Revelation, 6 May 1833 [D&C 93]
Revelation, , Geauga Co., OH, 6 May 1833; handwriting of ; four pages; Newel K. Whitney, Papers, BYU. Includes docket and archival marking.This revelation is inscribed on one bifolium and two leaves that constituted a bifolium before they were detached along the center fold. Each of the four leaves measures 12¾ × 8 inches (32 × 20 cm). Stacked on top of each other, the two bifolia were folded in half and then trifolded in the conventional filing pattern, and a docket was added by in graphite: “Revelation to Joseph, | & by | chastisement & also relative | to the Father & Son | 6 May 1833”.This and several other revelations, along with many other personal and institutional documents kept by , were inherited by his daughter Mary Jane Whitney, who married Isaac Groo. This collection was passed down in the Groo family and donated by members of the family to the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University during the period 1969–1974.
Andrus, Hyrum L., and Chris Fuller, comp. Register of the Newel Kimball Whitney Papers. Provo, UT: Division of Archives and Manuscripts, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, 1978.
Few contemporary sources shed light on the background of this 6 May 1833 revelation. JS’s history simply states, “On the 6th. [of May 1833] I received the following.” , one of the individuals mentioned in the text, made the only other known early comment on the back of perhaps the earliest extant manuscript version of the revelation. Whitney summarized the revelation by writing, “Revelation to Joseph, & by chastisement & also relative to the Father & Son 6 May 1833.” While Whitney’s summary focused first on the reprimand the men received from the Lord in relation to their families, the majority of the revelation was “relative to the Father & Son.”The text of the revelation appears to be closely related to the first chapter of the Gospel according to John but was likely not the direct result of JS’s work revising the New Testament, since the revision had been completed three months earlier, on 2 February 1833. Further, the revisions to John’s record made in this revelation generally vary from the changes JS made to the same text in his larger project of revising the Bible. The revelation was not the first JS document to involve passages from John’s gospel. One of the earliest recorded JS revelations, dictated April 1829, was a result of a disagreement between JS and over the final chapter of John and whether Jesus Christ’s statement about John tarrying meant that he would not die. Through the means of a seer stone or stones in his possession, JS dictated the 1829 revelation, which he explained had been “translated from parchment” and included a fuller account from John, which John had “written and hid up.” The Book of Mormon also references John by name several times, while no other apostle of Jesus is specifically mentioned in the book. In addition, in March 1832 JS created a document that explained the content of many verses in the book of Revelation, which the Book of Mormon explicitly asserts was authored by John the Apostle.The revelation featured here directly challenged several prevailing Christian beliefs of the time, including doctrines regarding the nature of Jesus Christ, especially his humanity and divinity, that most Christians believed had been settled by the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451. That council held that Jesus Christ was both fully human and fully divine, “that in Christ two distinct natures were united in one person, without any change, mixture, or confusion.” This revelation instead describes Jesus as having “received not of the fulness at the first but received grace for grace and he received not of the fulness but continued from grace to grace until he received a fulness.”Aside from addressing the nature of Jesus, the revelation also addressed humankind’s relationship with God, asserting that “man was also in the begining with God.” The premortal existence of humankind was also discussed in an earlier document dictated by JS; in his early of the Bible, he recorded a conversation between God and Moses in which Moses was told, “For I the Lord God created all things of which I have spoken spiritually before they were naturally upon the face of the Earth . . . & I the Lord God had created all the children of men & not yet a man to till the ground for in Heaven created I them & there was not yet flesh upon the Earth.” The 6 May revelation also challenged the general Christian concept of creation ex nihilo by stating that “inteligence or the Light of truth was not created or made.” In an even greater contrast to the prevailing belief in the omnipotence of God, this revelation expressly stated not only that intelligence was “not created or made” by God, but also that it could not, in fact, be created by him.It is not known whether any discussions about early Christian creeds and doctrines preceded this revelation or how familiar JS was with them prior to dictating it. , one of the revelation’s recipients, had been a follower of ’s religious movement that denied that belief in any of the traditional Christian creeds was essential. Campbell had also published a discourse in 1827, centered on the first chapter of John, rejecting the traditional Calvinist interpretation. In addition, the Mormon settlement in , Ohio, was not far from a large Shaker community in North Union, Ohio. The Shakers’ belief in the nature of Christ, widely viewed as heretical by orthodox Christians of the time, had in part been the subject of an 1831 revelation that commanded missionaries to preach to the Shakers. These influences, as well as many others, may have led church members to discuss topics such as the nature of God and Jesus before this revelation was dictated.This revelation was first published in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. By 1839, JS appears to have expanded upon some of the teachings it contained. In a sermon that year, he reportedly said, “The spirit of man is not a created being: it existed from Eternity and will exist to Eternity. Any thing created cannot be eternal and Earth, water, &c all these had their existence in an elementary state from Eternity. Our Savior speaks of children and says their Angels always stand before my Father. The Father called all spirits before him at the creation of man and organized them.” A few years later he further explained, “God was a self exhisting being, man exhist upon the same principle. God made a tabernacle & por spirit in it and it became a Human soul, man exhisted in spirit & mind coequal with God himself. . . . God has power to institute laws to instruct the weaker intelligences that they may be exhalted with himself.”Although three early manuscript versions of this revelation are extant, the one featured here, from the collection, is most likely the earliest version. As the revelation was directed in part to Whitney, he likely received this copy immediately after it was dictated by JS. It is even possible that Whitney’s version is the original copy, recorded while JS dictated the revelation. In any case, the Whitney version is very closely related to the copy in Revelation Book 2, even including similar scribal errors and omissions. recorded the copy in Revelation Book 2 as early as 1 June, though he most likely recorded the revelation after his appointment as scribe on 6 June 1833. Hyde apparently used Whitney’s copy of the revelation to create the Revelation Book 2 version. The copy found in Revelation Book 1 was almost certainly copied later than these two versions because that revelation book was still in with at this time. In a few places the version in Revelation Book 1 includes words and phrases not found in the other two versions, possibly reflecting some editorial changes made by Whitmer when he copied it into the book. In the following transcript, significant differences between versions in the revelation books and the version featured here are noted.
Encyclopedia Americana. International ed. 30 vols. Danbury, CT: Grolier, 1995.
The Ecclesiastical Cyclopaedia; or, Dictionary of Christian Antiquities and Sects, Comprising Architecture, Controversies, Creeds, Denominations, Doctrines, Government, Heresies, History, Liturgies, Rites, Monastic Orders, and Modern Judaism. Edited by John Eadie. London: Griffin, Bohn, 1862.
Butterworth, G. W., trans. and ed. Origen on First Principles Being Koetschau’s Text of the De Principiis Translated into English, Together with an Introduction and Notes. Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1973.
Scott, Mark S. M. Journey Back to God: Origen on the Problem of Evil. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.
Christian Baptist. Bethany, VA. 1823–1830.
The Testimony of Christ’s Second Appearing; Containing a General Statement of All Things Pertaining to the Faith and Practice of the Church of God in This Latter Day. 2nd ed. Albany, NY: E. and E. Hosford, 1810.
Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352. Also available as Wilford Woodruff’s Journals, 1833–1898, edited by Scott G. Kenney, 9 vols. (Midvale, UT: Signature Books, 1983–1985).