Doctrine and Covenants

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The Doctrine and Covenants (sometimes referred to as the D&C) is a part of the open scriptural canon of Mormonism. The book exists in numerous forms published by different Latter Day Saint denominations. Generally, modern versions of the book primarily include revelations concerning church governance.


[edit] History

The Doctrine and Covenants was first published in 1835 as a later version of the Book of Commandments, which had been partially printed in 1833. This earlier book contained 65 early revelations by church leaders including Joseph Smith Jr. and Oliver Cowdery. Before many copies of the book could be printed, however, the printing press and most of the printed copies were destroyed by a mob in Missouri.

On September 24, 1834 a committee was appointed by the general assembly of the church to organize a new volume containing the most significant Latter Day Saint revelations. This committee of Presiding Elders, consisting of Joseph Smith, Jr., Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams, began to review and revise numerous revelations for inclusion in the new work. The committee eventually organized the book into two parts: a "Doctrine" part followed by a "Covenants" part.

The "Doctrine" part of the book consisted of a theological course now called the Lectures on Faith. The Lectures were a series of doctrinal courses used in the School of the Prophets which had recently been completed in Kirtland, Ohio. According to the committee, these Lectures were included in the compilation "in consequence of their embracing the important doctrine of salvation." (See 1835 D&C, Preface.)

The "Covenants" part of the book, labeled "Covenants and Commandments of the Lord, to his servants of the church of the Latter Day Saints", contained a total of 103 revelations on church governance. These 103 revelations were said to "contain items or principles for the regulation of the church, as taken from the revelations which have been given since its organization, as well as from former ones." (See id.) Each of the 103 revelations was assigned a "section number"; however, section 66 was numbered twice. Thus, the original work was numbered only to 102.

On February 17, 1835, after the committee had selected the book's contents, the committee wrote that the resulting work represents "our belief, and when we say this, humbly trust, the faith and principles of this society as a body. (See 1835 D&C, Preface.)

The book was first introduced to the church body in a general conference on August 17, 1835. Joseph Smith, Jr. and Frederick G. Williams, two of the Presiding Elders on the committee, were absent, but Oliver Cowdery and Sidney Rigdon were present. The church membership at the time had not yet seen the Doctrine and Covenants manuscript as it had been compiled and revised by the committee; however, various church members who were familiar with the work "bore record" of the book's truth. Two sections, however, were read verbatim to the membership of the church: William W. Phelps read section 101, which contained a denouncement of polygamy, and Oliver Cowdery read section 102, which was an article on national governments and laws. At the end of the conference, the church voted to accept the compilation as "the doctrine and covenents of their faith, by a unanimous vote" (History of the Church 2: 243-6), and to make arrangements for its printing.

Later in 1835, the book was printed and published under the title Doctrine and Covenants.

[edit] Challenges

At the time of the publication of the book, several Church members questioned some of the wording of the revelations. Joseph Smith responded with a revelation that challenged the wisest member to try and produce a revelation comparable to the least of them. (D&C 67:6–7, LDS) William E. McLellin, who was thought to be the smartest member at the time, was selected, but was unable to produce such a revelation. (History of the Church, 1:226)

[edit] Added sections

The 138 Sections in the Doctrine and Covenants break down as follows:

In 1876, a new edition renumbered most of the sections in a roughly chronological order instead of the earlier topical order, and included twenty-six revelations not included in previous editions, now numbered as Sections 2, 13, 77, 85, 87, 108-11, 113-18, 120-23, 125, 126, 129-32, and 136. This was the first edition in which the text was divided into verses.

During the the 1880s five foreign editions contained two revelations to John Taylor (in 1882 & 1883) which "set in order" the priesthood, gave more clarificatation about the roles of priesthood offices - especially the Seventy and required Priesthood leaders to live plural marriage in order to qualify to hold their Church positions. Probably due to the LDS Church's change in attitude to this doctrine in 1890, these sections were not included in future English editions.

In 1930 a small volume edited by James E. Talmage titled "Latter-day Revelations" was published, which contained a highly edited selective version of the Doctrine and Covenants. Some believe it was intended to to replace the Doctrine and Covenants, but that due to the controversy that arose this plan was dropped. Interestingly it did not contain the section on plural marriage (D&C 132) at all.

Sections 137 and 138 were added in the 1981 edition. These were accounts of two visions, one from Joseph Smith and the other from his nephew, Joseph F. Smith in 1918. No new revelatory sections have been added in the 20th or 21st centuries.

The LDS Church's edition also now contains two "Official Declarations" at the book's conclusion, the first renouncing polygamy in 1890, and the second renouncing racial discrimination in ordaining members to the Priesthood in 1978. An "Official Declaration" is not a revelation, but an announcement that a revelation was received.

See main article: Polygamy

[edit] Removed sections

In 1876, the original Section 101 was removed. It had included the text:

"Inasmuch as this Church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife; and one woman but one husband, except in the case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again." Replacing this section is the Section now numbered 132 which discusses the doctrine of plural marriage (now discontinued within the LDS Church).

In 1921, the LDS Church removed the Lectures on Faith portion of the book, apparently without a vote by the church body, with an explanation that the Lectures "were never presented to nor accepted by the Church as being otherwise than theological lectures or lessons". (See Introduction , 1921 edition.) The Lectures contained theology concerning the Godhead—such as that the Godhead consists of two "personages" (5:2a), and that the Father is a "personage of spirit, glory, and power" (5.2:c)—that were apparently inconsistent with Joseph Smith's later teachings that the Godhead consists of three personages, and that the Father has a physical body.

See main articles: God and Lectures on Faith

[edit] References

Portions of this material have been adapted from Wikipedia:Doctrine and Covenants

[edit] External links

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