The Book of Moses, dictated by Joseph Smith, is part of the scriptural canon for some denominations in the Latter Day Saint movement. The book begins with the "Visions of Moses", a prologue to the story of the creation and the fall of man (Moses chapter 1), and continues with material corresponding to the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible's (JST) first six chapters of the Book of Genesis (Moses chapters 2–5, 8), interrupted by two chapters of "extracts from the prophecy of Enoch" (Moses chapters 6–7).[1]

Portions of the Book of Moses were originally published separately by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) in 1851, but later combined and published as the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price, one of the four books of its scriptural canon. The same material is published by the Community of Christ as parts of its Doctrine and Covenants and Inspired Version of the Bible.[2]


Main article: Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible

In June 1830, Joseph Smith began a new translation of the Bible into English that was intended to restore "many important points touching the salvation of men, [that] had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled."[3] The chapters that now make up the Book of Moses were first published in the church newspapers Evening and Morning Star and Times and Seasons in the 1830s and 1840s.

Publication by the LDS Church

Main article: Standard Works

The Standard Works constitute the LDS Church scriptural canon

The Book of Moses is considered part of the Standard Works, which constitute the scriptural canon of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The eight chapters of the Book of Moses were included as a separate book within the Pearl of Great Price through a series of events subsequent to Smith's death. Franklin D. Richards, who published the first edition of the Pearl of Great Price in 1851, only had access to the early versions of the JST found in church newspapers along with another incomplete handwritten part of JST Genesis, not the original manuscripts. For this reason the Book of Moses ended abruptly in the middle of the story of Noah. Richards published everything he had at the time, and what is now the Book of Moses was later added by Orson Pratt in the 1878 edition of the Pearl of Great Price.[1] The Pearl of Great Price, including the Book of Moses, was officially canonized by the LDS Church in 1880.

Publication by the Community of Christ

Further information: Comparison of the Community of Christ and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Community of Christ, formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS Church), began publishing portions of the Book of Moses in its canonical Doctrine and Covenants (D&C) in 1864. Section 22 of the D&C contains Moses chapter 1, and section 36 contains Moses chapter 7. The inclusion of these excerpts in the Doctrine and Covenants was officially approved by the RLDS Church in 1970.

The RLDS Church began publishing the complete Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible in 1867 (giving it the name "The Holy Scriptures" and more commonly known as the "Inspired Version"); the portions of the Book of Moses that are not contained in the church's D&C are contained within this larger translation.

Synopsis and ancient parallels

Moses 1

Moses 2–8

Moses 2–8 generally follow the first chapters of the Book of Genesis, but often provide alternative interpretations of the text or significant additional detail not found in the Bible. Among the notable differences are the following:


In contrast to numerous scholarly analyses of Smith's translations of the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham that began to appear in the 19th century, explorations of the textual foundations of the JST began in earnest only in the 1960s, with the pioneering work of the RLDS scholar Richard P. Howard and the LDS scholar Robert J. Matthews.[31][32] A facsimile transcription of all the original manuscripts of the JST was at last published in 2004.[33] Among other studies of the JST, Brigham Young University Professor Kent P. Jackson, a longtime student of these topics, prepared a detailed study of the text of the portions of the JST relating to the Book of Moses in 2005.[34]

Although several brief studies of the teachings of the Book of Moses had previously appeared as part of apologetic and doctrinally focused LDS commentaries on the Pearl of Great Price, the first detailed verse-by-verse commentary—and the first to incorporate significant amounts of modern non-LDS Bible scholarship—was published by Richard D. Draper, S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes in 2005.[35]

In 2009, an 1100-page volume by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw was published, titled In God's Image and Likeness, which contains a comprehensive commentary on Moses 1–6:12, and incorporates a wide range of scholarly perspectives and citations from ancient texts. The book features an extensive annotated bibliography on ancient sources and over a hundred relevant illustrations with detailed captions.[36]

In his master's thesis, Salvatore Cirillo cites and amplifies the arguments of D. Michael Quinn[37] that the available evidence that Smith had access to published works related to 1 Enoch has moved "beyond probability—to fact."[38] He concludes that there is no other explanation than this for the substantial similarities that he finds between the Book of Moses and the pseudepigraphal Enoch literature.[39] However, reflecting on the "coincidence" of the appearance of the first English translation of 1 Enoch in 1821, just a few years before Smith received his Enoch revelations, Richard L. Bushman concludes: "It is scarcely conceivable that Joseph Smith knew of Laurence's Enoch translation."[40] Perhaps even more significant is the fact that the principal themes of "Laurence’s 105 translated chapters do not resemble Joseph Smith’s Enoch in any obvious way."[41] Apart from the shared prominence of the Son of Man motif in the 1 Enoch Book of the Parables and the Book of Moses and some common themes in Enoch's visions of Noah, the most striking resemblances to Smith's writings are found not in 1 Enoch, but in Enochic literature published after the Smith's death. As an impressive example of such post-mortem resemblances, Cirillo cites (but does not provide any explanation of provenance) for the Mahujah/Mahijah character in Qumran Book of the Giants and the Book of Moses.[42]

As an alternative explanation for the Mahujah/Mahijah name and role in the Book of Moses, Matthew Black formulated a hypothesis in a conversation reported by Mormon scholar Gordon C. Thomasson that "certain carefully clandestine groups had, up through the middle-ages, maintained, sub rosa, an esoteric religious tradition based in the writings of Enoch, at least into the time of and influencing Dante" and "that a member of one of the esoteric groups he had described previously must have survived into the 19th century, and hearing of Joseph Smith, must have brought the group’s Enoch texts to New York from Italy for the prophet to translate and publish."[43]

John L. Brooke claims that Sidney Rigdon, among others, was a "conduit of Masonic lore during Joseph’s early years" and then goes on to make a set of claims connecting Mormonism and Masonry.[44] These claims, including connections with the story of Enoch's pillars in Royal Arch Masonry, are disputed by Mormon scholars William J. Hamblin, et al.[45][46] Non-Mormon scholar Stephen Webb agreed with Hamblin, et al., concluding that "actual evidence for any direct link between [Joseph Smith’s] theology and the hermetic tradition is tenuous at best, and given that scholars vigorously debate whether hermeticism even constitutes a coherent and organized tradition, Brooke’s book should be read with a fair amount of skepticism."[47]

Some non-Mormon scholars have signaled their appreciation of the significance of the Smith's translation efforts in light of ancient documents. Yale University critic of secular and sacred literature Harold Bloom, who classes the Book of Moses and the Book of Abraham among the "more surprising" and "neglected" works of LDS scripture,[48] is intrigued by the fact that many of their themes are "strikingly akin to ancient suggestions" that essentially restate "the archaic or original Jewish religion, a Judaism that preceded even the Yahwist." While expressing "no judgment, one way or the other, upon the authenticity" of LDS scripture, he finds "enormous validity" in the way these writings "recapture … crucial elements in the archaic Jewish religion … that had ceased to be available either to normative Judaism or to Christianity, and that survived only in esoteric traditions unlikely to have touched Smith directly."[49] With respect to any possibility that Smith could have drawn from ancient manuscripts in his writings, Bloom concludes: "I hardly think that written sources were necessary." Stephen Webb concludes that Smith "knew more about theology and philosophy than it was reasonable for anyone in his position to know, as if he were dipping into the deep, collective unconsciousness of Christianity with a very long pen."[50]


The Book of Moses contains a detailed account of Adam's descendants. Genealogy from the Book of Abraham is shown below. Bold denotes individuals not from Genesis. The names Egyptus and Pharaoh are not present in the Book of Moses, but they are mentioned in the Book of Abraham, another book of Mormon scripture.

JabalJubalTubal CainNaamahLamech

See also


  1. ^ see also vv. 7, 9
  2. ^ "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."
  3. ^ See 46:2–4; 48:2; 60:10; 62:5, 7, 9, 14; 63:11; 69:26-27, 29; 70:1; 71:14, 17
  4. ^ Moses 7:24, 47, 54, 56, 59, 65
  5. ^ Moses 7:39. Cf. Moses 4:2. See 1 Enoch 39:6; 40:5; 45:3–4; 49:2, 4; 51:5a, 3; 52:6, 9; 53:6; 55:4; 61:5, 8, 10; 62:1
  6. ^ i.e., Messiah. See Moses 7:63. Cf. 1 Enoch 48:10; 52:4
  7. ^ Moses 6:57; 7:45, 47, 67. Cf. 1 Enoch 38:2; 53:6. See also 39:6; 46:3; 49:2; 62:2–3


  1. ^ a b Robert J. Matthews, "How We Got the Book of Moses", Ensign, January 1986.
  2. ^ Matthews, Robert J. (July 1982), "Plain and Precious Things Restored", Ensign
  3. ^ Joseph Smith (Joseph Fielding Smith ed.), Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 16 February 1832, pp. 10–11.
  4. ^ Hugh Nibley. "To open the last dispensation: Moses chapter 1" Archived 2008-09-18 at the Wayback Machine in Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless: Classic Essays of Hugh W. Nibley, edited by Truman G. Madsen, pp. 1–20. Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1978.
  5. ^ Jeffrey M. Bradshaw. "The Apocalypse of Abraham: An ancient witness for the book of Moses", FAIR Germany Conference, Frankfurt, Germany, 28 March 2009.
  6. ^ (cf. Apocalypse of Abraham 21:7; 22:2, 5; and the LDS Book of Abraham 3:22–23)
  7. ^ (cf. Apocalypse of Abraham 10:1–3)
  8. ^ (cf. Apocalypse of Abraham 13–14)
  9. ^ (cf. Apocalypse of Abraham 21:1)
  10. ^ (cf. the corresponding illustration in the Codex Sylvester, the oldest complete account of the Apocalypse of Abraham)
  11. ^ (cf. Apocalypse of Abraham 21:3–5, 23:1–14)
  12. ^ E. Douglas Clark. "A prologue to Genesis: Moses 1 in light of Jewish traditions." BYU Studies 45(1) (2006): 129–42.
  13. ^ Nielsen, F. Kent; Ricks, Stephen D. (1992). "Creation, Creation Accounts". In Ludlow, Daniel H (ed.). Encyclopedia of Mormonism. New York: Macmillan Publishing. pp. 340–343. ISBN 0-02-879602-0. OCLC 24502140.
  14. ^ See, e.g., Margaret Barker. "Beyond the veil of the temple: The High Priestly origins of the apocalypses" Scottish Journal of Theology 51(1) (1998): 1–21.
  15. ^ at-Tabataba'i, Allamah as-Sayyid Muhammad Husayn. 1973. Al-Mizan: An Exegesis of the Qur'an. Translated by Sayyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi. 3rd ed. Tehran, Iran: World Organization for Islamic Services, 1983, 2:35, 1:179–81, 193–94.
  16. ^ Jacob Neusner, ed. Genesis Rabbah: The Judaic Commentary to the Book of Genesis, A New American Translation. 3 vols. Vol. 1: Parashiyyot One through Thirty-Three on Genesis 1:1 to 8:14. Brown Judaic Studies 104, ed. Jacob Neusner. Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1985, 8:7:1, p. 80. See also e.g., H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, eds. 1939. Midrash Rabbah. 3rd ed. 10 vols. London, England: Soncino Press, 1983, Ruth 2:3, 7:28.
  17. ^ at-Tabataba'i, Allamah as-Sayyid Muhammad Husayn. 1973. Al-Mizan: An Exegesis of the Qur'an. Translated by Sayyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi. 3rd ed. Tehran, Iran: World Organization for Islamic Services, 1983, 2:35, 1:179.
  18. ^ This pattern of testing is described in, e.g., Michael E. Stone. Adam's Contract with Satan: The Legend of the Cheirograph of Adam. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2002, pp. 13–14.
  19. ^ Daniel C. Matt, ed. The Zohar, Pritzker Edition. Vol. 1. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004, Be-Reshit 1:37b, pp. 237–38; cf. Be-Reshit 1:55b, pp. 310–13. For Islamic parallels, see also, e.g., Muhammad ibn Abd Allah al-Kisa'i. ca. 1000–1100. Tales of the Prophets (Qisas al-anbiya). Translated by Wheeler M. Thackston, Jr. Great Books of the Islamic World, ed. Seyyed Hossein Nasr. Chicago, IL: KAZI Publications, 1997, pp. 75–76; cf. Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari. d. 923. The History of al-Tabari: General Introduction and From the Creation to the Flood. Vol. 1. Translated by Franz Rosenthal. Biblioteca Persica, ed. Ehsan Yar-Shater. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1989, 1:151, p. 322.
  20. ^ E.g., Hugh Nibley. Enoch the Prophet Archived 2012-06-30 at the Wayback Machine. Edited by Stephen D. Ricks. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1986.
  21. ^ a b c Jeffrey M. Bradshaw and David J. Larsen. "Ancient Affinities within the LDS Book of Enoch Part One", Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture, 4 (2013), 1–27.
  22. ^ "Metatron as the Youth Andrei Orlov".
  23. ^ a b Hugh Nibley, Archived 2011-10-20 at the Wayback Machine.
  24. ^ Anderson, Gary A. "The exaltation of Adam", in Literature on Adam and Eve: Collected Essays, edited by Gary A. Anderson, Michael E. Stone and Johannes Tromp, 83–110. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2000, 107.
  25. ^ a b Nickelsburg, George W. E., and James C. VanderKam, eds. 1 Enoch 2: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, Chapters 37–82. Hermeneia: A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Fortress Press, 2012, p. 119.
  26. ^ See Brown, S. Kent. "Man and Son of Man: Issues of theology and Christology," in The Pearl of Great Price: Revelations from God, edited by H. Donl Peterson and Charles D. Tate, Jr., 57–72. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Religious Studies Center, 1989, 68–69
  27. ^ Peterson, Daniel C. "On the motif of the weeping God in Moses 7," in Reason, Revelation, and Faith: Essays in Honor of Truman G. Madsen, edited by Donald W. Parry, Daniel C. Peterson, and Stephen D. Ricks, pp. 285–317. Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2002.
  28. ^ Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., Jacob Rennaker, and David J. Larsen. "Revisiting the forgotten voices of weeping in Moses 7: A comparison with ancient texts", Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 2 (2012): 41–71.
  29. ^ Larsen, David J. "Enoch and the City of Zion: Can an entire community ascend to heaven?" on YouTube. presented at the Academy of Temple Studies Conference on Enoch and the Temple, Logan, Utah and Provo, Utah, February 19 and 22, 2013.
  30. ^ E.g., Ephrem the Syrian. ca. 350–363. "The Hymns on Paradise." In Hymns on Paradise, edited by Sebastian Brock, 77–195. Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1990, 1:11, 81–82
  31. ^ Howard, Richard P. Restoration Scriptures. Independence, MO: Herald House, 1969.
  32. ^ Robert J. Matthews A Plainer Translation: Joseph Smith's Translation of the Bible—A History and Commentary. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1975.
  33. ^ Scott H. Faulring, Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews, eds. Joseph Smith's New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2004.
  34. ^ Kent P. Jackson. The book of Moses and the Joseph Smith Translation Manuscripts. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2005.
  35. ^ Richard D. Draper, S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes. The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005.
  36. ^ Jeffrey M. Bradshaw. In God's Image and Likeness: Ancient and Modern Perspectives on the Book of Moses. Eborn Publishing LLC., 2009.
  37. ^ Quinn, D. Michael. Early Mormonism and the Magic World View. Revised and enlarged ed. Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1998, p. 193.
  38. ^ Cirillo, Salvatore. "Joseph Smith, Mormonism, and Enochic Tradition." Masters Thesis, Durham University, 2010, 126.
  39. ^ See, e.g., Cirillo (2010), pp. 90–91.
  40. ^ Bushman, Richard Lyman. Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, A Cultural Biography of Mormonism's Founder. New York City, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005, 138.
  41. ^ Bushman (2005), p. 138; cf. Woodworth, Jed L. "Extra-biblical Enoch texts in early American culture." In Archive of Restoration Culture: Summer Fellows' Papers 1997–1999, edited by Richard Lyman Bushman, 185–93. Provo, Utah: Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History, 2000, 190–92
  42. ^ Cirillo, Salvatore. "Joseph Smith, Mormonism, and Enochic Tradition." Masters Thesis, Durham University, 2010, 105–06.
  43. ^ Panel discussion in Provo (Kent Brown; William Hamblin; Gordon Thomasson), Academy of Temple Studies Conference on Enoch and the Temple, Logan, Utah and Provo, Utah, February 19 and 22, 2013, Cf. Nibley, Hugh W. 1986. Teachings of the Pearl of Great Price. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), Brigham Young University, 2004, Lesson 21, 267–69.
  44. ^ Brooke, John L. The Refiner's Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644–1844. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
  45. ^ Hamblin, William J., Daniel C. Peterson, and George L. Mitton. "Mormon in the fiery furnace or Loftes Tryk goes to Cambridge." Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 6, no. 2 (1994): 3-58. See pp. 52–58.
  46. ^ Hamblin, William J., Daniel C. Peterson, and George L. Mitton. "Review of John L. Brooke: The Refiner's Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644–1844." BYU Studies 34, no. 4 (1994): 167–81. See pp. 178–79.
  47. ^ Webb, Stephen H. Jesus Christ, Eternal God: Heavenly Flesh and the Metaphysics of Matter. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2012, p. 260. See also Barlow, Philip L. "Decoding Mormonism." Christian Century, 17 January 1996, 52–55; Shipps, Jan. Sojourner in the Promised Land: Forty Years among the Mormons. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2000, 204–17.
  48. ^ Harold Bloom. Jesus and Yahweh: The Names Divine. New York City, NY: Riverhead Books (Penguin Group), 2005, p. 25.
  49. ^ Harold Bloom. The American Religion: The Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation. New York City, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1992, pp. 98, 99, 101.
  50. ^ Webb, Stephen H. Jesus Christ, Eternal God: Heavenly Flesh and the Metaphysics of Matter. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2012, p. 253.
Pearl of Great Price Preceded byNone Pearl of Great Price Succeeded byAbraham