The Beautiful Death in the Smith Family
BYU Studies Vol. 45, No. 4, pp. 121-150, 2006
30 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2007
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.
Keywords: Mormonism, Death, Religious Culture, Martyrdom
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