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Revelation Book 1

Thou do this thou shalt be delivered up & become as other  men & have no more gift & when thou deliveredst up that  Which that which God had given thee right to Translate  thou deliveredest up that which was Sacred into the hands  of a wicked man who has Set at naught the Councils of God  & hath broken the most Sacred promises which was made before  God & hath depended upon his own Judgement & boasted in  his own arm wisdom & this is the reason that thou hast  lost thy Privileges for a Season for thou hast suffered  that the council of thy directors to be trampeled upon from  the begining for as the knowledge of a Saveiour hath come  to the world so shall the knowledge of my People the Nephities  & the Jacobites & the Josephites & the Lamanites come to the  Lamanites knowledge of the Lamanites & the Lamanites &  the Ishmaelites which dwindeled in unbelief because of  the iniquities of their Fathers who hath been suffered to  destroy their Brethren because of their iniquities & their  Abominations & for this very Purpose are these Plates  prepared which contain these Records that the Promises  of the Lord might be fulfilled which he made to his  People & that the Lamanites might come to the knowledge  of their Fathers & that they may know the Promises of  the Lord that they may believe the Gospel & rely upon the  merits of Jesus Christ & that they might be glorified  through faith in his name & that they might repent  & be Saved Amen Received in Harmony Susquehannah Penn

Revelation, February 1829 [D&C 4]

AD 1828 A Revelation to Joseph [Smith Sr.] the Father of the  Seer he desired to know what the Lord had for him to do  & this is what he Received as follows
Saying now Behold a Marvelous work is about  to come forth among the children of men therefore  O ye that embark in the service of God see that ye  Serve him with all your heart might mind & Strength  that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day  therefore if ye have desires to serve God ye are Called to the [pages 3–10 missing] [p. 2]
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“A Book of Commandments & Revelations of the Lord given to Joseph the Seer & others by the Inspiration of God & gift & power of the Holy Ghost which Beareth Re[c]ord of the Father & Son & Holy Ghost which is one God Infinite & eternal World without end Amen,” Revelation Book 1, [ca. Mar. 1831–July 1835]; handwriting of John Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery in both original inscription and later redactions; handwriting of William W. Phelps, Sidney Rigdon, JS, and an unknown number of unidentified scribes in later redactions only; 208 pages (18 pages missing) and four inserted leaves; volume at CHL and four loose leaves in Restoration Scriptures Collection at CCLA. Includes redactions and archival marking.
This volume likely contained nine gatherings of twelve leaves each, measuring 12⅝ × 7¾ inches (32 × 20 cm), plus two pastedowns and an unknown number of flyleaves (one flyleaf is extant in the back of the volume). The existing sheets are ledger paper with thirty-six blue horizontal lines, most faint or completely faded, and four red vertical lines. The binding was disassembled, possibly for ease in printing the revelations, and the original cover was discarded or lost. Evidence suggests that the book was originally sewn all along over recessed cords, likely with a tight-back case with quarter-leather binding. A brown paperboard cover was placed around the pages, perhaps as soon as the early 1830s but certainly before the mid-1850s. With the current paperboard cover, the volume measures 13⅛ × 8½ × ¾ inches (33 × 22 × 2 cm). The front cover is labeled “S” in black ink that later turned light brown, and “can” or “cam” is written at the bottom in blue-green ink. The inside back cover has “2 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 75 | 55 | ◊◊ | wisdo” written vertically along the right margin in various shades of brown (formerly black) ink. A slip of blue paper pasted on the spine reads “Book of Commandments and Revelations”. This notation was written by Leo Hawkins, a clerk for the Church Historian’s Office, 1853–1856.
The current state of the volume makes it difficult to determine its original condition. Nine gatherings of the volume are currently accounted for, but additional gatherings may have existed. The volume bears remnants of the original glue and leather used for binding on the inside edges of the gatherings, and some of the gatherings are still attached to this original binding. In addition, some gatherings are completely uncut, meaning the original six sheets folded to make the twelve-leaf gatherings are attached and complete. Others are completely or partially cut and separated. The first gathering contains only four of its original leaves, and one leaf is missing from the second gathering. The leaves from the third and fourth gatherings are still mostly attached to the original binding. The fifth and sixth gatherings are mostly disconnected from the original binding. In the sixth gathering, the scribe mistakenly repeated the numbers “134” and “135” when numbering pages, leaving two pages numbered 134 and and two numbered 135. As a result, the remaining page numbers are off by two and the gathering’s last manuscript page is incorrectly numbered 142 (rather than 144). While the seventh gathering remains mostly attached to remnants of the original binding and the eighth gathering is completely intact, the ninth gathering is disconnected from the original binding altogether. If the ninth gathering originally contained twelve leaves, three are missing. There is also one flyleaf at the end of the volume.
Needle holes along the spine of the paperboard cover match up with needle holes on the edge of the fifth gathering, and one piece of thread remains at the center of that gathering. Because this rough sewing was evidently done when the fifth gathering was still an intact unit, it likely attached the makeshift cover to the text block until the cover was separated and the fifth gathering was disassembled.
The first 127 pages of the manuscript book contain seventy-six revelations and four other items. These eighty items were likely entered in the order in which they originated, the exceptions being Articles and covenants, circa April 1830 [D&C 20]; Explanation of scripture, 1830 [D&C 74]; and the revelations dated circa 8 March 1831–B [D&C 47] and 1 November 1831–B [D&C 1]. There are over thirty items in the remainder of the volume, about half of which appear out of chronological order.
The leaves for the following manuscript pages are missing from the volume and their whereabouts are not known: 3–10, 15–22, and 25–26. These pages were likely numbered, and it is not known when they were separated from the manuscript book. The leaves for manuscript pages 111–112, 117–120, and 139–140 are currently held at the Community of Christ Library-Archives. Markings on these loose pages indicate that they were likely separated from the manuscript book during work on the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants or sometime thereafter.
In 1902, the First Presidency of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints approved purchase of the loose pages from George Schweich, David Whitmer’s grandson.1

“Minutes of First Presidency,” 24 Apr. 1902, CCLA. The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints purchased from Schweich additional material that was passed down from David Whitmer, including the Book of Mormon printer’s manuscript and parts of the manuscript from JS’s Bible revision. (Walter W. Smith, Independence, MO, to S. A. Burgess, Independence, MO, 15 Apr. 1926, J. F. Curtis Papers, CCLA.)
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

“Minutes of First Presidency, March 1898 to September 1907, Record No. 1.” CCLA.

Curtis, J. F. Papers. CCLA.

The pages were likely separated by John Whitmer or Oliver Cowdery before Whitmer and Cowdery were excommunicated in 1838. A secondhand source states that David Whitmer received these pages from Oliver Cowdery in 1850.2

Former RLDS church historian Walter W. Smith, who was present when these papers were turned over to the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, heard from both George Schweich and David Whitmer’s family that the leaves were “received by David Whitmer from Oliver Cowdery at his death in 1850.” (Walter W. Smith, Independence, MO, to the RLDS First Presidency, Independence, MO, 14 Sept. 1925, Whitmer Papers, CCLA; see also Walter W. Smith, Independence, MO, to R. L. Fulk, Ogden, UT, 13 Dec. 1919, Subject Folder Collection, Book of Commandments, CCLA.)
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

Whitmer Papers. CCLA.

Subject Folder Collection, Book of Commandments. CCLA.

However, at the time these leaves were acquired by the RLDS church, they were grouped with the John Whitmer copy of the JS Bible revision and the Book of John Whitmer, suggesting that the leaves were in John Whitmer’s possession until his death in 1878.3

Walter W. Smith noted on two different occasions that “these pages [of revelations] . . . were in the Whitmer manuscript book [Book of John Whitmer] and were the same that [George] Schweich turned over to the [RLDS] church.” (W. W. Smith to S. A. Burgess, 15 Apr. 1926; see also W. W. Smith to the RLDS First Presidency, 14 Sept. 1925.)
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

Curtis, J. F. Papers. CCLA.

Whitmer Papers. CCLA.

Neither John Whitmer nor David Whitmer left known accounts of either man having possession of the leaves. The provenance of the leaves between 1835 and 1902, therefore, is uncertain.
The custodial history of the manuscript book itself is uncertain between the publication of the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants and the 1846 Latter-day Saint exodus from Nauvoo, Illinois, though the book likely remained in the possession of JS, his office staff, and subsequent leadership of the LDS church. The Church Historian’s Office inventory from 1846 lists “Rough Book—Revelation History &c.,” possibly referring to Revelation Book 1.4

“Schedule of Church Records. Nauvoo 1846,” [1], Historian’s Office, Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904, CHL.
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

Historian’s Office. Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904. CHL.

By the 1850s, the spine of Revelation Book 1 had been labeled “Book of Commandments and Revelations” by the Church Historian’s Office staff, and it appeared with that title on subsequent Church Historian’s Office inventories through 1878.5

“Contents of the Historian and Recorder’s Office.” [5]; “Index Records and Journals in the Historian’s Office 1878,” [5], Historian’s Office, Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904, CHL.
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

Historian’s Office. Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904. CHL.

Evidence indicates that the manuscript book was part of the papers of church historian and recorder Joseph Fielding Smith, who held that office from 1921 to 1970. The manuscript book became part of the First Presidency’s papers when he became president in 1970.6

In a 1909 article in which he discussed the history surrounding the securing of the Book of Mormon copyright in Canada, B. H. Roberts, an LDS assistant church historian, did not appear to know about the revelation found in Revelation Book 1 that deals with that topic. In a 1907 letter, Joseph Fielding Smith made an indirect reference to Revelation Book 1, indicating that he knew of its existence. Because Roberts apparently did not know about the manuscript volume and Smith did, it may be inferred that the volume was in Smith’s possession as early as 1907. A 1970 inventory establishes the document was in the possession of Joseph Fielding Smith later in his life. (Revelation, ca. Early 1830; Roberts, “History of the Mormon Church”; Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City, UT, to John R. Haldeman, Independence, MO, 24 May 1907, Joseph Fielding Smith Papers, CHL; “Inventory of President Joseph Fielding Smith’s Safe,” 23 May 1970, CHL.)
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

Revelation Book 1 / “A Book of Commandments and Revelations of the Lord Given to Joseph the Seer and Others by the Inspiration of God and Gift and Power of the Holy Ghost Which Beareth Re[c]ord of the Father and Son Which Is One God Infinite and Eternal World without End Amen,” 1831–1835. CHL.

Roberts, Brigham H. “History of the Mormon Church.” Americana 1 (Dec. 1909): 1016–1025. Also available in B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Century I (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1930), 1:157–166.

Smith, Joseph Fielding. Papers, 1893–1973. CHL.

“Inventory of President Joseph Fielding Smith’s Safe,” 23 May 1970. First Presidency, General Administration Files, 1921–1972. CHL.

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 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.
Note: The images of pages 111–112, 117–120, and 139–140 of Revelation Book 1 published on this website are © Community of Christ and are licensed to the Joseph Smith Papers Project. Community of Christ–copyrighted images are marked with an identifying watermark. To inquire about high-resolution images of Community of Christ–copyrighted images for scholarly use, please contact the Community of Christ Library-Archives, Independence, Missouri.

Facts