We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
A summary of Mormon books must begin with Mormon scriptures. The Mormon Church has four volumes that it accepts as scripture and refers to as “the standard works.” These are the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. The first of the Mormon books is the Bible. It is believed to be the word of God and a testament of Jesus Christ, who is at the center of the Mormon Church.
English-speaking members of the Mormon Church use the King James Version of the Bible, because this is the version that Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, used and was familiar with from his childhood. Smith undertook a revision of the King James Version, after learning by revelation that many “plain and precious parts” (1 Nephi 13:38-40) had been lost or changed during centuries of transcribing and translating copy after copy. Called the Joseph Smith Translation or JST, references to these changes are included as footnotes in King James Version Bibles published for Mormon use. Therefore, Mormons use the King James Version and refer to footnotes and appendices to see the revelatory insights of Joseph Smith. Some friends of other faiths erroneously believe that Mormons use an adulterated version of the Bible, or that Mormons don’t use the Bible at all. Neither are true. The Gospel Doctrine course for adults taught in Sunday School rotates through a four year schedule. Old Testament is studied for one year, New Testament for one year, Book of Mormon for one year, and Doctrine and Covenants/Church History for one year. Then the cycle begins again.
Second of the Mormon books is the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is an account of a family of the house of Israel who fled Jerusalem around 600 B.C. and traveled to the American continent by the grace of God, establishing a civilization there. The faithful believers of God obeyed the Law of Moses, looking forward to the coming of Christ upon the earth. The pivotal event of the Book of Mormon is the visit of Jesus Christ to this civilization on the American continent, during which He taught them His gospel. The record concludes around 400 A.D. and is named after the ancient prophet Mormon, who abridged the records of this people (which spanned 1,000 years). This abridgment was engraved on gold and brass plates and buried in the earth for future generations. Joseph Smith was shown the location of these plates in 1823 and subsequently published a translation into English, accomplished by the gift and power of God. What resulted is the Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ.
The Doctrine & Covenants is another of the Mormon books in the standard works, and consists of 138 revelations and two official declarations by the Mormon Church. The majority of the revelations were received by Joseph Smith, the first chronologically in 1823. Only three of the revelations and the two declarations were received after the death of Joseph Smith. Included in the revelations of the Doctrine & Covenants are doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ and instructions for the organization and administration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This compilation was originally titled The Book of Commandments and was changed to The Doctrine & Covenants in later printings. This book of scripture is different from the other Mormon books in that it is comprised entirely of modern revelation, with sections recorded between 1823 and 1978, and it doesn’t follow a narrative of a people or prophet. Most of the revelations were received as answers to prayers of Joseph Smith concerning the establishment of the Mormon Church. Unlike the Bible or Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants is more like an instruction manual than a record of the doings of a people.
The Pearl of Great Price is the last of the Mormon books contained in the standard works. All of the writings were produced by Joseph Smith and were originally published in the Mormon Church periodicals of the day. First is the Book of Moses. It is derived from Joseph Smith’s revision of the Book of Genesis. Through revelation, many things were added to the Book of Moses that were left out of the Book of Genesis. Next is the Book of Abraham. It is a translation of a papyrus that Joseph Smith acquired which contained some writings of Abraham. Next is a section called Joseph Smith-Matthew. It is also from the revision of the Bible and is a much more detailed prophesy by the Savior of the destruction of Jerusalem than that contained in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 23. Joseph Smith-History contains Joseph Smith’s account of his early life and the circumstances that led to his heavenly vision, discovery of the Book of Mormon, and call to reestablish the church of Jesus Christ upon the earth. Last are the Articles of Faith. These are thirteen basic beliefs of the Mormon Church and were written by Joseph Smith in response to a newspaperman’s inquiry about Mormons’ beliefs.
The Mormon Church expounds the truth that the Lord has an open scripture. Many scriptures are still hidden, but will come forth when men are worthy to receive them. Joseph Who Was Sold into Egypt, for instance, wrote prolifically, even revealing visions of the “end from the beginning” of the world. These writings have been held back, as has a good portion of the Book of Mormon.
Mormons also believe the Ten Lost Tribes will bring scripture with them when they return, and that more revelations will be received and recorded by prophets of the existing church:
For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; andI shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it.
These are the four volumes that make up the canon of Mormon scripture. In addition to scripture, these are a few of the many Mormon books and volumes that explain the history and doctrines of Mormonism:
Joseph Smith Jr., History of the Church(Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1948).
M. Ballard, Our Search for Happiness(Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993).
Gordon B. Hinckley, Truth Restored(Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2001).
James Talmage, Jesus the Christ(Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1983).
James Talmage, Articles of Faith(Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1984).
LeGrande Richards, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder(Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2001).
Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine(Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966).
John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1960).