Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

(1835)

Explanation and Analysis of the Document

The present excerpt from the Doctrine and Covenants contains only three of the document’s 138 revelations, which are called “sections.” The entire work also contains two “official declarations” that, while they are not authoritative revelations themselves, publicly declare two revelations received by later presidents of the LDS. The sections reprinted here speak to the church’s organization and two of the more controversial aspects of their early doctrine and practice: plural marriage (polygamy) and the baptism of the dead by proxy. Although Smith is recognized as the author of the work—and will be treated as such in the present analysis—Mormons also believe that the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants come directly from God, and God is sometimes identified as the true speaker within specific sections of the work.

Section 20

Verses 1–7

The opening lines of this section immediately inform the reader of its subject: the...

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Joseph Smith, Jr. (Library of Congress)

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