5. “This Is the Spirit of Revelation”

This lesson helps us understand personal revelation from the example of Oliver Cowdery.
Oliver Cowdery’s Life

“Oliver Cowdery’s Vermont Years and the Origins of Mormonism,” Larry E. Morris, BYU Studies, Vol. 39, no. 1
A revelation in 1829 states that Oliver Cowdery had a gift of working with the rod. Divining rods were used to obtain healings and answers to spiritual questions as well as to search for water or minerals. This article challenges theories that the Cowdery family and Smith family were involved with certain people (Justus Winchell, Nathaniel Wood, Ethan Smith) in Vermont.

“The Conversion of Oliver Cowdery,” Larry E. Morris, Days Never to Be Forgotten: Oliver Cowdery
The faithfulness of Joseph Sr. and Lucy Smith had a profound effect on Oliver Cowdery, prompting him to pray and decide for himself what he thought about the story of the gold Bible. The powerful confirmation that resulted convinced him that the Restoration was genuine and that he should be a part of it.

“Oliver Cowdery as Book of Mormon Scribe,” Royal Skousen, Days Never to Be Forgotten: Oliver Cowdery
In this chapter I discuss Oliver Cowdery’s role in the early transmission of the English-language text of the Book of Mormon. There are three aspects to his work, with him acting as (1) the main scribe for Joseph Smith in taking down Joseph’s dictation of the text, (2) the main copyist for producing the copytext for the 1830 printer, and (3) an assistant in various tasks involved in the printing of the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon.

Folk magic in early Mormonism

“Seer Stones, Salamanders, and Early Mormon ‘Folk Magic’ in the Light of Folklore Studies and Bible Scholarship,” Eric A. Eliason, BYU Studies, Vol. 55, no. 1
Recognizing that ritual practices change over time helps us make sense of early Mormon practices (specifically seer stones) and American frontier folk magic in general.

“Seeking Divine Interaction: Joseph Smith’s Varying Searches for the Supernatural,” Kerry Muhlestein, No Weapon Shall Prosper: New Light on Sensitive Issues
Joseph’s methods of interacting with the divine may seem strange to us, but this is largely because we are more cultural inheritors of the Protestant movement to remove God from daily life than we are of the folk religion of Joseph’s day. Should we expect God to refuse interaction with a youth because he was seeking God in ways not familiar to us?

Spiritual experiments

“Watermelons, Alma 32, and the Experimental Method,” Joseph T. Hepworth, BYU Studies, Vol. 23, no. 4
The author asks if spiritual principles can be tested experimentally, casting light on Oliver Cowdery’s failed effort to translate.