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Revelation, 4 December 1831–A [D&C 72:1–8]

Kirtland December 4th— 1831
Hearken and listen to the voice of the Lord o ye who  have assembled yourselves together who are the high priests of  my church to whom the kingdom and power have been given  for verily thus saith the Lord it is expedient in me for a  Bishop to be appointed unto you or of you to unto the chur ch in this part of the Lords vineyard1

That is, in Ohio. The book of Isaiah states that “the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel.” The Book of Mormon, however, also uses the term “vineyard” to refer to the world. (Isaiah 5:7; see also Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 90, 131–139 [2 Nephi 15:7; Jacob 5].)
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 verily in this  thing ye have done wisely for it is required of the Lord at the  hand of every steward to render an account of his stewardship  both in time and in eternity2

See Luke 16:1–8.  

 
for he who is faithfull and  wise in time is accounted worthy to inherit the mantions  prepared for them of my father3

See Revelation, 20 May 1831 [D&C 51:19]; Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 565 [Ether 12:32, 34, 37]; and Revelation, 7 Aug. 1831 [D&C 59:2].
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.

verily I say unto you the Elders  of the church in this part of my vineyard shall render an account  of their stewardship unto the Bishop which shall be appointed  of me in this part of my vinyard these things shall be had  on record to be handed over unto the Bishop in Zion4

According to a November 1831 revelation, the “Saints which are abroad in the Earth” were to “send forth their accounts to the Land of Zion.” (Revelation, 11 Nov. 1831–A [D&C 69:5].)  

 
and the  duty of the Bishop shall be made known by the commandments  which have been given5

See Revelation, 9 Feb. 1831 [D&C 42:31–36, 71–73]; Revelation, 23 Feb. 1831 [D&C 42:81–82]; Revelation, 20 May 1831 [D&C 51]; and Revelation, 11 Nov. 1831–B [D&C 107:74].  

 
and by the voice of the conference.
And now I say unto you my servent Newel [K. Whitney] is the man who  shall be appointed and ordained unto this power this is the will  of the Lord your God your Redeemer even so Amen— [p. [1]]
This revelation and the two that follow were all dictated on 4 December 1831 in the same setting. On 3 December 1831, JS and Sidney Rigdon traveled to Kirtland from Hiram, Ohio, to fulfill a commandment given in a 1 December revelation to preach “unto the world in the regions round about and in the church.”1 According to a later JS history, “on the 4th several of the Elders and members assembled together to learn their duty and for edification”—a gathering described in the revelation as a conference of high priests. Minutes of this meeting are not extant, but the JS history notes that it included conversations about “our temporal and Spiritual welfare.”2 JS and Rigdon may have also instructed the elders on the need to counter the published criticisms of former church member Ezra Booth.
This revelation, the first of three JS apparently dictated during the conference, focused on the appointment of Newel K. Whitney as the second bishop in the church. In August 1831, Whitney was designated as “an agent unto the Desiples,” a role that included some responsibilities that were similar to the duties he would have as bishop.3

Revelation, 30 Aug. 1831 [D&C 63:45].  

 
Edward Partridge was originally called as bishop in Kirtland in February 1831,4

Revelation, 4 Feb. 1831 [D&C 41:9].  

 
but in the summer he relocated to Independence, Missouri, where he served as the bishop in Zion.5

Revelation, 20 July 1831 [D&C 57:7]; Revelation, 1 Aug. 1831 [D&C 58:14].  

 
In November 1831, a revelation explained that as the church grew, “other Bishops” were “to be set apart unto the church to minister even according to the first.” These bishops, the revelation continued, were to “be appointed by a confrenc [conference] of high priests.”6

Revelation, 1 Nov. 1831–A [D&C 68:14].  

 
Accordingly, after Whitney was selected by revelation, he was appointed during the 4 December conference.7

The same pattern had been followed earlier when John Whitmer was selected by revelation and appointed by a conference to be the church historian. After a March 1831 revelation for Whitmer stated “it shall be appointed unto you to Keep the Church Record & History,” a conference held on 9 April “appointed” Whitmer to undertake those tasks “agreeable” to the revelation. (Revelation, ca. 8 Mar. 1831–B [D&C 47:3]; Minute Book 2, 9 Apr. 1831.)  

 
A second revelation dictated at this same conference dealt with Whitney’s duties as bishop, while the third revelation gave requirements for those migrating to Zion.8

Revelation, 4 Dec. 1831–B [D&C 72:9–23]; Revelation, 4 Dec. 1831–C [D&C 72:24–26].  

 
Because no minutes of the 4 December conference exist, it is difficult to determine the exact circumstances under which these revelations were dictated. Conference attendees may have decided before the first revelation was dictated—possibly in connection with their conversation on “temporal and Spiritual welfare”—to appoint a bishop for Ohio. If so, the first revelation apparently affirmed this decision, since it told the assembled high priests that “in this thing ye have done wisely.” The revelation then identified Whitney as the man appointed.
When the three 4 December revelations were published, they were presented as a single combined text,9

See, for example, “A Revelation Given December 4, 1831,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Dec. 1832, [5]–[6]; and Revelation, 4 Dec. 1831, in Doctrine and Covenants 89, 1835 ed. [D&C 72].
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.

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).

but manuscript copies indicate they were originally three separately dictated texts. The first revelation refers to Whitney as “the man who shall be appointed and ordained,” whereas the second revelation begins with a sentence referring to the bishop who “has been ordained,” indicating that Whitney’s appointment and ordination occurred after the first revelation was dictated but before the second. The second revelation begins with “The word of the Lord”—a conventional textual marker for the beginning of a discrete revelation text.10

Revelation, 4 Dec. 1831–B [D&C 72:9].  

 
A copy of these two revelations made by JS and Frederick G. Williams in Revelation Book 2 around March 1832 supports this assessment: a clear break exists in the text between the first and second revelations, and a new heading with a date appears before the second revelation. The table of contents to Revelation Book 2 also treats these as two separate 4 December revelations, referring to one as “A Revelation given to choose a Bishop” and the other as “also another in addition to the Law making known the duty of the Bishop.”11

Revelation Book 2, Index, [1], in JSP, MRB:413; see also Historical Introduction to Revelation Book 2, in JSP, MRB:409; and Revelation Book 2, pp. 13–15, in JSP, MRB:439–443.  

 
Furthermore, other early manuscript copies (including the copy held by Whitney) preface the second revelation with the heading “The duty of the Bishop as made known at the same time.”12

John Whitmer made a copy of the revelation in Revelation Book 1, probably sometime after April 1832. Orson Hyde also copied the revelation, probably early in 1832 before departing on a mission to the eastern United States. Hyde’s copy contains the heading “The duty of the Bishop as made Known at the same time” before the second revelation. (See Historical Introduction to Revelation Book 1, in JSP, MRB:5; Revelation Book 1, pp. 132–134, in JSP, MRB:236–240; and Hyde and Smith, Notebook [48]–[50].)
Comprehensive Works Cited

 

 

Hyde, Orson, and Samuel Smith. Notebook of Revelations, 1832. Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL.

Although there is not a similar break or heading in manuscript copies before the third revelation, it too appears to be separate: the second revelation ends with the words “and now I make an end of my sayings Amen,” indicating the formal closure of a discrete revelation text.13

Revelation, 4 Dec. 1831–B [D&C 72:23].  

 
Sidney Rigdon probably served as the original scribe for these three revelations. The copy featured here, which is in Rigdon’s handwriting and was held by Whitney, may be the original manuscript. The versions of the 4 December revelations featured in this volume were written on the same sheet of paper as a 1 December 1831 revelation, but the 4 December revelations were apparently inscribed first, meaning that Rigdon could have written the revelations on the paper as JS dictated and then copied the 1 December revelation thereafter.14

The evenness of the inscription of the 4 December revelations, however, suggests that they are copies. When John Whitmer copied the 4 December revelations into Revelation Book 1, he placed them before the 1 December revelation which matches the order in the Whitney copy. (Revelation Book 1, pp. 132–134, in JSP, MRB:237—241.)  

 

Facts