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Joseph Smith and Money Digging

Author: Richard Lyman Bushman

The treasure-seeking stories of Joseph Smith’s youth have done more than cast a shadow on his character. They supply a secular explanation for his extraordinary religious claims.

In the mid-1960s the stories of the Smith family performing magic rituals in the woods while hunting for treasure were the single element of his history that most differentiated Mormon accounts of his early life from the accounts of non-Mormons. It was at this stage that Dr. Richard Bushman began researching the relationship between Joseph's treasure digging past and the surrounding nineteenth century Yankee culture. In this analysis, he summarizes over forty years of research. 

Learn more about this topic in A Reason for Faith: Navigating LDS Doctrine and Church History