The Pearl of Great Price

Mormon Scriptures: The Pearl of Great Price

A painting depicting Moses seeing the burning bush.The Pearl of Great Price contains the book of Moses, the book of Abraham, the Prophet Joseph Smith’s inspired translation of Matthew chapter 24, and some writings of the Prophet Joseph.

The book of Moses is a small excerpt from Joseph Smith’s inspired translation of the Bible. It is a more complete record of Moses’s writings at the beginning of the book of Genesis in the Old Testament. It contains many doctrines and teachings that were lost from the Bible and gives additional information about the plan of salvation, the creation of the earth, and the Lord’s dealings with Adam and Enoch.

The book of Abraham is a translation of ancient records written on papyrus that came into the possession of the Church in 1835. The Prophet Joseph Smith translated the records by revelation. This book contains truths about the premortal Council in Heaven, the creation of the earth, the nature of God, and the priesthood.

Joseph Smith—Matthew is an excerpt (Matthew 24) from Joseph Smith’s inspired revision of the Bible and adds to our knowledge of the Savior’s teachings about His Second Coming.

The writings of Joseph Smith in the Pearl of Great Price include:

  •  Joseph Smith—History, which is an excerpt from the Prophet’s history of the Church. It is a narrative of the events leading to the restoration of the Church, including the First Vision, the visits of Moroni to the Prophet Joseph, the obtaining of the gold plates, and the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood.
  • The Articles of Faith, which the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote as basic statements of belief and doctrine.

The text of the Book of Mormon makes it clear that many plain and precious things were deleted from the Bible. (See 1 Ne. 13:26, 28, 32.) Would there be a restoration of the lost material? (See 1 Ne. 13:34.) Would the text of the Bible be restored?

By June 1830, Joseph Smith and the infant church had been the object of considerable persecution. To strengthen and sustain them in their hour of trouble, the Lord gave them a revelation that Orson Pratt later titled the Visions of Moses. This revelation was eventually to have great impact upon the doctrinal development of the Church and had the immediate effect of strengthening the Prophet and his friends amid the trials and tribulations they were called to endure. In his journal, the Prophet prefaced the revelation with these words:

“I will say, however, that amid all the trials and tribulations we had to wade through, the Lord, who well knew our infantile and delicate situation, vouchsafed for us a supply of strength, and granted us ‘line upon line of knowledge—here a little,’ and there a little of which the following (Moses 1:1–42) was a precious morsel.”

In the eight chapters that comprise the Book of Moses we have large sections that are complete restorations of material not found anywhere else in scripture. The so-called extracts from the Prophecy of Enoch comprise the largest restoration of material in the Book of Moses and possibly in the entire inspired revision of the Bible. Just preceding his journal record of this revelation, the Prophet commented:

Soon after this revelation was given, Joseph Smith began a project that was to occupy much of his time, study, and prayerful thought during many years to come. This project was to complete an inspired revision of the Bible. The Book of Moses is an extract from the inspired revision of Genesis, while Joseph Smith 1 is the Prophet’s revision of the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew [JS—M 1; Matt. 24]. The extracts of the Book of Moses were prepared and printed piecemeal during the Prophet’s lifetime.

The Book of Abraham contains what may be the most accurate account of the creation now available in print. The preface to that account is both unique and delightfully informative. From it we read that the Lord had shown unto Abraham “the intelligences that were organized before the world was.” (Abr. 3:22.)

These intelligences (speaking of those who were spirits) were the noble and great ones, those who were potential kings and queens of heaven. Abraham was told that he was one of them, chosen before he had been born into mortality. Among the noble and great spirits was one “like unto God.” This personage said, “We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell.” (Abr. 4:1.)

“… And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth.” (Abr. 4:1.)

These scriptures indicate that noble and great spirits participated in the creation of the earth upon which they would dwell (See Philip. 2:12). [1]

Some truths revealed in the Pearl of Great Price

  • Adam was taught the Plan of Salvation and made sacrifices in the similitude of Christ’s eternal sacrifice.
  • All prophets, beginning with Adam, have known of and testified of Jesus the Christ and His atonement.
  • Moses was shown many visions by the Lord and saw all the inhabitants of the earth.  Moses was tempted by Satan, but withstood Satan’s influence Moses 1:12–23.
  • “As far as men on this earth are concerned, evil had its beginning in pre-(mortal) existence. The Eternal Father begat spirit children, ordained laws to enable them to progress, and endowed them with free agency. Disobedience to those laws was in its nature evil, and consequently without the possibility of committing evil there could be no hope of progression toward exaltation. Lucifer and one-third of the spirit hosts of heaven chose evil rather than good, failed to exercise their free agency in righteousness, and finally coming out in open rebellion against the Lord, they were cast out onto the earth and denied (mortal) bodies. (Moses 4:1–4; Abr. 3:24–28; D&C 29:36–40; Rev. 12:7–13.)” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, [Bookcraft, 1966], p. 245.)
  • “Secret combinations,” or evil oaths, began with Cain and have been in existence on the earth from the beginning.  These combinations are revealed and encouraged by Satan himself (Moses 5:29–30; Moses 5:51–55).
  • We lived with God before we were born onto the earth (Abraham 3:22).
  • Enoch preached of Christ, established a city, and led a people so righteous, that they were “translated” and taken into heaven ( Moses 7).
  • Adam kept a book of remembrance that was passed down through the prophets to Abraham (Abraham 1:28, 31).
  • Adam was baptized and came to understand the fall, the atonement, faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, as well as the doctrines of justification and sanctification. Adam’s spiritual rebirth was attested to and his possession of priesthood after the order of the Son of God was announced. (See Moses 6:15–68.)
  • Abraham was taught principles of astronomy by God.  Abraham traveled to Egypt and conveyed this knowledge in the high courts of the Egyptians.

To read the Pearl of Great Price, click here.

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