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Showing 1-10 of 10 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 25 reviews
on June 8, 2014
Richard Bushman identifies himself as a practicing Mormon in his introduction of Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism. Naturally, this would tip the reader off to expect Bushman's work to be bias towards Mormonism. Indeed, Bushman's bias leads him to incorporate Mormon apologetics, blunt omission of facts, and deceitful implications into his work.

An example of Bushman's use of Mormon apologetics is his depiction of the First Vision. Joseph Smith recorded four versions of the First Vision, one in 1832, '35, '38, and '42. Each version differed from the other and some differences were on very significant points. In his presentation of the First Vision, Bushman rationalizes the variance among the versions saying: "In 1832 he [Joseph Smith] explained the vision as he must have first understood it ... [i]n actuality there was more in the vision than he first understood ... certain aspects took on an importance they did not possess at first" Here Bushman indirectly acknowledges the differences in the versions but implies that the information added on to later versions were actually present but not written down because Joseph Smith did not understand their importance at that time. Bushman deceptively presents Smith's First Vision as harmonious when in actuality it is four versions that do not agree with each other on significant points.

An example of Bushman's blunt omission of facts and deceitful implications can be found in his narrative of Joseph Smith translating the Book of Mormon. Bushman's description leads the reader to believe that Joseph Smith translated the plates by some logical process of translation: "There was no problem with the plates because Joseph looked in the seerstone or the interpreters, and the plates lay covered on the table." Bushman omits the fact that Joseph Smith had his head in a hat during the entire translating process. Indeed, Bushman's depiction of the translation of the text tells the reader almost nothing about the actual translation process at all.

Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism is a whitewashed presentation of Mormon history. Although Bushman does not avoid the unsightly happenings of Mormonism's origins, he processes and frames them to minimize their aversive nature to Mormonism. This book is a faith-promoting work askew from objectivity.
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on December 16, 2015
Good book at a great price.
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on April 23, 2008
This book was the precursor to Rough Stone Rolling, and it only treats the life of Joseph Smith up to the Kirtland era. For that reason, I felt like I was left hanging.

Probably due to it's shorter length, Beginnings of Mormonism is better edited than Rough Stone Rolling and lacks that vaguely rambling tone. If you've read or own Rough Stone Rolling, you won't find anything new in this book and will probably be disappointed. It's only worth buying Beginnings of Mormonism nowadays unless you're a collector.

As a silly personal aside, can't somebody update the cover of this book? Gosh, I felt like I needed to put on another dustjacket while I was reading it -- so ugly!
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on December 11, 2016
The best review of the early period. It is short and readable unlike Rough stone which is an Opus Magnum. Read the whole book if visiting Palmyra.
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on February 23, 2017
This is a great book, fascinating history. Especially for Mormons, great reading. And, the book is in great condition.
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on September 1, 2016
Nice to know real history that is not white-washed!
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on May 9, 2015
REmarkable book.
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on September 14, 1998
If you are looking for a history of the early beginings of Joseph Smith this is the book. It contains the early history of JS in New Hampshire and New York. If you are looking for entertainment, don't look here. The reading is on the dry side, as it is historical in nature. A very good reference book
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on April 15, 2002
The author is up front about his devout belief in the holy calling of Joseph Smith, Jr. as a modern-day prophet. He, therefore, takes Mr. Smith at his word as it relates to the chronology of many of the important LDS claims. He is otherwise reasonably critical and respectably analytical with the context of Joseph's arrival in the world up through the movement of the early Mormons to Kirtland, Ohio in 1831. Mr. Bushman confirms contemporary belief of the final composition of 1 & 2 Nephi after the rest of the Book of Mormon, as well as contrasting the early Mormon view of "restoration" being simply restoring Israel to its rightful place to the later, more fundamental "restoration" that the LDS Church holds today. I would have loved to read more of his analysis of the development of the early Mormon priesthood hierarchy, from Joseph and Oliver Cowdery as 1st and 2nd Elders of the Church, respectively, to the later Rigdonite, full-blown priesthood. Still, there's only so much one can cover in a "Beginnings" book. A great read for students, faithful LDS/Community of Christ/etc. or otherwise, of early Mormon history.
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on February 6, 2013
Ordered a very- good condition book and got a ex-library copy. Deciding that I got the book so cheap that I would go ahead and keep it. More of a hassle to send back.
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