As Richard L. Bushman points out in the foreword to From Darkness unto Light, “This volume is the first of what could be many potential histories coming out of the Joseph Smith Papers Project” (v), which has been a central goal of JSP leadership from the beginning of this vital scholarly initiative. I wish success to the JSP project and the resulting scholarship to help fulfill the inspired directive given through the Prophet on the day the Church was organized: “Behold, there shall be a record kept among you; and in it thou [Joseph Smith] shalt be called a seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the church through the will of God the Father, and the grace of your Lord Jesus Christ, being inspired of the Holy Ghost to lay the foundations thereof, and to build it up unto the most holy faith” (D&C 21:1–2). I cannot imagine a more worthy goal for this scholarly undertaking.
To this end, From Darkness unto Light uses both familiar and obscure historical sources to create a more complete and accurate account of Joseph Smith’s ministry and the life of the early Latter-day Saint faith. I found the following narratives, along with their new details, particularly informative: retrieving the plates from the Hill Cumorah, using other scribes beside Martin Harris and Oliver Cowdery , seeking support for the authenticity of the Book of Mormon from recognized scholars, using certain translation methods and techniques, finding a printer for the manuscript, and paying for the printing. The title of the book, then, has a double meaning: it clarifies many facets of the book’s “coming forth” that were previously unknown, misunderstood, or considered problematic, and it documents events that produced Mormonism’s first and most distinctive truth claim (the Book of Mormon). For these reasons alone, this book is an important addition to Mormon historical scholarship and should be a welcome read for all who are interested in the gospel's restoration in this dispensation.