“The Book of Moses,” The Pearl of Great Price Teacher Manual (2017)
“The Book of Moses,” The Pearl of Great Price Teacher Manual
Moses was a prophet of God who lived one hundred and twenty years, sometime during the second half of the second millennium BC. He was called by God to lead the children of Israel out of bondage from Egypt, through the wilderness, and into the promised land of Israel.
From June 1830 to February 1831 the Prophet Joseph Smith worked on revising the first six chapters of the book of Genesis as part of the inspired revision and restoration of the Bible, which is now called the Joseph Smith Translation. The first six chapters of Genesis were expanded to eight chapters in what became known as the book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price. As the Prophet carried out his work, the Lord revealed to him many long-lost doctrines, prophecies, and events related to the gospel of Jesus Christ. To understand how the Lord regards this inspired revision of the Bible, read Doctrine and Covenants 35:20.
Jesus Christ appeared to Moses and showed him a vision of the Creation and a history of the earth from Adam to Moses’s own time (and beyond). Moses wrote a book about what he saw in his vision.
Show a picture of Moses, and ask students what they know about him. Ask students to silently study the following scripture blocks if they want to learn more about Moses: Exodus 2–3; 14; 19–20; Deuteronomy 34; Matthew 17:1–3; Acts 7:15–44; 1 Nephi 17:23–30; Doctrine and Covenants 84:6–25; 110:11. Invite students to share the lessons they learn from these scriptures.
Invite students to suggest titles by which various prophets are known or referred to (such as Adam, Noah, Enoch, John the Baptist, the Apostle John, or Joseph Smith). Ask a few students to take turns reading 3 Nephi 20:23; Doctrine and Covenants 107:91–92; and 138:41 aloud. Discuss the titles by which Moses was known. Explain to students that even today, after nearly 3,500 years, Moses is still regarded as one of God’s greatest prophets by people of many different faiths, including Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
Explain to students that the Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–44) recorded the following in his journal for December 1, 1831:
“I resumed the translation of the Scriptures [Bible] and continued to labor in this branch of my calling” (Joseph Smith, Manuscript History of the Church, vol. A–1, p. 89, josephsmithpapers.org; punctuation standardized).
Invite a student to repeat the eighth article of faith. Remind students that the Lord commanded the Prophet Joseph Smith to “translate” the Bible (make corrections and additions; see D&C 35:20; 37:1; 45:60–61; 124:89). Consider inviting students to write the following at the top of the page in the beginning of the book of Moses: Joseph Smith’s inspired revision of Genesis 1:1 through 6:13.
Consider showing the video “Many Plain and Precious Things” (4:32) near the beginning of the lesson to help students understand the context of the Joseph Smith Translation and the book of Moses. This video explains the purpose and importance of Joseph Smith’s inspired revision of the Bible. This video is available on LDS.org.
Review the information under “An Extract from the Translation of the Bible” in the introduction to the book of Moses in the student manual. Explain to students that as they study the book of Moses, they will learn many concepts not found in the Bible. As you study the book of Moses with students, you may want to invite them to compare verses in Genesis 1–6 with corresponding verses in Moses 1–8, looking for how the Joseph Smith Translation helps restore plain and precious truths.
Assign students to do the following:
List the dates given just above the chapter headings in the book of Moses (these are the dates during which the Prophet Joseph Smith translated each portion of the book of Moses).
Using the “Chronological Order of Contents” chart at the beginning of the Doctrine and Covenants, list the Doctrine and Covenants sections that were received during the equivalent time periods that the chapters in the book of Moses were written.
Read the headings of the sections of the Doctrine and Covenants that were received while the Prophet Joseph worked on the book of Moses, and list the events that happened in the Church and in the life of Joseph Smith from June 1830 through February 1831.
When students have completed these assignments, they should be able to answer the following questions:
How many sections of the Doctrine and Covenants were received from June 1830 through February 1831?
What places did Joseph Smith live and how many times did he move his family during this time?
Who are some of the people who came to see Joseph Smith for counsel and revelation during this time?
What problems did Joseph Smith and other Church members confront during this time?
What doctrines, laws, and commandments did Joseph Smith receive from the Lord during this time?
You may want to testify that the work of the Prophet Joseph Smith in translating the Bible under divine inspiration is a testimony that he truly was a prophet of God.