Our efforts as a Church to be more transparent about our past and educate Latter-day Saints on the history of the Church – warts and all – continue. Last fall, the Church teased out the first chapter of the next volume of Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At the time, little was said about when the next volume would be released, although additional chapters (eight at the time of writing) were gradually added to the tome.
However, wait no more you must not! In a letter to leadership last weekend, the Church confirmed that volume 2, dubbed No Unhallowed Hand, 1846-1893, will arrive digitally at Saints.ChurchofJesusChrist.org on February 12, 2020.
The next volume will be available in 14 languages: Cebuano, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Samoan, Spanish, Tagalog, and Tongan. Why there is no version in Catalan is anyone’s guess, but this was clearly a major oversight.
If you’re interested in a printed version, it will also be available from Distribution Services starting on February 12. Printed versions of the other languages will be released in the coming months. Be patient, the Church has a new Handbook to worry about translating, as well.
1846-1893 will cover a major period of Latter-day Saint history, from the journey to Salt Lake Valley to Utah Statehood. According to the Church, it will also include sections on the Manifesto – the first “seriously, guys, stop doing polygamy” edict – as well as the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Scholars of the latter will certainly be interested to see how much mea culpa the Church assumes for the tragic incident, if any. Bonus points if we get some Bushman-level assessments of hubristic leadership that contributed to the Martin and Willie handcart companies fiasco.
And of course, the new edition will also chronicle the 40-year construction of the Salt Lake Temple, a fitting tribute as the great international symbol of the Church undergoes a substantial renovation that will keep it out of commission for four years.
In keeping with temples, Volume 2 will also examine “refinements to temple worship” and temple building in general. (Remember that while the Salt Lake Temple is the most prominent of our faith, three extant temples in Utah preceded it in construction and dedication.)
Volume 1, The Standard of Truth, was released in 2018 to much fanfare, covering the early years of Joseph Smith, the religious environment around him (including leading off with the claim that the eruption of Krakatoa in Indonesia is basically responsible for the entire Restoration – Java and Sumatra’s loss is our gain, eh!), and the entirety of Joseph’s mortal mission. It ended with the Saints electing to follow Brigham Young as the leader of the Church following the death of Joseph, and the initial steps toward exodus to the Great Basin in what was then Mexico.
If the first iteration was any indication, Latter-day Saints are in for an excellent ride with Volume 2. Saints is not perfect, nor wholly academic. It won’t satisfy those clamoring for complete transparency on every facet of Church history (we sometimes described Volume 1 as Rough Stone Rolling Lite), but we need to remember that this is an iterative process. We have a global Church to educate about these things, and doing so line upon line, slowly cracking open the door, is arguably the most effective way to be honest about our history in a faith-promoting way.