Masonic, magic, and religious lore regarding the rod of Aaron simmered in the burned-over district during the Second Great Awakening. Oliver Cowdery had already received revelations through a rod before meeting Joseph Smith, who revealed that Oliver would translate ancient texts just as Joseph had with seer stones. When the Joseph Smith Papers Project published A Book of Commandments and Revelations, an earlier version of the rod of nature revelation became available for analysis. Adding to two extant versions, the new copy included handwritten modifications, providing essentially four versions of this revelation for analysis. A look at the historical backgrounds of the Smith and Cowdery families, coupled with the revelatory context of D&C 8, tells a compelling story.
CLAIR BARRUS, D. MICHAEL QUINN