Doctrine & Covenants

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Examining the Chiastic Structure of the Word of Wisdom

Back when I was studying the Word of Wisdom in depth, I became aware of potential patterns in the text. I began to wonder if D&C 89 was structured in a chiastic form. I printed out a copy and began marking it up.

To my delight, I began to find certain themes repeating themselves in opposite directions off of a central theme. As I analyzed the structure, I decided to try to boil it down to certain themes or principles and I found 3 that appear to be represented strongly in the text: temporal salvation, spiritual blessings, and stewardship over creation.

Theme & Color Key

Temporal Salvation
Health, strength, wellness, energy

Spiritual Blessings
Revelation, clarity, blessings for obedience

Stewardship Over Creation
Respect for life, proper use, peace.
Flesh ordained for use when there is a legitimate need.Read Full Post

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Questioning the Comma in Verse 13 of the Word of Wisdom by A. Jane Birch

The following article was published at Mormon Interpreter. I’ve been waiting for someone to do the research and put together some good information on this subject and I think Jane did a great job. She’s the author of the book Discovering the Word of Wisdom which she wrote following her own personal journey toward health and wellness by seeking to follow the principles in D&C 89.

Of all the things going on in the world, the Word of Wisdom might not seem to be very significant, but when the revelation itself states that it is “showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days” and that “In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation”, it sounds pretty relevant to us today.

I don’t personally feel like it is my duty or obligation to tell people how they should live the principles of the gospel, but I do believe that giving people as much information as possible so that they can make their own decisions as guided by the spirit is my duty and obligation.


Abstract: The 1921 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants included an additional comma, which was inserted after the word “used” in D&C 89:13: “And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.” Later authors have speculated that the addition of the comma was a mistake that fundamentally changed the meaning of the verse. This article examines this “errant comma theory” and demonstrates why this particular interpretation of D&C 89:13 is without merit.

In 1921, a committee of five apostles who had recently completed a new edition of the Book of Mormon began preparing a new edition of the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C). Elder James E. Talmage, a member of the committee, noted that previous editions of the D&C contained “many errors by way of omission.”1 The most significant change in this new edition was the removal of the “Lectures on Faith,” but the committee also expanded the headnotes, revised the footnotes, and divided the pages into double columns.2 Numerous smaller changes were also made. As one of the many changes published in the revised 1921 edition, a new comma appeared in verse 13 of section 89, [Page 134]also known as the Word of Wisdom. This comma was inserted between the words used and only:

Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;

And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine. (D&C 89:12–13)

In his detailed analysis of the textual changes throughout the history of the D&C, Robert J. Woodford relates the following interesting story:

It [the comma] was never found in any text prior to the 1921 edition of the D&C. According to T. Edgar Lyon [prominent LDS historian and educator], [Apostle] Joseph Fielding Smith, when shown this addition to the text, said: “Who put that in there?” This is a significant statement since Elder Smith served on the committee to publish that edition of the D&C. Thus, the comma may have been inserted by the printer and has been retained ever since.3

This story supports what has become a very popular interpretation of verse 13, namely, that the inserted comma is a mistake that reverses the meaning of the text and that the true meaning is understood only Read Full Post

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The Commandments of D&C 59

There’s a beautiful version of the 10 commandments in Doctrine & Covenants section 59. I like to study this version from time to time whenever I feel like I need to get back to simplicity.

  1. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy might, mind, and strength; and in the name of Jesus Christ thou shalt serve him.
  2. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
  3. Thou shalt not steal; neither commit adultery, nor kill, nor do anything like unto it.
  4. Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things.
  5. Thou shalt offer a sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in righteousness, even that of a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
  6. And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt:
    1. Go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments and thy oblations unto the Most High.
    2. Rest from your labors.
    3. Pay thy devotions unto the Most High.
    4. confess thy sins unto thy brethren, and before the Lord.
    5. do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy may be full.
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How to Deal With Those in Error

“If any are in error, try to reclaim them by kindness; if they have a bad spirit, show them a better one; if any do not do right, do right yourselves and say, ‘Come follow me, as I follow Christ.’ Would not that be the right course to pursue? I think it would; that is the way I understand the Gospel. We do not, any of us, have the priesthood for self aggrandizement, or to be used to oppress, or take advantage of anybody, or to use improper language; but with all kindness and long-suffering and forbearance and with love unfeigned.” – John Taylor, JD 20:261

These principles are also found in D&C 121.

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Understanding the Justice and Mercy of the Degrees of Glory

galaxy-glory

Today in church we had a lesson on the doctrine of the “three degrees of glory”. A comment seemed to indicate a feeling that inheriting a particular lower degree of glory as your eternal home with no chance of progression was unjust.

The comments began around a particular verse that describes the inhabitants of the telestial kingdom as  “…they who received not the gospel of Christ, neither the testimony of Jesus” (D&C 76:82). I think a misunderstanding of the word “received” is where the difficulty arises. A few assumed that received meant that the individuals never got a chance to accept Christ because they never had access to the gospel.

However, the Webster’s 1828 Dictionary shows the first definition of receive as: Read Full Post

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