BYU Releases Volume on LDS History

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    By Jared Preusz

    The Religious Studies Center released a new volume of Latter-day Saint history discussing the building of the Kirtland Temple, missions, and the establishment of the Western Reserve.

    The volume, “Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint History: Ohio and Upper Canada,” contains information not revealed before in church history. BYU religion professors Guy L. Dorius, Craig K. Manscill, and Craig James Ostler served as editors for the volume.

    As the sixth in a series, the volume contains seven essays focusing on topics of church history in Ohio and three in Upper Canada.

    The book was not written with the mass audience in mind, however. The volume has a limited circulation with only 300 copies in print.

    “It is not a popular, but rather a scholarly publication,” said Richard Draper, associate dean of religious education. “It also focuses on the latest research in the area and reveals the latest information.”

    Dorius, the senior editor, said one essay in the volume focuses on the ministry of Joseph Smith to Mount Pleasant in Canada and on converts John Taylor and Mary Fielding.

    Another essay deals with the second wife of Martin Harris, Caroline Young Harris. Dorius said many members of the church do not know much about her and this part of Martin Harris” life.

    Another essay details missionary efforts in Ohio that prepared the way for Joseph Smith”s ministry there.

    These and many other topics in the volume offer unique perspectives on the church history of Ohio and especially on the Upper Canada area, Dorius said.

    “The Upper Canada section will be fairly enlightening but new to any reader,” Dorius said. “I think many church members would not know much of the Canadian history.”

    In order to write the essays, BYU religion professors prepared doctrinal and historical theses before touring the area in the summer of 2004.

    One professor, Steven C. Harper, associate professor of church history and doctrine, wrote an article in the volume illustrating how culture and theology are tied into the history of the Ohio and Upper Canada areas.

    “The revelations that Joseph received compel people to choose between two different cultures,” Harper said.

    Harper said these two cultures are Zion and Babylon and there is “no way to live without choosing between Zion and Babylon.”

    The volume is comprised of essays written by BYU religion professors, like Harper, and three Canadian scholars.

    In the future the Religious Studies Center plans on releasing additional volumes in the history series, Dorius said.

    The next two volumes will focus on Latter-day Saint history in Great Britain and the South Pacific, he said.

    The current volume is now available at the BYU Bookstore for $19.95.

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