By revelation to His prophet Joseph, the Lord pronounced “just and holy laws” to guide the people “that in due time He might take them to Himself.”1 In addition to the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith was an instrument in the hands of God to bring forth additional scriptures, including the Doctrine and Covenants,2 the Pearl of Great Price,3 and the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible.4
In the Doctrine and Covenants is heard “the tender but firm voice of the Lord Jesus Christ, speaking anew in the dispensation of the fulness of times.”5 Its messages, warnings and exhortations are for all God’s children. The Pearl of Great Price, revealed through the Prophet Joseph, includes his own history, as well as selections from the book of Moses and the book of Abraham. With divine help, Joseph translated the latter book from ancient Egyptian papyri that came into his hands. The Joseph Smith Translation restored to the Bible lost truths and a fuller understanding of hundreds of passages.
“It is unnecessary to say anything respecting these works,” Joseph emphasized in 1840. “Those who have read them, and who have drunk of the stream of knowledge which they convey, know how to appreciate them.”6
Joseph Smith Quotes
“After deliberate consideration, in consequence of the book of revelations, now to be printed [later to become the Doctrine and Covenants], being the foundation of the Church in these last days, and a benefit to the world, showing that the keys of the mysteries of the kingdom of our Savior are again entrusted to man; and the riches of eternity within the compass of those who are willing to live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God—therefore the conference [of Saints] voted that they prize the revelations to be worth to the Church the riches of the whole earth, speaking temporally” (History of the Church, 1:235).
“I commenced the translation of some of the characters or hieroglyphics [from the papyri], and much to our joy found that one of the rolls contained the writings of Abraham, another the writings of Joseph of Egypt, etc.,—a more full account of which will appear in its place, as I proceed to examine or unfold them. Truly we can say, the Lord is beginning to reveal the abundance of peace and truth” (History of the Church, 2:236).
“Nothing could be more pleasing to the Saints upon the order of the kingdom of the Lord, than the light which burst upon the world through the [Doctrine and Covenants 76] vision. Every law, every commandment, every promise, every truth, and every point touching the destiny of man, from Genesis to Revelation, where the purity of the scriptures remains unsullied by the folly of men, go to show the perfection of the theory [of different degrees of glory in the future life] and witnesses the fact that that document is a transcript from the records of the eternal world. The sublimity of the ideas; the purity of the language; the scope for action; the continued duration for completion, in order that the heirs of salvation may confess the Lord and bow the knee; the rewards for faithfulness, and the punishments for sins, are so much beyond the narrow-mindedness of men, that every honest man is constrained to exclaim: ‘It came from God’” (History of the Church, 1:252–53).
Gordon B. Hinckley, 15th President of the Church, 1995–2008
“The Doctrine and Covenants is unique among our books of scripture. It is the constitution of the Church. While the Doctrine and Covenants includes writings and statements of various origins, it is primarily a book of revelation given through the Prophet of this dispensation. . . .
“. . . The Doctrine and Covenants is a conduit for the expressions of the Lord to His people. . . .
“It is evident from reading the Doctrine and Covenants that Joseph Smith had an all-encompassing understanding of the eternal purposes of God” (“The Order and Will of God,” Ensign, Jan. 1989, 2–4).
Franklin D. Richards, Apostle, 1849–1899
“We do not conceive it possible for any unprejudiced person to arise from a careful perusal of this work [the Pearl of Great Price], without being deeply impressed with a sense of the Divine calling, and holy ordination, of the man [Joseph Smith] by whom these revelations, translations and narrations have been communicated to us. As impervious as the minds of men may be at present to these convictions, the day is not far distant when sinners, as well as Saints, will know that Joseph Smith was one of the greatest men that ever lived upon the earth and that under God he was the Prophet and founder of the dispensation of the fullness of times, in which will be gathered together into one all things which are in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth” (Preface to the Pearl of Great Price, 1851 edition, v–vi).
What is included in the Doctrine and Covenants? the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible? the Pearl of Great Price?
The Doctrine and Covenants is, in large measure, a compilation of God’s answers to Joseph Smith’s inspired questions. So that all might benefit from these teachings and to establish the order of the Church, the revelations were canonized and published. The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, sometimes referred to as the Inspired Version, consists of the divinely inspired clarifications that Joseph made to the King James Version of the Bible. “I resumed the translation of the Scriptures,” Joseph said in 1831, “and continued to labor in this branch of my calling with Elder Sidney Rigdon as my scribe” (History of the Church, 1:238). The Pearl of Great Price includes lengthy portions of Joseph’s translation of the Bible and his translation of ancient papyri from Egypt, now known as the book of Abraham. The Pearl of Great Price also contains a brief history of Joseph Smith and the Restoration and the Articles of Faith, drawn from a letter Joseph wrote to the newspaper editor John Wentworth in 1842.
Where did the book of Abraham come from?
“The public mind has been excited of late, by reports which have been circulated concerning certain Egyptian mummies and ancient records, which were purchased by certain gentlemen of Kirtland, last July,” acknowledged Joseph Smith in December 1835. He explained that the records were obtained in Egypt and later came into the possession of Michael H. Chandler, who came to Kirtland and sold them along with some ancient mummies. With this explanation of their origin, Joseph promised “a correct translation of which I shall give in its proper place” (History of the Church, 2:348, 351).
Online Resources at ChurchofJesusChrist.org
“Revelations Received in the Kirtland Area”—in “Building the Kingdom in Kirtland, Ohio,” Our Heritage: A Brief History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1996), 23–26