Are you searching for reliable sources to enrich your study of the Prophet Joseph Smith?
Do you feel a desire to become better acquainted with the greatest prophet ever to live excepting the Son of God? What did he teach?
How did Joseph Smith interact with his friends and his enemies?
What would it have been like to walk with “Brother Joseph” during the early days of the Church?
Many are unaware that there is a war going on. The danger of being unaware is the danger of becoming a casualty. Joseph Smith is being maligned, slandered and vilified more than ever before.
[Moroni] called me by name, and said . . . that God had a work for me to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people. 1
In his history, the Prophet Joseph recorded that “[i]f I were to relate a thousandth part” of the lies being circulated regarding him and his family, “it would fill up volumes.” 2 What if, instead of looking to the Pharisees, Sadducees and Juduses of the 19th century, we spoke with those who were loyal, those who kept the faith and endured to the end?
LDS Answers has gathered the following list of 10 recommended books to enrich your study and appreciation for the life and teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
- They Knew the Prophet
- Remembering Joseph
- Words of Joseph Smith
- The History of the Prophet By His Mother
- Life of Joseph Smith
- Essentials in Church History
- His Name Shall Be Joseph: Ancient Prophecies of the Latter-day Seer
- Joseph Smith The Prophet
- Joseph Smith: The Choice Seer
- Joseph Smith’s Commentary On The Bible
#1 – They Knew the Prophet
Compiled by Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus
“Personal Accounts from over 100 People Who Knew Joseph Smith!
“Get to know Joseph Smith from those who can tell the story best — those who personally knew the prophet. Dozens of fascinating stories reveal not only a man of exceptional spiritual power, but also a man full of kindness, charm, and warmth. Throughout these edifying accounts, Joseph Smith’s humanity shines as brightly as does the mantle of prophet, seer, and revelator.
“This intriguing volume contains many of the more interesting statements made by those who were associated with the founder of the LDS Church. These insights illustrate the personality of a man who was as at home “rasslin” as he was proclaiming the word of God. Through personal recollections you’ll discover how children saw Joseph, how those who joined the Church loved him, and how those who worked with him felt about this complex spiritual leader.
“Perfect for individual or family study, They Knew the Prophet will continue to build faith as it is read again and again. More than any other book, it will make you feel that you, too, know the Prophet.” (Deseret Book)
#2 – Remembering Joseph
“Anyone interested in Joseph Smith will be fascinated by Remembering Joseph, the most complete collection ever of stories from the Prophet’s family, friends, acquaintances — even his enemies. Organized topically, the stories treat a wide variety of subjects: the character of Joseph Smith, the doctrines he taught, the gifts of the Spirit he enjoyed, important events in his life, and many others. A great number of these stories have not previously been published. A great resource on the Prophet’s life, from the perspective of those who saw him live it.” (Deseret Book)
#3 – Words of Joseph Smith
Compiled & Edited by Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook
“This book contains a full collection of Joseph Smith’s Nauvoo discourses in the mature and climatic years of his life.
- All are cross-referenced to earlier sayings and discourses of Joseph Smith.
- Also, these discourses are indexed to all the biblical and other scriptural verses discussed or alluded to and
- provided is the contextual settings for each discourse in proper chronological sequence.
- Footnotes to the discourses in terms of their historical and doctrinal kinships.
- All of these discourses, recorded by some 60 different persons are interlaced with other fundamental teachings of this rich and formative period of Church History.
“[The sermons] are reproduced in this book in exact fidelity to their original written sources in diaries and journals, including spelling and grammatical deviations.” (Amazon)
“Here for the first time in church literature, presented with almost photographic fidelity, are the original sources of all the discourses of Joseph Smith delivered during his climactic five years in Nauvoo. These discourses not only shed light on the standard works; they also provide teachings beyond the scope of those heretofore published.” (Joseph Smith Research Institute)
#4 – The History of the Prophet By His Mother
“In this incomparable classic, Lucy Mack Smith, the mother of the prophet Joseph Smith, Takes a tender look back at the extraordinary life of her son. She relates with stirring personal detail the events that shaped his character, as well as the visions and miracles of the gospel restoration that reshaped the world.
“Through the eyes of a devoted mother, we see the remarkable family in which Joseph Smith was born, the hardships and privations that plagued them at every turn, and the heavy calling that would eventually lead to Joseph’s martyrdom. From the heartbreaking description of young Joseph’s leg surgery, mother Smith follows the trail of miracles to which she was witness, and offers her own powerful testimony of Joseph Smith’s prophetic calling.
“Of this history, President Joseph F. Smith said that it “contains much interesting and valuable information, found in no other publication, relating to the life of the prophet Joseph Smith. . . Both old and young will be pleased as well as benefited by the perusal of its pages.”
“To read this book is to know Joseph Smith more intimately and to be inspired by the insights and stories surrounding the events of this beloved prophet’s life.” (Deseret Book)
Paperback | Hardcover | Ebook | Audiobook
#5 – Life of Joseph Smith
“Life of Joseph Smith the Prophet by George Q. Cannon comes with all the vividness of eyewitness account. Elder Cannon met the Prophet when George was a lad and came as a convert to Nauvoo, Illinois. From that moment forward he bore testimony to the divine call which had come to the Prophet and the truthfulness of the gospel message which he had been appointed by God, the Eternal Father, to restore to the earth.
“Throughout this book the author has shown with vigor the ordeals that the Prophet endured in order to work out the plans for the restoration. From the book emanates the spirit of complete dedication from the Prophet to the divine calling which he had received.
“Fascinating firsthand accounts, letters, and other original matter—all become part of this dramatic and truthful account of the early life of the Church as bound to the life and death of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
“Jesus himself said, ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ (John 15:13) Fittingly the book ends with this sacrifice of the Prophet and with the sure knowledge that the true Church has been reestablished, never to be taken from the earth again until Jesus Christ himself will come to reign.” (Deseret Book)
Paperback | Hardcover | Ebook
#6 – Essentials in Church History
Written by Joseph Fielding Smith
“In this book, President Joseph Fielding Smith, who also acted as Church Historian for several decades of the 20th century, has given a clear-cut guide that is useful to the newest Church member and serves as a reference book to the student of Church history.” (Amazon)
Hardcover | Ebook
#7 – His Name Shall Be Joseph: Ancient Prophecies of the Latter-day Seer
Written by Joseph Fielding McConkie
“Scores of books have been written about the Prophet Joseph Smith, yet never before has an entire volume been devoted to the latter-day Seer as he was known to the ancient prophets. This first in the literature of the church is the work of Joseph Fielding McConkie, professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University.
“The result of years of research, His Name Shall Be Joseph, Ancient Prophecies of the Latter-day Seer combines fresh insights into ancient scriptural texts with fascinating material from apocrypha and pseudepigraphic sources. To these is added a little known tradition of the Jews about a latter-day Joseph, a descendant of Joseph of Egypt through Ephraim, who was destined to do a great work of restoration and then die a violent death.
“The author writes, ‘My basic thesis is that the ancients saw our day and knew of our prophets just as we can see their day and know of their prophets. As we know of Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Moses, so they knew of Joseph Smith. As we have been blessed by a knowledge of the past, so they were blessed by a knowledge of the future. It is by revelation that they could understand the future and it is by revelation we can understand the past. This work seeks to reconstruct the knowledge they had of our day that we might see our prophet as they saw him.’ (Inside Flap of His Name Shall Be Joseph)
#8 – Joseph Smith The Prophet
“Joseph Smith — Who was he? What was he like? How did he accomplish so much in so little time? In this enlightening eight-lecture series, Dr. Truman G. Madsen presents a fascinating history of the first prophet of the Restoration. He offers deep insights into the life of this great man, adding his own witness of Joseph Smith’s calling.” (Deseret Book)
Hardcover | Paperback | Ebook | Audiobook
#9 – Joseph Smith: The Choice Seer
Written by Joseph Fielding McConkie
“Joseph Smith was called of God in this final dispensation to stand as a prophet, a seer, a revelator of sacred matters, a covenant spokesman among modern Israel. He was called to stand as a dispensation head, as the preeminent prophetic witness of Jehovah-to proclaim the divine Sonship of Christ and reaffirm the eternal verity that salvation comes to men and women only in and through the atoning blood of the sinless Son of Man. He was called to set forth and put into effect the principles, doctrines, sanctifying truths, and divine powers that comprise what we know as the gospel, the plan of salvation, the plan of redemption, the great plan of happiness. For readers who want to truly grasp the essence of Joseph Smith, this might be just the book for you.” (Deseret Book)
Hardcover | Ebook
#10 – Joseph Smith’s Commentary On The Bible
Compiled & Edited by Kent P. Jackson
“The Prophet Joseph Smith was the greatest doctrinal teacher since Jesus Christ. “It is my duty to teach the doctrine,” he said, and he preached, wrote, and explained in informal and formal settings what the Lord had revealed to him. Much of his teaching focused on passages from the Bible. In a typical doctrinal sermon or letter he would deal with as many as a dozen passages, citing some merely to demonstrate a point, but discussing others in enlightening detail. This unique book compiles excerpts from newspapers, journals, diaries, and transcripts of sermons, offering the illumination of the Prophet’s perspective to increase our understanding of the Bible.” (Amazon)
Paperback | Hardcover | Ebook
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Pretty good list! I think you should replace Essentials in Church History with the Joseph Smith Papers Project. It’s not a single book, true, but it would replace a now out-of-date book with the highest quality history/primary sources the Church provides on the life of the Prophet.
You are missing the greatest of gems. If you are willing to simply look at the original documents, ignoring all the commentary, there is a vast treasure trove at JosephSmithPapers.org which you can download and then peruse free of the commentary. The transcribers are not good men, but their transcriptions are accompanied with the originals (the Bible wasn’t translated by good men either, but we still read it, even if we wouldn’t want to read their commentary one it). In the days of our great wickedness, we have also been granted a sacred gift, which is a great treasure trove of Joseph Smith’s original teachings. Here are examples (and no, I didn’t read the commentary written by modern historians, and when I had questions, yes, I compared to the original document images).
19 January 1841 meeting – Joseph said that before foundation of the Earth in the Grand-Counsel that the spirits of all men ware subject to opression & the express purpose of God in Giveing it a tabernicle was to arm it against the power of Darkness— for instance Jesus said get behind me Satan also the apostle said Resist the Devil & he will flee from you
9 Feb 1841 — Joseph said in answer to [Hosea] stout that adam Did Not Comit sin in [e]ating the fruit, for God had Dec[r]eed that he should Eat & fall— But in complyance with the Decree he should Die— only he should Die was the saying of the Lord therefore the Lord apointed us to fall & also Redeemed us— for where sin abounded Grace did Much More abound— for Paul says Rom.— 5— 10 for if— when were Enemys we were Reconciled to God by his Son, much more, being Reconciled, we shall be saved by his Life—
Meeting around 9 February, 1841, Joseph said a person ought always take his subject along— for instance Jesus in all his Doctrines & pariables set it forth Like a tree or mustard stock Comencing at the foundation & Root thence up to the first Branch & out along it then back to the body of the tree or subject & thence to the Next Branch & so-on Now as to Adam the Lord said in the day thou shalt Eat there of thou shalt shurely Die Now the Day the Lord has Refferance too is spoken of By Petter a thousand of our years is with the Lord as one Day &c at the time the Lord said this to adam there was No mode of Counting time By man, as man Now Counts time
16 Mar 1841 meeting – Joseph Said that they wi[c]ked will Not all be Destroyed at the Coming of Christ & also there will be wiked During the Melenum [Millennium]— for instance Isaiah says the Days of an infant shall be as the age of a tree also Zaich. [Zechariah] says all who Does Not Come up year by year with their Gifts to the feasts of the tabernicle that No Rain shall fall upon them— & that Jesus will be a Resident on the Earth a thousand [years?] with the Saints is Not the Case but will Raign over the saints & come Down & instruct as he Did the 5 hundred Brethern (1st Cor.— 15) & those of the first Resurerection will also Raign with him over the saints— then after the Little season is expired & the Earth underGoes its Last Change & is Gloryfyed then will all the meek inherit the Earth wherein Dwelleth Righteous— he says satan cannot seduce us By his enticements unless we in our h[e]arts Consent & yeald [yield]— our organization such that we can Resist the Devil If we were Not organized so we would Not be free agents
21 Mar 1841 Sabath Meeting— Joseph Read the 2 & 3d. Chapters of Malichi & stated that there was a priestHood Confered upon all the sons of Levi throughout the Jeneration of the Jews & he also said they beCome heirs to that pristHood By Linage or Decent [descent] & held the Keys of the first principles of the Gospel— for this— he quoted concerning Jesus coming to John to be Baptized of John that he (Jesus) might Enter into the Kingdom as John held the Keys suffer it to be so now &c he also Brought up Zacharias pleading with the Lord in the temple that he might have seed so that the preistHood might be presurved
he also prophesyed that all those that made Light of the Revelations that was Given and him & his words— would are [ere] Long Cry & Lement (when the servent of God would be imprizened) say O!! that we had harkened to the words of God & the Revelattions Given But all opertunity is Cut of[f] from them
28 March 1841 meeting – Next Meeting Meeting on sunday Joseph Reads the 38th. Ch— of Job. in the book he says is a great Display of human Nature— it is very Natureal for a man when he sees his fellow man afflicted his Natureal conclusion is that he is suffering the Rath of an angry God & turn from him in haste not knowing the purposes of God
he says the spirit or the inteligence of men are self Existant principles before the foundation this Earth— & quotes the Lords question to Job “where wast thou when I [p. ] Laid the foundation of the Earth” Evedencing that Job was Existing somewhere at that time he says God is Good & all his acts is for the benefit of infereir [inferior] inteligences— God saw that those inteligences had Not power to Defend themselves against those that had a tabernicle therefore the Lord Calls them together in Counsel & agrees to form them tabernicles so that he might Gender the spirit & the tabernicle togather so as to create sympathy for their fellow man— for it is a Natureal thing with those spirits that has the most power to bore down on those of Lesser power so we see the Devil is without a tabernicle & the Lord has set bands to all Spirits.— & hence came the saying Jesus thou son of David why art thou come to torment us before the time, & Jesus Comanded him to Come out of the Man & the Devil besought him that he might enter in a herd of swine Near by (for the Devil knew they were a Coveitous people & if he could Kill their Hogs that would Drive Jesus out of their coasts & he then have tabernicle enough) & Jesus permitted him to Enter into the swine
30 Mar 1841 Meeting – Next Meeting Lecyum 1st.—st[e]ward an Equality in property & in knoledge Joseph said that an Equality would Not answer for he says if we would equel in property at present in six months we would be worse than ever for there is too many dis[h]onest men amongst us who has more injenity [ingenuity] to cheat the Rest &c [p. ]
E[benezer] Robinson spoke on the other Co[m]forter in the 14 & 16 of John & that to all man kind for he shall prove the world of sin & Righteou[s] & of Judgment &c Joseph said he would corect in the translation it ought to Read thus & he shall Remind the world of sin & of Righteous & of Judgmen[t] & this Comforter Reminds of the these things through the servents of the Lord— But the other Comforter spoken of By John is Jesus himself that is to come & take up his aboad with them [p. ]
This is both a lot, and yet is just a tiny taste. It is as nothing compared to the vast quantity of stuff to be found there. It is far greater than if the lost 116 pages were restored, for in the grand counsel Joseph Smith was reserved to be the last and greatest prophet (“last prophet” probably meaning last dispensation head).
We don’t really have any idea who Joseph Smith is. It was more pressing to gather in his day because such a man could be found here on earth. He is just so outside the bounds of even the best of humanity. Brigham Young, Heber C Kimball, John Taylor were spiritual giants. You can listen to Russell M Nielson and know he is speaking as a prophet. But Joseph Smith is simply not like all almost any of the other good characters this earth has to offer. Elijah went out to speak with his face wrapped in his mantle, lest his eyes see the Lord. Moses spoke with the Lord face to face. But God the Father introduced the Savior to Joseph when he was only 14. We don’t comprehend who Joseph Smith was, or what he was. His regular sermons are greater than most of what we account as scripture. Nevertheless, his words do not compare to his revelations, for they are the words of Jesus Christ himself.
Super list of books from those who knew him, rather than those who wish to destroy him! We have almost finished these all and they have strengthened our love for the prophet a 100-fold!
Any good source for Words of Joseph? Current copies? Currently out of print and used are expensive.
You can access the book for free here! https://rsc.byu.edu/book/words-joseph-smith
Any list of essential books on Joseph Smith that does not include “Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling” is essentially worthless. That should be the #1 book on this list
Hello Daniel, Rough Stone Rolling is not a credible history on the life of Joseph Smith. Richard Bushman is now the chief Latter-day Saint evangelist in the development of a new progressive interpretation of Joseph Smith. For more information, visit our page: Rough Stone Rolling Debunked. https://josephsmithfoundation.org/rough-stone-rolling-debunked/