Revelation, , OH, 4 Dec. 1831. Featured version copied [ca. 4 Dec. 1831]; handwriting of ; one page; Newel K. Whitney, Papers, BYU. Includes dockets and archival marking.
inscribed this revelation and three others on a bifolium. The bottom and sides of the open bifolium are the squarely cut sides of a manufactured sheet, whereas the top is unevenly cut—apparently from a larger sheet. Each leaf of the bifolium measures 12¾ × 8 inches (32 × 20 cm). The first of JS’s three 4 December 1831 revelations was written on the recto of the first leaf, along with part of the second revelation dictated that day. The remainder of the second 4 December 1831 revelation and the third revelation of that date were inscribed on the verso of the first leaf. JS’s 1 December 1831 revelation was copied on the recto of the second leaf. The bifolium was later folded in half and then tri-folded in typical filing style. After being folded for filing, the document was docketed in graphite by . One docket, “Decr 4 1831 to N K | W— & the Conference | (Bishop)”, is rewritten over a nearly identical docket made earlier. Another docket by Whitney reads: “Comand to the Bishop”. The folds of the document are partially broken.
This document and several other revelations, along with many other personal and institutional documents kept by , were inherited by his daughter Mary Jane Whitney, who married Isaac Groo. This collection was passed down in the Groo family and donated by members of the family to the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University during the period 1969–1974.
Andrus et al., “Register of the Newel Kimball Whitney Papers, 1825–1906,” 5–6.
Andrus, Hyrum L., Chris Fuller, and Elizabeth E. McKenzie. “Register of the Newel Kimball Whitney Papers, 1825–1906,” Sept. 1998. BYU.
This revelation and the two that follow were all dictated on 4 December 1831 in the same setting. On 3 December 1831, JS and traveled to from , Ohio, to fulfill a given in a 1 December revelation to preach “unto the world in the regions round about and in the .” According to a later JS history, “on the 4th several of the and members assembled together to learn their duty and for edification”—a gathering described in the revelation as a conference of . Minutes of this meeting are not extant, but the JS history notes that it included conversations about “our temporal and Spiritual welfare.” JS and Rigdon may have also instructed the elders on the need to counter the published criticisms of former church member .
This revelation, the first of three JS apparently dictated during the conference, focused on the appointment of as the second in the church. In August 1831, Whitney was designated as “an unto the ,” a role that included some responsibilities that were similar to the duties he would have as bishop. was originally called as bishop in in February 1831, but in the summer he relocated to , Missouri, where he served as the bishop in . In November 1831, a revelation explained that as the church grew, “other Bishops” were “to be set apart unto the church to minister even according to the first.” These bishops, the revelation continued, were to “be appointed by a confrenc [conference] of high priests.” Accordingly, after Whitney was selected by revelation, he was appointed during the 4 December conference. A second revelation dictated at this same conference dealt with Whitney’s duties as bishop, while the third revelation gave requirements for those migrating to .
Because no minutes of the 4 December conference exist, it is difficult to determine the exact circumstances under which these revelations were dictated. Conference attendees may have decided before the first revelation was dictated—possibly in connection with their conversation on “temporal and Spiritual welfare”—to appoint a bishop for . If so, the first revelation apparently affirmed this decision, since it told the assembled high priests that “in this thing ye have done wisely.” The revelation then identified as the man appointed.
When the three 4 December revelations were published, they were presented as a single combined text, but manuscript copies indicate they were originally three separately dictated texts. The first revelation refers to as “the man who shall be appointed and ,” whereas the second revelation begins with a sentence referring to the bishop who “has been ordained,” indicating that Whitney’s appointment and ordination occurred after the first revelation was dictated but before the second. The second revelation begins with “The word of the Lord”—a conventional textual marker for the beginning of a discrete revelation text. A copy of these two revelations made by JS and in Revelation Book 2 around March 1832 supports this assessment: a clear break exists in the text between the first and second revelations, and a new heading with a date appears before the second revelation. The table of contents to Revelation Book 2 also treats these as two separate 4 December revelations, referring to one as “A Revelation given to choose a Bishop” and the other as “also another in addition to the Law making known the duty of the Bishop.” Furthermore, other early manuscript copies (including the copy held by Whitney) preface the second revelation with the heading “The duty of the Bishop as made known at the same time.” Although there is not a similar break or heading in manuscript copies before the third revelation, it too appears to be separate: the second revelation ends with the words “and now I make an end of my sayings Amen,” indicating the formal closure of a discrete revelation text.
probably served as the original scribe for these three revelations. The copy featured here, which is in Rigdon’s handwriting and was held by , may be the original manuscript. The versions of the 4 December revelations featured in this volume were written on the same sheet of paper as a 1 December 1831 revelation, but the 4 December revelations were apparently inscribed first, meaning that Rigdon could have written the revelations on the paper as JS dictated and then copied the 1 December revelation thereafter.
The same pattern had been followed earlier when John Whitmer was selected by revelation and appointed by a conference to be the church historian. After a March 1831 revelation for Whitmer stated “it shall be appointed unto you to Keep the Church Record & History,” a conference held on 9 April “appointed” Whitmer to undertake those tasks “agreeable” to the revelation. (Revelation, ca. 8 Mar. 1831–B [D&C 47:3]; Minute Book 2, 9 Apr. 1831.)
John Whitmer made a copy of the revelation in Revelation Book 1, probably sometime after April 1832. Orson Hyde also copied the revelation, probably early in 1832 before departing on a mission to the eastern United States. Hyde’s copy contains the heading “The duty of the Bishop as made Known at the same time” before the second revelation. (See Historical Introduction to Revelation Book 1; Revelation Book 1, pp. 132–134; and Hyde and Smith, Notebook –.)
Hyde, Orson, and Samuel Smith. Notebook of Revelations and Missionary Memoranda, ca. Oct. 1831–ca. Jan. 1832. Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL. MS 4583, box 1, fd. 2.
The evenness of the inscription of the 4 December revelations, however, suggests that they are copies. When John Whitmer copied the 4 December revelations into Revelation Book 1, he placed them before the 1 December revelation, which matches the order in the Whitney copy. (Revelation Book 1, pp. 132–134.)
Hearken and listen to the voice of the Lord o ye who have assembled yourselves together who are the of my to whom the kingdom and power have been given for verily thus saith the Lord it is expedient in me for a to be appointed unto you or of you to unto the church in this part of the Lords vineyard and verily in this thing ye have done wisely for it is required of the Lord at the hand of every to render an account of his stewardship both in time and in eternity for he who is faithfull and wise in time is accounted worthy to inherit the mantions prepared for them of my father verily I say unto you the of the church in this part of my vineyard shall render an account of their stewardship unto the Bishop which shall be appointed of me in this part of my vinyard these things shall be had on record to be handed over unto the in and the duty of the Bishop shall be made known by the which have been given and by the voice of the .
And now I say unto you my servent is the man who shall be appointed and unto this power this is the will of the Lord your God your Redeemer even so Amen— [p. ]
That is, in Ohio. The book of Isaiah states that “the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel.” The Book of Mormon, however, also uses the term “vineyard” to refer to the world. (Isaiah 5:7; see also Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 90, 131–139 [2 Nephi 15:7; Jacob 5].)