8 the Book of  Moses

Robert J. Matthews, A Bible! A Bible! , p.100-115

 

What is the book of Moses? The most direct answer I can give to that question is that the book of  Moses  consists of the first eight chapters of  Genesis  from the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST). Since the book of  Moses  has been published separately in the Pearl of Great Price, and since the Church does not publish the JST as a separate, complete volume, the historical connection between the book of  Moses  and the translation of the Bible has eluded many Latter-day Saints. However, the original manuscript of the Prophet's translation leaves no doubt that the book of  Moses  is an extract from the JST.         

The complete story of the book of Moses, however, is quite complex, and it is not sufficient for us simply to say that the book of  Moses  is part of the JST. We want to know a good many other things about it, such as the following:          

 1. How, when, where, why, and by whom was this part of the translation made?         

 2. By what means did the material get from the original handwritten manuscript into the printed Pearl of Great Price?         

 3. Of what specific historical value to the book of  Moses  are the original manuscripts of the JST?         

 4. Of what historical and doctrinal value is the material known as the book of Moses?         

How the Book of  Moses  Was Obtained         

The material that constitutes our present book of  Moses  was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith as part of his translation of the Bible. Originally this material consisted of three separate revelations. The first, dated June 1830 on the original manuscript, is titled, "A  Revelation  given to Joseph the Revelator," and is now published as  Moses 1.  This revelation, apparently recorded by Oliver Cowdery at Harmony, Pennsylvania, must have been given just prior to or at the beginning of the Bible translation.         

 The second  revelation  is titled, "A  Revelation  given to the Elders of the Church of Christ on the first Book of Moses, Chapter First." This is also part of the JST manuscript, appearing in Oliver Cowdery's handwriting, and covers the material found in  Moses 2,   3, and 4. No date is given on this part of the manuscript, but other evidences show that it was received and recorded in Harmony, Pennsylvania, between June and October 1830.         

 The third portion, also received in the process of making the new translation of the Bible, is titled, "A  Revelation  concerning Adam after he had been driven out of the Garden of Eden." The content of this  revelation  actually covers much more than what is suggested by the title, for it not only deals with Adam but also relates the biblical story from Adam down to Noah, with an especially long  section  about Enoch. This material can be found in  Moses 5:1  to 8:12.         

 At this point in the JST manuscript several dates are given, and it is evident that several scribes were involved. The material comprising what we now call  Moses 4:1  to 5:42 was recorded by Oliver Cowdery between June and 21 October 1830, at Fayette, New York, and at about this time Oliver Cowdery left New York on a mission to Ohio and Missouri (see  D&C 32) consequently at this point in the JST manuscript, the handwriting changes from that of Oliver Cowdery to that of  John  Whitmer. The latter recorded a few verses on 21 October 1830 (comprising what we now call  Moses 5:43  to 5:51), and some additional material on 30 November 1830 (comprising what is now  Moses 5:52  to 6:18).  John  Whitmer continued to write, and on I December 1830 he recorded what is now  Moses 6:19  to 7:2. All of this took place at Fayette, New York. Then  John  Whitmer, having been called previously, left New York on a mission to the Kirtland, Ohio, area.         

 At this point Sidney Rigdon came into the picture. He had joined the Church in Ohio a few weeks earlier (on 14 or 15 November 1830), and had arrived in Fayette on or about 10 December 1830. Soon after his arrival, he was appointed by  revelation  to be a scribe for the Prophet Joseph (see  D&C 35:19-20)  and began to record what was revealed as the Prophet translated the Bible. Sometime after Sidney Rigdon's arrival (and before 30 December) the Prophet Joseph received, as part of the Bible translation, an extended  revelation  about Enoch. The manuscript shows that this  revelation  was originally recorded in the handwriting of Sidney Rigdon. It is the material now printed as  Moses 7, and was the first contact that Sidney Rigdon had with Joseph Smith's translation of the Bible.         

 Later during the same month of December (probably on 30 December), soon after the reception of the  revelation  about Enoch, the Lord directed Joseph Smith to cease translating the Bible until the Prophet had moved to Ohio (see  D&C 37).  The actual move from Fayette, New York, to Kirtland, Ohio, did not take place until late in January 1831, and the Prophet arrived in Kirtland on about 1 February 1831.A few days later, after the Prophet and his company became settled in Kirtland, work on the translation resumed with Sidney Rigdon as scribe. During the month of February and continuing until 8 March 1831, the translation was carried through to  Gen. 19:35.          

 I am grateful to the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for making it possible for me to study carefully the original manuscripts. These manuscripts, when used in conjunction with the History of the Church and the Doctrine and Covenants, make it possible to reconstruct, almost on a day-to-day basis, the history of this important period of June 1830 to March 1831. Among the important historical items that become very clear are the following:         

 1. The material we know as the book of  Moses  was revealed as part of Joseph Smith's translation of the Bible, but it was not at that time called the book of Moses.         

 2. The original manuscripts make it evident that most of the book of  Moses  material was revealed in the summer and early fall of 1830, some portions being revealed in November and December 1830 and some in February 1831.         

 3. Much of the material was already recorded before Sidney Rigdon entered the picture. He was neither the genius nor the recorder for the early part of the Bible translation.         

 4. The movements of the early brethren-such as Oliver Cowdery's call to Ohio and Missouri;  John  Whitmer's call to Ohio; Sidney Rigdon's entry into the Church and his arrival in Fayette, New York-are all reflected in the changes of handwriting and the dating found on the original manuscripts of Joseph Smith's translation of the Bible. This gives a certain historical importance as well as textual confirmation to these original manuscripts, and greatly facilitates our day-to-day reconstruction of those early events in Church history. This is illustrated in the accompanying chart, "Time Sequence of the New Translation."         

5. In early editions of the Pearl of Great Price, the dates given at the beginning of each chapter in the book of  Moses  were partially incorrect. From 1920 until 1981,  Moses 1  was properly dated June 1830; but chapters 2 through 8 of  Moses  were all dated December 1830. As explained earlier in this chapter, the material comprising  Moses 2  through 6 was received actually during June to December 1830; the material in  Moses 7, in December 1830; and the information now known as  Moses 8, in February 1831. These dates were all corrected in the 1981 edition of the Pearl of Great Price. This may seem a small matter to some, but it is historically interesting and very important for a correct understanding of the content. Access to the original manuscript has given us this information.          

Time Sequence of the New Translation    (See Chart at end of Article)         

        

6. The great doctrinal contributions of the book of  Moses  concerning Adam, Cain, Satan, Enoch, and Noah are of inestimable value to Church members. This material, especially that pertaining to Enoch, constitutes some of the most significant evidence of Joseph Smith's divine calling as a prophet and seer, and should be recognized for what it is-a part of his translation of the Bible. I emphasize the significance of the Enoch material because today apocryphal and archaeological evidences tend to corroborate what Joseph Smith gave us about Enoch. These evidences were not available in Joseph Smith's day.         

How the  Moses  Material Became Part of the Pearl of Great Price         

The initial draft of the translation of the early chapters of  Genesis  was written from June 1830 to March 1831. This is known as Old Testament manuscript #2 and extends to  Gen. 24:42.  Beginning in 1831 the Prophet went over this material again, making additional revisions, and produced another manuscript separate and apart from the first. This later manuscript is now identified as Old Testament manuscript #3. It repeats the material of Old Testament #2 with additional revision but also extends to the end of the Old Testament. Subsequently the Prophet went over the same material (Old Testament #3) yet again, making many additional revisions by writing in the margins and between the lines, and also by pinning on scraps of paper containing notes and revisions. This means that these early chapters of  Genesis  were repeatedly revised and added to by the Prophet Joseph Smith.         

Portions of the  Genesis  translation were printed in early Church publications, such as the Evening and Morning Star ( 1832-33) in Independence, Missouri, the Lectures on Faith (1835), and the Times and Seasons (1843) in Nauvoo. These excerpts were all taken from the early draft, containing the preliminary revision (Old Testament #2), and thus the early periodicals do not reflect the full revision and translation eventually effected by the Prophet. When Joseph Smith was killed in 1844, the Bible translation manuscripts were retained by his widow, Emma Smith, and were not made available to the LDS church. Thus the Church came to Utah without the new translation of the Bible.         

In 1845  John  Bernhisel made a partial copy of the original manuscripts, but as we will show later, his copy did not become a source for any of the materials in any edition of the Pearl of Great Price. In 1851 Elder Franklin D. Richards, president of the British mission, published certain excerpts of Joseph Smith's Bible translation, along with some other items, in a pamphlet which he titled the Pearl of Great Price. This was in Liverpool, England. Since President Richards did not have access to the original JST manuscripts, the  Moses  material he included consisted of excerpts from such sources as the Evening and Morning Star and the Times and Seasons. It appears that he also had access to a handwritten copy of some portions of the new Bible translation that had not been printed in the Church periodicals. By use of these sources, then, he was able to include the  Moses  material from the Prophet's translation of the Bible in this first edition of the Pearl of Great Price. He did not give this material a unifying title; he did not call it the book of Moses. It was printed only as excerpts-quite disjointed, separate, and incomplete. As noted earlier, these excerpts represented the text of the early draft, not the final, more complete revision. For example, consider the different rendering of  Moses 1:39  in the two drafts:         

OT #2    this is my work to my glory to the immortality and eternal life of man     

OT #3    this is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man       

The 1851 Pearl of Great Price follows the first draft; current publications follow the later revision.         

The book of  Moses  seems to end rather abruptly, and many have wondered why President Richards didn't include more, especially to round out the story of Noah and the Flood. The answer is simple: He published all that he had.         

 As mentioned previously, after Joseph Smith's death his widow retained the manuscripts of the new Bible translation until 1866, when she gave them to the RLDS church. Subsequently, in 1867 the RLDS church published its first edition of Joseph Smith's Bible translation, using the manuscript that contained the Prophet's final and more complete revisions. Thus, this 1867 RLDS publication of the JST represented a better and more complete text than did the corresponding material in the 1851 Pearl of Great Price published by President Richards. The accompanying chart, "Sources for the Book of Moses," illustrates the textual genealogy of various items related to the JST and the book of Moses.          

Explanation of Chart "Sources for the Book of Moses"         

1. The original draft of the Old Testament portion of the JST now contained in the book of  Moses  was made by Joseph Smith and his scribes from June 1830 until February 1831. It is identified as Old Testament #2. (See item 5 below and also note 3 at end of chapter for the identification of Old Testament #1.)         

2. Excerpts of this material were published in the Evening and Morning Star from August 1832 to April 1833, and in the Times and Seasons, January 1843.         

3. In 1851 the excerpts of the JST in the Evening and Morning Star and Times and Seasons Were used by Elder Franklin D. Richards in publishing the  Moses  material in the first edition of the Pearl of Great Price.         

4. Private copies of parts of the JST were made by early brethren. Elder Franklin D. Richards evidently had a personal manuscript of at least part of the early  Genesis  materials, which he used to supplement the materials from the Evening, and Morning Star and the Times and Seasons in publishing the  Moses  material in the 1851 Pearl of Great Price. Even so, the 1851 Pearl of Great Price contained only about three-fourths of the present content of the book of Moses.         

 5. The manuscript which is here identified as Old Testament #1 is a lateral copy of Old Testament #2. It did not precede #2 but is a side copy consisting of the first seven chapters. It was made by  John  Whitmer, probably just before his departure from New York to Ohio in late December 1830. It has no direct connection with the book of  Moses  material. It is included here only to show its origin and existence. Actually it has been mislabeled and should not carry a manuscript number at all, since it is not a true manuscript in the genealogical line. But since it has been labeled Old Testament #1 by the RLDS historians, it is included here for clarity and to show why the earliest manuscript is incorrectly labeled Old Testament #2. (See note 3 at end of chapter.)         

The editions of the Pearl of Great Price used from 1878 to the present are from a different line of manuscripts than the first edition and contain many passages that differ from the 1851 edition.         

 6. The final draft of the JST of the Old Testament is currently numbered Old Testament #3 and contains many revisions over the earlier Old Testament #2. This manuscript represents Joseph Smith's lattermost revisions of Genesis. The Prophet continued to labor with this manuscript of the translation until his death in 1844.         

 7. The Bernhisel manuscript does not represent the same text as the 1851 Pearl of Great Price because the former has the later revisions of Old Testament #3. Neither was the Bernhisel manuscript the source for the  Moses  material in any later edition of the Pearl of Great Price, for it does not have the Enoch material of  Moses 7, nor the material of  Matt. 24, and it contains only excerpts from the original JST manuscript.         

 8. The printed JST of 1867 published by the RLDS church represents the lattermost revisions by Joseph Smith and a few interesting modifications by the RLDS publishing committee. These modifications also appear in the 1878 LDS edition of the Pearl of Great Price, as prepared by Elder Orson Pratt.          

 9. In 1878 Elder Orson Pratt revised the Pearl of Great Price in Salt Lake City. He used the 1867 RLDS printed JST as the source for an updating and enlargement of the  Moses  material. This edition of the Pearl of Great Price became a standard work in 1880.         

 10. In 1902 another revised edition of the Pearl of Great Price was published in Salt Lake City. It was the work of Elder  James E. Talmage, who was under the direction of the First Presidency. Although some parts of the Pearl of Great Price were greatly altered from earlier editions, it retained practically the same text of  Moses  as the 1878 edition. Chapters, verses, and cross-references were supplied. A later 1921 edition contained a change in format but not in text.         

11. In 1981 an updated edition of the Pearl of Great Price was published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It contains corrected dates for the  Moses  chapters and a few very minor changes in the  Moses  text. Access to the original JST manuscript made the correct dating possible. Chapter headings were also added, as well as a clear statement that the book of  Moses  is an excerpt from the JST. This last point is also affirmed in the preface to the 1981 edition.          

 In 1878 Elder Orson Pratt, a member of the Council of the Twelve and Church historian, made a revision Of the Pearl of Great Price. For the  Moses  material he simply extracted the corresponding chapters from the printed JST of 1867, as published by the RLDS church. This not only gave the 1878 Pearl of Great Price a text differing in some places from the 1851 edition, but also supplied many passages that were lacking in the first edition. Also, Elder Pratt was the first to label the material as the Visions of  Moses  (chapter 1) and the Writings of  Moses  (chapters 2-8).         

 This 1878 edition became the basis for another edition, prepared by Elder  James E. Talinage under the direction of the First Presidency and published in 1902. Elder Talmage divided the material into chapters and verses and added cross-references. It was also Elder Talmage who finally gave this material its present title, "Book of Moses." With the exception of some minor alterations, the 1902 edition kept the same text as that of the 1878 edition.          

 Finally, the 1981 edition of the Pearl of Great Price contains, among other things, corrected dates for the  Moses  chapters and some minor textual changes.         

 Thus our present book of  Moses  represents the text of the early chapters of  Genesis  in Joseph Smith's translation of the Bible as published by the RLDS church in 1867, borrowed by Elder Orson Pratt in 1878, and retained in our present edition of the Pearl of Great Price.         

Some may think it strange that Elder Orson Pratt would use the  Moses  material from the 1867 RLDS printing of the JST. However, that Elder Pratt did so can be confirmed by examining all the documents involved-namely, the original JST manuscripts, the 1867 RLDS publication of the JST, and the 1878 Pearl of Great Price. Such an examination shows that the RLDS publishing committee made some interesting minor modifications when printing the 1867 edition of the JST, and these modifications all appear in the 1878 Pearl of Great Price prepared by Elder Pratt. Nearly all of these are still found in our present text of the book of Moses. Following are a few samples of the modifications made by the RLDS publishing committee that have been carried over into our current book of  Moses  through the 1878 Pearl of Great Price.          

 Moses 7:29          

OT #2    And Enoch said unto the heavens how is it that thou canst weep             

OT #3    And Enoch said unto the heavens how is it that thou canst weep             

1867 RLDS edition of the JST        And Enoch said unto the Lord, How is it that thou canst weep.   

In the above example, the original JST manuscripts use the word heavens. The RLDS publication committee substituted it with the word Lord. This has been carried over into our current book of  Moses  through the 1878 Pearl of Great Price.         

  Moses 1:21          

OT #2    And Moses receiving strength called upon God saying In the name of Jesus Christ depart hence Satan

OT #3    And Moses received strength and called upon God in the name of his Son, saying to Satan depart hence

1867 RLDS edition of the JST        And Moses received strength and called upon God in the name of the Only Begotten, saying to Satan, Depart hence   

The 1867 RLDS edition of the JST uses the term Only Begotten instead of Son, a change which has been carried over into our current book of Moses.         

 Moses 7:41          

OT #2    Enoch . . . wept and stretched forth his arms wide as eternity

OT #2 was later revised by Joseph Smith to read: "Enoch . . . wept and stretched forth his arms and his heart swelled wide as eternity         

OT #3    Enoch . . . wept and stretched forth his arms and he beheld eternity      

1867 RLDS edition of the JST        Enoch . . . wept and stretched forth his arms and his heart swelled wide as eternity        

Note that Joseph Smith revised the above passage twice.  However, in its 1867 edition of the JST, the RLDS church used the first revision instead of the later one and thus did not use the words he beheld eternity. Our present book of  Moses  follows the RLDS printing.

It was the 1878 edition of the Pearl of Great Price, as edited and arranged by Elder Orson Pratt, that was canonized as a standard work of the Church in 1880. This was done by the voice of the members at general conference in Salt Lake City.         

A View of  Revelation  and Translation          

As noted earlier in this chapter, not all of the textual revisions made by Joseph Smith in his Bible translation were made at one time; later manuscripts of the new translation contain more revisions than do the earlier ones. This leads to the conclusion that the revisions were revealed to the mind of the Prophet somewhat gradually, not all at once in complete form. Thus we can gain an insight into what Joseph Smith meant by the term translation and what process was involved in his translating the Bible. Apparently, when the Prophet translated the Bible he was not limited to what was found on the working page in front of him, whether that page was a sheet from the King  James  Version or a handwritten draft of his own early revision. It seems that the text was a starting point but that the spirit of  revelation  was always an additional source of information. In the case of the Bible translation, the initial starting point was the King  James  Version; this source suggested certain ideas, but apparently the Spirit suggested many enlargements, backgrounds, and additional concepts not found on the page.         

Thus the term translation, when used in reference to Joseph Smith's translation of the Bible, has a broader meaning than it normally does when one thinks of translating languages. To a prophet, a revelation is a more vital and dependable source than a written text. This progressive, open-ended revelatory process that apparently was used in translating the Bible may give us a most instructive clue toward understanding Joseph Smith's "translation" of the Egyptian papyri from whence came the book of Abraham. That is, this latter work may not have been a literal translation at all, and the book of  Abraham  may go far beyond what was actually written on the papyri.          

Some Doctrinal Contributions of the Book of  Moses          

The book of  Moses  contributes much to our understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paramount among these contributions are the following:         

 1. The gospel of Jesus Christ, including baptism an d other ordinances, was had from the beginning. The early patriarchs, beginning with Adam, worshipped Jesus and taught his gospel to their children and to the rest of mankind. (See  Moses 6:22-23,   48-68.)  This fact is almost entirely lacking in all other translations of the Bible available today.         

 2. The Holy Ghost was operative among men from the beginning. Some persons have thought that the declaration in the New Testament that the Holy Ghost had not yet come (see  John 7:39)  means that the Holy Ghost had never been enjoyed by mankind on this earth until the day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts, chapter 2. However, the book of  Moses  makes it very clear that the Holy Ghost was operative among people who had the gospel from the very beginning of man on this earth (see  Moses 6:52-68;  8:23).  What, then, is the meaning of the statement in  John 7:39  that the Holy Ghost had not yet come? Simply that the gift of the Holy Ghost had not yet been manifest in the New Testament dispensation.         

 3. There was a symbolic purpose to animal sacrifice. The symbolic nature of animal sacrifice is portrayed clearly in the book of Moses, wherein it is specified that the sacrifice had to be a firstling of the flock and that such a sacrifice was a similitude of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. All these things were revealed to Adam (see  Moses 5:4-9),  and he was the first man on this earth to offer animal sacrifice in the manner and for the purpose described above. Although blood sacrifices are repeatedly spoken of in the Old Testament, this record gives no explanation as to their specific purpose; nor is there anything in the Old Testament about Adam's having offered sacrifices. The book of  Moses  offers great clarity and explanatory information on this important subject.         

4.  Moses  I has special doctrinal significance, and I will emphasize only a few very significant aspects of it. The events recorded in this chapter were originally experienced by  Moses  after the time of the burning bush but before he had parted the waters of the Red Sea and before he had written the book of  Genesis  (Moses 1:17, 25-26, 40-41).          

 

Most students of the Bible recognize that the book of  Genesis  is a sort of introduction or preface to the Old Testament.  Genesis  means "the beginning," and in the book of  Genesis  we have an account of several beginnings. For instance, we find an account of the beginning or the creation of the physical earth, the beginning of man and animals on the earth, the beginning of sin upon the earth, the beginning of races and nations of men, the beginning of a covenant people, and the beginning of the house of Israel. All of these beginnings are introduced in the book of  Genesis  in order to establish a foundation and perspective for the remainder of the Old Testament.         

In a similar manner, we can think of the first chapter of  Moses  as an introduction or preface to the book of Genesis. The experiences of  Moses  recorded in this chapter occurred prior to his writing of  Genesis  and seem to have been part of his preparation for writing Genesis. We read in this chapter that  Moses  saw that God had created worlds without number, "and there were inhabitants on the face thereof"  (Moses 1:29).  Furthermore,  Moses  was told that these creations were accomplished by the deliberate action of the Almighty  (Moses 1:33).  After  Moses  had viewed with great precision the lands and the inhabitants of this and other earths, he was greatly moved-almost overwhelmed. Impressed with the magnitude of it all, and with a somewhat philosophical turn of mind,  Moses  asked the Lord two searching questions: "Why did you do it?" and "How did you do it?"         

In our current Pearl of Great Price, the exact quotation reads as follows: "Moses called upon God, saying: Tell me, I pray thee, why these things are so, and by what thou madest them?"  (Moses 1:30.)  Those are two of the most fundamental questions of existence, and we must be impressed with the depth of Moses' perception and presence of mind to think to ask such things. In answer to Moses' first question as to the why of things, the Lord replied that he had made all these things because "this is my work and my glory-to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man"  (Moses 1:39).  In other words, building worlds and populating them with people is the kind of work that God does. And why does he do it? For the salvation and exaltation of his children.         

In answer to the second question as to the how of things,  Moses  was informed that all things were done by the power of the Only Begotten. "But," said the Lord to Moses, "only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you."  (Moses 1:32-33,   35.)  In the subsequent explanation  Moses  was told of the six creative periods of the formation of the earth. Thus, the information contained in the early chapters of  Genesis  actually seems to have been given to  Moses  in answer to these two specific questions regarding why and how. Answers are always more meaningful to us if we know what the questions are.         

These two basic questions asked of the Lord by  Moses  are not to be found today in our current text of Genesis, but fortunately they have been made available to us through the visions of  Moses  as revealed to Joseph Smith. We cannot overestimate the value of  Moses  I as an introduction to the book of Genesis. Nor should we forget that it was received by Joseph Smith as part of his translation of the Bible. Indeed, just as the visions recorded in chapter 1 of  Moses  were given to that prophet in preparation for his writing of Genesis, so it seems that in the last days an account of those same visions was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith in preparation for his translation and revision of Genesis.         

 

Another striking topic in  Moses 1  is the interesting record of a face-to-face encounter that  Moses  had with Satan (vv. 12-22). Satan challenged Moses; he advanced, ranted upon the ground, and cried with a loud voice. The record states that  Moses  feared and saw the bitterness of hell.  Moses  was able to overcome Satan only by the strength he received through his faith in Jesus Christ. This is a dramatic episode that is entirely lost to the Bible text.         

Conclusion         

In  Moses 1:41  we read the following words of the Lord: "And in a day when the children of men shall esteem my words as naught and take many of them from the book which thou [Moses] shalt write, behold, I will raise up another like unto thee; and they shall be had again among the children of men-among as many as shall believe." We are fortunate that the Lord has given to us, to "as many as . . . believe," a knowledge of these things that happened so long ago.         

The book of Moses, a revealed record of great interest and worth to us, bears a solemn witness that Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet of God and illustrates that the translation of the Bible is one of the greatest tangible evidences of that latter-day prophet's divine calling.         

Notes          

1. History of the Church 1:145.         

2. For a detailed description and history of the manuscripts, see Robert J. Matthews, "A Plainer Translation": Joseph Smith's Translation of the Bible, A History and Commentary (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1975). Two LDS researchers and writers deserve special mention for their preliminary, pioneer work relative to the origin of the book of Moses. One of these,  James R. Clark, published some interesting and informative information about the early history and printings of the book of  Moses  in his book, The Story of the Pearl of Great Price (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1955). The other,  James R. Harris, wrote a master's thesis (Brigham Young University, 1958) on the text of the book of Moses. He correctly postulated the existence of multiple copies of the early manuscripts made at various stages of the translation. Unfortunately neither of these brethren had access to the original manuscripts.         

 3. The original Old Testament manuscripts, now in the possession of the RLDS church, were not numbered by the Prophet or his scribes but have been labeled #s 1, 2, and 3 by RLDS scholars. One would naturally expect the earliest draft to be numbered Old Testament #1. However, through a mistake in identity, the earliest manuscript has since been labeled Old Testament #2. Consequently, for purposes of discussion in this chapter, the earliest draft of the Old Testament revision is identified by the label given it by the RLDS historians. The document labeled Old Testament #1 appears to be simply a private copy made by  John  Whitmer of part of Old Testament #2 and as such is not crucial to our present discussion.         

4. For an extensive discussion of the 1866-67 RLDS publication committee and the modifications made in the 1867 edition of the JST, see chapter 7 in Matthews, "A Plainer Translation."          

 

From Pearl of Great Price Symposium (Provo, Utah: Religious Instruction, Brigham Young University, 1975), pp. 14-27 (updated).       




Time Sequence of the New Translation          

Robert J. Matthews, A Bible! A Bible! , p.103

 

SCRIPTURE REFERENCE  DATE     PLACE   SCRIBE  MANUSCRIPT REFERENCE           

Visions of  Moses  (follows the preface in JST;  Moses 1; RD&C 22)            June 1830            Harmony, Pa.     Oliver Cowdery OT 2, p. 1 to p. 3, line 14      

 Gen. 1:1-5:28 (Moses 2:1-5:43a)               Between June and October 1830              Harmony, Pa., and Fayette, N.Y.                Oliver Cowdery OT 2, p. 3, line 15, to p. 10, line 5               

 Gen. 5:29-5:37   (Moses  5:43b-5:51)       October 21, 1830              Fayette, N.Y.      John  Whitmer OT 2, p. 10, line 6, to p.10, line 23  

 Gen. 5:38-6:16   (Moses 5:52-6:18            November 30, 1830         Fayette, N.Y.      John  Whitmer OT 2, p. 10, line 24, to p. 11, line 39  

 Gen. 6:17-7:2a   (Moses 6:19-7:2              December 1, 1830            Fayette, N.Y.      John  Whitmer OT 2, p. 11, line 40, to p. 15, line 16  

 Genesis  7:2b-7:78b  (Moses  7:2b-7:69; RD&C 36)            Between December 10 and 31, 1830       Fayette, N.Y       Sidney Rigdon  OT 2, p. 15, line 17, to p. 19, line 34          

 Genesis  7:78b-19:35  (Moses 8:1-8:30   Between February 1 and March 8, 1831 Kirtland, Ohio    Sidney Rigdon   OT 2, p. 19, line 35, to p. 49, line 5    

 Matt. 1:1-9:2     Between March 8 and April 7, 1831          Kirtland, Ohio    Sidney Rigdon   NT 1, p. 1, to p. 21, line 2              

 Gen. 19:36-24:42a           Between March 8 and April 5, 1831          Kirtland, Ohio    Sidney Rigdon   OT 2, p. 49, line 6, to p. 61, line 5    

 Matt. 9:2-26:71a              Between April 7 and June 19, 1831           Kirtland, Ohio    Sidney Rigdon   NT 1, p. 21, line 3, to p. 63, line 19. 

 Matthew  26:71a-Mark 8:44       Between September 12 and early November 1831           Hiram, Ohio        John  Whitmer NT 2, folio 2, p. 4, line 16, to folio 2, p. 24, line 22.    

 Mark 9:1  -John 5:29       Between November 1831 and February 16, 1832               Hiram, Ohio        Sidney Rigdon   NT 2, folio 2, p. 24, line 23 to folio 4, p. 114, line 16      

 John 5:30-Revelation  22              Between February 16, 1832, and February 2, 1833            Hiram and Kirtland, Ohio                Sidney Rigdon and small amounts by others        NT 2, folio 4, p. 114, line 17, to p. 154      

 Genesis  24:42a-Malachi 4:6       Between February 2 and July 2, 1833      Kirtland, Ohio    Sidney Rigdon   OT 3, p. 59, line 2, to p. 119   

         

Robert J. Matthews, A Bible! A Bible! , p.103 - 104

This chart is taken from Robert I Matthews. "A Plainer Translation": Joseph Smith's Translation of the Bible, A History and Commentary, p. 96.