Saints lds book

Saints lds book DEFAULT

SALT LAKE CITY — During the sweltering summer of 1829, the angel Moroni appeared to Mary Whitmer and showed her gold plates containing an ancient record, making her a de facto witness to the Book of Mormon.

That lesser-known story is included in an official church history for the first time, the engaging first volume of a new official history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "Saints: The Standard of Truth, 1815-1846," went on sale Tuesday and is available free online.

The book is deliberately full of stories about women's contributions and directly addresses challenging portions of church history, said church leaders and historians. The goal was to create an accurate but arresting and relevant narrative history that would appeal to readers, especially young adults, who can learn from the achievements, failures, questions and struggles of Joseph Smith and hundreds of other early church members.


"It's a page-turner," Elder Quentin L. Cook, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and an advisor to the Church History Department, said at a news conference on Tuesday.

"'Saints' is accessible, accurate and compelling," said Elder Dale G. Renlund, also of the Twelve and a church history advisor.

"I think it's a pretty remarkable achievement on several fronts," said Patrick Mason, the Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University, in a telephone interview. "It reads more like a novel than a history book. So on the one hand, it's accessible, but on the other hand, it deals with tough issues in church history. It's another example of the church and the Church History Department talking about tough issues."

The "Saints" project, which will grow to four volumes, is the first multi-volume, official church history published since 1930. Tuesday's news conference introducing the book at the Church History Library came five days before Elder Cook will talk about it and field church history questions from young adults in a worldwide Face to Face devotional on Sunday at 6 p.m. MDT.


The first sign of the book's storytelling begins with the opening of Chapter One, which shows a volcano exploding in Indonesia in 1815 and describes the worldwide effect, including how it shaped the circumstances of the family of young Joseph Smith.

The boy's stops and starts between age 14 and the First Vision and age 24 when the church is formally organized may feel familiar to many young men and women and young adults, as he experiences tremendous highs and gut-wrenching lows — including a direct rebuke from God.


"We were very aware in writing the book that we were writing about young people," said Lisa Olsen Tait, a historian and writer in the Church History Department. "This church was founded and built by very young people. I'm glad that comes through in the narrative. We felt it was important to show that in all its messiness and beauty."

The book purposefully portrays Joseph Smith and others in 3-D to help people relate to them, said Matt Grow, director of publications for the LDS Church History Department. Showing people grow and mature through trials is another goal of what will be a four-volume series.

"That's why we want to focus on characters who recur," Grow said. "We want these characters who can be in multiple scenes so you can see that growth over time, individual growth and growth in the church. We really hope this can be inspiring, that people can identify with these characters. You never know who's going to identify with what character, so we want to have a broad range of experience, people who struggle with family issues, people who struggle in their faith, people who struggle with depression, the whole gamut of issues that we face as humans. The Latter-day Saints in the past faced the same issues, and we should be able to identify with them and find some strength in their stories."

Elder Renlund said Joseph Smith is presented as "a regular human being with the challenges he would have faced at that time and going through those things. That genuine completeness of his character we believe is very helpful."

Tackling topics

Volume One tackles subjects in church history that church leaders have more fully addressed in recent years with the release of gospel topics essays written by historians.

Elder Steven E. Snow, a General Authority Seventy and the Church Historian and Recorder, said he'd wait six-and-a-half years for the first book to hit the shelves. One reason was to see it build on the Gospel Topics essays about 11 complex topics in church history. The essays were first published on by the First Presidency from November 2013 to October 2015.

Snow said "Saints" covers a period in church history that has generated questions that caused some people to question the church or leave it altogether, questions addressed in the essays.

"We've tried to include these issues in the story in very transparent and open ways," Elder Snow said. "When you read about them in the context of the whole story they seem understandable."

Topics covered in the essays that appear in the narrative history of "Saints" include the multiple versions of the First Vision, Joseph Smith's use of a seer stone in a hat as he translated the Book of Mormon, the introduction of plural marriage and Latter-day Saint violence in Missouri.

"We tell the story of the interaction of Joseph and Emma and the difficulty as plural marriage began and how they worked through those issues together and how hard that was in the early days," Elder Snow said. "We're pretty open about Emma's reactions. Sometimes she was warm to it. Other times she was ice cold to the idea of plural marriage. We try to tell that story in an accurate way that I think people can identify with."

Mason, the Claremont historian, said the book handles the topics very directly. In fact, he said any criticism of the first volume is likely to come from people who think it included too much.

"Nobody's going to be able to accuse them of hiding it on the website like some did with the Gospel Topics essays," he said. "They've priced it so it's accessible, they've published the first seven chapters in the Ensign and it's free on the website."

For Snow, the history is well-rounded.

"I think it's a hopeful story, even though it's full of tragedy and difficulties and loss, but it's also full of triumph and joy. It's like life."

Women's voices

Mary Whitmer was toiling to fill the needs of her husband, eight children and three visitors that hot summer of 1829 — Joseph Smith, who was in the middle of translating the Book of Mormon in her home, his wife Emma and his scribe, Oliver Cowdery — when a visitor appeared.

"You have been very faithful and diligent in your labors," Moroni told her. "It is proper, therefore, that you should receive a witness that your faith may be strengthened."

The story will be a surprise to many church members, Tait said, but it's place in the book is important.

"This makes it part of the narrative part of the church's story about itself, and that's significant," she said.

Church leaders said women's contributions and experiences were important.

"You can't tell the story of this church," Elder Renlund said, "without talking about the women of the church, who have been among the most faithful and consistent to the converts to the Restored Gospel that this dispensation has ever seen."

"I'm very pleased that so many women's voices are being heard," Elder Cook added.

It was no accident.

"We set out very deliberately to make sure a lot of women were represented," Tait said, "that women's voices were present, that women's experiences were present, that women's perspective was part of the story. It's very exciting. I think and I hope it will mean a lot to young women and women throughout the church to see the experiences of our fellow female Saints."

What's next

This is the third time the church is publishing a multi-volume church history. The first, The History of the Church by Joseph Smith, was published beginning in the 1840s. The second, the Comprehensive History of the Church by B.H. Roberts, was published in 1930.

"Saints" is available as a paperback book for $5.75 through Deseret Book and at The entire text also can be found free online at and in the church history section of the Gospel Library app. The book will be published in 14 languages by year's end and is now available as an audio book in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

Elder Cook said three more volumes in the "Saints" project are planned — "No Unhallowed Hand," about the church's pioneer era, "Boldly, Nobly, and Independent," about the first half of the 20th century, and "Sounded in Every Ear," about the global growth of the church to the present. The books all will have a portrait of a temple on the cover. The final book will have three different covers, one portraying a temple in South America, another in Africa and the final in Asia.

Grow said readers who want to dig deeper than the narrative can read the endnotes in the back of the book or find them online and follow hyperlinks to the digitized original sources. He said the church is publishing 116 church history topics referred to in the endnotes covering themes, people, places, events and recommendations for further reading.

That will be enough to provide new information even for students of church history.

"I learned things reading the book," Mason said. "There were little nuggets, there were stories and vignettes I didn't know."


Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days

Read the inspiring true story of the Restoration in this new, four-volume narrative history.
Read Now

Read the inspiring true story of the women and men who dedicated their lives to establishing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints across the globe. Volume 1, The Standard of Truth, 1815–1846 and Volume 2, No Unhallowed Hand, 1846–1893 are available now.

Read Saints Now

Volume 2 is now available in the Gospel Library.

Read Now

Featured Topics and Videos

Church History Topics features over 100 topics and videos exploring the people, places, events, and subjects in Saints.

How to Get a Copy

Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days is available in a variety of formats. Choose from the options in the list below, and experience the fast-paced narrative that will captivate readers and increase faith in homes and families.

Order a Copy

Saints in the Classroom

Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days is a key resource to add perspective and context as you teach the truths of the Restoration and sections of the Doctrine and Covenants.

Connect with Saints

Find us on social media, listen to our podcast, and check out our FAQ.

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Newly Released Saints Volume 1 Provides Honest Look at Early Church History

“I believe we will discover that even though times have changed, the same principles that helped the early Church members overcome their trials of faith will be equally valuable for us today.” —Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

On September 4, the Church will release a new history unlike any it has ever published before.

Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days presents the inspiring true story of the women and men who dedicated their lives to establishing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints across the world. Unlike past histories, which were primarily written as reference works, Saints is written as a narrative that is engaging to read.

Saints is a different kind of history,” said Ben Godfrey, product manager for the Saints project. “Instead of a dry recitation of the facts, Saints relates the events through the eyes of the people who lived them. The result is fast-paced and enjoyable to read.”

Saints is also a multilayered history that allows readers to explore topics in depth with links to explanatory topics and the primary sources behind the text. It is based on decades of rigorous research. Every event, character, and statement is supported by historical sources. There is no historical fiction here, the history’s writers and editors say.

The explanatory Church History Topics provide detail that goes beyond the narrative. Each article has links to additional reading and trustworthy supporting sources. Readers will find links to the topic articles in the footnotes in Saints, or they can find them in the Church History section of the Gospel Library app or by visiting

Elder Steven E. Snow, Church Historian and Recorder and a General Authority Seventy, explained that “Saints was prepared in response to the Lord’s commandment to ‘keep the church record and history continually’ (Doctrine and Covenants 47:3).”

Speaking of the importance of Saints today, especially for younger generations of Church members, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “The young adults of the Church are truly remarkable. They face important life decisions during a time when Satan is raging in the hearts of men and women everywhere.

“I believe we will discover that even though times have changed, the same principles that helped the early Church members overcome their trials of faith will be equally valuable for us today.”

Saints illuminates aspects of Church history that have been lesser known or misunderstood. It includes details and context that are important for understanding topics like violence in Missouri and Illinois, plural marriage in the early Church, the Kirtland Safety Society, and many more.

Saints is also a global history, presenting the experiences of women, men, and children involved in important events of the Restoration all over the world.

The first volume in the series, titled The Standard of Truth, covers the period from Joseph Smith’s youth through the dedication of the Nauvoo Temple (1815–1846). It will be available on September 4 in 14 languages digitally and in print in English. Print editions in other languages will follow before the end of the year.

The paperback book will be available at Deseret Book,, and digitally at, the Gospel Library app, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Google, iTunes, Kobo, and Audible.

Volumes two through four will chronicle the growth of the Church worldwide, from the pioneer exodus to the present day, and will be released over the next several years.

Worldwide Devotional, a Face to Face Event with Elder Cook

To celebrate the Church’s history and the release of Saints, Elder Cook, joined by historians Kate Holbrook and Matt Grow, will speak and answer questions in a Face to Face event for young adults on September 9. Elder Cook said his faith has often been strengthened by learning about the early Latter-day Saints and their stories. “They were not perfect, just as none of us are,” he said, “but that makes it all the more remarkable to consider what they accomplished. I will forever be grateful for the sacrifices they made to lay the foundations of this latter-day work.” (See related story.)

Saints read-a-thon

Institute students are invited to participate in a “Saints-a-thon” on September 7–8 to read Saints Volume 1 together as a way to prepare for the Face to Face broadcast on September 9. They can share their experience using the hashtag #Saintsathon.


Saints will be used as part of the Doctrine and Covenants curriculum in seminary this school year, and a new Church history class is being offered in institute: Latter-day Saint History: 1815–1846 (Religion  341). SaintsVolume 1 will provide the student readings for this course, and lesson materials for teachers are available in English on and in theGospel Library app.

Church magazines

When Joseph Smith began the Church’s first history, he published it serially in the Nauvoo newspaper Times and Seasons beginning in 1842. Following that literary tradition, the first eight chapters of Saints, available in 47 languages, have been serialized in the Ensign and Liahona since February. Elder Snow introduced Saints with an article in that same issue. Chapter seven appears in the September magazines along with an article by Elder J. Devn Cornish of the Seventy. The serialization will end with chapter eight in October.


The Saintspodcast features interviews with historians, General Authorities, writers, researchers, and others involved with the Saints project. Listeners will gain insights on the stories behind the stories in Saints. A new episode airs each week.


Saints (book)

Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days is a planned four-volume history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), published beginning in 2018.

The first volume of Saints was initially published in fourteen languages and made available as a free digital book.[1] It was written by a team of six writers, edited by another team, and reviewed by several historians for accuracy.[2]

Saints is the first official history published by the LDS Church since general authorityB. H. Roberts put together his six-volume chronicle, Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[2]Steven E. Snow is credited with the production and introduction of this new, narrative history of the LDS Church.[3] The first volume was published in September 2018 and sold a reported 340,000 copies; the second volume followed in February 2020.[4] The first volume tackles sensitive topics, "A nearly 600-page book that covers early church history from 1815–1846 doesn't dwell on polygamy, but doesn't entirely skip over it either."[5]

Summary of volumes[edit]

  • Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days: Volume 1: The Standard of Truth: 1815–1846 (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, September 4, 2018.)
Beginning with the childhood of Joseph Smith and ending with the Mormon exodus from Nauvoo, Illinois.[1]
  • Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days: Volume 2: No Unhallowed Hand: 1846–1893 (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, February 12, 2020.)
Beginning with the Mormon exodus from Nauvoo, Illinois, and tracing the history of the church through to the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple in 1893.[6]

Two more volumes are planned for release:

  • Volume 3 will cover the history of the church starting after the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple and ending with the dedication of the temple in Bern, Switzerland, in 1955.
  • Volume 4 will cover the church's history from 1955 to the present day.


  1. ^ ab"Fast facts about ‘Saints’ — the new history of the LDS Church", The Salt Lake Tribune, 4 September 2018. Retrieved on 26 March 2020.
  2. ^ abStack, Peggy Fletcher and Pierce, Scott D. "Mormon church publishes its first official history in nearly a century, and the result is an easy-to-read volume that tackles some hard facts, The Salt Lake Tribune, 4 September 2018. Retrieved on 26 March 2020.
  3. ^"General authority talks about his tenure as church historian and tricky topics like Brigham Young on race, Joseph Smith’s polygamy, the LGBTQ policy", The Salt Lake Tribune, 7 August 2019. Retrieved on 26 March 2020.
  4. ^"The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ Continues in Volume Two of ‘Saints’", Church News, 20 June 2019. Retrieved on 26 March 2020.
  5. ^McCombs, Brady. "New LDS Church narrative history book includes polygamous roots", Associated Press, 4 September 2018. Retrieved on 26 March 2020.
  6. ^Walker, Sydney (February 11, 2020). "'Saints, Volume 2' features women's perspectives, native voices, context on controversial topics". Church News.

External links[edit]


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Did Satan write the Book of Mormon?

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