Fulfillment of a prophecy

Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke in the October 1982 general conference about "a work that has moved quietly forward in the Church virtually unnoticed."

That work, he said, had its beginning in Old Testament times and is the fulfillment of a prophecy by Ezekiel, who wrote:" `The word of the Lord came . . . unto me, saying, Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.' " (Ezek. 37:15-17.)

Elder Packer said: "The sticks, of course, are records or books. In ancient Israel records were written upon tablets of wood or scrolls rolled upon sticks. The record of Judah and the record of Ephraim, according to the prophecy, were to become one in our hands. Two events connected with the fulfillment of the prophecy were centered in print shops.

"The first began on the second floor of a building on Main Street in the village of Palmyra, New York. In June of 1829 Joseph Smith and Martin Harris called upon Mr. Egbert B. Grandin, the proprietor, to discuss the publication of a new book of scripture. Mr. Grandin, then twenty-three, was three months younger than Joseph Smith. Only three months earlier he had advertised his intention to print books, a very ambitious undertaking for so small a shop with only a hand-operated, cast-iron press.

"Others had refused to print the book, and young Mr. Grandin, a religious man, was very skeptical himself. But as the contract was secured by a mortgage on the farm of Martin Harris, it was signed and printing commenced in August of 1829.

"No sooner had the project begun than one Obadiah Dogberry, Jr., began to steal pages of the work and print them with accompanying ridicule in his weekly paper, The Reflector.

"In March of 1830, the Book of Mormon came from the press and was advertised for sale. It met such a bitter and destructive response that it did not sell, and Martin Harris lost his farm.

"An epoch of scriptural history had begun. The Prophet Joseph Smith and his successors to this day would proclaim the Book of Mormon to be another testament of Jesus Christ. Obadiah Dogberry and his successors, moved by another spirit, would, with the same methods, to this day revile it."

Elder Packer explained that another step in the coming together of these two "sticks" was taken 147 years later when, in June 1977, the Church embarked with Cambridge Univerity Press on a project to publish "an unusual" edition of the King James Bible. In that publication, Elder Packer said, all footnoting, cross-references, chapter introductions, indexes, and so on, were to be replaced. Only the chapter and verse numbering for the 66 books would be retained.

That edition would be cross-referenced with three other books of scripture: the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.

After this new edition of the King James Bible was published in 1979, a new edition of the Book of Mormon was published in 1981, bearing the subtitle, Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed