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Michael Hubbard MacKay

Michael Hubbard MacKay's picture

Department: Church History

Title: Associate Professor

Office: 275C JSB

Phone number: (801) 422-3663

Contact: Send message

Dr. Michael Hubbard MacKay studied history at the University of York where he was awarded a PhD in 2009. He is an associate 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

Current research interests:

Ritual, Ritual Studies, LDS Temples, Speculative Realism, Materialism, Phenomenology, Lived Religion, Social Cognition.


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


"Was early Mormonism excessively democratic, representative of a newly disestablished society? Or deeply theocratic, echoing the skeptical backlash against those same liberating impulses? In this exhaustively researched and sophisticatedly argued book, Michael MacKay argues that it is not an 'either-or' but 'yes, and.' And in doing so, MacKay digs into some of founding—and foundational—paradoxes concerning religion in the early American republic."

--Benjamin E. Park, author of American Nationalisms: Imagining Union in an Age of Revolutions, 1783–1833

"In Prophetic Authority, MacKay gives us the most thorough and painstaking description of the slow blossoming of the Mormon priesthood hierarchy available, embedding the story in the raucous context of antebellum American democracy. Valuable for anyone who wants to understand either of those worlds better."

--Matthew Bowman, author of Christian: The Politics of a Word in America


Producing Ancient Scripture: Joseph Smith's Translation Projects and the Rise of Mormon Christianity (University of Utah Press, 2020). Amazon


“These essays collectively revise our understanding of Joseph Smith's many translation projects. I found each essay stimulating and thought-provoking. I cannot imagine writing or teaching about the Joseph Smith period of Mormonism without having this book nearby as a source to consult.”
—John Turner, professor of American religion, George Mason University, and author of The Mormon Jesus: A Biography and Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet  
“A fantastic contribution—both to the field of Mormon studies and to the larger field of religious studies as well. The volume will immediately become the standard work on the subject of Joseph Smith’s translation projects, far and away the best analyses of the topic available.”
—Joseph Spencer, assistant professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University and editor of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies


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


Newel Knight (1800–1847) was one of the very earliest Latter-day Saint converts and maintained a lifelong friendship and close association with Joseph Smith Jr. The journals of Newel Knight are part of a handful of essential manuscript sources that every historian of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints relies on to understand its early history. He was one of a few early converts to provide an eyewitness account of the founding events in Church history, including the rise and fall of the Church in Missouri, miraculous healings, legal battles, the construction and dedication of the Kirtland Temple, the first marriage performed by Joseph Smith Jr., the martyrdom, and the cold, difficult exodus from Illinois to Winter Quarters. Knight’s history has always been a difficult source to use because it was never published in one volume until now. This book brings together his various accounts into one place to tell the story of the rise of the Latter-day Saints.


Business and Religion: The Intersection of Faith and Finance 

Historians have increasingly examined how economics and busziness have influenced religion and religious practices, and these examinations have provided better understandings of race, gender, and ethnicity within American religion. As one scholar has noted, looking at the intersection of economics and religion “allows historians in a given place and time to rethink what is going on in a broad sweep of the American religious experience.” The BYU Church History Symposium highlighted that the field of economics and finance have much to offer to Latter-day Saint history.


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