“Joseph Smith—History,” The Pearl of Great Price: Teacher Manual (2017)
“Joseph Smith—History,” The Pearl of Great Price: Teacher Manual
Joseph Smith—History contains excerpts from Joseph Smith’s official testimony and history of the Church. He prepared it in 1838, and it was published in the Church publication Times and Seasons in Nauvoo, Illinois. Joseph Smith’s official testimony and history of the Church is found in History of the Church, volumes 1–6 (see the introduction to the Pearl of Great Price).
The fundamental messages of Joseph Smith—History are that God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ have appeared again to mankind; that there was an Apostasy of the true Church; that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God; that the Book of Mormon is the word of God; and that the Church of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth (see Joseph Smith—History 1:17–19, 25, 33–34, 72–73; see also D&C 20:1–11; 128:19–21).
Any person who sincerely studies, ponders, and prays about the truthfulness of the accounts given by the Prophet Joseph Smith may know by the power of the Holy Ghost that they are true (see 2 Nephi 32:3–5; Alma 5:45–47; Moroni 10:3–5).
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 21:1 aloud. Ask the rest of the class to follow along and listen for what the Prophet Joseph Smith was commanded to do. Discuss possible reasons why the Lord would want Joseph to keep a record. Ask a student to read aloud the paragraph about Joseph Smith—History in the introduction to the Pearl of Great Price. (If available, show students one or more volumes of History of the Church, and invite students to look through them. Or, show students one or more volumes of The Joseph Smith Papers, either in electronic or hard copy format.) Review with students the material under “What Is Joseph Smith—History?” and “Who Wrote Joseph Smith—History?” in the student manual.
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud the five italicized summary statements that are found throughout Joseph Smith—History. Ask students to make a list of the major events that are summarized. Write the following five statements on the board:
If any one of these statements were false, how would that affect the other statements, and why? Display the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994), and invite a student to read it aloud:
“All the Church stand[s] or fall[s] with the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. The enemies of the Church understand this clearly. This is why they go to such great lengths to try to disprove the Book of Mormon, for if it can be discredited, the Prophet Joseph Smith goes with it. So does our claim to priesthood keys, and revelation, and the restored Church. But in like manner, if the Book of Mormon be true—and millions have now testified that they have the witness of the Spirit that it is indeed true—then one must accept the claims of the Restoration and all that accompanies it” (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 6).
Explain the relationship between a testimony of the Book of Mormon and a testimony of Joseph Smith’s other work. Bear your testimony of the truth of the events described in Joseph Smith—History, and invite students to share their thoughts and feelings.