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Parley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195375732
ISBN-10: 0195375734
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Editorial Reviews


"The authors have done a remarkable job in presenting the story of this unique and essential character." - Publishers Weekly

"Beautifully written, keenly intelligent, and thorough in its research, this is a book to be savored. . . an excellent example of how meticulous scholarship illuminates lives and events long forgotten." - Neal W. Kramer, By Common Consent

"Hopefully, Parley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism will restore Pratt to the prominence he enjoyed during Mormonism's first 100 years. . . Givens and Grow have provided readers with a biography worthy of their subject's talents." - Doug Gibson, Ogden Standard Examiner

Best Book of 2011, Mormon History Association

Best Biography of 2011, Association of Mormon Letters

"If the title indicates Oxford University Press's determination to broaden the potential audience of this book to non-Mormon readers more familiar with St. Paul than with Parley Pratt, we can all be glad that OUP took the chance. Parley P. Pratt - its subject, its claim, and its methods - deserve a wide audience." --Religion

"At long last we have a work that is fully aware of Parley's extensive contributions to Mormonism as the 'Paul of Mormonism.'" --Journal of Mormon History

"For anyone seeking to understand the development of early Mormonism, Parley P. Pratt is essential reading. As the foremost systematizer, theologian, missionary, and popularizer of this new religious movement in its first two decades, not to mention a colorful and mobile personality, Parley Pratt represented the soul of the tradition. Givens and Grow provide an engaging, thoughtful, and thorough assessment of his significance in the foundations of the Mormon faith."--- Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp, Professor and Chair of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"Parley Pratt played the Apostle Paul to the Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith. Besides systematizing the prophet's thought, Pratt was a leader of boundless energy: husband of twelve wives, father of thirty children, a missionary extraordinaire, accused of murder, himself murdered in the prime of life. This book opens to a wide audience for the first time the life of one of the most significant figures in American religious history."--Mark Noll, author of Protestantism: A Very Short Introduction

"Terryl L. Givens and Matthew J. Grow update Parley P. Pratt's own autobiography with their informed account of his historical context in the Second Great Awakening of evangelical religion and the nineteenth-century Communications Revolution of printed media. The authors' fascinating narratives of Pratt's worldwide adventures, multiple marriages, and eventual murder will make this book welcome not only in the academic community but among all those with an interest in early Mormon history."--Daniel Walker Howe, author of What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848

"Givens and Grow should be commended for their scholarship and objectivity in providing historians and religion scholars with a remarkable narrative that explores in breadth and depth, through the life of Parley Parker Pratt, the historical and religious underpinnings of early Mormonism."--Journal of the American Academy of Religion

"A comprehensive scholarly biography that does justice to the stature of its subject...deserves a place among the finest Latter-day Saint biographies."--BYU Studies Quarterly

About the Author

Terryl L. Givens is the author of several acclaimed books, the most recent of which are When Souls Had Wings: Pre-Mortal Life in Western Thought and The Book of Mormon: A Very Short Introduction.

Matthew J. Grow is the author of "Liberty to the Downtrodden": Thomas L. Kane, Romantic Reformer.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (October 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195375734
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195375732
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.6 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #897,099 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This was a riveting read and fascinating history. Terryl Givens is a leading Mormon historian and Matthew Grow proved a very capable complement. My first impression was that the title seemed an overstatement, but not so. I had never known of Parley Pratt's extensive travels throughout the Christian world of the nineteenth century, crisscrossing the North American continent from New York to San Francisco, to Europe, then South America, exploring the geography of present-day Southern Utah, Nevada, and Southern California to establish Mormon settlements -- often traveling on foot, as an apostle and early leader of the Mormon Restoration. Givens and Grow show that he was prolific as a writer and publisher, producing doctrinal works, e.g., the Voice of Warning, that became broadly accepted and, though not canonized, were nonetheless embraced as official Mormon publications for study in the Church's curriculum alongside the Mormon canon of scripture.

Especially revealing was Pratt's influence on Mormon missionary pedagogy, pointing to key Biblical passages that he argued persuasively were directly fulfilled by Joseph Smith and the modern Restoration -- Ezekiel 37, Revelation 14, Isaiah 29 and other bedrock Biblical scriptures that became the foundation of Biblically-based Mormon missionary proselyting for 150 years. For example, Givens and Grow note that in September 1830, when Pratt spoke of these prophecies "[Even] Oliver Cowdery and the Prophet Joseph himself were surprised at the great amount of evidence there was in the Bible concerning these things.
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Format: Hardcover
A marvelously written book. I wondered how much of this would be in PPP's Autobiography. There was some usage of the Autobiography (which is to be expected and required). However, there was a great deal of new information. The authors also did a great job of incorporating PPP's writings into the narrative and gave context to them in relation to his life. The biography of Brother Parley is a worthy companion to the Autobiography. It was clear to me that there is a genuine affection that the authors have for their subject. On the one hand, they did not seek to only share the perspective of PPP that you get from his Autobiography. On the other hand, they are willing to share the other side and what his contemporaries felt, wrote, and said about him. A very honest book. A book written with admiration. I felt it was in the same vein as John Adams by McCullough. I highly recommend reading this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Parley P. Pratt was one of the original twelve apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was a charismatic speaker, utterly devoted to preaching the gospel, he travelled the world building the Kingdom of God on Earth, and wrote some of the most influential tracts, books, poems, and hymns of the first century of the Restoration. In fact, the present hymn book (1985) still contains ten of his many hymns. And his autobiography remains a popular and widely read book on the early history of Mormonism. This scholarly biography gives a more complete understanding of Elder Pratt's life and puts the autobiography in the larger context of his entire life and the history of the church and clarifies some of the few instances where the autobiography leans a bit towards telling a good story rather than the less exciting reality.

However, as I consider how to write a brief review and convey to you the nature of this man, I am at a loss. His personality, life, activity, and complexity are far beyond my ability to capture in just a few hundred words. Of course, I must try.

After I finished the book and thought about what I had read, I have to admit that while he was a most charismatic writer and speaker, he was also a rather difficult personality for those who had to live with him. And his devotion to the Church and his mission as an Apostle caused him to ask a tremendous amount of sacrifice from his family. His first wife died young and his second wife eventually divorced him. He was one of the early apostles to practice plural marriage and eventually had a total of twelve wives, thirty children, and two hundreds and sixty-six grandchildren (appendix 2).
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Format: Hardcover
Shortly before his martyrdom, Parley P. Pratt finished a draft of his autobiography, which was later edited and published in 1874. For more than a century, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have sifted its pages to witness the adventures, trials and testimony of the memorable apostle.

Terryl L. Givens and Matthew J. Grow have added to Pratt's story and the early history of the LDS Church with their new biography, "Parley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism." Givens is a professor of literature and religion at the University of Richmond and the author of numerous books, including "The Book of Mormon: A Very Short Introduction." Grow is the author of "Liberty to the Downtrodden: Thomas L. Kane, Romantic Reformer," and director of publications for the LDS Church History Department. Both scholars are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In producing another account of "a subject who is a capable autobiographer," Givens and Grow have not set out to replace Pratt's original work. Their account is intended to complement Pratt's autobiography, which focuses somewhat narrowly on "how he became the apostle he was in midlife."

In particular, Givens and Grow seek to "restore Pratt's family life," place "him within his intellectual and theological worlds, both within Mormonism and beyond," and address "controversial events" largely minimized in Pratt's own account.

In a work intended for a general audience, the authors pursue their objectives in 14 chapters that progress chronologically, beginning with a brief account of Pratt's ancestry and concluding with the aftermath of his martyrdom in 1857.
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