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New JSP volume includes Book of Commandments

Published: Tuesday, April 12 2011 4:30 a.m. MDT

For the Book of Commandments, only enough pages for five gatherings were ever printed. Lorimer, one of the editors of the new volume, said a "take mark" can be observed on page 160 of the unfinished Book of Commandments at the word "Ephraim," signifying the end of a signature.

Examining the "Book of Commandments and Revelations," the source manuscript for the Book of Commandments, scholars determined that nine additional verses in that revelation did not make it into the printing of the Book of Commandments. Editing marks on the manuscript indicated the intent to publish the entire revelation.

That would have necessitated the inclusion of a sixth gathering, but it would not have been enough to fill up the entire 32 pages of the gathering.

However, nine additional revelations in the manuscript were marked up for printing. They date from October 1831 to January 1832, thus fitting the chronology of the revelations that did make it into print. Moreover, three other revelations were created about that same time, suggesting that they too might have been included in the Book of Commandments.

Included in the editors' proposed completion of the Book of Commandments is a revelation published in the May 1833 issue of the church's newspaper, The Evening and the Morning Star, that was labeled as an appendix to the Book of Commandments.

Later printed as part of the Doctrine and Covenants, it can be read today as Section 133. It has something of a benedictory tone, with verses 59-60 reading, "And by the weak things of the earth the Lord shall thresh the nations by the power of his Spirit. And for this cause these commandments were given; they were commanded to be kept from the world in the day that they were given, but now are to go forth unto all flesh."

Topping off the proposed sixth gathering is a testimony of witnesses eventually included with the Doctrine and Covenants but originally intended for the Book of Commandments (see "Lost Book of Commandments' witnesses found," Oct. 27, 2009).

Is it possible that the sixth gathering was not the end, that there could have been a seventh or beyond? Yes, but not likely, say the editors of the Joseph Smith Papers volume. No editing marks appear on any of the manuscript revelations after Jan. 25, 1832. And the "appendix" revelation, almost certainly intended to be the final revelation in the book, was marked up with the nine revelations in the manuscript.

That "suggests that the editors had concluded the process of preparing the text and did not plan to include any more revelations," reads the introduction on page 176 of the new volume. "Sources also indicate that printing was drawing to a close."

So which sections of today's Doctrine and Covenants make up this proposed completion of the Book of Commandments? It is all or portions of Sections 64-73, 75, 107 and 133.

"Revelations and Translations, Volume Two: Published Revelations," is the third Joseph Smith Papers volume to appear in print. It is now in bookstores selling for a suggested retail price of $69.95.

Eventually, 20 volumes from the project will be published in book form, scaled back from an earlier expectation of 30, said Richard Turley, who is assistant historian and recorder of the church. However, the entire 30-volume set will one day be available on the Internet.

Email: rscott@desnews.com

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