Besides the “priesthood revelations,” other important texts defined how the Mormon hierarchy worked and to some degree the associated terminology and theology. Standouts among them are LDS D&C 102 and 112 in the current edition. The first of these concerned the high council system, a formal group taking the place of ad hoc groups of high priests rendering judgement on items of policy, doctrine, procedure, finances and other matters. The high council was a kind of judicial/legislative group that heard cases of complaints between church members, directed funding, regulated local church structure and tried appealed cases from lower forms of discipline like bishop’s courts.
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Your October Conference Prep: Textual Origins of LDS Priesthood Organization, Part XVI. Discipline and Succession – Written and Unwritten Rules.
One of the interesting issues raised by the history of Doctrine and Covenants section 107 is the question of a transgressing President of the Church. The November 11 revelation (second half of D&C 107) introduced a church court system (see parts 2 and 3 in the series). The two leading offices in the early (1831) church were the bishop and the president of the high priesthood. The revelation defined a way for each officer to be disciplined, should the need arise. This was to work by using each of the court systems attached to these officers to judge the other.
Your October Conference Prep: Textual Origins of LDS Priesthood Organization, Part XV. Evolution of Discipline.
D&C 107 was a long time in the making and it contains many separate revelations woven together into the whole (and it didn’t finish the story: consider D&C 112 and 124). Witness: The Nov 11 revelation, itself perhaps two separate revelations, the vision of the Seventy, the vision of Adam, the esoterica of bishops, the “book of Enoch” and others. The story is one worth telling, not only to understand the process of revelation, but to understand the way Latter-day Saints speak and how that speech and its understanding were effected by the processes of textual influence.
Your October Conference Prep: Textual Origins of LDS Priesthood Organization, Part XIV. Priesthood Ordination Praxis.
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, how is a man ordained to the priesthood? This question is fraught with historical complexity both in the meaning of the terms deployed in that sentence, and the ways in which acceptable practice has evolved over the years.
For the first 90 years or so of LDS church organization, priesthood ordination ceremony gradually developed into more or less the following pattern:
By authority of the Holy Priesthood and by the laying on of hands, I ordain you an elder in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and confer upon you all the rights, powers keys and authority pertaining to this office and calling in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Your October Conference Prep: Textual Origins of LDS Priesthood Organization, Part XIII. More Editing the 1831 Revelation.
Continued from part 6. No, just kidding. Part 12.
The second part of the November 11, 1831 revelation/D&C 107 was altered in interesting ways when published in 1835 and like the first part, these changes also reflect otherwise unknown revelation(s).
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.
Your October Conference Prep: Textual Origins of LDS Priesthood Organization, Part XI. Some More Detour and Evolution.
Here’s the third and last part of the detour. As an aside, if you are interested in John Pack, there is a portion of John Pack’s autobiography/journal on boap.org here It’s an interesting, if short, reminiscence which gives Pack’s patriarchal blessing from Joseph Smith, Sr. among other things. Those acquainted with upper division temple liturgy will find something there too, as well as “adoption.” Note that Pack’s first wife, Julia, is also represented.
In part 9 I gave some background on John Pack and Joseph F. Smith and their interaction over the issue of John Pack’s disagreement with some members of the 8th quorum of seventy early in 1880. Part 10 consisted mostly of a letter written by Joseph F. Smith to Pack regarding Pack’s decision to go back on the agreement he made with John Taylor (president of the church’s quorum of the twelve apostles).
Your October Conference Prep: Textual Origins of LDS Priesthood Organization, Part X. More Detour and Evolution.
In the previous part I introduced John Pack and his dilemma. Briefly, John Pack was in the presidency of the 8th quorum of Seventy in 1879 when his quorum asked the apostles to move him out for a couple of reasons. The apostles, then the presiding quorum in the church (no First Presidency at this time between Brigham Young’s death and John Taylor becoming church president in 1880) voted to move Pack out of the seventies quorum and make him a high priest. Pack agreed after some convincing but then reneged (more details in the previous part).
Your October Conference Prep: Textual Origins of LDS Priesthood Organization, Part IX. Detour and Evolution.
In the next three posts before returning to the discussion of D&C 107, I’ll observe an interesting transition in the way LDS scripture was read and its effects on Mormon Correlated Texts today.
Joseph F. Smith (1838-1918) (JFS) was the son of Hyrum Smith, brother to Joseph Smith the Prophet. JFS was an independent thinker. Growing up in Utah, he became more or less a street urchin following his mother’s death in 1852. At age 15 (1853) church leaders called him on a mission to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) to redirect his life. The contacts and experience he had there would color his future writings and speeches, even drawing later experience back into his narratives of that mission (yes, he had memory time-slips). Smith led an interesting and provocative life, divorcing his first wife but becoming a relatively successful and prolific polygamist as such things went.
Your October Conference Prep: Textual Origins of LDS Priesthood Organization, Part VIII. The April 1835 Revelation.
Continues Part 7.
Joseph Smith founded two new priesthood groups early in 1835, the Twelve Apostles and the Seventy. While the apostles had been presaged before the formal organization of the church (D&C 18) the first ordinations took place in February 1835. The apostles felt the need for some more detailed direction regarding their standing and duty in the church and asked Joseph Smith for this direction. Heber C. Kimball reminisced about the experience in his journal as follows:
Your October Conference Prep: Textual Origins of LDS Priesthood Organization, Part VII. The First Presidency.
Continued from part 6.
The revelation of November 11, 1831 was accepted in Zion (Missouri) as an addition to the law of the church on July 3, 1832 (see Far West Record or in JSP parlance, Minute Book 2) but remained unpublished to the body of the church. The office of president of the high priesthood stood vacant until a January 25, 1832 conference at Amherst, Ohio when it was voted that Joseph Smith fill the office. Sidney Rigdon “ordained” Smith at the time (Joseph Smith was ordained a high priest in June 1831). Between that time and March 8, 1832, Smith became acquainted with the idea of having counselors, forming a presidency of the high priesthood. (Caveat: the word “presidency” in early documents was quite often used in the sense of an office, as in so and so holds the office of the presidency.) A revelation received on March 5, 1832 reads in part,
Your October Conference Prep: Textual Origins of LDS Priesthood Organization, Part VI. Oath and Covenant of What?
So far I have noted that D&C 107 is a compilation of revelations. There are two major parts in the compilation, one from November 1831 and another from April 1835. In D&C 107 these are arranged in reverse chronological order. So, we’ve spent some time looking at the last part of D&C 107 (which came first!). Later we will look at the 1835 segment which has a rather different character than the 1831 segment. As these two revelations were combined in the 1835 D&C, still other revelations and regulations were interleaved in these texts to form what we now know as D&C 107. But for now we consider what happened in between these two major components. You probably need to read the previous parts to understand (and believe) what I’m going to say here.
Between the ca 1831 texts of the November 11 revelation and the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants text (section 3 of that first edition, 107 of the present edition) there were several developments. One was the important revelation of September 22, 23, 1832. (LDS D&C 84) In this text we see the beginnings of a taxonomy of priesthood, more nuanced than previous classifications but not yet mature.
Part 4 is here.
Here I give the “second” revelation of November 11, 1831, again in comparison with the KRB text. The KRB text is in the hand of Frederick G. Williams and it suggests perhaps more strongly that the November 11 revelation represents two revelations. Observe again that the text never uses the word “quorum.” My use of the word in reference to these texts is only to provide context. The word appears in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants. Meanwhile, like the word “priesthood,” during Joseph Smith’s lifetime it came to be used in a much looser way than Latter-day Saints use it now.
The Genesis of Modern Mormon Bureaucratic Structures
After the revelation of November 11, 1831 was dictated by Joseph Smith (see parts,1, 2, and 3), it did circulate to some degree and was to be a part of the proposed Book of Commandments (BC) but didn’t make it – see JSP, Revelations and Translations vol.2 for an argument that the revelation was set to appear in the BC and would have done so if the printing had not been disrupted.
This continues the discussion of the November 11, 1831 revelation (see part 1 and part 2) with the second portion, in the handwriting of Oliver Cowdery.
I continue from part I with what is essentially that portion of the text of the (second) revelation of November 11, 1831 in the hand of John Whitmer.
All Latter-day Saints need a little context in their lives. What better way to get that around conference time than looking at some text history, eh? I’m quoting myself here mostly in this series, but even if you’ve seen some of it before, it will have something new for everyone I hope. Think of this (infinitely long) series as an appreciation of the wonderful Joseph Smith Papers Project.
Section 107 of the LDS Doctrine and Covenants is often quoted as fundamental in determining succession in the presidency of the LDS church (it was so quoted in the post martyrdom conference of August 1844 in Nauvoo). It plays a role in outlining the organizational structure of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as well as some other parts of the post-Joseph Smith Mormon diaspora. The focus of D&C 107 is priesthood structure and church government for the most part. It is a remarkable document for many reasons and I will not try to cover each aspect of the text in these posts. The other important revelation here is D&C 84. It will get some time as well. There are a couple of other key texts that I won’t spend too much time with like D&C 124.