Revelations in Context: Joseph Smith's Letter from Liberty Jail, March 20, 1839 | BYU Studies

Revelations in Context: Joseph Smith's Letter from Liberty Jail, March 20, 1839

Revelations in Context: Joseph Smith's Letter from Liberty Jail, March 20, 1839
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Revelations in Context: Joseph Smith's Letter from Liberty Jail, March 20, 1839

John W. Welch
Dean C. Jessee

While Joseph Smith was in Liberty Jail, he wrote or dictated eight surviving letters. Four were addressed to Emma, his wife, and all of them display the sterling character of the Prophet Joseph under trials of the most extreme conditions imaginable. His letter of March 20, 1839, directed to the Saints and to Bishop Partridge in particular, is one of the most revealing and most significant letters ever written by a prophet of God in the dispensation of the fullness of times. Embedded in this lengthy letter, which was written in two parts on twenty-nine sheets of paper, are the words now contained in sections 121–23 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Reading the words of those revelations in their original context certainly enhances and heightens the impressive spiritual messages of those texts.