Old Testament - Lesson 1
Resources Notes


Note 1

What Is The Book of Moses?
Robert J. Matthews

The most direct definition that I could give in answer to the question "What is the Book of Moses?" is to say that it consists of the first eight chapters of Genesis of Joseph Smith's translation of the Bible, which was for many years called the Inspired Version but is now more properly named the Joseph Smith Translation (abbreviated JST). Since the Book of Moses has been published separately in the Pearl of Great Price, and since the Church is not the publisher of the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, the historical connection between the Book of Moses and the translation of the Bible has eluded most Latter-day Saints. However, the original manuscript of Joseph Smith's translation leaves no doubt on the matter that as far as the Book of Moses goes the two are the same.

(Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson, eds., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 2: The Pearl of Great Price [Salt Lake City: Randall Book, 1985], 25)


The Book of Moses
Bruce T. Taylor

The Book of Moses is an extract of several chapters from Genesis in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST) and constitutes one of the texts in the Pearl of Great Price. The Prophet Joseph Smith began an inspired revision of the Old Testament in June 1830 to restore and clarify vital points of history and doctrine missing from the Bible.

As for other ancient books, the original title of the first chapter of Moses may have been its opening line, "The words of God" (Moses 1:1). The account deals with Moses' revelation, and beginning with chapter 2 largely parallels Genesis 1:1-6:13. The revelation came to Moses after his call to deliver the Israelites from bondage in Egypt (Moses 1:26). Much of it concerns God's dealings with Adam and Eve and their immediate posterity following their expulsion from the Garden of Eden, a topic on which the current text of Genesis is silent. Structurally, a series of orienting visions (chap. 1) is followed by a revelation of the Creation and its aftermath (2:1-8:1). Embedded within this revelation is an extended account of Enoch (6:25-51; 7:1-8:1), which itself quotes from a record of Adam (6:51-68). A narrative concerning Enoch's descendants, chiefly Noah, appears next (8:2-30)....

A comparison of the Book of Moses with Old Testament pseudepigraphic texts shows parallels not found in the present text of Genesis. For example, Adam and Eve were to offer sacrifices to God after being driven from the Garden (Moses 5:5-7; cf. Life of Adam and Eve, 29.4), and Satan rebelled against God and was expelled from heaven (Moses 4:3-4; cf. Life, 12-16).

A major point of doctrine restored by the Book of Moses is that the gospel of salvation was preached "from the beginning" (Moses 5:58), an idea echoed both by Paul's statement that the gospel was preached to Abraham (Gal. 3:8) and by the Book of Mormon (Jacob 4:4-5; 7:10-11; cf. D&C 29:41-42). Similarly, Eusebius (c. A.D. 263-339) maintained that the teaching of Christianity was neither new nor strange and that the religion of the Patriarchs was identical with that of the Christians (Ecclesiastical History 1.2.1-22).

In this connection, the Book of Moses clarifies the fact that Adam and Eve understood the coming mission of Jesus Christ (Moses 6:51-63). Sacrificial offerings, Adam learned, were "a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten" (5:6-8). Further, Adam was baptized in water, received the Holy Ghost (5:9; 6:64-68), and was taught the Plan of Salvation (6:62). Adam and Eve and their posterity were also taught the purpose of the Fall and rejoiced in the Lord's plan for redemption (5:10-12).

The Book of Moses augments the biblical account of Enoch, who is briefly referred to in Genesis 5:22-24 as one who "walked with God." This restoration of Moses' account includes the fact that Enoch beheld in a vision the Savior's ministry (Moses 7:55-57), the spirit world (6:35-36; 7:56-57), the restoration of the gospel in the last days (7:62), and the second advent of the Savior (7:60, 65). Enoch's importance in the Book of Moses parallels his significant role in other Enoch texts (Nibley, p. vii).

Bibliography
Charlesworth, James H. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Vol. 2, p. 285. Garden City, N.Y., 1983, 1985.
Nibley, Hugh. Enoch The Prophet. In CWHN, 2. Salt Lake City, 1986.
Reynolds, Noel B. "The Brass Plates Version of Genesis." In By Study and Also by Faith, ed. J. Lundquist and S. Ricks, Vol. 2, pp. 136-73. Salt Lake City, 1990.

(Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1-4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow [New York: Macmillan, 1992], 216-217)


What Is The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible?
Bill Beardall

Over the years I have received numerous questions about the Joseph Smith Translation (JST) such as the two below:

Question:  Often in your lesson outlines you mention scriptures found in the Joseph Smith Translation that I do not find in the back of my Bible. (This Bible is about a year and a half old). Where do I go to find the Joseph Smith Translation scriptures that you mention. An example would be in New Testament Lesson 8 where you mention that the first two Beatitudes are missing and then quote them. However when I go to my JST in the Bible I only find Matthew 5:21 and there is no JST addition at the beginning of Matthew 5. I loved reading about these two Beatitudes, but if I mention it to my class I want to be able to show them where they may find it in the scriptures as well. (Carol - Feb 2007)

Question: I have just been called to be the Gospel Doctrine teacher and to say the least I am nervous. Your lessons are great but I do have a question. In trying to make sure that I can back up everything I say, I can not find the Joseph smith translation for Matthew 5:3 and 5:4 in my scriptures or on the official church website. Can you please let me know where you got your information. (Sharon - Feb 2007)

Answer:  A little history is necessary to understand the answer to the above questions. Some basic information on the Joseph Smith Translation is available at LDS.org under the Guide to the Scriptures (see Joseph Smith Translation). The Encyclopedia of Mormonism contains the following information regarding the disposition of the manuscripts:

After Joseph Smith's death in June 1844, the marked Phinney Bible and the 477-page manuscript were kept by his widow, Emma Smith. She permitted Dr. John M. Bernhisel to examine the materials in the spring of 1845 at Nauvoo, Illinois. Bernhisel later reported that he made a complete copy of the markings in the Bible and an extensive but incomplete copy of the manuscript entries (Matthews, 1975, p. 118). The Bernhisel manuscript is in the Historian's Library of the LDS Church in Salt Lake City, but the location of the Bernhisel marked Bible is not known. Emma Smith gave the Phinney Bible and the original manuscript to a publication committee representing the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS Church) in 1866. These are now in the custody of the RLDS Church at Independence, Missouri. (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1-4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow [New York: Macmillan, 1992], 766.)

The RLDS Church (now the Community of Christ) first published the Inspired Version (JST) in 1867, with numerous subsequent printings. I picked up my copy of the Inspired Version at the RLDS bookstore in Independence, Missouri, in 1973. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has never published the full JST. It is my understanding that the Community of Christ (RLDS) owns the copyright. Only excerpts from the JST are included in the LDS Bible.

Where can you obtain a copy of the full Joseph Smith Translation?

Online versions Gospelink.com Online LDS library hosted by Deseret Book (annual fee required for access)
  CenterPlace.org Hosted by Restoration RLDS Church (break off group from the RLDS Church).  Access is free.  I have made a limited comparison of the text to both my hardcopy and my Gospelink copy and there appears to be no difference.
Hardcopy version Herald House Community of Christ bookstore (RLDS)

Note 2

How is man nothing?
Orson Pratt

There is but a small degree—a very small degree, indeed, of the purposes of God unfolded to the mind of man. The amount of knowledge, which we in our present state are in possession of, is extremely limited, so that when compared with that vast amount of knowledge that fills eternity, we might say that man, in his highest attainments here in this life, is, as it were, nothing. However far he may expand his intellectual powers, and faculties by studying, by meditation, by seeking unto the Lord diligently for the inspiration of the Spirit, yet all that he can possibly receive and attain to here is, comparatively speaking, nothing. Moses was a man possessed of like passions with other men; he was a man similar to ourselves, but he had by his perseverance, diligence, and faithfulness obtained great favor and power with God; so that by this favor and through this power, he was enabled to obtain greater information and knowledge than the rest of the human family that were on the earth at that period; and far grater in some things than what we have attained to in this generation; at the same time, when the grand and wonderful intelligence of heaven was portrayed before the mind of Moses, and knowledge was poured out from the heavens upon him, he exclaimed before the Lord, 'Now I know for this once that man is nothing.'

If there were a being then upon the face of the earth, that had a reason to suppose that man was something, it was Moses; but yet in the midst of the visions of the Almighty, and the vast field of knowledge that was opened to his mind—while he was yet gazing upon the workmanship of the hands of God, and looking into the intricacies of the construction of this world—in the midst of all this, he considered himself nothing. That is just the way I feel; and I presume it is the way that almost every one feels who contemplates the greatness of God, and the immensity of knowledge that there is far beyond our reach in this present state of existence.

(Journal of Discourses, 3:97)


Note 3

Hugh Nibley on Moses 1:3-19

We find Moses in the presence of God and the bosom of eternity, being apprised of a special calling to which he has been appointed as co-worker with the Savior. (Moses 1:3-9.) A preliminary test is indicated—suddenly the lights go out and Moses is found lying unconscious and helpless upon the earth; as he slowly comes to himself, he recognizes the misery and the glory of fallen man: "Now ... I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed." And then, in the same breath: "But now mine own eyes have beheld God ... his glory was upon me ... I was transfigured before him." (Moses 1:10-11.) Weakness is his present condition, glory his everlasting birthright. It is in this moment of man's greatest helplessness and vulnerability that Satan chooses to strike, attempting first by persuasion and then by intimidation to get Moses to worship him as the god of this world. But Moses has not wholly forgotten who he is, "a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten," and denounces Satan as a sham, while professing himself awaiting further light and knowledge: "I will not cease to call upon God, I have other things to inquire of him." ("Moses 1:13, 18.) The humiliating exposure of Satan becomes unendurable when Moses announces that he actually is what his adversary falsely claims to be, "a son of God, in the similitude of his Only begotten; and where is thy glory that I should worship thee?" This is too much for Satan, who casts aside his celebrated but now useless subtlety and launches a frontal attack of satanic fury, a tremendous tantrum, as he "cried with a loud voice, and rent upon the earth, and commanded, saying: I am the Only Begotten, worship me." (Moses 1:19.) The whole scene is presented in dramatic form as a ritual combat, a stychomachia, and true to the ancient pattern, the hero is momentarily bested, overcome by the powers of darkness, as he "began to fear," and "saw the bitterness of hell." But with his last ounce of strength he calls upon God from the depths and is delivered: he has won the fight, he has prevailed against the power of him who "sought to destroy the world, for he knew not the mind of God."

(Hugh Nibley, Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1978], 4-5)


Note 4

The Power of Prayer
Russell M. Nelson

"Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good." (Alma 37:37.) Pray alone in your closet—in the solitude of your own sanctuary. Pour out the longings of your soul. Then pray with and for your husband, your sons and daughters, your sisters and brothers, your mother and father, and all in your family. Let the weight of your innocence be felt as you lovingly motivate others to good works. With your mind so attuned to the Lord and his power, your influence for good becomes immeasurably great. And in this world of sin and , the power of will protect you and be a shield for your loved ones.

I plead with the women of the Church to accept individual responsibility to know and to love the Lord. Communicate with him. He will impress upon your mind inspiration and personal revelation to give you strength.

(Russell M. Nelson, The Power within Us [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1988], 111)


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