Revelation Book 1
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Revelation Book 1
“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 & Holy Ghost which is one God Infinite & eternal World without end Amen,” Revelation Book 1, [ca. Mar. 1831–July 1835]; handwriting ofOliver Cowderyin both original inscription and later redactions; handwriting ofWilliam W. Phelps,This volume likely contained nine gatherings of twelve leaves each, measuring 12⅝ × 7¾ inches (32 × 20 cm), plus two pastedowns and an unknown number of flyleaves (one flyleaf is extant in the back of the volume). The existing sheets are ledger paper with thirty-six blue horizontal lines, most faint or completely faded, and four red vertical lines. The binding was disassembled, possibly for ease in printing the revelations, and the original cover was discarded or lost. Evidence suggests that the book was originally sewn all along over recessed cords, likely with a tight-back case with quarter-leather binding. A brown paperboard cover was placed around the pages, perhaps as soon as the early 1830s but certainly before the mid-1850s. With the current paperboard cover, the volume measures 13⅛ × 8½ × ¾ inches (33 × 22 × 2 cm). The front cover is labeled “S” in black ink that later turned light brown, and “can” or “cam” is written at the bottom in blue-green ink. The inside back cover has “2 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 75 | 55 | ◊◊ | wisdo” written vertically along the right margin in various shades of brown (formerly black) ink. A slip of blue paper pasted on the spine reads “Book of Commandments and Revelations”. This notation was written by Leo Hawkins, a clerk for the Church Historian’s Office, 1853–1856.The current state of the volume makes it difficult to determine its original condition. Nine gatherings of the volume are currently accounted for, but additional gatherings may have existed.The volume bears remnants of the original glue and leather used for binding on the inside edges of the gatherings, and some of the gatherings are still attached to this original binding. In addition, some gatherings are completely uncut, meaning the original six sheets folded to make the twelve-leaf gatherings are attached and complete. Others are completely or partially cut and separated. The first gathering contains only four of its original leaves, and one leaf is missing from the second gathering. The leaves from the third and fourth gatherings are still mostly attached to the original binding. The fifth and sixth gatherings are mostly disconnected from the original binding. In the sixth gathering, the scribe mistakenly repeated the numbers “134” and “135” when numbering pages, leaving two pages numbered 134 and and two numbered 135. As a result, the remaining page numbers are off by two and the gathering’s last manuscript page is incorrectly numbered 142 (rather than 144). While the seventh gathering remains mostly attached to remnants of the original binding and the eighth gathering is completely intact, the ninth gathering is disconnected from the original binding altogether. If the ninth gathering originally contained twelve leaves, three are missing. There is also one flyleaf at the end of the volume.Needle holes along the spine of the paperboard cover match up with needle holes on the edge of the fifth gathering, and one piece of thread remains at the center of that gathering. Because this rough sewing was evidently done when the fifth gathering was still an intact unit, it likely attached the makeshift cover to the text block until the cover was separated and the fifth gathering was disassembled.The first 127 pages of the manuscript book contain seventy-six revelations and four other items. These eighty items were likely entered in the order in which they originated, the exceptions being Articles and covenants, circa April 1830 [D&C 20]; Explanation of scripture, 1830 [D&C 74]; and the revelations dated circa 8 March 1831–B [D&C 47] and 1 November 1831–B [D&C 1]. There are over thirty items in the remainder of the volume, about half of which appear out of chronological order.The leaves for the following manuscript pages are missing from the volume, and their whereabouts are not known: 3–10, 15–22, and 25–26. These pages were likely numbered, and it is not known when they were separated from the manuscript book. The leaves for manuscript pages 111–112, 117–120, and 139–140 are currently held at the Community of Christ Library-Archives. Markings on these loose pages indicate that they were likely separated from the manuscript book during work on the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants or sometime thereafter.In 1902, the First Presidency of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS church) approved purchase of the loose pages from George Schweich,David Whitmer’s grandson.
7 Jan. 1805–25 Jan. 1888. Farmer, livery keeper. Born near Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Raised Presbyterian. Moved to Ontario Co., New York, shortly after birth. Attended German Reformed Church. Arranged...View Full Bio1The pages were likely separated by
“Minutes of First Presidency, March 1898 to September 1907, Record No. 1.” CCLA.
Curtis, J. F. Papers. CCLA.David Whitmerreceived these pages from Oliver Cowdery in 1850.
7 Jan. 1805–25 Jan. 1888. Farmer, livery keeper. Born near Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Raised Presbyterian. Moved to Ontario Co., New York, shortly after birth. Attended German Reformed Church. Arranged...View Full Bio2However, at the time these leaves were acquired by the RLDS church, they were grouped with the John Whitmer copy of the JS Bible revision and the Book of John Whitmer, suggesting that the leaves were in John Whitmer’s possession until his death in 1878.
Whitmer Papers. CCLA.
Subject Folder Collection, Book of Commandments. CCLA.3Neither John Whitmer nor David Whitmer left known accounts of either man having possession of the leaves. The provenance of the leaves between 1835 and 1902, therefore, is uncertain.
Curtis, J. F. Papers. CCLA.
Whitmer Papers. CCLA.The custodial history of the manuscript book itself is uncertain between the publication of the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants and the 1846 Latter-day Saint exodus from4By the 1850s, the spine of Revelation Book 1 had been labeled “Book of Commandments and Revelations” by the Church Historian’s Office staff, and it appeared with that title on subsequent Church Historian’s Office inventories through 1878.
Historian’s Office. Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904. CHL. CR 100 130.5Evidence indicates that the manuscript book was part of the papers of church historian and recorder Joseph Fielding Smith, who held that office from 1921 to 1970. The manuscript book became part of the First Presidency’s papers when he became president in 1970.
Historian’s Office. Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904. CHL. CR 100 130.6
Roberts, Brigham H. “History of the Mormon Church.” Americana 1 (Dec. 1909): 1016–1025. Also available in B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Century I (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1930), 1:157–166.
Smith, Joseph Fielding. Papers, 1893–1973. CHL. MS 4250.
“Inventory of President Joseph Fielding Smith’s Safe,” 23 May 1970. First Presidency, General Administration Files, 1921–1972. CHL.Revelation Book 1 is a manuscript book of revelations and other items begun less than a year after JS organized the Church of Christ in April 1830. The book may have originated inNew Yorkin summer 1830, when JS and7More likely, however, Whitmer began inscribing material in Revelation Book 1 in
JS History / Smith, Joseph, et al. History, 1838–1856. Vols. A-1–F-1 (original), A-2–E-2 (fair copy). CHL. CR 100 102, boxes 1-7. The history for the period after 5 Aug. 1838 was composed after the death of Joseph Smith.8Textual evidence indicates that Whitmer and
Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints: Carefully Selected from the Revelations of God. Compiled by Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams. Kirtland, OH: F. G. Williams, 1835. Also available in Robin Scott Jensen, Richard E. Turley Jr., Riley M. Lorimer, eds., Revelations and Translations, Volume 2: Published Revelations. Vol. 2 of the Revelations and Translations series of The Joseph Smith Papers, edited by Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, and Richard Lyman Bushman (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2011).In November 1831, church leaders meeting in a conference inHiram, Ohio, authorized publication of a volume of revelations to be called the Book of Commandments and appointed
Area settled by immigrants from Pennsylvania and New England, ca. 1802. Located in northeastern Ohio about twenty-five miles southeast of Kirtland. Population in 1830 about 500. Population in 1840 about 1,100. JS lived in township at home of John and Alice...More InfoWhitmer, who was appointed by revelation to accompany him, departed from Hiram that same month, taking Revelation Book 1 and possibly other manuscript revelations with them. They arrived in9and had already purchased a printing press. Pages 128–148 of the volume contain fourteen items dated December 1831–April 1832 that were copied into the book after April 1832. The manuscript source of these revelations and other items is unknown, but JS and other church leaders possibly brought them to Missouri in April 1832. Whitmer, Cowdery, and Phelps used Revelation Book 1 as a printer’s manuscript, marking up corrections, changes, and verse numbers therein, and published revelations in both the first church newspaper, The Evening and the Morning Star, and the Book of Commandments.Note: At present, the transcript of Revelation Book 1 on this website includes only the original inscriptions, not the later redactions made to the manuscript book to prepare the revelations for publication. A transcript showing the later redactions will eventually be added to this site. Until that time, readers will notice many discrepancies between the images and the transcript. For a transcript that includes the redactions, consult Revelations and Translations: Manuscript Revelation Books, facsimile ed. (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2009) or Revelations and Translations, Volume 1: Manuscript Revelation Books (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2011).Nor does this website reproduce the loose copy of the revelation in the handwriting ofExcept as described in this note, Revelation Book 1 is presented here electronically as a complete record. In contrast, the Documents series presents each revelation separately, placed in chronological order with other documents of various genres. That series includes the earliest and best extant version of each revelation, providing contextual annotation and a historical introduction for each. Readers should consult the Documents series for information about the setting and significance of individual revelations.Note: The images of pages 111–112, 117–120, and 139–140 of Revelation Book 1 published on this website are © Community of Christ and are licensed to the Joseph Smith Papers Project. Community of Christ–copyrighted images are marked with an identifying watermark. To inquire about high-resolution images of Community of Christ–copyrighted images for scholarly use, please contact the Community of Christ Library-Archives,
- 1 “Minutes of First Presidency,” 24 Apr. 1902, CCLA. The RLDS church purchased from Schweich additional material that was passed down from David Whitmer, including the Book of Mormon printer’s manuscript and parts of the manuscript from JS’s Bible revision. (Walter W. Smith, Independence, MO, to S. A. Burgess, Independence, MO, 15 Apr. 1926, J. F. Curtis Papers, CCLA.)
- 2 Former RLDS church historian Walter W. Smith, who was present when these papers were turned over to the RLDS church, heard from both George Schweich and David Whitmer’s family that the leaves were “received by David Whitmer from Oliver Cowdery at his death in 1850.” (Walter W. Smith, Independence, MO, to the RLDS First Presidency, Independence, MO, 14 Sept. 1925, Whitmer Papers, CCLA; see also Walter W. Smith, Independence, MO, to R. L. Fulk, Ogden, UT, 13 Dec. 1919, Subject Folder Collection, Book of Commandments, CCLA.)
- 3 Walter W. Smith noted on two different occasions that “these pages [of revelations] . . . were in the Whitmer manuscript book [Book of John Whitmer] and were the same that [George] Schweich turned over to the [RLDS] church.” (W. W. Smith to S. A. Burgess, 15 Apr. 1926; see also W. W. Smith to the RLDS First Presidency, 14 Sept. 1925.)
- 4 “Schedule of Church Records. Nauvoo 1846,” , Historian’s Office, Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904, CHL.
- 5 “Contents of the Historian and Recorder’s Office.” ; “Index Records and Journals in the Historian’s Office 1878,” , Historian’s Office, Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904, CHL.
- 6 In a 1909 article in which he discussed the history surrounding the securing of the Book of Mormon copyright in Canada, B. H. Roberts, an LDS assistant church historian, did not appear to know about the revelation found in Revelation Book 1 that deals with copyright. In a 1907 letter, Joseph Fielding Smith made an indirect reference to Revelation Book 1, indicating that he knew of its existence. Because Roberts apparently did not know about the manuscript volume and Smith did, it may be inferred that the volume was in Smith’s possession as early as 1907. A 1970 inventory establishes the document was in the possession of Joseph Fielding Smith later in his life. (Revelation, ca. Early 1830; Roberts, “History of the Mormon Church”; Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City, UT, to John R. Haldeman, Independence, MO, 24 May 1907, Joseph Fielding Smith Papers, CHL; “Inventory of President Joseph Fielding Smith’s Safe,” 23 May 1970, CHL.)
- 7 JS History, vol. A-1, 50.
- 8 See Revelation, ca. 8 Mar. 1831–B [D&C 47].
- 9 Revelation, 20 July 1831, in Doctrine and Covenants 27:5, 1835 ed. [D&C 57:11].
- 10 The manuscript revelation book was subsequently taken to Ohio, where it served yet again as a printer’s manuscript, this time for the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.
Revelation Book 1, also known as “Book of Commandments and Revelations,” is a manuscript book of revelations and other items that was begun less than a year after JS organized the Church of Christ in April 1830.New Yorkin summer 1830 when JS and John Whitmer began to “arrange and copy the revelations” previously received.1More likely, however, Whitmer began inscribing material in Revelation Book 1 inCanadafor the Book of Mormon.
In late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Canada referred to British colonies of Upper Canada and Lower Canada. Divided into Upper Canada and Lower Canada, 1791; reunited 10 Feb. 1841. Boundaries corresponded roughly to present-day Ontario (Upper...More InfoIn November 1831, church leaders meeting in a conference inHiram, Ohio, authorized publication of a volume of revelations later known as the Book of Commandments and appointed
Area settled by immigrants from Pennsylvania and New England, ca. 1802. Located in northeastern Ohio about twenty-five miles southeast of Kirtland. Population in 1830 about 500. Population in 1840 about 1,100. JS lived in township at home of John and Alice...More InfoThe first eighty items in Revelation Book 1 appear on manuscript pages 1–127. Of these items, only four dated items are known to have been copied into the book out of chronological order. This portion of the manuscript book was likely inscribed in 1831 and includes items dated October–November 1831 that were copied shortly beforeIn the remainder of the manuscript book, about half of the revelations and other items are out of chronological order. Manuscript pages 128–148 contain fourteen items dated December 1831–April 1832 that were copied into the manuscript book after April 1832. The manuscript source of these revelations and other items is unknown, but JS and other church leaders possibly brought them toWhitmercopied more of them into Revelation Book 1 than other scribes copied into Revelation Book 2, which was begun in late February or early March 1832 and kept by JS and his scribes at church headquarters inManuscript pages 148–170 contain seven entries that appear in chronological order.Whitmerlikely copied the next three revelations, on manuscript pages 171–177, from a letter toEditorial redactions in Revelation Book 1 demonstrate that it was used as a source for publishing the Book of Commandments in 1833. Thirty-one revelations in Revelation Book 1 contain added verse numbers and punctuation that usually match verse numbers and punctuation in the Book of Commandments.After the 1833 destruction of the Saints’ printing office inKirtlandin the middle of May 1835, evidently bringing the manuscript book with him, it became a supplemental source for the publication effort. Revelation Book 1 includes twenty-one items that contain redactions made for the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants.A comparison of Revelation Book 1 with the Book of Commandments and with the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants indicates that Revelation Book 1 is a relatively comprehensive collection of revelations. It contains 64 of the 65 items published in the 1833 Book of Commandments,In November 1831, JS and his associates were appointed by church conferences to prepare the revelations and other items in Revelation Book 1 for publication by correcting and modifying the text. JS was to “correct those errors or mistakes which he m[a]y discover by the holy Spirit.”14Many redactions were made before selected items were published inJS likely reviewed some of his associates’ editorial changes and made slight alterations in his own hand before the book was taken toIn addition to marking corrections, those preparing the items in Revelation Book 1 for publication used pins or adhesive wafers to attach slips of paper to pages of the manuscript book. The slips, one of which is extant in Revelation Book 1, contained additions to or clarifications of the original text. The extant slip is transcribed as a separate leaf where it appears in the manuscript book. Visible pinholes or wafer residue likely mark where additional slips were fastened to the page as texts were copied or prepared for publication.A loose copy of a revelation in the handwriting ofNote: At present, the transcript of Revelation Book 1 on this website includes only the original inscriptions, not the later redactions made to the manuscript book to prepare the revelations for publication. A transcript showing the later redactions will eventually be added to this site. Until that time, readers will notice many discrepancies between the images and the transcript. For a transcript that includes the redactions, consult Revelations and Translations: Manuscript Revelation Books, facsimile ed. (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2009) or Revelations and Translations, Volume 1: Manuscript Revelation Books (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2011).Nor does this website reproduce the loose copy of the revelation in the handwriting ofExcept as described in this note, Revelation Book 1 is presented here electronically as a complete record. In contrast, the Documents series presents each revelation separately, placed in chronological order with other documents of various genres. That series includes the earliest and best extant version of each revelation, providing contextual annotation and a historical introduction for each. Readers should consult the Documents series for information about the setting and significance of individual revelations.
- 1 JS History, vol. A-1, 50.
- 2 See Revelation, ca. 8 Mar. 1831–B [D&C 47].
- 3 Revelation, ca. early 1830.
- 4 Revelation, 20 July 1831 [D&C 57:11].
- 5 Revelation, 23 Feb. 1831 [D&C 42:78–93] does not appear in Revelation Book 1.
- 6 Revelation Book 2 does not contain the revelations dated 10 Jan. 1832 [D&C 73], 25 Jan. 1832 [D&C 75], and 26 Apr. 1832 [D&C 82].
- 7 Sidney Rigdon et al., Kirtland, OH, to Edward Partridge et al., Independence, MO, 6 Aug. 1833, JS Collection, CHL.
- 8 The revelation copied twice is Revelation, 25 Dec. 1832 [D&C 87]. [copy 1] [copy 2]
- 9 See Book of Commandments, chaps. 9, 16, 18–21, 27, 31–40, 42–44, 50, 54–59, 61, and 63–65.
- 10 See Doctrine and Covenants, 1835 ed., secs. 17–18, 20–29, 73–77, 84, 86–87, and 98.
- 11 The single revelation published in the Book of Commandments but not found in Revelation Book 1 is Revelation, May 1829–B, in Book of Commandments 11 [D&C 12].
- 12 The eight items published in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants but not found in Revelation Book 1 are Revelation, May 1829–B, in Doctrine and Covenants 38, 1835 ed. [D&C 12]; Revelation, Oct. 1830–A, in Doctrine and Covenants 54, 1835 ed. [D&C 32]; Revelation, 9 Mar. 1833, in Doctrine and Covenants 92, 1835 ed. [D&C 91]; Revelation, 15 Mar. 1833, in Doctrine and Covenants 93, 1835 ed. [D&C 92]; Revelation, 12 Oct. 1833, in Doctrine and Covenants 94, 1835 ed. [D&C 100]; Revelation, 25 Nov. 1834, in Doctrine and Covenants 99, 1835 ed. [D&C 106]; “Marriage,” ca. Aug. 1835, in Doctrine and Covenants 101, 1835 ed.; and “Of Governments and Laws in General,” ca. Aug. 1835, in Doctrine and Covenants 102, 1835 ed. [D&C 134].
- 13 See the following: Revelation, ca. June 1829; Revelation, ca. early 1830; Revelation, 15 May 1831; Testimony, ca. 1 Nov. 1831; Answers to questions, ca. Mar. 1832 [D&C 77]; Sample of pure language, ca. Mar. 1832; Revelation, 20 Mar. 1832; Revelation, 25 Dec. 1832 [D&C 87]; Revelation, 24 Feb. 1834 [D&C 103]; Revelation, 28 Apr. 1834; and Revelation, 22 June 1834 [D&C 105].
- 14 Minute Book 2, 8 Nov. 1831.
- 15 JS et al., Kirtland, OH, to Edward Partridge et al., Independence, MO, 25 June 1833, JS Collection, CHL.
- 16 See here for an example of a slip of paper that was pasted to the page. A series of pinholes is also visible on manuscript page 85.