Using The Joseph Smith Papers in the Classroom

Kenneth L. Alford

Kenneth L. Alford, "Using The Joseph Smith Papers in the Classroom," Religious Educator 14, no. 2 (2013): 6595.

Kenneth L. Alford ( was an associate professor of Church history and doctrine at BYU when this article was published.

Page from the Book of CommandmentsThis page from the Book of Commandments and Revelations (Revelation Book 1) includes portions of four 1830 revelations: (a) D&C 23:4, (b) D&C 23:5, (c) D&C 23:6–7, and (d) an unpublished revelation regarding securing the Book of Mormon copyright. Courtesy of Church History Library, © Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

The Joseph Smith Papers project began in 2001 with the goal of finding and publishing all of the papers “created by, or written under the direction of” the Prophet Joseph Smith. [1] Commenting on the wealth of materials that are now being made available, Elder Marlin K. Jensen, then Church Historian and Recorder, stated, “We believe the Joseph Smith Papers will be the most important Church history project of this generation.” [2] What a wonderful set of resources are being placed into our hands as teachers and students of the scriptures!

The Joseph Smith Papers can inform and enliven the way we teach the Doctrine and Covenants. At the beginning of each new Doctrine and Covenants course, I introduce students to the Book of Commandments and Revelations, the Kirtland Revelation Book (designated in The Joseph Smith Papers as Revelation Books 1 and 2, respectively), the Book of Commandments, and the various editions of the Doctrine and Covenants. I will not include a detailed explanation and history of these revelatory books, because several excellent summaries already exist. [3] Table 1 contains a brief description.

The purpose of this article is to share possible ways that The Joseph Smith Papers can be used in the classroom to help students increase their understanding of the Doctrine and Covenants, gain insights into the process of receiving revelation, and strengthen their testimony of the scriptures. Images of the original manuscript pages referenced throughout this essay are available online at The Joseph Smith Papers website. If a classroom projector is available, you may want to include images in your lesson slides. If you teach without a projector, you can print copies of the manuscript pages and share them with your class.

Increase Understanding

The Joseph Smith Papers will not radically change the way that you teach the Doctrine and Covenants, but they can provide you and your students with numerous insights and updates regarding the dates, places, and events connected with the receipt of those wonderful revelations. As we study the doctrines of the Restoration together, I want to give my students the opportunity to consider some of the most recent information we have regarding Joseph Smith’s revelations. One of our challenges as teachers, though, is to recognize the difference between useful information and interesting gospel trivia; we must allocate class time accordingly in order to provide a balanced emphasis and remain focused on the things that matter most. As President Ezra Taft Benson once observed, “All knowledge is not of equal value.” [4] (Appendix 1 summarizes many of the corrections brought to light by The Joseph Smith Papers. In the classroom, I generally share recently updated sectional information when we discuss that section’s historical background.) Both Revelation Books contain information that can increase our appreciation for the revelations. Here are a few insights from the Revelation Books you may consider sharing with your students.

Book of Revelation 1Figure 1. Revelation Book 1 identifies D&C 20 as the "Church Articles and Covenants" and shows that it was probably finalized on April 10, 1830. Courtesy of Church History Library, © Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

D&C 20

Unlike other sections recorded in Revelation Book 1, which generally begin with a number and the word “Commandment” written in large letters, D&C 20 was identified by John Whitmer in large handwritten letters as the “Church Articles and Covenants” (see fig. 1). Joseph apparently received the initial revelation that we know as D&C 20 around June 1829, but it is unclear whether or not he created a written draft of the revelation at that time. As Joseph’s 1838 history explains:

In this manner did the Lord continue to give us instructions from time to time, concerning our <the> duties which now devolved upon us, and among many other things of the kind, we obtained of him the folowing, by the Spirit of Prophecy and revelation; which not only gave us much information, but also pointed out to us the precise day upon which, according to his will and commandment, we should proceed to organize to organize his Church once again, here upon the earth. [An early copy of D&C 20 immediately follows.] [5]

Although drafts of section 20 may have been in progress since June 1829, Revelation Book 1 dates this revelation as April 10, 1830—following the formal organization of the Church by four days. [6] As noted in volume 1 of Joseph Smith Histories, “the term ‘articles and covenants’ applied originally to the statement of church principles and practices . . . approved at the church conference held 9 June 1830” at the home of Peter Whitmer, Sr., which now appears (with some later modifications) as section 20 in the Doctrine and Covenants. [7]

The importance of the doctrines, ordinances, and procedural information contained in D&C 20 can be illustrated by the fact that these “articles and covenants” were one of the first scriptural texts published in this dispensation. An early version appeared on the cover page of the premier issue of the Church’s first newspaper, the Evening and the Morning Star (published in June 1832 at Independence, Missouri); it was also the only revelation published there twice. [8] As further evidence of the esteem in which this section was held, D&C 20 was published as section 2—appearing immediately after the Lord’s Preface (D&C 1)—in both the 1835 and 1844 editions of the Doctrine and Covenants (which were the only editions printed or planned during the lifetime of the Prophet Joseph Smith). [9]

Commandment 17Figure 2. The copy of D&C 21 included in Revelation Book 1 identifies Fayette, New York, as the site where the church was organized on April 6, 1830. Courtesy of Church History Library, © Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Comandment 29Figure 3. In Revelation Book 1, John Whitmer added additional information regarding the circumstances surrounding the receipt of D&C 29. Courtesy of Church History Library, © Intellectual Reserve,

D&C 21

Revelation Book 1 helps to answer the question “Where was the Church organized?” Some people (including W. W. Phelps and Orson Pratt) have suggested that the traditional site of Fayette, New York, is incorrect and that the Church was actually organized in Manchester, New York. In a February 1989 Ensign article, Elder John K. Carmack of the First Quorum of the Seventy addressed the confusion regarding the birthplace of the Church. “The Evening and Morning Star (March and April 1833) and Orson Pratt’s pamphlet Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions, and of the Late Discovery of Ancient American Records,” he wrote, “both suggest Manchester, New York, as the place the Church was organized.” [10] Chapter XXII in the Book of Commandments (now D&C 21), which was received during the organizational meeting of the Church, also incorrectly lists the location as Manchester, New York. [11] “Because of these and similarly confusing statements,” Elder Carmack continued, “I have examined the pertinent historical documents in their context in an effort to confirm the time and place of the Church’s legal organization. I have firmly concluded that there is no reason to doubt that the Church was organized in Fayette, New York, on 6 April 1830 in accordance with divine directive and existing governmental laws.” [12] Through the work of The Joseph Smith Papers project, we now have an additional confirmation that the Church was organized in Fayette. Revelation Book 1 clearly records “Fayette Seneca County State of New York” as the location where the “17th Commandment” (D&C 21) was received on April 6, 1830. [13] (See fig. 2.)

D&C 29

The heading for D&C 29 in the 1981 and 2013 editions of the Doctrine and Covenants state that it was a “revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, in the presence of six elders, at Fayette, New York, September 1830. . . . This revelation was given some days prior to the conference, beginning September 26, 1830.” Readers are referred to History of the Church (volume 1, pages 111–15), which provides limited additional information about the September 1830 Church conference but contains no additional insights into the origin of this section.

In Revelation Book 1, prior to the first verse of the “29th Commandment,” John Whitmer added information regarding a disagreement among Church members that contributed to Joseph Smith’s receiving this revelation. Whitmer confirmed the presence of the six elders mentioned in the current section heading, added that there were also three members present, and then noted that “they understood from Holy Writ that the time had come that the People of God should see eye to eye & they seeing somewhat different upon the death of Adam (that is his transgression).” [14] (See fig. 3.) In September 1830, when D&C 29 was received, every member of the Church—including the Prophet—had been a member six months or less. They had only recently left their previous religious denominations to join the restored Church. It is no wonder that disagreements arose regarding the Fall of Adam and the doctrines surrounding it. Did Adam sin, or did he transgress? What about original sin? John Whitmer, who recorded this revelation in the spring of 1831, explained how the Church members resolved their disagreement: “therefor they made it a subject of Prayer & enquired of the Lord & thus came the word of the Lord through Joseph the seer.” How beneficial it is—then as well as now—to recognize that prophetic revelation can answer important, and otherwise unanswerable, questions.

Knowing that a disagreement regarding the Fall of Adam was an important catalyst in Joseph’s receiving section 29 helps us better understand this revelation. [15] Adam is mentioned more times in D&C 29 (vv. 34, 36, 40, 42) than in any other section in the Doctrine and Covenants—with the exception of D&C 107, which mentions him twelve times. D&C 29 contains a sweeping view of the plan of salvation—from our premortal existence (vv. 31–32, 36–38) through Adam and Eve’s experience in the Garden of Eden (vv. 40–42) to conditions preceding Christ’s Second Coming (vv. 14–21) and a brief discussion of the Millennium and after (vv. 11–13, 22–29). Adam plays a pivotal role, of course, in the plan of salvation, and section 29 provides an overview of not only Adam’s role but the entire plan. Thoughtful questions regarding the Savior’s Atonement and Adam’s Fall can be a catalyst to our gaining an increased testimony of Heavenly Father’s great plan of happiness just as it was for those early Saints.

D&C 29 is the first time that the words “agent” (v. 35), “agency” (v. 36), and “agents” (v. 39) appear within the Doctrine and Covenants. Understanding that questions regarding the Fall of Adam played an important role in the receipt of D&C 29 provides an opportunity for a meaningful classroom discussion regarding agency and the plan of salvation. Your students can recognize, as Elder David A. Bednar outlined in October 2006, that “in the grand division of all of God’s creations, there are things to act and things to be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:13–14). As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we have been blessed with the gift of moral agency, the capacity for independent action and choice. Endowed with agency, you and I are agents, and we primarily are to act and not just be acted upon.” [16] After introducing the concept of agency, the Lord returns to answering the question that evoked this revelation. In verses 36 through 42, the Lord explains how Adam and Eve used their agency to advance the plan of salvation and the consequences that came from exercising that agency. D&C 29 “sets forth the plan of redemption with clarity that belies its theological sophistication. The greatest teachers strive to similarly set forth the gospel accessibly without diminishing its depths and vast dimensions.” [17]

D&C 39 and 40

James Covel was a minister who “covenanted with the Lord that he would obey any command that the Lord would give to him through Joseph the Prophet” (D&C 39 section heading). [18] Section 39 contains guidance and commandments to James Covel from the Lord. In that revelation—received January 5, 1831—the Lord told Covel that “thine heart is now right before me” (D&C 39:8; emphasis added). Section 40, which is listed in the 1981 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants as having been received on an unspecified day in January 1831, is also about James Covel. In verse 1, the Lord states that “the heart of my servant James Covel was right before me” (D&C 40:1; emphasis added) but that “Satan tempted him; and the fear of persecution and the cares of the world caused him to reject the word. Wherefore he broke my covenant, and it remaineth with me to do with him as seemeth me good” (D&C 40:2–3). What we learn from Revelation Book 1 is that section 40 was dated January 6, 1831—just one day after section 39 was received. Instead of enduring to the end, James Covel apparently didn’t even endure twenty-four hours. The poor example of covenant keeping provided by James Covel becomes even starker with the additional information added by Revelation Book 1.

D&C 41

In D&C 41:7, the Lord instructs that a home be built for Joseph Smith in which he could “live and translate” (D&C 41:7); in the following verse, Sidney Rigdon is told that he may “live as seemeth him good, inasmuch as he keepeth my commandments” (D&C 41:8). The heading for section 41 (in the 1981 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants) provided no insight into why counsel regarding housing may have been given by the Lord, but Revelation Book 1 does and that information has been included in the 2013 section heading. An introductory comment written by John Whitmer states that “there was a man by the name of [Leman] Copl[e]y in the Township of Thompson who had requested Brother Joseph & Sidney [Rigdon] {&/to} live with him & he would furnish them houses & provisions &c then {By\Joseph} enquired of the lord & Received as follows.” [19] While this is a small insight, it provides new information to help us better understand the content of this revelation. The Lord’s counsel that Joseph Smith should have a home built in Kirtland instead of accepting an invitation from Leman Copley to move to Thompson, Ohio, takes on added significance when we remember the difficulties that the Church (and especially the Saints from Colesville, New York) had just a few months later because of Leman Copley’s actions in Thompson (see D&C 54). As explained in the History of the Church:

The Saints comprising the Colesville branch, when they arrived at the gathering place, in Ohio, were advised to remain together and were settled at Thompson, a place in the vicinity of Kirtland. . . . the Saints of the Colesville branch were to be organized under the law of consecration and stewardship. . . . some of the brethren already living at Thompson, had agreed to enter into the law of consecration and stewardship with the Saints from Colesville; and that afterwards they broke this covenant. Among them were Leman Copley and Ezra Thayre. . . . Of this matter, John Whitmer, then the Church Historian, writes: “At this time [the early part of June] the Church at Thompson, Ohio, was involved in difficulty because of the rebellion of Leman Copley.” [20]

Knowing that Leman Copley would become disaffected from the Church within a few short months, the Lord counseled Joseph Smith so that he could avoid becoming entangled in events that would shortly occur in Thompson, Ohio.

D&C 74

It has long been generally accepted that D&C 74—which is an explanation of the Apostle Paul’s advice regarding circumcision found in 1 Corinthians 7:14—“was given as a result of Joseph Smith’s revisions in the Bible.” [21] The section heading in the 1981 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants dated the revelation as January 1832 and linked D&C 74 with Joseph Smith’s New Testament work on the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. Revelation Book 1, though, records this revelation between sections 40 (January 1831) and 41 (February 1831), implying a much earlier date. [22] Lined-out text in Revelation Book 1 records the date of this revelation as 1830. The editors of The Joseph Smith Papers assigned D&C 74 a “circa December 1830” date—during which time, as confirmed by the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith was working on translating Genesis in the Old Testament and not 1 Corinthians in the New Testament. [23] There is no definitive evidence from its placement in Revelation Book 1, the Book of Commandments, or the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants to clearly indicate when it was received. Confusion regarding the dating of D&C 74 may have partially been created by Revelation Book 2, in which D&C 74:2–7 is recorded twice—once after D&C 41 (February 4, 1831) and again following D&C 106 (November 25, 1834). Both instances are undated. [24] All that currently appears certain about the date of receipt is that it was not received in March 1831 or during 1832. The possible date change does nothing, of course, to affect the value of the doctrines and explanations provided within the revelation, but it does imply that Joseph Smith pondered and prayed regarding the meaning of 1 Corinthians 7:14 prior to turning his attention to translating the New Testament (as he was commanded in D&C 45:60–61, which itself has been dated as “circa March 7, 1831” by The Joseph Smith Papers project [25]). The section heading in the 2013 D&C edition reflects information learned from The Joseph Smith Papers.

D&C 94 and D&C 97Figure 4. As originally received, D&C 94 followed D&C 97 without a break. Courtesy of Church History Library, © Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

D&C 94 and 97

The opening words of D&C 94—“And again, verily I say unto you”(v. 1)—sound as if this revelation opens in the middle of a conversation between Joseph Smith and the Lord, and now we know the reason why. Both Revelation Book 1 and Revelation Book 2 confirm that sections 97 and 94 in the Doctrine and Covenants were actually received on August 2, 1833, apparently as one continuous revelation. D&C 94 is actually the “second half” of D&C 97. In Revelation Book 1, there are no breaks, headings, or changes in the text between D&C 97:28 and D&C 94:1, except the beginning of a new paragraph. (See fig. 4.) Revelation Book 2 records D&C 94 immediately after D&C 97, but there is a handwritten line drawn between the two portions. [26]

In D&C 97, the first portion of this revelation, the Lord addresses several concerns of the Saints in Missouri and provides guidance for their resolution, including instructions that “a house should be built unto me in the land of Zion” (D&C 97:10) so that Zion could “prosper, and spread herself and become very glorious, very great, and very terrible” (D&C 97:18). In the last portion of this revelation, D&C 94, the Lord provides similar guidance for the Saints in Ohio, including instructions to construct “a house for the presidency” (D&C 94:3) and “a house unto me, for the work of the printing of the translation of my scriptures” (D&C 94:10) that were to “be wholly dedicated unto the Lord” (D&C 94:12; see also v. 6). This knowledge has altered the order in which I teach these sections; I now teach D&C 94 immediately following D&C 97, which provides a clearer perspective on the ambitious requirements that the Lord placed upon his fledgling Church as its members sought to build Zion in Missouri and Ohio.

Dives, a latin word meaning richFigure 5. As shown in Revelation Book 1, the word "wicked" in D&C 104:18 was originally "Dives"—a Latin word meaning "rich."

Changes made to original textFigure 6. This text of D&C 78, from Revelation Book 1, shows changes that were made to protect the United Firm. Courtesy of Church History Library, © Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

D&C 104

Some insights from The Joseph Smith Papers involve only a word or two in the scriptural text, but they can make a profound difference in the principles taught. For example, D&C 104:18, as it currently reads in the Doctrine and Covenants, states, “Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment” (D&C 104:18; emphasis added); (see fig. 5.). I am indebted to historian Steven C. Harper for identifying that in Revelation Book 2, the word Dives appears in place of “the wicked.” As Harper explains:

This potent passage draws on the New Testament story of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16. . . . Dives is the Latin word for rich and, drawing on Latin translations of the Bible, was adopted as the name of the rich man in Christ’s story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19–31. In the account recorded in Luke, the rich man “fared sumptuously” (v. 19) in life while a “beggar named Lazarus” (v. 20) waited in vain for some of his table scraps. When the two men died, angels carried Lazarus into Abraham’s bosom while the rich man went to hell. “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments” (v. 23), ironically begging Lazarus to relieve his suffering. Doctrine and Covenants 104:18 evokes that story and applies it to Latter-day Saints. When the Church published this revelation as section 98 in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, the name Dives was changed to “the wicked,” perhaps because the name is not found in the New Testament but comes from later lore, or perhaps because the meaning of Dives may not have been well known among Latter-day Saints. Even so, the presence of Dives in the earliest manuscripts makes the essential meaning of this passage unmistakable, namely that stewards of the Lord’s abundance who do not impart to the poor of the substance they possess will, like the rich man in Christ’s story, someday regret that use of their agency. [27]

The United Firm

The section headings for D&C 78, 82, 92, and 104 in the 2013 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants restore information about the United Firm. As the section heading for D&C 78 states:

This revelation originally instructed the Prophet, Sidney Rigdon, and Newel K. Whitney to travel to Missouri and organize the Church’s mercantile and publishing endeavors by creating a “firm” that would oversee these efforts, generating funds for the establishment of Zion and for the benefit of the poor. This firm, known as the United Firm, was organized in April 1832 and disbanded in 1834 (see section 82). Sometime after its dissolution, under the direction of Joseph Smith, the phrase “the affairs of the storehouse for the poor” replaced “mercantile and publishing establishments” in the revelation, and the word “order” replaced the word “firm.”

The 2013 section heading for D&C 104 adds that “Under Joseph’s direction, the phrase ‘United Firm’ was later replaced with ‘United Order’ in the revelation.” John Whitmer’s handwritten copy of D&C 78, in Revelation Book 1, makes it straightforward to show students where changes were made in the text. [28] You can also show students how code names were used to replace the names of United Firm members (in Doctrine and Covenants editions published prior to 1981) in order to disguise their identity (see fig.6).

Handwriting of John WhitmerFigure 7. Oliver Cowdery's "Articles of the Church of Christ" was compiled circa June 1829. This later copy, from Revelation Book 1, is in the handwriting of John Whitmer. These articles were used to guide believers before the Church was organized. Courtesy of Church History Library, © Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Articles of the Church of Christ

In June 1829 Oliver Cowdery was directed to “rely upon the things which are written” in order to “build up my church” (D&C 18:3, 5). Relying upon the Book of Mormon in 1829 meant reading and reviewing hundreds of handwritten pages, a daunting task. [29] Oliver “set about to use the as-yet-unpublished manuscript of the Book of Mormon, along with several early manuscript revelations, to compose a statement on Church procedure and organization.” [30] The first volume of the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers notes that Oliver Cowdery’s Articles of the Church of Christ are “textually related to Joseph Smith’s ‘Articles and Covenants’” and that the “content and tone are similar to JS [Joseph Smith’s] April 1830 ‘Articles and Covenants’ [D&C 20] . . . Both texts relied on the same Book of Mormon passages and both were written to govern believers, but Articles of the Church of Christ was superseded and never ratified by the membership once the church was established. John Whitmer seemed to recognize the two as independent documents by including both in Revelation Book 1, as if they were discrete revelatory texts.” [31] It is likely that the Articles of the Church of Christ was “intended to guide believers before the organization of the church.” [32]

How literally Oliver took the Lord’s injunction to rely upon the scriptures is shown throughout a two-page version of the Articles of the Church of Christ copied into Revelation Book 1 in which Oliver relied heavily on the Book of Mormon as the Lord had directed (see fig. 7). [33] Two examples usually suffice to make this point with students. First, near the end of that manuscript, Oliver paraphrased Moroni (from Ether 5:6) when he wrote, “if I have not authority to write these things Judge ye Behold ye shall know that I have authority when you & I shall be brought to stand before the Judgement seat of Christ.” Then, in a crossed-out section that follows the previous quotation, Oliver echoed both the introductory greeting of the Apostle Paul (“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God”) that is found in many of his epistles [34] and the words of Moroni (“Behold, I have written”; Ether 4:4) when he wrote, “Behold I am Oliver I am an Apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God the Father & the Lord Jesus Christ Behold I have written.” [35] This unpublished document shows the seriousness with which Oliver approached the assignment he received from the Lord. The 1829 date also demonstrates that Oliver acted quickly to obey the Lord. A discussion of these pages from Revelation Book 1 is an excellent opportunity to show students copies of the original handwritten pages and encourage them to decipher and read small selections during class. Several of my students have commented that seeing handwritten manuscript pages helps them to better visualize and understand the time in which Joseph Smith lived.

Additional Revelations

While teaching Doctrine and Covenants courses, I find that students occasionally ask questions regarding additional revelations that Joseph Smith received that were not canonized. The Revelation Books make it easier to answer those questions, as they contain several revelations on a variety of topics—from securing a copyright for the Book of Mormon to disposing of properties and settling United Firm debts—that were not published in either the Book of Commandments or the Doctrine and Covenants. [36] (See appendix 2 for a list of noncanonized revelations and writings included in Revelation Books 1 and 2. Figure 8 shows one example.)

Noncanonized RevelationFigure 8. This is one example of several noncanonized revelations and writings that were recorded in Revelation Books 1 and 2. This revelation, dated April 28, 1834 (five days after D&C 104 was received) concerns "the division and settlement of the United Firm." Courtesy of Church History Library, © Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Revelation Insights

One of the key contributions of Revelation Book 1 and the other Joseph Smith Papers volumes is the fact that they can help members learn about the nature of the revelations, how they were received, what their value was in the past, and how to better understand the doctrines that are found within those texts.

Elder David A. Bednar has compared the spirit of revelation to two different experiences with light—the immediate lighting of a dark room by turning on a switch as contrasted with watching a dark night gradually give way to daylight. “Some revelations are received immediately and intensely,” he noted, while others “are recognized gradually and subtly.” [37] Both types of revelation are illustrated in the Revelation Books—D&C 76 represents the former and D&C 107 illustrates the latter, as numerous changes, edits, and additions were made over the course of several years.

The Doctrine and Covenants stands as a witness to the reality of modern revelation. The Joseph Smith Papers can help us acquire an increased appreciation and understanding of the process of revelation—both in the early history of the Church and in our individual lives. Revelation Book 1, for example, illustrates that revelation can be received in many forms and circumstances. While most sections are recorded as a “Commandment,” section 42 is identified as “The Laws of the Church.” Section 45 is listed as “a prophecy.” Section 87 is titled as a “Prophecy or Commandment.” Section 77 is identified as “Revelation Explained.” Section 74 is “an explanation.” Section 76 is “A Vision.” Sections 1, 4, 64–68, 70–73, 75, 78–84, 86, 88–89, 99, the 1831 portion of 107, and 133 are each designated as a “Revelation.” Section 97 is the “word of the Lord,” and Sections 69 and 98 are unlabeled. They were all recorded, though, as scripture—“the will of the Lord, . . . the mind of the Lord, . . . the word of the Lord, . . . [and] the voice of the Lord” (D&C 68:4).

Joseph Smith once commented that it was “an awful responsibility to write in the name of the Lord.” [38] The instances of editing and wordsmithery that appear within the Revelation Books should not trouble us or our students—as they bothered William McLellin during the November 1831 conference in Hiram, Ohio (see D&C 67). By examining early handwritten copies of the revelations of God and the minor text editing that appears on those pages, students can better appreciate that Joseph Smith did not receive every revelation from the Lord as a completed and polished product. Joseph and his associates worked hard to understand the mind and will of the Lord as he communicated with them—not unlike what each of us must learn to do as we seek to recognize and act upon revelation received from our Heavenly Father. As explained in D&C 93, even the Lord “received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness” (D&C 93:13). Here are a few examples to illustrate how the Revelation Books might be used by students to glean some insights into the process of receiving revelation.

D&C 4

The section 4 heading in the 1981 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants notes simply that it was a “revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet to his father, Joseph Smith, Sen., at Harmony, Pennsylvania.” Joseph Smith Sr. was willing to travel over one hundred miles on rough roads during the winter in an effort to obtain the word of the Lord. Additional explanatory text in Revelation Book 1 written by John Whitmer adds the important insight that this revelation was received because Joseph Smith Sr. “desired to know what the Lord had for him to do & this is what he Received.” [39] This additional information provides a perfect springboard for a discussion with students regarding their personal desire and commitment to learn what the Lord has in store for them and how prayer, scripture study, their patriarchal blessing, and continued obedience can play a similar role in their lives to what section 4 did for Joseph Smith’s father. Recognizing that the majority of revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants were received because Joseph Smith or someone close to him had a question and Joseph inquired of the Lord to receive an answer can be a powerful motivator for students to take their questions to the Lord in prayer.

D&C 6 and 9

While we generally associate sections 8 and 9 with Oliver Cowdery’s attempt to translate from the Book of Mormon plates, introductory comments preceding D&C 6 in Revelation Book 1 suggest that revelation was received because Oliver was “desirous to know whether the Lord would grant him the gift of Translation.” [40] Supplementing the information found in our current section heading, the introduction to Section 9 in Revelation Book 1 adds that the revelation was received because Oliver “was [desirous] to know the reason why he could not Translate & thus said the Lord unto him.” [41] Again, the Revelation Books attest the key role that questions and honest inquiry can play in obtaining personal revelation. The Lord’s answer to Oliver’s question regarding his failed attempt to translate ancient documents provides some of the most direct guidance in the scriptures regarding how to receive revelation:

Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.

But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.

But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong. (D&C 9:7–9)

1876 edition of the Doctrine and CovenantsFigure 9. The 1876 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants clearly identified that portions of D&C 20 were added after 1830. Courtesy of Kenneth L. Alford.

D&C 20 and 107

Revelation Book 1 visually demonstrates the role that continuing revelation played in the early years of the Restoration. Some students are troubled by the fact that Section 20 makes reference to priesthood offices that had not been restored in 1830—such as bishops, high councilors, and high priests (see v. 67, for example). As expected, the text of section 20, as recorded in Revelation Book 1 (dated April 10, 1830), contains no references to those later priesthood offices. Verses in D&C 20 that refer to those priesthood offices were added later after additional knowledge had been revealed to the Prophet. It may also be helpful to show students a copy of D&C 20:65 from the 1876 Doctrine and Covenants in which an asterisk was placed before verse 65 with a footnote explaining that “verses 65, 66, and 67 were added sometime after the others.” (See fig. 9.)

The section heading in the 1981 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants stated that “various parts” of D&C 107 were received prior to 1835, with some being received “as early as November 1831.” Both Revelation Books include the portions of D&C 107 that were received in November 1831. [42] The current text of D&C 107 represents several additional revelations and insights that Joseph Smith received after the original kernel of text for that section was received in 1831. Using information from The Joseph Smith Papers, the 2013 section heading for D&C 107 notes that “Although this section was recorded in 1835, the historical records affirm that most of verses 60 through 100 incorporate a revelation given through Joseph Smith on November 11, 1831.” Our Church is centered on continuing revelation; like early Church members, we too must recognize and understand that “the process of revelation was not static and that the Lord sometimes commanded Joseph to revise, update, or correct the written revelations.” [43]

D&C 23 and 30

The current organization of D&C 23 has led some students to incorrectly surmise that the revelations in that section must have been given at the same time to the five individuals mentioned. Revelation Book 1 and the Book of Commandments clearly show that was not the case. While the History of the Church also groups D&C 23 together as a single revelation, [44] that scriptural text was originally received as five separate revelations. (Those five revelations are listed in Revelation Book 1 as the 18th through the 22nd Commandments. They are designated by The Joseph Smith Papers project as manuscripts “April 1830-A” through “April 1830-E” and were printed separately as chapters XVII to XXI in the Book of Commandments. [45])

D&C 30 contains three very different mission calls that were extended to brothers John, David, and Peter—three sons of Peter Whitmer Sr. While currently included within a single section, those verses were also originally received as three separate revelations (labeled as the 31st through 33rd Commandments in Revelation Book 1) and were printed separately in the Book of Commandments (as chapters XXXI to XXXIII).

By studying the origins of sections 23 and 30, students can better recognize the principle that the Lord knows each of us as individuals and tailors the revelation we receive according to our individual needs and righteous desires.

Testimony of Joseph Smith's revelationsFigure 10. This testimony to the truthfulness and importance of Joseph Smith's revelations, found in Revelation Book 1, was probably written in conjunction with a November 1831 conference in Hiram, Ohio. Courtesy of Church History Library, © Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Strengthen Testimony

Sharing pages and text from Revelation Book 1 and Revelation Book 2 in the classroom can, in a visual and visceral way, strengthen students’ testimonies that Jesus is the Christ and that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. From the opening words on page 1 of Revelation Book 1, which bear testimony that it is a “Book of Commandments & Revelations of the Lord given to Joseph the Seer & others by the Inspiration of God & gift & power of the Holy Ghost which Beareth Re[c]ord of the Father & Son,” to the closing words of the appendix (D&C 133:74), which declares that “behold the Lord your god hath spoken it Amen,” Revelation Book 1 stands as a tangible testimony to the truthfulness of the Restoration.

Likewise, Revelation Book 2 begins (after a single index page) with “The Vision” (D&C 76). A brief preface to the vision recorded by Frederick G. Williams (that is not included in the current section heading for D&C 76) notes that “The Vision” contains what Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon “saw concerning the church of the first born and concerning the economy of God and his vast creation throughout all eternity.” [46] The scriptural text in Revelation Book 2 ends with a copy of section 17—the final words of which declare, “And I, Jesus Christ, your Lord and your God, have spoken it unto you, that I might bring about my righteous purposes unto the children of men. Amen” (D&C 17:9). [47] From beginning to end, both of the revelation books testify of Christ. Seeing the handwritten words on the manuscript pages and struggling to read them provides another opportunity for students to connect with the scriptures. Some students will find it a challenge to read the cursive writing but will pay added attention to the message of the text after they have successfully done so.

After the introduction and immediately before the Chronological Order of Contents, the 2013 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants includes an infrequently read “Testimony of the Twelve Apostles to the Truth of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants” which bears “testimony to all the world . . . that these commandments were given by inspiration of God, and are profitable for all men and are verily true.” (See fig. 10.) Revelation Book 1 contains a similar affirmation regarding the Book of Commandments that was written and signed by attendees during the November 1–3, 1831, Church conference held at Hiram, Ohio, in John Johnson’s farmhouse. [48] It states, in its entirety (original spelling and punctuation, as they appear in The Joseph Smith Papers, have been preserved):

The Testimony of the witnesses to the Book of the Lords commandments which he gave to his church through Joseph Smith Jr who was appointed by the voice of the Church for this purpose

We the undersigners feel willing to bear testimony to all the world of mankind to every creature upon the face of all the Earth & upon the Islands of the Sea that god hath born record to our souls through the Holy Ghost shed forth upon us that these commandments are given by inspiration of God & are profitable for all men & are verily true we give this testimony unto the world the Lord being our helper & it is through the grace of God the father & his Son Jesus Christ that we are permitted to have this privelege of bearing this testimony unto the world in the which we rejoice exceedingly praying the Lord always that the children of men may be profited thereby Amen

The testimony is signed by the following eighteen men. Some are well known; others are not: Joshua Fairchild (a Canadian who remained faithful and settled in Idaho when the Church moved west), Peter Dustin (a future branch president in Jackson County, Missouri), Newel Knight (who led the first Mormon settlers to Jackson County, Missouri, and suffered through numerous depredations there), Levi Hancock (a future member of Zion’s Camp who marched with the Mormon Battalion), Thomas B. Marsh (a future President of the Quorum of the Twelve), Sidney Rigdon (a future First Counselor in the First Presidency), Orson Hyde (a future Apostle who dedicated the Holy Land for the return of the Jews), William E. McLellin (a future Apostle), Luke Johnson (a future member of Zion’s Camp and Apostle), Lyman Johnson (a future member of Zion’s Camp and Apostle—like his brother, Luke), Reynolds Cahoon (a future member of the Adam-ondi-Ahman stake presidency), John Corrill (a future assistant to Bishop Edward Partridge), Parley P. Pratt (a future Apostle who was martyred in Arkansas in 1857), Harvey Whitlock (a future high priest), Lyman Wight (a future Apostle), John Murdock (a future bishop in Nauvoo, Illinois), Calvin Beebe (a future high council member in Far West, Missouri), and Zebedee Coltrin (a future member of Zion’s Camp). [49]

Inviting students to handle a printed copy of this document provides a great teaching moment to bear testimony of the truthfulness of the scriptures and the blessings obtained by following the Lord’s commandments. It also creates an opportunity to share some of the stories of the men who were privileged to sign that testimony and the sacrifices they were willing to make to establish the Kingdom of God on the earth.


This is truly a great time to be a gospel student and teacher! The Lord continues “pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints” (D&C 121:33) as he promised he would. The Joseph Smith Papers are blessing the Church. One of the exciting elements during the journey of discovery that we call scripture study is the fact that publication of The Joseph Smith Papers is still in its relative infancy. The majority of the volumes are yet to be published, and as gospel teachers we can wait in anticipation for the additional confirmation, information, and insights future volumes will provide—while taking time now to learn and study the resources that have been published.

As teachers, we want our students to know and love the scriptures. I am convinced that the more we know about the scriptures, the more we can understand, love, and apply the scriptures in our daily lives. Insights and information from The Joseph Smith Papers can add a fresh and deepened appreciation for the Doctrine and Covenants. Testimonies can be strengthened and students can be better informed as we share this information in our classrooms. Increased familiarization with The Joseph Smith Papers will hopefully ignite an increased desire in both us and our students to learn more about the Prophet Joseph Smith and the work of the Restoration as we strive to become better disciples of Jesus Christ.

Additional information about The Joseph Smith Papers—including high-resolution images from Revelation Books 1 and 2, the Book of Commandments, and the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants—is available on the project’s website (



(based on information found in Revelation Books 1 and 2)

The 2013 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants changes many section headings based on recent historical research. This table compares section headings from the 1981 and 2013 editions with information found in Revelation Book 1 (RB1) and Revelation Book 2 (RB2) published by The Joseph Smith Papers in the Manuscript Revelation Books, facsimile edition. The annotation RB1: 12–13 refers to Revelation Book 1, found on pages 12–13 in the facsimile edition. [50]

D&C Section

1981 Section Heading Information

2013 Section Heading Information

Revelation Book Information



Summer of 1828

“likely around April 1829, though portions may have been received as early as the summer of 1828”

Circa April 1829

RB1: 12–13


March 1830

“likely in the summer of 1829”

[The first page of D&C 19 is missing in RB1. D&C 19 is not included in RB2.]


April 1830

“at or near Fayette, New York. Portions of this revelation may have been given as early as summer 1829. The complete revelation, known at the time as the Articles and Covenants, was likely recorded soon after April 6, 1830”

April 10, 1830

RB1: 74–75


April 1830

April 16, 1830

April 16, 1830

RB1: 35


April 1830

“A series of five revelations . . . April 1830”

Verses 1–2: April 1830,

verse 3: April 1830, verse 4: April 1830, verse 5: April 1830, verses 6–7: April 1830 (recorded as separate revelations)

RB1: 28–31


August 1830 “a portion of which was written at the time, and the remainder in the September following”

[No change from the 1981 section heading.]

Verses 1–4: circa August 1830; [Remainder: Not in RB1 or RB2.]

RB1: 40–41


October 1830

[No location provided]

Manchester, New York, early October 1830

October 1830


RB2: 584–85


December 1830

December 7, 1830

December 7, 1830

RB1: 62–63


December 1830

December 9, 1830

December 9, 1830

RB1: 66–67


December 1830

December 1830

December 30, 1830

RB1: 69


January 1831

January 6, 1831

January 6, 1831

RB1: 90–91


February 9, 1831

“Revelation given in two parts . . . at Kirtland, Ohio, February 9 and 23, 1831. The first part, consisting of verses 1 through 72. . . . The second portion consists of verses 73 through 93.”

Verses 1–72: February 9, 1831; verses 74–77: February 23, 1831

RB1: 94–95,


RB2: 650–51


March 7, 1831

March 7, 1831

Circa March 7, 1831

RB1: 114–15


March 8, 1831

March 8, 1831

Circa March 8, 1831

RB1: 124–25


March 8, 1831

March 8, 1831

March 8, 1831 (RB1, page 130); circa March 8, 1831 (RB1, page 131 and RB2, page 437); March 7, 1831 (RB2, page 436)

RB1: 130–31;

RB2: 436–37


March 1831

March 10, 1831

March 10, 1831

RB1: 130–31


March 1831

May 7, 1831

May 7, 1831

RB1: 132–33


May 1831

May 9, 1831

May 9, 1831

RB1: 136–37


May 1831

May 20, 1831

May 20, 1831 (RB1); August/<May> 20, 1831 (RB2)

RB1: 144–45

RB2: 590–91


June 7, 1831

June 6, 1831

June 6, 1831

RB1: 146–47


June 1831

June 8, 1831

June 8, 1831

RB1: 150–51


June 1831

June 10, 1831

June 10, 1831

RB1: 152–53


June 1831

June 14, 1831

June 14, 1831

RB1: 154–55


June 1831

June 15, 1831

June 15, 1831

RB1: 154–55


Jackson County, Missouri

Independence, Jackson County, Missouri

Independence, Jackson County, Missouri

RB1: 172–73


Late in August 1831

August 30, 1831

August 30, 1831

RB1: 180–81


October 1831

October 30, 1831

October 30, 1831

RB1: 196–97;

RB2: 590–91


October 25, 1831
at Orange, Ohio

Hiram, Ohio, October 29, 1831

October 29, 1831
at Hiram, Ohio[51]

RB1: 194–95;

RB2: 606–7


November 1831

early November 1831

November 2, 1831

RB1: 200–201


November 1831

November 1, 1831

November 1, 1831

RB1: 198–99


November 1831

November 11, 1831

November 11, 1831

RB1: 216–17


Kirtland, Ohio

Hiram, Ohio

Hiram, Ohio

RB1: 220–21


“This section is a compilation of two revelations received on the same day.”

“This section is a compilation of three revelations received on the same day.”

Recorded as two separate revelations in RB2: (1) verses 1–8, and (2) verses 9–26.

[Recorded as a single revelation in RB1.]

RB1: 236–41;

RB2: 438–43


January 1832

at Hiram, Ohio

“Wayne County, New York, in 1830.”

Circa December 1830
[No location provided]

RB1: 90–91;

RB2: 606–7, 650–51


Amherst, Ohio, January 25, 1832

Amherst, Ohio, January 25, 1832. This section comprises two separate revelations (the first in verses 1 through 22 and the second in verses 23 through 36) given on the same day.

Amherst, January 25, 1832. [There is a gap between verses 22 and 23. The word “connected” is written in the gap. The words “Another Revelation Received at the same time” are written in the gap, but like “Amherst” and “25,” they are also crossed out.]

RB1: 230–37


March 1832

“about March 1832”

Circa March 1832

RB1: 259


Hiram, Ohio, March 1832

Kirtland, Ohio, March 1, 1832

Kirtland, March 1, 1832

RB1: 266–67;

RB2: 442–43


March 1832

March 12, 1832

March 12, 1832

RB1: 270–71;

RB2: 436–37


March 1832

March 7, 1832

March 7, 1832

RB1: 270–71;

RB2: 448–49


March 1832

March 15, 1832

March 15, 1832

RB1: 254–55;

RB2: 446–47


Jackson County, Missouri

Independence, Jackson County, Missouri

Independence, Jackson County, Missouri

RB1: 228–31


September 22 and 23, 1832

September 22 and 23, 1832

September 22 & 23, 1832 [From the Revelation books we learn that the “breaking point” is between verses 102 and 103]

RB1: 274–89;

RB2: 452–75


[No location given]

“at or near Kirtland, Ohio”

[No location given]

RB1: 290–91;

RB2: 476–79


December 27, 1832

December 27 and 28, 1832, and January 3, 1833

D&C 88:1–126: December 27–28, 1832; D&C 88:127–41: January 3, 1833

RB1: 293, 308–9;

RB2: 479, 506–7


May 6, 1833

August 2, 1833

August 2, 1833 [D&C 94 appears immediately after D&C 97 in both RB1 and RB2—there is no break in RB1; in RB2 there is a heavy line drawn between D&C 97:28 and D&C 94:1.]

RB1: 320–23;

RB2: 542–43


August 1832

August 29, 1832

August 29, 1832

RB1: 272–73;

RB2: 450–51


December 16, 1833

December 16 and 17, 1833

December 16 and 17, 1833

RB1: 342–55;

RB2: 562–83

107 (partial)

“Kirtland, Ohio, dated March 28, 1835 . . . various parts were received at sundry times, some as early as November 1831.”

“Kirtland, Ohio, about April 1835 . . . most of verses 60 through 100 incorporate a revelation given through Joseph Smith on November 11, 1831.”

Hiram, Portage Co[unty], November 11, 1831 (RB1); November 1831, Cuyahog[a] Co[unty] Ohio (RB2)

RB1: 216–19;

RB2: 584–85


(included in Revelation Books 1 and 2)


Brief Summary


Circa June 1829

Presumably an early draft of D&C 20
(several pages are missing).

RB1: 20–23

Circa early 1830

A revelation to Oliver Cowdery, Hiram Page, Josiah Stowell, and Joseph Knight at Manchester, New York, regarding securing a copyright for the Book of Mormon.

RB1: 30–33

May 15, 1831

A commandment to Ezra Thayer and Joseph Smith Sr. regarding housing for the Joseph Smith Sr, Ezra Thayer, and Frederick G. Williams families. (Marked “This Commandment is not to be printed.”)

RB1: 142–43

May 15, 1831

Revelation received in Kirtland “concerning the farm owned by Frederick [G. Williams] and also concerning Joseph [Smith Sr.] & Ezra [Thayer].” (A copy of the revelation above—with minor differences.)

RB2: 598–601

Circa November 1, 1831

Testimony regarding “the Book of the Lords commandments” (the Book of Commandments). Signed by eighteen men.

RB1: 214–15

February 27, 1832

Revelation received at Hiram, Ohio, regarding ordaining Lincoln Haskins and calling him as a missionary. (The entire revelation is crossed out with a large X.)

RB2: 432–33

Circa March 1832

“A Sample of pure Language given by Joseph the Seer.” A series of six questions and answers.

RB1: 264–65

March 8, 1832

A journal entry of Joseph Smith noting that he ordained Jesse Gause and Sidney Rigdon “to be my councillers of the ministry of the presidency of the high Pristhood.”

RB2: 432–35

March 20, 1832

Revelation received in Portage County, Ohio, regarding purchasing paper for the “Book of the Lord’s commandments.” (The entire revelation is crossed out with a large X.)

RB1: 272–73

February 27, 1833

A song “sang by the gift of Tongues & Translated.”

RB2: 508–11

April 28, 1834

Revelation received at Kirtland, Ohio, regarding “the division and settlement of the United Firm.” (Received five days after D&C 104 disbanded the United Firm.)

RB1: 372–73

April 28, 1834

A copy of the revelation above.

RB2: 638–39

* Page numbers are from The Joseph Smith Papers project, Manuscript Revelation Books, facsimile edition.




Brief Description

Book of Commandments and Revelations (Revelation Book 1)

A manuscript book of revelations. The exact date when the book was begun is currently unknown, but John Whitmer and Joseph Smith began collecting copies of the revelations in the summer of 1830, and they likely began compiling them into one volume in the spring of 1831. John Whitmer was the principal scribe, although Oliver Cowdery also wrote a few pages. Many individuals appear to have made text revisions. After a November 1831 conference at Hiram, Ohio, authorized publication of the scriptures, this book was carried by Oliver Cowdery and John Whitmer to Independence, Missouri, for publication of the Book of Commandments (see D&C 67). Revelations continued to be added until February 1834. Not all of the writings recorded were published. With only a few exceptions, the revelations recorded are in chronological order.

Kirtland Revelation Book (Revelation Book 2)

This second manuscript revelation book was begun in late February or early March 1832. D&C 76 is the first revelation recorded. The latest revelation was copied in late 1834. Only three revelations before 1831 were included (D&C 17, 32, and 74). Frederick G. Williams was the principal scribe, but not the only scribe; many individuals made revisions. Not all of the writings recorded were published. Fewer revelations appear in chronological order than in Revelation Book 1. This book was used as the primary source for the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.

Book of Commandments (1833)

The earliest published volume containing revelations of Joseph Smith Jr. The primary source was the Book of Commandments and Revelations (Revelation Book 1). Although three thousand copies were planned, publication was cut short by mob action in Independence, Missouri, on July 20, 1833, which destroyed the press; approximately one hundred copies were saved from destruction.

Doctrine and Covenants (1835, first edition)

Published in Kirtland, Ohio. Approved by the Church on August 17, 1835. The book contained two parts: a “doctrine” part (consisting of the Lectures on Faith) and a “covenants” part (consisting of the revelations of Joseph Smith Jr.). The Kirtland Revelation Book (Revelation Book 2) and the Book of Commandments were the primary sources for the “covenants” portion of the book. The number of total copies printed is unknown. This volume was compiled by Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, and Fredrick G. Williams.


[1] Alexander L. Baugh, “Religious Education and the Joseph Smith Papers Project,” BYU Religious Education Review, Fall 2010, 6.

[2] R. Scott Lloyd, “Historian by Yearning,” Church News, May 28, 2005, 12; see

[3] See, for example, the introductory and preface pages in each of The Joseph Smith Papers project volumes. See also Matthew J. Grow, “Revealing the Joseph Smith Papers,” Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture 18, no. 2 (2009): 58–69; and Robert J. Woodford, “Discoveries from the Joseph Smith Papers Project: The Early Manuscripts,” in The Doctrine and Covenants: Revelations in Context, ed. Andrew H. Hedges, J. Spencer Fluhman, and Alonzo L. Gaskill (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2008), 23–39.

[4] The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988), 3.

[5] Karen Lynn Davidson and others, eds. Histories, Volume 1: Joseph Smith Histories, 1832–1844, vol. 1 of the Histories Series of The Joseph Smith Papers, ed. Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, and Richard Lyman Bushman (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2012), 336 [Draft 2], 138n344; hereafter referred to as H1.

[6] Revelation Book 1 notes that D&C 21 was received in “Fayette Seneca County State of New York” on April 6, 1830. MRB, 26–27.

[7] In December 1835, the Prophet Joseph Smith also used the phrase “articles and covenants” to refer to the newly published first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. H1, 137–38, 138n344.

[8] “The Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ,” The Evening and the Morning Star, June 1832, [1]–[2]; “The Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ,” The Evening and the Morning Star, June 1833, 97–98. D&C 22 and D&C 45:1–67, 71, were also published in the first edition. There were twelve issues in the first volume of The Evening and the Morning Star in which the following revelations were also published: issue 2: D&C 42:11–77; 59; 76. Issue 3: D&C 46, 50. Issue 4: D&C 29; 65. Issue 5: D&C 42:78–93; 43:15–35; 68. Issue 6: D&C 49. Issue 7: D&C 61; 72. Issue 8: D&C 38; 83. Issue 9: D&C 88:117–26; 63:1–64. Issue 10: D&C 27; 1. Issue 11: none. Issue 12: D&C 133. See Robin Scott Jensen, Richard E. Turley Jr., and Riley M. Lorimer, , eds., Revelations and Translations Volume 2: Published Revelations, vol. 2 of the Revelations and Translations Series of The Joseph Smith Papers ed. Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, and Richard Lyman Bushman (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2011), 201; hereafter referred to as RT2.

[9] H1, 720. The “articles and covenants” appeared as Chapter XXIV (beginning on page 47) in the 1833 Book of Commandments. The version printed in the Book of Commandments “reflects editing marks made in Revelation Book 1.” RT2, 59n for line 23.

[10] John K. Carmack, “Fayette: The Place the Church Was Organized, Ensign, February 1989, 15.

[11] RT2, 56–57.

[12] Carmack, “Fayette,” 15.

[13] MRB, 26–27.

[14] MRB, 42–43.

[15] Volume 1 of the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers suggests additional impetus for Joseph Smith receiving D&C 29: “The book of Isaiah declared that God’s people would ‘see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion’; the Book of Mormon expressed the same sentiment and located Zion in the Americas [Isaiah 52:8; 3 Nephi 16:18; 20:32; 21:22–24]. The heading seems to indicate, then, that this small group, believing that the Book of Mormon prophecy about Zion would soon be fulfilled, therefore ‘enquired of the Lord & thus came the word of the Lord through Joseph the seer.’” See Michael Hubbard MacKay, Gerrit J. Dirkmaat, Grant Underwood, Robert J. Woodford, and William G. Hartley eds., Documents Volume 1: July 1828–June 1831, vol. 1 of the Documents Series of The Joseph Smith Papers ed. Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, Richard Lyman Bushman, and Matthew J. Grow (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2012), 177; hereafter referred to as D1.

[16] David A. Bednar, “And Nothing Shall Offend Them,” Ensign, November 2006, 90.

[17] Harper, Making Sense of the Doctrine and Covenants, 100.

[18] The 2013 section heading for D&C 39 states that Covel “had been a Methodist minister for about forty years.” (The 1981 section heading spelled his name “Covill” and suggested that he was a Baptist minister.) The “Index of the contents of this Book” (MRB, 386–87) lists “1831 | A Revelation to James a Methodist Priest | 58.” See Christopher C. Jones, “Mormonism in the Methodist Marketplace: James Covel and the Historical Background of Doctrine and Covenants 39–40,” Brigham Young University Studies 41, no. 1 (2012): 67–98; and Harper, Making Sense of the Doctrine and Covenants, 132–33.

[19] MRB, 92–93.

[20] History of the Church, ed. B. H. Roberts, 2nd ed. rev. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1980), 1:180–81n.

[21] Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324 and 325 (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2001), 155.

[22] MRB, 90–93.

[23] In the Pearl of Great Price, Moses 6 lists the date in parenthesis as “November–December 1830’, Moses 7 lists “December 1830,” and Moses 8 lists “February 1831.”

[24] MRB, 90–93, 604–7, and 650–51. In Revelation Book 1, D&C 74 appears after section 40 (January 6, 1831) and prior to section 41 (February 4, 1831).

[25] See MRB, 114–25.

[26] MRB, 318–23, 536–47. The section headings for D&C 94 and 97 in the 2013 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants both list August 2, 1833 as the date of reception, but neither heading mentions a possible relationship with the other section.

[27] Steven C. Harper, “‘All Things Are the Lord’s’: The Law of Consecration in the Doctrine and Covenants,” in The Doctrine and Covenants: Revelations in Context, ed. Andrew H. Hedges, J. Spencer Fluhman, and Alonzo L. Gaskill (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2008), 220–21.

[28] MRB, 266.

[29] See Robin Scott Jensen, Robert J. Woodford, and Steven C. Harper, eds., Manuscript Revelation Books, facsimile edition, first volume of the Revelations and Translations series of The Joseph Smith Papers, ed. Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, and Richard Lyman Bushman (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2009), 18–23. Hereafter referred to as MRB. Unfortunately, at some point in the past, several pages were removed from the Book of Commandments and Revelations. According to the Detailed Contents of Revelation Books (MRB, xii–xv), the missing pages 15 to 22 contained copies of both D&C 18 and the first portion of Oliver Cowdery’s writing referenced here.

[30] Scott H. Faulring, “An Examination of the 1829 ‘Articles of the Church of Christ’ in Relation to Section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants,” BYU Studies 43, no. 4 (2004): 64.

[31] D1, xliii, 367.

[32] D1, 368.

[33] MRB, 20–23. See D1, 367–76 for a complete copy of Oliver Cowdery’s “Articles of the Church of Christ.”

[34] See, for example, verse 1 of each of the following books: 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, and 2 Timothy.

[35] MRB, 22–23.

[36] See MRB, 30–33, 142–43, 272–73, 372–73, 432–33, 450–51, 598–601, and 638–39. Also, immediately before D&C 89 in Revelation Book 2 (pages 508–9) there are the lyrics of a song that the text explains was “Sang by the gift of Tongues & Translated.”

[37] MRB, 87–88.

[38] Joseph Smith, The Papers of Joseph Smith, ed. Dean C. Jessee (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989–92), 1:367.

[39] MRB, 10–11.

[40] MRB, 14–15.

[41] MRB, 18–19.

[42] MRB, 216–19, 584–89. Revelation Book 1 lists the date as November 11, 1831; Revelation Book 2 lists only November 1831.

[43] Gerrit Dirkmaat, “Great and Marvelous Are the Revelations of God,” Ensign, January 2013, 45.

[44] History of the Church, 1:80.

[45] RT2, 55–57, 486–87. The versification of those revelations has varied widely (from sixteen verses in the Book of Commandments to five verses in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants. Section 23 in the current 1981 Doctrine and Covenants contains seven verses. D&C 23:1–2, addressed to Oliver Cowdery, is dated April 1830 in Revelation Book 1, but the other four revelations are dated only as 1830.

[46] MRB, 414–15.

[47] Following the copy of D&C 17, Revelation Book 2 contains several pages of notes written several years later by W. W. Phelps, Willard Richards, and Thomas Bullock. See MRB, 658–71.

[48] MRB, 214–15.

[49] Donald Q. Cannon and Lyndon W. Cook, eds., Far West Record: Minutes of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830–1844 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1983), 245.

[50] This table builds upon the work of Robert J. Woodford, “Discoveries from the Joseph Smith Papers Project: The Early Manuscripts,” in Doctrine and Covenants: Revelations in Context, 23–39.

[51] The change in location for D&C 66 from Orange to Hiram, Ohio is not found in the Revelation Books. An early copy of the revelation (Joseph Smith Papers document #3236) states: “Given in Portage Co. Ohio. Hiram Township on the 29th of October 1831.” Accessed online: See also Matthew C. Godfrey, “William McLellin’s Five Questions” (available online: which explains that: “After going to Joseph’s home in Hiram, Ohio, on October 29, McLellin ‘went before the Lord in secret, and on my knees asked him to reveal the answer to five questions through his Prophet.’ Without letting Joseph know what these five questions were, McLellin asked Joseph to provide to him God’s will. The resulting revelation—section 66 in the current Doctrine and Covenants—answered McLellin’s five questions to his ‘full and entire satisfaction.’”