Lesson 1: Introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Class Member Study Guide, (1999), 3

Reading assignment: Explanatory Introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants; Doctrine and Covenants 1; introduction to Our Heritage.
  • How is the Doctrine and Covenants different from other books of scripture? (See the third paragraph in the Explanatory Introduction.)

On 1 November 1831, the Prophet Joseph Smith presided at a special conference of elders, held in Hiram, Ohio. Those in attendance decided to compile some of the revelations the Prophet had received and publish them in a book called the Book of Commandments. Following the first session of this conference, the Lord signified His approval for the publication by giving Joseph Smith a revelation that He called “my preface unto the book of my commandments” (D&C 1:6). This revelation is now section 1 of the Doctrine and Covenants.

This dispensation can be divided into six historical periods, each of which will be discussed in this year’s course:

New York Period


Ohio-Missouri Period


Nauvoo Period


Pioneering the West


Expansion of the Church


The Worldwide Church


Scripture Chain: The Lord’s Word in the Doctrine and Covenants