Parley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonismby Terryl L. Givens
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Terryl L. Givens and Matthew J. Grow offer a revelatory biography of Parley P. Pratt, examining the dramatic events of his life and the crucial role he played in the expansion and foundational theology of early Mormonism.
"If the title indicates Oxford University Press's determination to broaden the potential audience of this book to non-Mormon readers more familiar with St. Paul than with Parley Pratt, we can all be glad that OUP took the chance. Parley P. Pratt - its subject, its claim, and its methods - deserve a wide audience." --Religion
"At long last we have a work that is fully aware of Parley's extensive contributions to Mormonism as the 'Paul of Mormonism.'" --Journal of Mormon History
"For anyone seeking to understand the development of early Mormonism, Parley P. Pratt is essential reading. As the foremost systematizer, theologian, missionary, and popularizer of this new religious movement in its first two decades, not to mention a colorful and mobile personality, Parley Pratt represented the soul of the tradition. Givens and Grow provide an engaging, thoughtful, and thorough assessment of his significance in the foundations of the Mormon faith."--- Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp, Professor and Chair of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
"Parley Pratt played the Apostle Paul to the Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith. Besides systematizing the prophet's thought, Pratt was a leader of boundless energy: husband of twelve wives, father of thirty children, a missionary extraordinaire, accused of murder, himself murdered in the prime of life. This book opens to a wide audience for the first time the life of one of the most significant figures in American religious history."--Mark Noll, author of Protestantism: A Very Short Introduction
"Terryl L. Givens and Matthew J. Grow update Parley P. Pratt's own autobiography with their informed account of his historical context in the Second Great Awakening of evangelical religion and the nineteenth-century Communications Revolution of printed media. The authors' fascinating narratives of Pratt's worldwide adventures, multiple marriages, and eventual murder will make this book welcome not only in the academic community but among all those with an interest in early Mormon history."--Daniel Walker Howe, author of What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848
"Givens and Grow should be commended for their scholarship and objectivity in providing historians and religion scholars with a remarkable narrative that explores in breadth and depth, through the life of Parley Parker Pratt, the historical and religious underpinnings of early Mormonism."--Journal of the American Academy of Religion
"A comprehensive scholarly biography that does justice to the stature of its subject...deserves a place among the finest Latter-day Saint biographies."--BYU Studies Quarterly
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Meet the Author
Terryl L. Givens is the author of several acclaimed books, the most recent of which are When Souls Had Wings: Pre-Mortal Life in Western Thought and The Book of Mormon: A Very Short Introduction.
Matthew J. Grow is the author of "Liberty to the Downtrodden": Thomas L. Kane, Romantic Reformer.
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Shortly before his martyrdom, Parley P. Pratt finished a draft of his autobiography, which was later edited and published in 1874. For more than a century, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have sifted its pages to witness the adventures, trials and testimony of the memorable apostle. Terryl L. Givens and Matthew J. Grow have added to Pratt’s story and the early history of the LDS Church with their new biography, “Parley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism.” Givens is a professor of literature and religion at the University of Richmond and the author of numerous books, including “The Book of Mormon: A Very Short Introduction.” Grow is the author of “Liberty to the Downtrodden: Thomas L. Kane, Romantic Reformer,” and director of publications for the LDS Church History Department. Both scholars are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In producing another account of “a subject who is a capable autobiographer,” Givens and Grow have not set out to replace Pratt’s original work. Their account is intended to complement Pratt’s autobiography, which focuses somewhat narrowly on “how he became the apostle he was in midlife.” In particular, Givens and Grow seek to “restore Pratt’s family life,” place “him within his intellectual and theological worlds, both within Mormonism and beyond,” and address “controversial events” largely minimized in Pratt’s own account. In a work intended for a general audience, the authors pursue their objectives in 14 chapters that progress chronologically, beginning with a brief account of Pratt’s ancestry and concluding with the aftermath of his martyrdom in 1857. An introduction and epilogue are included, along with two appendices that detail Pratt’s publications and family members. A concise index provides easy reference to individuals and key subjects discussed in the book, and a valuable 75-page “Notes” section provides readers with a comprehensive breakdown of the book’s many sources. The book contains mature subject matter, including discussions about polygamy, accounts of violence toward the early church (including a disturbing and graphic account of the rape of at least one Mormon woman), and the extremely violent nature of Pratt’s own death. Nonetheless, the material is appropriately set within the context of overall themes and events. Givens and Grow largely achieve their objectives in this meticulously researched biography. Readers are likely to come away from the book (1) sobered by Pratt’s human weaknesses, (2) humbled by his many sacrifices and (3) inspired by his lifelong faith.