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Revelation, 9 March 1833 [D&C 91]

Kirtland

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...

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9th of March 1833
A Revelation given concerning Apocrypha
Verily thus saith the Lord unto you concerning the Apocrypha there are many things contained therein that are true and it is mostly translated

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...

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correct— there are many things contained therein that are not true which are interpelations by the hands of men1

See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 30 [1 Nephi 13:26–29].  


varely I say unto you that it is not needful that the Apocrypha should be translated therefore whoso readeth it let him understand2

See Matthew 24:15; see also Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 475 [3 Nephi 10:14].  


for the spirit manifesteth truth and and whoso is enlightened by the spirit3

See Revelation, Apr. 1829–A [D&C 6:14–15].  


shall obtain benifit therefrom and whoso receiveth not the spirit cannot be benefited; Therefore it is not needful that it should be translated. Amen [p. 55]
Kirtland

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...

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9th of March 1833
A Revelation given concerning Apocrypha
Verily thus saith the Lord unto you concerning  the Apocrypha there are many things contained  therein that are true and it is mostly tran slated

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...

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correct— there are many things contained  therein that are not true which are interpelations  by the hands of men1

See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 30 [1 Nephi 13:26–29].  


varely I say unto you that  it is not needful that the Apocrypha should  be translated therefore whoso readeth it let him  understand2

See Matthew 24:15; see also Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 475 [3 Nephi 10:14].  


for the spirit manifesteth truth and  and whoso is enlightened by the spirit3

See Revelation, Apr. 1829–A [D&C 6:14–15].  


shall  obtain benifit therefrom and whoso receiveth  not the spirit cannot be benefited; Therefore  it is not needful that it should be translated. Amen [p. 55]
At the time this revelation was dictated, JS was actively engaged in revising the Bible. A month earlier, on 2 February, scribe Frederick G. Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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noted, “This day completed the translation

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...

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and the reviewing of the New testament and sealed [it] up no more to be broken till it goes to Zion

A specific location in Missouri; also a literal or figurative gathering of believers in Jesus Christ, characterized by adherence to ideals of harmony, equality, and purity. In JS’s earliest revelations “the cause of Zion” was used to broadly describe the ...

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.”1

Minute Book 1, 2 Feb. 1833.  


A revelation dated 8 March, one day earlier than the date of the revelation featured here, referenced JS’s continued work on several books in the latter part of the Old Testament and made JS’s other duties contingent upon his completion of the Bible revision: “Now verely I say unto you I give unto you a commandment

Generally, a divine mandate that church members were expected to obey; more specifically, a text dictated by JS in the first-person voice of Deity that served to communicate knowledge and instruction to JS and his followers. Occasionally, other inspired texts...

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that you continue in this ministry and presidency and when you have finished the translation of the prophets you shall from thence forth preside over the affairs of the Church and the School.”2

Revelation, 8 Mar. 1833 [D&C 90:12–13].  


Emphasizing the importance of completing his scriptural revisions, this declaration may have led JS to also ponder at what point the work would be finished and whether the “translation of the prophets” included work on the books of the Apocrypha.
The word apocrypha transliterates a Greek term meaning “hidden” or “concealed.”3

According to historian Bruce Metzger, “From the point of view of those who approved of these books, they were ‘hidden’ or withdrawn from common use because they were regarded as containing mysterious or esoteric lore, too profound to be communicated to any except the initiated. From another point of view, however, it was held that such books deserved to be ‘hidden’ because they were spurious or heretical.” (Metzger, Introduction to the Apocrypha, 5.)  


Protestants used the term to denote the dozen or so books not found in the Hebrew canon but that were included in the Greek version of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint. Because the Septuagint was the basis for early Latin translations of the Old Testament, the Apocrypha was integrated into early Christian Bibles. Although the Catholic scholar Jerome hesitated to include the books along with his translation of the Hebrew canon in the fourth century, they eventually came to be widely regarded as scriptural in medieval Christianity. Martin Luther, in his 1534 translation of the Bible, however, placed the books of the Apocrypha at the end of the Old Testament and explained that they were “not held equal to the Holy Scriptures, and yet are profitable and good to read.”4

Metzger, Introduction to the Apocrypha, 183.  


Throughout the Reformation, subsequent editions of the Bible also placed these books in a separate section labeled “Apocrypha.” The Roman Catholic Church responded by affirming the canonical status of all but three of the books at the Council of Trent in 1546. Thus, acceptance or rejection of the authority of the Apocrypha was at times part of the larger religious dispute surrounding the Reformation.5

“Introduction to the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books,” New Oxford Annotated Bible, 3–6.  


Shortly before JS began his translation of the Book of Mormon, a widely publicized and acrimonious debate took place within the British and Foreign Bible Society over the inclusion of the Apocryphal books within the Bibles it distributed. Some members of the society accused their leaders of “adulterating the Scriptures, by circulating the lies and fables of the Apocrypha along with the words of eternal life.”6

News Item, Kent and Essex Mercury, 19 Sept. 1826, [4], italics in original.  


After multiple schisms, the society finally relented in 1826–1827 and adopted a resolution banning the distribution of Bibles containing the Apocrypha.7

Browne, History of the British and Foreign Bible Society, 360–365.  


By April 1828, the American Bible Society, witnessing the fallout caused by arguments within its British counterpart, made the same decision.8

“American Bible Society,” Vermont Chronicle (Bellows Falls), 23 May 1828, 81.  


Public disputes about the Apocrypha nevertheless continued in the United States

North American constitutional republic. Constitution ratified, 17 Sept. 1787. Population in 1805 about 6,000,000; in 1830 about 13,000,000; and in 1844 about 20,000,000. Louisiana Purchase, 1803, doubled size of U.S. Consisted of seventeen states at time ...

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. In 1832, an Ohio

French explored area, 1669. British took possession following French and Indian War, 1763. Ceded to U.S., 1783. First permanent white settlement established, 1788. Northeastern portion maintained as part of Connecticut, 1786, and called Connecticut Western...

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newspaper railed against the Apocrypha in an article designed to prove the veracity of the accepted canonical books of the Old and New Testaments; the article argued that “the claims of the Apocrypha must be despatched in few words” and that the authors of it could not “comport with a claim to a divine origin.”9

“Evidences of Divine Revelation,” Observer and Telegraph (Hudson, OH), 26 Apr. 1832, [3].  


In his widely published 1833 letters against Catholicism, Calvinist theologian William Craig Brownlee specifically denounced his rivals who “decorate the apocrypha with the honors of inspiration.”10

William Craig Brownlee, New York City, NY, to “Doctors Power, Varela, and Levins,” 18 Feb. 1833, in Brownlee, Letters in the Roman Catholic Controversy, 11.  


Despite the general movement of American Protestants away from the Apocrypha, early Mormons did not seem to view the Apocrypha with the same disdain, perhaps owing to their foundational belief in the existence of scriptural books outside of the Old and New Testaments, such as the Book of Mormon. An April 1829 revelation explained that there were “records which contain much of my gospel, which have been kept back because of the wickedness of the people” and that “parts of my scriptures . . . have been hidden because of iniquity.”11

Revelation, Apr. 1829–A [D&C 6:26–27].  


The Book of Mormon also points to the existence of sacred texts outside the traditional biblical canon, asserting that “many parts which are plain and most precious” were lost from the writings that eventually constituted the Bible.12

Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 30 [1 Nephi 13:26]; see also 29–30 [1 Nephi 13:20–29].  


Early members of the church apparently discussed regularly the notion that teachings were missing from the traditional canon. JS’s history, for instance, indicates that concern for missing biblical books served as the background for his lengthy dictation in December 1830 termed the “Prophecy of Enoch,” which provided additional information about early biblical prophets:
Much conjecture and conversation frequently occurred among the saints, concerning the books mentioned and referred to, in various places in the old and new testaments, which were now no where to be found. The common remark was, they are “lost books”; but it seems the apostolic churches had some of these writings, as Jude mentions or quotes the prophecy of Enoch the seventh from Adam. To the joy of the little flock, which in all, from Colesville

Area settled, beginning 1785. Formed from Windsor Township, Apr. 1821. Population in 1830 about 2,400. Villages within township included Harpursville, Nineveh, and Colesville. Susquehanna River ran through eastern portion of township. JS worked for Joseph...

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to Canandaigua

Located in central part of county in west-central part of state. Area settled, by 1790. Population in 1830 about 5,200. Joseph Smith Sr. imprisoned for debt for thirty days at county seat of Canandaigua village, Oct.–Nov. 1830. W. W. Phelps and Brigham Young...

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, numbered about seventy members, did the Lord reveal the following doings of olden time from the prophecy of Enoch.13

JS History, vol. A-1, 80–81; see also Old Testament Revision 1, pp. 13–19 [Moses chap. 7].  


The concern over lost books of scripture apparently continued after 1830; JS, for instance, wrote to church members in Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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in June 1833, saying, “We have not found the book of Jasher nor any of the othe[r] lost books mentioned in the bible as yet nor wille we obtain them at present.”14 This acceptance of the notion of additional scripture apparently extended to the Apocrypha in the minds of some early Mormons. In July 1832, the first church-owned newspaper quoted from 2 Maccabees and seemed to deride the treatment of the Apocrypha as noncanonical, explaining that it was “the wisdom of man” that “has seen fit to call [it] Apocrypha.”15

“Hosea Chapter III,” The Evening and the Morning Star, July 1832, [6].  


In January 1833, the same newspaper again derided negative attitudes toward Apocryphal works when it published an excerpt from the Apocryphal addition to the book of Esther, “which the ancient men of the world, put down as doubtful.”16

“The Book of Esther,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Jan. 1833, [6].  


The revelation featured here affirmed “there are many things contained” in the Apocrypha “that are true.” Nevertheless, this revelation instructed JS that he need not translate the Apocrypha along with the other, canonical books of the Bible, and he apparently never did. He repeated the teachings of the revelation in a letter to the Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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members a few months later, telling them that “respecting the Apochraphy the Lord Said to us that there were many things in it which were true and ther were many things in it which were not true and to those who desired, it should be given by the spirit to know true from the false.”17

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