From Historian to Dissident
The Book of John Whitmer
Bruce N. Westergren, editor
Hardback / 224 pages / 1-56085-043-4
Simple and straightforward, John Whitmer’s early history of Mormonism (1831-44) reflects the Church’s implicit faith in Jesus’ imminence. To Whitmer, the Millennium overshadowed any other consideration, including inconsistencies in ecclesiastical development. For example, a revelation condemning “hireling priests” is followed by one granting the founding prophet a parsonage and salary. Whitmer made no attempt to reconcile such apparent contradictions.
From Historian to Dissident: The Book of John Whitmer is the earliest commissioned history of Mormonism, published for the first time in its entirety from the original manuscript. Although Whitmer’s belief and commitment never waned, his trust in the church’s leadership did. He was excommunicated in 1838. Thereafter his record took on a decidedly antagonistic tone.
Bruce N. Westergren holds M.A. degrees in history and library science from Brigham Young University. He has published in the Journal of American Culture and elsewhere and is the recipient of a Best Article Award from the Utah Historical Society. He is employed in the news clipping industry, serves on the Orem City Preservation Commission, and does freelance historical research.