Inventing Mormonism: Tradition and the Historical Record
by H. Michael Marquardt and Westley P. Walters
Paperback. 286 Pages. / 1-56085-108-2 / $24.95
For more than 150 years the story of Mormon origins has been rewritten to a point where only fragments remain of the original. This book restores much of the human drama and detail. Moving from village to village, the Joseph Smith, Sr., family lived in constant poverty. When in 1825 Joseph, Sr., a cooper, defaulted on the family’s final mortgage payment, he and his nineteen-year-old son, Joseph Jr., traveled 100 miles south to Pennsylvania to join a band of money diggers on a desperate hunt for buried Spanish treasure.
Following this ill-fated quest, father and son returned near-penniless to New York to face eviction. They resettled in a small Manchester cabin where young Joseph later saw angels–not unlike his father and other contemporaries–and eventually found hieroglyph-inscribed sheets of gold, which his former money-digging associates repeatedly tried to steal.
During this turbulent time Joseph Smith was brought to court three times for crystal gazing, eloped with a former landlord’s daughter, watched as his mother and siblings were excommunicated from the Presbyterian church, published his translation of the hieroglyphs, founded the Church of Christ, saw a potential convert forcibly abducted by her minister, and eventually sought refuge in Ohio where he changed the name of his church and its place of origin.
H. Michael Marquardt is co-author with the late Wesley P. Walters of the acclaimed The Four Gospels According to Joseph Smith; Inventing Mormonism: Tradition and the Historical Record; The Rise of Mormonism: 1816-1844; and editor of Early Patriarchal Blessings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the The Joseph Smith Revelations: Text and Commentary. In addition, he is the author of several historical monographs, including The Book of Abraham Revisited, Joseph Smith’s Diaries, and The Strange Marriages of Sarah Ann Whitney, and of essays that have appeared in a variety of professional and religious journals. A retired civil servant, he is now the webmaster for the Mormon Origins site. He and his wife, Dorothy, live in Sandy, Utah, and have five children.
Wesley P. Walters, M.T., Covenant Theological Seminary, was pastor of the Marissa Presbyterian church in Illinois until his death in 1990. His thesis, The Use of the Old Testament in the Book of Mormon, presaged his life’s work. He was the editor of the revised editions of Harry L. Ropp’s Are the Mormon Scriptures Reliable; co-authored Inventing Mormonism: Tradition and the Historical Record; was published on similar topics in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Journal of the Westminster Theological Society, and the Journal of Pastoral Practice.