Revelation, June 1829–E [D&C 17]
copied this revelation circa March 1831 into Revelation Book 1, but the page on which it was copied was removed at some point from that volume and is no longer extant. For unknown reasons, printers of the Book of Commandments chose not to include this revelation text in that volume. Some language used in the version copied into Revelation Book 2 does not fit an 1829 context, suggesting that version was modified from the original, although the degree of modification cannot be known.
After both a passage in the Book of Mormon and a JS revelation promised that three witnesses would testify of the , , , and requested that they be given the opportunity. In response, JS dictated this revelation in , New York, in June 1829. The text of the revelation implies that it was dictated after the was finished. JS later said that it was “not many days” after the revelation was given, that he, Cowdery, Whitmer, and Harris “agreed to retire into the woods, and try to obtain by fervent and humble prayer, the fulfilment of the promises given in this revelation; that they should have a view of the pl[a]t[es].”According to JS’s history, the “heavenly messenger” who delivered the plates to him in 1827 had commanded him not to show them to anyone. By March 1829, , , Reuben Hale, and possibly others had served as scribes for JS as he dictated the translation, yet none of them had seen the plates. That same month Harris, whose strongly objected to his involvement with JS, traveled to , Pennsylvania, to obtain, in the words of a revelation, “a witness that my Servant Joseph hath got the things which he hath testified that he hath got.” That same revelation, which JS dictated after Harris’s arrival in Harmony, spoke of “a with me [God] that he [JS] should not show them except I Command him,” but also promised that three people would see the plates by God’s power and thereafter testify to the world of their existence. Harris was then informed that if he was sufficiently humble he would be one of the three witnesses.also had reason to hope that he might be one of the promised witnesses. In April 1829, he became JS’s primary scribe and recorded almost all of the Book of Mormon manuscript produced after ’s loss of the “Book of Lehi,” so he was familiar with the passage prophesying that three persons would see and stand as witnesses of the plates. About this same time JS dictated a revelation for Cowdery declaring that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses, shall every word be established” and that God’s words would “be established by the testimony which shall be given.” The revelation commanded Cowdery to “assist to bring forth my work,” language similar to that in the Book of Mormon passage that envisioned the book’s future translator showing the plates to three witnesses who would testify of them “by the power of God” and “assist to bring forth this work.”In late May or early June, helped JS and move to , New York, where they could more securely finish the translation. Whitmer was an important supporter of the translation effort from that time forward. Though he did not become a witness of the plates for weeks, he reported years later that soon after their arrival, his was shown the plates by a heavenly messenger. Shortly after Whitmer was in early June, JS dictated a revelation for him that again echoed the Book of Mormon passage about witnesses, calling Whitmer “to assist” in bringing forth the fulness of the gospel. He was also told that he might “stand as a witness of the things of which you shall both hear and see.”In late June, JS translated another Book of Mormon passage that stated that three witnesses would testify “to the truth of the book, and the things therein.” JS recalled that , , and “became so very solicitous, and teazed me so much, that at length I complied and through the I obtained of the Lord for them” the revelation featured here. The text informed the three men that they would see the plates if they relied on the word of God “with full purpose of heart” and that they would testify they had seen them by the power of God.