[Last Call For Questions] Scholarly Inquiry: Soliciting Questions for Mark Staker

By March 26, 2010

The JI is pleased to welcome Mark Staker as the newest participant in the Scholarly Inquiry series. Mark, of course, is the author of the recently released Hearken O Ye People: The Historical Setting for Joseph Smith’s Ohio Revelations published by Kofford Books (see the table of contents and section overviews at Mark’s Hearken O Ye People blog).

Mark Staker has a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Florida where he studied as a Grinter Fellow. He published a number of articles on the Venda and Yoruba in Africa and the Saramacca and Haitian Creole in South America and the Caribbean. He has worked for seventeen years with the LDS Church History Department spending fifteen of those years as a Curator at the Church History Museum where he produced numerous exhibits on Latter-day Saint history. The last two years he has worked as a Senior Researcher and Writer for Church Historic Sites. Mark was the project historian for the restoration of Kirtland, Ohio?s historic sites and received the J. Talmage Jones Award of Excellence for his article ?Thou Art the Man: Newel K. Whitney in Ohio.? He has published other articles ranging from plastic grapes to visual depictions of the Tree of Life in Latter-day Saint art. His first book, Hearken, O Ye People: The Historical Setting of Joseph Smith?s Ohio Revelations, was just published by Kofford Books.

We invite you to propose questions you would like to ask Dr. Staker in the comments below. Please keep questions generally focused on the scholarly study of Mormonism, Mark?s own research interests and projects, and other related issues. Thanks for your participation!

Article filed under Scholarly Inquiry


  1. Many people assume that Joseph Smith basically took a back seat behind Sidney Rigdon during the first decade of the Church; that it wasn’t until after Liberty Jail and in the Nauvoo period that he really took the prominent public position as the face of the movement. By this, I mean being the chief expositor, giving many of the important public discourses, etc. Does your research on Kirtland confirm or challenge this idea?

    Comment by Ben — March 24, 2010 @ 9:27 am

  2. One more question: Could you give a brief summary of the ‘Black Pete’ situation that took place in Kirtland? I’ve heard from a few people that your book contains some great information relating to that topic, which will hopefully add to our understanding of early Mormon race relations.

    Again, I may have heard wrong, have a faulty memory, or just heard from faulty sources, so ignore this question if it is not relevant/true.

    Comment by Ben — March 24, 2010 @ 9:32 am

  3. Thanks for participating here, Mark. It seems clear that your book tackles quite a bit. I’m interested in what further research you hope your own inspires and motivates others to take on.

    Comment by Christopher — March 24, 2010 @ 10:21 am

  4. I’ve updated Mark’s academic and research interest info in the original post.

    Comment by Jared T — March 24, 2010 @ 12:27 pm

  5. Excellent. The burning question is when amazon will get copies so it can ship one to me.

    Other potentially more interesting questions for other readers are:

    Does his book rely on new sources or new readings of older sources?

    How influential was the “Lectures on Faith” among leaders and lay folks?

    I view the initial endowment of power, dusting of feet, and school of the prophet rituals as being the foundation for and integrated into the Kirtland Temple rituals and solemn assembly (as well as the Nauvoo Temple liturgy). Does he get into that much? There are what some might consider contemporary parallels for the early rituals outside of Mormonism; does he approach that and does he see the integration anywhere else? When Taylor revived the school of the prophets in Utah with some of the rituals, did they not view the ritual continuity with the temple?

    What are his opinions regarding Joseph Smith’s involvement in the KEP?

    I’ve only thought about it briefly, but I wonder whether there are any insightful analogies to be made between the textualization of Mormon commandments/revelations (as outlined in Robin Jensen’s thesis) and the control of charismata generally.

    Comment by J. Stapley — March 24, 2010 @ 12:51 pm

  6. Does Mark’s background in anthropology influence the ways he reads history? Are there any methodological tools from the discipline evident in the book that might surprise more conventionally trained historians?

    Comment by matt b — March 24, 2010 @ 12:53 pm

  7. Thanks for fielding questions at Juvenile Instructor, Mark.

    I’m interested in the transformation of Ridgon’s Campbellite, “seeker” group into what some historians have seen as a “nucleus” for later church growth and development. What were the dynamics of the contact between the newly-converted in Kirtland and NY Church members who relocated there? Was there incidence of conflict, social or theological? To what extent did Restorationist, Campbellite doctrines influence or inform doctrinal development in Kirtland? What did “the Family” contribute to Mormon economic models?

    Comment by Ryan T — March 25, 2010 @ 12:58 am

  8. A question for anyone who has an answer: In what way did the Feb. 1832 “Vision” in the Johnson house impact the people of Hiram twp., Portage Co., Ohio — both
    members and non-members of the Church? What was their reaction?

    Comment by Dale Broadhurst — March 25, 2010 @ 1:35 am

  9. I saw a copy of the book and it looks great. I second Ben’s question about early Church race relations in Ohio.

    Comment by Ardis S — March 25, 2010 @ 11:45 am

  10. Thank you all for the questions! This is the last call for questions before we choose some to get to Mark.

    Comment by Jared T — March 26, 2010 @ 1:30 pm


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