This article examines Joseph Smith's early Bible usage, pursuing three interconnected arguments. First, I argue that Smith's texts "signify on" the Bible as a means of establishing their own scriptural authority, and that early-national print-Bible culture made this possible. Smith's ability to synthesize, compile, rearrange, reference, and play with biblical texts was the product of his access to the formats, paratextual apparatus, and translational variety of early-national bibles. Second, I argue that a central preoccupation of early-national Bible culture - the materiality of scripture - is also a central concern of the Book of Mormon. Like contemporary bibles, Smith's texts display concern for their own material reliability and address that concern through a multiplicity of authorial and editorial voices. Last, acknowledging the questions implied by a focus on Smith's Bible usage, I argue that scholars must take seriously the fact that he spoke and acted in the interest of his prophetic reputation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Religious studies