I love that Elder Craig C. Christensen focused on Joseph Smith’s journey of discovery as he translated the Book of Mormon. All too often, we seem to imagine a Joseph fully formed in his views. But the truth is that the process of translation was also revelatory for Joseph Smith:
“I decided to read as if I were Joseph Smith, discovering the truths in the Book of Mormon for the very first time. It had such an impact on my life that I continue to read the Book of Mormon in that way. I often find that doing so deepens my appreciation for the Prophet Joseph and for the truths restored in this precious book.”
As Elder Christensen notes, the passages focusing on baptism led to the appearance of John the Baptist and the bestowal of the Aaronic Priesthood. Other passages likely impacted the development of the sacramental prayers. Yet other passages brought comfort to Joseph as he and Emma mourned the loss of children. But the most striking of all for Joseph must have been translating the passages about him.
“Perhaps the most stunning passage in the Book of Mormon to young Joseph may have been the third chapter of 2 Nephi. This chapter contains an ancient prophecy about a “choice seer” whom the Lord would raise up in the latter days–a seer named Joseph, named after his father. This future prophet would be “esteemed highly” and would do a work “of great worth” unto his people. He would “be great like unto Moses” and would be given “power to bring forth [God’s] word.” Consider how Joseph Smith must have felt as he realized that this prophecy was about him! He was not just translating history; he was translating a vision of the last days, of the miraculous Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ–and Joseph himself would help fulfill it!”
It truly must have been stunning to the young Joseph. Yet, the Lord knew him and had prepared him for the work. I am so grateful for the Prophet and the truths about Jesus Christ that were restored as a result of his ministry.