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Revelation Book 1

The commandment that ye should go to the Ohio & there  I will give unto you my law & there you shall be endowed  with power from on high & from thence whomsoever I will  shall go forth among all Nations & it shall be told them what  they shall do for I have a great work laid up in store for  Israel shall be saved & I will lead them whithersoever I will  & no power can stay my hand And now I give unto the  church in these parts a commandment that certain men among  them shall be appointed & they shall be appointed by the  voice of the Church & they shall look to the poor & the  needy & administer to their relief that they shall not suffer  & send them forth to the place which I have commanded  them & this shall be their Work to govern the affairs  of the Church Property of this the Church & they that have  farms that cannot be sold let them be left or rented as  as seemeth them good see that all things are preserved  & when men are endowed with power from on high  & are sent forth all these things shall be gethered unto  the Bosom of the Church & if ye seek the riches which  is the will of the Father to give unto you ye shall be  the richest of all People for ye shall have the riches of  eternity & it must needs be that the riches of the Earth is  mine to give but beware of Pride lest ye become as  the Nephites of old & again I say unto you I give unto  you a commandment that evry man both Elder Priest  & Teacher & also Member go to with his might with the  Labour of his hands to prepare & accomplish these things  which I have commanded & let your preaching be the  warning voice evry man to his Neighbour in mildness  & in meekness & go ye out from among the wicked save  yourselves be ye clean that bear the vesels of the Lord even so amen

Articles and Covenants, circa April 1830 [D&C 20]

Received in Fayette Seneca County New York April 10th. 1830
Given to Joseph the seer by the gift & power of God &c  soon after the Chr [p. 52]
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Revelation Book 1, also known as “Book of Commandments and Revelations,” is a manuscript book of revelations and other items that was begun less than a year after JS organized the Church of Christ in April 1830. John Whitmer was the principal scribe, although Oliver Cowdery also wrote a few pages. The book may have originated in New York in summer 1830 when JS and John Whitmer began to “arrange and copy the revelations” previously received.1

JS History, vol. A-1, 50.
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

JS History / Smith, Joseph, et al. History, 1838–1856. Vols. A-1–F-1 (original), A-2–E-2 (fair copy). CHL. The history for the period after 5 Aug. 1838 was composed after the death of Joseph Smith.

More likely, however, Whitmer began inscribing material in Revelation Book 1 in Ohio, circa March 1831, following his appointment to keep church records and history.2 Textual evidence indicates that Whitmer and Cowdery copied revelations and other items into Revelation Book 1 from even earlier manuscripts that are no longer extant. All items in the manuscript book date from 1828 to 1834. Textual analysis suggests that the first half was copied mostly between spring 1831 and the end of that year, and the final item was copied in July 1835. Revelation Book 1 contains the earliest known copies of many revelations and, in some cases, the only surviving early manuscript copy. It also contains items not found anywhere else, including a revelation on securing a copyright in Canada for the Book of Mormon.3
In November 1831, church leaders meeting in a conference in Hiram, Ohio, authorized publication of a volume of revelations later known as the Book of Commandments and appointed Oliver Cowdery to take the revelations to Missouri for publication. Cowdery and John Whitmer, who was appointed by revelation to accompany him, departed from Hiram, Ohio, that same month, taking Revelation Book 1 and possibly other manuscript revelations with them. They arrived in Independence, Missouri, in January 1832 to work with William W. Phelps, who had been appointed church printer by revelation4 and had already purchased a printing press. They published the first issue of the church newspaper The Evening and the Morning Star five months later, and twenty-four revelatory items eventually appeared in that publication. All but one of those items also appear in Revelation Book 1, which was likely their source for publication.5

Revelation, 23 Feb. 1831 [D&C 42:78–93] does not appear in Revelation Book 1.  

 
The first eighty items in Revelation Book 1 appear on manuscript pages 1–127. Of these items, only four dated items are known to have been copied into the book out of chronological order. This portion of the manuscript book was likely inscribed in 1831 and includes items dated October–November 1831 that were copied shortly before John Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery left Ohio for Missouri (manuscript pages 108–127). Whitmer’s access to the revelations dictated in Ohio after his departure to Missouri was, of course, limited to those delivered by mail or in person.
In the remainder of the manuscript book, about half of the revelations and other items are out of chronological order. Manuscript pages 128–148 contain fourteen items dated December 1831–April 1832 that were copied into the manuscript book after April 1832. The manuscript source of these revelations and other items is unknown, but JS and other church leaders possibly brought them to Missouri in April 1832. While these fourteen items are out of order chronologically, Whitmer copied more of them into Revelation Book 1 than other scribes copied into Revelation Book 2, which was begun in late February or early March 1832 and kept by JS and his scribes at church headquarters in Ohio.6

Revelation Book 2 does not contain the revelations dated 10 Jan. 1832 [D&C 73], 25 Jan. 1832 [D&C 75], and 26 Apr. 1832 [D&C 82].  

 
This suggests that Revelation Book 1 was a more complete record of revelations than Revelation Book 2, even though Revelation Book 1 was being updated outside of church headquarters.
Manuscript pages 148–170 contain seven entries that appear in chronological order. Whitmer likely copied the next three revelations, on manuscript pages 171–177, from a letter to Missouri leaders dated 6 August 1833. This letter contains all three revelations, and all three bear an August 1833 date.7

Sidney Rigdon et al., Kirtland, OH, to Edward Partridge et al., Independence, MO, 6 Aug. 1833, JS Collection, CHL.
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

Smith, Joseph. Collection, 1827–1846. CHL.

They appear in Revelation Book 1 in the order in which they appear in the letter. Manuscript pages 177–201 contain nine revelations that were all copied chronologically; however, the first four revelations in this group are dated before the August revelations found in the aforementioned letter. Manuscript pages 202–203 contain the final two items in Revelation Book 1: a heading for minutes of the February 1834 meeting to organize a standing “high counsel” in Ohio (likely indicating an intention to copy the minutes from this meeting) and the second copy of a revelation that was copied into the book twice.8

The revelation copied twice is Revelation, 25 Dec. 1832 [D&C 87]. [copy 1] [copy 2]  

 
Following this last revelation, there are three blank pages before a two-page index that Whitmer created for the first ninety-eight pages of the manuscript book.
Editorial redactions in Revelation Book 1 demonstrate that it was used as a source for publishing the Book of Commandments in 1833. Thirty-one revelations in Revelation Book 1 contain added verse numbers and punctuation that usually match verse numbers and punctuation in the Book of Commandments.9

See Book of Commandments, chaps. 9, 16, 18–21, 27, 31–40, 42–44, 50, 54–59, 61, and 63–65.
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

A Book of Commandments, for the Government of the Church of Christ, Organized according to Law, on the 6th of April, 1830. Zion [Independence], MO: W. W. Phelps, 1833. Also available in Robin Scott Jensen, Richard E. Turley Jr., Riley M. Lorimer, eds., Revelations and Translations, Volume 2: Published Revelations. Vol. 2 of the Revelations and Translations series of The Joseph Smith Papers, edited by Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, and Richard Lyman Bushman (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2011).

Items found in the later portion of the manuscript book were not printed in the Book of Commandments and contain few redactions.
After the 1833 destruction of the Saints’ printing office in Missouri, efforts to publish the revelations shifted to Ohio, beginning in late 1834. Those preparing the revelations for publication in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants did not initially have access to Revelation Book 1 because it was in Missouri. After John Whitmer returned to Kirtland in the middle of May 1835, evidently bringing the manuscript book with him, it became a supplemental source for the publication effort. Revelation Book 1 includes twenty-one items that contain redactions made for the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants.10

See Doctrine and Covenants, 1835 ed., secs. 17–18, 20–29, 73–77, 84, 86–87, and 98.
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints: Carefully Selected from the Revelations of God. Compiled by Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams. Kirtland, OH: F. G. Williams, 1835. Also available in Robin Scott Jensen, Richard E. Turley Jr., Riley M. Lorimer, eds., Revelations and Translations, Volume 2: Published Revelations. Vol. 2 of the Revelations and Translations series of The Joseph Smith Papers, edited by Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, and Richard Lyman Bushman (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2011).

These redactions show an effort to clarify wording in the revelations and other items on the part of those selecting, arranging, and preparing them for publication.
A comparison of Revelation Book 1 with the Book of Commandments and with the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants indicates that Revelation Book 1 is a relatively comprehensive collection of revelations. It contains 64 of the 65 items published in the 1833 Book of Commandments,11

The single revelation published in the Book of Commandments but not found in Revelation Book 1 is Revelation, May 1829–B, in Book of Commandments 11 [D&C 12].
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

A Book of Commandments, for the Government of the Church of Christ, Organized according to Law, on the 6th of April, 1830. Zion [Independence], MO: W. W. Phelps, 1833. Also available in Robin Scott Jensen, Richard E. Turley Jr., Riley M. Lorimer, eds., Revelations and Translations, Volume 2: Published Revelations. Vol. 2 of the Revelations and Translations series of The Joseph Smith Papers, edited by Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, and Richard Lyman Bushman (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2011).

as well as 95 of the 103 sections published in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants.12

The eight items published in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants but not found in Revelation Book 1 are Revelation, May 1829–B, in Doctrine and Covenants 38, 1835 ed. [D&C 12]; Revelation, Oct. 1830–A, in Doctrine and Covenants 54, 1835 ed. [D&C 32]; Revelation, 9 Mar. 1833, in Doctrine and Covenants 92, 1835 ed. [D&C 91]; Revelation, 15 Mar. 1833, in Doctrine and Covenants 93, 1835 ed. [D&C 92]; Revelation, 12 Oct. 1833, in Doctrine and Covenants 94, 1835 ed. [D&C 100]; Revelation, 25 Nov. 1834, in Doctrine and Covenants 99, 1835 ed. [D&C 106]; “Marriage,” ca. Aug. 1835, in Doctrine and Covenants 101, 1835 ed.; and “Of Governments and Laws in General,” ca. Aug. 1835, in Doctrine and Covenants 102, 1835 ed. [D&C 134].
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints: Carefully Selected from the Revelations of God. Compiled by Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams. Kirtland, OH: F. G. Williams, 1835. Also available in Robin Scott Jensen, Richard E. Turley Jr., Riley M. Lorimer, eds., Revelations and Translations, Volume 2: Published Revelations. Vol. 2 of the Revelations and Translations series of The Joseph Smith Papers, edited by Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, and Richard Lyman Bushman (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2011).

Of the many revelations and other items copied into the manuscript book, only 11 do not appear in either the Book of Commandments or the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants.13
In November 1831, JS and his associates were appointed by church conferences to prepare the revelations and other items in Revelation Book 1 for publication by correcting and modifying the text. JS was to “correct those errors or mistakes which he m[a]y discover by the holy Spirit.”14

Minute Book 2, 8 Nov. 1831.
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

Minute Book 2 / “The Conference Minutes and Record Book of Christ’s Church of Latter Day Saints,” 1838, 1842, 1844. CHL. Also available at josephsmithpapers.org.

Many redactions were made before selected items were published in Missouri, while others were made in Ohio before the 1835 publication of the Doctrine and Covenants. Changes made in Sidney Rigdon’s hand are among the earliest, and evidence indicates that he made them in Ohio before the book went to Missouri in November 1831. Rigdon frequently altered the language in the revelations from the biblical “thee,” “thy,” and “thine” to the more modern “you,” “your,” and “yours.” He also corrected grammar and changed some of the language to clarify and modify words and meaning.
John Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery could have made redactions in either Ohio or Missouri as early as 1831 or as late as 1835, though the majority of redactions they made first appear in print in 1833 or earlier. Whitmer’s marks often reversed changes made by Sidney Rigdon, and his later editing also modified some of the wording in the revelations. Though not as frequent, changes in Cowdery’s hand were often more substantive in nature, clarifying and expanding the meaning of several items in preparation for the publication of the Book of Commandments and the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants.
William W. Phelps had neither reason nor opportunity to edit the items in Revelation Book 1 until he and his associates began preparing the texts for publication in Missouri. As printer of The Evening and the Morning Star and the Book of Commandments, Phelps provided much of the punctuation and versification and many of the other copyediting changes. Only rarely did he alter the original language.
JS likely reviewed some of his associates’ editorial changes and made slight alterations in his own hand before the book was taken to Missouri in late 1831 for publication of the Book of Commandments in 1833, although he may have reviewed the selection, editing, and publication process as late as April 1832 when he visited Missouri. He made additional changes, including adding the surnames of some individuals named in the revelations, just before the Doctrine and Covenants was published in 1835.15

JS et al., Kirtland, OH, to Edward Partridge et al., Independence, MO, 25 June 1833, JS Collection, CHL.
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

Smith, Joseph. Collection, 1827–1846. CHL.

The extent to which JS influenced the redactions made by other individuals is unknown.
In addition to marking corrections, those preparing the items in Revelation Book 1 for publication used pins or adhesive wafers to attach slips of paper to pages of the manuscript book. The slips, one of which is extant in Revelation Book 1, contained additions to or clarifications of the original text. The extant slip is transcribed as a separate leaf where it appears in the manuscript book. Visible pinholes or wafer residue likely mark where additional slips were fastened to the page as texts were copied or prepared for publication.16

See here for an example of a slip of paper that was pasted to the page. A series of pinholes is also visible on manuscript page 85.  

 
This physical evidence, which suggest how the manuscript book was used by those preparing the texts for publication, are noted in the textual annotation.
A loose copy of a revelation in the handwriting of Sidney Rigdon was inserted into Revelation Book 1 at an unknown time, thereby becoming associated with the manuscript book, though not physically part of it.
Note: At present, the transcript of Revelation Book 1 on this website includes only the original inscriptions, not the later redactions made to the manuscript book to prepare the revelations for publication. A transcript showing the later redactions will eventually be added to this site. Until that time, readers will notice many discrepancies between the images and the transcript. For a transcript that includes the redactions, consult Revelations and Translations: Manuscript Revelation Books, facsimile ed. (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2009) or Revelations and Translations, Volume 1: Manuscript Revelation Books (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2011).
Nor does this website reproduce the four loose leaves of Revelation Book 1 that are owned by the Community of Christ (manuscript pages 111–112, 117–120, and 139–140) or the loose copy of the revelation in the handwriting of Sidney Rigdon that was inserted later into Revelation Book 1. For images and transcripts of those pages, consult the aforementioned volumes.
Except as described in this note, Revelation Book 1 is presented here electronically as a complete record. In contrast, the Documents series (multiple volumes forthcoming in print; selections also available on this site) presents each revelation separately, placed in chronological order with other documents of various genres. That series includes the earliest and best extant version of each revelation, providing contextual annotation and a historical introduction for each. Readers should consult the Documents series for information about the setting and significance of individual revelations.

Facts