to be based solely in the revisionist viewpoint of the compilers, and the bold assertions made therein are neither documented within the work, nor footnoted. Even more disturbing is that some of the claims in that extraneous material contradict the writings and assertions made in other works by the Prophet Joseph Smith and other church leaders and are therefore decidedly not neutral. Thus, for the spiritually attuned reader this volume adds very little, as it appears to embrace the "every historical assertion is equally valid" fallacy in order to appease academia and gain acceptance among the world of noted revisionist historians. I much prefer the seven volume, History of the Church!
This book is so phenominal, I can't even begin to fully be able to emphasize. It is my witness, by prayerful study, in comparison with the Doctrine & Covenants & your current study with the Gospel Doctrines classes on The Doctrine And Covenants, that your testimony will be solidified IF you ever had doubt of any kind, whether Joseph Smith truly was a Prophet of The Lord. It Is My witness, that he is! How great this work is!
This book is amazing; it brings Joseph Smith and the early days of the church to life. The Editorial Notes and references help explain what is happening. Read this book from cover to cover; do not skip the general introduction or any of the editorial notes or references at the bottom of the page and you will have a rich experience as you walk with Joseph Smith through the early days of the restoration. This is a very difficult book to but down. I cant wait until the next book comes out.