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D&C Changes: 2 and 10 (part one)

Church was cancelled today (snow in Baltimore = end of the world), and besides we have a new baby at home. So it's a good time to continue the "D&C changes" series. I'm placing a chronological framework on this enterprise, using the order of the revelations that appear in our current D&C. I've already talked about the Lectures on Faith and D&C 3. Today, I'll pop back in time to D&C 2 then return to the correct order by discussing D&C 10. Again, the best sources are Saints Without Halos, and Robert Woodford's dissertation.

D&C 2, Moroni's Malachi quote, did not appear in the D&C until 1876. Other sources for this passage include the Manuscript History of the Church (the earliest, dated to 1839), various LDS periodicals, and old editions of the Pearl of Great Price. No significant changes.

D&C 10, a further revelation relative to the lost 116 pages, has seen a number of changes. Today, I will discuss the dating of this revelation, regarding which there is some disagreement. Our D&C has "the summer of 1828", the History of the Church and the Journal History have August or September 1829, and all other copies have May 1829. We follow B.H. Robert's dating as found in his edition of HC.

The following reasons suggest a May 1829 date:

1. Joseph must have been actively translating the Book of Mormon at this time - April through June 1829 were his most prolific months.

2. D&C 10:53 says: "And for this cause have I said: If this generation harden not their hearts, I will establish my church aming them." In no revelation preceding May 1829 is this statement made by the Lord except for BC 4: 5 (substantially altered in D&C 5), which we date to March 1829. May follows March.

3. D&C 10:3 might suggest that Joseph was to resume work on the Large Plates. By May 15 1829 he and Oliver had reached 3 Nephi . If he had immediately begun work on the Small Plates then 4/5 of the Book of Mormon was finished by 15 May (which by our reckoning is too much). If the Small Plates were indeed translated last, then a May revelation detailing what to do about them would seem about right.

4. Lucy Mack wrote that the Urim and Thummim were returned in September 1828, too late for Joseph to have received section 10 through it earlier.

5. Joseph Smith did not correct the May 1829 date in the early copies of the revelation.

Roberts preferred 1828 because the the Manuscript HC from which Roberts was working had this introduction:

"After I had the above revelation, both the plates and the Urim and Thummim were taken from me again, but in a few days they were returned to me when I enquired of the Lord, and the Lord said thus to me *** I did not, however, go immediately to translating...."

The asterisks referred to the pages containing D&C 10. Roberts reasoned that Section 10 must have been the first revelation received after the return of the Urim and Thummim (a "few days"). Section 10, therefore, must have closely followed Section 3, dated to July 1828.

Phew! See also Max Parkin, "A Preliminary Analysis of the Dating of Section 10," Seventh Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium: The Doctrine and Covenants (Provo: BYU, 1979), 68–84), and Woodford pp. 200-205.

Changes to the revelation will be discussed in part two...."

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Anonymous Anonymous said ... (January 23, 2005 10:16 PM) 

Dan Vogel argues that D&C 10 coincides with 3 Nephi 5:8-26, both of which (he believes) coincide with Joseph’s resignation to the utter loss of the 116 pages. The portion of 3 Nephi chapter 5 where Mormon re-introduces himself (5:12-20) presumably repeats some part of the lost 116 pages, and the remainder the passage alludes to (and opens the door for) other plates. Vogel also sites the similar sentiments in D&C 10:46-47 and 3 Nephi 5:14 as circumstantial evidence for their coincidence. (And he dates these to May 1929 based on his elaborate and well supported chronology of the Book of Mormon translation, which is too detailed to go over here.) 

Posted by David King Landrith


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (January 24, 2005 11:14 AM) 

Can you tell me where Vogel says that. I'd be very interested in his chronology.

Is our dating of D&C 3 off, too? When does Vogel think the 116-page episode occurred? 

Posted by Ronan


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (January 25, 2005 1:59 AM) 

Ronan, Vogel agrees with your May 1829 dating for D&C 10, I was just offering a few additional tidbits. What the heck, here’s his chronology in very rough outline:

Vogel’s chronology has Joseph and Martin taking a recess from translating in early June 1828 due to Emma’s approaching delivery. Martin departs from Harmony with the 116 pages of completed manuscript on June 14th, 1828, the day before the stillbirth of Joseph’s first son Alvin.

After caring for Emma for about a week, Joseph catches a coach to Manchester to discover that Martin has lost the 116 pages. Joseph leaves the following day to return to Emma in Harmony. Upon his return, Joseph discovers that an angel has taken back the plates and the Urim and Thummim spectacles. He also attends a Methodist study group for 3 days before being kicked out.

Joseph records in 1838 that he received the plates and spectacles again within a few days of returning home from Manchester. Vogel associates this with D&C 3 dated July 1828. Lucy, as you mention, dates the return of the plates to the September. But she states that Joseph had received the plate by the time of her visit and that Joseph had been promised to receive them by the vernal equinox (September 22) of 1828. Since she appears to have returned to Manchester by September 11, she evidently has her chronology messed up and has conflated details from earlier stories. After Lucy’s return to Manchester, Lucy and her sons Hyrum and Samuel stopped attending the Presbyterian church.

Joseph’s 1832 history states that after he regained the plates, he “did not however go immediately to translating, but went to laboring with my hands upon a small farm.…” The exact timeline is sketchy, but with Emma working as his scribe and attending to domestic duties, it’s unlikely that Joseph makes serious progress even when he does start translating again. It seems that translation begins again in earnest in February 1829, when Samuel Harrison comes into town with Joseph Sr. Harrison acts as scribe starting with what is likely King Benjamin’s speech (probably for only a short time). Vogel tentatively dates D&C 4 (revelation to Joseph Smith, Sr.) to the beginning of this period (February 1829), siting a few parallels between D&C 4 and Benjamin’s speech as circumstantial support.

It is also during this visit that Joseph learns of Oliver, who is residing at the Smith home in Manchester. Upon Joseph Sr’s return to Manchester, Martin resolves to help Joseph financially, resulting in a lawsuit by his wife in March 1829. Once this is settled, Martin travels to Harmony and insists on seeing the plates. Vogel dates D&C 5/BoC 4 to this period. Harris returns in late March 1829. In early April, Joseph and Polly Knight visit Joseph in Harmony and pledge financial assistance.

In April 1829, the Smith family moves into Hyrum’s house (losing their home because they were double crossed by a land agent), and Samuel Smith and Oliver depart to visit Joseph in Harmony, visiting the Whitmar family on the way. They arrive in Harmony in the evening of Sunday, April 5, 1829. Joseph commences dictating to Oliver on April 7. In a little less than two months time, Joseph completes translating through the beginning of 3 Nephi, when he resigns himself to the utter loss of the 116 pages. Thus, in late May 1829, Joseph receives D&C 10, which proposes a solution, and translates 3 Nephi chapter 5, which provides a textual basis for it.

This all comes out of Vogel’s new biography on Joseph Smith, which I’m about 4/5ths of the way through. (Most of it is reasonably well done. As always, Vogel brings a surprising array of facts to bear on the topics he addresses, and this time around he does some pretty good synthesizing of them to draw well-reasoned conclusions—one get’s the impression that this really does represent the culmination of a lifetime of research on Joseph Smith. Unfortunately, the biography falls down at times when he ventures to describe “subtle emotional profiles” that form “parallels to the Smith family.” E.g., Vogel believes that Lehi being the Nephi’s younger brother in 3 Nephi indicates a reversal in the relationship between Joseph Smith. Thankfully, this type of analysis is a minor part of the biography—though this probably won’t keep the FARMS Review from focussing on it to the exclusion of everything else. Also, I don’t quite like the way he’s organized the book.) 

Posted by David King Landrith


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (January 25, 2005 11:23 AM) 

Thanks for that, David. I have put Vogel's book on my list. 

Posted by Ronan


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (January 25, 2005 12:48 PM) 

How does that compare with you understanding of the chronology?

I know quite little about D&C chronology aside from catching the odd BYU Studies or Dialogue article here or there. Vogel’s JS bio is the only work that I’m aware of that tries to correlate the BoM translation with revelations in any really comprehensive way.

Is there another good source for this? I read in the earlier post about Robert Woodford’s two volume dissertation on the D&C. Does this cover it? (And how might one obtain a copy?) 

Posted by David King Landrith


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (January 25, 2005 9:25 PM) 

David, you can download Woodford from UMI (see link in post) for free if you're a member of a good university library. 

Posted by Ronan


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