The Book of Mormon prophet Nephi experienced his first vision as a teenaged boy. An angel instructed him in many aspects of the gospel, including the importance of the Bible, which of course, was not yet complete, since the vision happened around 600 BC. In this portion of the vision, the angel taught:
23 And he said: Behold it proceedeth out of the mouth of a Jew. And I, Nephi, beheld it; and he said unto me: The abook that thou beholdest is a brecord of the cJews, which contains the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; and it also containeth many of the prophecies of the holy prophets; and it is a record like unto the engravings which are upon the dplates of brass, save there are not so many; nevertheless, they contain the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; wherefore, they are of great worth unto the Gentiles.
24 And the angel of the Lord said unto me: Thou hast beheld that the abook proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew; and when it proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew it contained the fulness of the gospel of the Lord, of whom the twelve apostles bear record; and they bear record according to the truth which is in the Lamb of God.
25 Wherefore, these things go forth from the aJews in purity unto the bGentiles, according to the truth which is in God. (1 Nephi 13)
Note that the angel said the scriptures we now call the Bible were perfect when they were first written. Joseph Smith said, ““I believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 327).”
It can be enlightening to study how the Bible came into existence. It did not come as a single record handed down from prophet to prophet, as was the Book of Mormon. Many records were made, and those included were chosen by various committees of men. Many translations have occurred over the years.
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in the Bible as far as it’s correctly translated. Since the translators were not prophets, they were subject to error and personal interpretation.
The Book of Mormon testifies of the Bible often. The Nephites had some of the Bible—this was contained in the records Nephi’s family brought with them to their new home. They actually had additional records that are referred to but not included in the Old Testament, including the teachings of other prophets such as Zenock, Neum, Zenos, and Joseph, the son of Jacob. They learned more of it when the Savior came. The Book of Mormon prophets quoted often from Isaiah, and in fact, portions of this book are reprinted in the Book of Mormon as reminders to us today, for whom the book of Mormon was written, of the importance of those scriptures and of the Bible. The records of the Jews are frequently referred to by the prophets in the Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon teaches us the importance of the Bible. The Nephites, who had them, were able to keep and hand down their religion through many generations. However, another group, the Mulekites, who came to the same location without any of the Bible, lost not only their religion, but their language and culture as well. The Bible made the difference in the ability of the people to hold on to their faith and without them, as Nephi’s father was told by God, the people would “dwindle in unbelief.”
The Book of Mormon is called another testament of Christ, but it is also another testimony of the Bible. It is yet another proof that the Bible is not just a collection of historical documents, but a sacred record of our Father in Heaven’s dealings with His children. We need the Bible if we are to hold on to our faith.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.