The Beautiful Death in the Smith Family

Samuel M. Brown

University of Utah School of Medicine

BYU Studies Vol. 45, No. 4, pp. 121-150, 2006

Mormon founder Joseph Smith lived and worked in a cultural world distinct in several important ways from that familiar to modern readers. Death in many senses dominated this worldview, and the primary documents confirm the centrality of death to Smith and his family. In this paper, I demonstrate the extent to which the Smiths participated in this culture, known as the "beautiful" or "good" or "holy" death. Understanding this context illuminates the social and emotional valence of Smith's religious innovations, depathologizes his mother Lucy's famous bereavements, and provides important new context for the meaning of martyrdom in early Mormonism.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 30

Keywords: Mormonism, Death, Religious Culture, Martyrdom

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Date posted: November 16, 2007  

Suggested Citation

Brown, Samuel M., The Beautiful Death in the Smith Family. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1030284

Contact Information

Samuel M. Brown (Contact Author)
University of Utah School of Medicine ( email )
1645 E. Campus Center
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
United States
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