“Greater Views upon My Gospel”

Doctrine and Covenants 10:45

45 Behold, there are many things engraven upon the plates of Nephi which do throw greater views upon my gospel; therefore, it is wisdom in me that you should translate this first part of the engravings of Nephi, and send forth in this work.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said:

“At least six times in the Book of Mormon, the phrase ‘for a wise purpose’ is used in reference to the making, writing, and preserving of the small plates of Nephi [see 1 Ne. 9:5; Words of Mormon 1:7; Alma 37:2, 12, 14, 18]. We know one such wise purpose—the most obvious one—was to compensate for the future loss of 116 pages of manuscript translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith from the first part of the Book of Mormon [see D&C 3; 10].

“But it strikes me that there is a ‘wiser purpose’ than that, or perhaps more accurately, a ‘wiser purpose’ in that. The key to such a suggestion is in Doctrine and Covenants 10:45 [D&C 10:45]. As the Lord instructs Joseph Smith on the procedure for translating and inserting the material from the small plates into what had been begun as the translation of the abridged large plates, He says, ‘Behold, there are many things engraven upon the [small] plates of Nephi which do throw greater views upon my gospel’ (emphasis added).

“So clearly this was not a quid pro quo in the development of the final Book of Mormon product. It was not tit for tat, this for that—116 pages of manuscript for 142 pages of printed text. Not so. We got back more than we lost. And it was known from the beginning that it would be so. We do not know exactly what we have missed in the lost 116 pages, but we do know that what we received on the small plates was the personal declarations of three great witnesses, three of the great doctrinal voices of the Book of Mormon, testifying that Jesus is the Christ.

“I am suggesting that Nephi, Jacob, and Isaiah are three early types and shadows of Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris—witnesses positioned right at the front of the book where Oliver, David, and Martin (who in spite of their later difficulties remained true to their testimony) would later be positioned. But Nephi, Jacob, and Isaiah bore a very special witness—they testified of the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, He who would be the central, commanding, presiding figure throughout the Book of Mormon.”

(“For a Wise Purpose,” Ensign, Jan. 1996, 13–14.)