Changes in the Doctrine and Covenants – Part 5

By: Marvin W. Cowan; ©2013
Joseph Smith, Mormonism’s founder, claimed the revelations published in the 1833 Book of Commandments were revealed to him by God. If that is true, why were many of them changed when they were reprinted in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants? Why would the omniscient, all knowing God need to change what He revealed only two years earlier?
 

Changes in the Doctrine & Covenants – Part 5

Joseph Smith, Mormonism’s founder, claimed the revelations published in the 1833 Book of Commandments (B. of C.) were revealed to him by God. If that is true, why were many of them changed when they were reprinted in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants (D. & C.)? Why would the omniscient, all knowing God need to change what He revealed only two years earlier? The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:13, “If we believe not, yet He [God] abides faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” In other words, even if we don’t believe in God, He remains faithful to His word. He can’t deny or contradict what He has said. Is that the God who gave the B. of C. revelations to Joseph Smith and then changed them two years later in the D. & C.?

The heading over D. & C. Section 7 says, “Revelation given to Joseph Smith the Prophet and Oliver Cowdery, at Harmony, Pennsylvania, April 1829, when they inquired through the Urim and Thummim as to whether John, the beloved disciple, tarried in the flesh or had died. The revelation is a translated version of the record made on parchment by John and hidden up by himself. HC 1:35-36.” It says this “revelation” was received in response to Smith’s and Cowdery’s inquiry through the “seer stones” called the Urim and Thummim. Smith said he also used those stones to translate the Book of Mormon (B. of M.).

Part IV of our series quoted the January 2013 Ensign article on pages 45-49 which said that said Smith quit receiving revelation through the Urim and Thummim after the LDS Church was founded. Why change the way he received revelation? Was it because his New York neighbors knew he used “seer stones” to look for buried treasure and he knew it wouldn’t look right if his revelations also came through “seer stones”? The D. & C. Section 7 heading says, “The revelation is a translated version of the record made on parchment by John and hidden up by himself.” The apostle John wrote five New Testament books (Gospel of John, 1, 2, 3 John and Revelation) and didn’t hide them, so why did he hide this record? From whom was he hiding it and why? That story is similar to the “hidden gold plates” from which Smith said he translated the B. of M. No one who was qualified to authenticate the gold plates or John’s parchment ever saw them, so those who believe they existed do so based on Joseph Smith’s word alone! No other evidence exists for them.

The heading of D. & C. Section 7 also says this revelation is a translation of a record made on parchment by the apostle John, but it doesn’t say who made the translation. Did Smith have John’s parchment record and use the “seer stones” called Urim and Thummim to translate it like he said he did the B. of M.? That heading says that Smith and Cowdery inquired about John through the Urim and Thummim, so they had those stones. Or, did God translate John’s record into English and reveal it to Smith? Regardless of who translated it, Smith’s account shows it was a supernatural translation, so why was it changed? Legitimate translators have a message in one language that they translate accurately into a different language without adding their own thoughts or any new content. The original revelation was in Chapter VI of the B. of C. and had only three verses but it is now in D. & C. Section 7 and has eight verses. The D. & C. version has almost twice as much material in it as the B. of C. version, so where did that extra content come from since the original was a translation of John’s record on parchment?

We mentioned in parts 2 and 3 of these articles that we use the D. & C. with its verse numbers when showing changes in Smith’s revelations. Words deleted from the 1833 B. of C. are in bold type with a line drawn through them and words added in the 1835 D. & C. that are not in the B. of C. are highlighted. Following is D. & C. Section 7 with the changes marked:

“And the Lord said unto me: John, my beloved, what desirest thou? For if you shall ask what you will, it shall be granted unto you. 2. And I said unto him: Lord give unto me power over death, that I may live and bring souls unto thee. 3. And the Lord said unto me: Verily, verily, I say unto thee, because thou desirest this thou shalt tarry till until I come in my glory, and shalt prophesy before nations, kindreds, tongues and people. 4. And for this cause the Lord said unto Peter: If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? For he desiredest desired of me that he mightest might bring souls unto me, but thou desiredst that thou mightiest speedily come unto me in my kingdom. 5. I say unto thee, Peter, this was a good desire; but my beloved has desired that he might do more, or a greater work yet among men than what he has before done. 6. Yea, he has undertaken a greater work; therefore I will make him as a flaming fire and a ministering angel; he shall minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation who dwell on the earth. 7. And I will make thee to minister for him and for thy brother, James; and unto you three I will give this power and the Keys of this ministry until I come. 8. Verily I say unto you, ye shall both have according to your desires, for ye both joy in that which ye have desired.”

The markings in the above “revelation” show that nearly half of it was added in the 1835 D. & C. There are other problems with this revelation. John wrote his other books in Greek, so he probably wrote this in Greek too. So, why was it “translated” into 1611 AD English instead of the English spoken in 1829 when it was “revealed”? In verse 5 the Lord addressed Peter, but in verse 7 he calls James his brother! James was the brother of John, not Peter. John 21:23 in the Bible says that Jesus did not say that John would not die, but in Smith’s revelation the Lord told John that he would “tarry [live] until I come in my glory, and shalt prophesy before nations, kindreds, tongues and people… and minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation who dwell on the earth” (vs. 3 & 6). If John has been living on earth preaching the gospel to multitudes since the time of Christ, could there have been 1700 years of universal apostasy as LDS claim?

Read Part 6

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