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To main article Book of Moses Changes / Anachronisms — Rich Kelsey






(Changing the Revelations @ UTLM.org

 Used with permission from Sandra Tanner

Changing the Revelations

The Case Against Mormonism Vol. 1, Ch. 6

By Jerald and Sandra Tanner


This revelation is supposed to contain a translation of a parchment written by the Apostle John. Joseph Smith was supposed to have translated it by means of the Urim and Thummim. When this revelation was published in the Book of Commandments in 1833, it contained 143 words, but when it was reprinted in the Doctrine and Covenants in 1835, it contained 252 words. Thus 109 words had been added.


Mormon writers are unable to explain why Joseph Smith changed this revelation. Melvin J. Petersen made this statement:


In Chapter six of the Book of Commandments we find a revelation which was a translation from parchment upon which the Apostle John wrote his Gospel. When the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants was published this revelation had many additions and a few changes. (Section thirty-four.) The additional words and sentences reveal more concerning John and his ministry. How Joseph Smith had this information revealed to him, by means of the Urim and Thummim, is not clear.... What part revelation played in receiving this information concerning John is not known, nor is it known as to how the translation was enacted. We do know that additions and changes were made by Joseph Smith....


Joseph Smith left nothing in his writings to indicate why he added to this translated version... and so any plausible answers will be merely conjecture. ("A Study of the Nature of and the Significance of the Changes in the Revelations as Found in a Comparison of the Book of Commandments and Subsequent Editions of the Doctrine and Covenants," Master's Thesis, Brigham Young University, 1955, typed copy, pages 154-155)


Actually, there are only three logical explanations as to why this revelation reads different in theDoctrine and Covenants than it did when printed in the Book of Commandments. First, before reprinting this revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants, Joseph Smith may have decided to falsely attribute words to the Apostle John that he did not utter. This explanation would mean that Joseph Smith was a deceiver. Second, before the revelation was reprinted the Lord may have shown Joseph Smith that he had not translated the parchment correctly with the Urim and Thummim and that he must add in 109 words to make it correct. This explanation would place a shadow of doubt upon Joseph Smith's ability as a translator. Any individual who left out 109 words of a translation would be considered a very poor translator indeed! Third, Joseph Smith may have received the full text of the revelation to begin with but suppressed part of it when the Book of Commandments was printed. Melvin J, Petersen states:


Doctor Sidney B. Sperry,... has suggested that it is possible that Joseph Smith edited the translation in its first published form and then later wrote down the complete translation as it is found in our present text. Whether this suggested answers be right or wrong cannot be determined until further evidence is brought to light upon the problem. ("A Study of the Nature of and the Significance of the Changes in the Revelations...," typed copy, page 155)


This explanation would also make Joseph Smith a deceiver since he did not put in "the little dots which indicate that one is making deletions." Furthermore, there was no real reason to suppress 109 words from the revelation. This revelation is printed on page 18 of the Book of Commandments, and a careful examination of this page reveals that part of the page has been left blank and that there was enough room to include these words. Therefore, there would have been no reason to suppress part of the revelation.


Changed Revelation

See Doctrine & Covenants Section 7 @ LDS.org