Friday, March 26, 2010

Melchizedek Priesthood - Restoration Timeline

Last updated March 26, 2010
by Tim Barker

Note: This is a working draft!  References will be added next update.

Spring 1829
Emma acts as Joseph’s scribe part time while at their home in Harmony, Pennsylvania.

By this time Joseph had already suffered the loss of the 116 pages which Martin Harris had transcribed. Joseph and Emma are in Harmony, Pennsylvania and she acts as scribe for Joseph part time while they continue their daily labors of farming, housekeeping, etc. The translation process moves slowly. Samuel Smith and Reuben Hale also contribute as scribes to a limited extent.

March 1829 – Joseph Smith receives D&C 5

In Harmony, a revelation is given through Joseph Smith to Martin Harris. Included in this revelation, the Lord mentions that Joseph would be ordained hereafter (vs. 6), three witnesses will be called and ordained (vs. 11), the witnesses will see the records and testify of them (vs. 11-13, 15), the Lord tells them that they are not yet ordained (vs. 17), and Joseph is told to “stop for a season” regarding translation of the Book of Mormon, “until I command thee, and I will provide means whereby thou mayest accomplish the thing which I have commanded thee” (vs. 30, 34).

April 2, 1829 – Joseph prays for a scribe and is told that one will arrive shortly.

Lucy Mack Smith states that “Joseph called upon the Lord, three days prior to the arrival of Samuel [Smith] and Oliver [Cowdery], to send him a scribe, according to the promise of the angel; and he was informed that the same should be forthcoming in a few days. Accordingly, when Mr. Cowdery told him the business that he had come upon, Joseph was not at all surprised.” Lucy’s reference to the “promise of the angel” relates to a non-canonical revelation Joseph received in September 1828, approximately seven months prior to Oliver’s arrival.

April 5, 1829Oliver Cowdery (and Samuel Smith?) arrives in Harmony, Pennsylvania.

After spending the winter with the Smith family in Manchester, New York, Oliver heads to Harmony, but stops in Fayette where he and David Whitmer discuss the records held by Joseph. Oliver promises to write David after he has investigated Joseph’s claim.

Lucy Mack Smith states that Oliver and Samuel head to Harmony, Pennsylvania together; however, Joseph does not mention that Samuel was with Oliver at this time, and neither does Oliver or David Whitmer. While Whitmer had not yet met Joseph, Oliver and David had previously been made acquainted in 1828. On Oliver’s trip to Harmony, he stopped at David’s parent’s home and David later recounted their conversation held in some detail, but does not mention, or allude to, Samuel having been present. The nature of their discussion seems to indicate that Samuel may not have been present as Oliver informed David that he would let him know what he found out regarding the Book of Mormon, whether “truth or untruth.” It seems likely that this was a private conversation. Additionally, Joseph relates that Samuel came to visit them (rather than returning to visit them) around the time of the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood. Perhaps Samuel and Oliver intended to leave together, but for whatever reason, Oliver may have left in early April with Samuel leaving approximately a month later for Harmony.

April 6, 1829 – Oliver assists Joseph with $64 as a payment on the Smith family home in Harmony.

The money appears to have been Oliver’s funds from school teaching. “On Monday the 6th, I assisted him [Joseph] in arranging some business of a temporal nature…”

April 7, 1829 – Oliver begins as scribe for the continued translation of the Book of Mormon.

Early-Mid April 1829 – As promised, Oliver writes a letter to David Whitmer.

Oliver’s letter informs David that Joseph has the records and that it is the “will of heaven” that Oliver should assist as scribe. Also according to Whitmer, Oliver further stated that Joseph had inquired of the Lord and “told him secrets of his life that he knew could not be known to any person but himself, in any other way than by revelation from the Almighty.” Whitmer indicated that Cowdery’s secret thoughts was that “he had meditated about going to see him [Joseph], which no man on earth knew, as he supposed, but himself, and so he stopped to write for Joseph.”

Lucy Mack Smith noted that before Oliver had left their residence, Joseph, Sr. informed Oliver of the plates, and Oliver indicated that he was “highly delighted” and later related that he had been in a “deep study upon the subject all day, and that it was impressed upon his mind, that he should yet have the privilege of writing for Joseph. Furthermore, that he had determined to pay him a visit at the close of the school, which he was then teaching.” The next day Oliver stated that “the subject upon which we were yesterday conversing seems working in my very bones, and I cannot, for a moment, get it out of my mind.” Oliver tells the Smiths that “I have made it a subject of prayer, and I firmly believe that it is the will of the Lord that I should go [to Harmony]. If there is a work for me to do in this thing, I am determined to attend to it.”

While Oliver indicates that nobody could have known his secret thoughts, Lucy indicates that Oliver had told them of his conviction, and she states that “Mr. Smith…advised him to seek a testimony for himself, which he did, and received the witness spoken of in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants…” It seems likely that Lucy may have remembered some of these events after the fact, although, she inserts them as though it occurred prior to Oliver’s departure. Joseph documented that “Oliver Cowdery stated to me that after he had gone to my father’s to board, and after the family had communicated to him concerning my having obtained the plates, that one night after he had retired to bed he called upon the Lord to know if these things were so, and the Lord manifested to him that they were true, but he had kept the circumstance entirely secret, and had mentioned it to no one; so that after this revelation was given [D&C 6], he knew that the work was true, because no being living knew of the thing alluded to in the revelation, but God and himself.”

Joseph adds additional information regarding Oliver’s revelation in his 1832 autobiography. He states that the “Lord appeared unto a young man by the name of Oliver Cowdry [sic] and shewed [sic] unto him the plates in a vision and also the truth of the work and what the Lord was about to do through me his unworthy servant therefore he was desirous to come and write for me…” This description adds greater insight to the statement from the Lord to Oliver, “thou knowest that thou hast inquired of me and I did enlighten thy mind.”

Early-Mid April 1829 - Joseph and Oliver receive a revelation on John the Beloved (D&C 7)

The revelation arose due to a “difference of opinion arising between us about the account of John the Apostle, mentioned in the New Testament, as to whether he died or continued to live, we mutually agreed to settle it by the Urim and Thummim.” The revelation is a “translated version of the record made on parchment by John and hidden up by himself.”

It seems likely that this revelation came about as they were translating Alma 45:18-19, the translation of Alma the Younger. While 3 Nephi 28 seems viable (since it mentions John the Beloved in vs. 6), Joseph and Oliver had not yet translated this far. Oliver Cowdery indicated that they sought baptism after “writing the account given of the Savior’s ministry to the remnant of the seed of Jacob, upon this continent…” It is reasonable that 3 Nephi 11 and subsequent chapters were translated closer to May 15th (the date of their baptisms), and therefore, this scripture is the most likely candidate for instigating a discussion on the issue of John the Beloved’s translation. The timeline between translation of this chapter in Alma in mid-April and 3 Nephi in mid-May appears reasonable considering the rate of Book of Mormon translation.

April 1829 - Oliver sought and obtained permission to assist in translating the Book of Mormon; however, Oliver’s privilege was suspended for the remainder of the Book of Mormon translation shortly thereafter.

D&C 9:5 indicates that Oliver may have translated a little since he was informed “it is because you did not continue as you commenced, when you began to translate, that I have taken away this privilege from you.” Considering that there are twenty-eight words of the original Book of Mormon manuscript written by Joseph Smith, it is possible that Oliver participated in the translation. Interestingly, just a few verses following the translation of Alma the Younger, Alma 45:22 begins with Oliver Cowdery’s handwriting, and then mid-verse, Joseph Smith’s handwriting captures twenty-eight words, and then Oliver finishes writing the remainder of the verse.

April – May 1829 – Oliver sent another letter to David Whitmer with his testimony and some translated text.

“Shortly after this Cowdery wrote me another letter, in which he gave me a few lines of what they had translated, and he assured me that he knew of a certainty that he had a record of a people that inhabited this continent, and that the plates they were translating gave a complete history of these people.”

May 15, 1829 – Restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood.

Joseph and Oliver discover a passage in the Book of Mormon regarding baptism for the remission of sins. They retire to the woods on the banks of the Susquehanna River to inquire. During their prayer, John the Baptist descended in a “cloud of light” and upon Joseph Smith, Jr., and Oliver Cowdery, he bestows the Aaronic Priesthood. A promise is given to them that if they continued to be faithful the Melchizedek Priesthood would be restored, which holds the laying on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. John the Baptist acted under Peter, James, and John, who hold the Keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Upon coming out of the water, the Holy Ghost fell upon Oliver, “and he stood up and prophesied many things which should shortly come to pass.” Likewise, as Joseph came out of the water he also had the “spirit of prophecy” and he “prophesied concerning the rise of this Church, and many other things connected with the Church, and this generation of the children of men.”

Joseph states that their minds were enlightened and they “began to have the scriptures laid open to [their] understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more mysterious passages revealed unto [them] in a manner which [they] never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of.”

The inquiry may have arisen through their translation of 3 Nephi 27 (see vs. 19-20). Other scriptures specifically mention “remission of sins” in relation to baptism, such as 2 Nephi 31:17, 3 Nephi 7:25, and Moroni 8:25. However, as Oliver indicated that it was subsequent to translating the account of the Savior’s ministry (beginning in 3 Nephi 11) that the question arose, therefore, it appears reasonable that 3 Nephi 27 is the most likely source.

While much could be said about the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood, it is not within the scope of this study to treat the issue any further.

May 15 – June 1, 1829 – Samuel Smith is baptized. Joseph Knight, Sr. visits from Colesville, NY, and Joseph receives D&C 12. Hyrum Smith visits and Joseph receives D&C 11. Court proceedings are held in Lyons, New York at the instigation of Lucy Harris (Martin Harris’ wife) in an attempt to convict Joseph of deceit. Oliver writes a third letter to David Whitmer at Joseph’s request and David arrives in Harmony. Oliver, David, and Joseph leave Harmony, and arrive in Fayette, NY to continue the Book of Mormon translation at David’s parent’s home.

All of the above information is included within the timeframe because of the difficulty with which each event can be precisely dated in connection with the surrounding events.

While Joseph affixes May 25, 1829 to Samuel’s baptismal date, Samuel’s biographical sketch indicates that his baptism was the same day of Joseph and Oliver’s baptism. “As they were returning from the water to the house, they overheard Samuel engaged in secret prayer. Joseph said that he considered that a sufficient testimony of his being a fit subject for baptism; and as they had now received authority to baptize, they spoke to Samuel upon the subject, and he went straightway to the water with them, and was baptized by Oliver Cowdery, he being the third person baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ in the last dispensation.” This account is apparently based on the narrative provided by Lucy Mack Smith, as the wording is virtually identical to her family biography.

Joseph’s account also seems to indicate that Samuel may have arrived a few days following the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood, and relates that Samuel was not easily persuaded of Joseph and Oliver’s preliminary explanation of the Gospel. After retiring to the woods to inquire of the Lord through prayer, Samuel received a sufficient witness to convince him of the truth, and was then baptized by Oliver.

While it seems unlikely that Joseph would provide an exact date for this event without having some confidence in the details, his account was provided almost ten years after the event. Lucy Mack Smith’s recollection of the events was drafted approximately fifteen years after the event. It may be that a combination of their recollections provides a more accurate picture.

Apparently, while Samuel was visiting in Harmony, Joseph and Oliver made a trip up to Colesville, New York, to visit the Knight family. They intended to find out if Joseph Knight, Sr., might be able to provide some provisions, “they having no way to buy any.” However, Knight was in Cattskill, New York, at the time. Upon returning home, Knight learned of Joseph and Oliver’s visit, but had to return to Cattskill again the next day. While there, he purchased some provisions, including food and lined writing paper for Joseph and company. After returning home, he went down to Palmyra and noted that the Smith family household was in need. Joseph and Oliver were not home when Joseph Knight arrived, as they were seeking “a place to work for provisions.” However, after they returned home they found Joseph Knight waiting for them. While visiting in Harmony, Joseph Smith received a revelation for Joseph Knight to seek to establish Zion. Joseph Knight’s recollection of these events stated that Joseph’s family consisted of four individuals at this time: Joseph, Emma, Oliver, and Samuel.

It is also worth noting that Joseph mentioned that Samuel served as a scribe briefly during the translation of the Book of Mormon as well. It was likely during this time that he may have served as a scribe.

Following Samuel’s baptism, he “returned to his father’s house, greatly glorifying and praising God, being filled with the Holy Spirit.” The Smith family had temporarily moved in with Hyrum and Jerusha beginning in the spring of 1829. Samuel’s relation of these events to the Smith family while at Hyrum’s home incited Hyrum to further investigation. Joseph relates that “not many days” after Samuel departed, “my brother Hyrum Smith came to us to inquire concerning these things…” Considering that his visit was “not many days afterwards,” and the trip of 135 miles generally took two to three days travel time, the timing of his visit adds to the difficulty in identifying the appropriate date wherein the other events occurred.

If Joseph’s recollection was accurate and Samuel was baptized on May 25th, the earliest Hyrum would likely have arrived would have been May 29th. This conservative estimate presupposes that Samuel would have left Harmony after his baptism on the 25th, and arrived some time on the 27th, while Hyrum would then listen to Samuel and leave for Harmony the same day, his arrival being on the 29th. During Hyrum’s visit with Joseph, Emma, and Oliver, a revelation was given wherein Hyrum was to “seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word…” This revelation is now recorded as D&C 11.

Hyrum’s visit must have been short. He wasn’t baptized in Harmony, and he was not present when David, Oliver, and Joseph departed Harmony for Fayette around this same time. Additionally, Lucy Mack Smith mentions that Hyrum was home during the court proceedings instigated by Lucy Harris (Martin Harris’ wife) which also seems to have occurred prior to Joseph’s arrival in Fayette. We’ll return to these events momentarily. In the course of all of these events, Oliver wrote another letter to David Whitmer, wherein David recounts, “I received another letter from Cowdery, telling me to come down into Pennsylvania and bring him and Joseph to my father’s house, giving as a reason therefore that they had received a commandment from God to that effect.” In Whitmer’s interview with Joseph F. Smith and Orson Pratt in 1878, he informs them that it was Joseph “who sent for me;” however, it is likely meant that Cowdery wrote the letter at Joseph’s request. The need to remove from Harmony to Fayette was partially due to growing opposition in Harmony, and perhaps the need to concentrate on the translation without the interruptions associated with the work of farming and daily living.

As far as the court proceedings instigated by Lucy Harris, the only available source that documents these events is from Lucy Mack Smith. Lucy Smith indicated that it was after Samuel’s return home with the news which he bore, Martin Harris greatly desired to visit Harmony “to see how they were prospering.” It should be noted, that Lucy states that Samuel returned home around the 1st of August; however, in light of all other surrounding events and information available, this seems to clearly be inaccurate.

Martin’s wife Lucy was opposed to Martin’s travelling to Harmony, and sought to divert his attention to a potential court case against Joseph. Lucy Mack Smith notes that Mrs. Harris “flew from house to house through the neighborhood” until she “ascertained the number and strength of her adherents,” wherein she entered a complaint against Joseph “before a certain magistrate in Lyons.” She also sent for Lyman Cowdery to be prepared to go “post haste to Pennsylvania, (provided the decision should be given against Joseph,) to assist the officers in securing and confining him in prison.” Lucy Smith indicates that on the day of trial, “Hyrum came in,” which may have indicated that he had just returned from Harmony, when she asked him what they could do. Hyrum responded that “we can do nothing, except to look to the Lord: in him is all help and strength; he can deliver from any trouble.”

Lucy Smith notes that the court proceedings went in their favor, after Martin Harris testified, among other things, that “Joseph Smith never has got one dollar from me by persuasion, since God made me.” The judge ordered the documentation of the witnesses against Joseph to be delivered to him, after which he tore it up and told them to trouble him no more with “such ridiculous folly.” It was around this time, according to Lucy, that Joseph received a commandment to write to David Whitmer.

David relates that prior to leaving Fayette, he had obtained consent from his father, and had to complete his farming responsibilities, which were miraculously completed in a very short period of time. Afterwards, David set off to Harmony with a two-horse wagon. According to Whitmer, Joseph and Oliver met him some distance from the house. “Oliver told me that Joseph had informed him when I started from home, where I had stopped the first night, how I read the sign at the tavern, where I stopped the next night, etc. and that I would be there before dinner, and this is why they had come out to meet me; all of which was exactly as Joseph told Oliver, at which I was greatly astonished.” In another account, David indicates that Oliver had written these things down in a book as Joseph told him the circumstances from his use of the seer stone. “Oliver asked me when I first met them, when I left home, where I stayed on the road, and the names of the persons keeping the hotels. I could not tell the names, but as we returned I pointed out the several houses where I had stopped, when he pulled out his book and found it to be correct even to the names.”

According to Whitmer, the day after he arrived, they packed up the plates and headed to his father’s home. In returning to Fayette with Joseph and Oliver (Emma arrived some time later), they rode in Whitmer’s wagon, “Oliver and I on an oldfashioned wooden spring seat and Joseph behind us.” According to David, an old man appeared “by the side of our wagon and saluted us with, “good morning, it is very warm,” at the same time wiping his face or forehead with his hand. We returned the salutation, and, by a sign from Joseph, I invited him to ride if he was going our way. But he said very pleasantly, “No, I am going to Cumorah.”” David further stated that he had a knapsack “with something in, shaped like a book. It was the messenger who had the plates, who had taken them from Joseph just prior to our starting from Harmony.” The day after they arrived, the translation again commenced. This explanation is in accord with Lucy’s account, wherein, she states that Joseph inquired of the Lord regarding how they should carry the plates. He was answered that an angel would carry them and return them to Joseph at the Whitmer residence in the garden.

Neither Samuel or Hyrum are ever mentioned by David during his trip to Harmony and back. It seems likely that both Samuel and Hyrum had come and gone prior to David’s arrival. Whitmer noted that he was the “third person baptized into the church,” which was incorrect as Samuel was previously baptized. This statement by Whitmer seems to indicate that Samuel was not present, otherwise, he would likely have known of Samuel’s baptism. If Lucy Mack Smith’s recollection is correct, then Hyrum would have been home approximately the same time that Oliver wrote his third letter to David.

Considering that David states that the translation at his father’s house took place from June 1 to July 1, 1829, and it took approximately two and a half, to three days travel, the three of them would have to have left Palmyra on approximately May 29th at the latest. While this is possible, it certainly makes the timing of all these events suspicious in light of the given timeframe. To review, let us recount these events:

May 25, 1829 – Samuel is baptized and leaves Harmony

May 27, 1829 – Samuel arrives at Hyrum’s home and Hyrum leaves to Harmony.

May 29, 1829 – Hyrum arrives in Harmony, and returns to Manchester.

May 29, 1829 – David Whitmer arrives in Harmony, and he, Oliver, and Joseph leave for Fayette.

To take into consideration: Joseph Knight arrived when Samuel was there (likely after his baptism), and Joseph receives D&C 11. After Samuel returns home, Lucy Harris obtains sufficient witnesses to testify against Joseph Smith and the next day (at the earliest), court is held and the case dismissed. Oliver writes to David, who still has at least another day of work before leaving, and Hyrum arrives. Joseph receives D&C 12, and Hyrum returns home in time for the court proceedings to discuss with Lucy Mack Smith. David Whitmer travels two and a half days, and the next day they leave to the Peter Whitmer home in Fayette, New York; all of this to be done by June 1st. While it is Whitmer that states translation commenced on June 1st, Joseph similarly states David came to Harmony in the beginning of the month of June. Based on the above information, it seems clear that at least some of the dates provided are incorrect.

I propose that Lucy’s account of Samuel’s baptism was probably more accurate. If such were the case, it certainly provides more breathing room for the timing of these events. If Samuel was baptized on May 15th, the same day as Joseph and Oliver, he could have left within the next day or two, which allows time for Joseph Knight, Sr. to arrive and visit with Joseph’s family and Oliver for a short while. Joseph would then have received D&C 11 shortly after May 15th, and Samuel would likely have returned home before May 20th. This allows much more time for Lucy Harris to gather information and arrange for court proceedings, and it also allows more time for Hyrum to leave and return to Manchester. His visit would probably still be a short one, since he was not baptized at this time. After receiving D&C 12, Hyrum would return home in time for the court proceedings which may have occurred around May 25th. Around this time Oliver writes to David Whitmer, who spends a little time farming, and then heads down to Harmony on approximately May 26th or May 27th. Perhaps it was Hyrum who delivered the letter to the Whitmer residence. If David arrived on May 28th or May 29th, they could have left in time to be at the Whitmer home, and again commence translating the Book of Mormon by June 1st.

June 1, 1829 – Joseph, Oliver, and David have arrived in Fayette, and the translation of the Book of Mormon again commences.

Early June 1829 – Emma arrives in Fayette and stays with Joseph in the Whitmer home.

Early June 1829 – Joseph receives D&C 14, 15, and 16 through the Urim and Thummim

Joseph relates that David, John, and Peter Whitmer (Jr.) “became our zealous friends and assistants in the work,” and sought to know the will of the Lord in regards to their respective duties. The revelations were received in succession and each of them generally contained a directive for missionary work and building up Zion. The Lord indicated to David that if he asked in name of the Lord, and in faith, he should receive the Holy Ghost, “which giveth utterance, that you may stand as a witness of the things you shall both hear and see, and that you may declare repentance unto this generation.” However, it is not indicated whether this relates to the power of the Holy Ghost, which is available to all mankind, or the gift of the Holy Ghost, which comes by the laying on of hands by one with authority. Perhaps, it was a foreshadowing that David would receive this gift if he sought after it.

June 1829 – Hyrum Smith, David Whitmer, and Peter Whitmer, Jr are baptized in Seneca Lake by Joseph and Oliver.

Joseph states that the people of Seneca County were friendly, and inquisitive regarding the Book of Mormon. “Many opened their opened their houses to us, in order that we might have an opportunity of meeting with our friends for the purpose of instruction and explanation.” Joseph further states that in addition to the above mentioned baptisms, “many became believers, and some were baptized, whilst we continued to instruct and persuade as many as applied for information.”

The Prophet’s description of events in June includes baptisms, but there is no mention of the gift of the Holy Ghost or the laying on of hands. This would seem to indicate that at least through June 1829, there was no administration of this higher ordinance, which would seem to imply that the higher priesthood was not yet bestowed. To take into consideration, however, is a discourse given in July 1843, wherein Joseph stated that “baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without the other half—that is, the baptism of the Holy Ghost.” This perhaps may be why these individuals were later re-baptized during the organization of the church on April 6, 1830, wherein Joseph and Oliver had been commanded to “attend to the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, upon all those whom we had previously baptized, doing all things in the name of the Lord.”

June 1829 – Joseph receives D&C 17

During the course of translation, Joseph relates that “we now became anxious to have that promise realized to us, which the angel that conferred upon us the Aaronic Priesthood had given us, viz., that provided we continued faithful, we should also have the Melchisedek Priesthood, which holds the authority of the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Joseph continues, “we had for some time made this matter a subject of humble prayer, and at length we got together in the chamber of Mr. Whitmer’s house, in order more particularly to seek of the Lord what we now so earnestly desired; and here, to our unspeakable satisfaction, did we realize the truth of the Savior’s promise…” Joseph’s history records that as they were engaged in “solemn and fervent prayer,” the word of the Lord came to them commanding Joseph to ordain Oliver to be an Elder in the Church of Jesus Christ, and that Oliver should do the same for Joseph. After this, they were to ordain others as directed by the spirit; however, these ordinations (Joseph and Oliver’s included) should be deferred until those baptized, as well as those who would be baptized, could assemble together and then by vote they should accept Joseph and Oliver as their spiritual teachers.

Once Joseph and Oliver were sustained by vote, they were to bless and administer the sacrament, and then proceed in ordaining each other as Elders. Additionally, they were then to ordain others as the Spirit directed, following which, they were to lay hands on those previously baptized. It is interesting that they were to ordain others prior to bestowing the gift of the Holy Ghost; however, we’ll return to this subject later.

The revelation given is first directed to Oliver Cowdery. In vs. 2, the Lord verifies that the Spirit has borne witness to Oliver that the Book of Mormon is true in many instances. Vs. 7, Oliver has been baptized by Joseph, according to the Lord’s commandment. Vs 9, Oliver and David are called with the same calling with which Paul was called, that of an Apostle. Vs. 18, Holy Ghost will be given if they ask the Father in the Lord’s name through faith. The Holy Ghost “manifesteth all things which are expedient unto the children of men.” Vs. 22, As many as repent and are baptized in the Lord’s name, and endure to the end, shall be saved. Vs. 26-29, Twelve disciples to be called to preach the gospel to all the world and to baptize. Vs. 31-36, the Twelve are to ordain Priests and Teachers, and to declare the Gospel by the Spirit. Vs. 37, Oliver and David are to seek out the Twelve.

1 HC 1:28
2 PWJS, 14. Joseph seems to indicate that Samuel served as scribe prior to Oliver’s arrival.
3 “Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” The Saints’ Herald, Oct 1, 1879, V26, No19, pg 289, accessed at, on August 10, 2009. In this testimony, Emma indicated that Reuben had written some. Emma was asked if her brother Alva also served as scribe, to which Emma responded, “I think not. He may have written some; but if he did, I do not remember it.”
4 The extent to which Emma, Samuel, and Reuben contributed as scribes is unknown since only about 28% of the original Book of Mormon manuscript is extant, including 1 Nephi, and Alma 22 through the first part of Helaman. The extant portions of the manuscript do not contain the handwriting of Emma, Samuel, or Reuben. (The Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon: Typographical Facsimile of Extant Texts, 1:6-7).
5 Evidential support regarding the timing of this revelation is lacking; however, as early as 1833 this revelation was documented as having taken place in March 1829 (Book of Commandments, 1884 verbatim reprinting by the Salt Lake Tribune, pg 6).
6 HC 1:28-31
7 BSJS, 131. In Lucy’s Book: A Critical Edition of Lucy Mack Smith’s Family Memoir, the original text indicates that it was “2 or 3 days before the arrival of Oliver and Samuel,” wherein Joseph had prayed for a scribe. (accessed on July 20, 2009)
8 BSJS, 126. Also see The Dating of Doctrine and Covenants Sections 3 & 10.
9 HC 1:32 ; M&A 1:14 (reprinted in T&S 2:201 and MS 3:153); BSJS, 130-131
10 DN, Jun 22, 1881, pg 334 (this article was originally printed in the Kansas City Journal, Jun 5, 1881)
11 BSJS, 131
12 HC 1: 32
13 M&A 1:14 (reprinted in T&S 2:201 and MS 3:153)
14 DN, Jun 22, 1881, pg 334; DN, Apr 9, 1884, pg 190
15 Ibid
16 Ibid
17 HC 1:44; see additional information under the entry below of May 15, 1829 through the end of May 1829.
18 (Ref)
19 M&A 1:14 (reprinted in T&S 2:201 and MS 3:153)
20 HC 1:32 ; M&A 1:14 (reprinted in T&S 2:201 and MS 3:153). Lucy Mack Smith indicates that Oliver and Joseph began translating the day after Oliver’s arrival, which would have been April 6th (BSJS, 131); however, as Oliver provides the specific date they began, and evidence indicates they were occupied with “temporal matters” the day following Oliver’s arrival, the 7th appears reasonable, and will be relied on for purposes of this study.
21 DN, Jun 22, 1881, pg 334
22 DN, Apr 9, 1884, pg 190
23 DN, Nov 27, 1878, pg 674, and reprinted in MS 40:772. Also see D&C 6:14-16.
24 BSJS, 128-129
25 Ibid, 129
26 Ibid
27 HC 1:35
28 PWJS, 14
29 D&C 6:15 (see also vs. 14-24)
30 HC 1:36 (see John 21:22)
31 D&C 7; HC 1:35-36.
32 M&A 1:15 (reprinted in T&S 2:201 and MS 3:153)
33 See (July 21, 2009). Also see John W. Welch, “How long did it take Joseph Smith to translate the Book of Mormon?” Ensign, January 1988, 46-47; Welch, Reexploring the Book of Mormon, (Provo: Maxwell Institute), pgs 1-4; Largey, Book of Mormon Reference Companion (), 160
34 D&C 6:20,25-28; 8 ; HC 1:33-35, 36-37
35 D&C 9; HC 1:37-38
36 Noel Reynolds (ed.), Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited: The Evidence for Ancient Origins, “Translating the Book of Mormon: Evidence From the Original Manuscript” by Royal Skousen, pg 72
37 DN, Jun 22, 1881, pg 334. It should be noted that the Book of Mormon indicates in numerous instances that it is not a complete history; see for example: 1 Nephi 9:2-4; Jacob 3:13; Jarom 1:14; WoM 1:3,5; Helaman 3:14; 3 Nephi 5:8; 3 Nephi 26:6; Ether 15:33
38 JS-H 1:68-75; D&C 13; HC 1:39
39 Ibid (also see * footnote in JS-H with Oliver Cowdery’s description of this event from M&A 1:14-16 (Oct 1834))
40 JS-H 1:73; HC 1:42
41 JS-H 1:74; HC 1:43
42 See (July 23, 2009)
43 M&A 1:15 (V1, No 1, Oct 1834)
44 HC 1:44
45 HC 7:216
46 BSJS, 131; The original manuscripts, as published in Lucy’s Book: A Critical Edition of Lucy Mack Smith’s Family Memoir (Signature Books), has wording that varies to some extent from the published account. The account in History of the Church mirrors the 1853 publication by Orson Pratt, indicating that the published book was likely the source for the entry in footnote 52 above.
47 HC 1:44
48 BYUS V17, N1, pg 36
49 Ibid
50 D&C 12 (see vs. 6)
51 BYUS V17, N1, pg 36
52 PWJS, 14; “Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” The Saints’ Herald, Oct 1, 1879, V26, No19, pg 289, accessed at (August 10, 2009)
53 HC 1:44
54 BSJS, 129; HSP, 47-48
55 HC 1:44-45
56 D&C 11:21
57 DN, Apr 9, 1884, pg 190
58 DN, Nov 27, 1878, pg 674
59 DN, Apr 9, 1884, pg 190; DN Jun 22, 1881, pg 334
60 (Ref)
61 BSJS, 132
62 (August 10, 2009)
63 BSJS, 132
64 Ibid, 133
65 Ibid, 134
66 Ibid, 135
67 Ibid
68 DN, Nov 27, 1878, pg 674
69 HC 1:49
70 DN, Nov 27, 1878, pg 674
71 DN, Apr 9, 1884, pg 190
72 DN Jun 22, 1881, pg 334
73 DN Apr 9, 1884, pg 190
74 DN, Nov 27, 1878, pg 674
75 ibid
76 DN, Jun 22, 1881, pg 334
77 BSJS, 137
78 ABC, 32
79 DN, Jun 22, 1881, pg 334; see also ABC, 30
80 HC 1:48-49
81 DN, Jun 22, 1881, pg 334
82 DN, Apr 9, 1884, pg 190
83 HC 1:49-51
84 HC 1:49
85 D&C 14:8
86 HC 1:51
87 Ibid
88 Ibid
89 TPJS, 314
90 HC 1:61, 76
91 HC 1:60
92 Ibid


  1. You left out that David Whitmer challenged Joseph's authority in 1835, and then Oliver and Joseph tell him about the Melchizedek priesthood.

    As well as that Elders used to be part of the Aaronic Priesthood.

    If you're going to make a timeline, you need to include all the relevant events, not just the ones that tell the story you want to tell.

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      Thank you for your comment. I still have lots to add to this post - please note that I clearly indicate at the top that this post is a working draft (even if it hasn't been updated for a very long time...). I'll have to address the issues that you raise on another day though, as I'm pretty slammed at work today.

      On a side note, to me it seems a little presumptuous for you to assume that you know what my motives are and presume that I'm intentionally excluding relevant information. As noted, I clearly point out that this post is a working draft. At any rate, I intend to address any relevant issues brought up in Gregory Prince's book, although it may be in a separately linked post.


    2. While I haven't forgotten about this, I have been extremely busy at work lately, and haven't had time to update this post, as I'm also working on several others currently. However, I thought, in relation to your comments above, that this quotation from David Whitmer would be pertinent to the conversation:

      "Elder O. Pratt to D. Whitmer. Can you tell the date of the bestowal of the Apostleship upon Joseph, by Peter, James and John?"
      "D.W. [David Whitmer] I do not know, Joseph never told me. I can only tell you what I know, for I will not testify to anything I do not know."
      Millennial Star 40:771