During the seventh annual Joseph Smith Papers Conference on Friday, President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced a new biography of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

“Joseph the Prophet” will be written using the comprehensive and recently completed Joseph Smith Papers project.

“A firm foundation has been laid on which additional works can be solidly built,” President Oaks said at the end of his conference keynote.

The most recent biography of Joseph Smith, “Rough Stone Rolling” by Richard L. Bushman, was published in 2005 before the Joseph Smith Papers was completed. Bushman is part of the national advisory board for the project.

Who will write the new Joseph Smith biography?

Former assistant church historian and recorder Richard E. Turley Jr. will write the new biography. He has written more than 20 books, including:

Turley served as managing director of the Church Historical Department when the Joseph Smith Papers project first started. He also worked as chair of the project’s editorial board, per the church.

“This book will focus on Joseph Smith’s role as a Prophet, which will distinguish it from other recent biographies that focus on other aspects of his life,” Turley said of the new biography, per Church News.

Turley will receive help from the teams who worked directly on the Joseph Smith Papers project, staff from the Family History Department and professors from BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School.

When will the new Joseph Smith biography be released?

There is no official release date for the new biography of Joseph Smith, but President Oaks said it will take years to complete.

In a social media post, President Oaks said, “Though there is much future work to be done on this book, it is fair to say it has been underway for the last 22 years thanks to the gold-standard research that has occurred since the inception of the Joseph Smith Papers project in 2001.”

Who is the new Joseph Smith biography written for?

“The biography itself will be written as a narrative for a general audience and is expected to garner a wide readership,” the church announced in a press release.

The purpose of the biography is to present the information from the decadeslong Joseph Smith Papers project to a wider audience. The project helps millions to “know Brother Joseph again,” said Joseph Smith Papers supporter Gail Miller in an interview with Church News.

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