Date of Award:
Master of Arts (MA)
Philip L. Barlow
On June 27, 1844, Joseph Smith, the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints, was assassinated. In the wake of his death, a number of would-be
successors emerged. Each of these leaders - part of what I call the second prophetic
generation - established a unique vision of Mormonism.
In 1844, Mormonism was in the middle of a major shift in its character. Joseph
Smith’s death left numerous theological and practical questions unresolved. This thesis argues that, rather than merely a succession struggle of competition and power, a principal function of the second prophetic generation in Mormonism was to respond to Joseph Smith’s innovations and to forge alternate coherent (re-)interpretations of the Mormon faith that could continue into the future without access to the original prophet.
Two major issues that required reframing in a post-Smith world were issues of
domesticity and marriage and hierarchical structure. One or both of these issues are
considered in the thought of four second-generation prophets: Alpheus Cutler, William Smith, Charles Thompson, and Lyman Wight. Their response to these questions,
ultimately, resulted in distinct traditions within the Mormon movement.
Blythe, Christopher James, "Recreating Religion: The Response to Joseph Smith’s Innovations in the Second Prophetic Generation of Mormonism" (2011). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. Paper 916.
Copyright for this work is retained by the student.