Defending the Faith: 2 legal tests of Joseph Smith's integrity

Published: Thursday, Aug. 14 2014 7:00 a.m. MDT

Taken in conjunction with such other important legal-historical investigations as Walker’s 2010 “Mormon Historical Studies” essay “Joseph Smith’s Introduction to the Law,” on which I published a column "Joseph Smith was known as truthful" nearly three years ago, these articles provide specific and substantial support for the good character of the Prophet Joseph. (Walker’s article, slightly modified and now retitled “Standing as a Credible Witness in 1819,” is also republished in this new volume.) Time after time, the criticisms aimed at Joseph cannot withstand examination. In many cases, they actually turn into affirmations of his solid decency and integrity. (Consider, for example, what investigation of the early Hurlbut/Howe affidavits, gathered with the intent of discrediting Joseph and his family, actually discloses about them in my previous column "Were Smiths workers or slackers?")

Readers of this new book, “Sustaining the Law: Joseph Smith’s Legal Encounters," will learn about the organizing of the LDS Church, the Kirtland Safety Society, Missouri land claims, the Prophet’s last days in Nauvoo, how the Book of Mormon copyright was secured, and other historical issues — and will gain enhanced respect for the Prophet Joseph.

Daniel Peterson teaches Arabic studies, founded BYU's Middle Eastern Texts Initiative, directs MormonScholarsTestify.org, chairs mormoninterpreter.com, blogs daily at patheos.com/blogs/danpeterson and speaks only for himself.

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