Standard Works

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There are several kinds of books which may be described as "Mormon books." The Mormon Church, properly called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, publishes two classes of books. These are:

The official, canonical scriptures of the Church, namely

  1. The Holy Bible
  2. The Book of Mormon—Another Testament of Jesus Christ
  3. The Doctrine and Covenants
  4. The Pearl of Great Price

These four volumes are sometimes collectively referred to as the Standard Works or simply "the Scriptures." In Mormon usage, this goes beyond the usual sense of "a work of recognized excellence" and is actually equivalent to "the official, canonical scriptures of the Church."

The second class of books includes:

Procedural handbooks and lesson manuals. These contain curriculum materials for classes taught in Church meetings, materials to assist families and instructions and policy guidelines to Church leaders. These are "official" in the ordinary sense, but do not rise to the status of scripture.

In addition to these, there are books of various kinds written by individual Church members for the edification of other Latter-day Saints. While there is no formal system of classification for these, most would fall into one or more of the following broad categories:

  1. Doctrinal: works expounding doctrine or providing scriptural commentary.
  2. Historical: works describing events in Mormon history or (less commonly) general history that is of interest to Latter-day Saints.
  3. Devotional: works intended to assist Latter-day Saints in personal or family worship, or to cope with grief or stressful life events.
  4. Recreational: light fiction featuring Mormon themes or characters.

Additionally, books by non-Mormons about the Church may be described as "Mormon books." While a few valuable scholarly works do emerge from time to time, many or most of these books are polemical in nature, and are more properly described as "anti-Mormon books."

The Bible in Mormonism

As noted above, the Bible is one of the Church's "Standard Works," or canonical volumes. As such, it is scripture, and its contents are considered doctrinally binding upon the Church.

The Bible used by the Church throughout the English-speaking world is the King James Version (KJV). In 1980, the Church published its own edition of the KJV with new footnotes and cross-references to the other Standard Works, as well as a new concordance-style index called the Topical Guide, a Bible Dictionary, and some excerpts from the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. Note that the Church does not subscribe to any "King James only" ideology, and Church members and scholars are entirely free to consult other translations, or to read them in the original or other languages if they so choose, in the course of their scripture study.

One of the Church's Articles of Faith states, "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly." While the Church's critics frequently accuse the Latter-day Saints of using this as some kind of all-purpose escape clause, the reality is that it merely acknowledges the transmission problems and translation errors that current editions of the Bible have.