Book Notice: "From Darkness unto Light: Joseph Smith's Translation and Publication of the Book of Mormon"


The Religious Studies Center at Brigham Young University and Deseret Book have co-published a new book titled From Darkness unto Light: Joseph Smith's Translation and Publication of the Book of Mormon. I have picked up a copy just today, and have been able to quickly skim through the contents of the book. Co-authored by Michael Hubbard MacKay and Gerrit J. Dirkmaat of the Joseph Smith Papers (and both assistant professors of Church history and doctrine at BYU) and with original artwork by Anthony Sweat, the book looks closely at the history of the translation and publication of the Book of Mormon in the years 1827–1830. MacKay and Dirkmaat draw from the cutting-edge research of the Joseph Smith Papers Project in their reconstruction of the Book of Mormon's translation and publication, including some heretofore unknown or underutilized historical sources. Topics touched on in the book include:

  • The retrieval of the plates.
  • Martin Harris' visit with Charles Anthon and other savants.
  • Early reactions to and accounts of Joseph Smith's finding of a "Gold Bible."
  • The method and instruments of the translation.
  • Attempts to secure a copyright for the publication of the Book of Mormon, including the attempt to secure a copyright in Canada.
  • The 3 and 8 Witnesses.
But perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of the new book is the artwork of Anthony Sweat, an assistant professor of Church history and doctrine at BYU. The book includes a number of original pieces by Sweat depicting Joseph Smith's translation of the Book of Mormon by peering into a seer stone at the bottom of a hat. Below are three of the new pieces, taken from Sweat's public Instagram page.



Sweat also includes an appendix ("By the Gift and Power of Art") explaining his artwork and artistic representations of the past in general.

Students of early Mormon history and the Book of Mormon should absolutely pick up a copy of this book! I've only skimmed it so far, but what I've seen is fantastic, and just what the doctor ordered when it comes to good, solid, reliable, and faith-promoting scholarship on the early days of the Restoration and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. I am excited to sink my teeth into this new volume, and hope you'll do the same.

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