Karl Ricks Anderson has lived in Kirtland, Ohio, for more than forty years, and his studies and time there have made him one of the leading authorities on the Kirtland period of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1994, Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles asked Anderson to write about the Christology of Kirtland. The Savior in Kirtland is the final product of Anderson’s eighteen-year project.
As the title suggests, The Savior in Kirtland focuses on manifestations of Jesus Christ during the Kirtland period. The book begins with an explanation of how Christ prepared “the Ohio,” including how he spiritually prepared Sidney Rigdon, and then describes the extraordinary events after the Saints gathered there. The area of Kirtland was a place of intense adversity; however, it was also a place of intense spirituality, as Joseph Smith and others received countless Christocentric revelations during the construction of the Kirtland Temple. All of these preparatory events culminated in the “mother lode of Christology” on April 3, 1836, when Jesus and the prophets Moses, Elias, and Elijah appeared and bestowed essential priesthood keys. In addition to the Kirtland period of Joseph Smith’s day, Anderson relates his own personal experiences in an appendix describing the ways the Lord directed his work in restoring Kirtland in the twentieth century.
The book is extensively researched and would appeal to anyone interested in anecdotes from Church history. The research will be helpful to scholars, but the information is presented in such a way that it seems to be directed to lay students of the gospel. The work collects accounts from numerous figures in Church history and weaves their stories together into an informative narrative. Quotations and incidents are gathered from the usual sources, such as the Doctrine and Covenants and History of the Church, but they are also gathered from countless other sources and collections, including personal journals from early Church members who lived in Kirtland. The wide range of sources brings to light many testimonies and accounts that are not often heard in the Latter-day Saint community. Additionally, each chapter begins with original illustrations by Carma de Jong Anderson and Tyson Snow. Overall, The Savior in Kirtland provides an extensive body of Kirtland scholarship that brings refreshing insights into Church history.