Revelation, , Susquehanna Co., PA, [ca. Apr. 1829; though parts may date as early as summer 1828]. Featured version, titled “Chapter IX,” typeset [between 1 Nov. and 31 Dec. 1832] for Book of Commandments, 22–27. copied this revelation [ca. Mar. 1831] into Revelation Book 1, but the pages on which the first part of the revelation was copied were removed at some point from that volume and are 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.
Early in 1828, JS, then living in , Pennsylvania, began the with the assistance of various scribes, principally . Working from mid-April to mid-June, JS and Harris prepared a manuscript, which JS referred to as “the Book of Lehi.” At Harris’s insistent pleading, JS allowed him to take the manuscript to show to selected family members in , New York. After Harris displayed the manuscript, however, it was taken from its hiding place and never found. JS’s history recounted that an took the plates in consequence and that JS lost his gift to translate, but after a season of repentance, he once again obtained the plates. By March 1829, JS had resumed the translation, which proceeded quickly after arrived on 5 April to serve as a scribe.
JS and apparently picked up the translation where JS and had left off—in the book of Mosiah. As JS and Cowdery approached what would become the end of the Book of Mormon, they grew concerned about whether to go back and retranslate the lost portion. The revelation featured below stated that wicked men had changed the lost manuscript to discredit JS and commanded him not to retranslate the lost pages but to substitute another record in their place. This substitute record, described as being “engraven upon the plates of Nephi,” covered the same period as the lost manuscript.
Assigning a date to this revelation is problematic, both because the earliest extant versions of the text are dated inconsistently and because the content fits multiple historical contexts. In Revelation Book 1, which contains the earliest extant copy of this revelation, the page or pages containing the revelation heading are missing, so the date presumably listed by has been lost. The index to the revelation book locates this text between two April 1829 revelations, suggesting that Whitmer assigned an April date, but the editors of the 1833 Book of Commandments gave it a date of May 1829, a date retained in later publications. JS and , the clerk assisting him with his history in 1839, created additional confusion by dating this revelation to “a few days” after the July 1828 revelation. Yet Mulholland also preserved the heading (with its May 1829 date) from the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants when he copied it into JS’s history.
Certain parts of the text seem to fit an 1828 setting, others 1829, and some both. The beginning of the featured text, for example, reprimands JS, saying, “You delivered up so many writings, which you had power to translate, into the hands of a wicked man”—language strikingly similar to the July 1828 admonition to JS that “thou deliveredst up . . . that which God had given thee right to Translate . . . into the hands of a wicked man.” At the same time, another verse from the first part of the featured text instructs JS not to “translate again those words which have gone forth out of your hands [the lost manuscript],” a that applied to both JS and in 1828 and to JS and in 1829. Several phrases in the featured text are common to 1829 documents. For example, the text alludes to an earlier manifestation to JS: “And for this cause have I said, if this generation harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them.” The only identifiable antecedents to this statement appear in a March 1829 revelation—“if the People of this Generation harden not their hearts . . . I will establish my Church”—and in a Book of Mormon passage likely dictated in May 1829—“if they will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them.” Moreover, a series of close textual parallels between the featured text and Christ’s teachings in the Book of Mormon also support a spring 1829 date. These texts share lengthy phrases, including some not found in the Bible, and suggest a relationship between this revelation and the third book of Nephi in the Book of Mormon, likely dictated in May 1829.
A potential solution to these complexities is to consider the featured text a composite of two revelations, one from 1828 and the other 1829. The stylistic features of this revelation, however, strongly suggest that although JS may have received the first portion of the revelation in the summer of 1828, it was not actually written down until April or May 1829, along with the rest of the text. This revelation, written in the first-person voice of Jesus Christ, more closely resembles JS’s April 1829 texts, which include such proclamations as “behold I am God,” than it does the July 1828 revelation, which speaks of God in the second person. The text featured below also lacks the typical signs of a composite revelation, such as an amen marking the end of a particular revelation within a larger text.
During the months of February and March 1829, Samuel Smith, Martin Harris, and Emma Smith all may have served briefly as scribes as JS translated small portions of the Book of Mormon. No extant record, however, indicates what portions were translated. (JS History, ca. Summer 1832, ; Edward Stevenson, Sandusky, OH, to Franklin D. Richards, 10 Jan. 1887, in Stevenson, Journal, Oct. 1886–Mar. 1887, pp. 106–113; Joseph Smith III, “Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” Saints’ Herald, 1 Oct. 1879, 289–290.)
Stevenson, Edward. Journals, 1852–1896. Edward Stevenson, Collection, 1849–1922. CHL. MS 4806, boxes 1–4.
See Oliver Cowdery, Norton, OH, to William W. Phelps, 7 Sept. 1834, LDS Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1834, 1:15–16; and JS History, vol. A-1, 17. For example, two phrases uniquely shared by the revelation and Jesus’s teachings to the Nephites are “I will establish my church among them” and “concerning the points of my doctrine.” (Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 478, 501 [3 Nephi 11:28; 21:22].)
Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.
See Parkin, “Preliminary Analysis of the Dating of Section 10,” 82–83.
Parkin, Max H. “A Preliminary Analysis of the Dating of Section 10.” In The Seventh Annual Sidney B.Sperry Symposium: The Doctrine and Covenants, 68–84. Provo, UT: Religious Instruction, Brigham Young University, Church Educational System, 1979.
gone out of your hands, are engraven upon the plates of Nephi; yea, and you remember, it was said in those writings, that a more particular account was given of these things upon the plates of Nephi.
10 And now, because the account which is engraven upon the plates of Nephi, is more particular concerning the things, which in my wisdom I would bring to the knowledge of the people in this account: therefore, you shall the engravings which are on the plates of Nephi, down even till you come to the reign of king Benjamin, or until you come to that which you have translated, which you have retained; and behold, you shall publish it as the record of Nephi, and thus I will confound those who have altered my words. I will not suffer that they shall destroy my work; yea, I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil.
11 Behold they have only got a part, or an abridgment of the account of Nephi. Behold there are many things engraven on the plates of Nephi, which do throw greater views upon my gospel: therefore, it is wisdom in me, that you should translate this first part of the engravings of Nephi, and send forth in this work. And behold, all the remainder of this work, does contain all those parts of my gospel which my holy prophets; yea, and also my disciples desired in their prayers, should come forth unto this people. And I said unto them, that it should be granted unto them according to their faith in their prayers; yea, and this was their faith, that my gospel which I gave unto them, that they might preach in their days, might come unto their brethren, the , and also, all that had become Lamanites, because of their dissensions. [p. 25]
The two references to “the plates of Nephi” in this paragraph actually point to two different sets of plates. The first instance (the things “engraven upon the plates of Nephi,” the translation of which had “gone out of your hands”) is a reference to what JS called “the Book of Lehi,” a record contained within the pages lost by Martin Harris. The second instance (the “more particular account . . . given of these things upon the plates of Nephi”) is a reference to what Nephi’s brother Jacob called “the small plates,” the record that JS translated to replace the lost manuscript. The translation of the small plates now constitutes the first six books of the Book of Mormon: the first and second books of Nephi and the books of Jacob, Enos, Jarom, and Omni. (Preface to Book of Mormon, ca. Aug. 1829; Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 123 [Jacob 1:1].)
Text from this point to the end of the paragraph closely resembles wording later used in the preface to the first edition of the Book of Mormon. The clarifying phrase “down even till you come to the reign of king Benjamin,” however, was not included in the preface. (Preface to Book of Mormon, ca. Aug. 1829.)