Revelation, 12 January 1838–A
Revelation, , Geauga Co., OH, 12 Jan. 1838. Featured version copied [ca. 12 Jan. 1838]; handwriting of ; three pages; Revelations Collection, CHL. Includes docket.Bifolium, each page measuring 10 × 8 inches (25 × 20 cm). This document contains two horizontal folds, and the torn right edges of the rectos have undergone conservation work. There are splotches of ink on the paper, and the following docket is on the verso of the second leaf: “Revelation given at Kirtland Jan 12—1838”. The document contains docketing and other wear that are similar to those on other documents that have been in the custody of the church since the , Ohio, era, indicating that this document has likely been in continuous institutional custody since the time of its creation.
On 12 January 1838, just before leaving , Ohio, to move to , JS dictated three revelations. The revelation featured here includes questions and answers about the procedure for holding an ecclesiastical disciplinary hearing to try the members of the for transgression. The questions asked seem to be seeking clarification on an earlier revelation instructing that if a president transgressed, he should be brought “before the common council of the church, who shall be assisted by twelve counsellors of the ; and their decision upon his head shall be an end of controversy concerning him.” These questions were especially pressing because dissenting church members, whose number increased in December 1837 and January 1838, desired to remove JS, , and as the presidents of the church.In late May 1837 dissenters brought charges against JS, but no records indicate that a disciplinary hearing was held to investigate the charges. Although dissent among church members apparently decreased by mid-September 1837, opposition against the First Presidency returned by December. wrote that while JS and other church leaders were away visiting in late 1837, “quite a large party decented from the church; being dissatisfied with the late reorganization of the church, and with the heads of the church alltogether, and all who uphold them.” This renewed dissension led the to excommunicate twenty-eight individuals, including some of the leading dissenters: , , , , and . wrote that Parrish, Boynton, Coe, and others had “united togeather” with the intention of overthrowing the church and had denounced JS and his followers as heretics. Vilate Murray Kimball added that “the tenor of their [the dissenters’] worship, is to expose the iniquitys of this church, they say when they have done that; they calculate to preach the Gospel. (but I think they will be illy prepared to do it) they profess to believe in the book of Mormon, and [the Doctrine and] Covenants. but in works deny them.” As unrest increased, additional church members became disaffected and questioned the actions of the First Presidency; the dissenters may have demanded that the First Presidency be tried in a disciplinary hearing for their actions.A main point of concern addressed by the 12 January revelation featured here was whether a verdict made in one of , like , extended to the rest of the church. With ebbing support and many in Kirtland doubting the First Presidency, JS worried that opposition in Kirtland, or perhaps in any church , might have broader ramifications for the church as a whole. This revelation directed that a disciplinary hearing for the First Presidency be restricted to , as the center place of Zion. After the initial disciplinary hearing, a stake of Zion could hold its own disciplinary hearing for the First Presidency, but the decision of that stake’s council would not apply to other stakes of the church without a majority approval. The revelation also required three witnesses in good standing to bring charges against the presidency and a majority vote to accept the decision of the council.The text of the revelation featured here was written on loose sheets of paper, and textual analysis indicates it is likely the original text, written down as JS dictated the words. This revelation and the other two revelations dictated on 12 January 1838 were copied into JS’s journal in July 1838 when the revelations were read to the Saints in , Missouri. The revelation was also copied into the Book of the Law of the Lord—a record book used in Nauvoo to preserve revelation transcripts, donation records, and JS journal entries—by Robert B. Thompson in 1841. Significant differences between the versions of the revelation are noted.