Revelation, , Susquehanna Co., PA, to , Apr. 1829. Featured version, titled “Chapter VIII,” typeset [between 1 Nov. and 31 Dec. 1832] for Book of Commandments, 20–21. copied this revelation [ca. Mar. 1831] into Revelation Book 1, but the page on which the final portion of the revelation was copied was removed at some point from that volume and is no longer extant. The version found in the Book of Commandments and featured below is the earliest complete, extant version. For more complete source information, see the source note for the Book of Commandments.
Earlier in April 1829, JS had dictated one revelation granting the gift to ancient records and another instructing him to rely on the as he translated. When Cowdery attempted to translate, however, he was unsuccessful. The revelation featured here explained Cowdery’s failure and promised that he would translate at another time. Likely dictated in the second half of April, this revelation informed Cowdery that he “could have translated” if he had proceeded correctly. He had apparently begun well but did not continue in the same manner, having “not understood” the process: “You have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought, save it was to ask me.” While suspending for the present Cowdery’s gift to translate, the revelation underscored his ongoing current responsibility: “Behold the work which you are called to do, is to write for my servant Joseph.”
The previous revelations promising that Cowdery could translate had stated that he would be able to assist in bringing to light “parts of my scriptures which have been hidden,” “records which contain much of my gospel,” and “the engraveings of old Records,” but did not specify the Book of Mormon in particular. (Revelation, Apr. 1829–A [D&C 6:26–27]; Revelation, Apr. 1829–B [D&C 8:1].)
1 A Revelation given to , in , Pennsylvania, April, 1829.
BEHOLD I say unto you, my son, that, because you did not according to that which you desired of me, and did commence again to write for my servant Joseph, even so I would that you should continue until you have finished this record, which I have intrusted unto you: and then behold, other records have I, that I will give unto you power that you may assist to translate.
2 Be patient my son, for it is wisdom in me, and it is not expedient that you should translate at this present time. Behold the work which you are called to do, is to write for my servant Joseph; and behold it is because that you did not continue as you commenced, when you begun to translate, that I have taken away this privilege from you. Do not murmur my son, for it is wisdom in me that I have dealt with you after this manner.
3 Behold you have not understood, you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took [p. 20]
The partially extant transcript of this revelation in Revelation Book 1 provides a more descriptive introductory statement (likely created by John Whitmer): “A Revelation to Oliver he was disrous [desirous] to know the reason why he could not Translate & thus said the Lord unto him.” The text in Revelation Book 1 also includes the date “1829,” with a later editorial insertion by Cowdery giving the month as April. (Revelation Book 1, p. 14.)
In the mid-1830s, JS began preparing “A translation Of some ancient Records . . . purporting to be the writings of Abraham, while he was in Egypt.”a Several extant items of the Kirtland-era Egyptian papers (although not manuscript pages of the Book of Abraham translation itself) are in the handwriting of Oliver Cowdery.b
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
Kirtland Egyptian Papers, ca. 1835–1836. CHL.
Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.
Gee, John. “Eyewitness, Hearsay, and Physical Evidence of the Joseph Smith Papyri.” In The Disciple as Witness: Essays on Latter-day Saint History and Doctrine in Honor of Richard Lloyd Anderson, edited by Stephen D. Ricks, Donald W. Parry, and Andrew H. Hedges, 175–217. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2000.