Date of Award:
Master of Arts (MA)
Joseph Smith published his first known recorded history in the preface to the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon. In it, he recounted the loss of the earliest portions of the book’s manuscript due to theft in a scheme the future prophet believed was concocted by the devil. Smith claimed to receive a revelation that instructed him on how to overcome the diabolic plot meant to discredit and destroy the Book of Mormon. This was not Smith’s first or last recorded encounter with the devil. He believed the devil was real and that he was engaged in a cosmic battle between God and Satan. Much of Smith’s early prophetic projects were directed at engaging and winning this cosmic battle. This important aspect of Joseph Smith’s religious thought, under-developed in the vast scholarship written about him, is crucial in understanding how he developed his prophetic identity and religious system. This thesis explores the impact Joseph Smith’s diabolism, that is his belief in and encounters with the devil, had on the formation of his prophetic identity, his production of new scripture, and the rise of early Mormonism.
Hepworth, Steven R., ""He Beheld the Prince of Darkness": Joseph Smith and Diabolism in Early Mormonism 1815-1831" (2021). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 8062.
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