“Doctrine and Covenants 72,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)
“Doctrine and Covenants 72,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers
Revelation, Kirtland Township, OH, 4 Dec. 1831. Featured version copied [ca. 4 Dec. 1831]; handwriting of Sidney Rigdon; one page; Newel K. Whitney, Papers, BYU. Includes dockets and archival marking. For more information, see the source note on the Joseph Smith Papers website.
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 Edward Partridge was originally called as bishop in Kirtland in February 1831,4 but in the summer he relocated to Independence, Missouri, where he served as the bishop in Zion.5 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 Accordingly, after Whitney was selected by revelation, he was appointed during the 4 December conference.7 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
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 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 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 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 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
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
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 church in this part of the Lords vineyard15 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 eternity16 for he who is faithfull and wise in time is accounted worthy to inherit the mantions prepared for them of my father17 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 Zion18 and the duty of the Bishop shall be made known by the commandments which have been given19 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—
Revelation, Kirtland Township, OH, 4 Dec. 1831. Featured version copied [ca. 4 Dec. 1831]; handwriting of Sidney Rigdon; two pages; Newel K. Whitney, Papers, BYU. For more information, see the source note on the Joseph Smith Papers website.
JS dictated this revelation at the same 4 December 1831 conference in Kirtland, Ohio, at which he dictated two other revelations, including one calling for the appointment of Newel K. Whitney as a bishop in Ohio.20 A November 1831 revelation explained that when other bishops were appointed, they would “act in the same office” as Edward Partridge, bishop in Zion.21 The revelation designating Whitney as bishop stated that his responsibilities would be “made known” both by revelation and “by the voice of the conference,” indicating that some of these duties may have been discussed at the conference at which the revelation was dictated.22 This 4 December revelation specified Whitney’s duties, in coordination with Partridge’s, and emphasized that Whitney and Partridge should maintain close ties. Whitney was to operate the storehouse in Ohio to provide for the needs of the elders preaching the gospel and of the stewards over the revelations. Any debts these individuals incurred for obtaining goods from the storehouse but could not repay would be covered by funds or assets held by Partridge in Missouri.23 Whitney was also to receive accounts—apparently both temporal and spiritual—from the elders of their stewardships.24 He was then to recommend the faithful to Partridge as worthy to receive an inheritance in Zion. Since other revelations declared that JS and conferences of elders would decide who should relocate to Missouri,25 Whitney likely was not tasked with actually sending individuals to Zion—only with providing recommends when such individuals were designated to go.
Although early manuscript versions indicate that this was a separate revelation from the one appointing Whitney a bishop, the two revelations were combined with a third and presented as a single revelation when published.26
The duty of the Bishop as made known at the same time27
The word of the Lord in addition to the law which has been given28 making known the duty of the Bishop which has been ordained unto the church in this part of the vinyard which is verily this. To keep the Lords storehouse29 to receive the funds of the church in this part of the vinyard to take an account of the Elders as before has been commanded and to administer to their wants30 who shall pay for that which they receive inasmuch as they have wherewith to pay that this also may be consecrated to the good of the church to the poor and needy and he who hath not wherewith to pay an account shall be taken and handed over to the Bishop in Zion who shall pay the debt out of that which the Lord shall put into his hands and the labours of the faithfull who labour in spiritual things in [p. ] administering the gospel and the things of the kingdom unto the church and unto the world shall answer the debt unto the Bishop in Zion31 thus it cometh out of the church for according to the law every man who cometh up to Zion must lay all things before the Bishop in Zion.32 And now verily I say unto you that as every Elder in this part of the vinyard must give an account of his stewardship unto the Bishop in this part of the vinyard a certificate from the judge or Bishop in this part of the vinyard unto the Bishop in Zion rendereth every man acceptable and answereth all things for an inheritence33 and to be received as a wise steward and as a faithfull labourer otherwise shall not be accepted of the Bishop in Zion. And now verily I say unto you let every Elder who shall give an account unto the Bishop of the church in this part of the vinyard be recommended by the church or churches in which he labours that he may render himself and his accounts approved in all things
And again let my servents who are appointed as stewards over the litterary concerns of my church have claim for assistence
in all things upon the Bishop or Bishops in all things that the revelations may be published and go forth unto the ends of the earth that they also may obtain funds which shall benefit the church in all things that they also may render themselves approved in all things and be accounted as wise stewards.34 And behold this shall be an ensample for all the extensive branches of my church in whatsoever land they shall be established and now I make an end of my sayings35 Amen
Revelation, Kirtland Township, OH, 4 Dec. 1831. Featured version copied [ca. 4 Dec. 1831]; handwriting of Sidney Rigdon; one page; Newel K. Whitney, Papers, BYU. For more information, see the source note on the Joseph Smith Papers website.
JS dictated this revelation the same day he dictated two other revelations pertaining to the calling of Newel K. Whitney as the bishop in Ohio, probably at a conference held on 4 December 1831 in Kirtland.36 The other two revelations explained how Whitney’s duties as bishop were closely related to those of Edward Partridge. Partridge was responsible for dividing the land of Zion for inheritances, and Whitney was to provide recommends to those who had been faithful in their stewardships and had been designated to go to Missouri.37 This revelation provided additional instructions about these recommends. Although manuscript versions indicate that this revelation was separate from the two others dictated on 4 December, the three revelations were combined when they were published.38
A few words in addition to the laws of the kingdom respecting the members of the church they who are appointed by the holy spirit to go up unto Zion <&> they
who who are priveledged to go up unto Zion39 let them carry up unto the bishop a certificate from three Elders of the church or a certificate from the Bishop otherwise he who shall go up unto the land of Zion shall not be accounted worthy a wise steward this als[o] is an ensample Amen [rest of page blank]