Sunday, March 31, 2013

Doctrine and Covenants Lesson #14 The Law of Consecration


President J. Reuben Clark Jr. said, "The basic principle of all the revelations on the United Order is that everything we have belongs to the Lord; therefore, the Lord may call upon us for any and all of the property which we have, because it belongs to Him. This, I repeat, is the basic principle" (October 3, 1942 Conference Address).  (See D&C 104:14-17, 54-57.)

Section 42 of the D&C outlines the Law of the Church, as laid forth by the Lord, including the elements of the Law of Consecration. It is contained in between two statements of the Lord’s straight from the New Testament.

Verse 29:   If thou lovest me thou shalt serve me and keep all my commandments
Verse 38:   For inasmuch as ye do it unto the least of these, ye do it unto me.

So it is based upon the loftiest of Christian values, serving Christ through service to others, and the idea that everything we have is a stewardship to begin with. The key elements:

Verse 30:   A covenant, which cannot be broken
Verse 31-32:   Giving of your substance to the poor, by way of the bishop
Verse 32:  Carrying out your own stewardship to a common treasury for the future care of the poor, and for the building of churches, etc.
Verse 37:   Not being able to “take back” what you consecrated
Verse 39:  This was all in fulfillment of a prophecy.

You could say that there were four phases of the law of consecration during Joseph Smith’s lifetime.

1831-1833. Jackson County, Missouri. The vehicle used (Bruce R. McConkie’s word) was called “The United Order.” A very brief attempt was made in Kirtland, then another in Jackson County. A member would deed all to the church, having a stewardship deeded back to him, which belonged to him as long as he remained with the church. The excess went to build the kingdom and support the poor. It was a great deal of work for the bishop, who managed it all, with the help of others. Some of the deeds have survived. The least affluent of those belonged to James Lee, who consecrated to the bishop “a number of saddlers tools, one candlestick & one washbowl valued seven dollars twenty five cents,--also saddler’s stock, trunks and harness work valued twenty four dollars—also extra clothing valued three dollars” – possessions totally $34.25 in value. Among the wealthiest was George W. Pitkin, who gave “sundry articles of furniture valued forty seven dollars thirty seven cents,--also three beds, bedding and extra clothing valued sixty eight dollars,--also sundry farming tools valued eleven dollars and fifty cents,--also two horses, one harness, one wagon, two cows and one calf valued one hundred and eighty one dollars”—the total worth $307.87. (Leonard  Arrington, Building the City of God, p. 24)

1833. Jackson County, Missouri. As a result of the lawsuit of an ex-member, stewardships were now private property of the individuals, and the bishop’s authority over them was “softened.” 

1837-1838. Caldwell & Daviess Counties. Members gave voluntary contributions: initially 2% of their net worth, and more to follow. Later, all of a member’s surplus was donated, plus annual tithing of 10%. At this time in the history of the Church, most of them had, however, little or no surplus. 

1838-1844.  Nauvoo, Illinois. The quantity of the consecration was now the decision of the donor. Rather than setting specific percentages, the Prophet emphasized true generosity in giving, and freedom from all taint of self-interest. The Saints fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and comforted the afflicted, regardless of religious affiliation. In 1842, the sacred ritual of the endowment was introduced, which encompassed the Law of Consecration. Saints are promised joint inheritances with Christ, powers, knowledge, and glory, by consecrating their energy and resources to the Church and by sacrificing all things for the advancement of God’s work on the earth (Lyndon W. Cook, author of Joseph Smith and the Law of Consecration, quoted in Encyclopedia of Latter-Day Saint History, p. 241-243).

EDWARD PARTRIDGE : An Example of Consecration

The Bishop who had the responsibility of managing this complicated United Order was Edward Partridge, also the first bishop of this dispensation. Joseph Smith wrote that Edward Partridge was “a pattern of piety and one of the Lord’s great men.” (History of the Church, 1:128)

Edward Partridge was a hatter before he joined the church. Hats, of course, were vital to the genteel of the day (probably partly because they washed their hair so infrequently), and millinery was a lucrative career. Edward Partridge had a partnership in a store near Albany, and a branch store in Ohio, when he bought out his partner. Then he met those first four missionaries of the church. That was the end of his material prosperity, but it was the beginning of a great spiritual treasure.

His wife Lydia joined the church first, but he wanted to meet Joseph Smith before he made up his mind. So he journeyed to New York in 1830, listened to a discourse by the prophet, and asked to be baptized the next day. He was baptized by Joseph Smith himself. He returned to Ohio and three days after his arrival, having been a member of the church less than two months, he was called to be the first bishop.

"And again, I have called my servant Edward Partridge; and I give a commandment, that he should be appointed by the voice of the church, and ordained a bishop unto the church, to leave his merchandise and to spend all his time in the labors of the church;

"To see to all things as it shall be appointed unto him in my laws in the day that I shall give them.

"And this because his heart is pure before me, for he is like unto Nathanael of old, in whom there is no guile" (D&C 41:9-11).

This call as a Bishop involved a move to the wild frontier of Missouri to help in the establishment of Zion. His family stayed behind in Ohio for a time. Despite all the confidence of Joseph Smith, and the opinions of others around him, Bishop Partridge was humble and felt inadequate to his calling, as he expressed in a letter to his wife:

"You know I stand in an important station, and as I am occasionally chastened I sometimes feel my station is above what I can perform to the acceptance of my Heavenly Father" (Edward Partridge Jr., “Biography and Family Genealogy, Unpublished Journal,” p. 6-7, quoted in Susan Easton Black, Who's Who in the Doctrine and Covenants, p. 214).

As Bishop, and particularly as the bishop carrying out the United Order, Edward Partridge had great responsibility for the functioning of the entire community. Can you imagine managing this huge system, trying to keep everyone happy with their assignments? There were many more poor and destitute saints who came to Independence hoping for an “inheritance” under the United Order than there were wealthy saints consecrating of their abundance. Church leadership had to start telling people they couldn’t move there without advance permissions, there were so many poor saints showing up on Brother Partridge’s doorstep. Those who had reasonable worldly possessions and gave them to the United Order could expect, therefore, to have their economic status lowered. And some of them backed out after agreeing to consecrate. But, generally, the economical level of the church members began to rise enough because of this cooperation that they because a threat to the Missourians. Their piousness was also an annoyance to the boisterous frontiersmen who decided to threaten the leadership and insist that they take their congregation and go. Edward Partridge was number one on their hit list.

On July 20, 1833, he was dragged by an angry crowd, along with Charles Allen, to the town square. There they were told to renounce their faith in the Book of Mormon or leave the county. They consented to neither, upon which the mob attacked them. (They were going to strip them naked, but Bishop Partridge convinced them to leave his shirt and pantaloons on.) Then they dabbed them with tar and acid from the tops of their heads to their feet and threw feathers over them.

Brother Partridge said of the incident:

"I bore my abuse with so much resignation and meekness that it appeared to astound the multitude, who permitted me to return in silence, many looking very solemn, their sympathies having been touched...; and as to myself, I was so filled with the Spirit and love of God, that I had no hatred towards my persecutors or anyone else" (HC 1:391, quoted in WW, p. 215).

"The leaders of the mob were the county judge, the constables, the court clerk, and the justices of the peace. The lieutenant-governor, Lilburn W. Boggs, was watching and aiding the mob. Bishop Partridge felt it right to sue the perpetrators of the violence for $50,000, but even his lawyers conspired against him. They took his pay of $600, made a compromise with the defendants against his consent and had the case thrown out of court. He never got his money back" (Paul C. Richards, BYU Studies, Vol. 13 #4, p. 532-4).

This was only one of the trials of Bishop Partridge. The list of what his family endured is too depressing to itemize. In addition to suffering mob violence and numerous forced moves along with the rest of the saints, he was also imprisoned for the gospel’s sake.

The stirring accounts contained in Sections 121, 122, and 123 which Joseph Smith wrote from Liberty Jail on March 25, 1839, he sent to the Saints, and “to Bishop Partridge in Particular” (Susan E.  Black, Who’s Who, p. 215). He must have felt that Bishop Partridge could use the encouragement as well. These include the beautiful words, “My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all of thy foes;” (121:7-8), and “Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” (122:7).

The United Order did not succeed for long in Jackson County. Too many of the saints were not faithful to consecrate either their money on the part of many of the rich, or their industry on the part of many of the poor. Any of you who have more than one child and have ever tried to make “all things equal” between them will understand what a formidable, thankless, and possibly quite unpleasant job Bishop Partridge’s  must have been. The constant persecution of the mobs made it impossible to ever get any surplus. The courts were against the Mormons and communal-type establishments of any type. The Lord would have overcome these difficulties, however, had the saints been faithful. In June of the same year, Edward Partridge, the man in charge of the whole United Order, wrote in his journal,

"I have not at this time two dollars in the world, one dollar and forty-four cents is all. I owe for my rent, and for making clothes for some of the poor, and some other things…What is best for me to do, I hardly know" (Journal History, 13 June 1839).

He moved to Nauvoo, where he once again served as bishop. While building a home outside of town and attempting to move the furniture, he collapsed from exhaustion, and died within two weeks at age 46, less than a decade after he joined the church (WW, p. 216).

In her old age, his daughter Emily reflected upon his death: "I look and remember the great responsibility resting upon my father as bishop—his poverty and privations and hardships he had to endure, the accusations of false brethren, the grumblings of the poor, and the persecution of our enemies, I do not wonder at his early death; and when I remember his conversations with my mother, and can now comprehend in my mature years, his extreme weariness of soul, it brings to my mind a clause of his blessing, which says, 'Thou shalt stand in the office until thou shalt desire to resign it that thou mayest rest for a little season'” (Emily Partridge Smith Young, Incidents, p. 79-81),

His only son to live to maturity, Edward Partridge, Jr., was called to be bishop of Fillmore, Utah in 1869. In his diary, he wrote, “This is something that I have always had an instinctive dread of since I have had understanding sufficient to know what the office of a bishop was” (Diary, 9 Mar 1869),

“Like the merchant who sold all he had for the pearl of great price, Edward Partridge…never thought the price was too high” (Dean Jessee, "Steadfastness and Patient Endurance: The Legacy of Edward Partridge," Ensign, June 1979).

The rewards to Bishop Partridge for his service were eternal. All of his children as well as his wife remained faithful to the church. His daughters were among the very first women called upon to live the law of polygamy, wives of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and Amasa Lyman. His grandson and great-grandson were the architects for the old and new church office buildings in Salt Lake City. Among his progeny is an unbroken line of bishops and church leaders, including President James E. Faust.


Does the Law of Consecration apply to us today, or is it something we are just supposed to prepare to live at some future time?

"The implementation of specific economic programs from 1831 to 1844 changed significantly in practice though not in principle. The possessions, skills, and time of the Saints were essential components in building the kingdom of God on the earth…By 1844, Joseph Smith taught that spiritual commitment and love were higher expressions of consecration than legal stewardship agreements. During this time (1838), tithing had also become established as a minimum standard of economic consecration for the faithful" (Lyndon W. Cook, author of Joseph Smith and the Law of Consecration, in Encyclopedia of LDS History, p. 241-243).

The Law of Consecration still functions in this way today. It is no longer implemented through a detailed program, such as the “United Order,” with binding legal documents and specific assignments from the bishop, but all the principles are still valid, and ever Latter-day Saint can live the Law of Consecration on his or her own initiative. The lesser law, the minimum standard, of consecration is the law of tithing. Bruce R. McConkie says that you cannot live the perfect law of consecration unless you first obey perfectly the law of tithing (Mormon Doctrine, p. 158). All church members are expected to pay tithing, and it is actually required of those who want to attend the temple. Why? Because in the temple, church members make an eternal covenant--much more binding than a legal document--to live the higher law.

J. Reuben Clark, Jr. said in 1942:

"I should like to suggest to you that perhaps, after all, when the Welfare Plan gets thoroughly into operation—it is not so yet—we shall not be so very far from carrying out the great fundamentals of the United Order....

"If the Welfare Plan is fully operative, we shall be able to care for every destitute Latter-Day Saint wherever he may be" (October 1942 Conference Address).

Haven’t we reached that point in the church? We have the opportunity for consecration with the Perpetual Education Fund. Now, with our Humanitarian Aid contributions, we can extend our “surplus” to assist the poor all over the world of any religious denomination. In addition, many church members spend their “surplus” time crocheting leper bandages, making school kits, doing medical service, etc. for people all over the world. How wonderful will be the day when we can take care of "every destitute soul" inside or outside the church, wherever he may be! That is our aim!


The bishop is no longer in charge of our consecration; we are. He may issue a calling, and if we are living the law of consecration, we will accept it and give it all we can. If our official church calling doesn’t take all our time and effort, we can give the rest of it to build up the kingdom in little ways, serving in any way that presents itself. After we pay our tithing, we can give much more, even to the point of giving all of our excess beyond our basic needs and comforts. Serving as a full-time missionary is a call to live the law of consecration; a time of your life that you can truly give all of your time and attention to the building of the kingdom.

Although the Welfare Plan may not be exactly the same as the United Order, Albert E. Bowen, who researched and wrote the book, The Church Welfare Plan, said,

"Safe it is to say that a complete living of the law governing this Plan [that is, the Welfare Plan], and the practice of the principles involved [which are the PRINCIPLES OF THE LAW OF CONSECRATION], would make transition to the organization of the United Order not too difficult" (p. 145, quoted in Mormon Doctrine, p. 814).

So, as a Church, we are heading closer and closer to actually living the Law of Consecration. But as individuals, there is nothing to prevent us from living it right now. What can we do, specifically? Well, instructions on how to live the Law of Consecration are found in Section 42, just after the principles of the law are recorded. You may want to just highlight the key words, and study this section, asking yourself how you are doing.

Verse 40:  Don’t be PROUD
Verse 41:  Stay CLEAN
Verse 42:   Don’t be IDLE
Verse 43:  CARE for the sick
Verse 45:  Live in LOVE
Verse 46:  Call upon the Priesthood to HEAL the sick
Verse 53:  Carry out your individual STEWARDSHIP in the Kingdom
Verse 54:  PAY for what you get
Verse 55:  GIVE YOUR EXCESS to the Church
Verse 56:  Seek for the WORD OF GOD


"The law pertaining to material aid is so formulated that the carrying of it out necessitates practices calculated to root out human traits not in harmony with requirements for living in the celestial kingdom and replacing those inharmonious traits with the virtues and character essential to life in that abode" (Albert E. Bowen, The Church Welfare Plan, p. 13).

A promise to those who live the Law of Consecration is found in D&C 42:60-61:

"And he that doeth according to these things shall be saved, and he that doeth them not shall be damned if he so continue.

"If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal."

The second part of that promise was fulfilled in Bishop Partridge’s life. He wrote:

"I have torn my affections from this world’s goods, from the vanities and toys of time and sense, and been willing to love and serve God, with all my heart and be led by his holy Spirit. [As a consequence] my mind has been as it were continually expanding—receiving the things of God, until glories indescribable present themselves before me" (quoted in Dean Jessee Ensign article, June 1979).

We also know that the first part of the promise was fulfilled at Brother Partridge’s death because the Lord said in D&C 124:19 that he had received Edward Partridge unto himself, along with David Patten and Joseph Smith, Sr.

As Edward Partridge lived the Law of Consecration totally throughout the 10 years of his church membership, he was refined and perfected spiritually far beyond those who struggled, refused, or grudgingly lived the law. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we each followed his example, so that when our lives are over, it can be said of us as I have found it universally said of Edward Partridge: “He gave everything he had for the building up of the Kingdom of God”  (Craig L. Foster, ELDSH, p. 897).

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Doctrine and Covenants Lesson #13 "This Generation Shall Have My Word Through You"


(This picture from In the Cavity of a Rock blog.)

D&C 5:10—“This generation shall have my word through you.” 
D&C 21:5—“For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.” 

We must have a testimony of Joseph Smith if we are to have a testimony of any of the restored gospel.

“At a conference of members in Hiram, Ohio, in November 1831, there was a…challenge to Joseph’s authority. Some of the brethren believed that someone with more learning could write the revelations from God better. The Lord promptly issued a counter challenge (recorded in D&C 67:5-8).” (Latter-Day History, p. 96) “After the foregoing was received, William E. McLellin, as the wisest man, in his own estimation, having more learning than sense, endeavored to write a commandment like unto one of the least of the Lord’s, but failed; it was an awful responsibility to write in the name of the Lord.” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church 1:225, quoted in LDH, p. 96) Those who witnessed this attempt were strengthened in their testimony of Joseph Smith as the spokesman for Jehovah on the earth.

Brigham Young never had a problem with his testimony of Joseph Smith’s role. He always regarded Joseph Smith as the mouthpiece of the Lord, and later in life, as the prophet himself, he said, “What I have received from the Lord, I have received by Joseph Smith” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 458, quoted in manual p. 70)

When describing the Prophet’s ability to understand and teach the gospel, he said, “Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the last days, had a happy faculty of reducing the things of heaven to the capacity of persons of common understanding, often in a single sentence throwing a flood of light into the gloom of ages. He had power to draw the spirits of the people who listened to him to his standard, where they communed with heavenly objects and heavenly principles, connecting the heavenly and the earthly together—in one blending flood of heavenly intelligence. When the mind is thus lit up with the spirit of revelation, it is clearly discerned that the heavens and the earth are in close proximity—that time and eternity are one.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 9:310)

“…Joseph [Smith] has been instrumental in bringing us more holy writ than Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Matthew, John, Paul, Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni put together” (George A Horton, Jr., 1/93 Ensign, p. 11).

The Lord said to Joseph of Egypt: 
"But a seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins; and unto him will I give power to bring forth my word unto the seed of thy loins--and not to the bringing forth my word only, saith the Lord, but to the convincing them of my word, which shall have already gone forth among them.  Wherefore, the fruit of thy loins shall write; and the fruit of the loins of Judah shall write; and that which shall be written by the fruit of thy loins, and also that which shall be written by the fruit of the loins of Judah, shall grow together, unto the confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins and bringing them to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord." (2 Nephi 3:11-12. This prophecy is also contained, nearly word for word, in the Old Testament JST, Genesis 50.) 

Not only would Joseph help bring forth the Book of Mormon, his works would also convince men of the truth of the Bible they already had. He would help this generation understand those things which are in the Bible. In addition the Bible and the Book of Mormon will “grow together.” The longer the Bible and Book of Mormon are used together, the better we will get at cross-referencing them, and our ability to use their sacred knowledge and power will be compounded and expanded continually. Read also verses 13-16.

Moses 1:70-71—“And now Moses, my son, I will speak unto thee concerning this earth upon which thou standest; and thou shalt write the things which I shall speak. And in a day when the children of men shall esteem my words as naught and take many of them from the book which thou shalt write, behold, I will raise up another like unto thee; and they shall be had again among the children of men—among as many as shall believe.”

“No study of the Bible would be complete without a thorough familiarity with the information and doctrines contained in the JST—especially in the five books of Moses, Psalms, Isaiah, and the four Gospels of the New Testament.” (George A. Horton, Jr. Ensign, 1/93, p. 12)

The Book of Mormon was mostly translated and published in the year 1829. The next three years, 1830-33, Joseph Smith translated the Bible, beginning with the Old Testament. He continued to revise and edit this translation until his death in 1844. Scribes for the work of the Bible translation included Oliver Cowdery, John Whitmer, Sidney Rigdon, Emma Smith, and Frederick G. Williams. The manuscript of the JST is 467 pages long and contains notes as to dates and geographical locations indicating when and where certain parts were being translated. Joseph completely rewrote some of the parts, in some he just wrote in some things and crossed out others. In several places, he wrote little notes and pinned them to the manuscript (since paper clips had not yet been invented).

Emma Smith put significant effort into protecting the manuscript of the JST, even tying it under her skirts in a bag to safeguard it while traveling 200 miles to safety from the mobs. At Joseph’s death, she still had the original manuscript with Joseph’s revision, and she gave it to her son, Joseph Smith III, who became the president of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ, now called Community of Christ. In 1867 the RLDS Church published the Inspired Version, or what we now call the Joseph Smith Translation (Ensign 1/86, p. 46). It is through the generosity of the Community of Christ that LDS Scholars have been able to use the JST in recent years, and add excerpts into our LDS scriptures.

The Joseph Smith Translation, published by the Community of Christ’s Herald House Publishing, contains at least 3,410 verses rendered differently from their counterparts in the King James Version. These are additional verses or enlargements of existing verses. The account of Enoch in JST Gen.6-7 (Moses 6-7) contained 5,200 more words about Enoch than the King's James Version does. One Old Testament book is omitted in the JST because, the manuscript states, the Song of Solomon is “not inspired”…More than 700 passages from the JST are provided in the footnotes and the appendix of the LDS edition of the KJV first issued in 1979 (Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History, p. 591).

The Scriptures Publications Committee (which published the 1979 edition of the LDS scriptures that included the JST), consisting of Elders Thomas S. Monson, Boyd K. Packer, and Bruce R. McConkie (with many others called to assist), was appointed by the First Presidency…To meet the space limitations, they did not attempt to include the bulk of the JST. “While there were several reasons why the entire text of the Joseph Smith Translation was not incorporated in the 1979 LDS edition of the Bible, unreliability of the JST text was not one of them” (Robert J. Matthews, Ensign, 6/92, p. 29). The RLDS Church preserved the manuscript exactly as Joseph Smith had left it at his death.

The Scriptures Publications Committee used the following guidelines to determine what to include:
  1. Selections must be doctrinally significant
  2. Selections must contribute something not readily apparent in the other standard works
  3. Priority should be given to passages that clarify the mission of Jesus Christ, the nature of God, the nature of man, the Abrahamic covenant, the priesthood, the antiquity of the gospel, and the latter-day restoration.
Excerpts 8 lines or shorter were placed in footnotes. Longer sections were printed in the Appendix. And the two large sections that were already included in the Pearl of Great Price (Moses 2-8 and JS-M) were left there (Robert J. Matthews, Ensign, 6/92, p. 29).

The D&C contains a index entitled "Chronological Order of Contents of the D&C." “Most of the revelations dealing with doctrinal subjects [found in the Doctrine and Covenants] were revealed to Joseph Smith…from June 1830 to July 1833, which was exactly the time he was working on the Bible translation. While the Prophet was engaged in such a concentrated study of the scriptures, it was natural for him to ask questions and ponder on various subjects, inquire of the Lord, and receive divine revelation in answer to his inquiry” (Robert J. Matthews, “A Plainer Translation,” BYU Press, quoted in Ensign, 1/86, p. 42).

“The Joseph Smith Translation is not just a better Bible; it was a channel, or the means, of doctrinal restoration in the infancy of this Church.” (Robert J. Matthews in The Capstone of our Religion: Insights into the Doctrine and Covenants, p. 64, quoted in manual, p. 73)

  • The Book of Moses was translated from the Old Testament Genesis in 1830-31. Joseph Smith – Matthew would have been translated later. 
  • The Book of Abraham was translated from papyri between 1835 and 1842. 
  • Joseph Smith’s History was written beginning in 1838.  
  • The Articles of Faith were written in 1842. 
These were all just individual writings and revelations, not connected to each other in any significant way, and the way that they came to be published together in one volume is an interesting story. And first we have to understand the significance of newspapers in America in the mid-19th century.

Alexis de Tocqueville, a contemporary of Joseph Smith's, reporting on his travels in America for his European readers, wrote, “The influence and circulation of newspapers is great beyond anything known in Europe. In truth, nine-tenths of the population read nothing else. Every village, nay almost every hamlet, had its press. Newspapers penetrate to every crevice of the nation” (Tocqueville, Democracy in America, p. 168, quoted in LDH p. 72). Newspapers did not attempt to be neutral, as they are proud to claim to be today, but were highly editorialized (prejudiced, if you will) to match the beliefs of the editor and his intended readers. Newspapers could almost feud with each other, and they could certainly stir up mobs and riots. For these reasons, it was very important for the church to have its own press, to defend the doctrines of the gospel and teach them to the saints. In Independence, Missouri, they had The Evening and Morning Star, in Nauvoo, The Times and Seasons, and in Great Britain, The Millenial Star.

Early versions of the sections of our current Pearl of Great Price were printed individually by the Missouri press in 1832-33, or ten years later by the Nauvoo press. Just as the tales of Sherlock Holmes and Charles Dickens were published in installments in periodicals, Joseph Smith’s history was. The Book of Abraham, as we have it, also was published in three installments, and more of that translation was planned to be published, but mob violence derailed that plan. Parts of the Book of Moses were published here and there.

It wasn’t until 1851 (seven years after the Prophet’s death) that these “miscellaneous” writings were compiled into one body, The Pearl of Great Price, similar to the way that it is today. So who thought of the name, The Pearl of Great Price? And who thought to put these revelations together? Well, it was not the Prophet, Brigham Young. Surprise! It was not even done under the direction of the First Presidency! It was a mission president who thought of the idea, Elder Franklin D. Richards. 

By that year, 1851, there were 31,000 members of the Church in Great Britain (twice what there were in all of North America) and 2/3rds of those had been members of the Church for four years or less. They had never had access to those revelations published in the early church periodicals. So Elder Richards, as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and President of the British Mission, put them together, titled it The Pearl of Great Price, and distributed it among the British saints (James R. Clark, “The Story of the Pearl of Great Price,” quoted in Ensign, 1/86, p. 44). This publication included the Books of Moses and Abraham, as well as the History of Joseph Smith, the Articles of Faith, Joseph Smith – Matthew, some selections from the D&C, and a poem entitled “Truth.”

In 1878 Elder Orson Pratt, the church historian, edited and rearranged The Pearl of Great Price, putting the Book of Moses in chronological order, similar to how it is today. What is now Moses 1 was titled “Visions of Moses,” and the rest of Moses, chapters 2-8, was titled “Writings of Moses.” In October Conference of 1880, the Pearl of Great Price was accepted as scripture and became part of the standard works. “Canonizing did not increase its truth or worth but did make it official Church literature” (ELDSH, Garr, et al., p. 114).


A concise explanation of the Abrahamic Covenant (2:6-11)
An account of the vastness of God’s creations, including the order by which the various planets and stars of his kingdom are governed (3:1-13)
The doctrine of the premortal existence of man and his eternal nature (3:18-22)
The doctrine of foreordination (3:23)
The concept of the earth as a testing ground for God’s children (3:24-26)
The account of Abraham's escape from death at the hand of Pharoah’s idolatrous priest (1:7-20)
The understanding that the earth was organized out of already existing materials rather than being created out of nothing (3:24)
More than one god participated in the creation (4)
The creation was planned in a heavenly council before it was carried out (5:1-3)


God’s purpose in creating man and the earth (1:27-40)
All things were created spiritually before physically (3:4-7)
The premortal council in which the Redeemer was appointed and Satan rebelled (4:1-6)
The effects of the fall (5:9-12, 6:47-56)
The introduction of the gospel among fallen man (5:4-15, 58-59)
The baptism of Adam (6:53-68)
The wickedness of Cain and his deal with the devil (5:16-41)
The intelligence of Adam and his righteous posterity, including their pure spoken and written language (6:5-6)
The visions of Enoch (6:24-8:1)
More about the ministry of Noah (8:8-32)
Animal sacrifice as a similitude of the Sacrifice of Christ (5:7)
Children are saved without baptism (6:54)
The concept of Zion introduced through the story of the City of Enoch (7:18)


John 4:24 “God is a Spirit” vs. JST John 4:25 (in footnote) “God hath promised his spirit”
Romans 7 “I am carnal, sold under sin…” (verse 14-16) vs. JST “when I was under the law, I was yet carnal, sold under sin. But now I am spiritual; for that which I am commanded to do, I do; and that which I am commanded not to allow, I allow not. For what I know is not right I would not do; for that which is sin, I hate.”

There is a great deal of increased knowledge about Jesus Christ’s mortal life and teachings that the JST of the New Testament provides. it also sheds a lot of new light on John the Baptist’s life (January 1995 Ensign).


“Reading Genesis without the benefit of the JST…would be something like [eating] a T-bone [steak] with much of the meat cut off” (George A. Horton, Jr., Ensign, 1/86, p. 42). And yet, we don’t spend very much time studying it. If you’re like me, you’re too lazy to look up the references, and if they don’t require you to read it for Sunday School class, you never get around to it on your own. (Suggest that sometime this year class members study The Pearl of Great Price and the Joseph Smith Translation Appendix. Also, suggest they find a way to highlight JST footnotes in a manner that will make them obvious when studying the Bible.  (On my paper scriptures, I colored the footnote letter in the text and its corresponding letter at the bottom of the page blue, an idea I got from Logan Insitute teacher, Jerry Wilson.  You can do the whole Bible as one project, starting at Genesis and going through Revelation and then you have them all.  If you don’t do it, you won’t see the changes.  I also drew a blue slash through any large passages that are seriously altered by the JST, such as the entire chapter of Romans 7. With my electronic scriptures, I underline the word or passage in a particular color to draw my attention to the footnote.)

On August 27, 1842, Joseph Smith said, speaking for Heavenly Father, “…no good thing will I withhold from them who walk uprightly before me, and do my will in all things—who will listen to my voice and to the voice of my servant whom I have sent; for I delight in those who seek diligently to know my precepts, and abide by the law of my kingdom; for all things shall be made known unto them in mine own due time, and in the end they shall have joy” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 257).

“[Joseph Smith] has given us more revealed truth than any prophet who has ever lived upon the face of the earth” (Elder LeGrand Richards, Ensign, May 1981, p. 33). Do we crave it? Do we use it? If not, we should!