The Apocrypha are nonscriptural books that have some of the characteristics of scripture. The word especially refers to several books included in the Septuagint, an ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament, but that are not found in the Hebrew version. These books are included in some modern translations of the Bible but not others. In March 1833, the Prophet Joseph Smith was working on his inspired revision of the Bible. The copy of the Bible he was working from included the Apocrypha. The Prophet inquired whether he should translate these books, and the Lord answered him in section 91.
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 215–16.
Suggestions for Teaching
Doctrine and Covenants 91. The Apocrypha contain many teachings that are true and many others that are not true. Only those who read them by the Spirit can benefit from them.
A few days prior to class, ask a student to prepare a two-minute report on the Apocrypha. Refer the student to the Bible Dictionary, and provide a copy of pages 215–16 of Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325. The report should include:
What the Apocrypha are.
The meaning of the word apocrypha.
What the Apocrypha include.
What Joseph Smith asked the Lord about the Apocrypha, and why.
Write Apocrypha on the board. Invite the class to ask 10 or fewer yes-or-no questions to see if they can discover what the word means. (Do not let them refer to books or other resources during the activity.) Invite the assigned student to give the report.
Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 91:1–3 and find what the Lord said about translating the Apocrypha. Read verses 4–6 and discuss the following questions:
What does the eighth article of faith say about the Bible? (There are translation errors.)
What phrases in Doctrine and Covenants 91:4–6 apply to all scripture? Why?
How can having the Spirit help your scripture study?
Share the following insight from the Prophet Joseph Smith:
“I can taste the principles of eternal life, and so can you. They are given to me by the revelations of Jesus Christ; and I know that when I tell you these words of eternal life as they are given to me, you taste them, and I know that you believe them. You say honey is sweet, and so do I. I can also taste the spirit of eternal life. I know that it is good; and when I tell you of these things which were given me by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you are bound to receive them as sweet, and rejoice more and more” (History of the Church, 6:312).
Testify that the Spirit helps us in our search for truth.