What's Inside Today's Pearl of Great Price

This article is not an official publication of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

The contents of the Pearl of Great Price has changed through the years.  

To see the first Table of Contents, click here.  

The current Table of Contents is much shorter and simpler than when it was a pamphlet for the LDS British Saints.  

To read about the origin of the Pearl of Great Price, click here.  

The Table of Contents are: 
Joseph Smith--Matthew
Joseph Smith--History
The Articles of Faith

This year I'll be studying each of these books in more depth.  But I'd first like to give a summary of what is inside each book in the Pearl of Great Price and a synopsis of the doctrine it contains*.  


The book of Moses is actually the Joseph Smith translation of the first 8 chapters of the Book of Genesis.  It is outlined as follows*: 

Chapter 1 - Three parts
Part 1 - Moses is caught up in an exceedingly high mountain and sees the glory of God
Part 2 - Moses is tempted by Satan
Part 3 - Moses withstands the temptation and is invited to see the visions like at the beginning of the chapter. 

Chapters 2&3
Account of the Creation 

Chapter 4 - Two parts
Part 1 - Flashback to the pre-mortal existence
Part 2 - The Fall (meaning the Fall of Adam and Eve) 

Chapter 5
The dispensation of Adam since the Fall 

Chapter 6&7
Writings of Enoch from his day to the Millennium 

Chapter 8 
Writings of Noah prior to the flood 


The book of Abraham was translated by Joseph Smith beginning in 1835 from some Egyptian papyri that was obtained.  (More on this later) It comprises 5 chapters and 3 facsimiles.

Chapter 1 
Abraham seeks temple and priesthood blessings

Chapter 2 
Account of the Abrahamic Covenant

Chapter 3 - Two-part lesson on the Priesthood
Part 1 - Order of Heaven
Part 2 - Order of Spirits

Chapter 4 & 5 
Account of the Creation, but different from what is found in the book of Moses.  It contains a description of the a Council of Gods creating a blueprint of how the earth was to be formed. 

Facsimile 1 
Abraham almost being sacrificed 

Facsimile 2 
What takes place in a temple 

Facsimile 3 
Abraham sitting on the throne of Pharoh 

Joseph Smith--Matthew

This is a Joseph Smith translation of the last verse of Matthew 23 and Matthew 24.  It is an account of Jesus Christ's last day of public ministry where he answers questions of the apostles at the Garden of Gethsemane.  He gives an account of what will happen before he comes again, known as the Second Coming.  

Joseph Smith--History

This is a personal history written by Joseph Smith.  He gives an account of the following: 

The first vision
The coming of the Angel Moroni
The coming forth of the Book of Mormon
The coming of John the Baptist and restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood
Oliver Cowdery's account of the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood

The Articles of Faith

The 13 articles of Faith were written because of a request made by John Wentworth, the editor and proprietor of the Chicago Democrat.  Joseph Smith's response is known as the Wentworth Letter.  This is the last portion of that letter and outlines the beliefs of the LDS faith.  

To read the entire Wentworth letter, click here. 

A different way to look at the contents of the Pearl of Great Price is as a narrative from before the world was to the Restoration.  Imagine reading the Pearl of Great Price in this order: 

1- Pre-mortal Council with God - Moses 4, Abraham 3
2- Council of Creation - Abraham 4 & 5
3 - Creation  of the Earth - Moses 2&3
4 - Fall of Adam of Eve - Moses 4
5- Law of Sacrifice and the Atonement - Moses 5
6- Dispensation of Adam - Moses 5
7- Dispensation of Enoch - Moses 6&7
8- Dispensation of Noah - Moses 8
9- Abrahamic Covenant - Abraham 2
10- Dispensation of Moses - Moses 1 
11- Meridian of Time - JST-Matthew 
12- Joseph Smith - restored the fullness of all dispensations - Joseph Smith History, Articles of Faith 

Listing the contents of the Pearl of Great Price in chronological order helps me to see more clearly the vision that Franklin D. Richards had for the Saints living England and Wales.  What is contained in this narrative is what separates us from other religions.  

For example: In the New Testament Enoch only has one sentence.  The Pearl of Great Price contains 100 times more information about the prophet of Enoch.  

A certain Englishman said to me "It's the Cliffnotes of our doctrine."  Considering the Pearl of Great Price is only 61 pages, I think he's right.  

*The synopsis and outline provided comes from a discussion by Joseph McConkie, a BYU religion professor.  To see the full discussion online, click here.