“I Nephi Beheld Other Books Which Came Forth by the Power of the Lamb of God”

Alan C. Miner

Nephi wrote of his vision of the future: "I beheld other books, which came forth by the power of the Lamb, from the Gentiles unto them, unto the convincing of the Gentiles and the remnant of the seed of my brethren, and also the Jews who were scattered upon all the face of the earth, that the records of the prophets and of the twelve apostles of the Lamb are true" (1 Nephi 13:39) A number of other Book of Mormon passages speak of the coming forth of ancient records in the last days (see 1 Nephi 14:25-26; 2 Nephi 27:10, 21-22; 30:3; Ether 3:27).

According to John Tvedtnes, when Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, the concept of ancient records hidden away for future generations was foreign to Christians, who believed that the Bible was the most ancient of books and the most authoritative records from antiquity. All that was to change over the next century and a half, as new discoveries were made. The largest collections are the clay tablets known from dozens of sites in Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Syria, some of which date to the third millennium B.C. The number of known tablets is in the tens of thousands, while untold numbers lie beneath the earth waiting to be discovered. Biblical and other documents have been discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls and at nearby sites such as Masada, Nahal, Hever, Nahal Se'elim, Wadi Murabba'at, Khirbet Mird, and Wadi Daliyah. Other interesting collections of documents have been found in Egypt, including the Bodmer and Anastasi papyri, the Pistis Sophia and 1 and 2 Jeu, and, of course, the Nag Hammadi collection. As late as February 1998, Canadian archaeologists unearthed a collection of about two thousand papyrus rolls at Esment el-Kharab, near the Dakhla oasis in western Egypt.

Because ancient records were revealed to the prophet Joseph Smith (the Book of Mormon and the records of Enoch, Moses, and Abraham, plus portions of the Doctrine and Covenants), members of the Church from very early on have not only taken a keen interest in extrabiblical books, but have also helped in publishing some of them. [John Tvedtnes, The Book of Mormon and Other Hidden Books: Out of Darkness unto Light, pp. 167-173]

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary