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Sacred translations essential to thorough gospel study

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Sunday School students eager to dig into the Old Testament as part of the 2002 course of study are learning a profitable lesson in patience.

The first several lessons of the year focus largely on scriptures found near the back of the LDS Standard Works in the books of Moses and Abraham from the Pearl of Great Price. Those ancient writings fit comfortably into any study of the Old Testament. In fact, the two tomes are essentially one and the same — collective accounts of ancient prophets testifying of Christ's work and glory.

"The Pearl of Great Price enhances and gives us greater understanding of the Old Testament," said Edward Brandt of the Church's Correlation Department.

The book of Moses is an extract from the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible from the book of Genesis, while the book of Abraham is a translation that the Prophet Joseph Smith made from some Egyptian papyri.

A study of The Pearl of Great Price is essential in learning the gospel, said Robert Matthews, professor emeritus of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University. The inspired translations of the books of Moses and Abraham both clarify and enrich the writings of the Old Testament.

"When you use the Pearl of Great Price to supplement the Bible, it's like having Joseph Smith as a study companion," Brother Matthews said.

The opening chapter of Moses, for example, is "one of the greatest revelations of this whole dispensation," Brother Matthews said. Answers to some of life's most fundamental questions such as man's relationship to God, how to resist evil, and God's work and glory are offered in a 42-verse chapter.

The book of Abraham, Brother Matthews added, provides invaluable revelations on the premortal life and the Abrahamic Covenant.

"The Pearl of Great Price is properly names," said Brother Matthews, "it could not have had a better name, it is a pearl of great price."

E-mail: jswensen@desnews.com