Pearl of Great Price (Mormonism)
The first paragraph of the Introductory Note in the LDS edition of the Pearl of Great Price reads:
- The Pearl of Great Price is a selection of choice materials touching many significant aspects of the faith and doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These items were produced by Joseph Smith Jr. and were published in the Church periodicals of his day.
The Pearl of Great Price contains five sections:
The Book of Moses
The Book of Moses begins with the "Visions of Moses," a prologue to the story of the Creation and the Fall of man (Moses 1), and continues with material corresponding to Smith's revision (JST) of the first six chapters of the Book of Genesis (Moses 2-5, 8), interrupted by two chapters of extracts from the prophecy of Enoch (Moses 6-7). Portions of the Book of Moses were originally published separately by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) in 1851, but later combined and published as the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price. The same material is published in different form by the Community of Christ as part of its Inspired Version of the Bible.
The Book of Abraham
The Book of Abraham is an 1835 work produced by Joseph Smith that he said was based on Egyptian papyri purchased from a traveling mummy exhibition. According to Smith, the book was "a translation of some ancient records ... purporting to be the writings of Abraham, while he was in Egypt, called the Book of Abraham, written by his own hand, upon papyrus". Smith's translation of the papyri describes a story of Abraham's early life, including a vision of the cosmos.
The work was canonized in 1880 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) as part of the Pearl of Great Price. Thus, it forms a doctrinal foundation for the LDS Church and Mormon fundamentalist denominations of the Latter Day Saint movement. It is not considered to be a religious text by the Community of Christ. Other sects in the Latter Day Saint movement have various opinions regarding the Book of Abraham, with some rejecting and some accepting the text as inspired scripture. The book contains several doctrines that are unique to Mormonism, such as the concept of God organizing eternal, pre-existing elements to create the universe instead of creating it ex nihilo.
The Book of Abraham papyri were thought lost in the 1871 Great Chicago Fire. However, in 1966 several fragments of the papyri were found in the archives of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and in the LDS Church archives. They are now referred to as the Joseph Smith Papyri. Upon examination by professional Mormon and non-Mormon Egyptologists, these fragments were found to bear no resemblance to Joseph Smith's interpretation, and were common Egyptian funerary texts, dating to about the first century BC. As a result, the Book of Abraham has been the source of significant controversy, with Mormon apologists having presented a number of theories in defense of the authenticity of the Book of Abraham.
Joseph Smith—Matthew (abbreviated JS–M) is a book in the Pearl of Great Price, a scriptural text used by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and other Latter Day Saint denominations. Joseph Smith—Matthew consists of Joseph Smith, Jr.'s "retranslation" of portions of the Gospel of Matthew. It was originally published in 1831 in Kirtland, Ohio in an undated broadsheet as "Extract from the New Translation of the Bible".
Joseph Smith—Matthew includes Joseph Smith's retranslation of Matthew 23:39 and all of Matthew Chapter 24. It was created by Smith in 1831. The text deals mainly with Jesus' prophecy of the coming destruction of Jerusalem and of similar calamities that will precede his Second Coming. Joseph Smith—Matthew contains significant changes and additions to the original biblical text.
Joseph Smith—History (abbreviated JS–H) is a book in the Pearl of Great Price that contains an autobiographical record of some of the early events in Joseph Smith's life. It is part of the canonized Standard Works of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Like many of Smith's publications, it was dictated to a scribe.
The incidents described in Joseph Smith—History include the First Vision and the visitation of the angel Moroni. In its current form, it ends with the translation of the Book of Mormon, shortly before the foundation of Smith's Church of Christ, though the original Times and Seasons serial it is based on continued the story until the mid-1830s.
The Articles of Faith
Within the Latter Day Saint movement, the Articles of Faith are a creed composed by Joseph Smith, Jr. as part of an 1842 letter sent to "Long" John Wentworth, editor of the Chicago Democrat, and first published in the Latter Day Saint newspaper Times and Seasons. It is a concise listing of thirteen fundamental doctrines of Mormonism. Most Latter Day Saint denominations view the articles as an authoritative statement of basic theology. Some denominations, such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have adopted the articles as scripture (see Pearl of Great Price). For some sects, they are known collectively as An Epitome of Faith and Doctrine.
Changes in contents
The original contents of the book were slightly different, reproducing material found in the Doctrine and Covenants and a poem entitled "Oh Say What is Truth?" (which is now found in the LDS Church hymnal). In 1878 some material from the Book of Moses was added. The Pearl of Great Price was canonized in 1880. In 1902 the material reproduced in the Doctrine and Covenants was removed. Two other documents, now found as Doctrine and Covenants 137 and 138, were added to the Pearl of Great Price in 1976 and moved to their current location in 1979.
The Pearl of Great Price was first compiled by Franklin D. Richards in Liverpool, England. Some items duplicated text that was already available in the Doctrine and Covenants. It contained the following entries (the placement of the text in today's LDS Church publications is noted in parenthesis):
- Extracts from the Prophecy of Enoch (Moses 6:43–7:69)
- A message from God, given to Moses (Moses 1:1–42)
- Untitled (Moses 2:1–5; 8:13–30)
- The Book of Abraham including Facsimile 1, 2 and 3 from the Book of Abraham (Book of Abraham)
- An extract from a Translation of the Bible (Joseph Smith—Matthew)
- A Key to the Revelations of St. John (Doctrine and Covenants 77)
- A Revelation and Prophecy (Doctrine and Covenants 87)
- Extracts from the History of Joseph Smith (Joseph Smith—History)
- From the Doctrine and Covenants of the Church Commandment to the Church concerning baptism (Doctrine and Covenants 20:37, 71-75)
- The duties of members after they are received by baptism (Doctrine and Covenants 20:68-69)
- Method of administering the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper (Doctrine and Covenants 20:75–79)
- The Duties of the Elders, Priests, Teachers, Deacons, and Members of the Church of Christ (Doctrine and Covenants 20:38–44; 107:11; 20:45–59, 70, 80)
- On Priesthood (Doctrine and Covenants 107:1–10, 12–20)
- The Calling and Duties of the Twelve Apostles (Doctrine and Covenants 107:23, 33)
- The Calling and Duties of the Seventy (Doctrine and Covenants 107:34, 93–100)
- Extract from a revelation given July, 1830 (Doctrine and Covenants 27:5–18)
- Rise of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Doctrine and Covenants 20:1–36)
- Times and Seasons, vol. III, p. 709 (Articles of Faith)
- "Truth" (a poem by John Jaques) ("O Say, What is Truth?", #272 in LDS Church hymnal]
- LDS Church (1878), Pearl of Great Price: being a Choice Selection from the Revelations, Translations, and Narrations of Joseph Smith, First Prophet, Seer, and Revelator to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City: LDS Church.
- LDS Church (1907), Pearl of Great Price: a Selection from the Revelations, Translations, and Narrations of Joseph Smith, First Prophet, Seer, and Revelator to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City: Deseret News.
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- The Pearl of Great Price, full HTML text, official LDS Church edition, lds.org
- Introductory note to The Pearl of Great Price, lds.org
- The Pearl of Great Price at Wikisource.
- "historical notes on The Pearl of Great Price", boap.org
- Summary of the Pearl of Great Price, lightplanet.com
- Pearl of Great Price - Contents listed by edition
- The 1851 Pearl of Great Price at Wikisource (PDF scan)