Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith

Before buying this hefty volume, take a good look. When I first saw this book’s cover, I was thrilled: here (I thought) is a new book discussing Joseph Smith’s teachings about various scriptural topics. Instead I was surprised to find a verbatim reprinting of the familiar 1976 edition of Joseph Fielding Smith’s 1938 Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, augmented with three brief additions, one alteration, and thousands of scripture reference footnotes.

Those footnotes were generated by computer searching, a procedure that hits a few real gems but also tons of unsifted scree. Some footnotes lead the reader to specific quotes, but others are based on single words or loose verbal or conceptual similarities. I would have appreciated some indication of which word or phrase is tied to each scripture reference, how the less-obvious scriptures are pertinent to the text, or when one might believe that Joseph Smith had these particular scriptures in mind as he spoke.

While this book will serve well to encourage more meticulous study of the teachings of Joseph Smith in light of his unparalleled scriptural fluency, the volume missed a good opportunity to utilize some of the recent textual research on the words of Joseph Smith.

Nevertheless, the title has an undeniable lure to it. It will undoubtedly sell like hotcakes.

Published in BYU Studies Quarterly 33:1
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