July 29, 2009

Review: "Amasa Mason Lyman, Mormon Apostle and Apostate: A Study in Dedication"

Author: Edward Leo Lyman
Publisher: University of Utah Press
Genre: Biography/History
Year Published: 2009
Number of Pages: 646
ISBN13: 9780874809404
Price: 39.95

Ask a group of current Mormons to identify any LDS apostles who served between 1844 and 1900 and you will likely hear about Brigham Young or Heber C. Kimball. Ask for the name of a person who never ascended to the First Presidency and you are likely to draw blank stares. Mention the name “Amasa Mason Lyman,” well…

Despite being relatively unknown today, many of these early leaders made important contributions to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For his part, Amasa (pronounced “Am-uh-see”) was once considered one of the finest early Mormon preachers. Having read some of his engaging sermons, I anticipated the publication of Amasa’s new biography with relish. The author, Edward Leo Lyman—a direct descendant—promises an “objective and complete treatment of this important subject” despite making no “pretense of seeking to veil” his admiration for Amasa. Who was this enigmatic apostle, what were his contributions to early Mormonism, what were the circumstances behind his excommunication, and how did he spend the final years of his life? Leo believes his forefather has not received enough attention from historians and hopes to correct this problem. To Leo, Amasa had “more influence than has usually been recognized” in historical accounts (74) and deserves “much more credit” for the success of early Mormonism in spite of being “almost forgotten” today (244). He “attempts to redress a century and a half of diminished attention” by underscoring Amasa’s valuable Church service and honorable life (297). He also hopes to help readers understand why such a promising apostle was dropped from the Quorum of the Twelve and excommunicated from the LDS Church. In short: Leo seeks to “justify the ways of Amasa to men,” and all good morality tales need an antagonist to contest the protagonist. More on that below.

The biography will interest anyone interested in early Mormon history because Amasa’s life was so intertwined with the rise of the Church. The narrative chronicles many aspects of early Church history almost from its inception through the 1870s, including early missionary proselyting in the United States and overseas, church administration, the pioneer exodus, colonization, plural marriage, the aftermath of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and dissent in the highest quorums. Readers see these events as experienced by one of the Church’s earliest and lesser-known apostles. In the process, Leo wades through primary sources and family lore to analyze and sift wheat from chaff, attempting to present the most reliable information possible. (Unfortunately, following him through the endnotes is tedious because the publisher elected to print them in the back of the book as opposed to bottom-of-the-page footnotes.) I enjoyed the glimpses into how various Lyman descendants have understood, depicted and interpreted Amasa’s experiences. While interacting with previous researchers, Leo includes many personal details on early Mormon life that may seem foreign to today’s average Latter-day Saint.

For instance, readers will enjoy reading more about early Mormon family life. Amasa’s concern and affection for his wives and children are apparent in the personal correspondence Leo includes. These relationships were strained by the difficulties of living in plural marriage and the constant missions the apostle performed which took him away from family. Amasa’s letters contain beautifully poetic (only occasionally over-the-top) prose as he describes his labors, apologizes for absences, and constantly urges family unity. The financial troubles, loneliness, and other struggles faced by these families are necessary to consider when imagining pre-Manifesto Mormonism. A useful appendix traces the maze of Lyman familial relationships, though it is easy to become confused as wives and children increase and spread out to settle in different locations. Perhaps a visual graphic family tree would have been helpful.

Examination of Amasa’s involvement with the Council of Fifty is hampered by the unavailability of early historical documents pertaining to the organization. Nevertheless, Leo makes use of the available sources to describe Amasa’s prominence in that early movement, detailing Joseph Smith’s ordination of Amasa to the apostleship and then his confusing shift from that Quorum to the presidency of the Council of Fifty. The nebulous responsibilities and direction of these priesthood assignments demonstrates the flexible nature of the early quorums. After Smith’s death, Amasa vouched for the authority of the Quorum of the Twelve during the succession crisis, an important gesture that helped the Quorum gain more adherence than other splinter groups.

Amasa’s loyalty to Joseph Smith is examined as a prominent feature of his faith in the gospel—and interestingly, his later involvement in spiritualism. Spiritualism and the so-called “Godbeite” movement to which Amasa became allied following his apostasy is a fascinating, though short, part of early Mormon thought and doctrinal development. Leo argues that Amasa played a larger role in the protest movement’s intellectual side than has been previously described. Beginning in the mid-to-late 1850s Amasa became fascinated with the spiritualist movement which had recently grew to prominence beginning in the “Burned-over District” of New York. He held several hundred séances before the end of his life—including many before his excommunication from the Church. In some séances Amasa believed Joseph Smith communicated to him from beyond the grave, leading him to believe he was on the right track while the mainstream Church was derailing from Joseph’s earlier revealed truths. Regrettably, Leo only gives a brief and somewhat scattered overview of the spiritualist aspects of the Godbeite movement. Specifically, he fails to include any in-depth description of how Amasa actually conducted a séance. If the records are too sparse to go into such detail Leo doesn’t say, but there are many other interesting works on the spiritualist movement that could have been consulted to supplement his treatment with a little more detail. A fuller examination is warranted because spiritualism played an important role in Amasa’s later estrangement from the Church as he drifted further from commonly-held Church doctrine. I was not convinced that Amasa may have thought his activities with spiritualism could have been excusable based on the relative fluidity of early Mormon doctrine. “Spirit rapping” and other such phenomena had been denounced by various church leaders before. As early as 1842 Joseph Smith had revealed certain signs and words whereby “false spirits” could be detected. I am curious as to whether Amasa ever employed such advice in his séances. Amasa was very selective in inviting particular people to join his activities and it appears as though he consciously avoided inviting or discussing it with his fellow apostles, several of whom had already warned congregants against such practices in public sermons throughout the 1850s.

Amasa’s growing distance from “orthodox” Church doctrine came to a head during his 1862 mission to Europe. One crucial sermon Amasa delivered in Dundee, Scotland (subsequently published in the Millennial Star) eventually led Young and the Quorum of the Twelve to request that Amasa correct himself. Amasa made a brief attempt to recant, but couldn’t reconcile his views on Christ’s atonement with what the Quorum understood to be acceptable Church doctrine. Wilford Woodruff noted his feeling that Amasa had actually taught “the worst herricy man can preach.” Similar to other Universalist preachers, Amasa essentially taught that Jesus Christ was a normal man whose blood and sacrifice held no efficacy for the redemption of the human race. Instead, Jesus was the great teacher and exemplar mankind should follow, but no more than that. Following this line of thought, any person could effectively redeem him/herself without Christ’s redemption. It was simply too unorthodox for a man called as a “special witness of Christ” to advocate. Leo downplays the doctrinal deviance as a factor of Amasa’s censure before the Quorum of the Twelve by pointing to other apostles who had preached doctrines Young found heretical (Orson Pratt, for instance). He posits that because other apostles were not excluded from the Quorum for these disagreements, something more personal must have led Young to unfairly target Amasa. It is critical to note that no other apostle had taught such radical things concerning the atonement of Christ and it is clear that his beliefs bothered virtually the entire Twelve, whereas less unanimous views tempered other doctrinal disagreements. A brief appendix discusses the under-defined LDS Christology (the result of the Church’s lack of a systematic theology) but stops short of advocating what Amasa himself advanced. Another interesting appendix contains early missionary notes Amasa wrote regarding the atonement which seem to contrast radically from his later views expressed in Dundee. Including the full text of the Dundee sermon in another appendix would have been useful, though. Amasa initially tried to repent of his “herricy” and issued a retraction in the Deseret News, but his conscience wouldn’t allow him to proceed further and he began preaching his views of Christ again and was cut off from the Quorum, and then full Church membership shortly thereafter. From there, Leo traces his sporadic Church attendance, continuing interest in spiritualism, and declining health.

Unfortunately, a clear and convincing interpretive framework never emerges throughout the book. Instead, readers are treated to a lengthy chronological story in dry prose with an occasional break in the story for explanation of a particular doctrine or practice. The book basically focuses on one thing: vindicating Amasa as one of the greatest early members of the Church who has been marginalized because of his apostasy. In some ways Leo is correct; Amasa has been forgotten in far too many ways, including his sacrifices to join the church, his interesting missions, his participation in early LDS temple worship, the founding and governing of San Bernardino, California, his struggles trying to reconcile personal feelings with church authority, his unorthodox views of the atonement, his determination to maintain integrity for what he believed to be the truth, his devoted and loving son who became an apostle and later begged to have Amasa reinstated, and the eventual posthumous restoration of all former blessings (including a fascinating vision/dream by one of Amasa’s daughters which helped tip the scales in Amasa’s favor for President Joseph F. Smith’s decision to restore the blessings). The book lends valuable commentary on all of the above.

Perhaps the book’s greatest weakness is its devolving into something of a morality play between Amasa and Brigham Young; there is clearly no love lost between the Leo and Young. In order to explain Amasa’s excommunication and why he has evidently been marginalized in historical accounts, Leo depicts Young as a militant tyrant who was determined to marginalize Amasa in order to prevent him from usurping power and influence. Thus, the wise and free-thinking Amasa faces off against the cold, power-hungry Young whose "regime" (always "regime") is much too controlling, hyper-critical, and close-minded for the more enlightened Amasa and his like-minded friends. The rhetorical advantage is clearly offered to Amasa as Leo employs many negative adjectives to color anything Young does in a negative hue while Amasa most often receives the benefit of the doubt. According to Leo, Young’s dislike for Amasa began in Nauvoo when he viewed Amasa as a threat to his authority and relationship with Joseph Smith. Amasa’s later popularity as a speaker and community-building in San Bernardino caught Young’s ire. For Amasa, Young was departing from the gospel as he understood it to be preached by Joseph Smith, but it is easily apparent that Leo tends to follow Amasa's view of Smith instead of employing a fuller historical view of the prophet. Amasa appears to have latched onto only certain aspects of the prophet’s teachings. He highly values Smith's encouragement to seek knowledge and intelligence and his positive portrayal of man as a child of God with all the potential that entails. However, he overlooks the “Kingdom-building” Joseph, who directed the construction of hotels, the marching of militia's, the founding of banking institutions and other more temporal pursuits. In this regard he fails to recognize many of the prophet’s teachings which strongly impacted Young’s vision of the Church’s direction. At no point does the book provide a good sense of what Young was trying to accomplish while leading the Church or how he understood his own role. He is basically a mysterious, arbitrary dictator traveling around the Territory with his "entourage" telling the hapless Saints what to do.

In several places Leo specifically calls into question Young’s reputation as “the Great Colonizer” based on decisions Leo sees as misguided. For instance, he believes Young’s failure to get the most out of Amasa’s San Bernardino ranch will clue readers into just how poor Young really was at managing outlying Mormon settlements. If anything, (to Leo) Mormon settlements were successful in spite of anything Young did, not as a result of his direction or vision. “A decade ago,” Leo says, “I asserted that Young's aloofness during the preparation period [when the San Bernardino settlement company was being formed] calls into question his reputation as ‘the great colonizer.’ There has been no reason presented since then to alter that conclusion” (p. 190). I advance one reason: it is simply a weak claim to begin with and completely overlooks Young’s own intentions. Given the current available information on Young’s accomplishments, picking out a few poor decisions doesn’t overturn the general picture of the man. Moreover, Young’s colonization efforts are best understood through his own religious outlook. Comparing Amasa’s best with Young’s worst does a disservice to both men and Leo actually misses a good opportunity to help readers understand both men better. His dislike of Young is entirely too evident. I am not disagreeing with Leo’s focusing of the narrative on Amasa’s strengths and weakness versus Young’s weaknesses and strengths. Indeed, I do not believe historians can avoid such value judgments. My problem is in the results based on the available records. His sympathies clearly reside with Amasa (which is no surprise) and this is easily detectable by looking at the benefit of the doubt extended to Amasa as opposed to Brigham, who serves as the book’s antagonist. The rhetorical advantage is always granted to Amasa by allowing him the last word and viewing him with a sympathetic eye. Perhaps this is to be expected in a biography of Amasa, but I believe Young is misrepresented to the detriment of the overall book. The main problem is we aren't getting a treatment of Amasa's own views of Young, rather, the narrator's.

Finally, I do not find Leo’s dismissal of Amasa’s possible mental instability later in life particularly convincing. Late in the story Leo notes that one of Amasa's wives complained that Amasa spent weeks at a time in bed depressed and debilitated, only to rise, come out of it, and go about his former work with renewed zeal. Leo explains this away as the bitter explanations of an estranged wife and claims there is no documented evidence. However, Leo talks often of long breaks in Amasa's journals and he notes several periods where he can't find any information about Amasa actually doing anything. Many of these lapses are explained as recurring chronic illness, but it can’t be proven that depression never played a role in these lapses. Perhaps the testimony of Amasa’s wife deserves more consideration. Even Brigham Young believed something was wrong with Amasa near the end and speculated about mental instability—something Young rarely did. Whatever the causes, Amasa became somewhat condescending toward the end of his life as he wrote to close friends about the simpleton Saints with whom he occasionally shared the pews attending Church in Fillmore. He was never rebaptized and requested to be buried in a black suit instead of white temple robes. The efforts of several relatives to get Amasa’s membership and blessings restored posthumously sum up a touching conclusion.

Leo’s biography joins several other important works from the University of Utah Press, including Breck England’s The Life and Thought of Orson Pratt and Greg Prince’s David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism. The publisher should be applauded for continuing to offer these works on LDS leaders and history. While perhaps the weakest of the three, Leo’s substantial volume is still very useful in giving an idea of Amasa’s contributions, sacrifices, and interesting life. Leo wants readers to know that Amasa Lyman was one of the most important Mormons of the early days of the Church and he has spent an impressive amount of time, energy, and research to that end. It seems Leo is unfamiliar with the old adage “show, don’t tell!” The book might have been more powerful with a more skillfully crafted narrative. Leo does well to show us what we might be missing, but it would have been more powerful had he allowed Amasa’s deeds to make the case without repeated reminders that Amasa has often been overlooked in historical studies. After all, Amasa’s best self appears to be reluctant to proclaim his own accomplishments and sound his trumpet. Aside from these problems, I believe this book will remain the most complete source on Amasa for years. Leo has done a great service for his ancestor and I thank him for helping me get to know Amasa more intimately than before.





2 1/2 out of 5 Plates

*Worth reading
*Not the most well-crafted narrative
*Interpretive disagreements

23 comments:

Matt W. said...

This was really interesting. I guess the atonement has to be more than "Moral Exemplar" theory. It's interesting because Cleon Skousen says this is the view John Widtsoe gave to him as well...

BHodges said...

Yeah, I think Amasa's view would fit somewhere within a moral exemplar theory as well. I also don't see him make an argument that Christ was uniquely capable of providing such atonement. I'm kicking around some ideas on looking closely at his atonement views for a specific post aside from the review. Lots to think about.

J. Stapley said...

Thanks for the review.

BHodges said...

NP, JS. Had fun at WPMS the other night.

mormonhistory1830 said...

Thanks for the Review, well thought out and thorough. I'm looking forward to getting through the book myself at some point.

Ben said...

Thanks for this, Blair.

However, I fear you are not giving Amasa enough credit in terms of his Christology. If you read JS's later discourses, he speaks a lot about having to save ourselves and save those around him. Parley Pratt's Key to the Science of Theology was two hundred pages on Mormon theology--and Christ's atonement is mentioned once in passing reference.

This isn't to say that they didn't believe that salvation was through Christ, or that they went as far as Amasa did, but that their rhetoric sometimes made it appear that way (I think Christ's redemption was often more of an undercurrent than a theme). I can totally see how Amasa could just take the message the next step. While it is definitely a departure from Mormon doctrine of the time, I don't think the gulf is as wide as you make it out to be.

BHodges said...

Ben, I put off an in-depth analysis of Amasa's Christology because it deserves more time and attention outside of a review. Plus it gives me a headache. For the purposes of the biography, (and what I was trying to communicate in the review) I wasn't advancing a gulf between Amasa and JS, but between Amasa and the Twelve (and BY). When I note Amasa's views were "simply too unorthodox for a man called as a 'special witness of Christ' to advocate," I mean in terms of the then-current views on Christ and atonement in the Quorum. (As you say, he also took things a step further than JS did, as well). I agree with you that it is practically certain Lyman used things he had learned from JS (even if selectively) in crafting his Christology.

BHodges said...

BTW, I found that citation of Jacob by OP. The Seer, Vol. 1, No. 2 (February 1853), p. 27, 30. Thanks for the heads up. Have you seen it anywhere else?

(Parenthetically, it's interesting that it seems to come up in response to criticism; a q and a format is used. "Do you believe that the Book of Mormon is a divine revelation? We do. Does that book teach the doctrine of plurality of wives? It does not. Does the Lord in that book forbid the plurality doctrine?...")

Ben said...

Thanks for clarifying your stance, Blair; there is nothing in your comment that I would quibble with, though Pratt's "Key" was published in '55 and should be taken in consideration when viewing the twelve's thought. I don't think there is a gulf between Amasa and PP, but you are definitely right that the rest of the twelve were far on the other end.

And I'm glad you found the OP source. I'm afraid I can't help you with any other references, because I am woefully unfamiliar with the Utah period (I only venture out to read Parley and had to read OP's The Seer for the seminar). While the Q&A format may appear like he was responding to critiques, in reality it was a common literary device that Orson often used; he thought it was the best way to present theology (see several of his editorials in "The Prophet" in 1845). So, he probably wasn't responding to any specific critique.

BHodges said...

Your response re: atonement indicated I needed to be more erudite and tighten up that part of the review (If I ever send this thing anywhere. These comments suffice for the blog).

Yeah, I recognize the common literary device of the Q and A, but Pratt was also familiar with a lot of the tracts floating around from England at the time with all their polygamy-dissin' accusations. I'll have to revisit Foster's Penny Tracts and Polemics to find a specific example, but I'm almost certain I've seen some anti stuff from the period that makes that specific accusation.

adamf said...

Thanks for the review, I was just given a copy of the book yesterday, and was intrigued that the dust jacket seemed to imply that Amasa was exed because of his critical stance on MMM.

BHodges said...

adam,

There is a subtle sub-plot that hints at that as being a factor but it didn't seem like Leo really bought that argument. He did, however, note the noise the Godbeites made when Amasa died. They made a very big deal about the still-mysterious MMM thing in their eulogizing. Indeed, Lyman was really sad about the whole situation. Leo talks a little about how he worked with folks in the south to help them cope. Southern Utah was basically his area of greatest influence other than San Bernardino. I would have liked to know more about what people divulged to him, and why he didn't pass that info (if there was much substance to it) along, etc. The cover seems to overplay that, though.

Another interesting point: for all the guff Leo gives Brigham, he doesn't go as far as Bagley seems to in implying the massacre was ordered by Young. He basically follows the line of thought that says the preaching of BY and others helped create a disastrous climate that resulted in a massacre indirectly. Still, Leo also paints the new Walker, Turley, Leonard book as a near-apologetic white-wash piece. I disagreed with the way he interpreted their work in several places. Maybe a blog post in the future, September or something, would be nice to go over that in more detail.

Sanford said...

Blair,

I am only 1/2 way through the book so I am reserving judgement on the merits of the book but it does seem to take some serious jabs at Brigham Young. The problem is that I am not well read enough to know if Leo is being defensive or brave. You see unfairness but perhaps he is just more candid than most authors who discuss Brigham. What do you rely upon to inform your opinion opinion of Brigham Young? Did you think that Leo's characterization of Brigham's lack up support for San Bernadino rings ture? Especially where he caused Amasa to be in Utah while he allowed Rich to take steps to dismantle the colony? I ask you these things because it is clear you are much better informed about these things than me. Thanks.

BHodges said...

Sanford,

When I started this blog a few years ago it started as a commentary of sorts on the Journal of Discourses. I got side-tracked by taking an interest in Brigham so read Arrington, Bagley, England, and others, the MS-History of BY, a bunch of correspondence, and other stuff. I have more to learn for sure, but what I currently know about BY didn't mesh with Leo's interpretation.

Where I disagree with Lyman is in the weight he assigns Young's decision. Young's goals differed from what Leo presents. So when Leo says Young's reputation as the "great colonizer" is doubtful, I actually agree with him, only for entirely different reasons. I believe Young was a great colonizer, but he wouldn't really see himself that way, he was truly interested in the Kingdom of God, not just being a good settler. By failing to understand Young on his own terms as best as can be Leo misrepresents Young. Did Young make decisions that hurt the LDS settlement of Ban Bernardino? Evidently, but it isn't clear it was ever his goal to make such an outpost a success if there were higher priorities to consider. Even if Leo's view is right, Young really blew it with San Bernardino, who ever said a "great colonizer" had to be a "perfect colonizer"?

BHodges said...

By the way, 2 1/2 may seem low, but it's half way to 5, and I rarely give 5's.

adamf said...

Interesting...

Sometimes I wonder if calling something "apologetic" or "white-washing" these days is more just to dismiss a book or an interpretation. I just don't see how any book written by an active LDS could totally avoid that criticism, just like any book written by an ex-mo or nonmember about Mormonism could not totally avoid the "anti" or "antagonistic" label. What aspects of the MMM book did Leo disagree with?

BHodges said...

I don't have my books or notes on me at the present, but when he first refers to the MMM book he describes it as something like a "semi-official church version" and implies it is apologetic. In a few cases he actually misinterprets what the MMM book argues altogether and then refutes a straw man. I am pretty certain he didn't do the second thing deliberately, but he does tend to "wink" at the MMM book altogether.

Phoebe said...

Thanks for the review. My copy came in the mail a few days ago. I could not find one review of it until yours showed up online.

I am at the point where the author criticizes Hefner and her work on Lyman. I am curious to know what you think of this--is the criticism deserved?

BHodges said...

Phoebe, I wasn't able to read much of Hefner before I wrote the review. My general impression is that Leo had some solid criticism to make regarding a few key aspects of her interpretation of Amasa. Leo uses some pretty charged language to paint Hefner as relatively worthless, but Leo himself makes use of a few sources only she was able to see (since they are now apparently protected in the archives). I actually thought Leo spent too much time in-text referring to Hefner. While he could have referred to her work, I think he did so too often.

In short: I'd have to look closer at Hefner to know for sure. She is evidently more sympathetic to the wives who divorced Amasa following the excommunication, etc.

Phoebe said...

You are right. I'm now 400 pages into the book and Lyman spends too much time on Hefner. I'm a great admirer of Political Deliverance so I am somewhat disappointed in this book--so far.

nevo.redivivus said...

BHodges: "Leo also paints the new Walker, Turley, Leonard book as a near-apologetic white-wash piece."

This is interesting, because JI's Jared T. recently characterized Lyman's JMH review (Spring 2009) as "generally positive." (Link)

BHodges said...

I haven't read Leo's review of MMM, but he doesn't really bring the book up except to disagree with it. Now, this in and of itself isn't a bad thing to do, it is perfectly plausible that someone could generally like a book but have a few quibbles with it, and to try to clarify one's own position on those quibbles in another book is pretty normal. The trouble I see is that Leo tends to impute motives to other writers (Hefner especially) or rather he detects a lot of bias in what others have written and makes note of it. Consider his reference to Walker's Wayward Saints on pg. 590, fn. 73. For Leo, Walker's one-liner about Godbeite leaders becoming "impatient with the heavens and with [Joseph] Smith [III]," thus turning to Amasa for leadership, "demonstrates" Walker's "own disdain for the movement." Unless a reader has checked out Walker's book, it paints the book unfairly in my view, and further I found it odd that Leo would point out Walker's "disdain" for the movement when he himself shows much, much more "disdain" for Brigham Young in his book to contrast Walker's views on BY. On p. 556, fn. 26 he notes that Turley, Walker and Allen "argue (unconvincingly) that the sermon was largely aimed at informing or warning non-Mormons." This is an oversimplification of Turley, et.al.s argument, and further, I didn't think it was unconvincing, and Leo's narrative provides nothing more convincing anyway. In my view if you're going to call someone's explanation unconvincing, give a little more detail as to why, especially when your own view appears less convincing by not addressing as much information as the other authors did. In another footnote he calls the book the "semi-official church version" of things, (p. 557) and that they seek to "essentially minimize" the role of particular church leaders in precipitating the massacre. From his introduction comments that the official church is antagonistic to historical truth if it casts a bad light on various church leaders, and that some consider it "serious sin" to do so (p. xiv). This doesn't make his "semi-official church version" comment appear very flattering to me. There is an in-text statement made that I can't find right now that also made me scratch my head, if I find it again soon I will add it here. The general impression is Leo was saying "pretty good...for a church book." This is why I said he paints it as a "near" apologetic etc. But perhaps I could stand to be more clear.

Leo jabs several authors this way, such as straight up saying one of Loretta Hefner's papers was the mere "work of a master's degree student who did not properly study her source materials." (p. 553, fn. 200). If someone makes a case with which you disagree, does that indicate they did not "properly" study source materials as you have? It is an unnecessary jab among many, and distracted me from Leo's own work. Leo isn't just out to set the record straight, but to make sure you know who before him got it wrong, and repeatedly. He spends way too much time in-text complaining about Hefner.

BHodges said...

aha, I need to shape this review up a little better. I like this line: "The biography will interest anyone interested in early Mormon history because..."

A Hebraism?

Post a Comment

All views are welcome when shared respectfully. Use a name or consistent pseudonym rather than "anonymous." Deletions of inflammatory posts will be noted. Thanks for joining the conversation.