Saturday, October 14, 2017

Changes to Joseph Smith's Revelations

I'm reading D. Michael Quinn's The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, which I highly recommend for its clear depiction of the evolution of authority in early Mormonism and especially for its inclusion of many surprising and interesting details. Some of those details consist of changes to JS' revelations, some of which I was aware of and others not.

Just for funsies, I thought I'd document some of the changes to JS' revelations in some detail. Eventually, I'll put all of the changes into one document, but for now I'll just post them as I have time.

BofC = Book of Commandments

D&C = Doctrine and Covenants
Changes in D&C occur in the first 1835 edition unless stated otherwise. Sections and verses are given from the modern edition of D&C.

P. # = page number of discussion in D. Michael Quinn's The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power.

The following changes stem from the fact that in early 1829 and earlier the original revelations reflected a non-institutional group of believers being born of God without the need of baptism or priestly office or authority.
Compare BofC ch. 4 (March 1829) and D&C 5:6, 14, 16, and 17, p. 6.
    • Verse 6 is an addition, which reads, "For hereafter you shall be ordained and go forth and deliver my words unto the children of men." This is significant because the importance of priestly office/authority had not yet been established or developed in March 1829, so this addition attempts to backdate the concept. 
    • Verse 14 adds, "in this the beginning of the rising up and the coming forth of my church out of the wilderness—clear as the moon, and fair as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners." This change is significant, because it wasn't even clear in March 1829 that JS would be starting an institutional church. Instead, as Quinn points out, there was the idea of a non-institutional church, simply those who repented and believed, ideas outlined by a revelation in the summer of 1828 (See D&C 10:40, 46, 52, 56, and 67-68. Also see Origins, pp. 5-6). This change created a narrative supporting an earlier divine appointment of an institutional church.
    • (This is one I found.) After stating that believers would be born of God, verse 16 adds, "even of water and of the Spirit." In march 1829, baptism was not requisite for believers (see 1828 revelation D&C 10:67-68 and Origins, pp. 5-6). The change backdated the concept baptism in baptism.
    • Verse 17 is an addition in the form of instructions, which reads, "And you must wait yet a little while, for ye are not yet ordained." Again, backdating priestly office/authority.
    • (I originally heard this one in a presentation by Dan Vogel.) The D&C omits the following from the original revelation: "And thus, if the people of this generation harden not their hearts, I will work a reformation among them, and ... I will establish my church, like unto the church which was taught by my disciples in the days of old." The 1829 revelation linked the concept of church with a reformation, which was definitely more suggestive the original idea of a non-institutional church than a brand new church born of a restoration.

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