Don Bradley is a writer, editor, and researcher specializing in early Mormon history. In his early years as a historian, he found it difficult to understand and explain many of the actions of Joseph Smith. He found that he could make sense of much of the history if he assumed that Joseph Smith was a fraud who sought after money, sex and power. As he pursued this strategy of analysis, he drifted further and further away from the Church in which he had been raised. Along the way, he spent time as an agnostic and atheist, then back to theist, then Baha’i, then generic Protestant. As he continued his research into the history of Joseph Smith, he found that the Joseph-as-fraud approach proved increasingly inadequate to explain what he was finding. In this interview, Don talks about what eventually led him back to the Church, why he finally decided that Joseph Smith is truly a prophet of God, and how adopting this new interpretive model has helped him to understand Joseph Smith better than he ever did before.
Don recently performed an internship with the Joseph Smith Papers Project and is completing his thesis toward an M.A. in History at Utah State University. He has published on the translation of the Book of Mormon, plural marriage before Nauvoo, and Joseph Smith’s “grand fundamental principles of Mormonism” and plans to publish an extensive analysis, co-authored with Mark Ashurst-McGee, on the Kinderhook plates. Don’s first book, The Lost 116 Pages: Reconstructing the Missing Contents of the Book of Mormon,is slated to be published by Greg Kofford Books.
His 2012 FAIR Conference address can be read here: Piercing the Veil: Temple Worship in the Lost 116 Pages.