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New Age, Old Revelation: Reflections on the Millennial Contexts

TitleNew Age, Old Revelation: Reflections on the Millennial Contexts
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsMarsden, George M.
JournalBYU Studies Quarterly
KeywordsEarly United States History; Millennium; Second Coming

"What I am here offering are some reflections on the millennial contexts that shaped various American religious views at the time of Joseph’s revelations. The most widespread and influential of these views were postmillennial—teachings that the world would get progressively better as the preaching of the gospel spread through missions throughout the world and that human history would culminate in a millennial golden age after which Jesus would personally return. But there were also some mainstream Protestant and other premillennial views that held that—as in Mormon teaching—Jesus would personally return to set up his millennial kingdom. Joseph Smith and all the other early Mormon leaders would have been familiar with both of these views. In fact, in the United States during the early Republic, millennial views were probably more prominent than at any other time during the nation’s history. So let me say something about the contents of these views, and I think you will see its relevance to the Mormon story."