Pearl Of Great Price (Mormonism)

The Pearl of Great Price is part of the standard works of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church; see also Mormonism) and some other Latter Day Saint denominations.

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 is one of the four books comprising the Standard Works of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Contents

The Pearl of Great Price contains five sections:

  • “Selections from the Book of Moses”
  • “The Book of Abraham”,
  • “Joseph Smith—Matthew”
  • “Joseph Smith—History”
  • “The Articles of Faith”

The Book of Moses and Joseph Smith—Matthew are portions of the Book of Genesis and the Book of Matthew (respectively) from the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. The Book of Moses also contains teachings and prophecies of Enoch, including his testimony of the Only Begotten, Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith—History is a first-person narrative of Joseph Smith, Jr.’s life before the founding of the church including an account of the First Vision and other heavenly visitations. The Articles of Faith are a concise listing of thirteen fundamental doctrines of Mormonism composed by Joseph Smith, Jr. as part of a 1842 letter sent to “Long” John Wentworth, editor of the Chicago Democrat.

Smith claims to have translated the Book of Abraham from purchased papyri. The book relates Abraham’s journeys in Egypt, containing many distinctive Mormon doctrines such as exaltation and the plurality of gods. Considerable controversy surrounds the surviving papyri claimed as the source for the translation of the Book of Abraham.

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.

1851 edition

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 brackets):

  • Extracts from the Prophecy of Enoch [Moses 6:43–7:69]
  • The words of God, which he spake unto Moses [Moses 1:1–42]
  • Untitled [Moses 2:1–5, 40; 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 20:71, 37, 72–75]
  • 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]

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