Your October Conference Prep: Textual Origins of LDS Priesthood Organization, Part XII. Editing the 1831 Revelation.

When LDS D&C 107 was printed (as D&C 3) in late summer 1835, it contained both the April 1835 revelation (see part 9 of this post) and the November 11, 1831 revelation conjoined. However the terminology and priesthood architecture of the two revelations were not the same. Meanwhile, the November 11, 1831 revelation was heavily modified in D&C 107 to reflect at least some of the organizational development in the bishopric and president of the high priesthood offices. But the terminological inconsistencies were not made coherent.

Why this happened is not clear, but what is clear is that the 1835 publication committee felt some urgency in having the November 1831 revelation in print, at least in modified form. It provided direction in a number of circumstances, connected new priesthood offices to old (observe the integration of the Q12 in regulating priesthood(s) in D&C 107:58) and provided a platform to disseminate several new revelations effecting priesthood matters which also were unpublished up to that point.

The portions of the D&C version of the November 11 revelation which are new are highlighted in red below, while omitted portions of the November 11 revelation are highlighted in blue. I generally ignore pronoun changes and most accidentals: you can find them for yourself. Any footnotes are in green to make them easier to spot. To make reference easier I use text and verse numbering from the modern LDS D&C . The texts:

November 11, 1831 revelation from JSP Rev. Book 1 D&C 107: 58-100
To the Church of Christ in the Land of Zion in addition to the Church Laws respecting Church business verily I say unto you, saith the Lord of hosts there must needs be presiding Elders to preside over them who are of the office of an Elder: & also Priests over them who are of the office of a Priest; 58 It is the duty of the Twelve, also, to ordain and set in order all the other officers of the church, agreeable to the revelation which says:[1]
59 To the church of Christ in the land of Zion, in addition to the church laws respecting church business—
60 Verily, I say unto you, saith the Lord of Hosts, there must needs be presiding elders to preside over those who are of the office of an elder;
61 And also priests to preside over those who are of the office of a priest;[2]
& also Teachers over them who are of the office of a Teacher, & from Teacher to Priest, And also the deacons; wherefore from Deacon to Teacher, & from Teacher to Priest, & from Priest to Elder; severally as they are appointed, according to the Church Articles & Covenants: then cometh the high Priest hood, which is the greatest of all: wherefore it must needs be that one be appointed of the high Priest hood 62 And also teachers to preside over those who are of the office of a teacher, in like manner, and also the deacons—
63 Wherefore, from deacon to teacher, and from teacher to priest, and from priest to elder, severally as they are appointed, according to the covenants and commandments of the church.[3]
64 Then comes the High Priesthood, which is the greatest of all.
65 Wherefore, it must needs be that one be appointed of the High Priesthood
to preside over the Priest hood: & and he shall be called President of the hood high Priest hood of the Church; or in other high words the Presiding high Priest hood over the high Priesthood of the Church; from the same cometh the administering of ordinances & blessings upon the Church, by the Laying on of the hands: to preside over the priesthood, and he shall be called President of the High Priesthood of the Church;
66 Or, in other words, the Presiding High Priest over the High Priesthood of the Church.
67 From the same comes the administering of ordinances and blessings upon the church, by the laying on of the hands.
wherefore the office of a Bishop is not equal unto it; for the office of a Bishop is in administering all things temporal things: nevertheless a Bishop must be chosen from the high Priesthood, that he may be set apart unto the ministering of temporal things, having a knowledge of them by the Spirit of truth; & also to be a Judge in Israel to do the business of the Church, to sit down in Judgement upon transgressors upon testimony it shall be laid before them according to the Laws, by the assistance of his councillors whom he hath chosen or will choose among the Elders of the church. 68 Wherefore, the office of a bishop is not equal unto it; for the office of a bishop is in administering all temporal things;
69 Nevertheless a bishop must be chosen from the High Priesthood, unless he is a literal descendant of Aaron;
70 For unless he is a literal descendant of Aaron he cannot hold the keys of that priesthood.
71 Nevertheless, a high priest, that is, after the order of Melchizedek,
may be set apart unto the ministering of temporal things, having a knowledge of them by the Spirit of truth;
72 And also to be a judge in Israel, to do the business of the church, to sit in judgment upon transgressors upon testimony as it shall be laid before him according to the laws, by the assistance of his counselors, whom he has chosen or will choose among the elders of the church.
thus shall he be a judge even a common judge among the inhabitants of Zion until the borders are enlarged, & it becomes necessary to have other Bishops or judges. & inasmuch as there are other Bishops appointed, they shall act in the same office. & again, verily I say unto you, the most important business of the church, & the most difficult cases of the church, inasmuch as there is not sufficient satisfaction upon the decsision of the judge, it shall be shall be handed over, & carried up unto the court of the church before the president of the high Priesthood 73 This is the duty of a bishop who is not a literal descendant of Aaron, but has been ordained to the High Priesthood after the order of Melchizedek.
74 Thus shall he be a judge, even a common judge among the inhabitants of Zion, or in a stake of Zion, or in any branch of the church where he shall be set apart unto this ministry, until the borders of Zion are enlarged and it becomes necessary to have other bishops or judges in Zion or elsewhere.
75 And inasmuch as there are other bishops appointed they shall act in the same office.
76 But a literal descendant of Aaron has a legal right to the presidency of this priesthood, to the keys of this ministry, to act in the office of bishop independently, without counselors, except in a case where a President of the High Priesthood, after the order of Melchizedek, is tried, to sit as a judge in Israel.
77 And the decision of either of these councils, agreeable to the commandment which says:
[4]
78 Again, verily, I say unto you, the most important business of the church, and the most difficult cases of the church, inasmuch as there is not satisfaction upon the decision of the bishop or judges, it shall be handed over and carried up unto the council of the church, before the Presidency of the High Priesthood.
& the president of the Court of the high priesthood shall have power to call other high priests, even twelve to assist as counsellors, & thus the president of the high priesthood, & his councellors, shall have power to decide upon testimony, according to the laws of the church; & after this desision it shall be had in remembrance no more before the Lord; for this is the highest court of the church of God & a final desision upon controverses, all persons belonging to the church are not exempt from this court of the church 79 And the Presidency of the council of the High Priesthood shall have power to call other high priests, even twelve, to assist as counselors; and thus the Presidency of the High Priesthood and its counselors shall have power to decide upon testimony according to the laws of the church.
80 And after this decision it shall be had in remembrance no more before the Lord; for this is the highest council of the church of God, and a final decision upon controversies in spiritual matters.
81 There is not any person belonging to the church who is exempt from this council of the church. [5]
& inasmuch as the president of the high priesthood shall transgress, he shall be had in remembrance before the common court of the church, who shall be assisted by twelve councellors of the high Priesthood, & their desicision upon his head shall be an end of controversy concerning him. thus none shall be exempt from the justice of the Laws of God, that all things may be done in order, & in solemnity before me, to truth & righteousness. Amen. 82 And inasmuch as a President of the High Priesthood shall transgress, he shall be had in remembrance before the common council of the church, who shall be assisted by twelve counselors of the High Priesthood;
83 And their decision upon his head shall be an end of controversy concerning him.
84 Thus, none shall be exempted from the justice and the laws of God, that all things may be done in order and in solemnity before him, according to truth and righteousness.

The bulk of the changes here have to do with the information on patrilineal descent of the bishopric. The obvious reference here is the family of Aaron with the bishop filling the role of the Mosaic high priest, an office with clear lineal descent from Aaron. The rules here are essentially the Levitical rules for the tabernacle priest. Observe also the substitution of the word “council” for “court.” (Earlier posts have considered the court terminology.) That same substitution eventually took place in church handbook instructions on church courts in the 1990s. “Courts of love” is an obsolete expression. [6]

Next we look at the remainder of the revelation and the corresponding changes in the 1835 text.

———————-
[1] This interesting statement was probably interpreted in light of the noninterference directive: Q12, stay out of stakes. By 1841 this was being reinterpreted. The statement itself is a very broad one and open to a very strong construction, one not overlooked after the death of Joseph Smith.

[2] Oddly, this artifact from 1831 was not edited to reflect the change in presidency of the priests.

[3] The Articles and Covenants, while fundamentally important in the first few years, were superseded in many respects for later revelations and decisions. The delay in publishing the November 11, 1831 revelation led to different categories of editorial change. Hence the more general “covenants and commandments” both words that historically referred to revelations, or types of revelations rather than the specific Articles.

[4] The inserted text refers back to the same 1831 revelation, though the editors left this ambiguous.

[5] The Revelation Book 1 text has the same import here.

[6] It is duly noted that the revelation of November 1, 1831 (LDS D&C 68) was also updated with various bits from the April 1835 revelation as well as the updated text of the November 11 revelation. To see how, click here.

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