“Joseph Smith—History 1:55–75,” The Pearl of Great Price Teacher Manual (2017)
“Joseph Smith—History 1:55–75,” The Pearl of Great Price Teacher Manual
An important part of Joseph Smith’s preparation to do the work of the Lord was meeting and marrying Emma Hale (see Joseph Smith—History 1:55–58; see also 1 Corinthians 11:11; Ephesians 5:31; D&C 42:22; 131:1–2).
The golden plates were protected from the enemies of God by the efforts of Joseph Smith and the wisdom of the Lord. Joseph returned the plates to the angel Moroni when his work with them was completed (see Joseph Smith—History 1:59–61; see also Jacob 1:3; Enos 1:15–16; Alma 37:4, 14; Mormon 5:12; 8:14–16; D&C 42:56).
The Lord can provide timely and generous assistance in the midst of our afflictions (see Joseph Smith—History 1:61–62, 66–67, 75; see also Psalm 46:1; 2 Corinthians 1:3–4; Hebrews 4:16; 1 Nephi 1:20; 17:3, 13–14; D&C 84:87–88; 112:19).
Some of the events surrounding the coming forth of the Book of Mormon were prophesied by Isaiah and fulfilled by Martin Harris and others (see Joseph Smith—History 1:62–65; see also Isaiah 29:4–24; 2 Nephi 26:14–19; 27:4–35).
Invite students to list the major events of their lives in the past four years. Explain to students that in Joseph Smith—History 1:55–58 Joseph tells us about four major events in his life. Ask students to identify the four events. (The death of his brother, Alvin; his job doing manual labor; the experience of digging for a silver mine; and his marriage to Emma Hale.) Discuss how each event may have prepared Joseph to receive the plates and complete his life’s mission. (For example, you may want to ask the following: How might the experience of dating and marrying Emma have helped Joseph in his preparation?)
Display and invite a few students to take turns reading aloud the story in the commentary under “Joseph Smith—History 1:59–60. Joseph Received the Plates” in the student manual. Then invite a student to read aloud the warnings that Moroni gave Joseph in Joseph Smith—History 1:42, 59. Ask students how they think Joseph felt when he received the warning in verse 59. What promise did Moroni give Joseph?
Discuss how Joseph received, preserved, and began to translate the plates in the midst of persecution and harassment. Invite students to report in their own words what the Lord and others did to help Joseph accomplish his work, according to Joseph Smith—History 1:62, 66–67.
John the Baptist restored the Aaronic Priesthood to the earth, conferring it upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, who then baptized and ordained each other (see Joseph Smith—History 1:68–72; see also Hebrews 5:4; D&C 13, section heading; 13:1; 27:8; 84:18, 26–28).
The Holy Ghost enables prophets to prophesy of things to come and can help us understand the meaning and intention of the scriptures (see Joseph Smith—History 1:73–74; see also Genesis 40:8; Numbers 11:25; Daniel 2:28; Luke 1:67; 2 Peter 1:20–21; 1 Nephi 22:2; D&C 107:56).
The testimony of Oliver Cowdery at the end of Joseph Smith—History is a second witness from a man who was involved in many of the early events of Church history. Oliver’s testimony helps establish the truthfulness of the account of the Prophet Joseph Smith (see Joseph Smith—History 1:71, note; see also Matthew 18:16; 2 Nephi 11:3; Ether 5:4; D&C 6:20–28; 17:1–9; 18:1–5; 24:10–12; 28:1).
Display the following description of the translation of the Book of Mormon, and invite a student to read it aloud (you may also want to refer to the commentary under “Joseph Smith—History 1:67. The Translation of the Book of Mormon” in the student manual):
“When Joseph Smith began translating in 1827, he evidently started with the book of Lehi from Mormon’s abridgment of the large plates of Nephi (see heading to D&C 10). After the loss of the 116 pages of manuscript, Joseph apparently started with the book of Mosiah, also found on the large plates. He had just begun the book of Mosiah when Oliver Cowdery was sent to him in early April of 1829. Five weeks later, May 15, 1829, they were on 3 Nephi and the Savior’s sermon on baptism to the Nephites. Not until arriving at the Whitmer residence in Fayette did Joseph translate the small plates of Nephi, which contain 1 Nephi through the Words of Mormon. The Prophet was commanded to translate the small plates to replace the 116 lost pages (see D&C 10:43–45)” (in Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 59).
Ask a few students to take turns reading aloud what the Lord said about the work of translating the Book of Mormon in Doctrine and Covenants 1:29; 3:12; 17:6; 20:8, and what other witnesses said about it in “The Testimony of Three Witnesses” and “The Testimony of Eight Witnesses” in the front of the Book of Mormon. Testify of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and invite students to share their testimonies of it.
Ask students who they think are some of the greatest prophets of all time, and why. Then invite a student to read Joseph Smith—History 1:68, 72 aloud. Ask students to list what they learned about this “messenger” from these verses. To learn more about John the Baptist and to help students understand why he was chosen to restore the Aaronic Priesthood, briefly review Luke 1:5–25, 57–66; 3:1–20 and Doctrine and Covenants 84:26–28 (see also Bible Dictionary, “John the Baptist”). Invite a student to read aloud what the Savior said about John the Baptist in Matthew 11:11. Ask students why they think John the Baptist should be on their lists of the greatest prophets.
List and discuss what we learn about the Aaronic Priesthood in Joseph Smith—History 1:68–72. (Answers might include the keys that belong to the Aaronic Priesthood, the power that does not belong to the Aaronic Priesthood, the direction the Aaronic Priesthood functions under, and so forth.) Ask students who hold the Aaronic Priesthood to raise their hands. (If any who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood do not raise their hands, ask them why they did not; and if any Melchizedek Priesthood holders do raise their hands, ask them why they did. Remind students that all those who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood also have authority to function in the Aaronic Priesthood.)
Invite a student to read Joseph Smith—History 1:73 aloud while class members listen for what Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were able to do because of the Holy Ghost. You may want to suggest that students mark the answer in their scriptures. Ask students if Joseph and Oliver were members of the Church yet. (They were not, because the Church was not yet organized.) Had they received the gift of the Holy Ghost? (They had not, because it is only given by Melchizedek Priesthood holders when confirming people as members of the Church.) Help students understand the difference between receiving the influence of the Holy Ghost and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost (see also Bible Dictionary, “Holy Ghost”).
Invite each student to imagine the following: You have just been in a traffic accident. It was clearly not your fault, but the driver of the other car is blaming you. The policeman does not know who to believe. How can the policeman learn the truth? Now imagine that a witness steps forward and establishes the truthfulness of your description of the accident. How would you feel toward that witness? Explain to students that the note to Joseph Smith—History 1:71 (located at the end of Joseph Smith—History) is an additional witness to the early events of Church history from someone who was there. Invite students to take turns reading aloud this testimony of Oliver Cowdery. Ask students to search for and share information from Oliver’s account that is not contained elsewhere in Joseph Smith—History. Discuss how Oliver felt about these experiences. Invite students to share what impresses them most in Oliver’s account, and why.