Guest Post: Introducing Foundational Texts of Mormonism (OUP, 2018)

By December 12, 2017

The following is a guest post from friend-of-the-JI Mark Ashurst-McGee, the Senior Research and Review Historian at the Joseph Smith Papers and co-editor of several volumes in the series. He holds degrees in American History from Arizona State University, Utah State University, and Brigham Young University. Ashurst-McGee has authored award-winning graduate theses on Joseph Smith’s Zion project and the Mormon prophet’s use of seer stones and he is the author of several articles. He is the co-editor, along with Robin Scott Jensen and Sharalyn D. Howcroft, of Foundational Texts of Mormonism: Examining Major Early Sources, forthcoming in February 2018 from Oxford University Press.

Early next year, Oxford University Press will publish a major new book on Joseph Smith and early Mormonism. If you are a scholar or an avid reader of early Mormon history, you will want to own and read this compilation.

Do you want to know what Richard Bushman thinks about the golden plates? or how Laurel Thatcher Ulrich reads the early diaries of Wilford Woodruff? Do you want to get Grant Hardy?s take on the work of Royal Skousen? Or do you want to know what Jennifer Reeder knows about the leaders of the original Relief Society and their polygamist relationships and how those relationships played out in the minutes they produced?

Among the thousands of documents produced by Joseph Smith (most with the help of scribes and clerks), there are several highly significant sources that scholars have used over and over again in their attempts to reconstruct the founding era of Mormonism, usually by focusing solely on content and without a deep appreciation for how or even why a document was created in the first place. This book offers case studies of the sources most often used by historians of the early Mormon experience. Each chapter takes a particular document as its primary subject, considering the production of a document as an historical event in and of itself?with its own background and purpose, circumstances of creation and ongoing production, transmission and reception, and consequences. This book will help historians working in the founding era of Mormonism gain a more solid grounding in the period’s documentary record by supplying important information on major primary sources.

Oxford University Press is having a holiday sale offering 50% off many books, including Foundational Texts of Mormonism. Enter the code HOLIDAY17 to preorder this book for half price ($74.00 $37.00). This offer ends January 12. If you want this book in your library–and let me assure you, you do–don’t wait. Pre-order the book now before the sale ends. If you haven’t yet, Like us on facebook to receive updates and teasers from the book leading up to the official release.


Harry S. Stout

Chapter 1
Mark Ashurst-McGee, Robin Scott Jensen, and Sharalyn D. Howcroft

Chapter 2
The Gold Plates as Foundational Text
Richard Lyman Bushman

Chapter 3
Textual Criticism and the Book of Mormon
Grant Hardy

Chapter 4
Intertextuality and the Purpose of Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible
Thomas A. Wayment

Chapter 5
The Dictation, Compilation, and Canonization of Joseph Smith’s Revelations
Grant Underwood

Chapter 6
Joseph Smith’s Missouri Prison Letters and the Mormon Textual Community
David W. Grua

Chapter 7
The Textual Culture of the Nauvoo Female Relief Society Leadership and Minute Book
Jennifer Reeder

Chapter 8
Joseph Smith’s Sermons and the Early Mormon Documentary Record
William V. Smith

Chapter 9
Joseph Smith’s Nauvoo Journals
Alex D. Smith and Andrew H. Hedges

Chapter 10
The Early Diaries of Wilford Woodruff, 1835-1839
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Chapter 11
A Textual and Archival Reexamination of Lucy Mack Smith’s History
Sharalyn D. Howcroft

Chapter 12
The Image as Text and Context in Early Mormon History
Jeffrey G. Cannon

Chapter 13
Joseph Smith and the Conspicuous Scarcity of Early Mormon Documentation
Ronald O. Barney

Article filed under Announcements and Events Categories of Periodization: Origins Textual Studies


  1. Thanks Mark. I ordered a copy of the book on December 1.

    Comment by H. Michael Marquardt — December 12, 2017 @ 9:14 am

  2. Really looking forward to this, Mark.

    Comment by Ben P — December 12, 2017 @ 12:04 pm

  3. The authors and topics all look fantastic

    Comment by Jacob H. — December 12, 2017 @ 2:08 pm

  4. This looks amazing

    Comment by Steve Taysom — December 12, 2017 @ 3:01 pm

  5. Thanks for this post, Mark. I’ve been excited about this book ever since I read about it on the Benchmark Books blog, and this post gets me even more excited about it. I’d just pre-ordered it from Amazon last week. After seeing this post, I cancelled that order, ordered it direct from Oxford with the holiday sale you mentioned and saved myself $35. 🙂

    Comment by Curtis C — December 13, 2017 @ 9:38 am

  6. Excellent Sale! I ordered this and J. Stapley’s new book as well! Excellent Christmas gift to myself:). THANKS for the heads up!

    Comment by n8c — December 14, 2017 @ 12:21 am

  7. How many pages is this tome? $74 is a pretty hefty price. I assume it’s fairly long.

    Comment by Wally — December 14, 2017 @ 9:38 am

  8. Thanks everyone!
    If you’d like to follow the FaceBook page, I’m going to start publishing abstracts of the chapters there.

    Comment by Mark Ashurst-McGee — December 15, 2017 @ 8:24 am

  9. Thanks for the heads up.

    Comment by Kurt M. — December 28, 2017 @ 9:57 am


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