The Joseph Smith RevelationsThe Joseph Smith Revelations
Text & Commentary
by H. Michael Marquardt

on the cover:
Like biblical scholars sifting through ancient parchments, H. Michael Marquardt has assembled the earliest extant manuscripts of Joseph Smith’s revelations. He compares them to the canonized versions that were included in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, and adds annotation and commentary. The source documents include:

A Book of Commandments (printed sheets 1833)

Book of Commandments, Law and Covenants, Books B and C

Book of Commandments manuscript pages

Book of the Law of the Lord manuscript

William Clayton Journal

Zebedee Coltrin Journal

The Evening and the Morning Star

Joseph Smith Letterbook 1

Kirtland Revelations Book manuscript

Manuscript Letter to John E. Page

Manuscript History, Books A-1, C-1

Manuscript Revelations Collection

William E. McLellin Collection

Scriptory Book of Joseph Smith manuscript

Joseph Smith Journal

Frederick G. Williams Papers

Newel K. Whitney Collection

on the flap:
There was frustration in Oliver Cowdery’s 4 February 1835 letter to Bishop Newel K. Whitney. Cowdery was trying to acquire “the original copy of … The Law of Church” and had so far been unable to locate a reliable source. He even confessed publicly to being “not a little surprised” in preparing the revelations of Joseph Smith for publication “to find the previous print[ing in the church newspaper] so different from the original.” The problem, as historian Richard P. Howard has noted, was that Cowdery was using “a different original” from what he had seen four years earlier.

Indeed, agrees author H. Michael Marquardt. It is apparent that the 1835 version of Smith’s revelations was a “revised, expanded text that contained material anachronistic to the original 1831 setting.” More specifically, many documents were “added to, excised, and in some cases assigned different historical settings. … Among other emendations, the changes softened language, reinterpreted economic matters, added offices existing at the time of revision, and inserted references to priesthood restoration.” Where events had “not unfolded as proposed,” prophecies were reevaluated and, where necessary, revised.

What does it matter today? Many of the chnages are significant, whether one sees them as historical curiosities, background to the intent of now ambiguous passages, or as insight into God’s “line upon line” dealings with mortal men and women. The latter may be the most important, as the “evolution of the canon” implies something about the nature of revelation itself. The obvious casualty for anyone undertaking a careful study of church documents is the assumption of infallibility versus a fluid, dynamic model of revelation, what Marquardt calls the “richness of the living text as it is transformed over time.” This new understanding reveals “important, fundamental vistas” for understanding doctrine, policy, and history.

about the author: H. Michael Marquardt is co-author with the late Wesley P. Walters of the acclaimed Inventing Mormonism: Tradition and the Historical Record. In addition, he is the author of several historical monographs, including  The Book of Abraham Revisited, Joseph Smith’s Diaries, and The Strange Marriages of Sarah Ann Whitney, and of essays that have appeared in a variety of professional and religious journals.  A retired civil servant, Marquardt is now an internet webmaster for “Mormon Origins.” He and his wife, Dorothy, live in Sandy, Utah, and have five children.

Joseph Smith

[p.ii] Profile of Joseph Smith from an engraving in Frederick Piercy’s
Route from Liverpool to Great Salt Lake Valley, edited by James Linforth
(Liverpool and London, 1855). Courtesy Utah State Historical Society

title page:
The Joseph Smith Revelations
Text & Commentary
H. Michael Marquardt
Signature Books
Salt Lake City

copyright page:

Cover Design: Brian Bean
The Joseph Smith Revelations: Text and Commentary was printed on acid-free paper and was composed, printed, and bound in the United States of America.
© 1999 by Signature Books. All rights reserved.
Published by Signature Books. Signature Books is a registered trademark of Signature Books Publishing, LLC.
04   03   02   01   2000   99       6   5   4   3   2   1

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Marquardt, H. Michael.
The Joseph Smith Revelations – texts and commentary / by H. Michael Marquardt.
p.   cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 1-56085-126-0
1. Doctrine and Covenants—Criticism, interpretation, etc.  2. Smith, Joseph, 1805-1844.  3. Private revelations.  I. Smith, Joseph, 1805-1844.  II. Title.
BX8628.M37     1999
289.3’2—dc21     98-46500   CIP


Preface [see below]
Introduction [see below]
Common Abbreviations [see below]
Writings Not Included in This Study [see below]
Map: Mormon Country [see below]
Cross-References [see below]

I. Historical Background
1. Evolution of the Canon

II. The Documents
2. Book of Mormon Period, July 1828 – March 1830

1. Sets at Nought the Counsels of God (LDS D&C 3)
2. O Ye That Embark in the Service of God (D&C 4)
3. He Hath a Gift to Translate the Book (D&C 5)
4. He That Hath Eternal Life Is Rich (D&C 6)
5. Thou Shall Tarry till I Come in My Glory (D&C 7)
6. Spirit of Revelation (D&C 8)
7. Be Patient My Son (D&C 9)
8. That You May Conquer Satan (LDS D&C 10)
9. Behold It Is I That Speaketh (LDS D&C 11)
10. Establish the Cause of Zion (LDS D&C 12)
11. Keep My Commandments in All Things (LDS D&C 14)
12. Hearken My Servant John (LDS D&C 15)
13. Hearken My Servant Peter (LDS D&C 16)
14. Rely upon the Things Which Are Written (LDS D&C 18)
15. It Is by Your Faith that You Shall Obtain a View of Them (LDS D&C 17)
16. Pay the Printer’s Debt (LDS D&C 19)

Introduction to Chapters 3 to 6.
Church of Christ Years, April 1830 – May 1834

3. Laying the Foundation, April 1830 – January 1831

17. Beware of Pride (LDS D&C 23)
18. Thy Duty Is unto the Church Forever (LDS D&C 23)
19. Strengthen the Church (LDS D&C 23)
20. Thou Also Art Under No Condemnation (LDS D&C 23)
21. It Is Your Duty to Unite with the True Church (LDS D&C 23)
22. The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail Against You  (LDS D&C 21)
23. This Is a New and an Everlasting Covenant (LDS D&C 22)
24. The Rise of the Church of Christ (LDS D&C 20)
25. Go Thy Way and Sin No More (LDS D&C 24)
26. Thou Art an Elect Lady (LDS D&C 25)
27. All Things You Shall Receive by Faith (LDS D&C 26)
28. Listen to the Voice of Jesus Christ (LDS D&C 27)
29. The Hour Is Nigh (LDS D&C 29)
30.Thou Shalt Be Obedient (LDS D&C 28)
31. You Have Feared Man (LDS D&C 30)
32. Give Heed unto These Things (LDS D&C 30)
33. Your Whole Labor Shall Be in My Zion (LDS D&C 30)
34. Pray Always (LDS D&C 31)
35. Be Meek and Lowly of Heart (LDS D&C 32)
36. Be Ready at the Coming of the Bridegroom (LDS D&C 33)
37. I Come Quickly (LDS D&C 34)
38. Thou Shalt Preach My Gospel (LDS D&C 35)
39. I Will Suddenly Come to My Temple (LDS D&C 36)
40. Ye Shall Go to the [State of] Ohio (D&C 37)
41. Behold the Kingdom Is Yours (D&C 38)
42. The Kingdom of Heaven Is at Hand (D&C 39)
43. His Heart Was Right Before Me (D&C 40)

4. Receiving the Laws, February 1831 – September 1831

44. Hearken and Hear, O Ye My People (D&C 41)
45. Behold I Speak unto the Church (D&C 42)
46. Labor Ye in My Vineyard for the Last Time (D&C 43)
47. Preach Repentance unto the People (D&C 44)
48. He Shall Be Delivered Up unto the Law (D&C 42)
49. Be Watchful and Careful with All Inquiry (D&C 42)
50. I Am Alpha & Omega (D&C 45)
51. Seek Ye Earnestly the Best Gifts (D&C 46)
52. Write and Keep a Regular History (D&C 47)
53. Save All the Money that Ye Can (D&C 48)
54. I Have Sent unto You Mine Everlasting Covenant (D&C 49)
55. There Are Many Spirits Which Are False Spirits (D&C 50)
56. Receive the Properties of This People (D&C 51)
57. Hearken unto My Words
58. I Will Cut My Work Short in Righteousness (D&C 52)
59. You Shall Forsake the World (D&C 53)
60. Take Your Journey into the Regions Westward (D&C 54)
61. Ordained by the Hand of My Servant Joseph (D&C 55)
62. I the Lord Command & Revoke as It Seemeth Me Good (D&C 56)
63. Independence Is the Center Place (D&C 57)
64. My Laws Shall Be Kept on This Land (D&C 58)
65. The Fulness of the Earth Is Yours (D&C 59)
66. Let Them Lift Up Their Voice (D&C 60)
67. There Are Many Dangers upon the Waters (D&C 61)
68. Rejoice Together in the Land of Missouri (D&C 62)
69. Let the Church Repent of Their Sins (D&C 63)
70. I Will Have Compassion upon You (D&C 64)

5.  Publishing the Revelations, October 1831 – April 1832

71. Blessed Are You for Receiving Mine Everlasting Covenant (D&C 66)
72. May the Kingdom of God Go Forth (D&C 65)
73. This Is Mine Authority (D&C 1)
74. Let Not Your Minds Turn Back (D&C 67)
75. The Testimony of the Witnesses
76. I the Lord Am with You (D&C 68)
77. Go Ye Out from Babylon (LDS D&C 133)
78. None Shall Be Exempt from the Justice and the Laws of God (LDS D&C 107)
79. Send Forth the Accounts of Their Stewardships to the Land of Zion (D&C 69)
80. Stewards over the Revelations, and Commandments (D&C 70)
81. Confound Your Enemies (D&C 71)
82. It Is Expedient in Me for a Bishop to Be Appointed (D&C 72)
83. To Receive the Funds of the Church (D&C 72)
84. Continue Preaching the Gospel (D&C 73)
85. According to the Revelations and Commandments (D&C 75)
86. Supporting the Families (D&C 75)
87. The Eyes of Our Understanding (D&C 76)
88. To Be a Servant unto Me
89. In the Days of the Apostles (D&C 74)
90. All Things Be Done unto My Glory (LDS D&C 78)
91. Go Ye into the World & Preach the Gospel (LDS D&C 80)
92. Equal in All Things
93. Glad Tidings of Great Joy (LDS D&C 79)
94. Proclaiming the Gospel in the Land of the Living & among Thy Brethren (LDS D&C 81)
95. The Spirit of Man in the Likeness of His Person (LDS D&C 77)
96. Let Whatsoever Is Done Be Done in the Name of the Lord
97. When Ye Do Not What I Say, Ye Have No Promise (LDS D&C 82)
98. All Children Have Claim upon Their Parents Untill They Are of Age (LDS D&C 83)

6. Priesthood Development, August 1832 – April 1834

99. Whoso Receiveth You as a Little Child Receiveth My Kingdom (LDS D&C 99)
100. This Is the Word of the Lord (LDS D&C 84)
101. Set in Order the House of God (LDS D&C 85)
102. The Angels Are Crying unto the Lord (LDS D&C 86)
103. Stand Ye in Holy Places (LDS D&C 87)
104. I Now Send upon You Another Comforter (LDS D&C 88)
105. In Token of the Everlasting Covenant (LDS D&C 88)
106. Called to Be a Councellor
107. Enoch of Old
108. A Word of Wisdom (LDS D&C 89)
109. Set in Order the Churches (LDS D&C 90)
110. The Apocrypha (LDS D&C 91)
111. Ye Shall Receive Him into the Firm (LDS D&C 92)
112. Man Is the Tabernacle of God (LDS D&C 93)
113. The Building of Mine House (LDS D&C 95)
114. Bringing Forth My Word (LDS D&C 96)
115. For This Is Zion the Pure in Heart (LDS D&C 97)
116. According to the Pattern (LDS D&C 94)
117. Renounce War and Proclaim Peace (LDS D&C 98)
118. A Pure People (LDS D&C 100)
119. Avenge Me of Mine Enemies (LDS D&C 101)
120. Restoration and Redemption of Zion (LDS D&C 103)
121. Properties Which Belong to the Firm (LDS D&C 104)
122. Let There Be Reserved Three Thousand Dollars

7. Church of the Latter Day Saints Period, May 1834 – April 1838

123. Wait for a Little Season for the Redemption of Zion (LDS D&C 105)
124. Separated Himself from the Crafts of Men (LDS D&C 106)
125. Condemnation Resteth upon You
126. The High Priest, and Elder, Are to Administer in Spiritual Things (LDS D&C 107)
127. Shall Have Wisdom Given Him
128. If He Repent Not
129. Flee the Wrath to Come
130. Let Them Repent Speedily
131. Their Sins Are Forgiven Them
132. Are Under Condemnation
133. He Shall See Much of My Ancient Records
134. He Shall Be Restored unto His Former State
135. Had Better Not Be Baptised Here
136. Receive Counsel of Him Whom I Have Appointed (LDS D&C 108)
137. I Beheld the Celestial Kingdom of God (LDS D&C 137)
138. I Have Accepted This House (LDS D&C 110)
139. Concern Not Yourselves about Zion (LDS D&C 111)
140. Rebel Not against My Servant Joseph (LDS D&C 112)
141. Things Which Are Not Pleasing in My Sight
142. Awake My Shepherds and Warn My People
143. Let the First Presidency of My Church Be Held in Full Fellowship
144. Except It Be Dedicated by This Presidency
145. Get Out of This Place
146. Put on the Authority of the Priesthood (LDS D&C 113)
147. Others Shall Be Planted in Their Stead (LDS D&C 114)
148. Provide for His Family

8. Early Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Period, April 1838 – November 1843

149. The Ground upon Which Thou Standest Is Holy (LDS D&C 115)
150. Let the Twelve Be Organized (LDS D&C 118)
151. Their Former Standing Has Been Taken Away
152. This Shall Be a Standing Law unto Them Forever (LDS D&C 119)
153. It Shall Be Disposed Of (LDS D&C 120)
154. Let Them Settle Up Their Business (LDS D&C 117)
155. Council of the Eternal God of All Other Gods (LDS D&C 121-122)
156. I Am Well Pleased with Your Offering (LDS D&C 124)
157. Let Them Gather Themselves Together (LDS D&C 125)
158. Take Stock in the [Nauvoo] House
159. Your Offering Is Acceptable to Me (LDS D&C 126)
160. I the Lord Will Bless Them
161. A Mission to Preach My Gospel
162. Beautify the Place of My Sanctuary
163. Take in Hand the Editorial Department
164. The Kingdom of God and His Law
165. I Am the Lord Thy God
166. Shall Be Crowned upon Your Heads
167. I Shall Triumph over All My Enemies (LDS D&C 127)
168. The Key of Knowledge (LDS D&C 128)
169. For Time and for All Eternity (LDS D&C 132)
170. Labor Diligently in Proclaiming My Gospel


A. Corrected Dates and Locations of Joseph Smith’s Revelations
B. Book of Commandments Manuscript Fragments
C. Revelations Printed in The Evening and the Morning Star
D. Locations of Manuscript Revelations
E. Six Additional Revelations Given through Joseph Smith
F. A Commandment to Oliver Cowdery Received in 1829

Select Bibliography


[p.xi] Revelation is so central to Mormonism that one might assume the study of original texts is an exhausted field. The truth is that, with few exceptions, such a study has yet to begin. What makes this all the more surprising is that the “Upgrading [of] revelations and retrospectively editing the past are hallmarks of early Mormonism.”1 Mormon books and scriptures give primacy to emended texts, while the originals remain largely ignored. An analysis of the earliest documents helps us better understand the original setting and intention of a revelation, which in many instances is altered—sometimes greatly—by later textual modifications.

The historical study of the texts not only helps us interpret the original meaning  but assists in appreciating the richness of a living text as it is transformed over time. Scriptures do not exist without a community of believers that cherishes them as the word of God. Thus the history of scriptural texts reveals the changing world view of the Mormon community. By knowing more of the history of the early church, including events that effected alterations of texts, we hope to reveal important, fundamental vistas regarding the nature of early Mormonism and its canon.

This book arranges in chronological order the revelations received by Mormonism’s founding prophet, Joseph Smith, in their earliest available form. Important textual revisions that appeared in the canonized 1835 Doctrine and Covenants are included at the end of each revelation affected. If the basic word in the revision is the same or if there is a minor spelling difference, no attention is drawn to the change. Word(s) in italics represent new language that was added in 1835.

A commentary for some of the revelations is included at the end of pertinent passages. I have not commented on every textual change but have highlighted the most significant—those which elucidate how people understood these revelatory pronouncements at the time they were first given. Where manuscripts are available and relevant to this study, I provide transcriptions of the complete documents. Transcriptions of the manuscripts were made from photographic reproductions, microfilm copies, and Book of Commandments fragments. For revelatory texts recorded in the Book of the Law of the Lord, I have consulted the transcription by Dean C. Jessee in The Papers of Joseph Smith: Journal, 1832-1842. I have retained the style and spelling of the original scribes.

My selection of “revelations” follows the canonical tradition. It includes not only foundational doctrinal assertions and visions but also pronouncements regarding the duties of church leaders. Specific instructions to church members were an important aspect of early Mormonism, as were explanations of scriptures, episto-[p.xii]lary advice, and decisions about practical matters regarding property and money. These items are more formally called revelations (148), commandments (6), letters (4), explanations of scripture (3), visions (3), prophecies (2), testimony (1), a song in the gift of tongues (1), instruction (1), and the Articles and Covenants (1). One half of the revelations were written during the formative period of the church be-fore the Quorum of Twelve Apostles was organized in 1835 (125 documents, 73.5 percent). They were given to the general membership, to elders and high priests, to church conferences, or in response to individual inquiries. They were mainly for men. Only five documents are directly related to women: to Emma Hale Smith, Vienna Jacques, Mary Bailey Smith, Nancy Marinda Hyde, and Sarah Ann Whitney.

Versification has been deleted since most of the manuscripts have no verses. References to current editions of the scriptures are given at the beginning of each document. Brackets are used for editorial insertions, to make fragmentary or misspelled words intelligible. Sometimes the manuscripts were difficult to read, especially the endings of words. Rather than complete the intended word, brackets were added. Brackets are also included to identify individuals mentioned. Unless otherwise indicated, words that were crossed out by the original scribes are omitted.

In a number of instances where the meaning is ambiguous, punctuation and capital letters are supplied within brackets to facilitate readability. The Book of Commandments had a few obvious typographical errors that have been corrected. The first word of each revelation, which appeared in capital letters, has been rendered in lower case. In manuscripts, words that appear above lines are included if they were part of the original manuscript and were not late additions.

Most of the manuscripts have been divided into shorter paragraphs for easier reading. Source notations for the texts are at the beginning of each document. Footnotes are given where appropriate. References to Mormon scripture are usually provided in their standard abbreviations; thus BC refers to the Book of Commandments, D&C to the Doctrine and Covenants (usually preceded by LDS or RLDS), etc.

I would like to give a special thanks to the three major repositories containing manuscripts relating to the Restoration movement: the historical department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS archives), Salt Lake City, Utah; the library-archives of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS archives), Independence, Missouri; and Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. Research was conducted at the LDS Family History Library; Manuscripts Division, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah; and the Utah State Historical Society library, all in Salt Lake City; the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka; the Mercantile Library Association and Missouri Historical Society, both in St. Louis; and the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland, Ohio. I express my appreciation to these institutions and their staffs.


1. Richard S. Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1994), 129n5.


[xiii] Revelation is usually thought of as the imparting of truth to men and women by Deity. How this wisdom has been communicated between heaven and earth and how it is different from ordinary human thought remains a mystery. For instance, Mormon church founder Joseph Smith (1805-44) was accompanied by scribes who sometimes recorded his most casual observations. For Smith, revelation seemed to come from day-to-day experience, from interactions with other people, and from the study of biblical texts.

In the early years of his life, Smith was a treasure seer who divined where precious things were hidden. As he acquired a prophetic mantle, he used the same methods, including seer-stone gazing, to produce his church’s foundational scripture, the Book of Mormon, and his first fifteen revelations.1

Smith began his ministry in the spring of 1828 at age twenty-two by dictating the content of ancient gold plates to his scribe Martin Harris. When over one hundred manuscript pages of the dictated text were lost, Smith inquired of God about this matter. In July his prayer was answered, and this response became his first revelation: “The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God, can not be frustrated, neither can they come to nought, for God doth not walk in crooked paths; neither doth he turn to the right hand nor to the left; neither doth he vary from that which he hath said: Therefore his paths are strait and his course is one eternal round.”2

While these words were reportedly uttered by God through Smith, there is no first-person emphasis. The language is matter of fact and relates directly to the subject at hand: the lost manuscript of the dictated Book of Mormon text. However, in April 1829 one of Smith’s revelations to another scribe, Oliver Cowdery, uses the first person: “Behold I am Jesus Christ” and “Verily, verily, I say unto you.”3

While Smith did not comment on the manner in which he perceived God’s mind, the linguistic idiosyncracies are assumed to be his own. Whether he believed that the ideas or the words themselves were God’s is not completely understood. For instance, expressions that are borrowed from the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible seem to highlight the importance of the message.

Smith frequently revised the revelations in accordance with his developing the-[p.xiv]ology. God’s word, relayed through fallible prophets, was neither inerrant nor static in Smith’s view—so as the need arose he revised the Bible and his own autobiography as well as the revelations.

However, in June 1829 instructions were given to twelve future apostles called to serve in the ministry:

And I Jesus Christ, your Lord and your God, have spoken it. These words are not of men, nor of man, but of me: Wherefore you shall testify they are of me, and not of man; for it is my voice which speaketh them unto you: For they are given by my Spirit unto you: And by my power you can read them one to another; and save it were by my power, you could not have them: Wherefore you can testify that you have heard my voice, and know my words. … Behold I Jesus Christ, your Lord and your God, and your Redeemer, by the power of my Spirit, have spoken it: Amen.4

And on 6 April 1830, the day the church was organized, a revelation referred to Smith’s authority as spokesman: “For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth.”5

One early disciple, Parley P. Pratt, wrote about the process of revelation:

After we had joined in prayer in his [Smith’s] translating room, he dictated in our presence the following revelation:—(Each sentence was uttered slowly and very distinctly, and with a pause between each, sufficiently long for it to be recorded, by an ordinary writer, in long hand. This was the manner in which all of his written revelations were dictated and written. There was never any hesitation, reviewing, or reading back, in order to keep the run of the subject; neither did any of these communications undergo revisions, interlinings, or corrections. As he dictated them so they stood, so far as I have witnessed; and I was present to witness the dictation of several communications of several pages each. This inquiry was made and the answer given in May, 1831.)6

William E. McLellin was the scribe for Smith’s October 1831 revelation and for David Whitmer’s September 1847 illumination. McLellin wrote of the revelatory process:

I, as scribe, have written revelations from the mouth of both the Revelators, Joseph Smith and David Whitmer. And I have been present many times when others wrote for Joseph; therefore I speak as one having experience. The scribe seats himself at a desk or table, with pen, ink and paper. The subject of enquiry being understood, the Prophet and Revelator enquires of God. He spiritually sees, hears and feels, and then speaks as he is moved upon by the Holy Ghost, the “thus saith the Lord,” sentence after sentence, and waits for his amanuenses to write and then read aloud each sentence. Thus they proceed until the revelator says Amen, at the close of what is then communicated.7

Note that McLellin has each sentence read aloud by the scribe while Pratt states that there was no reading back. Many of the manuscripts do not have punctuation marks, perhaps indicating they were dictated too rapidly to have been read back [p.xv] and corrected. In any case, the revelations were written as nearly as possible as Smith spoke them. The early manuscripts have crossed-out words with substituted words above lines, which appear to have been written near the time of the first composition. The orthography is unique for each particular scribe. Smith, on the other hand, was responsible for the content of every message.

Many of the revelations are explicitly attributed to God, as illustrated by the following salutations:

thus saith the Lord (OT; BOM; 1830-43)
saith the Lord (OT; NT; BOM; 1830-43)
Verily thus saith the Lord (1831-43)
Behold thus saith the Lord (NT; BOM; 1831-38)
verily I say unto you (NT; BOM; 1829-43)
Verily, verily, I say unto you (NT; BOM; 1829-1843)
I am God (OT; BOM; 1829-33)
I am Alpha and Omega (NT; BOM; 1830-43)
Listen to the voice (NT; 1830-32)
I the Lord have spoken it (OT; 1831-33)
Behold I am Jesus Christ (BOM; 1829-31)
listen to the words of Jesus Christ (1829)
give heed unto my word (1829)

In a revelation received on 25 January 1832, the wording commences: “Verily verily I say unto you I who speak even by the voice of my spirit even Alpha and Omega your Lord and your God … behold this is the will of the Lord your God concerning you even so Amen.”8 Smith stated this was a “commandment of Jesus Christ.”9 In another revelation, he dictated, “these are the words of Alpha & Omega even Jesus Christ.”10 William W. Phelps underscored Smith’s role as God’s voice in a song, a portion of which reads: “The commandments to the church,/ Which the saints will always search,/ (Where the joys of heaven perch,)/ Came through him from Jesus Christ.”11

A peculiarity in the revelations is that when there are minor differences between the original and subsequent versions, the meaning has usually remained the same. Theological and historical revisions are more apparent. The most drastic alterations were made in 1835, when the texts were amended, added to, excised, and in some cases assigned different historical settings. About a third of the texts from July 1828 to 23 April 1834 were revised. Among other emendations, the changes softened language, reinterpreted economic matters, added offices existing at the time of revision, and inserted references to priesthood restoration.

The earliest prophetic statements were addressed to individuals as a comfort or [p.xvi] chastisement or to the church regarding organizational issues. Economic ideals, religious expectations, and millennial warnings were also prominent features. Missionaries were called to preach to the world for the last time.

The majority (51.7 percent) of the commandments, revelations, and instructions were received in Kirtland and Hiram, Ohio (1831-38), as doctrines, ordinances, and authority structures were solidified. From the revelations, it becomes clear that dissent was common and forgiveness was often offered to those who transgressed.

Some of the revelations were not only for a specific recipient, but were specifically withheld from the public. Martin Harris was instructed in March 1830: “And I command you, that you preach nought but repentance; and show not these things, neither speak these things unto the world, for they can not bear meat, but milk they must receive[.]”12 Almost a year later in March 1831 the church was told: “& now I say unto you keep these things from going abroad unto the world that ye may accomplish this work in the eyes of the people & in the eyes of your enemies that they may not know your works untill ye have accomplished the thing which I have commanded you[.]”13

At the 1 November 1831 church conference, a revelation authorized publication of the Book of Commandments: “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself, and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice, or by the voice of my servants, it is the same[.]”14 Originally the commandments were to be kept from the world—“And for this cause these commandments were given; they were commanded to be kept from the world in the d[a]y that they were given, but now [November 1831] are to go forth unto all flesh.”15

Realizing that some of the revelations were not intended for the world underscores the importance of the early texts. Joseph Smith together with a few associates selected the revelations from the original handwritten copies for canonization. Chapter 1 discusses these manuscripts as it explores the historical development of the canon.


1. See Dean C. Jessee, ed., The Papers of Joseph Smith: Auto biographical and Historical Writings (Salt Lake City: De seret Book Co., 1989), 1:287, 289, 292, 294. See also H. Michael Marquardt and Wesley P. Walters, Inventing Mormonism: Tradition and the Historical Record (San Francisco: Smith Research Associates, 1994), 104, 188-89, 195n49-51.

2. BC 2:1; LDS D&C 3:1-2; RLDS D&C 2:1.

3. The words “Verily, verily, I say unto you” are in the Gospel of John (KJV) and in the Book of Mormon. The shorter wording “verily I say unto you” is in the New Testament Gospels.

4. BC 15:36-41, 50; LDS D&C 18:33-36, 47; RLDS D&C 16:5, 7.

5. BC 22:5; LDS D&C 21:5; RLDS D&C 19:2.

6. Parley P. Pratt [Jr.], ed., Auto biography of Parley P. Pratt (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994), 48. See LDS and RLDS D&C 50.

7. William E. McLellin, ed., The Ensign of Liberty 1 (Aug. 1849): 98, Kirtland, Ohio.

8. See LDS D&C 75:1, 12; RLDS D&C 75:1-2.

9. Smith to W. W. Phelps, 31 July 1832, LDS archives. See Dean C. Jessee, ed., The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1984), 244.

10. See LDS D&C 81; RLDS D&C 80 (15 Mar. 1832).

11. Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate 2 (Oct. 1835): 208; A Collection of Sacred Hymns, for the Church of the Latter Day Saints (Kirtland, OH: Printed by F. G. Williams & Co., 1835 [1836]), 33-34.

12. BC 16:22. For the 1835 D&C the instruction to Harris deleted “neither speak these things,” while adding “until it is wisdom in me,” to read: “show not these things unto the world until it is wisdom in me; for they cannot bear meat now, but milk they must receive” (1835 D&C 44:2). See LDS D&C 19:21-22; RLDS D&C 18:2.

13. Manuscript in LDS archives. After the words “keep these things from going abroad unto the world,” six words were added for the BC: “until it is expedient in me” (BC 48:68; LDS D&C 45:72; RLDS D&C 45:15). The manuscript written by Ed ward Partridge does not contain these words nor does a copy made by William E. McLellin. See Jan Shipps and John W. Welch, eds., The Journals of William E. McLellin 1831-1836 (Provo, UT: BYU Studies/Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 240.

14. BC 1:7; LDS D&C 1:38; RLDS D&C 1:8.

15. The Evening and the Morning Star 1 (May 1833): [2; whole page no. 90], Independence, MO; LDS D&C 133:60; RLDS D&C 108:11 (3 Nov. 1831).

Common Abbreviations

[p.xvii] 1830 BOM………Joseph Smith, The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the hand of Mormon, Upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi. By Joseph Smith, Junior, author and proprietor (Palmyra, NY: Printed by E. B. Grandin for the author, 1830), cited with page number and followed by versification of both LDS and RLDS churches

1835 D&C………Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints (Kirtland, OH: Printed by F. G. Williams & Co., 1835)

BC………A Book of Commandments, for the Government of the Church of Christ (Zion [Independence, Missouri]: Published by W. W. Phelps & Co., 1833)

BLL………Book of the Law of the Lord, archives, First Presidency, LDS church

BOM………Book of Mormon

D&C………Doctrine and Covenants

E&M Star………The Evening and the Morning Star

JS Journal………Joseph Smith 1835-36 Journal, LDS archives

JST………The Holy Scriptures (Independence, MO: Herald Publishing House, Reorgranized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1991); also Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible

KJV………King James Version of the Bible

KRB………Kirtland Revelations Book, LDS archives

LDS………Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) head- quartered in Salt Lake City, Utah

LDS D&C………The Doctrine and Covenants of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981)

NKW………Newel K. Whitney Collection, Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

[p.xviii] NT………New Testament

OT………Old Testament

PGP………The Pearl of Great Price (Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981)

RLDS………Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, head- quartered in Independence, Missouri

RLDS archives………Library-Archives, RLDS church

RLDS D&C………Book of Doctrine and Covenants (Independence, MO: Herald Publishing House, Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1990)

SB………Scriptory Book of Joseph Smith, LDS archives

Writings Not Included in This Study

[p.xix] I. Items in the LDS D&C1

Added to the D&C in 1876:
D&C 2 the priesthood by the hand of Elijah the prophet
D&C 13 ordination prayer by John the Baptist
D&C 109 dedication prayer of the Kirtland Temple
D&C 116 Adam to visit his people at Adam-ondi-Adam, Daviess County, Missouri
D&C 123 instructions
D&C 129-31 instructions

D&C 102 minutes of the organization of the High Council (1835 D&C 5)
D&C 134 Article on Governments and Laws in General (1835 D&C 102)

II. Items in the 1835 D&C Omitted from Subsequent Editions

A. The Lectures on Faith
removed, RLDS D&C 1897 edition; removed, LDS D&C 1921 edition
B. Article on Marriage (1835 D&C 101)
removed, LDS D&C 1876 edition and replaced with LDS D&C 132, 1876 edition; contained in RLDS D&C 111
C. General Assembly (17 Aug. 1835)
removed, D&C 1844 edition (Nauvoo, Illinois)
added, RLDS D&C 1894 edition; removed, RLDS D&C 1990 edition

III. Items in the RLDS D&C

D&C 22 introductory revelation prior to revision of Genesis added to RLDS D&C 1864 edition; in LDS PGP
D&C 36 part of inspired correction of the Holy Scriptures added to RLDS D&C 1864 edition; in LDS PGP
D&C 99 minutes of the organization of the High Council
D&C 111 Article on Marriage
D&C 112 Article on Governments and Laws in General

[p.xx] IV. Items Outside the D&C

A. The Book of Mormon
B. Correction of the KJV of the Bible, part of which is in the LDS PGP as Selections from the Book of Moses

1. “A Revelation given to Joseph the Revelator June 1830” (OT MS #1, 1, RLDS archives)
2. “A Revelation given to the Elders of the Church of Christ On the first Book of Moses given to Joseph the Seer Chapter first” (ibid., 3)
3. “Chapter 2 A Revelation concerning Adam after he had been driven out of the garden of Eden” (ibid., 8). Note: The handwriting of Oliver Cowdery ends at Genesis 5:28 in the RLDS Bible (Gen. 4:18, KJV; LDS PGP, Moses 5:43).

C. The Book of Abraham, Smith’s writings from Egyptian papyrus (LDS PGP)
D. Joseph Smith-Matthew, Smith’s correction of Matthew 23:39 and chap. 24 (PGP)
E. Joseph Smith-History, which includes Smith’s early visionary experiences (PGP)
F. The Articles of Faith (PGP)


1. These include narrative, the minutes of a meeting, a prayer, and instructions.

Mormon Country

Mormon Country


[p.xxii] Cross references[p.xxiii] Cross references[p.xiv] Cross references[p,xv] Cross references[p.xvi] Cross references