The editing process uncovered Joseph’s anomalous assumptions about the nature of revealed words. He never considered the wording infallible. God’s language stood in an indefinite relationship to the human language coming through the Prophet. The revealed preface to the Book of Commandments specified that the language of the revelations was Joseph Smith’s: “These commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.” The revelations were not God’s diction, dialect, or native language. They were couched in language suitable to Joseph’s time. The idioms, the grammar, even the tone had to be comprehensible to 1830s Americans. Recognizing the pliability of the revealed words, Joseph freely edited the revelations “by the holy Spirit,” making emendations with each new edition. He thought of his revelations as imprinted on his mind, not graven in stone. With each edition, he patched pieces together and altered the wording to clarify meaning. The words were both his and God’s.
He never considered the wording infallible
- by Trace Rogers