Book Review: 'Preserving the History of the Latter-day Saints'

By Becky Robinette Wright

Published: Sunday, March 27 2011 6:00 a.m. MDT

“Preserving the History of the Latter-day Saints,” edited by Richard E. Turley Jr. and Steven C. Harper, Deseret Book, 288 pages, $21.95

In his talk “Making a Case for Church History” Elder Marlin K. Jensen indicates that in Doctrine and Covenants 21:1 the Lord commanded the Saints to “keep a record,” and in Doctrine and Covenants 47:3 the Lord further admonished that the record be kept “continually.”

The Lord further instructed that the records were to include “all things that transpire in Zion” (Doctrine and Covenants 85:1) to chronicle the “manner of life” and also the faith and works of the Latter-day Saints.

In their book “Preserving the History of the Latter-day Saints,” Richard E. Turley Jr. and Steven C. Harper compiled and edited a cornucopia of works that support the cause of recording and protecting the history of the Latter-day Saints as commanded by the Lord.

Elder Jensen further explains that without adequate historical records, the language of the people of Zarahemla became corrupted and they lost faith in their Creator (Omni 1:17).

Keeping records could have prevented this.

There is power in stories, Elder Jensen explained. God’s word is either expressed in narrative form or story form.

Turley also recounts brief biographical accounts of assistant church historians along with a talk on the publishing of church history.

Subjects in the 11-chapter book include such talks as “Making a Case for Church History” (Marlin K. Jensen); “Ignored and Unknown Clues of Early Mormon Record Keeping” (Robin Scott Jensen); “Modern Efforts to Preserve Church History” (Ronald K. Esplin) and “Doing the Impossible: Documenting the Worldwide Church" (Matthew K. Heiss).

Included in the talks are experiences of the prophet Joseph Smith and the recording of the account of the first vision, the story of the lost 116 pages of the manuscript, and the repercussions of losing a sacred record, which serves as a warning about disobeying the Lord’s commandments regarding his records.

Also expounded upon are the blessings of the diligent efforts of Wilford Woodruff and the invaluable journals containing recordings of the early talks and discourses from early church leaders.

Scriptural references are included with each talk.

Becky Robinette Wright is a freelance writer and photographer who lives in Virginia.

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