An Interpretive Framework for Studying the History of Mormonism
The Oxford Handbook of Mormonism
Oxford Handbooks Online
In considering the significance of the Book of Mormon in the initiation of this new religious movement, new scripture was at least as consequential as Joseph Smith’s charismatic leadership in the first two years. The book continued to signify that God was in touch with humanity, but its importance in the lives of the Latter-day Saints diminished during the stressful years in which the movement, under the leadership of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, took shape as a distinctive religious body. More recently, the book’s textual content has become an indispensable scriptural resource for the faith. The revelation on gathering set the Latter-day Saints apart wherever they went, causing inevitable conflict with non-Mormons, but their separationist stance and conception of living in God’s kingdom in the mountains also led the Saints to a sense of peoplehood. This feeling was transformed into ethnicity after the Mormons became US citizens.