Date of Award

Spring 6-11-2018

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of arts (BA)


Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Julie Nicoletta

Second Advisor

William Burghart


This history capstone paper examines the role that the concept of Continuing Revelation played in the early Latter Day Saint church. The paper examines previous scholarship about Continuing Revelation in American religion, historical scholarship of the Latter Day Saint movement, and primary source analysis of early documents and scripture. Joseph Smith, the founding prophet and leader of the Latter Day Saint movement, utilized the concept of Continuing Revelation to legitimize his revelatory power and constantly changing theology. The movement is analyzed chronologically from its beginning in upstate New York, to Kirtland, Ohio and finally ending in Nauvoo, Illinois. Nauvoo proved to be the period of Smith’s most peculiar teachings, including polygamy and his uniquely evolved concept of God. While a small number of Saints dissented in Nauvoo, the vast majority of Smith’s followers remained in the religion because of their faith in his revelatory power. Smith used Continuing Revelation to sanction his own authority, introduce concepts completely divorced from traditional Christianity, and keep the vast majority of Saints in the religion. Continuing Revelation continued as a central tenet to all churches tracing their roots back to Smith and the early Latter Day Saint church.