Question: If the Doctrine and Covenants contained quotations from God, why would Joseph Smith later edit God's words?

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Question: If the Doctrine and Covenants contained quotations from God, why would Joseph Smith later edit God's words?

Joseph did not always consider the words of the revelations to be "direct quotations" from God

It does not seem that Joseph considered the words which he wrote to be, generally, "direct quotations." As Elder John A. Widtsoe explained:

The language [of the Doctrine and Covenants], with the exception of the words actually spoken by heavenly beings, is the language of the Prophet. The ideas were given to Joseph Smith. He wrote them in the best language at his command. He was inspired at times by the loftiness of the ideals so that his language or words are far above that ordinarily used by a backwoods boy of that day.[1]

The concepts and ideas were God's, while the wording was Joseph's. That he freely and openly edited them demonstrates that he did not consider them to be some type of fixed, inerrant text.

Notes

  1. John A. Widtsoe, edited and arranged with foreword by G. Homer Durham, Message of the Doctrine and Covenants (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1969), 4–9.