The Pearl of Great Price

Encyclopedia of Mormonism – Pearl of Great Price

One of the four standard works accepted as scripture by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Pearl of Great Price includes various documents known as "Selections from the Book of Moses," "The Book of Abraham," "Joseph Smith-Matthew," "Joseph Smith-History," and "The Articles of Faith."

It was first published at Liverpool, England, in 1851 by Franklin D. Richards, then president of the British Mission and a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in response to requests from converts for further information about their new church. In addition to selected revelations from Genesis in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST) and the book of Abraham, the 1851 edition contained Matthew 24 as revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1831 (currently titled joseph smith-Matthew); "A Key to the Revelations of St. John" (now D&C 77), a revelation received by Joseph Smith on December 25, 1832 (now D&C 87); and Joseph Smith's 1838 account of his early visions and translation of the Book of Mormon (now joseph smith-history). It also incorporated certain extracts from the Doctrine and Covenants (sections 20, 107, and 27), thirteen untitled statements previously published in the Times and Seasons in March 1842 and now known as the Articles of Faith, and a poem titled "Truth" that later became the LDS hymn "Oh Say, What Is Truth?"

The Book of Moses originally consisted of several revelations given to Joseph Smith as he was revising the Bible under inspiration, beginning in June 1830. In the 1851 edition of the Pearl of Great Price, these excerpts were untitled. The 1878 edition added the titles "Visions of Moses" (chap. 1) and "Writings of Moses" (chaps. 2-8). These revelations were first printed in Church newspapers between 1832 and 1851 (Clark, pp. 9-17).

The book of Abraham is linked to Joseph Smith's work on rolls of papyri that the Church obtained in 1835. Soon after he began studying the rolls, he produced a record of the life of the patriarch Abraham and a description of the creation of the world similar to that in Genesis and the Book of Moses. In 1842 the Nauvoo Times and Seasons and the Millennial Star in England printed the available text and facsimiles. It is certain that the materials incorporated into the books of Moses and Abraham were extracts and that more information was available than has ever been included in the printed editions of the Pearl of Great Price.