Sunday, April 28, 2024

Joseph Smith as Writer

Joseph Smith finished dictating the text of the Book of Mormon on or about June 30, 1829 and the printed volume went on sale in Palmyra, NY on March 26, 1830. 10 days later, on April 6, 1830, the Prophet Joseph organized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Fayette, NY. On that day, Joseph received D&C Section 21. D&C 21:1 says "there shall be a record kept among you."

More than 2 years later in Kirtland, OH, Joseph Smith was motivated to begin writing a personal journal. After many crossed out words, his first entry reads:

Joseph Smith Jrs | Book for Record | Baught on the 27th of | November 1832 for | the purpose to keep a minute account of all | things that come under | my observation &c oh may God grant that | I may be directed in all | my thaughts Oh bless | thy Servent Amen 


2 days later, the Prophet continued writing:

November 29th this day | road from Kirtland to | Chardon to see my Sister | Sopronia and also came | to see my Sister Catheri | and found them all [editors are not sure, but assume he meant to write "well"] this Evening Brother Fr | ederic Prophcyed tha | next spring I should | go to the city of Pitts | Burg to establish a Bis | hopwrick and within | one year I should go to | the city of New York the Lord spare [me is crossed out] the life | of thy servent Amen


4 days afterward, the Prophet wrote in his journal again:

December 3rd ordained Brothe [editors believe he intended to write "brother"] | Packherd with my own hands | also Brother umpry came | to see me from the East & | braught news from Brother | Lyman Johnson and Orson | Pratt &c. also held a | conference in the Evening Br | Jese and Mogan and William | Mclelen was excommunicated | from the church &c.


December 4th this day I been | unwell done but litle been at | home all day regulated some of my | things this Evening feel better in | my mind then I have for a few | days back Oh Lord deliver [the word "out" is crossed out] | thy servent out of temtations | and fill his heart with wisdom " and understanding


December 5th this day ["wr] crossed out | ["ote leters" crossed out] copying letters and | translating and in evening held a council to advise with | Brother Solomon Humphry | it was ordered by the council | that he should be a comp | anion with Broth [editors believe he intended to write "brother"] Noah | packard in the work of | the ministry


December 6th translating | and received a Revelation | explaining the Parable the | wheat and the tears &c


10 months elapsed before Joseph's next journal entry on October 4th, 1833.

First Page of Joseph's Journal
Documenting 27 November 1832
from The Joseph Smith Papers
Joseph Smith's personal journal demonstrates the veracity of Emma's oft-cited comment "Joseph Smith could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well-worded letter, let alone dictate a book like the Book of Mormon...It would have been improbable that a learned man could do this; and for one so ignorant and unlearned as he was, it was simply impossible." Saints' Herald 26 (1 October 1879) pp. 289-90.