Textual Studies of the Doctrine and Covenants: The Plural Marriage Revelation
“A model of what the future of Mormon scriptural studies should be.” — Stephen C. Taysom
“Done rigorously with fierce scholarship to help us make sense of one of the most controversial passages of scripture in the LDS canon.” — Gina Colvin
“A level of detailed analysis that is essential for future readings.” — Jonathan Stapley
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Part of our Contemporary Studies in Scripture series
Joseph Smith’s July 12, 1843, revelation on plural marriage was the last of his formal written revelations and a transformational moment in Mormonism. While acting today as the basis for the doctrine of eternal nuclear families, the revelation came forth during a period of theological expansion as Smith was in the midst of introducing new temple rituals, radical doctrines on God and humanity, a restructured priesthood and ecclesiastical hierarchy, and, of course, the practice of plural marriage.
In this volume, author William V. Smith examines the text of this complicated and rough revelation to explore the motivation for its existence, how it reflects this dynamic theology of the Nauvoo period, and how the revelation was utilized and reinterpreted as Mormonism fully embraced and later abandoned polygamy.
Praise for Textual Studies of the Doctrine and Covenants:
“William Smith has managed to do what other scholars have only dreamed about—a thorough and comprehensive study of one of the most controversial Latter-day Saint revelations, Doctrine and Covenants 132. In Textual Studies of the Doctrine and Covenants: The Plural Marriage Revelation, Smith breaks down the context, history, and implications of the Celestial Marriage revelation, a chapter of scripture that has made a larger impact than potentially any other revelation in Mormonism. He combines solid scholarly insight along with primary sources to weave together an extensive look of this important text that still affects millions of Latter-day Saints to date. For anyone looking to better understand both Mormonism and this particular doctrine, one need to look no further than William Smith's new book.” — Lindsay Hansen Park, Year of Polygamy Podcast
“No Mormon text is as ritually important and as fundamentally mysterious as Doctrine and Covenants 132. William V. Smith’s work is a fine example of what a serious-minded and meticulous blend of source and redaction critical methods can tell us about the revelations produced by Joseph Smith. This is a model of what the future of Mormon scriptural studies should be.” — Stephen C. Taysom, author of Shakers, Mormons, and Religious Worlds: Conflicting Visions, Contested Boundaries
“William Smith’s Textual Studies of the Doctrine and Covenants: The Plural Marriage Revelation is done rigorously with fierce scholarship to help us make sense of one of the most controversial passages of scripture in the LDS canon.” — Gina Colvin, A Thoughtful Faith Podcast
“William Smith’s work on the plural marriage revelation spans the entire history of the Restoration, with a wealth of context and reception history. Smith makes accessible important and hidden aspects of the story of the revelation in a sometimes dizzying exploration of polygamy, church, and culture. Most importantly Smith’s expertise in textual criticism renders a level of detailed analysis that is essential for future readings.” — Jonathan Stapley, author of The Power of Godliness: Mormon Liturgy and Cosmology
“Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants is many things at once: a theological manifesto, a personal communication, an apologia, a document rooted deeply in multiple historical contexts, and a central source of Mormonism’s evolving understanding of eternal marriage. With great patience and admirable clarity, Smith weaves all of these strands together into a line-by-line reading of this crucial text and its major variants.” — Michael Austin, author of Re-reading Job: Understanding the Ancient World’s Greatest Poem
“William Victor Smith’s Textual Studies of the Doctrine and Covenants: The Plural Marriage Revelation offers a fresh look on a topic that so many of us fear and/or are sickened to consider. . . . [D]o I recommend this book? Yes, whole-heartedly. And to be honest, I strongly recommend this as a resource for women.”
— Exponent II
“William V. Smith’s Textual Studies of the Doctrine and Covenants is yet another home run for Greg Kofford Book’s Contemporary Studies in Scripture series. Not only does Smith make one of the most complex and controversial revelations in the Mormon canon accessible to a lay readership, but his attention to detail and the expansive range of his historical analysis will also make it invaluable to scholars. Historians and theologians alike will benefit from Smith’s painstaking research. Anyone who is serious about Mormon history and scriptural studies should have this on their shelf for continual reference.”
— Times & Seasons
“I’ve read a variety of books on the topic of polygamy. Most have focused on the struggles individuals had in living this difficult requirement, while leadership flaunted it in the face of its enemies. William V. Smith’s book takes us on a fresh perspective, dealing directly with the revelation and how each section related to major periods of the Church under Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff, joseph F. Smith, and us today. D&C 132 revelation is laid out raw and helps us understand how we in the 21st century must deal with the enigma of plural marriage today.”
— The Millennial Star
"Smith’s study is extremely useful for all those interested in the topics of polygamy and Mormon thought. . . . having all these ideas and sources brought together are extremely helpful to any readers."
— Juvenile Instructor
"Smith’s greatest strength is his exhaustive research: he not only knows all the literature there is concerning Nauvoo polygamy, but he is also able to trace ideas through obscure 1920s priesthood manuals. . . . Smith is providing a layer of historical and comprehensive research that is impressive in breadth."
— Benjamin E. Park, Professor Park's Blog
"Throughout this engaging volume, Smith succeeds in providing a sound theological and historical approach to the multifaceted doctrines and principles which surround the subject of celestial plural marriage."
— Cheryl Bruno, Association for Mormon Letters
"Smith’s treatment of Joseph’s plural marriage revelation is a syncretic blend of approaches: textual analysis, historical reconstruction, thematic narrative, and speculation. . . . [He] has produced an important, valuable contribution to the study of early Mormon plural marriage."
— Gary Bergera, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 15, no. 4
"[R]eaders will undoubtedly come away with a greater understanding of the revelation’s provenance and its importance to early Church members and ecclesiastical leaders."
— Brian C. Hales, BYU Studies Quarterly 57, no. 4
About the Author:
ISBN: 978-1-58958-690-1 (paperback); 978-1-58958-691-8 (hardcover)