“Doctrine and Covenants 9,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)
“Doctrine and Covenants 9,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers
Revelation, Harmony Township, Susquehanna Co., PA, to Oliver Cowdery, Apr. 1829. Featured version, titled “Chapter VIII,” typeset [between 1 Nov. and 31 Dec. 1832] for Book of Commandments, 20–21. John Whitmer copied this revelation [ca. Mar. 1831] into Revelation Book 1, but the page on which the final portion of the revelation was copied was removed at some point from that volume and is no longer extant.1 The version found in the Book of Commandments and featured below is the earliest complete, extant version. For more information, see the source note for the Book of Commandments on the Joseph Smith Papers website.
Earlier in April 1829, JS had dictated one revelation granting Oliver Cowdery the gift to translate ancient records and another instructing him to rely on the Holy Ghost as he translated.2 When Cowdery attempted to translate, however, he was unsuccessful. The revelation featured here explained Cowdery’s failure and promised that he would translate at another time.3 Likely dictated in the second half of April, this revelation informed Cowdery that he “could have translated” if he had proceeded correctly. He had apparently begun well but did not continue in the same manner, having “not understood” the process: “You have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought, save it was to ask me.” While suspending for the present Cowdery’s gift to translate, the revelation underscored his ongoing current responsibility: “Behold the work which you are called to do, is to write for my servant Joseph.”
1 A Revelation given to Oliver [Cowdery], in Harmony, Pennsylvania, April, 1829.4
BEHOLD I say unto you, my son, that, because you did not translate according to that which you desired of me, and did commence again to write for my servant Joseph, even so I would that you should continue until you have finished this record,5 which I have intrusted unto you: and then behold, other records have I, that I will give unto you power that you may assist to translate.6
2 Be patient my son, for it is wisdom in me, and it is not expedient that you should translate at this present time. Behold the work which you are called to do, is to write for my servant Joseph; and behold it is because that you did not continue as you commenced, when you begun to translate, that I have taken away this privilege from you. Do not murmur my son, for it is wisdom in me that I have dealt with you after this manner.
3 Behold you have not understood, you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took [p. 20] no thought, save it was to ask me; but behold I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right, I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you: therefore, you shall feel that it is right; but if it be not right, you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought, that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong: therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred, save it be given you from me.
4 Now if you had known this, you could have translated: nevertheless, it is not expedient that you should translate now. Behold it was expedient when you commenced, but you feared and the time is past, that it is not expedient now: for, do you not behold that I have given unto my servant Joseph sufficient strength, whereby it is made up? and neither of you have I condemned.
5 Do this thing which I have commanded you, and you shall prosper. Be faithful, and yield to no temptation. Stand fast in the work wherewith I have called you, and a hair of your head shall not be lost, and you shall be lifted up at the last day: Amen. [p. 21]