News Story

New Joseph Smith Papers Book Provides Unprecedented Access to Early Revelations

The Joseph Smith Papers series continues to put historic materials into the hands of modern readers. On 23 March 2011, the Church Historian’s Press released the latest book in the landmark project, Revelations and Translations, Volume 2: Published Revelations.

As a prophet of God, Joseph Smith received many types of divine communication, and this new book presents those revelations as they were printed during his lifetime. Together with its predecessor, Revelations and Translations, Volume 1: Manuscript Revelation Books , the books make the early revelations more accessible than ever before for scholars, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and anyone with an interest in the Prophet Joseph Smith.

The concept of continuing revelation from God to man is a foundational doctrine for Latter-day Saints. Just as Abraham, Moses and the apostles in the day of Jesus Christ received divine guidance and knowledge, Latter-day Saints consider senior Church leaders to be prophets, from Joseph Smith to current Church President Thomas S. Monson.

“The revelations dictated by Joseph Smith meant so much to the early Latter-day Saints that no sacrifice was too great to see those revelations in print,” said Robin Jensen, one of three editors for this volume. “To now hold in a single volume many of the versions of collected revelations published at such sacrifice is gratifying not only for current members, but for researchers who can use these printed revelation texts in their own scholarship.”

The new book includes photographs of each page of an original copy of the Book of Commandments (1833) and of the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants (1835), as well as photographs or transcriptions of several other related documents. While the first Revelations and Translations book presented the revelations in the form in which the Prophet Joseph recorded them, the high-resolution photographs in volume 2 allows readers to experience the revelations the way the early Saints read them.

This volume sheds new light on the entire process of gathering, organizing and printing the first editions of the scriptures. It also contains the group of revelations that likely would have been printed in the Book of Commandments had printing not been halted by the destruction of the Church printing office in Independence, Missouri, in mid-1833.

Elder Marlin K. Jensen, Church historian and recorder, has called The Joseph Smith Papers “the single most significant historical project of our generation.” When finished, it will be the most complete and authoritative collection of documents related to Joseph Smith.  

Eventually consisting of approximately 20 volumes, the Joseph Smith Papers project is organized into six series: Journals, Revelations and Translations, Documents, History, Administrative Records and Legal and Business. In addition to the two published Revelations and Translations books, Journals, Volume 1: 1832-1839 is also available.

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