26034

Revelation, Spring 1829 [D&C 10]

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.5

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].)
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon, upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi. Palmyra, NY: E. B. Grandin, 1830.

10 And now, because the account which is engra ven upon the plates of Nephi, is more particular con cerning the things, which in my wisdom I would  bring to the knowledge of the people in this account:  therefore,6

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.)  

 
you shall translate 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 re tained; and behold, you shall publish it as the rec ord 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 abridg ment 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 de sired 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 gos pel which I gave unto them, that they might preach  in their days, might come unto their brethren, the  Lamanites,7

The Book of Mormon describes prophets and disciples praying that one day their record would come to the Lamanites. (Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 144, 538 [Enos 1:13; Mormon 9:30–37].)
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon, upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi. Palmyra, NY: E. B. Grandin, 1830.

and also, all that had become Laman ites, because of their dissensions.8

In the Book of Mormon, Nephite dissenters periodically break away and join the Lamanites. (Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 341, 415, 438 [Alma 43:13; Helaman 4:1–8; 11:24].)
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon, upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi. Palmyra, NY: E. B. Grandin, 1830.

[p. 25]
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Early in 1828, JS, then living in Harmony, Pennsylvania, began translating the gold plates with the assistance of various scribes, principally Martin Harris. Working from mid-April to mid-June, JS and Harris prepared a manuscript, which JS referred to as “the Book of Lehi.”1 At Harris’s insistent pleading, JS allowed him to take the manuscript to show to selected family members in Palmyra, New York. After Harris displayed the manuscript, however, it was taken from its hiding place and never found. JS’s history recounted that an angel 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.2

See Historical Introduction to Revelation, July 1828 [D&C 3] for details on the translation and loss of this manuscript.  

 
By March 1829, JS had resumed the translation, which proceeded quickly after Oliver Cowdery arrived on 5 April to serve as a scribe.3

See Revelation, Mar. 1829 [D&C 5:30]; and JS History, vol. A-1, 13.
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.

JS and Cowdery apparently picked up the translation where JS and Harris had left off—in the book of Mosiah.4

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, [6]; 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.)
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

JS History, ca. Summer 1832 / Smith, Joseph. “A History of the Life of Joseph Smith Jr,” ca. Summer 1832. In Joseph Smith, “Letter Book A,” 1832–1835, 1–[6] (earliest numbering). Joseph Smith Collection. CHL.

Stevenson, Edward. Journals, 1852–1896. In Edward Stevenson, Collection, 1849–1922. CHL. Doggett’s New York City Directory, Illustrated with Maps of New York and Brooklyn. 1848–1849. New York: John Doggett Jr., [1848].

Saints’ Herald. Independence, MO. 1860–.

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.5

Preface to Book of Mormon, ca. Aug. 1829. Nephi and his father, Lehi, are important prophets in the Book of Mormon.  

 
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 John Whitmer has been lost. The index to the revelation book locates this text between two April 1829 revelations, suggesting that Whitmer assigned an April date,6

The index to Revelation Book 1 places this revelation between Revelation, Apr. 1829–A [D&C 6], and Revelation, Apr. 1829–B [D&C 8]. (Revelation Book 1, p. [207].)
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 and Holy Ghost Which Is One God Infinite and Eternal World without End Amen,” 1831–1835. CHL. Also available in Robin Scott Jensen, Robert J. Woodford, and Steven C. Harper, eds., Manuscript Revelation Books, facsimile edition, first volume 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, 2009).

but the editors of the 1833 Book of Commandments gave it a date of May 1829, a date retained in later publications.7

See, for example, Doctrine and Covenants 36, 1835 ed.
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.

JS and James Mulholland, 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.8

JS History, vol. A-1, 11; Revelation, July 1828 [D&C 3].
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.

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.”9

Revelation, July 1828 [D&C 3:12]. A revelation dictated in March 1829, by contrast, takes a much softer tone toward Harris and calls him “my servant.” (Revelation, Mar. 1829 [D&C 5:1].)  

 
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 commandment that applied to both JS and Harris in 1828 and to JS and Cowdery 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.”10

Revelation, Mar. 1829 [D&C 5:18]; Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 501 [3 Nephi 21:22].
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon, upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi. Palmyra, NY: E. B. Grandin, 1830.

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 1829.11

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].)
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.

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.

The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon, upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi. Palmyra, NY: E. B. Grandin, 1830.

A potential solution to these complexities is to consider the featured text a composite of two revelations, one from 1828 and the other 1829.12

See Parkin, “Preliminary Analysis of the Dating of Section 10,” 82–83.
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

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.

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.13

Facts