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In the nonfiction series Joseph Smith Papers, Mormon historians look at the story of their church's founding. This intriguing documentary explores the ambitious effort to compile, transcribe, edit, and present the papers of, by, and directly related to the LDS Prophet Joseph Smith.

BYUtv
2 Seasons, 82 Episodes
November 21, 2010
History
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Joseph Smith Papers Full Episode Guide

  • Get an overview of the whole project--the books, the website, and the television series--and meet the reason why it exists in the first place.

  • Scholars from the project answer questions on skepticism, law and justice, Joseph the businessman, and more.

  • Review the lives of several prominent Latter-day Saints whose relationships with Joseph Smith were particularly close and steadfast, including Martin Harris.

  • Meet the Snows, whose deep imprints on the Church are still felt today.

  • Meet Parley and Orson Pratt, who were instrumental in finding and baptizing future Latter-day Saints and their leaders.

  • Review the lives of several prominent Latter-day Saints whose relationships with Joseph Smith were particularly close and steadfast, including William Clayton.

  • Peer into the heart of the Prophet to examine how his Christian beliefs were reflected in his actions and his teachings and encased in his character.

  • Recall the influential role Hyrum played in the Restoration and his unwavering support for his younger brother.

  • Revisit the setting and circumstances of the revelation on the afterlife in Doctrine and Covenants 76. Scholars discuss the Prophet's caution concerning how it should be disseminated and why it aroused the hostility of the Church's adversaries.

  • Review the circumstances that led to the revelation on the Word of Wisdom and the difficulty many of the Saints had in abiding by its precepts. Scholars discuss whether the Saints viewed the Word of Wisdom as "good counsel" or a commandment.

  • Examine the Prophet's loyalty to the Constitution--a document he called "a glorious standard, a heavenly banner"--and his observations on how it could be improved. Scholars discuss Joseph's views on religious freedom.

  • Get introduced to the intricate treatment of documents containing the revelations received by Joseph Smith. Scholars demonstrate how seemingly insignificant pieces of information can add significant context to our understanding of the revelations.

  • Scholars discuss the eventful history of the Pearl of Great Price, in particular its unusual beginnings.

  • Scholars examine the forms and structure of language in the Book of Mormon, challenge some common suppositions proposed by critics, and show how Joseph worked within the framework of an inspired translation to make the text more meaningful.

  • Learn of the origins of the Doctrine and Covenants. Scholars discuss the unusual ways the early revelations were dispersed and also examine the careful efforts of Joseph and other Church leaders to preserve the textual content of the revelations.

  • Scholars discuss Martin Harris and the lost manuscript, its dramatic impact on the Smith family, and the critical role it played in Joseph's prophetic education.

  • Scholars discuss what Joseph learned about the physical nature of God and of discovering a personal relationship with a being that can forgive and atone for sin.

  • Scholars detail the emergence of the official version of the First Vision, later canonized by the LDS Church.

  • Examine the history of hymn books used and produced by early Latter-day Saints. Scholars discuss Joseph's love of music and how the song associated with his martyrdom was modified to become part of the first official LDS hymnal.

  • Scholars provide compelling perspectives on how we have come to view the singular moment when a fourteen-year-old boy dared to ask God which church he should join.

  • Scholars discuss the revelation directed to Emma Smith to compile a body of music that would reflect the doctrine and character of the faith. Segments of various songs associated with the Restoration are performed.

  • Learn of the monumental Teachings of the Presidents of the Church--Joseph Smith manual, which was the culmination of exhaustive and meticulous efforts by LDS scholars and editors, published under the direction of Church leaders.

  • Examine the varied and exhaustive work undertaken to gather and make accessible the Prophet's teachings revealed to his people and to the world at large.

  • Learn more about the Smith family, including which of Joseph's siblings stayed true to the faith and why some didn't.

  • Visit Nauvoo, Illinois, and learn of the significance of the original Nauvoo Temple and of the establishment of the Relief Society.

  • Move through New York and Pennsylvania and through the beginnings of Mormonism, including the First Vision, printing the Book of Mormon, and Joseph's courtship of Emma Hale.

  • Visit areas that proved pivotal in the organization and growth of the early Church. Scholars reconstruct critical events in the life of the young prophet and retell the remarkable experiences during the construction and dedication of the Kirtland Temple.

  • Examine Joseph Smith's physical and personal characteristics. Scholars address some compelling questions, such as how Joseph's physical stature may have impacted the way he worked, played, and defended himself.

  • Examine the increased interest in the Mormon prophet from those outside the faith, including the bicentennial celebration of Smith's birth, held at the Library of Congress.

  • Scholars visit New England, where the Smiths and the Macks, Joseph's noble heritage, originated. Tour Vermont, where Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucky Mack began a large family--and a fascinating narrative unequaled in American religious history.

  • Discuss the contention that arose over who would succeed Joseph Smith as the leader of the Church, then discuss the race to complete the temple and the rush to receive its ordinances.

  • Learn about the events leading to the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith.

  • Recount the gloom that encompassed the Saints during the summer of 1844 and their uncertainty about a future without the companionship of the man they believed to be God's prophet.

  • Follow the Prophet's very unique entry into national politics including his opinions on the role of government and his contention that the Constitution contains but one flaw.

  • Legal scholars document the legal wrangling that kept the Prophet on the run, sometimes in hiding, and almost always on the defense during the Nauvoo years.

  • Explore the early foreign missions of the Church in Canada, the British Isles, Palestine, and the Pacific islands.

  • Examine a period of time in the early Church as Joseph introduces the doctrines that made the construction of a temple extremely urgent.

  • Scholars examine the first meetings of the Relief Society, including the admonition that the organization become a vital source in the church and community..

  • Recount the fascinating story of how a remarkable find in Egypt ended up half a world away in the hands of the one man who possessed the ability to produce the revelatory Abrahamic text.

  • Discuss how the Saints viewed the difference between Joseph's preaching and the revelations he received from God.

  • Recount the Prophet's meeting with President Van Buren in the fall of 1839, and examine Van Buren's history and Joseph's candid assessment of the power of the nation's capital.

  • Historians show how "the law" in Missouri held Joseph hostage to "legally" rid itself of Mormons.

  • Track the masterful development of what would become Nauvoo, the beautiful city--and then study the bittersweet implications that neither Nauvoo, nor Joseph's presence among the Saints, would last much longer.

  • Thousands of destitute Saints fled Missouri due to the extermination order, but their hope was rekindled when Joseph joined them to usher in a historic gathering.

  • A quorum of inexperienced but faithful men were called to preach in the British Isles. This mission turned out to be the impetus for the great European Mormon migration.

  • Historians recount the pivotal days that would eventually lead to expulsion from Missouri, captivity at Liberty, and a trek out West.

  • Tragic though it was, Joseph's experience in Liberty Jail was a profound and personal lesson in leadership. The saints also suffered deeply at this time, and Emma wrote that she could endure only through divine comfort

  • Travel through four states with about 200 men to learn that the true mission of Zion's Camp was more about the lessons of a journey than about the destination.

  • Recount the dark days of Kirtland: financial failure, a riot in the temple, betrayal, and mutiny.

  • Examine the few yet remarkable days in Kirtland that culminated with the appearance of the Savior.

  • Understand the true nature of Zion and the roles both mobs and Mormons played in the failure to build it. Witness what would have composed the greatest city that never came to be.

  • Scholars discuss the years in Kirtland that were filled with miracles, divine revelation, and instruction.

  • Revisit the night when Joseph is tarred and feathered and must prepare for the persecutions to come. Then, explore both the difficulties and the joys the Saints faced in their efforts to fulfill the command to build a temple.

  • The Prophet's claim to direct revelation was extremely radical and aroused prejudice and persecution. Nevertheless, the remarkable body of revelation he received restored pure doctrine and structured the restored Church.

  • Learn about the remarkable events surrounding the organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including the significance of the day chosen for organization and why six men were to become the founding fathers of Mormonism.

  • Observe in detail the changes that Joseph made to restore the "plain and precious" meanings of the Bible.

  • Church history scholar Carol Madsen reviews the papers that may have meant more to Joseph than any others: the letters between the prophet and his wife.

  • Learn how Joseph and his family lived within a few miles of the only man alive who could have saved Joseph's life.

  • Learn the history of Joseph's new translation of the Bible. Despite its significance, the manuscript was lost to the Church for over a century.

  • Study the life of Oliver Cowdery and witness his participation in the events of the Restoration, his apostasy, and then his powerful closing testimony.

  • Dean Jesse discusses Joseph's anxiety over keeping the history of a work that would change human events.

  • Explore the Prophet's personal journals to learn of his shortcomings, interpersonal conflicts, and challenges in leading the Saints into the future.

  • Review the time-consuming process of typesetting a 600-page book with nineteenth-century equipment.

  • Examine the origin, motivation, and accuracy of "The History of the Prophet Joseph Smith" by Lucy Mack Smith.

  • Explore portions of the original manuscripts of the Book of Mormon and study the remarkable principles and questions that continue to surface from this profound document.

  • Survey the complete process of gathering, scrutinizing, and organizing documents for publication.

  • Meet five of the scholars whose work is central to compiling a complete and accurate documentary of Joseph Smith.

  • Recount the remarkable relationship between Joseph and the angel Moroni and the extraordinary events that happened before Joseph obtained the gold plates.

  • In Joseph Smith Papers: Harmony there is a story of romance, family contention, rumors about treasure hunting, deepening persecution of burgeoning friendships, and sorrow.

  • Hear the four versions of the First Vision given by the Prophet.

  • Go deep into Joseph's four accounts of the First Vision, their differing detail, and the important context of time and circumstance that may clarify the variations.

  • Review the remarkable parallels between a young nation and its newest religion as they each struggled to develop their identity and destiny.

  • The small town of Palmyra is where young Joseph Smith and his family found themselves scraping to buy a farm, building a home, and then losing it all. And yet Palmyra is also the site of young Joseph's life-changing walk through the woods.

  • Historians set the stage for Joseph Smith Jr.'s early years in New Hampshire and Vermont.

  • The papers include the earliest of the foundational documents of the LDS Church. The papers will also provide insights from Joseph through his correspondence, journals, discourses, and business dealings.

  • Dissect the letters dictated by Joseph Smith while in Liberty Jail. Scholars share insight into Joseph's anxiety over the wretched condition of...

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