As described in its “Introductory Note,” The Pearl of Great Price is a “selection of choice materials” relative to aspects of faith and doctrine of the Mormon Church. Much of this material was received by Joseph Smith Jr. through revelation. Some of the material was translated from ancient writings.
The Book of Moses is the first part of the Pearl of Great Price. It is an extract from the book of Genesis, from Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible, which he began in 1830. Most of the chapters detail the creation of the world and the early history of mankind to the flood, with special focus on the story of Enoch and the city of Zion. The first chapter, however, tells of God’s revealing himself to Moses and Moses’s confrontation with Satan, whom he rejects. And as God begins to tell Moses of the history of Moses’s own earth, he speaks the following: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” The God of the Book of Moses, and of Mormon belief, is a personal God, a Heavenly Father who is closely concerned with the welfare of all His children and earnestly desires them to return to Him.
The Book of Abraham is a translation of some Egyptian papyri that came into the hands of Joseph Smith Jr. in 1835 containing writings of the patriarch Abraham. Like the Book of Moses, the Book of Abraham is concerned with the creation of the world. But while the Book of Moses is largely the Genesis story translated through revelation, the Book of Abraham is largely about what happened before the creation – about who we are as spirit children of God and what His plan for us is. The War in Heaven is also spoken of – how Satan rebelled and drew many spirits after him. The Book of Abraham also contains a brief history of Abraham himself and his travels.
The Book of Matthew is an extract from the testimony of Matthew in Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible, an expansion on Matthew 23: 39 and Matthew 24. The main focus of the translation is on the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Joseph Smith – History relates the experiences and visions of Joseph Smith before the organization of the LDS Church. The First Vision was received when he was a boy of fourteen and praying to God to know which church to join. God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to him and told him that no church currently on the earth was true. Three years later, the Angel Moroni would appear to Joseph Smith to tell him of the existence of the Book of Mormon and eventually aid him in recovering it from its hiding place. The history also speaks of Joseph Smith’s marriage to Emma, translating the Book of Mormon, and receiving the priesthood.
The Articles of Faith are a statement by Joseph Smith detailing thirteen of the Mormon basic beliefs and doctrines. Beliefs on the nature of God, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the scriptures, and religious freedom are among those mentioned in the Articles of Faith.