In Heaven as It Is on Earth: Joseph Smith and the Early Mormon Conquest of Death

Samuel Morris Brown. Oxford Univ., $29.95 (400p) ISBN 978-0-19-979357-0
Mormonism is much in the news these days, primarily due to two Mormons running for the presidency. In fact, from its earliest days, the religion of the Saints has attracted notice for its expansive doctrinal innovations and its unusual lifestyle. In this groundbreaking and important volume, Brown, assistant professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of Utah, delves deeply into the many streams of thought that informed Smith’s formulation of the life hereafter. He shows how, when integrated into the larger Mormon scheme of temple-based worship, priesthood authority, and the ongoing ministration of angels, while somewhat foreign to modern thought, early Mormon beliefs display “a stunning ambition and coherence.” And this is, after all, the genius of Joseph Smith. Emerging at a time of intense religious competition, Smith and his closest associates developed a wonderfully complex belief system that mapped out the next life with clarity and consistency. Brown offers us a masterful look at this intriguing aspect of the Mormon worldview. This is must reading for students of the American religious tradition. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/12/2011
Release date: 01/01/2012
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