Teachings and Commandments is a collection of principles, teachings, commandments, precepts, and truths from God, as revealed to Joseph Smith Jr., and Denver Snuffer Jr. The objective of this Restoration Edition of scripture has been to identify all reliable manuscripts from Joseph’s day and to reflect the text of those manuscripts with as little editing as possible. Many of those original manuscripts included edits that were made by many different people. The task of discerning credible edits (those made with Joseph’s approval) from those made by others who either sought to help or to manipulate the text took more than two years and required direct assistance from the Lord.
Many of Joseph’s revelations were previously published initially as the Book of Commandments, and later as the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C). There are revelations in the T&C that were not included in the Book of Commandments or subsequent D&C; and there are sections in the D&C that do not appear in this current T&C. An explanation of the sections that are in the D&C but are not in the T&C can be found in the Appendix at www.scriptures.info.
A significant portion of the content of the T&C is related to organizing and guiding an institution. Following the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, that institution departed from the commandments established by the Lord and compromised institutional equality that was essential to avoiding the abuse of authority. Those former materials relating to a church hierarchy are included in this volume, even though we now realize that they hindered the establishment of Zion. They are relevant to understanding the past, and they yet contain some principles, precepts, and guidance that are applicable to our day. Therefore, this volume contains some materials that were once commandments, but are now only part of understanding history and helping us to discern what did not, has not, and cannot bring Zion.
The following is a list of the elements found in this Restoration Edition of the T&C, as well as the practices observed in updating the materials:
- The material in the T&C is separated into “sections” rather than chapters, with the exception of the Joseph Smith History, which uses “parts.”
- When additional scriptures are referenced in the T&C, they are cited as follows:
- In T&C 1 – 155 (Joseph’s material), the original scripture references remain intact, with current Restoration Edition citations following the original sources and being placed in [square brackets].
- Beginning with Section 156, all scripture references are cited to these Restoration Edition scriptures, unless otherwise indicated.
- Though several books of scripture have been assigned a section number as a way to indicate their chronological position within the greater work, for consistency and simplicity it is recommended that referencing these books follow standard scripture convention (Book chapter:paragraph) rather than citing the section number and then subsequent information. For example:
- JSH 5:4 (Joseph Smith History, part 5 paragraph 4);
- LOF 3:1 (Lectures on Faith, lecture 3 paragraph 1);
- Abr 6:2 (Book of Abraham, chapter 6 paragraph 2); and
- TSJ 12:3 (Testimony of St. John, chapter 12 paragraph 3).
- After finalizing and publishing the Restoration Edition, further research of available materials suggests a few of the Sections may be out of chronological order. We cannot be certain about the order because in 1831 these revelations were received in rapid succession and this led to ambiguous record keeping. Rather than change the order, we are providing this update:
- Sections 5, 6, 7 only carry the open date of July 1830. Joseph Smith appears to have indicated they should be in the descending calendar order of 7, 6, 5.
- Sections 29 and 30 carry the open date of February 1831, but evidence indicates that they were both received between 9-22 February, 1831, since Joseph Smith apparently referenced some of their content in a letter written on 22 February. Sections 27 and 28 were drafted on 23 February, 1831, and therefore chronologically may be after Sections 29 and 30.
- The Joseph Smith History (see T&C 1) was written in 1838 by Joseph Smith to replace an earlier history that had been kept and recorded by John Whitmer. Whitmer served as the church historian from 1831 to 1838, and upon his excommunication from the church in 1838, he refused to return any of the history he had kept. Joseph’s replacement history was published in the Times and Seasons, beginning in March 1842. A shorter version of that history was included in the Latter-day Saint scripture volume titled the “Pearl of Great Price.” The Joseph Smith History (JSH) contained in this volume includes all of the history Joseph Smith published as editor of the Times and Seasons, as well as the revisions made by him in the “Manuscript History of the Church.”
- Early revelations that are reported in the JSH have not been repeated as independent sections in the T&C unless the subsequent publication differed significantly from the original. This has occurred in three instances, and those revelations have been included both as part of the JSH and as independent sections (see sections 2, 3 & 4) so as to allow the reader to take note of and work through the differences.
- Many additional sections that have been verified as revelations given through Joseph Smith have been added; these sections were never previously adopted as scripture.
- The Lord directed a change in the text of a revelation given through Joseph Smith that is often referred to as the Word of Wisdom (see T&C 89:3).
- The Lectures on Faith have been restored to their proper place in scripture. After Joseph completed the Lectures on Faith in 1834, they were adopted as scripture in a church General Conference in 1835 by common consent (see Glossary: Common Consent) and placed in the 1835 D&C. All major Mormon sects subsequently removed them from their body of scriptures, though not by common consent. A slightly larger font has been used for the Lectures on Faith than for the subsequent materials, in the same way they were first printed in the 1835 D&C.
- The Articles of Faith that have been adopted by some Mormon sects have been replaced by the entire Wentworth Letter from which they were copied, in order to provide context to those articles.
- The Book of Moses and Joseph Smith-Matthew, which were previously included in the LDS Pearl of Great Price, can be found incorporated within the New Translation of the Bible.
- The Book of Abraham is now T&C 145, its proper place in the chronological order.
- While the new scriptures project was underway (see Foreword to Teachings and Commandments), the Lord commanded that a new Testimony of St. John be added. Obeying that commandment became the responsibility of Denver Snuffer Jr. After a few days of using a Greek text for a new translation, it became apparent it would require years of effort and might never result in a reliably correct translation. Accomplishing it was beyond his ability, and he prayed to be relieved of the commandment. In response, he was visited and provided Divine assistance, and the work was completed quickly. The text of the Testimony of St. John is better understood as a new revelation rather than as a translation. It has been added to the T&C as section 171. Following Denver’s original publication of the Testimony of St. John, the Lord required a correction, which has been included in this volume (see TSJ 5:11 -
- Additional revelation has come forth in our day through Denver Snuffer Jr., a messenger sent by God. These revelations have been added to this volume.
- Provisions have been made in the printing of this volume for future revelations to be added, until the time that this collection requires an expanded printing.
- “A Glossary of Gospel Terms” is included in the Appendix as a suggested foundational vocabulary for a discussion of the Restoration Edition scriptures.
- Archaic language updates to the scriptures (except the Book of Mormon) were approved by the Lord and have been restricted to updating words, phrases, and grammar that are no longer used in modern speech. Some phrases and sentences have been modified in consequence of the word updates or when current wording made the meaning unclear, but only when the meaning was retained, as directed by the Lord (see T&C 157:15). Some sections were left in their archaic form to reinforce aspects of the revelation. For example, T&C 69 was a revelation given to Joseph Smith and Sydney Rigdon directly from Heaven. The language used was correct for Joseph’s day, and even though it is not current in our day, it was deemed wise to defer to Heaven’s choice of words.
- Punctuation has been reduced wherever possible to allow multiple interpretations where the text suggests that possibility. Otherwise, modern grammatical rules have been followed.
- Some literary tools have been used to invite new or particular perspectives to be considered. For example:
- When referring to God, pronouns have all been rendered in lowercase letters to help reduce the historically-perceived distance between God and man.
- A significant number of titles have been rendered in lowercase to avoid elevating some men and positions above others.
- Words that can convey multiple meanings are largely rendered in lowercase, even when one meaning would demand capitalization, such as earth.
- Verses have been expanded to paragraphs to allow the context to influence the reading of the text.
One has ‘parts’, another ‘lectures’, and the other two, ‘chapters.’