Q&A with Terryl Givens and Matthew Grow on Parley P. Pratt

1. First, let’s start with the book’s subtitle: “The Apostle Paul of Mormonism.” One of the reasons for this descriptor, you write in the introduction, was that Pratt helped systematize and popularize Mormonism’s beliefs. Could you elaborate more on this? How has Pratt’s influence lasted long since his death, even after many of his theological tracts are forgotten?

We may not read Pratt’s tracts today, but they gave shape to many core Mormon doctrines directly and indirectly. His views on spirit birth influenced Orson, who was quoted by Young, who has been quoted by prophets and primary songs ever since. He was first to formulate many of the Articles of Faith in rough form. He boldly taught theosis six years before Joseph Smith’s King Follett sermon, and we describe other such examples in the biography. His works were considered on a par with the standard works by the 19th century church, were studied in Utah Sunday Schools generations before the Book of Mormon was, and were Mormonism’s most widely used proselytizing texts all the way into the 20th century.

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