Pearl of Great Price: Contents
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Contents, origin and organization
Joseph Smith had three major translating projects during his ministry. The first, of course, was the Book of Mormon translation. Joseph learned of this project beginning with Moroni's first appearance in September 1823. He finally receive the plates four years later in September 1827, translates 116 manuscript pages in April - June 1828, and then loses that manuscript in July 1828. In September 1828 he again receives the plates from Moroni, and during April - June 1829 he and Oliver Cowdery translate the Book of Mormon. Oliver Cowdery and Hyrum Smith oversee the process of printing until the Book of Mormon becomes available for sale on March 26, 1830.
Eleven days later the church was organized on April 6, 1830.
Within another two months or so Joseph Smith was working on his next major translation project, his New Translation of the Holy Scriptures, or the JST. In June 1830 Joseph Smith received Moses 1 as a preface or introduction to the JST. Nine months later, in March 1831, the translation was at Genesis 24. At that point Joseph was told in D&C 45 the begin working instead on the New Testament. This was completed in July 1832(?). Joseph then returned to the Old Testament and completed it in July 1833. In the Pearl of Great Price, the Book of Moses is the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 1:1-6:12 (?). Joseph Smith-Matthew is the Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew 24. These two parts of the Pearl of Great Price thus arise out of Joseph Smith's second major translation project.
It is significant that of the entire Joseph Smith Translation, the only portions canonized, or widely available to the LDS Church membership until 1981, were Genesis 1-6 and Matthew 24.
Two major occupations over the next three years were Zion's Camp and the Kirtland Temple, which was dedicated on March 27, 1836. Shortly before this the Saints obtained six Egyptian mummies from a traveling showman. Some scrolls came with the mummies, and Joseph began to translate them. Out of this came the Book of Abraham. Joseph records working on this translation in 1836 and 1841(?). The Book of Abraham was published in Nauvoo in March 1841(?). This part of the Pearl of Great Price thus consists of the results of Joseph Smith's third major translation project, the Egyptian scrolls. A Book of Joseph was also promised for publication, but has never bee published or located.
What remains of the Pearl of Great Price is Joseph Smith History, and what remains of the standard works is the Doctrine & Covenants. These are not Joseph Smith's translation of earlier written texts, but rather record divine guidance given directly to him in the first place.
The Pearl of Great Price first appeared in 1851 as a publication of the England mission. It was not canonized scripture, but a collection of items considered by the mission president ____ worthy of widespread distribution.
In 1878 the contents were revamped and the book published in Utah. Two years later in 1880 this edition was canonized.
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