Plain and Precious Truths Removed from the Bible

Church Educational System

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained the meaning of “plain and precious”: “Elements … missing from the Bible were both ‘plain and most precious.’ They were plain in their simplicity and clarity, being easy to ‘the understanding of … men’; they were precious in their purity and profound worth, their saving significance and eternal importance to the children of God” (Christ and the New Covenant [1997], 5).

One educator suggested the following explanation for changes in the scriptures:

“Apparently the original manuscripts of the Bible disappeared very early. This seems particularly true of the New Testament. Sir Frederic Kenyon, one of the greatest textual scholars of the early twentieth century, commented thus: ‘The originals of the several books have long ago disappeared. They must have perished in the very infancy of the Church; for no allusion is ever made to them by any Christian writer.’ Kenyon’s statement is particularly important to us because it means that for centuries there has not been an original Bible manuscript to guide the reader. Even in the early decades of the original Christian church, the original texts seem to have been absent. …
“The angel [in 1 Nephi 13:21–29] makes it clear that he is not talking about subtle accidents of hand and eye, resulting in a few misplaced letters or words—the unplanned errors of copyists. He pointedly ascribes these changes to the planned editorial work of designing men [see 1 Nephi 13:27–28]. …
“As we read the words of the angel, we discover that the world never has had a complete Bible, for it was massively—even cataclysmically—corrupted before it was distributed. Of course, in addition to the major willful corruption of the Bible in the early Christian era, the manuscripts have also continued to suffer the gradual and relatively mild changes, due to errors of hand and eye, that the scholars talk about. Thus there have been two processes at work: (1) a major, sudden, and deliberate editorial corruption of the text and (2) a gradual promulgation of variants that has occurred as a natural consequence of copying and translation” (Robert J. Matthews, A Bible! A Bible! [1990], 74–75).

Joseph Smith taught that “many important points touching the salvation of man, had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled” (History of the Church, 1:245). He also said that the Bible was correct as “it came from the pen of the original writers,” but that “ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors” (History of the Church, 6:57.)

Book of Mormon Student Manual (2009 Edition)