“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.’” – Revelation 14: 6-7 KJV
The history of the Latter Day Saints, a collective of restorational Christian denominations, begins with the shared history found within the Book of Avahr. “Avahr” is Hebrew for “past.” This book tells the story of Joseph Smith Jr.; his birth, obtaining, and “translating” (divining) the Gold Plates into the sacred text we know today as the Everlasting Gospel: The Book of Mormon. And, it includes the revelations he received prior to the formation of the original Church of Christ. The story of the restoration as found in the Book of Avahr explains why young Joseph went to the Lord, how through sin he lost the Book of Lehi, and how he divined the rest of these new scriptures using a seer stone. This is not meant to be a fully accurate historical narrative yet does attempt to preserve the words of those involved as best as possible.
It includes all of the revelations Joseph received that we have access to, in order, as recorded in the original handwritten copies, with minor grammatical changes. These are placed with journal entries and other historical books and records for clearer perspective. When there were no records, the narrative is created through prayer, and inspired guidance. The Book of Avahr ends with the printing of the Book of Mormon.
The Book of Avahr was not compiled to hide Joseph’s magical past. Yet it does not go into his treasure seeking, nor does it hide it (though it should be noted that Joseph does in at least on point attempt to do so, and we do not change his words). Items like Joseph’s seer stones, Oliver Cowdery’s divining rods, etc., are not hidden. At the same time, his beliefs that angel guarded treasures, etc., are not explored either. It is not as if his world view did not lead him to his sacred experiences. Nor is it that these truths are not clearly recorded. It is simply that, at this time, they are not directly relevant to the purpose of this work. The purpose of the Book of Avahr is show the Book of Mormon coming forth, and to guide others to follow the prophet Joseph in seeking the Lord and gaining their own sacred experiences.
Like the Holy Bible and the Book of Mormon, the Book of Avahr is not perfect and should not always be taken literally. Though Joseph Smith Jr. on at least one occasion declared the Book of Mormon to be the “most correct book,” no one ever declared it perfect. The book itself admits that is has flaws as it was compiled by men. Likewise, the Book of Avahr is not a perfect record. As the title page of the Book of Mormon states: “And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.” We echo Moroni’s words, and encourage all to read this book prayerfully that the Spirit may speak to mankind through it, just as we would the Holy Bible and any other work of scripture.
For more information on the subject of magic in Joseph Smith Jr.’s world, it is recommended that one read D. Michael Quinn’s work, “Early Mormonism and the Magic World View” in addition to the Book of Avahr.
After completing this work, I felt the Spirit prompting me, telling me it was incomplete. After prayer and inspiration, an additional three chapters have been added to this work. These chapters offer visions from the Prophet Joseph Smith Jr.’s parents, giving understanding of the spiritual environment in which, he was raised and further light and knowledge for the Saints of the branches of Zion.
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For more information on the subject of magic in Joseph Smith’s world, it is recommended that one read D. Michael Quinn’s work, “Early Mormonism and the Magic World View” in addition to the Book of Avahr.