The Evening and the Morning Star

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(This is an excerpt from the book How We Got the Doctrine and Covenants by Richard E. Turley Jr. and William W. Slaughter.)

Most of the revelations published in The Evening and the Morning Star were typeset from the Book of Commandments and Revelations manuscript carried to Missouri by Oliver and John, though some were not. Some were set from unknown sources, and others match the type that had already been set for the book of Joseph Smith’s revelations being printed at the same time in the shop.14 That printed book would be called A Book of Commandments.15

Some revelations published in the Star were not in the manuscript Book of Commandments and Revelations when Oliver and John left Ohio because they had not yet been received. They were later copied into the manuscript, some perhaps when Joseph Smith visited Missouri in the spring of 1832.16

One of these was the vision received by Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon on February 16, 1832, which has been known to later generations as Doctrine and Covenants 76. When this revelation was copied into the Kirtland Revelation Book in Ohio by Frederick G. Williams, it bore the title by which it was known at the time, “The Vision.”17 But when John Whitmer copied it into the Book of Commandments and Revelations in Missouri, he omitted the title, perhaps because it was missing from the manuscript he copied.18

Following the title in the Kirtland Revelation Book, the text began, “A vision of Joseph & Sidney.”19 John Whitmer wrote “A Vision of Joseph and Sidney” as the title of the revelation when he copied it.20 When printing the revelation in The Evening and the Morning Star, the typesetter shortened that title to “A Vision,” a more apt title than “The Vision” because Joseph had received many other visions before that one.21

Altogether, during its fourteen months of publication in Missouri, The Evening and the Morning Star printed twenty-six revelations, nineteen in full and seven in part. In addition, the paper ran articles that quoted from Joseph Smith’s revelations, some of which were not otherwise printed in the Star.22

For many members of the Church, the publication of Joseph Smith’s revelations in The Evening and the Morning Star represented their first opportunity to see the revelations in print. Moreover, most of the revelations published in the Star contained matter relevant to all members of the Church, not just to specific individuals.23

The publication of the revelations in the Star was an important step forward in making them available to members of the Church and the world at large. But it was merely a precursor to the greater project of making the revelations available in book form.

_________________________

14. The notes in Jensen, Turley, and Lorimer, Published Revelations, 202–99, explain the apparent source document for each published revelation.

15. Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography, 1:37–42.

16. Jensen, Woodford, and Harper, Manuscript Revelation Books, facsimile ed., 5, 693; Jensen, Turley, and Lorimer, Published Revelations, 722–23.

17. Jensen, Woodford, and Harper, Manuscript Revelation Books, facsimile ed., 415.

18. Jensen, Woodford, and Harper, Manuscript Revelation Books, facsimile ed., 243.

19. Jensen, Woodford, and Harper, Manuscript Revelation Books, facsimile ed., 415.

20. Jensen, Woodford, and Harper, Manuscript Revelation Books, facsimile ed., 243.

21. “A Vision,” The Evening and the Morning Star 1, no. 2 (July 1832): [10]. The title “A Vision” was also used when the revelation was recast in poetic form in Nauvoo, Illinois. “A Vision,” Times and Seasons 4 (February 1, 1843): 82–85. On who prepared the poetic version, cf. Lyndon W. Cook, The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith: A Historical and Biographical Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants (Salt Lake City, UT: 1985),158–66, 312, and Michael Hicks, “Joseph Smith, W. W. Phelps, and the Poetic Paraphrase of ‘The Vision,’” Journal of Mormon History 20 (Fall 1994): 63–84.

22. Jensen, Turley, and Lorimer, Published Revelations, xii, 197.

23. Jensen, Turley, and Lorimer, Published Revelations, 197.

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