The What, When, and How of the Book of Moses

The Book of Moses came to Joseph Smith as a revelation from God, eventually sparking the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible.

The Book of Moses is an expansion of Genesis

Why is it that only The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a book of scripture named after Moses? Doesn’t the world already have books of Moses—the first five books of the Old Testament?

Many people today misunderstand what the Book of Moses is and how it came about. Fortunately, the Joseph Smith Papers website gives readers access to the original manuscripts of this revelation, and the historical introduction explains how this scripture came to be.

The Joseph Smith Papers Project describes the Book of Moses as “a commentary on and . . . expansion of the King James Version of Genesis,” chapters 1–6. This revelation received by Joseph Smith contributes amazing material, such as Moses learning of Jesus Christ, Adam and Eve understanding the purpose of the Fall, and Enoch receiving and obeying his call to prepare his people for heaven.

Joseph’s prophetic work on the Bible began like many of his revelations. It bore the simple title “A Revelation given to Joseph the Revelator June 1830.” As the work progressed, however, Joseph began to realize how grand this endeavor would prove. While reviewing the Whitmers’ family Bible, he continued to seek revelation about revising portions of the Old Testament. Eventually, his inspired commentary became what is now known as the Joseph Smith Translation.

The Joseph Smith Papers project has photographed this important manuscript in high resolution and transcribed it, making it readable and searchable. You can see the handwriting of various scribes, see the great effort expended before computers and voice recorders were available, and watch the birth of valuable additions to the Latter-day Saint canon.

Read the full manuscripts of the Book of Moses and the Joseph Smith Translation in “Old Testament Revision 1.”

Source: The Joseph Smith Papers

—Jonathan Jibson, Mormon Insights

feature image by alejandro escamilla

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  1. What an insightful article! I’m so grateful for the further light and knowledge God gives us through the ancient scriptures.

  2. We don’t review the background of the books in the Pearl of Great Price very often, so this was very helpful. I love that the Lord is willing to give entire books of revelation if we are prepared, humble, and ask questions..

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