The prevalence of a spirit of contention amongst a people is a certain sign of deadness with respect to the things of religion. When men's spirits are hot with contention, they are cold to religion. - Jonathan Edwards “The Book of Mormon does not supplant the Bible. It expands, extends, clarifies, and amplifies our knowledge of the Savior. Surely, this second witness should be cause for great rejoicing by all Christians.” - Joseph B. Wirthlin

Friday, July 2, 2021

Know Brother Joseph: New Perspectives on Joseph Smith's Life and Character

A wonderful book has been recently released titled Know Brother Joseph: New Perspectives on Joseph Smith's Life and Character.

It's at Deseret Book here.

It's on Amazon here.

It contains around 42 short chapters that introduce various aspects of Joseph's life. 

For example, Mark Staker offers well-documented detail about Joseph's origins n Vermont.

Janiece Johnson introduces her work on how the early Saints incorporated the Book of Mormon into their own language. 

Jay Parry explains that "Joseph was emotionally sensitive even in his youth."

Predictably, there is the inevitable allusion to the SITH narrative, but fortunately it is brief.

Overall, it's a fine introduction to a variety of interesting topics.


Although short, each chapter includes notes to further resources. In a way, the biggest value of the book is the collection of references.

Unfortunately, this book, both print and digital, continues to reference the printed version of the Joseph Smith Papers. These books are very expensive and are not available in libraries outside the Intermountain west.

I suppose the Joseph Smith Papers project wants people to buy the books, but it is exasperating to continue to see references only to page numbers in the printed books when a simple url would let readers see the material online.

I make it a point in all my books to provide a url whenever possible.

Even the digital version of this book gives references only to the printed books. 

That's right: your Kindle version does not include links to the websites it references. It doesn't even include full urls that you can copy and paste.

True, we can go to and search for terms, but even if you come up with the optimum search term, you often get multiple results to sift through.

The Joseph Smith Papers could resolve this problem by enabling their search engine to find references based on volume and page number, but they don't.

Here's a typical reference:

Journal, Aug. 23, 1842, in JSP, J2:115-16.

If you go to  and search for J2:115, you get zero results.

If you search for "Journal, Aug. 23, 1842," you get 11 results. The top result takes you to the Aug 18, 1842 letter from Joseph to the Whitney's (not exactly the result you want). The second result references the journal page only in a note, and so on.

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