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
Date posted: November 16, 2007