The history of the Word of Wisdom, Dec 27, 1832 (27-28 December 1832 and 3 January 1833)

-- Dec 27, 1832 (27-28 December 1832 and 3 January 1833)
Section 88, Place: Kirtland, Geauga County, Ohio.

Historical Note: Section 88 is a revelation of major doctrinal importance. Known as the "Olive Leaf," this revelation was received in the Prophet's translating room in the Whitney Store. Present were Joseph Smith, Jr., Joseph Smith, Sr., Sidney Rigdon, Orson Hyde, Hyrum Smith, Samuel H. Smith, Newel K. Whitney, Frederick C. Williams, Ezra Thayer, and John Murdock. Frederick G. Williams, who took minutes on this occasion, recorded the following:.

Bro Joseph arose and said, to receive revelation and the blessing of heaven it was necessary to have our minds on god and exercise faith and become of one heart and of one mind. therefore he recommended all present to pray separatly and vocally to the Lord for to reveal his will unto us concerning the upbuilding of Zion & for the benifit of the saints and for the duty and employment of the Elders. Accordingly we all bowed down before the Lord, after which each one arose and spoke in his turn his feelings, and determination to keep the commandments of God. And then proceeded to receive a revelation concerning the duty [of the Elders as] above stated. 9 oclock P.M. the revelation not being finished the conference adjourned till tomorrow morning 9 oclock A.M. [28th] met according to adjournment and commenced by Prayer thus proceded to receive the residue of the above revelation and it being finished and there being no further business before the conference closed the meeting by
prayer in harmony with the brethren and gratitude to our heavenly Father for the great manifestation of his holy Spirit during the setting of the conference.

In addition to the items of doctrine contained in this revelation, there are references to a number of topics which would have great significance to the church at Kirtland: a solemn assembly, the construction of a house of worship, and the organization of the School of the Prophets.

Solemn Assembly. Reference to a solemn assembly, D&C 88:70, called the elders "to tarry in this place, and call a solemn assembly." Those to be invited to this solemn meeting were called the "first laborers," (also known as "first elders") of this "last kingdom"--namely, the leading brethren of the Church. The solemn assembly was intended to be another day of Pentecost for the latter-day elders. An "endowment" of spiritual power was to be poured out upon the faithful at the assembly--but much preparation was to precede the occasion. First the elders were to be schooled both spiritually and secularly; later they were to be washed and anointed to cleanse them from the sins of this world. The final preparation, the ordinance of washing of feet, was to occur on the day of the sacred meeting when the righteous would see the face of the Lord. On 12 November 1835 the Prophet stated,.

We must have all things prepared, and call our solemn assembly as the Lord has commanded us, that we may be able to accomplish His great work, and it must be done in God's own way. The house of the Lord must be prepared, and the solemn assembly called and organized in it, according to the order of the house of God; and in it we must attend to the ordinance of washing of feet . . . . All who are prepared, and are sufficiently pure to abide the presence of the Savior, will see Him in the solemn assembly.

On 30 March 1836, three days after the temple dedication, three hundred brethren assembled for the long-awaited meeting. The time was spent in administering the ordinances of washing of feet and partaking of the sacrament. Many witnessed remarkable spiritual manifestations.

On 6 April 1837 another solemn assembly was held in the Kirtland Temple especially for those elders who had not been washed and anointed the previous year. On both occasions the Prophet sought to fill up vacancies in the quorums of the priesthood and "set them in order." Having the priesthood quorums thus organized, and having been purified through the ordinances, the brethren sought to receive a rich outpouring of the Lord's spirit.

The House of Worship. The first scriptural reference to the erection of a sacred house in Kirtland, Ohio, recorded 28 December 1832, directed the Saints to "establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God" (verse 119). Although the building subsequently would be referred to as a "temple," early appellations were simply "house of God," or "school." Evidence shows that the Prophet initially conceived the primary function of the sacred edifice to be that of a schoolhouse for those called to the ministry. A revelation dated 3 January 1833 stated, "The order of the house prepared for the presidency of the school of the prophets [was] for their instruction in all things, even for all the officers of the church, or in other words, those who are called to the ministry in the church, beginning at the high priests, even down to the deacons" (verse 127). It is unclear when the decis
ion to build a house of worship was made public, but by 14 January 1833 the Prophet had written to church leaders in Missouri regarding the project: "The Lord commanded us, in Kirtland, to build a house of God, and establish a school of Prophets [and] the Lord helping us, we will obey." On 8 March 1833 a revelation mentioned the School of the Prophets (section 90), and on 23 March 1833 a committee was appointed to purchase land for the purpose of erecting a school. The property upon which the house of God would be built was purchased from Peter French--initially the deed was in the name of Joseph Coe, one of the committee. The French farm was of particular interest because there was a brick kiln on the property. On 4 May 1833, high priests in Kirtland appointed a committee of three (Hyrum Smith, Reynolds Cahoon, and Jared Carter) "to obtain subscriptions for the purpose of erecting" the schoolhouse; by the first week in June a revelation was received which gave the dimension
s of the house of worship but stated that the architecture would be revealed later to three (i.e., the Presidency of the High Priesthood). The revelation further clarified that the house of worship should have two levels--the lower for preaching, fasting, and praying and the upper for the school--and promised that in the building the Lord would "endow those whom I have chosen with power from on high." In accordance with divine will, work on the sacred edifice commenced immediately. George A. Smith hauled the first load of stone for the temple on 5 June 1833, and Hyrum Smith and Reynolds Cahoon began excavating the foundation. On 6 June the building committee were directed to obtain materials--stone, brick, and lumber--in order to proceed without delay. Work on the basement of the building progresed rapidly, and on 25 July 1833 the foundation stones of the temple were laid by the Prophet and twenty-three elders.

Although the sacred edifice was to be constructed of brick (manufactured at the brick kiln on the newly purchased French farm), the furnace was found to be defective, and locally cut sandstone, covered with plaster, was used. The original plaster was most unusual for the Western Reserve, being made of crushed glassware. The stucco was "a variation of a very old building technique known as rough cast, a method for achieving a textured wall surface by mixing extraneous material" into the plaster. While there was no single architect for the temple, the master builder appears to have been Artemus Millett of Upper Canada, who took charge of the construction in the spring of 1834. Others known to have worked extensively on the temple, in addition to the temple committee, were Jacob Bump and Alpheus Cutler. On 7-8 March 1835, some 119 men received a blessing for either directly laboring on or contributing to the construction of the house.

The temple is of high rectangular shape with double rows of windows and a tower rising from the main body. The dimensions are impressive: the structure measures 78' x 58', and from the basement to the tower the height is about 110 feet. The building is divided into three levels--two almost identical stories of equal height and an attic--and is lighted with thirty-two Gothic, three Venetian, ten dormer, one circular, and two square-gable windows. The ground floor was specially intended for worship, and the upper floor for classroom use. The attic was partitioned into ten small rooms, five on either side of a hall. Both main levels had two complete sets of pulpits, one at either end. The western pulpits were for the Melchizedek Priesthood, and the eastern pulpits for the Aaronic. Each pulpit group had a compartment with a lectern behind which rose three tiers of pulpits. Eight wooden columns supported a ceiling that was flat over the aisles and arched over the center. Sets of
ropes and pulleys concealed within the columns operated curtains (veils) that could be lowered to divide each hall and each row of pulpits into smaller compartments.

The site upon which the temple stands, one of the highest in the area, overlooks the east Chagrin Valley. From the belfry it is possible to see Lake Erie, a distance of six miles.

Constructing the building took some thirty-three months and required enormous sacrifice of the Saints. A conservative estimate of the cost of construction is $60,000. On 6 April 1837 Sidney Rigdon was recorded as stating that the then "unliquidated debt" on the temple was $13,000.

The building was not completely finished when first occupied by a Hebrew school on 4 January 1836. This group occupied a room designated the "translating room" in the attic story, and two weeks later the entire School of Elders moved from the printing office to an adjoining room to the Hebrew class in the temple attic.

The sacred building was dedicated on 27 March 1836 in the presence of some one thousand persons. After singing, praying, and preaching, the dedicatory prayer (section 109) was read aloud.

Following its dedication, the House of the Lord remained in constant use for several years with Sunday worship, weekly sermons, public discourses, high council meetings, priesthood quorum meetings, special councils, solemn assemblies, choir presentations, and secular studies. However, the Saints did not enjoy permanent use of the sacred house because a majority of those in the Kirtland area had left Ohio for Missouri by mid-1838, and the remainder by 1845. Although title to the temple appears to have been transferred to one of the Church's creditors in 1837, members remaining in Kirtland maintained use of the building until about 1845, when preparations were being made to migrate to the West. In 1880 the Reorganized LDS Church was awarded title to the building by "adverse possession"--that is, although they did not hold legal title to it, their use and possession of the building over several years constituted ownership.

School of the Prophets. Section 88 called for the organization of a school for all of those called to the ministry, for "their instruction in all things" (verse 127). A subsequent revelation detailed the meaning of "all things" when it directed members of the school to "study and learn, and become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues and people" (D&C 90:15). The school, variously known as the "School of the Prophets," the "School of the Elders," and the "school of mine apostles," was intended to teach doctrine as well as secular topics to the Elders in order to properly "qualify themselves as messengers of Jesus Christ." Instruction for the "Elders" was offered during four winter sessions in Kirtland: January-April 1833, 1834-35, 1835-36, and 1836-37. Evidence also affirms that at least one session of the school was held in Missouri, during the summer of 1833.

The 1833 School: Kirtland Phase. On January 23 a small number of men convened to organize the School of the Prophets. The event which predominated the meeting was the washing of feet. Following is an extract from the minutes of the meeting:.

Opened with Prayer by the President [Joseph Smith] and after much speaking praying and singing, all done in Tongues proceded to washing hands faces feet in the name of the Lord. . .each one washing his own after which the president girded himself with a towel and again washed the feet of all the Elders wiping them with the towel. . . . The President said after he had washed the feet of the Elders, as I have done so do ye wash ye therefore one anothers feet pronouncing at the same time through the power of the Holy Ghost that the Elders were all clean from the blood of this generation but that those among them who should sin willfully after they were thus cleansed and sealed up unto eternal life should be given over unto the buffettings of Satan until the day of redemption. Having continued all day in fasting & prayer before the Lord at the close they partook of the Lords supper.

Consisting primarily of high priests, members of the school met regularly for nearly ten weeks (23 January to about 1 April 1833) in Kirtland, Ohio. The school was held in a small (10' x 14') room in the upper story of Newel K. Whitney's store, at a time when the entire upper level of the store was being used by the Prophet and his wife as a residence. The "school room," as it was called, had served earlier as a porch but had been enclosed by Levi Hancock, a carpenter, for use by the school. Regulations for the operation of the School of the Prophets were received by revelation and adhered to during the 1833 school season. Although Joseph Smith presided over the school, Orson Hyde was appointed the teacher. The number composing the 1833 school probably never exceeded twenty-five. Known members were: Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Frederick G. Williams, Joseph Smith, Sr., Hyrum Smith, Samuel H. Smith, William Smith, Ezra Thayer, Newel K. Whitney, Martin Harris, Zebedee Coltrin,
John Murdock, Lyman Johnson, Orson Hyde, Solomon Humphrey, Sylvester Smith, Orson Pratt, and Levi Hancock. The salutation recorded in D&C 88:133 was given each time the group came together. The teacher "saluted the brethren [with uplifted hands] as they came in," remembered Zebedee Coltrin, one of the original school, and "they also answered with uplifted hands." Coltrin also stated, "Before going to school we washed ourselves and put on clean linen." Members of school came fasting at sunrise and normally continued until near 4:00 P.M.

The Sacrament was "administered at times when Joseph appointed, after the ancient order; that is, warm bread to break easy was provided, and broken into pieces as large as [a] fist and each person had a glass of wine." At the conclusion of each meeting, the scholars were dismissed following a prayer with uplifted hands. Although the school was primarily intended for "revelation and doctrine," time was also given for "learning English grammer," and Sidney Rigdon "lectured on grammer sometimes.".

Several accounts of spiritual manifestations in the school are available. Zebedee Coltrin; however, is the author of the most dramatic. The following is from Coltrin's account:.

About the time the school was first organized some wished to see an angel, and a number joined in a circle, and prayed when the vision came, two of the brethren shrank and called for the vision to close or they would perish, they were Bros. Hancock and Humphries.

At one of these meetings after the organization of the school, on the 23rd January, 1833, when we were all together, Joseph having given instructions, and while engaged in silent prayer, kneeling, with our hands uplifted each one praying in silence, no one whispered above his breath, a personage walked through the room from East to west, and Joseph asked if we saw him. I saw him and suppose the others did, and Joseph answered that is Jesus, the Son of God, our elder brother. Afterward Joseph told us to resume our former position in prayer, which we did. Another person came through; He was surrounded as with a flame of fire. He (Bro. C[oltrin]) experienced a sensation that it might destroy the tabernacle as it was of consuming fire of great brightness. The Prophet Joseph said this was the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. I saw Him. . . . This appearance was so grand and overwhelming that it seemed I should melt down in His presence, and the sensation was so powerful that it t
hrilled through my whole system and I felt it in the marrow of my bones. The Prophet Joseph said: Brethren now you are prepared to be Apostles of Jesus Christ, for you have seen both the Father and the Son.

The 1833 School: Missouri Phase. According to directions received from the Prophet and others in Kirtland, Church leaders in Jackson County, Missouri, organized a school for the Elders in 1833. Although it is not clear when the school commenced, evidence shows that it was operating during the summer of 1833. Parley P. Pratt, who was designated to preside over and instruct the school, recorded the following concerning his responsibilities:.

A school of Elders was also organized, over which I was called to preside. This class, to the number of about sixty, met for instruction once a week. The place of meeting was in the open air, under some tall trees, in a retired place in the wilderness, where we prayed, preached and prophesied, and exercised ourselves in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Here great blessings were poured out, and many great and marvelous things were manifested and taught. The Lord gave me great wisdom, and enabled me to teach and edify the Elders, and comfort and encourage them in their preparations for the great work which lay before us. I was also much edified and strengthened. To attend this school I had to travel on foot, and sometimes with bare feet at that, about six miles.

The School of the Elders (Missouri) was intended to serve as a counterpart to the School of the Prophets (Kirtland) in preparing and instructing those called to the ministry. Though accounts of spiritual manifestations in the Kirtland school are more numerous, there is evidence that the Missouri school enjoyed spiritual gifts. Writing from Independence in July 1833, John Whitmer noted the following concerning the School of the Elders: "God is pouring out his Spirit upon his people so that most all on last thursday at the school received the gift of tongues & spake & prophesied.".

The 1833-34 School: Kirtland. There was no classroom instruction during the winter of 1833-34. Although the Prophet offered no explanation, four considerations appear to have played a significant role in precluding such a course: (1) the lack of an appropriate facility in which to house the students, (2) the indebtedness and failure of the United Firm, (3) a preoccupation with the difficulties of the Missouri Saints, and (4) the apostasy of Dr. Philastus Hurlburt and subsequent litigation involving the Prophet and Hurlburt.

1834-35 School: Kirtland. About the first of November 1834, arrangements were made to resume the instruction of the Elders in the Kirtland area for the coming winter. A special room, on the ground floor of the newly finished printing office in Kirtland was designated as the school room. Classwork began in early December 1834 and continued until late March 1835, nearly sixteen weeks. A school board (also known as the Kirtland School Committee) consisting of Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery, and Frederick G. Williams directed the operation and instruction of the school. Though the purpose of instruction was aimed at better preparing the Elders for the ministry, the initial enrollment included nearly fifty adolescents. The resultant overcrowding forced the school board to dismiss the younger students in favor of the Elders. The study of penmanship, arithmetic, English grammar, and geography complemented the theological discussions. It was during this 1834-35 school s
eason that the Lectures on Faith were delivered to and studied by the elders. Several instructors may have been hired by the trustees, but it is known that William E. McLellan played a significant role in teaching the secular topics.

1835-36 School: Kirtland. The 1835-36 Elders' School (also called the School of the Prophets) may well have been the most significant period of Church instruction in Kirtland. The impending temple dedication and solemn assembly brought several elders--particularly some Church leaders from Missouri--to Kirtland. The primary purpose of the school was to prepare the elders for the "glorious endowment" to be poured out upon the faithful at the solemn assembly on 30 March 1836. According to the direction of the school committee, instruction commenced on 2 November 1835 and continued until 29 March 1836. Most classes were held in the Church printing office, but possibly they convened at other locations too. Orson Hyde appears to have had primary responsibility for teaching the regular courses of reading, writing, and arithmetic. The 1835-36 curriculum also included the study of Hebrew. Although his qualifications were in doubt, a Dr. Piexotto had been contracted to teach the Hebre
w class as soon as a room could be finished in the attic of the temple. In anticipation of Piexotto's arrival, Oliver Cowdery had purchased Hebrew Bibles in New York. With the completion of the room in early January 1836, Piexotto was accordingly notified, but he advised the school committee that he would necessarily be delayed some few days. Prompted by their anxiety to begin on the one hand, and their fear of his not being qualified on the other, the committee opted to dismiss the gentleman, and dispatched William E. McLellan and Orson Hyde to the Hudson Seminary in Hudson, Ohio, to find another teacher. Arrangements were soon made, and Mr. Joshua Seixas of Hudson was hired for seven weeks at $320.

Although without an instructor, the Hebrew class began on 4 January and continued until Seixas's arrival on 26 January 1836. Seixas was given an office in the printing office and immediately began giving one-hour lectures to the forty-five Hebrew students. By 4 February 1836, two more classes had been created and placed under Seixas's tutelage. Both before and after the lectures, the students would improve their time by reading and reciting passages from their Hebrew Bibles. All instruction ceased on 29 March 1836, the day before the solemn assembly.

1836-37 School: Kirtland. Under the direction of the school trustees, the Kirtland High School commenced classwork in the attic story of the temple in November 1836; with some interruptions, it continued until at least the first week of April 1837. Nearly one hundred and fifty students met regularly for instruction under the tutelage of H. M. Hawes, professor of Greek and Latin. Actually Hawes was assisted by two instructors, Elias Smith and Marcellus F. Cowdery, who taught English, arithmetic, and geography. Elias Smith was responsible for teaching the regular courses to the juveniles; Cowdery was given the more advanced students; and Hawes taught the classical languages. The texts included Kirkham's Grammar, Olney's Geography, Whelphey's History, and Jacob's Latin Grammar. On 4 January 1837, at the termination of the first quarter, the students were given a three-hour final examination and recessed until 1 February 1837, when the second quarter began.

Publication Note. Verses 117-126 were published in the Evening and Morning Star (February 1833); verses 127-137 were first published in the Evening and Morning Star (March 1833); and verses 1-116 were first published on a broadsheet in December 1833 or January 1834. The entire revelation was included as section 7 in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. (1)

-- Jan 22, 1833-23
School of the Prophets began in Kirtland, Ohio.Feb. 27 â€" The revelation known as the "Word of Wisdom" (D&C 89) was received by the Prophet Joseph Smith at Kirtland, Ohio. (2)

1 - Cook, Lyndon, Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith: A Historical and Biographical Commentary of the Doctrine and Covenants,
2 - Church News: Historical Chronology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,

LDS History Chronology: the Word of Wisdom

Mormon Timeline: the Word of Wisdom