And he said: Behold it proceedeth out of the mouth of a Jew. And I, Nephi, beheld it; and he said unto me: The book that thou beholdest is a record of the Jews, 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 [The Bible] is a record like unto the engravings which are upon the plates 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.1 Nephi 13:23
I heard a recent story about two Latter-day Saints arguing about whether the records of the Old Testament we have today were more numerous than the Brass Plates that the Nephites had. Now, the brass plates did only go up to Jeremiah, but Genesis to Jeremiah is 1020 pages (in the LDS edition of the Old Testament), and from Lamentations to Malachi is 164 pages. Let’s say, just for fun, that the Old Testament we currently have is 100% complete, well then the Nephites were only missing about 7% of the Old Testament.
Consider the other prophets quoted from the Brass Plates mentioned in the Book of Mormon that we do not have a record of in the Old Testament: Zenos, Zenock, Neum, and Ezias (1 Nephi 19:10; Helaman 8:20) as well as previously unknown prophecies from Joseph who was sold into Egypt (2 Nephi 3) along with innumerable other doctrines that are taught in the Book of Mormon that could have well been inspired by the records on the Brass Plates. Let us also consider the other possible Old Testament books mentioned in the Bible that we do not have in our canon today:
- The Book of the Kings of Israel – 1 Chron. 9:1; 2 Chron. 20:34
- The Words of the Kings of Israel – 2 Chron. 33:18
- The Decree of David the King of Israel – 2 Chron. 35:4
- The Chronicles of Samuel the Seer – 1 Chron. 29:29
- The Chronicles of Nathan the Prophet – 1 Chron. 29:29
- The Book of Gad – 1 Chron. 29:29
- The Book of the Prophet Iddo – 2 Chron. 13:22
- The Words of Shemaiah the Prophet – 2 Chron. 12:15
- The Deeds of Uzziah by Isaiah the Prophet – 2 Chron. 26:22; 32:32
- The Book of Jehu – 2 Chron. 20:34
- The Record book of Ahasuerus – Esther 2:23; 6:1
- The Book of Remembrance – Mal. 3:16
- The Book of Life – Dan. 12:1; Phil. 4:3; Rev. 20:11; 22:19
- The Book of Judgment – Dan. 7:10; Rev. 20:12
- The Lost Book of the Covenant (May be the Covenant Code)
- The Manner of the Kingdom
- The Acts of Solomon
- The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah
- The Book of the Kings of Israel
- Book of Samuel the Seer
- Prophecy of Ahijah
- Iddo Genealogies
- Story of the Book of Kings
- Acts of Uziah
- Acts of the Kings of Israel
- Sayings of the Seers
- Laments for Josiah
- Book of the Chronicles
- Chronicles of the Kings of Media and Persia
- The Book of Enoch
Now even if you argued that the “record of the Jews” mentioned in 1 Nephi 13:23 was the entire Bible as we have today, it appears that it is quite possible with all these other missing books considered, that the Brass Plates could very well have been a much larger record that our entire Bible as we have it today. We have no real way of knowing every book that should be included in our canon and which of the books or verses in our current canon shouldn’t be there. To Latter-day Saints, this is not that big of a problem since modern revelation help to solidify the most important thing we can glean from scripture, and that is doctrine.
If it were ever possible that we could be divided from our scriptures all together, we would still have the words of our living prophet and a direct connection to God through the Holy Spirit. These facts, provide great confidence and comfort to all who discover the truth for themselves.
The Brass Plates would have been a spectacular work to read and I think too often we forget that we have verses from these previously unknown Israelite prophets preserved in the Book of Mormon today in the Allegory of the Olive Tree in Jacob 5, in Alma’s discourse to the Zoramites in Alma 33:4-11, and in countless other sermons they could have inspired.
All of this serves as just another reminder of how precious the Book of Mormon is to us today.