Two King Follett Sermon (Text) Traditions

The two most influential texts of Joseph Smith’s “King Follett Sermon” are those arising from the 1850s church historians, and the B. H. Roberts 1909 Improvement Era text. Currently reprinted (by church organs like Deseret Book) versions of this sermon are based on the Roberts text. The 1850s text was the survivor text from the 19th century. The other text traditions from that century fell out of usage in church printings before 1900. Aside from accidentals and Roberts’ changes in a small part of the text, his main textual alterations involved the addition of footnotes.

The King Follett Sermon was not printed in volume 6 of the Roberts’ edited History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1912. The sermon had been removed at the direction of President Joseph F. Smith at the last moment. The removal constitutes an important episode in the history of the sermon, but a full understanding of the issues would require too much space here.
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