Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Recreating religion: The response to Joseph Smith's innovations in the second prophetic generation of Mormonism
by Blythe, Christopher James, M.A., Utah State University, 2011, 118; 1491879
Abstract (Summary)

On June 27, 1844, Joseph Smith, the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was assassinated. In the wake of his death, a number of would-be successors emerged. Each of these leaders—part of what I call the second prophetic generation—established a unique vision of Mormonism.

In 1844, Mormonism was in the middle of a major shift in its character. Joseph Smith's death left numerous theological and practical questions unresolved. This thesis argues that, rather than merely a succession struggle of competition and power, a principal function of the second prophetic generation in Mormonism was to respond to Joseph Smith's innovations and to forge alternate coherent (re-)interpretations of the Mormon faith that could continue into the future without access to the original prophet.

Two major issues that required reframing in a post-Smith world were issues of domesticity and marriage and hierarchical structure. One or both of these issues are considered in the thought of four second-generation prophets: Alpheus Cutler, William Smith, Charles Thompson, and Lyman Wight. Their response to these questions, ultimately, resulted in distinct traditions within the Mormon movement.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Barlow, Philip L.
Commitee: McInerney, Daniel J., Sherlock, Richard
School: Utah State University
Department: History
School Location: United States -- Utah
Source: MAI 49/05M, Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Religion, American studies, American history
Keywords: Cutlerites, Mormon, New religious movements, Prophet, Smith, Joseph, Wight, Lyman
Publication Number: 1491879
ISBN: 978-1-124-61841-8
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