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Steven C. Harper

Steven C. Harper is a professor of Church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University. In 2012 Steve was appointed as the managing historian and a general editor of Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days. He was named editor in chief of BYU Studies Quarterly in September 2018. He served in the Canada Winnipeg Mission (1990-1991) and married Jennifer Sebring (1992). They graduated from BYU (1994). He earned an MA in American history from Utah State University, where his thesis analyzed determinants of conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the 1830s. Steve earned a PhD in early American history from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He began teaching courses in religion and history at BYU Hawaii in 2000 and joined the Religious Education faculty at BYU in 2002. That year he also became a volume editor of The Joseph Smith Papers and the document editor for BYU Studies. He taught at the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies in 2011–2012. His first book was Promised Land (Lehigh University Press, 2006), a study of Lenape or Delaware Indians’ responses to a fraudulent 1737 land deal in colonial Pennsylvania. He also authored Making Sense of the Doctrine and Covenants, Joseph Smith’s First Vision, and First Vision: Memory and Mormon Origins, along with dozens of articles.

December 30, 2019 09:52 AM MST
Books, articles, and numerous Internet websites work to undermine faith in Joseph Smith’s first vision, but historically there have been just three main arguments against it. The minister to whom Joseph reported the event responded that there were no such things these days. More than a century later and in a literary style that masked her weakness in following the historical method, Fawn Brodie wrote that Joseph invented the vision years after he said it happened. A generation later, Wesley Walters charged Joseph with inventing revivalism when, Walters claimed, a lack of historical evidence proved that there was none and therefore there was no subsequent vision as a result. By now it has become a foregone conclusion for some that there are no such things as visions, that Joseph failed to mention his experience for years, and that he then gave conflicting accounts that failed to match historical facts. 1 But these three claims assume much more than they prove.
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