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TitleLost Scripture
Publication TypeEncyclopedia Entry
Year of Publication1992
AuthorsCloward, Robert A.
Secondary AuthorsLudlow, Daniel H.
Secondary TitleEncyclopedia of Mormonism
Place PublishedNew York
KeywordsBook of Abraham; Book of Moses; Brass Plates; Enoch (Prophet); Joseph (of Egypt); Neum; Zenock/Zenoch (Prophet); Zenos (Prophet)
Citation Key9446

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Lost Scripture

Author: Cloward, Robert A.

Latter-day Saints recognize that many ancient scriptures have been lost. Some contents of these sacred records are known, but much remains obscure. Latter-day Saints look forward to a time when all things revealed from God will be restored and made known again.

The Bible is of inestimable worth; nevertheless, it testifies to its own incompleteness. It mentions sacred works that are no longer available (Josh. 10:13; 1 Kgs. 11:41; 1 Chr. 29:29; Eph. 3:3; Col. 4:16; Jude 1:14-15), and it refers to Old Testament prophecies presently missing (see Matt. 2:23; John 8:56).

Likewise, the Book of Mormon identifies several prophetic writings absent from the Bible, such as words of Zenos, Zenock, Neum, Ezias, and Joseph of Egypt (see also HC 2:236), which were found on the brass plates. Their prophecies dealt with the future of Israel and the coming of Jesus Christ. Nephi's brother Jacob stated that all the prophets had testified of Jesus Christ (Jacob 4:4-6;7:9-11; cf. John 5:39), a fact not readily apparent in the Old Testament as it now exists. The Prophet Joseph Smith wrote in 1832, "From sundry revelations which had been received, it was apparent that many important points touching the salvation of man, had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled" (HC 1:245; cf. 1 Ne. 13:26-42). Remedying this, in part, was one of the purposes of the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST).

The Doctrine and Covenants speaks of lost writings of John (D&C 7:1-8;93:5-18) and refers to a law of dealing with enemies given by God to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, but not found in the Bible (D&C 98:28-37); the Pearl of Great Price restores a portion of the writings of Abraham, Moses, Enoch, and Adam, especially about the Creation and early history of God's dealings with man. Enoch mentioned an ancient book of remembrance and a genealogy of Adam (Moses 6:5-8, 46), along with now missing blessings and prophecies uttered by Adam and his descendants at the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman before Adam's death (D&C 107:53-57).

Many Book of Mormon source materials are not now accessible. The gold plates given to Joseph Smith in 1827 mention a record of Lehi (1 Ne. 1:16-17) and other writings of Nephi 1 (1 Ne. 9:1-6). Jacob, Mormon, and Moroni 2 note that they could scarcely include "the hundredth part" of what could have been written (Jacob 3:13; 3 Ne. 5:8; Ether 15:33). The Lord often commanded the Nephite record keepers not to write or circulate certain things (see 1 Ne. 14:25-28; 3 Ne. 26:11-12), and Joseph Smith was similarly commanded by the Lord not to translate a large sealed portion of the gold plates (D&C 17:6; see also Ether 4:1-7;5:1-6).

In another, broader sense, much "scripture" was never written down by mortals at all. Whatever God's authorized servants say "when moved upon by the Holy Ghost" is scripture (D&C 68:1-6). If all the acts and words of the Savior had been recorded, John said "the world itself could not contain the books that should be written" (John 20:30-31; 21:25). Also not in written form are myriads of inspired utterances of prophets and apostles and of other men and women filled with the Holy Ghost. Such scripture is not lost to God. "All things are written by the Father," Jesus said (3 Ne. 27:26), and testimonies spoken on earth are recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon (D&C 62:3) and will be recalled at some future day.


Matthews, Robert J. A Bible! A Bible! Salt Lake City, 1990.

McConkie, Joseph Fielding. Prophets and Prophecy, pp. 141-54. Salt Lake City, 1988.