D&C 10. Part 5. Verses 30-41.

This segment of the revelation continues the discussion of the manuscript thieves and their designs in using it. The role of Satan in the theft or at least in the plans for using the manuscript is fleshed out. There is some hint at the content of the lost manuscript and it appears that in some ways if must be inferior to the proposed alternate text. As usual, changes from the 1833 Book of Commandments and the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants are indicated in red. We discuss some aspects of these following the comparative text. While the text on the right is from the 1835 publication, we have inserted modern verse numbers in the 1835 text for easy reference.

Book of Commandments (1833) Doctrine and Covenants (1835)
Behold I say unto you, that you shall not translate again those words which have gone forth out of your hands; for behold, they shall not lie any more against those words; for behold, if you should bring forth the same words, they would say that you have lied; that you have pretended to translate, but that you have contradicted your words; and behold they would publish this, and Satan would harden the hearts of the people, to stir them up to anger against you, that they might not believe my words: 30. Behold I say unto you, that you shall not translate again those words which have gone forth out of your hands;
31. for behold they shall not accomplish their evil designs in lying against those words. For, behold, if you should bring forth the same words they will say that you have lied; that you have pretended to translate, but that you have contradicted your self:
32.and behold they will publish this, and satan will harden the hearts of the people to stir them up to anger against you, that they will not believe my words.
thus satan would overpower this generation, that the work might not come forth in this generation: but behold here is wisdom, and because I show unto you wisdom, and give you commandments concerning these things, what you shall do, show it not unto the world until you have accomplished the work. 33. Thus satan thinketh to overpower your testimony in this generation, that the work may not come forth in this generation:
34. but behold here is wisdom, and because I show unto you wisdom, and give you commandments concerning these things, what you shall do, show it not unto the world until you have accomplished the work of translation.
Marvel not that I said unto you, here is wisdom, show it not unto the world, for I said, show it not unto the world, that you may be preserved. Behold I do not say that you shall not show it unto the righteous; but as you cannot always judge the righteous, or as you cannot always tell the wicked from the righteous: therefore, I say unto you, hold your peace until I shall see fit to make all things known unto the world concerning the matter. 35. Marvel not that I said unto you, here is wisdom, show it not unto the world, for I said, show it not unto the world, that you may be preserved.
36. Behold I do not say that you shall not show it unto the righteous;
37. but as you cannot always judge the righteous, or as you cannot always tell the wicked from the righteous: therefore, I say unto you, hold your peace until I shall see fit to make all things known unto the world concerning the matter.
And now, verily I say unto you, that an account of those things that you have written, which have gone out of your hands, are engraven upon the plates of Nephi; yea, and you remember, it was said in those writings, that a more particular account was given of these things upon the plates of Nephi. 38. And now, verily I say unto you, that an account of those things that you have written, which have gone out of your hands, are engraven upon the plates of Nephi:
39. yea, and you remember, it was said in those writings, that a more particular account was given of these things upon the plates of Nephi.
And now, because the account which is engraven upon the plates of Nephi, is more particular concerning the things, which in my wisdom I would bring to the knowledge of the people in this account: therefore, you shall translate the engravings which are on the plates of Nephi, or until you come to that which you have translated, which you have retained; 40. And now, because the account which is engraven upon the plates of Nephi, is more particular concerning the things, which in my wisdom I would bring to the knowledge of the people in this account:
41. therefore, you shall translate the engravings which are on the plates of Nephi, down even till you come to that which you have translated, which you have retained;

The verb changes in verses 31, 32 are interesting. The change from a projective view to a seeric view could suggest an interesting take on foreknowledge. The more extensive change in verse 31 places the thieve’s actions in the future rather than the present. Verse 33 changes a predictive statement regarding the effect of Satan’s actions to one that reads the mind of the devil. It also changes the effect of Satan’s potential accomplishment from overcoming the (then) present generation of man, to overcoming Joseph’s testimony – though from the modern Mormon point of view, those could be that same thing.

Verses 40 and 41 convey some information regarding the preference for the material on the small plates of Nephi. The whole episode raises an extensive battery of questions about divine-human dealings. How does the strategy of the small plates enter the picture? It enters by means of apparent foreknowledge of the Martin Harris – Joseph Smith politics (see Words of Mormon). Does this require exhaustive foreknowledge? The way Mormon speech usually works in the agency value system, a candid discussion would reveal that the answer is no (of course there is always the weasel shrug). But we often want to have it both ways in terms of free will and foreknowledge. But the Book of Lehi was a sacrificial lamb on the altar of Joseph Smith’s education. Seems a waste from Mormon’s point of view.

So far we have only been able to see the changes that took place in the revelation between 1833 and 1835. The rest of the revelation exists in an earlier incarnation. We consider a part of that next time.

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3 Responses to D&C 10. Part 5. Verses 30-41.

  1. David G. says:

    Thanks, WVS. Looking forward to the next installment.

  2. ricke says:

    Yay! The silence is broken! Reading your post was the best part of my day. Your questions about the small plates have always bothered me, too. Another point that seems to be behind it is that the translation process could not have been quite so mechanistic as Royal Skousen has proposed. Otherwise, a retranslation of the Book of Lehi would have been the same the second time through. For the most part, I’ve had to make do with the weasel shrug.

    • WVS says:

      Whether the thieves intended to publish the altered version is an interesting question, but the revelation seems to suggest various outcomes. In any case, the small plates use is styled as putting that out of play. The fact that JS put the episode into the 1830 edition suggests that he felt it was a real possibility and wanted to jump on the issue from the start. Why that was a deterrent is a bit of a mystery. The thieves could have claimed that JS couldn’t reproduce the original and then published it (in perhaps a strategically altered way) anyway. Perhaps the nature of the replacement was such that it somehow foiled that sort of outcome, but it is impossible at this juncture to see how.

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