You Shall Have My Word : Exploring the Text of the Doctrine & Covenants
Salt Lake City, UT ; Provo, UT
Deseret Book ; Religious Studies Center, BYU
In the days around New Year 1833, Joseph Smith received a revelation that he termed the “Olieve leaf which we have plucked from the tree of Paradise, the Lords message of peace to us.”  Now Doctrine and Covenants 88, the Olive Leaf is a rich scripture with a complex history, both before and after its revelation. The Olive Leaf both directed the School of the Prophets toward the Kirtland Temple and its grand dedication in spring 1836 and provided important insight into the meaning of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the plan of salvation. In its basic structure, the Olive Leaf contains two interrelated themes: an expansion of the Vision of February 1832, and the revelatory foundations for the School of the Prophets.
In this essay I want to draw attention to the relevance of the Olive Leaf to the restored doctrine of the family of heaven. Specifically, I suggest that the Olive Leaf contained the kernels of the doctrines that constitute what I have termed the divine anthropology, in which God, humans, and angels are all members of the same family, the family of heaven.  Understanding this restored doctrine requires that we understand the ways the Prophet Joseph corrected and supplemented an ancient philosophical concept, the Great Chain of Being, as well as other fragments of truth scattered throughout Western religious and intellectual history.
After discussing the immediate context of the Olive Leaf, I consider briefly the history of the Chain of Being and then analyze the text of the revelation with an eye toward the ways Joseph Smith and the early Latter-day Saints integrated and modified fragments of truth from ancient traditions. [From the text]