Monday, August 2, 2010

Joseph Smith's Bible

If you've got $1.5 million lying around, you can buy a true piece of Americana--the family Bible of Joseph Smith. The Deseret News reports this morning that financial distress has forced an anonymous seller to unload the precious text.

Joseph Smith, for those who haven't been keeping up on American spiritual history, is the founder of Mormonism, the Utah-based religion whose most famous members include presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and Donny and Marie Osmond. For a completely unsubstantiated list of other famous Mormons, go to www.famousmormons.net. (Aaron Ruell--who played Napoleon Dynamite's older brother--is also a Mormon. Isn't the web great?)

Though the Mormons' best-known scripture is the Book of Mormon, they join Christians in revering the Bible as the inerrant Word of God. Smith's Bible--an 1831 edition--was originally owned by him and his first wife, Emma Hale, whose descendants held onto the text for years before selling it to a third party. (Smith, the old charmer, had over thirty wives during his short life; you can find a full list here.) This Bible is especially valuable because an inset between the Old and New Testaments features a hand-written copy of Smith's family tree.

I mainly report on this story because it gives me a great chance to post a hilariously campy '70s-era cartoon outlining pieces of the Mormons' very trippy creation myth. But let's not kid ourselves--most creation myths are pretty trippy.

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