Continuing revelation is held by Mormons to be an essential characteristic of their
faith. The following are considered to be divine sources of revelation:
- The Bible - The official version is the Authorized "King James Version. It
is authoritative insofar as it is translated accurately.
- The Book of Mormon 1 - It purports to tell the histories of
two nations which flourished in America as descendants of small colonies brought from the
"eastern continent". The first of these - the Jaredite nation followed Jared
from the Tower of Babel (2,250 B.C.) By 590 B.C. internal warfare led to the destruction
of these people. The colonists are alleged to have crossed the Atlantic in eight
cigar-shaped barges and located in Central America.
nation - the Nephites followed Nephi, the son of Lehi, who (it is said) left Jerusalem in
the time of Zedekiah and migrated to the American continent arriving on the coast of Chile
by 600 B.C. The golden plates on which this story was written were hidden by the last
surviving Nephite, Moroni, (A.D. 421) in the Hill Cumorah in New York State. "In A.D.
1827, this same Moroni, then a resurrected personage, delivered the engraved plates to
Joseph Smith." 2
- The Doctrine and Covenants 3 - All but two of the 136 sections are
revelations allegedly given to Joseph Smith. A concluding "word and will of the Lord,
given through President Brigham Young" is included. There is also an "official
declaration" prohibiting polygamy, added by President Wilford Woodruff in 1890.
- The Pearl of Great Price 4 - A small volume containing a
"selection from the revelations, translations and narrations of Joseph Smith".
It is usually bound with the Doctrine and Covenants. The thirteen Articles of Faith
- Pronouncements by the President - The Mormon church has
twelve "spirit-guided apostles" and a president "like unto Moses . . . a
seer, a revelator, a translator, and a prophet, having all the gifts of God which he
bestows upon the head of the church." 5
The president is to Mormons what the pope is to Roman Catholics.
- There were many errors and awkward phrases in the first edition of the work, but many of
them have now been removed. See William Alexander Linn, The Story of the Mormons,
(New York, 1902). For example: "And they having been waxed strong in
battle." "We did arrive to the promised land" p. 260. "Yea if
my days could have been in them days" p. 449 Return
- Book of Mormon, preface. Return
- This is an edited and altered text of an earlier book of "revelation" called
the Book of Commandments. The changes are noted in Thomas O'Dea, The Mormons.
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957), p. 162. Return
- "The Book of Abraham", included in the Pearl of Great Price, is claimed
to be a "Translation of some ancient Records, that have fallen into our hands from
the catacombs of Egypt. The writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt . . . written by his
own hand, upon papyrus." (Pearl of Great Price, p.29). The papyri were found
in the wrappings of certain Egyptian mummies which Smith purchased from a traveling
showman named Chandler. The mummy, on which the writings of Abraham were allegedly found,
was claimed to be that of Pharaoh's daughter. Smith claimed to translate the Egyptian (but
not by divine revelation, as he claimed, with the use of the two stones Urim and Thummim,
to translate the "Egyptian characters" on the plates of Moroni). Smith's claim
to translate the Egyptian was credible since in 1820 an Egyptian grammar had not been
published. By 1836, however, Champollion's grammar was published and subsequent
Egyptologists such as Dr. W. Flinders-Petrie of London; Dr. James H. Breasted of Chicago;
Dr. Arthur Mace of New York; and Dr. John H. Peters of the University of Pennsylvania
(cited in Gordon R. Fraser, Is Mormonism Christian? (Chicago: Moody Press, 1965),
p.29), have rejected Smith's translation as utterly incorrect. The Egyptologists have
pointed out that Smith's papyri were no more than ordinary documents used in the funeral
rites of the Egyptians. Thousands of these are in existence and displayed in museums. The
Reorganized Church has recognized the force of these arguments and has ceased to regard
the "Book of Abraham" as inspired. Return
- Doctrine and Covenants, Section 107:91-92, p. 197 Return