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Doctrine and Covenants
The book is a later version of the unfinished Book of Commandments, which was printed in 1833 and mostly destroyed by a mob. Only some 27 copies of the original edition exist today. This original book was a collection of 65 purported revelations given to Joseph Smith, Jr.
In 1835, these earlier revelations were edited and combined with additional revelations and published, totalling 103 sections — although they only numbered to 102 because two sections were inadvertently numbered 66. The revelations were published together with a series of doctrinal discourses used in the school of the prophets in Kirtland, Ohio entitled the Lectures on Faith. The resulting combination was entitled The Doctrine and Covenants: the "doctrine" portion consisted of the Lectures on Faith, while the "covenants" portion consisted of the revelations. The combined book was officially accepted as part of the Latter Day Saint canon on August 17, 1835. The book is organized in numbered "sections," with each section representing an individual revelation.
Today, the book is published in a number of versions by different denominations of the Latter Day Saint movement.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Editions
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), The Doctrine and Covenants stands alongside the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and The Pearl of Great Price as holy scripture. Together they are referred to as the "Standard Works."
Sections Added to LDS Edition
The 138 Sections in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Doctrine and Covenants break down as follows:
- Sections 1–134, 137 — From the presidency of Joseph Smith, Jr. (1828–1844)
- Sections 135–136 — During the administration of the Twelve (1844–1847)
- Official Declaration 1 — From the presidency of Wilford Woodruff (1889–1898)
- Section 138 — From the presidency of Joseph F. Smith (1901–1918)
- Official Declaration 2 — From the presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (1973–1985)
The 1844 edition added eight sections not included in the 1835 edition. In the current edition, these are numbered Sections 103, 105, 112, 119, 124, 127, 128, and 135.
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.
Sections 137 and 138 were added in the 1981 edition.
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. In neither case is the entire revelation included in the Doctrine and Covenants, and these two revelations were possibly not of the nature of a writable piece of text.
Portions Removed from the LDS Edition
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.
The Lectures on Faith portion of the book was removed by the LDS Church in 1921.
Community of Christ Editions
Officials of Community of Christ (formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) first published an edition of The Doctrine and Covenants in 1864, based on the previous 1844 edition. A General Conference of the church in 1878 approved a resolution that declared that the revelations of the Prophet-President Joseph Smith III had equal standing to those previously included in the work. Since that time, the church has continually added sections to its edition of The Doctrine and Covenants, containing the "revelations" of succeeding Prophet-Presidents. (The numbers of the sections and versification differ from the edition published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and both modern editions differ from the original 1835 edition numeration).
Sections Added to Community of Christ Edition
The 163 Sections of the Community of Christ's Doctrine and Covenants break down as follows:
- Sections 1–113 — From the presidency of Joseph Smith, Jr. (1828–1844)
- Sections 114–131 — From the presidency of Joseph Smith III (1860–1914)
- Sections 132–138 — From the presidency of Frederick M. Smith (1914–1946)
- Sections 139–144 — From the presidency of Israel A. Smith (1946–1958)
- Sections 145–152 — From the presidency of W. Wallace Smith (1958–1978)
- Sections 153–160 — From the presidency of Wallace B. Smith (1978–1996)
- Sections 161–162 — From the presidency of W. Grant McMurray (1996–2004)
Portions Removed from the Community of Christ Edition
A General Conference of the church removed the "Doctrine" portion of the work in 1897. A "World Conference" (as "General Conferences" are now known) concluded that several sections that had been added between the 1835 and 1844 editions had been included without proper approval of a church conference. The World Conference removed Sections 107, 109, 110, 113 and 123 to an "appendix." A World Conference in 1990 subsequently removed the appendix from the Doctrine and Covenants.
Editions used by Other Denominations
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite) uses the 1846 Nauvoo, Illinois edition which is virtually identical to the 1844 edition. Most recently a facsimile reprint was produced for the church at Voree, Wisconsin by Richard Drew in 1993.
The Church of Christ (Temple Lot) contends that the thousands of changes made to the original revelations as published in The Book of Commandments, published in the 1835 and later editions of the Doctrine and Covenants (including the change of the church's name) are undoctrinal and result from Joseph Smith's fall from his original calling. As a result, the Church of Christ prefers to use reprints of The Book of Commandments text.
- LDS Edition of the D & C
- Community of Christ Edition
- SaintsWithoutHalos.com: Doctrine and Covenants - Mormon historical revisionist site with thoroughly annotated D&C showing changes from various editions.
- The Doctrine and Covenants of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Containing Revelations Given to Joseph Smith, the Prophet, with Some Additions by his Successors in the Presidency of the Church, Intellectual Reserve: Salt Lake City, UT, 2000.
- Book of Doctrine and Covenants: Carefully Selected from the Revelations of God and Given in the Order of their Dates, Herald Publishing House: Independence, MO, 2000.
- Joseph Smith, The Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints: Carefully Selected from the Revelations of God, photo enlarged and reprinted from the 1846 Nauvoo edition by Richard Drew, Burlington (Voree), Wisconsin, 1993, for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite).
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