What To Do With Joseph Smith?

What is a scholarly approach to Joseph Smith? How do historians and others engaged in Mormon Studies balance the importance of his personal intentions with the story of his powerful and ongoing influence?

Ann Taves

Virgil Cordano Chair of Catholic Studies, UC Santa Barbara

“We don’t have to just adopt a sort of Calvinist view, which I think historians have adopted, that material artefacts cannot be imbued with sacred significance.”

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

300th Anniversary University Professor of History, Harvard University

“I focused not on the man so much, as on those who embraced him or denied him.”

Terryl Givens

Jabez A. Bostwick Chair of English, University of Richmond

“He was first and foremost a speculative thinker, an inquirer.”

Laurie Maffly-Kipp

Archer Alexander Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies, Washington University

“It’s impossible to understand what is going on in the heart or mind of any historical actor. More important is what does he make people do? How does he make people think? What does he continue to mean to people today?”

Grant Wacker

Gilbert T. Rowe Professor Emeritus of Christian History, Duke Divinity School

“We don’t have to have an answer for everything. I’m happy to leave the lid on the box.”