Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling

I recently finished reading Richard Bushman's wonderful biography of Joseph Smith. I loved it. Unfortunately, the tone he chose for the book was probably not right if he truly wants his book to replace Brodie's as the definitive work on Joseph Smith. His premise was that he would try to present Joseph and his followers saw him. and avoid digging into the veracity of his claims. Admittedly this made for a shorter book than it would have been had he addressed his detractors claims. And to tell you the truth, it is pretty long as it is. But his intent was to present what was going on in his mind. Why did he do the things he did and what events in his life contributed to his decisions. Although Bushman was willing to bring up issues some devote Mormons will be uncomfortable with, Bushman nearly always came down on the sympathetic side of Joseph Smith's controversial life.

Bushman did note something I had not noticed before. When non-mormon historians write about Joseph Smith, they tend to refer to him as "Smith." When Mormons refer to him they call him "Joseph." Bushman decided to use "Joseph: in his book, to be true to the tone of his book. In writing this post, I noticed just how hard it is to decide the which to use. Part of me wants to use "Joseph", and another part to use "Smith." For now I use his full name, but I guess I'll just have to see where I come down on this as I write more.

1 comment:

Lacey said...

Good for people to know.