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The Millenarian World of Early Mormonism Paperback – March 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press (March 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252068262
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252068263
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,022,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"No serious student of early Mormon history should fail to read this book." - Choice "Contributes greatly to the understanding of religious growth and thought in the trans-Appalachian west. Students of early 19th century church history will find this to be 'must' reading." - Journal of the West "Although Underwood emphasizes the moderate character of Mormonism in this volume, it would be a mistake to discount the movement's radical elements. This well-written work demonstrates that continuity existed between the premillennialism and primitivism that Mormonism shared with many other Americans of the period and the concept of continuing revelation that was to increasingly separate the Mormons from their surrounding society." - Gary Land, American Historical Review "A model of first-rate scholarship and balanced interpretation; it has much to say not only to those interested in Mormon history but also to anyone seeking to understand the role of millenarian ideas in the American experience." - Michael Barkun, The Journal of American History "By breaking with outmoded stereotypes of millenarian movements as anti- modern or reactionary campaigns of the marginalized and deprived, his approach is in tune with contemporary work on millenarianism across disciplines. Underwood's command of the methodological literature related to his topic is exemplary. The book is thus highly recommended, both as a study of early Mormon self-understanding and as a guide, by way of its copious notes, to the social science research that can help us to make sense of the resurgence of millenarian thought today." - David L. Smith, Michigan Historical Review ADVANCE PRAISE "A signal contribution to Mormon studies. Anyone who wishes to explore the core of the Mormon identity in the nineteenth century will have to come to terms with this book." - Richard T. Hughes, Pepperdine University "A major monograph on a central theme in early Mormon history-the Second Coming of Christ. It not only locates Mormon views of the millennium in the broad context of Christian history, but presents evidence from early Mormon history that will surprise many readers." - Richard L. Bushman, author of Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Anson Cassel Mills on January 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I recommend Underwood's revised dissertation as a model for other writers of monographs. The Millenarian World of Early Mormonism is not only good scholarship, it's clearly and carefully written and with an minimum of the pseudo-profundity that fledgling scholars often feel obligated to display. Underwood's thesis is that belief in the imminent Second Coming of Christ permeated the early nineteenth-century culture from which Mormonism sprang and that the doctrine exerted a significant influence on early Mormonism, including aiding its missionary effort in England. Even scholarly Mormons tend to finesse the historical problems with their religion, but LDS bias is rarely detectable here. The Millenarian World of Early Mormonism is a monograph, "a learned treatise on a small area of learning," but within its sphere of competence, it's first-rate.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 11, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Grant Underwood had done an outstanding job of depicting 19th century LDS thought and world views. This scholarly work is a must for anyone trying to get an accurate picture of the early Saints beliefs, attitudes, and motivation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin M. Collins on August 19, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this book to be incredibly thorough and comprehensive in just a small number of pages. For those interesting in Mormon history, this book is a fascinating look into the mind of early Mormonism.
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Roger D. Launius VINE VOICE on October 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
The study of the history of the Mormon religion has exploded in recent years, but not always to the enlightenment of the reader. The "new Mormon history," as this field was labeled in the 1970s, was at first envisioned as an historiographical trend aimed at freeing the study of the faith from the apologetics of previous eras. For many reasons this approach to Mormon history has failed in recent years and this book exemplifies both the heady freshness of the "new Mormon history" during its first years and its more recent, disappointing reality.

"The Millenarian World of Early Mormonism," written by Brigham Young University professor Grant Underwood, is an able explanation of the place of the early Mormon religion of the 1830s and 1840s within the larger Christian apocalyptic movement. Exhaustively researched and tenaciously argued, Underwood's book presents early Mormonism as being more closely related to a larger millenarian perspective than most Latter-day Saints have thought, then or now. By illuminating the parallels between Mormon millennial thought and apocalyptic ideas present in other denominations Underwood demonstrates that Joseph Smith Jr. reflected the society in which he lived and perhaps borrowed from it in creating his unique religious tradition. It was a relatively short step, Underwood confirms, from broader millenarianism to that expressed by the Mormons. Such a conclusion says much about the genius of Joseph Smith as a consolidator and explicator of ideas floating in the religious ether of the early republic, if not as a prophet receiving God's will from on high.

A subtle but vital aspect of Underwood's book is his downplaying of the revolutionary tendencies of Mormonism in general and its millennialism in particular.
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2 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Confederate on April 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
Attempts to write off Mormonism as just another of the frontier millennialists that arose in the early 1800s is too tempting for some people to pass up, but in the end there are too many issues that remain and too many ideas that simply don't fit. Millerism was not unknown to early LDS leaders, including Joseph Smith, who addressed many of the errors of Millerism. What Underwood fails to adequately deal with in Mormonism are: 1) the Book of Mormon; 2) the extended prophecy of Mormonism; 3) fulfillment of ancient prophecy; and 4) the seemingly self-fulfilling nature of LDS prophecy.

The Book of Mormon leaves discernible historic and linguistic footprints in both ancient Arabia and Mesoamerica. It has a rich heritage that puts it far beyond the frontier literature of its day. This is the source of numerous books and papers and cannot be addressed here, but Underwood too casually dismisses the Book of Mormon to keep it in the shadow of Miller. He's also correct regarding many of the millennialist views of the saints, but he also ignores the extended prophecies: the fulfillment of the prophecies relating to the restoration of Israel, the gathering of the Jews and the future establishment of Zion. In short, although many of the rank and file saints may have been expecting the imminent return of Christ, the leaders of the church knew that the gospel must first be preached to the world, the Jews return to their homeland and temples dot the Earth in fulfillment of prophecy. It's clear that the LDS leaders themselves didn't believe it was right around the corner.

Underwood also discounts the ancient prophecies which directly relate to Mormonism.
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