Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair(s)

Patrick Mason


Patrick Mason


Rebecca Andersen


Keri Holt


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a faith that is distinguished by its religious texts. The nickname "Mormon," that has been applied to adherents of the faith, comes from the name of its most cherished canonical book, the Book of Mormon. Aside from the Bible and the Book of Mormon, Latter-day Saints accept two other books of scriptures – the Pearl of Great Price and the Doctrine and Covenants. These four books constitute the authorized scriptures of the faith, or as they refer to them, "the standard works."

My thesis focuses on the book entitled the Doctrine and Covenants. The Doctrine and Covenants is a book that contains a compilation of revelations and teachings from prophets within the history of the Church, most notably Joseph Smith, its founding prophet. Before Smith died in 1844, he oversaw the collection and dissemination of his most essential and authoritative revelations and teachings as contained within the Doctrine and Covenants. Almost thirty years after his passing, however, Orson Pratt, an apostle of the Church, acting as Church Historian, was asked to amend and augment the revelations and teachings found within the Doctrine and Covenants. After a two-year project, Pratt added an additional twenty-six sections to the Doctrine and Covenants, mostly consisting of other revelations purportedly given to Smith while he was still alive.

My thesis seeks to uncover Orson Pratt's rationale for adding the revelations and teachings that he did to the Doctrine and Covenants. Because little documentation has survived that explains exactly why he decided to add certain revelations and omit others, I have sought to contextualize the additions that he made to the Doctrine and Covenants by studying the historical context in which he made those decisions, namely, the 1870s, and analyze the texts that he added in order to look for clues into his decision-making. Pratt was influenced by a litany of factors and my thesis explores how those influences effected his expansion project of the Doctrine and Covenants.