So, the LDS church has just unveiled their new publisher's imprint, Church Historian's Press. Their first project is to be a collection of all "known personal papers, correspondence, journals and other primary sources" of Joseph Smith. If indeed that is what they publish, then that collection promises to be eminently enlightening, though perhaps not in the way the church intends...
The church was initially shopping around for university presses, particularly Oxford University, to publish the Smith papers, but they elected to scrap that and start their own press in order to "maintain editorial control."
Maybe it's just me, but I read that as saying "we want to be able to cut, redact or otherwise downplay anything that is not faith affirming," as the LDS church is so very very skilled at doing.
I'm not sure if Joe ever wrote journals or correspondence about his otherwise documented pre-BOM treasure hunting, fraud trial, or claims of magical power. If he did though, I'm willing to bet money that none of that will be in this book.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe this will truly be an exhaustive collection that is truly what it purports to be. If so, then I welcome it. The Mormon church has a long history of supressing, downplaying, or (with the advent of the internet) simply telling their members to ignore anything that might call the veracity of Smith and others into question.
For instance, just now, I searched on LDS.org for the Kinderhook Plates, the forged "ancient" plates brought to Smith by critics of the church in order for him to attempt translation and make him look foolish.
According to LDS.org in their intro to the topic: "Joseph Smith did not make the hoped-for translation. In fact, no evidence exists that he manifested any further interest in the plates after early examination of them, although some members of the Church hoped that they would prove to be significant."
As you might guess, this is inaccurate. There indeed is evidence that Smith attempted translation, with Smith stating that "I have translated a portion of them, and find they contain the history of the person with whom they were found. He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the ruler of heaven and earth."
LDS.org does actually include that quote, which kind of surprised me. But they immediately follow it up with a dismissal, saying that the words were not from Smith, but from William Clayton. Who was Clayton? Oh, you know, just some guy who happened to be employed as Jospeh Smith's scribe! And since Smith never wrote those words himself (you know, because he was largely illiterate), the account cannot be trusted, according to the church. Though numerous other texts attributed to Smith were actually written by a scribe (not the least of which is the Book of Mormon).
This is just dishonesty.
Okay, enough on the historical jiggery pokery of the LDS church. I'm trying to pull this post to some sort of elegant close, but I think I might instead just end in mid sente