Saturday, March 23, 2013

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



THE PROPHET JOSEPH SMITH’S ROLE IN BRINGING TRUTH TO LIGHT

(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 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 if 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 BOOK OF MORMON
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 altter 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 JST itself, 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 in using them to cross reference them, and our ability to use their sacred knowledge and power will be compounded and expanded continually. Read also verses 13-16.

THE JOSEPH SMITH TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE
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 was 467 pages long and contains notes as to dates, and geographical locations indicating when 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 Post-It Notes and paper clips had not yet been invented).

Emma Smith had 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 that the excerpts we have in our LDS scriptures are there.

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 KJV does. One Old Testament book is omitted in the JST because, the manuscript states, the Song of Solomon are “not inspired”…More than 700 passages from the JST are provided in the footnotes and the appendix of the LDS edition of the KJB, 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.

Because of space limitations, 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 were left there (Moses 2-8 and JS-M). (Robert J. Matthews, Ensign, 6/92, p. 29).

THE REVELATIONS IN THE DOCTRINE & COVENANTS
[Have class look at the 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 COMPILATION & PUBLICATION OF THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE
  • 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 10 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 (7 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 it in 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)

TRUTHS CLARIFIED IN THE BOOK OF ABRAHAM
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)
Abraham was nearly killed at the hand of Pharoah’s idolatrous priest (1:7-20)
The earth was organized out of already existing materials rather than 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)

TRUTHS CLARIFIED IN THE BOOK OF MOSES
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 was a similitude of the Sacrifice of Christ (5:7)
Why children are saved without baptism (6:54)
Through the story of the City of Enoch, the concept of Zion is introduced (7:18)

EXAMPLE CLARIFICATIONS PROVIDED BY THE JST OF THE BIBLE
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.”
[Look in Appendix with class to scan for others]

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)

THE IMPORTANCE OF USING THE KNOWLEDGE GIVEN TO US
“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, they should find a way to highlight JST footnotes in a manner that will make them obvious when studying the Bible.  (I color the footnote letter in the text and its corresponding letter at the bottom of the page blue.  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 draw a blue slash through any large passages that are seriously altered by the JST, such as the entire chapter of Romans 7.)

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 reveled 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 sh

1 comment:

Reid Litchfield said...

I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate your blog. Thanks so much for all your insights.