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This question is important to an on-going topic on CSE-Meta as to whether the biblical-basis tag has become obsolete. I understand that Latter-day Saints, in using the term Scripture, include not only biblical texts but also The Book of Mormon, Doctrines and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price (if I have excluded any I apologize).

Would a Latter-day Saint ever be comfortable (or is it allowed) to refer to one of these other writings as the Bible?

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    This official LDS article expands on what LDS view as "Scripture": churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-principles/…
    – Lesley
    Jan 5 at 14:46
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    As a Latter-day Saint, if I ask for the "biblical basis" of a concept, and someone answered from the Book of Mormon, I'd reiterate that I'm looking for an answer in the Bible. If I would be satisfied with answers based on other works, I would have asked for the "scriptural basis" of the concept. Does that shed any light on your meta discussion?
    – erickson
    Jan 5 at 18:38
  • (This is even considering the JST portions of the Pearl of Great Price; if I ask for biblical explanation, I'm really asking to exclude scriptures accepted only by Latter-day Saints.)
    – erickson
    Jan 5 at 18:44
  • @erickson I think you are indicating that the 'biblical-basis' tag should be left alone. Jan 6 at 13:30

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This is not how someone who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints would refer to other books of scripture - they would refer to them by their names (e.g. the Book of Mormon). For common collections or sets of scriptures, there are common nicknames used. For instance, the collection of the four books of scripture in LDS canon - the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price - is often called a "quad" (short for quadruple).

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For now and in modern vocabularies, I believe it would not make sense to do so. "The Bible" refers to a fairly specific, well-known corpus of texts that are also familiar to the rest of the Christian world. Calling other texts "The Bible" even though Scriptural would simply raise far too many issues of ambiguity. Such a change is not worthwhile and it would only result in confusion and increased offense by those who hold that the Bible is the only Scripture there is. (Of course the term Bible isn't particularly descriptive since it simply means "books", but we suffer it for tradition's sake). I am of a mind to continue calling the Bible the Bible (or the stick of Judah), and to refer to the other books of Scripture by their existing names.

It might make sense in the future to rename all of the books of Holy Scripture simply as "Holy Scripture" or as "the Holy Books" or "the Books of the Lamb of God". For now though, I wouldn't complain if my copy of the Bible came with the title, "The Books of Judah/Stick of Judah" or something like that, which is more descriptive and apt than plain "Bible" or even "Holy Bible":

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. (Ezekiel 37:16-19)

After speaking of the Bible, Nephi says:

"And I beheld other books, which came forth by the power of the Lamb" (1 Nephi 13:39)

Thus the Book of Mormon also prophesies the revelation of additional texts and books coming from other nations that were also ministered to by Christ, and that all these will become one. So whatever the total corpus of text in our possession is named that contains all the Scripture that we are aware of, it should be understood that the contents are destined by the Lord Himself to be growing. The texts of the books we now have are distinct and the purpose of additional Scripture isn't to patch the Bible, it is to complement and testify of the Bible, and to give additional witnesses of Jesus Christ from other individuals and nations.

Wherefore, the fruit of thy loins shall write; and the fruit of the loins of Judah shall write; and that which shall be written by the fruit of thy loins, and also that which shall be written by the fruit of the loins of Judah, shall grow together, unto the confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins, and bringing them to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days, and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord. (2 Nephi 3:12)

The Book of Mormon itself will one day be published in a much expanded form, since the vast majority of it is as yet untranslated (the sealed portion), and will only come forth in a day of righteousness.

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  • For clarity, would the additions to the corpus follow the same format, that is, revelation by an angel to a select person of a testimony written on golden tablets and buried on a high point?
    – civitas
    Jan 7 at 0:16
  • @civitas That seems oddly specific. Any valid means of preservation of Scripture or of delivering revelation will serve God's purposes, just as in times past. The Bible was not for the most part written on plates of gold (although metal plates were at some points in history used to conserve portions of text whence many Biblical books were derived). God will continue to reveal what He sees fit, in the manner and time He sees fit.
    – pygosceles
    Jan 8 at 0:35
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The official, canonized scriptures of the Church, often called the standard works, are the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price (source, emphasis mine)

The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST) could be referred to by the term Bible, yes. The Pearl of Great Price consists of JST texts and other texts of the Restoration. Latter-day Saints study the JST Pearl of Great Price texts in their Bible curriculum.

It would be very unusual, though not entirely unheard of (since the term "bible" refers to a collection of books), to refer to the Book of Mormon or the Doctrine & Covenants using the term "Bible".

So, might a Latter-day Saint have texts from the following documents in mind when referring to "the Bible":

  • A Protestant Bible translated from Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek: yes
  • The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible: yes
  • The Pearl of Great Price: sometimes
  • The Book of Mormon: less likely, though occasionally I have seen it happen
  • The Doctrine & Covenants: probably not

Disclaimer: these thoughts are the products of my own study and do not constitute official statements by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

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