Revelations in Context: An Inside Look at Early Saints’ Perspectives

In late July 1836, Joseph Smith Jr., Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery, and Hyrum Smith started traveling from Kirtland, Ohio, to the eastern United States. In the weeks before their departure, worries about the temporal affairs of the Church weighed heavily on Joseph’s mind. In Missouri, the Saints held on to the titles to lands they had been driven from in Jackson County as a sign of their commitment to building Zion, but they had no foreseeable way to return. At the same time, the Church was weighed down with debts after the construction of the Kirtland Temple. What could be done?

These concerns likely continued to occupy Joseph Smith’s thoughts as his small group traveled to New York City and Boston. According to a later account, Joseph and other leaders had been told about a hidden treasure in Salem, Massachusetts, and hoped to find it.2 Both the hope for financial relief and worry over Zion were key parts of the context for a revelation the Prophet received in Salem on August 6, 1836.

So begins “More Treasures Than One,” an article in the new Revelations in Context compilation, which is now available in print, online, and in the Gospel Library app in ten languages. The book’s fifty-four articles discuss 126 of the 138 sections in the Doctrine and Covenants and both of the official declarations.

The purpose of the articles is to tell the story behind a revelation—the question or issue prompting the revelation—and how Latter-day Saints responded to the revelation at the time it was dictated. With each story told from the perspective of someone in the immediate context of the revelation, the narrative provides insight about the historical meaning of the revelation and how it affected early Saints.

Though presented in a narrative style and for a general audience, the articles are based on the scholarship of the Joseph Smith Papers Project. The articles, many of which were written by project staff, often cite primary sources available at josephsmithpapers.org. Whether for personal study or academic pursuits, we encourage you to explore Revelations in Context and gain insight from how early Saints experienced Joseph Smith’s revelations.