Truman G. Madsen (13 December 1926 – 28 May 2009)


Truman Grant Madsen was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, the second son of Axel A. and Emily Grant Madsen, and a grandson of LDS Church President Heber J. Grant.  He was married to Ann Nicholls Madsen and they had three children and a Navajo foster son.

He obtained his undergraduate degree in speech and a masters degree in philosophy from the University of Utah.  He also studied philosophy at USC, and earned a PhD from Harvard University in the history and philosophy of religion.  Early in his studies at Harvard he determined to “give religion equal time,” and studied the revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith as deeply as he studied philosophy.

He was a professor of philosophy at Brigham Young University for well over thirty years, Director of the Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies in Jerusalem for three years, held the Richard L. Evans Chair in Judeo-Christian Studies for twenty years, was a guest professor at Northeastern University in Boston, University of Haifa in Israel, and Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, and lectured at over 100 universities in the United States and over 50 universities around the world.

He was one of the editors and a contributor to the five-volume Encyclopedia of Mormonism published by Macmillan.

He sponsored several symposia on comparative religion published as Reflections on Mormonism, The Temple in Antiquity, Chosenness and Covenant in Judaism and Mormonism, and On Human Nature.

His volumes on Mormon thought include: Eternal Man, Christ and the Inner Life, Four Essays on Love, The Highest in Us, The Radiant Life, Five Classics, Joseph Smith, the Prophet, Defender of the Faith: the B. H. Roberts Story, The Presidents of the Church, The Temple: Where Heaven Meets Earth, and Sacramental Reflections.

He produced several documentary videos, including On Sacred Ground: Reflections on Joseph Smith, The Eternal Christ, and Ultimate Questions.

Truman G. Madsen had a lifelong appeal to both the scholarly and popular spheres in the LDS Church, and has been similarly appreciated outside of the Church. He wrote and spoke on a wide range of topics about the restored gospel. Much of his attraction was his ability to compare and contrast the gospel with the other faiths and philosophies.

He served in the LDS Church as a missionary, district presidency counselor, Sunday School teacher, bishop, mission president, Sunday School general board member, stake president, and patriarch.


Truman and Ann Madsen, a dynamic duo.

Truman and his son Barney.