Raising The Dead: Mormons, Evangelicals, And Miracles In America

The power to raise the dead was among the gifts Christ gave his twelve apostles, as recorded in Matthew; later Paul boldly asserted it before Herod Agrippa. The gift appears again in the Book of Mormon. It should be no surprise that when Joseph Smith proclaimed the estoration of the primitive church, expectations for the estored gift were soon followed by rumors of its appearance and later outright manifestations. This paper considers the phenomenon of raising the dead in the larger context of the antebellum Protestant debate about the possibility of miracles; it will consider reports in early Mormonism and explore ways that Mormon experience, doctrine, and authority have explained the phenomenon, using it to illuminate changing Mormon understandings of the nature of the miracle itself.

Matt Bowman