The Book of Commandments and the Doctrine and Covenants Compared

Today’s dilemma is a side by side example of changes made when the Church rewrote the Book of Commandments and renamed it the Doctrine and Covenants.  This particular revelation was given by Joseph Smith to Oliver Cowdery in April 1829.  Cowdery, hoping God would allow him to be the scribe for Smith, asked Smith if God had any special message for him personally.

At the time Smith gave Cowdery this revelation, New England was bathing itself in folk magic.  This type of religion is a mix of everything you can imagine; Christianity, folklore, organized religion, voo doo, superstition, family traditions and witchcraft, not to mention the occult.  Smith’s parents were deeply entrenched in using various forms of folk magic, as well as seer stones, having visions and carrying talismans.

This prophecy given to Cowdery was an assurance he would be blessed by using these divining rods when performing his duties as a scribe.

Divining rods were used to hunt for buried treasure which had become a very common practice amongst society of the day (both Smith’s and Cowdery’s fathers were members of the Divining Rods Club for men in Vermont from 1802-1805). Notice in the Doctrine and Covenants how they’ve reworded this occultic practice to the “gift of Aaron”.

The Book of Commandments was also printed in the Church periodical The Evening and Morning Star.  When the printing press burned down in 1835 necessitating the renaming and reprinting of the Book of Commandments to the Doctrine and Covenants, the first fourteen editions of The Evening and Morning Star were also revised and reprinted so there wouldn’t be any discrepancies.

Also see History of the Church 1:36-37 and the other links provided here for a deeper look into the religious practices of the Smith family in early America.

Book of Commandments Doctrine and Covenants
7:3 8:5-9
O remember, these words and keep my commandments. Remember this is your gift. Now this is not all, for you have another gift, which is the gift of working with the rod: behold it has told you things: behold there is no other power save God, that can cause this rod of nature, to work in your hands, for it is the work of God; and therefore whatsoever you shall ask me to tell you by that means, that will I grant unto you, that you shall know. Oh, remember these words, and keep my commandments. Remember, this is your gift.
  8:6 Now this is not all thy gift; for you have another gift, which is the gift of Aaron; behold, it has told you many things;
  8:7 Behold, there is no other power, save the power of God, that can cause this gift of Aaron to be with you.
  8:8 Therefore, doubt not, for it is the gift of God; and you shall hold it in your hands, and do marvelous works; and no power shall be able to take it away out of your hands, for it is the work of God.
  8:9 And, therefore, whatsoever you shall ask me to tell you by that means, that will I grant unto you, and you shall have knowledge concerning it.