Literary scholar Lawrence Buell, in his excellent New England Literary Culture, explored one of the most important ideas related to the antebellum Romantic thinkers–an idea that he defines as “literary scripturism.”
During the Romantic period especially, the distinction between sacred and secular writing was not just blurred but sometimes even inverted by such claims as the argument that Scripture is only a form of poesis, hence dependent for its authority on inspired vision, which artists have in greatest measure. Consequently, a number of Anglo-American writers, starting with Blake in England and Emerson in America, took the position that the poet has the right, indeed the duty, to reconstruct mythology for himself and his era. 
While almost all of the Boston intellectuals invovled in the Transcendentalist movement were at one point or another a part of the Unitarian Christian Church, most of them eventually broke away from that organization based on ideas not wholly detached from their views of scripture. A combination of their growing acceptance of German higher criticism of the Bible and their individual skepticism of things like miracles and the divinity of Christ led them to not hold ancient scripture in as holy light as their Protestant contemporaries.
As a result, the Transcendentalists desired to scrap the biblical text and create a new one–a sacred text written by their generation for their generation. Led by Emerson, the quest to replace the Bible with sacred literature was one of the most radical conceptions of the Transcendental movement. Buell noted that “the Emersonian view that writing, literally as well as etymologically, should be Scripture, that the poet’s proper job is to write the ultimate Bible that has never yet been written.” Emerson held high hopes for the potential of this project: “‘Tis high time we should have a bible that should be no provincial record, but should open the history of the planet, and bind all tendencies and dwarf all the Epics and philosophies we have.” In his famed Divinity School Address, Emerson called for a “new Teacher” who could complete the “fragmentary…Hebrew and Greek Scriptures.” While they had “been bread of life to millions,” they had “no epical integrity; are fragmentary; are not shown in their order to the intellect.”
Others were liberated and inspired by this idea. Thoreau had this idea in mind while including all the biblical references in Walden. Whitman assumed a prophetic or demiurgical role as the speaker of Leaves of Grass, hoping that it would be accepted as the “New Bible.” Carlyle summed up this dream when he wrote, “Every man that writes is writing a new Bible; or a new Apocrypha; to last for a week or a thousand years.” This was a powerful idea for a group looking to change the world.
However, as hopeful they were to accomplish this daring feat, it never came to fruition. Because of the Romantics’ insistence to live in the present, any new writing was bound to become inadequate shortly after it was finished. Since Emerson believed that “foolish consistency” was a “hobgoblin of little minds,” then any new scripture written, no matter how modern, was doomed to be cast aside when that moment ends. Emerson wrote that “the quality of the imagination is to flow, and not to freeze,” so therefore any text written down is then frozen in that moment. As Buell notes, “Romantic Scripture is from the start an impossibility because its authority resides in the moment of utterance.
Ironically, while discussing this topic, Buell says something that makes this discussion relevent for us: “The new Bible did not get written, unless one counts The Book of Mormon.” Sadly, he does not elaborate on this point. Neither Joseph Smith or his new scripture get another word in any other part in his book. Which leaves potential interpretations to wanna-be pundits like me.
I feel the reason Joseph Smith’s new Bible was able to survive while Emerson and others’ didn’t gives a glimpse into a key divergence in their thought. The attempt to balance history and the present was an important intellectual struggle in the period (for a deeper comparative analysis of Emerson and Joseph Smith’s views of the role of history, see here). The Transcendentalists’ emphasis on the present to the point of de-emphasizing the past undercut their attempt to come up with anything authoritative for the future.
The Mormons, on the other hand, while yearning for new scripture for their day, still desired an attachment to antiquity. Indeed, Smith’s first “modern scripture” was an antiquitious text, just making its appearance in the present. While he would later produce his own modern revelations, he would still return to ancient scriptures while working on the Bible and later on the Book of Abraham.
More importantly, while Smith brought new scripture, he never desired to replace Bible in the scriptural cannon. Rather than disregarding the past in order to emphasize the present, Smith bridged the two in a way that allowed the balance needed to make them both authoritative.
Similar to their views on history, both the Transcendentalists and Joseph Smith exemplified the Romantic notion that new scripture was needed in order to instruct the present. They admired and appreciated the ancient Hebrew text, but still realized that many of its teachings were situated for another time and people. Emerson’s intentions to scrap the Bible entirely in favor of a new literary scripturism and Smith’s yearning to merely revise and expand the existing canon both demonstrate the intellectual shift of the period that pressed for more modern scriptural texts.
 Lawrence Buell, New England Literary Culture (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 167.
 ibid, 182
 Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 8:438.
 Emerson, Essential Writings, 78
 Roger Asselineau, The Evolution of Walt Whitman (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1962), 2:92-95.
 Carlyle, Two Note Books, ed. Charles Eliot Norton (New York: Grolier, 1898), 264.
 Emerson, Essential Writings, 138.
 Emerson, Essential Writings, 302.
 Buell, New England Literary Culture, 184.
 ibid, 183.