“Introduction to the Book of Moses,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)
“Moses,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual
Introduction to the Book of Moses
Why study this book?
The book of Moses is the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 1:1 through Genesis 6:13. As students study this book, they will gain a greater understanding of their identity and purpose as children of God. They will also learn the crucial doctrines of the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. In addition, they will learn about important events and principles from the ministries of ancient prophets, such as Adam, Enoch, Noah, and Moses.
Who wrote this book?
The book of Moses is the Prophet Joseph Smith’s inspired translation of selections from the writings of Moses. It contains “the words of God, which he spake unto Moses” (Moses 1:1) and commanded Moses to record (see Moses 1:40; 2:1). However, “because of wickedness” (Moses 1:23), many of the words and plain and precious truths he recorded were obscured or lost and are thus not preserved in the book of Genesis as it has come to us (see Moses 1:41; 1 Nephi 13:26–28). Consequently, the Lord promised to raise up another prophet in the latter days to restore Moses’s words so they would be “had again among the children of men” (Moses 1:41; see also 2 Nephi 3:5–11; Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 50:26–33 [in the Bible appendix]). In fulfillment of that promise, the Lord revealed the writings of Moses to the Prophet Joseph Smith.
When and where was it written?
We do not know exactly when Moses received the revelations recorded in the book of Moses or where he was when he recorded them. However, we know that the experiences recorded in Moses 1 occurred after Moses encountered the burning bush (see Moses 1:17; see also Exodus 3:1–4:17) but before he returned to Egypt to deliver the children of Israel from bondage (see Moses 1:25–26). It has been suggested that Moses recorded the material in Moses 2–8, which corresponds to his writings in Genesis 1:1–6:13, sometime in the 15th century B.C. Because all of the events in Moses 2–8 occurred before Moses’s lifetime, he relied on revelation (see Moses 2:1) and perhaps other records (see Abraham 1:31) to write this material.
The writings contained in the book of Moses were revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith as he was working on his inspired translation, or revision, of the King James Version of the Bible between June 1830 and February 1831 (see the chapter summaries for Moses 1–8).
What are some distinctive features of this book?
Moses 1 is particularly distinctive because it has no counterpart in the Bible and because it serves as a preface to the Creation and all of Moses’s writings (the Pentateuch, or first five books of the Old Testament). In addition, Moses 2–8 presents information that is not found in the corresponding material in the Bible (Genesis 1:1–6:13). These valuable contributions include:
The spiritual creation of all things (see Moses 2).
The significance of the Fall of Adam and Eve and clear explanations of its effects on mankind (see Moses 3–6).
The actions of Lucifer before he was cast out of heaven (see Moses 4:1–4).
The importance of the Atonement of Jesus Christ (see Moses 5–7).
Evidence that Adam and Eve and their descendants enjoyed the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ (see Moses 5–8).
The establishment of Zion in Enoch’s day and his visions of the Lord (see Moses 7).
Details concerning the conditions on the earth before the Flood, as well as Noah’s efforts to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and warn the people to repent (see Moses 8).
Moses 1 Moses sees the Lord and learns he is a son of God. The Lord shows Moses a vision of the earth and its inhabitants. After this vision Satan appears to Moses, but Moses commands him to depart in the name of the Only Begotten. The Lord again appears to Moses and reveals the purpose of His creations.
Moses 2–3 Through revelation Moses learns about the Creation of the earth and all life upon it. The Lord explains that He created all things spiritually before they were created naturally. He also provides further details concerning the creation of Adam and Eve and the first commandments given to them.
Moses 4–5 The Lord informs Moses of how Lucifer became Satan. The Lord also relates the account of the Fall of Adam and Eve and their expulsion from Eden. Adam and Eve learn about redemption from the Fall that comes through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and they teach it to their children. Cain slays Abel and is punished by the Lord. Wickedness and secret combinations abound.
Moses 6–7 Righteousness and wickedness spread among Adam and Eve’s descendants. Enoch is called to preach the gospel and establishes a people called Zion, who are translated, or taken to heaven without dying. Enoch sees Satan laughing and the Lord weeping because of the wickedness of mankind. He also sees Noah, the Flood, the coming of Jesus Christ, the Restoration of the gospel in the latter days, and the Second Coming of the Savior.
Moses 8 Noah preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ. After the people reject Noah’s message, the Lord decrees that He will destroy all flesh by the Flood.