Revelation, [, OH], 23 Feb. 1831. Featured version, titled “February 23d 1831 the rules and regulations of the Law,” copied May 1831; handwriting of ; three pages; Revelations Collection, CHL.
Each of the two leaves, measuring 7½ × 6½–6¾ inches (19 × 17 cm), has a similar jagged cut on the left edge of the recto. Also running along the left edge of each recto are eight small holes, likely used for sewing the booklet together. Based on comparison of the cuts and tears of the pages, these pages, along with copies of Articles and Covenants, circa April 1830 [D&C 20], and Revelation, 9 February 1831 [D&C 42:1–72], were part of a notebook of at least sixteen leaves, likely created by . It is unknown when these pages were removed from the notebook.
This revelation was copied on the same manuscript as Revelation, 9 February 1831 [D&C 42:1–72]. The copy may have been made 23 May 1831 or anytime in May 1831. According to a letter filed with the manuscript, this document, with several other manuscript revelations, was donated to the Church Historian’s Office in the early 1960s by a descendant of . The rolled-up papers were discovered by the Rider family in 1958, having presumably been held by the family since Rider obtained them circa 1831.
On 22 February 1831, JS wrote to referencing the “Laws of the ” that JS had dictated 9 February: “We have received the laws of the Kingdom since we came here and the in these parts have received them gladly.” The next day, 23 February, JS and seven elders met to determine “how the of the church of Christ are to act upon the points of the Law,” and the following revelation was recorded. In providing detailed guidance on how to discipline serious transgressors of the moral law, the revelation significantly elaborated on the few lines offered on the subject in the church’s earlier “Articles and Covenants.”
Early members evidently saw the 23 February revelation as building upon the 9 February revelation, also known as “the Law,” by expanding on the guidelines it provided. After this revelation was dictated, “the Law” comprised eight sections in all, five received on 9 February and three on 23 February. Of the earliest extant copies of the Law, only the copy, the version featured here, includes all eight sections; it separates the 9 February revelation from the 23 February revelation by including the date and an introductory heading between the fifth and sixth sections. The version found in Revelation Book 1 includes the first five sections, dictated 9 February, as well as a loose leaf containing only the eighth section, or final paragraph, of the 23 February dictation. Some later published versions also exclude the first two paragraphs of the 23 February revelation, possibly because those sections seem to summarize content found in the first five sections. Textually, only the eighth and final paragraph in this document employs the divine first-person, which is possibly the reason it was the only portion of the 23 February revelation to be copied into Revelation Book 1.
Revelation Book 1, pp. 62–67. A manuscript in Sidney Gilbert’s handwriting and one in Zebedee Coltrin’s both include only the first five parts. An early newspaper version includes only the first two parts. A manuscript in Orson Hyde’s hand includes parts two through four as well as parts seven and eight. (Gilbert, Notebook, –; Coltrin, Diary, –; “Secret Bye Laws of the Mormonites,” Western Courier [Ravenna, OH], 1 Sept. 1831, ; Hyde and Smith, Notebook, –; see also Revelation, 9 Feb. 1831 [D&C 42:1–72].)
Gilbert, Algernon Sidney. Notebook of Revelations, 1831–ca. 1833. Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL. MS 4583, box 1, fd. 2.
Coltrin, Zebedee. Diaries, 1832–1834. CHL. MS 1443.
Western Courier. Ravenna, OH. 1826–1833.
Hyde, Orson, and Samuel Smith. Notebook of Revelations and Missionary Memoranda, ca. Oct. 1831–ca. Jan. 1832. Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL. MS 4583, box 1, fd. 2.
How the of the are to act upon the points of the Law given by Jesus Christ to the Church in the presents of twelve Elders February 9th 1831 as agreed upon by Seven Elders Elders Feby 23d 1831 according to to the commandment of God——
1th The first in the law teaches that all the Elders shall go unto the regions westward and labour to build up Churches unto Christ wheresoever they shall <find> any to receive them and obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ except Joseph & and and Such as the Shall appoint to assist him in his duties according to the Law which we have received this commandment as far as it respects these Elders to be sent to the west is a special one for the time being incumbent on the present Elders who shall return when directed by the ——
2d Every person who belongeth to this church of Christ Shall observe all the Commandments [p. ]
This paragraph and the one that follows are not found in any other early copy of this revelation. This introductory paragraph acknowledges the role church elders played on this date in helping JS define procedures for implementing the “points of the Law” dictated on 9 February. The elders acted in response to two previous revelations, one instructing them to “assemble yourselves to gether to agree upon my word,” and the other enjoining, “I give unto you a commandment that when ye are assembled yourselves together ye shall note with a Pen how to act . . . upon the points of my law . . . & thus it shall become a law unto you.” (Revelation, 9 Feb. 1831 [D&C 42:1–72]; Revelation, 4 Feb. 1831 [D&C 41:2]; Revelation, Feb. 1831–A [D&C 43:8–9].)