Absence in Book of Commandments & Lyman Wight Ordains
CES Letter Core Question
Should we expect to see the Aaronic Priesthood restoration in the 1833 Book of Commandments?
Absence in Book of Commandments
Had the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood under the hand of John the Baptist been recorded prior to 1833, it would have been expected to appear in the Book of Commandments. However, nowhere in the Book of Commandments is this miraculous and doctrinally vital event recorded.
Had the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood under the hands of Peter, James, and John been recorded prior to 1833, it likewise would have been expected to appear in the Book of Commandments. However, nowhere in the Book of Commandments is this miraculous and doctrinally vital event recorded.
CES Letter, Page 83
The Book of Commandments only contains revelations dictated by Joseph Smith. Historical accounts would not be expected to be included.
The Book of Commandments does refer to Joseph’s ordination as “an apostle”: “Joseph Smith Jr., who was called of God and ordained an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the church, and also to Oliver Cowdery, who was also called of God an apostle of Jesus Christ, and elder of the church, and ordained under his hand…” (BoC xxiv:3, emphasis added).
Only an apostle could ordain another apostle so who ordained Joseph “an apostle” if not Peter, James, and John?
There were other visionary experiences of Joseph Smith that were not included in the Book of Commandments. Notably, neither the First Vision nor visits from Moroni were described.
The original Book of Commandment pages dimensions were 4.5” x 2.75”. It was a very small book and only revelations were included. The larger 1835 Doctrine and Covenants allowed for the inclusion of historical and doctrinal items that were not dictated revelations.
Ordained by Lyman Wight
Melchizedek Priesthood given by Lyman Wight – not Peter, James, and John:
During the turbulent meeting, Joseph ordained five men to the high priesthood, and Lyman Wight ordained eighteen others, including Joseph. The ordinations to the high priesthood marked a milestone in Mormon ecclesiology. Until that time, the word ‘priesthood,’ although it appeared in the Book of Mormon, had not been used in Mormon sermonizing or modern revelations. Later accounts applied the term retroactively, but the June 1831 conference marked its first appearance in contemporary records...
The Melchizedek Priesthood, Mormons now believe, had been bestowed a year or two earlier with the visit of Peter, James, and John. If so, why did contemporaries say the high priesthood was given for the first time in June 1831? Joseph Smith himself was ordained to this ‘high priesthood’ by Lyman Wight. If Joseph was already an elder and apostle, what was the necessity of being ordained again?
IF PETER, JAMES, AND JOHN ORDAINED JOSEPH SMITH TO THE MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD IN 1829, WHY DID LYMAN WIGHT ORDAIN JOSEPH SMITH TO THE MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD AGAIN IN 1831?
The actual minutes of this June 1831 conference showing “Joseph Smith jr. & Sidney Rigdon were ordained to the High Priesthood under the hand of br. Lyman Wight” can be viewed on the official Joseph Smith Papers website.
CES Letter, Page 83-84
Part of the newest CES Letter. Will be addressed later.