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Michael H. MacKay

Michael H. MacKay's picture

Department: Church History

Title: Assistant Professor

Office: 275C JSB

Phone number: (801) 422-3663

Contact: Send message

Curriculum Vitae: View Vitae

Dr. Michael Hubbard MacKay studied history at the University of York where he was awarded a PhD in 2009. He is an assistant professor in the Department of Church History and Doctrine where he teaches early Mormon history and the Doctrine and Covenants. He is a Board Member of Mormon Historical Studies and Book of Mormon Studies. Previous to his current position he worked as a historian/writer for the Joseph Smith Paper Project and as a visiting professor for the Department of History at BYU

Forthcoming Books:

Prophetic Authority: Democratic Hierarchy and the Mormon Priesthood (Urbana, IL: University of Illinios Press, 2020). 

"This book is about how Joseph Smith established religious authority and a long-lasting, complex priesthood structure. The thesis of this book enlivens and builds upon three scholars’ major ideas about religious authority and Mormonism in antebellum America. In an effort to move the conversation toward politics and its relationship to religion, Porterfield argued that populism constrained that relationship. Though it is true that Mormonism grew, as Hatch shows, from the populist appeal of a lay priesthood and communal living in early Mormonism, Flake demonstrates that the Mormon priesthood was hierarchical. Left just outside the focus of the work of Hatch, Porterfield, and Flake is the role of Joseph Smith defining Mormon authority—a role that has not been fully examined within this context.

Smith’s authority grew in opposition to both civic and political authority being garnered by evangelicals and as a countertrend to the populist religious movements of the Second Great Awakening. In fact, Smith’s prophetic voice and scripture formed a hierarchical priesthood structure that eventually empowered every male member of his church to become a prophet, priest, and king, while they answered to each leader above them within the same structure. Thus this book argues that Smith’s prophetic voice became the arbiter of authority. It had the ultimate power to create and guide, while it was used to form a strong lay priesthood order in a stable hierarchical democracy devoid of the kind of political authority that evangelicals fostered." 

Producing Ancient Scripture: Joseph Smith's Translation Projects and the Rise of Mormon Christianity

The Rise of the Latter-day Saints: Newel Knight's History and Journal

Business and Religion: The Intersection of Faith and Finance 

Recent Books:


Joseph Smith's Seer Stones

"MacKay and Frederick not only provide the single best historical overview of the function and role of seer stones in early Mormon history, but also offer a provocative (if not necessarily wholly convincing) reading of the significance of seer stones to Mormon theology." Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 26, 2017, 230. Christopher Cannon Jones

Joseph  Smith's Seer Stones       

Interview: LDS Perspective Podcast 

Read reviews: Professor Park, Millennial Star Blog, Scriptural Mormonism Blog, Ploni Almoni Blog Deseret News

Facebook page   BYU Religious Education Review Fall 2016 Neal A. Maxwell Institute Blog        



Sacred Space: Exploring the Birthplace of Mormonism

"I found this book to be rigorous in its scholarship and, in agreeance with Richard Bushman, found MacKay's findings and arguments plausible and persuasive." Mormon Historical Studies Vol. 17, No. 1 & 2, 367. Daniel H. Olsen, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, BYU.                                                                      

Sacred Space: Exploring the Birthplace of Mormonism

Read reviews: Mormon Historical Studies Journal Good Reads, Deseret News 



From Darkness Unto Light: Joseph Smith's Translation and Publication of the Book of Mormon

"They have tracked down scraps of information in archives from New York to Utah, from obscure nineteenth-century publications as far-flung as the Ohio Observer and the Milwaukee Sentinel, and even from much better-known sources like Joseph Smith revelations, which they have with a keen eye for detail and often-missed nuance." Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 26, 2017, 218. Matthew Bowman, associate professor of history at Henderson State University and author of The Mormon People. 

From Darkness Unto Light: Joseph Smith's Translation and Publication of the Book of Mormon 

Read reviews: Book of Mormon Central, Deseret News, Ploni Almoni Blog, Good Reads 



Joseph Smith Papers Project, Documents Volume One

Joseph Smith Papers, Documents Volume 1, 1828-1831  


Read reviews: Review in the Journal of the Early Republic