NOTE TO READERS!!!
Sadly as a result of some internet hacks I have lost most of the necessary documentation for this blog. I have some of the items but they are so small as to likely be worthless to the naked eye.
Should the original author (who has now pretty much gone underground as a result of publishing further and important LDS family ties) decide to provide them once again, I will repost the higher quality images. For now, you will have to trust me that I have actually seen with my own eyes the documents to which he discusses in the blog. NT
One of the things that was very important to me during my research, was to do the best I could at locating and finding the source documents and references many LDS church historians and other authors often cite inside their books.
I did so because I wanted to be sure I could see for myself with as little Bias as possible and then come to my own conclusions without trusting anyone for or against the church. In so doing one of the things I remembered reading about was some of the claims David Whitmer said about some of the reasons why he left. So I put on my researcher hat and tracked down a copy of the book David Whitmer wrote, called "An Address to all Believers in Christ." (See Image Below)
As you can see one of the reasons why David Whitmer was so upset and left the church was not only because, "They changed the revelations", BUT that the changes gave Joseph far greater power than what the revelations had originally stated. Granting Joseph greater power through "keys" which were non existent in the original revelations. So I decided to "test" Whitmer's claims to see if they were indeed true.
By this time I had tracked down several editions of the early Doctrine and Covenants including the 1833 Book of Commandments, but even with all these early scripture editions, I still couldn't thoroughly test Whitmer claims until I had bought, a book that I think any serious LDS researcher should own, Joseph Smith Papers (facsimile edition). This is an unbelievable resource and an excellent tool. In essence it provides full sized in color facsimile scans of the handwritten original revelations of the church. While the book is costly it is well worth purchasing. Now I had all the information at hand and I could finally test Whitmer's claims. The following are just a fraction of some of the things I discovered over weeks of doing side by side comparisons.
Book of Commandments Section 4
What I did to make it easier to create a side by side comparison of the two revelations was to splice them into one document as they were published. Each of these images are the actual photocopies of the early revelations as published. Thanks to scans and some photo shop work, I could place them side by side making it easier to see and compare.
There is more to this section of the D&C but this page alone does illustrates the main changes and problems. First I want to point out that yes it is true many of the changes or tweaks inside the D&C versions will be grammatical in nature and I have highlighted those here so you can see, BUT I am not interested in talking about grammatical issues.
In the original 1833 version, the Lord clearly says that the ONLY gift he has given, or will ever give, Joseph is the gift of translation. Specifically, the Lord says: "I have commanded him that he shall pretend to no other gift, for I will grant him no other gift." What is interesting is that somewhere between 1833 and 1835 the revelation was changed from what the Lord supposedly told him in March of 1829. These changes are significant. Now Joseph will be allowed to receive other gifts after the work of translating the Book of Mormon, and specifically says that Joseph "shall be ordained".
Now the standard Apologetic response will revolve around the idea that we have progressive revelation, and so changes are not that big of a deal. But who decided that? Did God come back a few years after 1829 and say, wait a minute we need to change this, I didn't mean what I said? Or did Joseph decide to make the change? You see one of the main things we forget was that God basically dictated the early revelations. So who decides to edit what God had already previously said? Simply stated by 1835 Joseph had much bigger grandeur views for the church, the church was now in Kirtland, Sidney Rigdon was on the scene and there were also internal leadership issues brewing. So Joseph simply needed more gifts to bolster his authority, and very soon the idea of Priesthood authority would be introduced to the church, which previously did not exist.
Book of Commandments Section 6
The Book of Commandments Section 6 or D&C 7 apparently clarifies what Jesus said to Peter about John the Apostle. Joseph translated this revelation through a "visionary" parchment not an actual manuscript and so the actual parchment is unavailable for investigation.(See Below)
Again, what I have done here to make it easy to understand is to do a direct side by side comparison of these 2 revelations and compare the differences, between them. What I found absolutely became very interesting indeed. There are over 100+ words that have been added to this revelation alone! Note, in the original 1833 version, Jesus never says anything to Peter about any "keys" for Peter, James, and John, and never says that John will be a "ministering angel." Rather, in the original 1833 version of the revelation, Jesus simply tells Peter that his apostle John will be allowed to "tarry". BUT, sometime between 1833 and 1835 the revelation was changed and now John will be a "ministering angel" that will not taste of death and Peter, James, and John will be given "keys" by Jesus. Keys that Joseph would later say were restored to him.
The other interesting side idea is the clarification or change to what "tarry" means. Many General Authorities within the church have explained that John was "translated" and so he can come and go to perform his mission on the earth as he or the Lord sees fit. This is because John by 1835 is linked to the "Restoration" as being one of the Angels or translated beings along with Peter and James in restoring the "keys" or Priesthood which in the original revelation did not exist. However the NT does clarify what Jesus did say to Peter.
John 21:22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.
John 21:23 Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?
Note the clarification in Verse 23..Jesus didn't say that John wouldn't die, instead it's an IF statement directed towards Peter, and also note there is nothing here to indicate any "keys".
Besides all this we come to the Original handwritten version of this revelation
As you can see there are absolutely NOTHING that indicates that this revelation should read in the way we currently have it in our D&C. Rather instead it matches WORD for WORD the 1833 version. There are no editorial remarks or revisions, no margins nothing to indicate why there is a need to add over 100+ words into the revelation. There is nothing to indicate any keys for Peter and James or that John should be a "ministering angel".
D&C Section 13
The revelation concerning the Aaronic Priesthood Restoration. Completely missing, not only inside the 1833 Book of Commandments but also missing in the 1835 D&C. In other words in the early days of the church there is nothing to indicate John the Baptist ordained Joseph and Oliver with Aaronic priesthood keys.
Now Apologists will argue this was never recorded because of persecution or Joseph was often on the run. On the surface that sounds like a legitimate explanation. But further examination reveals this to be problematic. First off they started recording revelations as early as 1828, so why not record something as critical and important as Priesthood authority? Instead the whole thing is just plain missing period. Yes there are a few pages missing inside Revelation Book 1, but nothing suggests the reasoning to delay the idea of Priesthood authority. Secondly, why hide it from the faithful, even if you were on the run? Instead there is NO diary record, NO church minutes, NOTHING to suggest any kind of "Priesthood authority even existed" until after.
D&C Section 2
Another simple example of a revelation gone AWOL. Yes it is true and in fairness I will grant that they didn't start recording revelations until 1828, but I have to ask why include this SO late? Why create such a late revision to the Moroni story? Again let's ask ourselves what is missing, and what is not. Immediately we can see what is added to the Moroni story is the idea that Elijah will shortly come and reveal the "Priesthood" and restore even more "keys". What is missing is that for the early church the concept of authority and keys just plain didn't exist and wasn't even in the minds of the members prior to a brief mention inside the Times and Seasons in 1834. Instead what we can see is Joseph backdated the story of Priesthood restoration.
Book of Commandments Section 24
A small interesting change but I think showcases the power of changing 1 simply word. I am not so much interested in all the GREEN additions as I am to the changes inside verse 9. Emma was concerned at this point in how were they going to take care of their family. After all Joseph was a farmer, not a schooled preacher and now he has taken up a profession unfamiliar to himself, so how are they going to pay their bills?
Note the subtle yet powerful change 1 word makes. Thy husband shall support thee from the church OR Thy Husband shall support thee in the church. Two completely different implications.
Instead Emma need not worry Joseph will take on the full mantle of leadership, and Joseph will care for Emma and their family through the financial benefit of being "Prophet, Seer and Revelator."
So in conclusion to all this research I had to ask myself the following questions. Was David Whitmer wrong? Did the church change the revelations? Were the revelations changed in such a way as to grant Joseph more authority and keys which previously in the original revelations did not exist? I think the answer to both of those questions in simply yes.