Early Mormonism and the Magic World View (Stephen E. Robinson)


In the past several years there has been a noticeably growing interest in alternative explanations for Mormon origins. Perhaps this is due to a certain lingering uneasiness that the present theories of cause are inadequate to explain the magnitude of the effects. At any rate, the most recent attempt to find a more satisfying explanation for Joseph Smith and the religion he founded is D. Michael Quinn’s Early Mormonism and the Magic World View. The major strength of Quinn’s book is the incredible breadth of its research. The bibliography appended to the main text is no less than sixty-seven pages in length and lists a multitude of arcane and often inaccessible volumes, including even rare medieval manuscripts. A second strength of the book for the non-Mormon reader is a total lack of any pro-Mormon bias. Although he is a Latter-day Saint, and despite his modest statement of faith in the introduction (xviii-xix), Quinn is clearly no LDS apologist. There is not a single page of the main text that would appear to be motivated by loyalty to the LDS church or its doctrines or to be apologetic of the Church’s interests.


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