Explanation of Scripture, , NY, 1830. Featured version copied [ca. Mar. 1831] in Revelation Book 1, pp. 60–61; handwriting of ; CHL. Includes redactions. Fore more complete source information, see the source note for Revelation Book 1.
This “explanation” clarifies a New Testament verse, 1 Corinthians 7:14, which historically had been an important passage for justifying infant baptism. Like the Book of Mormon, this document rejects the need for infant baptism by explaining that little children are made clean through the atonement of Jesus Christ, without . Although it is possible that questions regarding 1 Corinthians 7:14 or infant baptism prompted this explanation, the precise circumstances are unknown.
The date the document was produced is also uncertain. When copied the document into Revelation Book 1 in 1831, he dated it simply “1830.” However, he placed it between documents dated 6 January 1831 and 4 February 1831. The editors of the Book of Commandments did not include this document with JS’s printed revelations in 1833, and when it was included in the Doctrine and Covenants in 1835, no date was mentioned. Years later, the editors of JS’s history mistakenly wrote that JS dictated this document in January 1832 in conjunction with his revision of the New Testament. But the location, which Whitmer identified as , New York, indicates that the document was created before JS moved to in the second half of January 1831, and that it could have been written as early as January 1830.
According to one modern theologian, “With the exception of the Scripture passage where Jesus blesses little children no passage has been laid under a more laborious contribution to serve the cause of infant baptism than this one.”a The topic of infant baptism was also prevalent in Christian debates during JS’s time.b JS had earlier clarified a biblical passage regarding John the Beloved.c
(aJewett, Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace, 122. bSee, for example, Woods, Lectures on Infant Baptism, 75–93; Dwight, Theology: Explained and Defended, 317–318, 324–330; Frey, Essays on Christian Baptism, 38–42; and Jerram, Conversations on Infant Baptism, 64–67. cAccount of John, Apr. 1829–C [D&C 7].)
Jewett, Paul K. Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1978.
Woods, Leonard. Lectures on Infant Baptism. Andover: Mark Newman, 1828.Woods, Terry K. Ohio’s Grand Canal: A Brief History of the Ohio and Erie Canal. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 2008.
Dwight, Timothy. Theology; Explained and Defended, in a Series of Sermons. Vol. 5. Middletown, CT: Clark and Lyman, 1819.
Frey, J. S. C. F. Essays on Christian Baptism. Boston: Lincoln and Edmands, 1829.
Jerram, Charles. Conversations on Infant Baptism. New York: Swords, Stanford, 1839.
Revelation Book 1, p. 60. Although most documents in Revelation Book 1 appear in chronological order, there are exceptions. Whitmer copied this document and “Articles and Covenants” about the same time, and Articles and Covenants was dated 10 April 1830, possibly suggesting that this document was also dictated in April. JS dictated another revelation in April that addressed whether new members needed to be baptized into the Church of Christ if they previously had been baptized in a different religion.a Alternatively, if the revelation’s placement in Revelation Book 1 is chronologically correct, it may indicate a relationship to the revelation regarding James Covel, dated 6 January 1831. Though Covel’s personal views about baptism are unknown, other New York Methodists of that time promoted the baptism of infants.b
JS could have been in Wayne County at almost any point during 1830, but there is some likelihood this document was produced during April, when JS was known to be in Wayne County. During that month, JS began baptizing believers and organizing branches of the church in New York; he also dictated two revelations that gave directions regarding baptism.a Conversations with new and prospective converts may also have led to discussion about scriptural passages regarding infant baptism. In early December 1830, JS met recent convert Sidney Rigdon, who opposed infant baptism. JS and Rigdon worked together in December on JS’s Bible revision, and during that period JS dictated a passage about baptism, but at that time JS and Rigdon were working in Seneca County. Similarly, any discussions JS might have had with James Covel would likely have taken place in Ontario or Seneca counties, not in Wayne County.b If this document did result from contact with Covel, it could possibly have been produced in late January 1831 when JS and Rigdon traveled through Wayne County on their way to Ohio.c
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.
Tucker, Pomeroy. Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism: Biography of Its Founders and History of Its Church. New York: D. Appleton, 1867.
An explanation of the first Epistle to the first Corinthians 7 Chapter & 14th verse given to Joseph the Seer at . N.Y 1830
For the unbelieveing wife husband is sanctified by the wife & the unbelieveing wife is sanctified by the husband else were your Children unclean but now ere [are] they holy
Now in the days of the Apostles the law of circumcision was had among them all the Jews which believed not the Gospel of Jesus Christ, & it came to pass that there arose a great contention among the People concerning the law of circumcision for the unbelieveing husband was desirous that his children should be circumcised & become subject to the law of Moses which law was [p. 60]
Although JS altered a number of verses in 1 Corinthians 7 during his revision of the Bible in 1832, he did not revise verse 14. (See New Testament Revision 2, pp. 127–128 [second numbering] [Joseph Smith Translation, 1 Corinthians 7].)