Doctrine and Covenants 7, with Scott Woodward – powered by Happy Scribe
Section seven is unique among all the sections of the doctrine and covenants as the only section that is a translation of an ancient parchment. Here’s the back story. On the 7th of April 1829, Josephine Oliver had begun their sacred labor together of translating and scribing the Book of Mormon Joseph’s history records. During the month of April, I continued to translate and Oliver to write with little cessation, during which time we received several revelations. A difference of opinion arose between us about the account of John the Apostle mentioned in the New Testament in John Chapter twenty one twenty two.
Whether he died or whether he continued the ambiguity of John. Twenty one twenty two had stumped Bible readers for generations and led to divided interpretations in that account. Jesus, speaking to Peter about the apostle John, says, if I will, that he Terry until I come. What is that to the note that Jesus here neither confirm nor deny that John will in fact live until Jesus a second coming. Hence the differences of opinion. The impetus for this question between Joseph and Oliver during their Book of Mormon translation work may have been the passage on the plates now recorded in Alma, 45 19, where both the biblical prophet Moses and the Book of Mormon Prophet Alma are described as having possibly been taken up by the spirit or buried by the hand of the Lord.
But whatever the cause of the question between them, Joseph said, we mutually agreed to settle it by the Yoram and Thomond and DNC seven was the result of that inquiry. The section summary in the first printing of this revelation indicates that this section was translated from parchment written and hit up by John Dye, the beloved himself, since Joseph and Oliver did not have John’s parchment in their possession. It is likely that Joseph saw the parchment as he looked into the Seer stones and received the English translation of that parchment at the same time.
A few years later, as Joseph prepared the manuscript of Section seven for its second publication in 1835, he added additional significant material to it highlighted here in green. It is unlikely that all of this added material was part of John’s original parchment. Most likely, it was inspired clarification and interpolation added by the prophet, drawn in part from related scripture. More on that in a moment. So that’s the back story. Now let’s dive into the revelation itself.
The text of Section seven begins in the first person language of John himself recounting his dialogue with the Lord versus two to three, decisively cut through the centuries old ambiguity and resolved the perennial dilemma once and for all. John was indeed given power over death and promised by the Lord that he would tell me until I come in my glory. Now, some of the language in this section is reminiscent of the language of 3rd Nephi twenty eight, where the Lord grants to three of his 12 disciples.
The same blessing here promised to John and to nine of his disciples. The same blessing here promised to Peter. In fact, as the prophet Joseph later saw the strong similarities of circumstance between John and the three Nephites, he likely felt inspired to add some of the language of third Nephi 28 Intersection seven in the eighteen five publication of this revelation, such as these phrases here. Additionally, Joseph seems to have drawn from the New Testament book of Hebrews for these two phrases here.
While these other inspired additions highlighted in Orange have no clear scriptural counterpart. Now, each of these additions to the 18 thirty five version of this section illustrate a vital truth about revelation. The prophet Joseph didn’t view his revelations as static, rigid, complete or perfect. Rather, he understood that even after they were received and written down, his revelatory text could later be clarified and acted upon as more light and truth was received and understood and as his ability to communicate that light and truth grew.
Section seven, as we now have, it, is a great example of how additional revelation can add clarification and richness to an original revelation. Now, the contributions of Section seven go beyond answering the centuries old question about Johns living status and demonstrating how later revelation can build upon and clarify a previous revelation. This section also does three additional things. First, as a translation of a missing Janene parchment. This section also confirms what the Lord had recently told Oliver and Joseph and DNC six that there were ancient records and scriptures which were kept back and hidden because of iniquity.
Section seven is prime evidence that such records exist outside of The Book of Mormon next. It also confirms that Peter, James and John were given vital keys, which would play an important role prior to Jesus the second coming a fact which would soon be confirmed to Joseph and Oliver when Peter, James and John themselves appear to them and confer these very keys upon their heads. And finally, this section underscores the fact that the law truly is a grantor of righteous desires that are aligned with his will, although Peter and John received very different blessings from the Lord as to their life spans, they both receive from the Lord according to their desires, and both would have joy there in.
These are the five major contributions of this section. And that’s the story of doctrine and Covenants said.