First Impressions of the Joseph Smith Papers: Revelations Volume

Everybody comments on the size of this volume; its weightiness, both physical and metaphorical, is inescapable. Other reviewers will do a more scholarly job of analyzing the contents. This is my idiosyncratic first impression of this beautiful book.

The left-hand side of every spread is a color photograph of a page from one of the two manuscript books used to record early revelations and commandments, with the right-hand side being a transcription of that manuscript page, line by line, each line of printed text breaking where the manuscript line breaks, insertions and overstrikes and erasures being marked on the text to mimic in type the handwritten page, as nearly as possible. The photographs are beautiful and clear, and I loved the detailed description in the forematter of how those photos were produced – the editors even tell us that the binding would not allow certain (identified) pages to lie flat, so archivists used small metal spatulas to hold the pages in place for photography (assuring us that no text was obscured in any case), then cloned color from the surrounding area to remove all visual trace of those spatulas.

This may be the first time that many readers have a chance to examine, even second hand, a primary manuscript from the 19th century.

Read the rest of this story at
Comments and feedback can be sent to