“Doctrine and Covenants 10,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)
“Doctrine and Covenants 10,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers
Revelation, Harmony Township, Susquehanna Co., PA, [ca. Apr. 1829; though parts may date as early as summer 1828]. Featured version, titled “Chapter IX,” typeset [between 1 Nov. and 31 Dec. 1832] for Book of Commandments, 22–27. John Whitmer copied this revelation [ca. Mar. 1831] into Revelation Book 1, but the pages on which the first part of the revelation was copied were removed at some point from that volume and are 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.
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.”2 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.3 By March 1829, JS had resumed the translation, which proceeded quickly after Oliver Cowdery arrived on 5 April to serve as a scribe.4
JS and Cowdery apparently picked up the translation where JS and Harris had left off—in the book of Mosiah.5 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.6
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,7 but the editors of the 1833 Book of Commandments gave it a date of May 1829, a date retained in later publications.8 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.9 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.”10 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.”11 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 1829.12
A potential solution to these complexities is to consider the featured text a composite of two revelations, one from 1828 and the other 1829.13 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.14
1 A Revelation given to Joseph, in Harmony, Pennsylvania, May, 182915 informing him of the alteration of the Manuscript of the fore part of the book of Mormon.
NOW, behold I say unto you, that because you delivered up so many writings, which you had power to translate, into the hands of a wicked man, you have lost them, and you also lost your gift16 at the same time, nevertheless it has been restored unto you again: therefore, see that you are faithful and go on unto the finishing of the remainder of the work as you have begun. Do not run faster than you have strength and means provided to translate,17 but be diligent unto the end, that you may come off conquerer;18 yea, that you may conquer satan, and those that do uphold his work.
2 Behold they have sought to destroy you; yea, even the man in whom you have trusted, and for this cause I said, that he is a wicked man, for he has sought to take away the things wherewith you have been intrusted; and he has also sought to destroy your gift, and because you have delivered the writings into his hands, behold they have taken them from you: therefore, you have delivered them up; yea, that which was sacred unto wickedness. And behold, satan has put it into their hearts to alter the words which you have caused to be written, or which you have translated, which have gone out of your hands; and behold I say unto you, that because they have altered the words, they read contrary from that which you translated and caused to be written; and on this wise the devil has sought to lay a cunning [p. 22] plan, that he may destroy this work; for he has put it into their hearts to do this, that by lying they may say they have caught you in the words which you have pretended to translate.
3 Verily I say unto you, that I will not suffer that satan shall accomplish his evil design in this thing, for behold he has put it into their hearts to tempt the Lord their God; for behold they say in their hearts, We will see if God has given him power to translate, if so, he will also give him power again; and if God giveth him power again, or if he translate again, or in other words, if he bringeth forth the same words, behold we have the same with us, and we have altered them: Therefore, they will not agree, and we will say that he has lied in his words, and that he has no gift, and that he has no power: therefore, we will destroy him, and also the work, and we will do this that we may not be ashamed in the end, and that we may get glory of the world.
4 Verily, verily I say unto you, that satan has great hold upon their hearts; he stirreth them up to do iniquity against that which is good, that he may lead their souls to destruction, and thus he has laid a cunning plan to destroy the work of God; yea, he stirreth up their hearts to anger against this work; yea, he saith unto them, Deceive and lie in wait to catch, that ye may destroy: behold this is no harm, and thus he flattereth them and telleth them that it is no sin to lie, that they may catch a man in a lie, that they may destroy him, and thus he flattereth them, and leadeth them along until he draggeth their souls down to hell; and thus he causeth them to catch themselves in their own snare; and thus he goeth up and down, to and fro in the earth, seeking to destroy the souls of men. [p. 23]
5 Verily, verily I say unto you, wo be unto him that lieth to decieve, because he supposeth that another lieth to decieve, for such are not exempt from the justice of God.
6 Now, behold they have altered those words, because satan saith unto them, He hath decieved you, and thus he flattereth them away to do iniquity, to tempt the Lord their God.
7 Behold I say unto you, that you shall not translate again those words which have gone forth out of your hands; for behold, they shall not lie any more against those words; for behold, if you should bring forth the same words, they would say that you have lied; that you have pretended to translate, but that you have contradicted your words; and behold they would publish this, and satan would harden the hearts of the people, to stir them up to anger against you, that they might not believe my words: thus satan would overpower this generation, that the work might not come forth in this generation: but behold here is wisdom, and because I show unto you wisdom, and give you commandments concerning these things, what you shall do, show it not unto the world until you have accomplished the work.
8 Marvel not that I said unto you, here is wisdom, show it not unto the world, for I said, show it not unto the world, that you may be preserved. Behold I do not say that you shall not show it unto the righteous; but as you cannot always judge the righteous, or as you cannot always tell the wicked from the righteous: therefore, I say unto you, hold your peace until I shall see fit to make all things known unto the world concerning the matter.
9 And now, verily I say unto you, that an account of those things that you have written, which have [p. 24] 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.19
10 And now, because the account which is engraven upon the plates of Nephi, is more particular concerning the things, which in my wisdom I would bring to the knowledge of the people in this account: therefore,20 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 retained; and behold, you shall publish it as the record 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 abridgment 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 desired 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 gospel which I gave unto them, that they might preach in their days, might come unto their brethren, the Lamanites,21 and also, all that had become Lamanites, because of their dissensions.22 [p. 25]
12 Now this is not all, their faith in their prayers were, that this gospel should be made known also, if it were possible that other nations should possess this land; and thus they did leave a blessing upon this land in their prayers, that whosoever should believe in this gospel, in this land, might have eternal life; yea, that it might be free unto all of whatsoever nation, kindred, tongue, or people, they may be.23
13 And now, behold, according to their faith in their prayers, will I bring this part of my gospel to the knowledge of my people. Behold, I do not bring it to destroy that which they have received, but to build it up.
14 And for this cause have I said, if this generation harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them.24 Now I do not say this to destroy my church, but I say this to build up my church: therefore, whosoever belongeth to my church need not fear, for such shall inherit the kingdom of heaven: but it is they who do not fear me, neither keep my commandments, but buildeth up churches unto themselves, to get gain; yea, and all those that do wickedly, and buildeth up the kingdom of the devil; yea, verily, verily I say unto you, that it is they that I will disturb, and cause to tremble and shake to the centre.25
15 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God: I came unto my own, and my own received me not. I am the light which shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.26 I am he who said other sheep have I which are not of this fold, unto my disciples,27 and many there were that understood me not.
16 And I will show unto this people, that I had [p. 26] other sheep, and that they were a branch of the house of Jacob;28 and I will bring to light their marvelous works, which they did in my name; yea, and I will also bring to light my gospel, which was ministered unto them, and behold they shall not deny that which you have received, but they shall build it up, and shall bring to light the true points of my doctrine:29 Yea, and the only doctrine which is in me; and this I do, that I may establish my gospel, that there may not be so much contention: Yea, satan doth stir up the hearts of the people to contention, concerning the points of my doctrine; and in these things they do err, for they do wrest the scriptures, and do not understand them: therefore, I will unfold unto them this great mystery, for behold, I will gather them as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if they will not harden their hearts: Yea, if they will come, they may, and partake of the waters of life freely.
17 Behold this is my doctrine: whosoever repenteth, and cometh unto me, the same is my church: whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me: therefore, he is not of my church.
18 And now, behold whosoever is of my church, and endureth of my church to the end, him will I establish upon my Rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.30
19 And now, remember the words of him who is the life and the light of the world, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God: Amen.