“This Generation Shall Have My Word through You”
Lesson 13 Our Heritage pgs. 23-25,41,58 and Bible Dictionary, “Joseph Smith Translation”, pg. 717
The Lord declared that the people in this dispensation would receive His word through Joseph Smith
In D&C 5:10, the words “this generation” refer to this latter-day dispensation—our day.
President Brigham Young said: “What I have received from the Lord, I have received by Joseph Smith”. This statement could be made by any Latter-day Saint—including you. The latter-day scriptures, priesthood ordinances, priesthood organization, Relief Society organization, and temple building came from the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith.
A prophecy in Moses 1:40-41 is being fulfilled. After the Prophet Joseph Smith was raised up by the Lord, His words are now “had again among the children of men.”
Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, we received the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, and the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. Joseph was an instrument in the Lord’s hand in restoring ancient scriptures and many revelations given to him became latter-day scriptures. Speaking about Joseph Smith, Elder LeGrand Richards said: “As far as our records show, he has given us more revealed truth than any prophet who has ever lived upon the face of the earth.” (Ensign, May 1981, 33)
In the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 3:11-15 contains a prophecy about Joseph Smith. Verse 12’s “writings” refers to the Book of Mormon and the Bible. These ancient scriptures have blessed our lives by bringing us to a better knowledge of the Lord’s covenants, eliminating contention, and establishing peace. For class discussion, think about what the Book of Mormon means to you.
From 1823 to 1831, more than 60 revelations were given to Joseph Smith from the Lord. Most Church members could not access these revelations for study and instruction since only a few handwritten copies, usually in the hands of missionaries and a few others. While attending a conference of about a dozen leaders in late 1831 in Ohio, it was decided that the Book of Commandments would be published to make the revelations more widely available. Oliver Cowdrey and John Whitmer were selected to take the revelations to Independence, Missouri, for printing.
Completing the 1000-mile journey in January 1832, Cowdrey and Whitmer worked with William W. Phelps to get the first 160 pages printed by July 1833. But later that month, the printing press and many unbound pages of the Book of Commandments were destroyed by a mob. The pages that could be salvaged were bound into a few copies of the Book of Commandments, but that still did not make the revelations widely available as had been hoped. It wasn’t until 1835 when the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants was published, including 45 additional revelations, that these scriptures reached many of the Saints. For class discussion, think of a couple of your favorite passages from the Doctrine and Covenants.
Appropriately named, the Pearl of Great Price is small like a pearl, but of great worth to the Saints. Although it spans the eternities from before our pre-mortal existence until our post-mortal eternal lives, it is only 61 pages long. Those pages contain doctrine on the Creation, the Fall, the Atonement, Free moral Agency, and this latter-day dispensation. Five parts comprise this book of the Standard Works:
§ Selections from the Book of Moses
§ The book of Abraham
§ Joseph Smith—Matthew
§ Joseph Smith—History
§ The Articles of Faith
Review the last five paragraphs of the Introductory Note at the beginning of the Pearl of Great Price to benefit from an explanation of the background of each part of this book of scripture.
The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible came about because many parts of the Bible were changed, causing the loss of many plain and precious truths during the Great Apostasy when the Lord withdrew the fullness of the gospel from the earth. Reading the 8th Article of Faith makes clear that we believe the Bible “as far as it is translated correctly”.
Soon after the Church was restored, Joseph was instructed to begin making inspired corrections to the King James Version. References to these instructions include D&C 35:20; 37:1; 45:60-61; 73:3-4; 93:53. Because he did as instructed, we now have the inspired revisions in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST). It is not what would normally be thought of as a “translation” because it was not translated from one language to another—the only text was the King James Version, but Joseph was guided by the Spirit to make corrections and restore some passages that had been completely lost.
Two excerpts from the JST are found in the Pearl of Great Price—the book of Moses and Joseph Smith—Matthew. In the LDS scriptures, excerpts are also found in the appendix following the Bible Dictionary and in the footnotes of the King James Version of the Bible. A comparison of some passages may help us understand the value of the JST:
The translation of the Bible is intertwined with the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants because revelations were received as the Prophet inquired further about corrections and additions to the Bible. His questions resulted in answers that produced an improved Bible as well as doctrinal teachings in the D&C. Together, they amount to a great restoration of truth and doctrinal integrity that was missing prior to the Prophet’s reception of these inspired teachings. (For further information, read the 2nd full paragraph of page 24 of Our Heritage and the heading of D&C 76 as well as D&C 76: 15-19). Our leaders have and do encourage us to use the Joseph Smith Translation in our studies of the scriptures.
While many gospel doctrines and principles were left unclear, incorrect, or incomplete in existing volumes of scripture at the time of Joseph Smith’s youth, we were given the clear, correct, complete principles and doctrines as a result of his faithful service as he received revelation and inspiration.
Examples of principles or doctrines that needed clarification or correction included:
Subject Scriptures given thru Joseph Smith
Physical nature of the Godhead Joseph Smith—History 1:17, D&C 130:1, 22
Melchizedek Priesthood D&C 84:19-25; 107:1-8, 18-19
Mode of Baptism D&C 20:71-74; 3 Nephi 11:22-26
3 Kingdoms of Glory D&C 76:50-112; 131:1
Our Potential—Being like Father D&C 88:107; 93:20; 132:20-24
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