As Sunday School continues to cover the initial chapters of "the Joseph Smith story," I think a good Sunday School post will be to highlight the most recent complete Joseph Smith biography and give links to several short biographical essays I'm aware of that are available online. The book is Joseph Smith (Viking, 2002, in the Penguin Lives series) by Robert Remini, a noted non-LDS scholar who has published respected biographies of other 19th-century Americans (see my review of Remini's book). Remini's effort is notable for being short and up-to-date, produced by an acknowledged historian, and one which is, for the most part, acceptable to both apologists and critics.
As for online biographical essays, I know of the following:
- The Prophet Joseph Smith, the EOM article by Richard L. Bushman and Dean C. Jessee. It includes a nice map showing the various journeys of Joseph during his lifetime.
- Joseph Smith, a short essay by Mark Scherer, the RLDS Church Historian.
- Joseph Smith, Jr., the Wikipedia article, which includes a host of links to other Mormon history articles as well.
- Joseph Smith - History, an excerpt from the History of the Church, written by Joseph himself in 1838 and later canonized as part of the Pearl of Great Price.
- The Wentworth Letter, another short account written by Joseph himself, this one in 1842. It includes a short description of the Book of Mormon and a statement of basic Mormon beliefs which was later canonized as the Articles of Faith.
- A short chronology, from Donna Hill's Joseph Smith: The First Mormon (itself a fine biography if a bit dated, published in 1977).
I'll also post these as links under the Remini book icon on the left sidebar.