The Metaphysical Joseph Smith

Catherine L. Albanese

in Joseph Smith, Jr.

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780195369786
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780199871292 | DOI:
The Metaphysical Joseph Smith

Show Summary Details


This chapter examines the Mormon prophet as a metaphysical figure. Noting that American religious history has too often limited itself to mainstream denominationalism and evangelicalism, the chapter has been able to limn the contours of metaphysical religion. This tradition emphasizes the world and human beings as ontologically parallel to, and deriving a stream of spiritual energy from, a higher reality. The consequent world view, as above, so below, is characteristic of hermeticism and modern mystics like Emanuel Swedenborg. Exploiting Richard Bushman's suggestion that Smith is a protean figure amenable to any number of religious agendas, this chapter finds he fits the bill perfectly as a proto-metaphysician. Extending the arguments of Bloom and Brooke, it argues that in addition to exploring occult antecedents and their influence on Joseph Smith, it is time for American historians to take account of the debt metaphysical religion owes to Joseph Smith.

Keywords: Mormonism; metaphysics; hermeticism; Emanuel Swedenborg; magic; occult; spiritualism

Chapter.  3218 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.