"Mackley lays out an engaging, clear, and complete timeline for the development of temple doctrine within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but the glimpses into early Church history are the hidden jewels of this volume. As readers learn about the gradual unfolding of the form, function, and meaning of temple ordinances, they are also given tastes of the sometimes messy practice of polygyny, the preaching of misunderstood doctrine, the details of the sewing of the first temple clothes and garments, the gentle and patient manner in which President Woodruff taught the Saints the necessity of forsaking former practices, and the countless hours he dedicated to the work of salvation of both the living and the dead. This book was written for mainstream Mormons, but scholars will not be disappointed. It is obvious that Mackley has carefully researched the topic because of her meticulous notations, many expanding on concepts from the cited text."

“I was blown away by the depth of research documented in this well written book. What a truly inspiring account of modern day temples and associated doctrines brought about through the power of the priesthood and revelation. Mackley has given us a true literary gem, a must read for anyone desiring to learn more about the evolution of temple doctrines and our individual responsibility to our ancestors. Bravo!”

"I learned more about the development of the doctrine in [this] book than I have ever learned at church."
   Ella M., Reader

"Mackley . . . organizes an immense amount of statistics, events, numbers, and peoples covering almost nine full decades. She then presents a compelling history, at times personally intense, of Wilford Woodruff and the Restoration with its myriad events and people. . . . The large and inclusive body of end notes permits the discriminating reader and researcher and scholar to pursue issues of interest further. . . . Reading the work was pleasurable for me, not a remark that I can easily make for all those who write in our field. . . . Her narrative is easily delivered and easy to follow. . . . Mackley has done very well, and her work will fill the slot on the bookshelf. Buy one for yourself and give copies as gifts for your friends because this is a serious book for serious scholars of Mormonism."
   Melvin J., Reviewer 

“Jennifer captures the intensity of Wilford’s commitment to God and the depth of his belief in the restored gospel. Every reader will feel his spirit in the message. Although I have been a life-long student of Wilford Woodruff, I gained a better appreciation for my own great-grandfather. Truly inspiring.”
   Richard N. Woodruff Lambert, Woodruff Family Association President

“The book is meticulously researched and brings together much information about the development of temple worship in the LDS Church.”
   Linda L., Reader

"I'm a slow reader and my attention varies quickly, but with [this] book I ate it up and couldn't put it down.  It's a pioneering work on this topic and man.  Definitely one of those books on the front shelf of the book case."
   Joshua, Reader  

“I am not paid and do not know the author. I collect and read biographies of the modern Apostles. This is one of the best Apostle biographies I have read. It is very readable, informative and it inspired me to be better and to do more of my temple work. The biography is unusual and admittedly so in that it is a thematic biography, written about President Woodruff's life from a temple perspective. Thus it is not like Alexander Thomas's authoritative and exhaustive biography on President Woodruff. (I have not read Alexander's biography of President Woodruff but I believe he missed much of the information contained therein.) One constant theme of the book is that revelation and temple ordinance doctrine are evolutionary. For example, it was not until 1877 that ordinances for the dead, other than baptisms were performed. It was not until 1894 that linking of the generations was encouraged and done. And each new evolutionary temple tended to happen with the opening of a new temple, Manti excepted.”
   Merrill C., Reader

“Superbly researched and well-written. The author gets you into the mind of this great man and illustrates the gradual development of the temple ordinances and policies. Rich depiction of the culture in which this all evolved. Answers many questions I had about what seemed to be odd practices in early church history. I now have a much richer understanding of how the saints struggled to comprehend the greater light the Lord was trying to give them. Much of the wonderful insight we have today is the product of Wilford Woodruff's lifelong efforts to understand the will of God concerning the temple ceremony. Many neat photos. Highly recommend this book.”
   John H., Reader

“Brigham Young usually gets all the attention because of his brashness and long tenure; this book gives Wilford Woodruff his due. He was a tough hombre, completely committed and loyal, and without an ounce of ambition to be in charge it seems. He survived scores of serious mishaps that could have killed him . . . more than once hiked 50 miles in a day in his missionary travels, he liked guns, hunting and fly fishing. He was the chief scribe of the early Mormon church, chronicled in his 7,000 page journal (extensively cited by the author, who has read every page). But probably his most significant contribution, and this book's focus, was his bringing greater organization to the Mormon temple ceremonies . . . and saving the temples from government confiscation (by suspending polygamy).”
  Carter M., Reader
“. . . There are a large number of great photos, some of which had never been published previously. It seemed that every few page turns there would be another photo. The photos were relevant to the surrounding text and really helped bring the book to life.
     The book does a great job of juggling the biographical discussion of Wilford’s life along with covering temple development and now extinct temple rituals. I thought it flowed very well. …This book has the potential to influence how members view the fluidity of our ordinances. Following Wilford through the changes in the church highlights how these practices have been adjusted over time while also delivering a narrative flow that is often lacking in an abstract discussion of ritual development.
. . .
I’d love to see members who wouldn’t normally venture into reading new Mormon history read this book. It is faith-affirming yet can be paradigm shifting. In our current phase of church development, the best thing all members can do is to learn about how we went through earlier phases. This is a book that you can share with family which can do just that. 
. . .
Mackley is clear that this book is meant to convey the thoughts and words of Wilford Woodruff and that she sought to keep all commentary to a minimal level. This holds true through the book. Woodruff is quoted extensively and on issues where Woodruff is silent, Mackley avoids imposing her own psychoanalysis of Wilford.
. . .
If you are someone who can’t stand reading faithful views on problematic issues in Mormonism, then this book might not be for you. If you are such a person but are interested in trying to see things through the lens of Wilford Woodruff, then I think you would enjoy the book. Viewing the temple and church through Wilford’s eyes can give new insight even to those who are very familiar with Mormon history.”

“A meticulous history of the early days of Mormonism. . . . as a feat of sheer research and historical synthesis, Mackley’s work is remarkable, providing deep insight into an obscure corner of the past.
. . .
Joseph Smith and Brigham Young tend to be the stars of stories about Mormonism’s founding, but Mackley’s debut focuses instead on one of their lesser-known contemporaries: Wilford Woodruff, an early and influential leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Drawing heavily from Woodruff’s journals as well as an extensive selection of other archival materials, Mackley paints a detailed picture of the first several decades of Mormonism. In particular, she focuses on the construction and uses of Mormon temples, describing the practices instituted there and how they changed over time. . . . History buffs will also appreciate the wealth of primary sources, including archival black-and-white photographs and documents often interspersed with the text as well as more than 100 pages of citations and appendices in the backmatter.”

“The author has a very firm grasp of the subject matter. She has written a great tribute to a woefully under-appreciated leader.”
   Brian H. Stuy, Editor of Collected Discourses Delivered by Wilford Woodruff, His Two Counselors, the Twelve Apostles and Others

“Jennifer Mackley’s background as an attorney is evident in her impeccable research and reliance on primary sources. Wilford Woodruff couldn’t have asked for a more eloquent or convincing advocate.”
   Ruth H. Maxwell, Author of Eighteen Roses Red and Living with the Question

“Amazing, truly amazing. 303 pages of great information. 135 pages of careful documentation. I don't believe I have ever read such a well-documented work. Thank you for the scholarly and faithful way you presented this unique and interesting part of LDS heritage.”
   Steven C., Reader

“Wilford Woodruff's Witness is a fascinating work.  It is a thorough and well-structured historical journey.  I saw both the attorney and the historical researcher in the written word, yet the author treats a sacred subject with the proper sensitivity and reverence that it requires.  The book’s content flows well to enlighten and leave no doubt as to the importance of the message.  I loved it.” 
   Alan H., Reader

“This book contains information about how temple ordinances in the latter-days came together. I learned about the revelations received that pertained to the saving ordinances and how they were interpreted and implemented by the church leaders. To my knowledge this is the first book to bring all of the pieces together and put all of them into context. I was inspired and motivated to continue learning about the temple ordinances as a result of reading this book. There are many references to other articles and books written about the subjects contained in this this book, which makes it easy to explore the subjects even further. I also felt a profound gratitude for all of the growing pains and faith that produced such a beautiful gift for those on both sides of the veil. Well done.”

Wilford Woodruff's Witness is a wonderful book. One of the strongest messages was Wilford Woodruff's plea to the Saints to complete temple work for their kindred dead. That message was expected. A unexpected but rich lesson I learned in addition to that was on how the revelatory process works. The apostles and prophets had the precepts, authority, and keys but could only act according to the light and knowledge that they had at the time. After years of putting into practice what they understood, they truly had to study things out in their minds and petition the Lord to give them further light and knowledge. President Woodruff had a deep testimony of revelation and expected church leaders, including himself, to continue to receive revelation. He didn't rest until he got the answers and clarification from the Lord that he needed and expected concerning the saving ordinances of the gospel. As far as the mechanics of reading the book, it was very enjoyable in that aspect, as well. The book flows so smoothly you can easily forget how nearly every paragraph is referenced from journals and other historical documents. This is an astounding work.”
   Reo M., Reader

“In a word – AWESOME. What could have been a hollow attempt to merely lay out a time-line, has instead become a masterpiece to educate the reader regarding pivotal LDS doctrine and its development. This tome will obviously take its place on the shelf as the definitive reference for the foundation of LDS temple doctrine.”
   David T., Reader

“A great book on the development of Mormon temple practices during Wilford Woodruff's lifetime.  Well-documented and insightful.”
   Sherman F., Reader

“This is heavier reading than I usually do, with a lot to absorb. It's not a book to rush through. I learned a lot and the subject matter is thoroughly covered. Many little-known facts keep the reader's interest. Also, I loved that there were photographs on every page or two. What amazed me the most was the author's ability to work quoted and footnoted material seamlessly into her narration. This historical, religious book reads like a narrative story with events and dialogue and interesting facts. The research and level of organization is astounding. How she kept track of everything and put it together so well leaves me impressed and amazed.”
   Renae M., Reader

"Informative, well-researched and well-written. Appreciated both temple insights and insights into the life of Wilford Woodruff." 
   Family1, Reader

“This book is well-written. Whereas other LDS book-writers sometimes show only a superficial grasp of the Gospel, the author displayed a depth of understanding – deeper than what was in her text. As such, it was evident that she could have written more. And whereas other writers sometimes water-down points of doctrine to make it easier to appeal to a less conservative (i.e., more palatable to a liberal – even non-LDS) audience, it was especially refreshing to read a book that was true to the Spirit. I was impressed!
   Jim F., Reader

"This is a great read. I learned a lot about the temple."
   Bruce C., Reader

"Thank you. Wonderful book." 
   PenName, Reader

“I found this book to be both inspiring and surprising. … I appreciate more fully how Wilford and the other early church members were willing to take one step after another using the knowledge they had and trusted that if they acted on what they had, they would be given more. As the author summarizes, Wilford ‘was not only comfortable with the idea of continuing revelation, he counted on it.’ As they faced new situations, the instructions given by revelation would follow.

“Even though the presentations changed, it did not change the principles being taught. He compared this to Christ's atonement ending of animal sacrifice, but it did not change the eternal laws of justice and mercy. They were simply taught in a different manner, through the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

“Acting in faith based on what we know, and trusting we will receive more when it is needed, is a true principle clearly seen in the development of temple doctrine and practices.”
   Preston, Reader

   Heather, Reader

“It was amazing. I highly recommend this book to LDS readers who want to know more about the temple.”
   Mixa, Reader

“I loved this book. Jennifer Mackley did a a great job of helping the reader to understand the development of Church doctrine and practices regarding the sealing ordinances. This is told through the life story of Wilford Woodruff which helps one to see why he was the one who made these changes as well as show the course of these revelations and changes through his eyes. After reading this book I was able to comprehend better the law of adoption as it operated back then and why it took so long for the changes to happen as they did. I was able to see what Wilford Woodruff was going through at the time of the anti-polygamy laws, how this affected him, and how this led him to the revelation he received ending polygamy.”
   Kole, Reader

“A friend loaned me this book, and I put a sticky note in every spot where I wanted to make a note. Well, the book is filled with sticky notes! I am going to buy this book. This book highlights potential barriers to revelation as well. Jennifer Mackley shows how Wilford prayed many times about ending polygamy in order to stop the troubles the church was having in the 19th century, but Wilford repeatedly felt that polygamy should continue. Mackley indicates that when the possibility of the temples being confiscated became real, the nature of Wilford’s question changed. Now he was asking how to save the temples from being lost and if ending polygamy was that answer. To me, this is important. I have had times when the nature of my questions have changed and this has brought added revelation. This shift in focus prepared Woodruff to receive the dream-vision which led to the Official Declaration that ended plural marriage for the Church.

“Another thing I appreciated from this author is that she wrote what Wilford Woodruff thought and said, not what some historian thought he would say, or what he thought he was thinking. I appreciated this approach. I understand the importance of citing other historians, going to secondary and tertiary sources, but I wanted to get it straight from Wilford Woodruff. This book will give it to you straight from the primary source. Jennifer knows her stuff when it comes to Wilford Woodruff!”
   Mike D. Reader

“A marvelous integrative biography of Wilford Woodruff and how his life paralleled temple development. Very readable history. Great sources and footnotes. Reading this made me more appreciative of my church's unique doctrine of eternal families, more willing and excited to be in the temple, and more grounded in the historical framework of temple ordinances.” 
   Rae, Reader

“This was a really interesting book, and helped me learn a lot of Wilford Woodruff and his committment to the temple and family history.”
   Tom, Reader

“The author gave a good overview of Wilford Woodruff and his conversion and work with temples. Some interesting insights were brought in the book.”
   David B., Reader

“Mackley explores the changes and development of temple practices and doctrine throughout the first (nearly) 70 years of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through the lens of Wilford Woodruff's life. I picked up this book to learn more about Wilford Woodruff (as one of his descendants), but learned so much more than that. Overall, I have gained a greater respect for how the early church members used the light they had been given, and how they accepted when more was revealed. That perspective helps me understand their actions so much better. 

“I give my ratings based on how much I enjoyed reading a book. I found this book highly readable and extremely interesting. I do have an extensive background in Church history, but I think Ms Mackley is thorough in her explanations. She probably gives sufficient background to the events and thought processes to be helpful to those who don't already know a lot of Church history; however, the more context a reader can bring, the better. This book was very professional, with lots of helpful footnotes; several of which I looked up. Also, this book assumes an LDS audience. It is a faith-based history.

“As for the content, this is deep. This is a book I will come back to repeatedly. I also felt inspired. This was a page-turner for me. I have thought about it between reading sessions, and have been eager to pick it up again. It is organized in a way that makes it easy to read a little at a time and not lose continuity.

“I was especially intrigued with the treatment of polygamy and the lead-up to the Manifesto. I hadn't realized it had so much to do with the temples and work for the dead. The final chapter departs from the rest and encourages current members of the Church to heed the warnings and encouragement of Wilford Woodruff concerning our responsibilities to our ancestors.”
   Colette, Reader

“Very clear and easy to read and also very well sourced. I spent a lot of time in the footnotes - it helps immensely to know the sources and I appreciated having them. This is a topic worthy of consideration by all latter day saints - to understand how the doctrines and ordinances of the temple were revealed in this dispensation. It helps to understand how the temple experience relates to us today. As a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this book really gave me a better appreciation of President Woodruff's role in the development of temple doctrine and practice, particularly during his time as the St. George Temple president. I also appreciated the candor in explaining things like the Second Anointings and priesthood adoption ordinances. I had some understanding of the latter from John Turner's Brigham Young biography and from the BYU Studies essays on temple doctrine in the 1800s, but the book did give me a more complete understanding of what was going on with priesthood adoptions. The book was also great because it covered practices of temple worship during the time between the Nauvoo Temple and the St. George Temple, which has generally been forgotten or overlooked. On a more personal side note, as a Zerah Pulsipher family member, I was glad to see his story shared in the book and his family mentioned a few times throughout. Ultimately, this book does a good job at being both faith-promoting and historically accurate and informative with a target audience of Latter-day Saints.
… the book is very readable and I do suggest it, particularly for Latter-day Saints who want to learn more about temples or about Wilford Woodruff.”
   Chad N., Reader

“A book that is half biography of Wilford Woodruff, and half history of the LDS temple ordinances ... The sheer amount of work and dedication that Mackley put into the book makes it well worth the read. Whereas other books that cover the development of LDS temple ordinances are more a series of individual documents (I'm looking at you Devery Anderson) this book does a good job of showing the slow development, sometimes confusion, and final completeness of all of the temple ordinances from Moroni's first visit to Joseph Smith all the way until the end of Wilford Woodruff's life (when, I would argue, the last of the major changes to LDS temple worship changed-the changes after Woodruff are more window dressing and refinement than major changes). To that end, it's a good book for anybody looking for either some insight into LDS temples and the development of the rituals performed therein, or looking for a biography of Woodruff, who was heavily involved in the development of those ordinances throughout his life. While it doesn't do either particularly greatly, it does them both competently. I leave it to the other readers to determine if splitting the book into two (biography vs. temple ordinances) would have served the subject matters better. I think the argument could be made either way, and am glad I read this book.” 
   Carl, Reader

“Fascinating account of information difficult to find elsewhere.”
   William S., Reader

“Wonderfully documented!”
   Warren J., Reader

“This book is written by a faithful Latter-day Saint, so it has the expected apologist tone. But beside that, Mackley includes a lot of reliable information that I have not found in other books about the LDS Church and its temples. She brings light to some of the controversial changes in Church doctrine and practice, rather than omitting them as many authors do.”
   Daniel D., Reader

“Excellent history and well researched.”
   Gary R., Reader

“Love the easy read of such critical information about the rise of LDS temple consciousness. Jennifer Mackey does anot exceptional job of providing temple ordinance information without crossing the sacred line that goes with discussion of the temple and its ordinances.”
   Hayley W., Reader

“Well written with a lot of primary resources. It has certainly helped me increase my knowledge and testimony of the temple and modern revelation. I highly recommend this book.”
   Amazon Customer

“In Wilford Woodruff’s Witness, Jennifer Ann Mackley takes what could easily be a dry topic and turns it into a fascinating study not only of the unfolding of Latter-day Saint temple doctrine but also of early Mormonism. Primarily using Woodruff’s own words taken from his journals and published discourses, the narrative follows the line-upon‑line revelation of doctrine pertaining to the purpose and ordinances of the temple and the quest for sacred space to conduct these rites.

“With over one hundred illustrations, the book visually reinforces the concepts presented in the text and reminds readers that they are in a world far removed from the present. Doctrines we now take for granted were slowly being revealed, and leaders grappled with foreign concepts as they simultaneously rejoiced in promised blessings. “Along the journey, readers are taught valuable principles applicable to understanding the nature of current prophetic revelation within the Latter-day Saint community, as they view the imperfect nature of the temple doctrine reception and implementation in the early Church.

“When presenting Woodruff’s growing understanding of the work for the dead, Mackley presents only enough biographical information to provide context and refrains from overabundant commentary or analysis, instead deferring to primary sources when possible to tell the story. This approach allows the author to accomplish at least three things in the book. First, readers are given glimpses into the unique experience of living in Nauvoo and being taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith. … Second, readers are introduced to unusual temple practices no longer utilized, such as baptisms for healing. Mackley introduces these rites, safely guiding members along an unknown path by explaining contemporary thinking behind their initiation and practice. Third, it allows for the interweaving of explanations of complex doctrine by presenting them through Woodruff’s eyes as he feels more and more compelled to delve into temple practices that leave him unsettled. …

“Mackley lays out an engaging, clear, and complete timeline for the development of temple doctrine within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but the glimpses into early Church history are the hidden jewels of this volume. As readers learn about the gradual unfolding of the form, function, and meaning of temple ordinances, they are also given tastes of the sometimes messy practice of polygyny, the preaching of misunderstood doctrine, the details of the sewing of the first temple clothes and garments, the gentle and patient manner in which President Woodruff taught the Saints the necessity of forsaking former practices, and the countless hours he dedicated to the work of salvation of both the living and the dead.

This book was written for mainstream Mormons, but scholars will not be disappointed. It is obvious that Mackley has carefully researched the topic because of her meticulous notations, many expanding on concepts from the cited text. … and the chronicle accomplishes the rare feat of turning a historical timeline into a fascinating read. … Though the topic is presented in a faith-promoting manner, it is also a comprehensive treatment that mentions by name all of the Latter-day Saint temple rites.

“Wilford Woodruff’s Witness is an important addition to the scholarship of temple rites in the LDS Church. It strips away the cloak of uncomfortableness about the changing nature and understanding of temple ceremonies by clearly acknowledging them and postulating that evolution of any complex doctrine is to be expected, especially those that are new and complex such as that introduced by Joseph Smith to the early Saints.”