This thesis answers the question of how a vision recorded in Joseph Smith's journal found its home in the Doctrine and Covenants and become recognized as canonized scripture. The April 3, 1836, journal entry became known as Section 110. Section 110 serves as a foundation for the current practices and doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, involving temple building and temple ordinances. Thus it is important to understand the history of this Section from journal entry to canonization because it is an example of recovering revelation. This thesis also explores contributing factors that could have led to the rediscovery of the 1836 vision. While Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were in the Kirtland Temple with veils drawn around them at the Melchizedek Priesthood pulpits on April 3, 1836, they both saw Jesus Christ, Moses, Elias, and Elijah. Jesus Christ accepted the newly built temple and Moses, Elias, and Elijah committed keys to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. The vision was recorded, but as of yet, there is no evidence that the vision was publicly taught by Joseph Smith nor by Oliver Cowdery. This thesis follows the pattern established by Section 110 and the reclamation of the revelation and looks at how this section paved the way for other revelations and visions to move from handwritten pages to doctrinal levels of canonization, such as Sections 137 and 138. Joseph Smith had the vision recorded in his journal by Warren Cowdery, who served as a scribe to him. Joseph Smith also had the journal entry written in the Manuscript History of the Church. Although Joseph Smith did not publically declare that the 1836 vision had occurred to him and Oliver Cowdery, he still taught about the visitors in the vision and of their importance. After Joseph Smith's death, the leaders of the Church had his history printed in Church owned newspapers. The first time the vision was published in print was on November 6, 1852, in Salt Lake City, Utah, in the Deseret News. Outside influences of the late 1850s through the 1860s put pressure on the Church. Some of these potentially destructive influences were the Utah War, Civil War, transcontinental railroad, Spiritualism movement, and the lack of understanding of the foundational doctrines of the Church by the rising generation that had been a part of the Church from its beginnings with Joseph Smith as its Prophet. This thesis explores these potentially destructive forces on the Church and its doctrine, and looks at how the leadership of the Church responded to them and how their response influenced the canonization of the 1836 vision. Under the direction of Brigham Young, Orson Pratt oversaw the publication of the new 1876 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. This new edition contained twenty-six new sections, including Section 110. After the death of Brigham Young in 1877, John Taylor sat at the head of the Church as president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. While Orson Pratt was in England, preparing to print a new edition of the Book of Mormon on electrotype plates, he asked John Taylor about printing the Doctrine and Covenants with the electrotype plates as well. John Taylor agreed on condition that Orson Pratt add cross references and explanatory notes, as he had done with the Book of Mormon. Using the 1876 edition, Orson Pratt made the requested additions and the new edition of the Doctrine and Covenants was printed in 1880 and canonized on October 10, 1880, in a General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where all present voted unanimously to accept the 1880 edition as canonized scripture.
College and Department
Religious Education; Church History and Doctrine
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Anderson, Trever, "Doctrine and Covenants Section 110: From Vision to Canonization" (2010). All Theses and Dissertations. 2120.
Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff, Orson Pratt, Warren Cowdery, Doctrine and Covenants 110, Section 110, 1836 Vision, Moses, Elias, Elijah, Kirtland Temple, Nauvoo Temple, Salt Lake Temple, St. George Temple, keys, temple ordinances, endowments for the dead, baptisms for the dead, sealing, Doctrine and Covenants 1876 edition, Doctrine and Covenants 1880 edition, canonization