D&C Section Names

by Dane Laverty

We are happy to share this reader submission from Dane Laverty. Dane graduated from BYU in contemporary dance, supports his family as a computer programmer, and is attending Willamette University as a business student. He is grateful.

I recently received a Qur’an as a gift. I liked how each sura (chapter) has both a number and a name. For example, Sura 1 is called “The Opening”, Sura 2 is called “The Cow”, etc. It got me thinking that perhaps we could benefit from some name associations in our own scriptures.

The Book of Mormon and Pearl of Great Price provide narrative structures that make them relatively easy to follow. The Doctrine and Covenants, on the other hand, is 138 numbered sections, often with little immediate connection between each other; it seems like a natural candidate for an evocative naming scheme.

In coming up with section names, I used a few simple guidelines, which I took from my observations about the sura names:

  1. The name should have no more than four words, and preferably just one or two.
  2. Names should come from a word or phrase in the first verse or two in the section, or the name of the person addressed in the revelation.
  3. Names should be evocative, not descriptive — in other words, they are not attempting to be section summaries, just pictures for hanging one’s mental hat on.

With that explanation, here are my proposed names for the sections of the Doctrine and Covenants:

1. The Islands
2. Elijah
3. The Designs
4. The Marvelous Work
5. The Plates
6. The Riches
7. What Desirest Thou?
8. The Engravings
9. The Commencing
10. The Writings
11. Hyrum Smith
12. Joseph Knight
13. The Priesthood of Aaron
14. David Whitmer
15. John Whitmer
16. Peter Whitmer
17. The View
18. The Thing Desired
19. Alpha and Omega
20. The Rise
21. Behold
22. The Old Covenants
23. Beware
24. Deliverance
25. Emma Smith
26. The West
27. The Sacrament
28. The Comforter
29. The Hen
30. The Fear of Man
31. Thomas Marsh
32. Meek and Lowly
33. Ezra and Northrop
34. Orson Pratt
35. The Eternal Round
36. Edward Partridge
37. The Enemy
38. The Wide Expanse
39. Eternity to Eternity
40. James Covill
41. The Heaviest Cursing
42. The Assembly
43. The Ear
44. East, West, North, and South
45. The Hosts
46. The People
47. The Historian
48. The Places of Abode
49. The Shakers
50. The Spirits
51. The Organizing
52. Those Called and Chosen
53. Sidney Gilbert
54. The Office
55. William Phelps
56. The Rebellious
57. Missouri
58. This Land
59. Come Up Unto This Land
60. The Returning
61. All Power
62. The Advocate
63. The People of the Lord
64. Compassion
65. One Sent Down
66. William McLellin
67. The Prayers
68. From People to People
69. The Moneys
70. Zion
71. The Mysteries
72. The High Priests
73. The Conference
74. The Unbelieving Husband
75. The Pruning
76. No Savior Beside God
77. The Sea of Glass
78. The High Priesthood
79. Jared Carter
80. Stephen and Eden
81. The Counselor
82. I Forgive You
83. Women and Children
84. The Six Elders
85. The Record
86. The Wheat and Tares
87. South Carolina
88. The Olive Leaf
89. The Word of Wisdom
90. The Petition
91. The Apocrypha
92. The United Order
93. The True Light
94. The Stake
95. The Chastisement
96. The Strength of Zion
97. The Brethren
98. Rejoice Evermore
99. John Murdock
100. Your Families
101. The Affliction
102. Twenty-four High Priests
103. Your Duties
104. The Properties
105. The Redemption
106. Warren Cowdery
107. The Two Priesthoods
108. Lyman Sherman
109. The House
110. The Veil
111. The Follies
112. The Alms
113. The Stem
114. The Settling Up
115. The Counselors
116. Adam-ondi-Ahman
117. The Snows
118. The Fallen
119. The Surplus
120. The Disposition
121. O God, Where Art Thou?
122. Raging Hell
123. The Facts
124. The Weak Things
125. Iowa
126. The Well-Beloved Brother
127. The Pursuit
128. Baptism for the Dead
129. The Heavenly Beings
130. The Man
131. The Celestial Glory
132. The Inquiry
133. The Salvation
134. The Governments
135. The Martyrdom
136. The Word and Will of the Lord
137. The Celestial Kingdom
138. The Third of October

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  1. This is a fun idea!

    Dane, it would be interesting to hear any stories you have of coming up with these. For example, I could imagine myself having one label that applies equally well to two sections, and trying to decide which one gets it.

    #132 is particularly interesting because it is a very not-obvious choice (imho). Any thoughts you want to share on how you came up with that one?

  2. 76 should be “The Vision”

  3. Dane, I am disappointed that you didn’t give BCC readers an indication of who starred in these revelations. For example:

    24. Deliverance (Burt Reynolds)
    44. North, and South (Matthew Broderick)
    105. The Redemption (Tim Robbins & Morgan Freeman)
    118. The Fallen (Denzel Washington)
    121. O God, Where Art Thou? (George Clooney)

  4. Some of these make me want to dig in and read some more…

  5. I would just drop/replace any “The” when possible.

  6. What version of North and South was Broderick in?

  7. Oh dang. It was Glory, not North and South.

  8. Left Field says:

    For section 1, I would just go with Hearken. The first word sums up the section (and the whole book) better than any others that might be chosen.

  9. Coffinberry says:

    I like Hearken for #1, though Preface is what it was originally supposed to be (and Appendix for #133?)

  10. @Cynthia, #1 – The sad truth is that the first verses of each section of the D&C are kind of lacking in distinctive words. As for sec. 132, “My Servants” and “The Principle” were both too inconspicuous for what is a revolutionary revelation. “Wives and Concubines” made a caricature of it. “The Inquiry” seemed just right.

    @Nitsav, #2 – In retrospect, you’re right. I avoided “The Vision” initially because it seemed too baldly descriptive, but now I think it’s a clear mind hanger of a term.

    @Bob, #5 – I used “The” repeatedly because I was using the Qur’an naming scheme as a model. The vast majority of sura names are either proper names or “The “.

  11. Stephanie says:

    Neat idea. It looks like this took a lot of work.

  12. This is beautiful. I want to read the whole D&C with these titles pasted in now. I really like the use of the initial “the” too. It makes the sections sound like fables or parables.

  13. Minerva, that was how I felt too. Seeing the titles on the suras gave them a kind of life and color that I found compelling. I would love to see these or something like them in my own scriptures.

  14. I will be sharing this with my SS class. Thank you!!

  15. Kevin Barney says:

    I love the idea.

    One thing you’ll have to deal with is the basic point raised by Nitsav, that certain sections already have engrained names. So, Sec. 1 is The Preface, 20 is either the Constitution or the Articles and Covenants and 133 is the Appendix. (You’re already got the Olive Leaf and the Word of Wisdom.)

    This reminds me a little bit of John Welch’s attempt to name the BoM wars. Naming like this would be a helpful development, I think.

  16. #15-Kevin, where can I find more about John Welch’s BoM war names?

  17. I can say for sure that something like this would enhance my ability to read D&C…I have a tough time making it all the way through as it is.

    And I’m not just saying that cause Dane is a buddy of mine.

  18. @Stephanie, #11 – “A lot of work” is, I think, what goes into the posts over at JI and Keepa. This here is just the result of some creative daily scripture study. I find that applying creative expression to my scripture study makes the scriptures stick more deeply into my brain.

    They say that, back in the day, monks would spend their time copying the scriptures. I wonder how it would be if, instead, the monks were tasked with rewriting the scriptures in their own words. I imagine that the process of rewriting a book would be a great exercise for internalizing the lessons of that book.

  19. > “A lot of work” is, I think, what goes into the posts over at JI and Keepa.

    Smooth move, Dane! Did you just insult your hosts? ;-)

  20. Whoops! I guess there’s no way for me to get out of that one gracefully, so instead let me just say…that I love tapioca pudding.

  21. This is one of those great ideas that now seems so obvious that it makes me wonder why it hasn’t been done before. I like the idea of every section of the D&C have its own name instead of just a number.

  22. This is cool. Thanks, Dane. There are some really cool titles. I like “The Hen,” and I also like “Behold” followed quickly by “Beware.” Some of the sections probably deserve two names (e.g., Section 121), but alas.

    I also like the list as a pedagogical tool. It could help me make some sense of the whole tossed salad that is the Doctrine and Covenants.

    Also, are you going to name the Official Declarations?

  23. I don’t think that I’ll officially name the Official Declarations, but their unofficial names are now:

    OD-1. The Press Dispatches or The Programme
    OD-2. The Upper Room or The Many Nations

  24. Kevin Barney says:

    No. 16 TOR, for Welch’s proposed names for BoM wars, see here:


  25. Bro. Bott in the BYU religion department has names for each of the sections that he has students memorize. I have the list somewhere from when I took the class several years ago. If I remember correctly, his names tend to be based more on a summary of what the section is about. Some sections had multiple names and not all section names were unique.

  26. I’ve always liked that in the Quran. I think this is really cool.

  27. I guess I will add Morzart would not be in agreement with this post [?] He numbered [K34 etc.] his Works so people would not read into them thing he did not write.

  28. Section 59 (one of my favorites) — how about Fulness of the Earth ?

  29. Cool idea. And better than the few section titles I’ve learned casually over the years, such as 1: The Preamble, 2: The Constitution.

    I’m surprised you didn’t use “Elect Lady” as a title.

  30. D. Kim Croft says:

    Bob –

    Actually, the Köchel numbers identifying the Mozart works were not given by Mozart; rather, they were assigned by Ludwig von Köchel as a means of cataloging them and attempting to indicate their proper chronology.

  31. Researcher says:

    Well, I’m glad that Kim Croft already addressed Bob’s comment. The numbering of a composer’s works is no more straightforward than coming up with these section titles would be.

    I had Doctrine and Covenants from Max Caldwell a number of years ago at BYU, and he also had us memorize a list of section title names. Like JohnB mentioned above, they were rather straight-forward.

    Interesting post! I like the idea of giving things names and not just numbers.

  32. I stand corrected on Morzart [The Köchel numbers ]. But that does not addressed is the issue of the use of ‘Nicknames’, ‘Titles’, or ‘Headlines’. Do they affect what follows them? If they set up the reader/listener to understand the writing/music a certain way, should they be used? And, if so, who get to pick them?

  33. Kim, how good of you to appear and clear that up! I had never seen that in writing, and have generally heard it misprounced by radio station announcers (“We just heard Mozart’s Whatever–they all sound alike anyway–Symphony, K[garble]l number 426”) and I had wondered–just not enough to try to find out. (Of course, based on their their pronunciation or my poor hearing, I would have been looking for “Kershel.”)

    It’s not really fair to quibble about spelling and grammatical errors, but, Bob, your #32 is a classic!

  34. I took a D&C class at BYU and had the same teacher for both halves of the course over the period of two semesters and gave us a list of suggested Section Names. If I get the chance when I have access to it I’ll compare them to the ones in the post.

  35. I took my BYU D&C course from Spencer Fluhman. It was a great class, although I have no recollection of any section names. I’d be interested to see any other section name lists that people have found.

  36. #33: Mark, sorry I spoiled your day with my spelling and grammatical errors. You may find comfort in that they have spoiled my life!

  37. No problem, Bbo.

  38. #37: What hurts Hunter, I don’t even know when I have spelled my name backwards.

  39. kamschron says:

    This reminds me of the key phrases that I used to help my children to learn the Articles of Faith.

    1. One God.
    2. Two transgressions.
    3. Three atonements.
    4. Four principles and ordinances.
    5. Five preachers, called of God.
    6. Six primitive churches.
    7. Seven gifts.
    8. Eight Bibles.
    9. Nine great and important things.
    10. Ten tribes.
    11. Eleven claims.
    12. Twelve kings.
    13. Thirteen honest admonitions.

    If I had needed to come up with 138 names, my children would have been out of luck.

  40. Anon today says:

    “If they set up the reader/listener to understand the writing/music a certain way, should they be used? And, if so, who get to pick them?”

    Yes, and first come, first serve. (It goes without saying that nicknames given by the composer should take precedence.) I think (some) composers’ aversion to “programatic” or “representational” music is just silly. If a piece must be protected by shrill reminders that the work is “absolute” music, it can’t stand on its own legs anyway.

  41. Anon today says:

    Oops… non really Anon… but just as well.

  42. Didn’t Leaun Otten gives names to each section in his “Sacred Truths of the Doctrine and Covenants” 2-volume set? I heard him teach from his manuscript of these books in Idaho before they were published in 1978. His discussion of the historical context of each section before delving into the doctrinal context was especially helpful.

  43. #40: I don’t know if it is a ‘silly’ issue? Debussey added names to his works because he wanted to set a mood.
    Those of us old enough to have watched The Lone Ranger on TV, will never hear the William Tell Overture the same again.
    Yes, using a name or word is helpful. I just think it can add something subjective that a number will not.

  44. Anon today says:

    43, I think we probably agree on this, actually. Setting the mood is certainly valuable and can be easily accomplished by naming. However, a number of composers (notably, modern composers) hate having thier music associated with any mood/name/idea. It is their attitude that those kinds of associations are somehow “damaging” to that music that I find silly.

  45. #44: Some sports figures would love to get away from their nickname. Many actors would love to stop being seen as a character they once played.
    Now ‘Computer’ is a silly name for the tool we are using now. Did you ever compute with it?

  46. I compute with mine all the time.

  47. Sec 39 should be called “The Ohio”

  48. Section 1 should be “The Lord’s Preface” because that’s what the Lord called it himself!

  49. Most of the sections had common names, that have faded. The Olive Branch, The Vision, etc.

    Just FYI.

  50. How about 25: The Elect Lady?

  51. I like the idea of using the first couple of words of the section to create the name – it’s similar to how some Jewish friends of ours explained their names for the Torah portion they study each week.

  52. Great post. I think you missed an opportunity on sec 132 though (despite explanation in comment 10).

  53. Jacob J, what name would you have used instead?

  54. #29 & #50 – I’m not a fan of “The Elect Lady” for sec. 25. It’s a revelation to Emma, not a revelation about Emma. I feel that calling it “The Elect Lady” reduces a multifaceted discourse to a single dimension.

  55. Well, I thought your suggestion of Wives and Concubines was pretty good and not a caricature. That’s what I had in mind. Others to consider:

    The Wives
    The New and Everlasting Covenant
    A Continuation of the Seeds
    Abraham’s Promise
    Ten Virgins

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