Intellectual Reserve

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints releases first historical volumes in 88 years

By Liesl Nielsen, | Updated - Sep. 4, 2018 at 5:42 p.m. | Posted - Sep. 4, 2018 at 1:24 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a new volume of history Tuesday that leaders say is different than anything that’s been done before.

The four-volume series, "Saints," focuses on the global history of the church up to the present day, rather than simply focusing on the church's founding in the U.S., church leaders said during a press conference.

The first book in the historical series, "Saints: The Standard of Truth," debuted at the press conference.

The last time the church published an official multivolume history was 1930, 88 years ago, before there were even 1 million church members. Now, the church has more than 16 million members worldwide.

The series will focus on portions of the church’s history that have been overlooked or misunderstood, a member of the church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Dale G. Renlund, told after the press conference. It will also provide greater context around certain eras and episodes from the church's history, including controversial topics like polygamy, Elder Renlund said.

Elder Quentin L. Cook, another member of the church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said he hopes this series will specifically give the youth of the church context to some controversial, but incomplete, facts they may have learned about the church online or through social media.

“It will allow them to go back through the digital version and get to actual church history (and documents),” Elder Cook told “We think it will be foundational for them as they’re trying to learn things — that they’ll get true accounts, that they’ll get actual facts.”

The books follow a narrative format and are geared to the “rising generation,” said church historian and recorder Elder Steven E. Snow. The book is shorter than other historical volumes of the church, so it isn’t so daunting — though the narrative portion of the book is still 586 pages with over 115 pages of notes.

“Saints: The Standard of Truth” is the first in the four-volume series and begins by recounting the childhood of the faith’s first leader, Joseph Smith, in 1815. Its narrative continues until 1846 when members of the church gathered in Nauvoo, Illinois.

The second book, “Saints: No Unhallowed Hand,” will tell about the Latter-day Saint westward migration up until the Salt Lake Temple dedication. The third, “Saints: Boldly, Nobly, and Independent,” will focus on the first half of the 20th century and end with the construction and dedication of a temple in Switzerland. The fourth volume, “Saints: Sounded in Every Ear,” will emphasize the growth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints around the globe until the present day.

The first volume is now available online in English and 13 other languages. It is also in print in English and will be obtainable in print in the 13 other languages in the coming months. The first seven chapters of the first book appear in the church's "Ensign" and "Liahona" magazines. Those who prefer audio can listen in Spanish, English and Portuguese.

The following three volumes will be released in later years.

Liesl Nielsen

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