Revelation, circa 8 March 1831–B [D&C 47]
Revelation,Kirtland Township, OH, to
Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...More InfoJohn Whitmer, ca. 8 Mar. 1831. Featured version, titled “50th Commandment March 8th. 1831,” copied [between ca. Mar. and June 1831] in Revelation Book 1, pp. 79–80; handwriting of
27 Aug. 1802–11 July 1878. Farmer, stock raiser, newspaper editor. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Member of German Reformed Church, Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, most likely in Seneca...View Full BioJohn Whitmer; CHL. Includes redactions. For more complete source information, see the source note for Revelation Book 1.
27 Aug. 1802–11 July 1878. Farmer, stock raiser, newspaper editor. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Member of German Reformed Church, Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, most likely in Seneca...View Full Bio
This revelation appointedJohn Whitmerto take up the work formerly done byOliver Cowderyas scribe and recorder—and added a new responsibility. Cowdery, who was “called . . . to write for” JS by April 1829,Book of Mormon and JS’s early revelations and, once the
3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...View Full BioChurch of Christwas organized in April 1830, kept minutes at meetings. He also served as scribe for early portions of JS’s inspired revision of the Bible. By the time of this revelation, however, Cowdery was away on a mission, and Whitmer had assumed some of Cowdery’s formal duties. He succeeded Cowdery as scribe for JS’s Bible revision
The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...View Glossary2and also assisted JS in gathering and copying revelations, a work that culminated in the creation of a manuscript book of revelations.
Faulring, Scott H., Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews, eds. Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2004.4The revelation then reiterated this dual appointment, directing that Whitmer “Keep the Church Record & History continually for Oliver I have appointed to an other office.”
JSP, H1 / Davidson, Karen Lynn, David J. Whittaker, Mark Ashurst-McGee, and Richard L. Jensen, eds. Histories, Volume 1: Joseph Smith Histories, 1832–1844. Vol. 1 of the Histories 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, 2012.5
Faulring, Scott H., Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews, eds. Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2004.Before the establishment of the church, JS’s primary need for scribal assistance was for recording revelatory texts, as demonstrated byCowdery’s work on the
3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...View Full Biotranslationof the Book of Mormon as well as his careful recording of at least sixteen revelations. The need for other kinds of record keeping increased once the
To produce a text from one written in another language; in JS’s usage, most often through divine means. JS considered the ability to translate to be a gift of the spirit, like the gift of interpreting tongues. He recounted that he translated “reformed Egyptian...View GlossaryChurch of Christwas organized. The first lines of a revelation recorded on 6 April 1830, the day of organization, proclaimed that “there Shall a Record be kept among you,”Articles and Covenants” commanded that a record of members be kept and that members be provided with certificates of good standing that could be presented to the various branches of the church.David Whitmerwas temporarily appointed to record
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 Bioconferenceminutes,
A meeting where ecclesiastical officers and other church members could conduct church business. The “Articles and Covenants” of the church directed the elders to hold conferences to perform “Church business.” The first of these conferences was held on 9 June...View GlossaryElders.”Revelation Book 1, acknowledging that the text was dictated “in consequenc[e] of not feeling reconsiled to write at the request of Joseph with[o]ut a
A male leader in the church generally; an ecclesiastical and priesthood office or one holding that office; a proselytizing missionary. The Book of Mormon explained that elders ordained priests and teachers and administered “the flesh and blood of Christ unto...View GlossaryPrior to the dictation of this revelation, record keeping in the church was often sporadic and incomplete. AfterWhitmerwas appointed church historian and recorder, the number of documents recording church history increased substantially. Minutes of church conferences generally contained more detail than they had previously, and Whitmer’s creation of Revelation Book 1 preserved most of JS’s early revelations. Whitmer also wrote a ninety-six-page narrative history that primarily described events from fall 1830 through the mid-1830s.
- 1 Revelation, Apr. 1829–D [D&C 9:4]. Cowdery’s calling to write for JS may have been initiated even before they met in April 1829. JS’s circa summer 1832 history explains that Cowdery had seen both the Lord and the gold plates in a vision, an experience that encouraged him to travel to Harmony, Pennsylvania, to meet JS. (JS History, ca. Summer 1832, .)
- 2 Cowdery departed on his mission by late October 1830, after which John Whitmer became the primary scribe for the Bible revision, except for during a short period when Emma Smith wrote for JS. Sidney Rigdon, Jesse Gause, and Frederick G. Williams were the primary scribes for the Bible revision after November 1831. (See Faulring et al., Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible, 43–47, 57–59, 63–73.)
- 3 JS History, vol. A-1, 50; see also Historical Introduction to Revelation Book 1. In his role of recorder, Cowdery kept minutes for the 9 June 1830 conference and was there appointed “to keep the Church record and Conference Minutes until the next conference,” held 26 September 1830. At the 9 April 1831 conference, John Whitmer “was appointed to keep the Church record & history by the voice of ten Elders.” (Minutes, 9 June 1830; Minutes, 26 Sept. 1830; Minute Book 2, 9 Apr. 1831.)
- 4 Although Cowdery created many records upon which a history could be based, no formal narrative history written by him is known. Even so, Whitmer made clear in his own history that he saw his work as continuing the work that Cowdery had begun. Later, beginning in 1834, Cowdery wrote a series of letters that detailed aspects of early church history. (Whitmer, History, 1, 25; see also JSP, H1:38–89.)
- 5 Although Cowdery and Whitmer were JS’s primary scribes from 1828 to 1831, other scribes assisted JS on a more limited and temporary basis. These included, among others, Martin Harris, Samuel Smith, Emma Smith, Reuben Hale, Peter Whitmer Jr., and Sidney Rigdon. (See Faulring et al., Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible, 43–48.)
- 6 Revelation, 6 Apr. 1830 [D&C 21:1].
- 7 Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830 [D&C 20:81–84].
- 8 The minutes of the 26 September 1830 conference record the appointment of David Whitmer “to keep the Church records until the next Conference,” but there is no evidence that he fulfilled this responsibility. (Minutes, 26 Sept. 1830.)
- 9 Minute Book 2, 9 Apr. 1831.
- 10 Whitmer, History, 24.
- 11 The full text of Whitmer’s history is reproduced here.