Monday, February 20, 2012

Documents owned by the Community of Christ shared with Joseph Smith Papers Project

Manuscript containing Joseph
Smith's translation of the Bible (now
part of the 'Book of Moses')
Excerpts of Smith Papers Website Publishes Documents from Community of Christ Collection, Joseph Smith Papers
The Joseph Smith Papers Project released to its website a dozen Joseph Smith documents owned by Community of Christ, adding to the several hundred documents already available on the site. Researchers who formerly would have had to travel to repositories across the nation to access original documents are increasingly being served by the website,, which is collecting into one place images and transcripts of all extant Joseph Smith documents.

The newly released documents include excerpts from the printer's manuscript used to set the type for the first (1830) edition of the Book of Mormon, the earliest manuscript from Joseph Smith's revision of the Bible (which includes the visions of Moses and the account of Enoch), and eight pages from the previously released Revelation Book 1, or Book of Commandments and Revelations. Several letters from Joseph Smith to his wife Emma are also part of the new release.

The document titled Old Testament Revision 1, a revelation Joseph Smith began dictating in June 1830, opens with God declaring to the prophet Moses, "Behold I I am the Lord God Almighty & endless is my name for I am without beginning of days or end of years & is this not endless & behold thou art my Son Wherefore look & I will shew thee the workmanship of mine hands." Moses sees a vision of God's creations, after which God and Moses have extended conversation about God's plans and purposes.

In two November 1838 letters included in the new web release, he updated his wife Emma on his location and condition after being arrested by Missouri officials. In the first of the letters, Joseph Smith gave what may have been a tongue-in-cheek description of the "kindst treatment" he had received from his captors, including a "splended perade", and a "good house." He also expressed his "great anxiety" for his family and fellow Latter-day Saints. Eight days later, he shared further emotions about being separated from his family: "Oh God grant that I may have the privaliege of seeing once more my lovely Family, in the injoyment, of the sweets of liberty, and sotial life, to press them to my bosam and kiss their lovely cheeks would fill my heart with unspeakable grattitude."

Community of Christ, headquartered in Independence, Missouri, made the document images available under a licensing agreement with the project, which is sponsored by the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Speaking of the agreement between Community of Christ and the Church History Department, project archivist Robin Jensen said: "The spirit of cooperation shown by officials of both institutions has been remarkable. Both have an interest in making Joseph Smith's documents available for the benefit of church members, the broader historical community, and improving the understanding of their shared heritage."

Both The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Community of Christ trace their origins to Joseph Smith's teachings beginning in the 1820s and his organization of the Church of Christ on 6 April 1830. Both churches have significant collections of Joseph Smith documents.

Community of Christ maintains copyright ownership of the images they have licensed to the Joseph Smith Papers Project for use on the Joseph Smith Papers website. Research inquiries related to Community of Christ–owned documents should be directed to the Community of Christ Library-Archives in Independence, Missouri.

Besides publishing materials on its website, the Joseph Smith Papers Project is also publishing selected papers in letterpress volumes available in bookstores. The print volumes and electronic publications are an essential resource for scholars and students of Joseph Smith, early Mormonism, and nineteenth-century American religion.

To view these new additions to the website, click on the links below.

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