Appendix 3: “Articles of the Church of Christ,” June 1829
“Articles of the Church of Christ,” [possibly , Seneca Co., NY; June 1829]. Featured version copied [between ca. Feb. and Apr. 1830]; handwriting of ; three pages; CHL.One sheet folded in half to form two leaves, each measuring about 10¼ × 7⅝ inches (26 × 19 cm). According to a letter filed with this manuscript, this document and several other manuscript revelations were donated to the Church Historian’s Office in the early 1960s by a descendant of . The rolled-up papers were discovered by the Rider family in 1958, having presumably been held by the family since Rider obtained them circa 1831.
Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL. MS 4583.
Faulring, Scott H. “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): 57–91.
wrote “Articles of the Church of Christ” in June 1829 in response to a JS revelation that commanded him to “rely upon the things which are written” in order to “build up my church.” The content and tone are similar to JS’s April 1830 “Articles and Covenants,” a text that was presented at the church’s first and adopted by vote as a governing document. 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on the same Book of Mormon passages and both were written to govern believers, but Articles of the Church of Christ was superseded once the church was established and was never ratified by the membership. seemed to recognize the two as independent documents by including both in Revelation Book 1, as if they were discrete revelatory texts. JS, however, did not write or dictate Articles of the Church of Christ, and it was not included in either the Book of Commandments or the Doctrine and Covenants. Cowdery’s Articles document is presented as an appendix to this volume because it was included in Revelation Book 1, written by commandment, and compiled from JS documents. It is also included for comparison with Articles and Covenants, circa April 1830 [D&C 20].Both documents present instructions to guide believers, but the shorter document was apparently designed for JS’s followers in 1829, while the later document fits the circumstances of the newly organized in April 1830. The heading Cowdery attached to his Articles suggests its purpose: “A commandment from God unto Oliver how he should build up his Church & the manner thereof.” According to both JS’s history and Cowdery’s 1834 historical letters, John the Baptist gave JS and Cowdery the authority to one another, as well as other believers, in May 1829. In June 1829, the revelation commanding Cowdery to build up the church by relying on “the things which are written” indicated that “in them are all things written, concerning my church, my gospel, and my rock.” It was in the context of these events that Cowdery then wrote Articles by copying passages about baptism, the Lord’s Supper, ecclesiastical positions, and church regulations from both the Book of Mormon manuscript and the June revelation to Cowdery and . This document thus enabled believers to “rely upon the things which are written,” even though the Book of Mormon was not published until March 1830.The specific content of Articles of the Church of Christ strengthens the likelihood that it was intended to guide believers before the organization of the church. Notably, it excluded two important ordinances described in the Book of Mormon manuscript. ’s excerpts from the Book of Mormon copied all the and prayers found in the book of Moroni except those for bestowing the to those who were baptized and for ordaining believers to the office of . According to JS’s history, in June 1829 he and Cowdery were commanded by the voice of God to wait until they gathered with believers to ordain elders and bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost. The history further reports that only after 6 April 1830, when the Church of Christ was established, did they begin ordaining elders and bestowing the gift of the Holy Ghost. JS’s Articles and Covenants included and elaborated upon the passages in the Book of Mormon manuscript that described the proper procedures for performing these . In contrast, Cowdery’s text omits these passages.The text presented here is from a copy of Articles of the Church of Christ apparently owned by early member and handed down in his family. This version, which is in ’s handwriting, was selected over the copy in Revelation Book 1 because the latter is missing the leaf containing the first two paragraphs and the leaf containing the last few lines of text. Analysis of the text of Articles found in Revelation Book 1 strongly suggests that the Book of Mormon passages were copied from the original manuscript and that the document was therefore written before Cowdery finished creating the printer’s manuscript around February 1830. The Book of Mormon passages in the Rider copy, however, match the text of the printer’s manuscript. Since punctuation in these passages does not match punctuation found in the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, this document was likely written sometime after the circa February 1830 completion of the printer’s manuscript but before April 1830, when Cowdery could have easily copied from the printed edition.
Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.
Coltrin, Zebedee. Diaries, 1832–1834. CHL. MS 1443.
Skousen, Royal. “Translating the Book of Mormon: Evidence from the Original Manuscript.” In Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited: The Evidence for Ancient Origins, edited by Noel B. Reynolds, 61–93. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1997.