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The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power Hardcover – Illustrated, December 15, 1994
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About the Author
His major works include Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, Elder Statesman: A Biography of J. Reuben Clark, the two-volume Mormon Hierarchy series (Origins of Power, Extensions of Power), and Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example. He is the editor of The New Mormon History: Revisionist Essays on the Past and a contributor to American National Biography;Encyclopedia of New York State; Fundamentalisms and Society: Reclaiming the Sciences, the Family, and Education; the New Encyclopedia of the American West; Under an Open Sky: Rethinking America’s Western Past; and others.
He has also received honors—fellowships and grants—from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Henry E. Huntington Library, Indiana-Purdue University, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In addition, he has been a keynote speaker at the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture, the Chicago Humanities Symposium, Claremont Graduate University, University of Paris (France), Washington State Historical Society, and elsewhere, and a consultant for television documentaries carried by the Arts and Entertainment Channel, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the History Channel, and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The Evolution of Authority
Before it was an organization, Mormonism was a private religious awakening in a single family. Born in December 1805, Joseph Smith, Jr., became the most prominent seer in his family. His parents Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack nurtured all their children in a home where the wondrous, mundane, and spiritual commingled.1 In the beginning, their religious activities did not differ dramatically from the experiences of their contemporaries. The impulse which led to founding a church developed gradually as did the structure of that church once it began. Eventually Mormonism became a hierarchical institution with a complex “priesthood” system. Understanding the growing sense of “church” and the increasingly structured view of authority as priesthood is necessary to comprehend the currently elaborate organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- Item Weight : 2.83 pounds
- Hardcover : 686 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1560850566
- ISBN-13 : 978-1560850564
- Product Dimensions : 6.25 x 2.6 x 9.25 inches
- Publisher : Signature Books; 1st edition (December 15, 1994)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #895,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Quinn then moves onto the succession crisis after the death of Joseph Smith and how there were MANY valid succession claims, each with considered merit. The problem being that Joseph Smith never felt the need to declare his replacement as he believed he would usher in the millennium and there would be no need to prepare a replacement any time soon (despite the fact he named various men as his successor over the years). This section ends with the manoeuvring of Brigham Young in making the Twelve the ultimate in authority and in establishing succession of future presidents.
Half the book (as with all Quinn books) is made up of footnotes and sources. As Joseph Smith himself stated "No man knows my history" and this rendition is Quinn's (informed) version and subject to rare cases of personal conjecture. However, whatever your view, you cannot fault his research efforts.
In summary, this book, provides evidence that the early LDS church had no qualms in rewriting history to hide or change previously recorded events that either contradict the current doctrinal standpoint, or past accounts that undermine their authority claims as God's true church.
Quinn's work is meticulously documented but there is a wide range in the veracity of the referenced source material that is not immediately apparent from the primary text. Quinn is generally careful to comment when sources disagree, but there are a few places where an outlier viewpoint is presented as an 'official' LDS Church position. This is a minor concern for an otherwise valuable work, but the discerning reader should understand that all footnotes are not created equal.