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BYU Course Outcomes

Students who successfully complete the requirements for this course will be able to demonstrate that they have acquired an understanding of

Course Objectives

This course is designed to help you do the following:

Course Materials

The Pearl of Great Price: The text for this course is the Pearl of Great Price. Although it is only sixty-one pages in length, the smallest of the four standard works, it contains some of the most profound and significant doctrines in all scripture. The Pearl of Great Price was not complied and published to be used as a proselyting tool for nonmembers unacquainted with LDS teachings, but rather it was compiled to strengthen members of the Church who are familiar with the essential teachings of the restoration. It contains marvelous inspired truths worthy of thoughtful study and prayerful contemplation.

Peterson, H. Donl. The Pearl of Great Price: A History and Commentary. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1987.

Historical Overview

The first part of the book contains a 65-page historical overview of the Pearl of Great Price detailing how the scripture developed from a British mission publication to a standard work. It then discusses each book within the Pearl of Great Price, explaining its origin and its contribution to Church literature.


The last part of the History and Commentary (H&C), which is by far the larger section, contains over 300 pages of commentary from the First Presidency, the Twelve Apostles, and other respected writers. The prophet alone has the authority from the Lord to amend, delete, add to, and interpret the Holy Scriptures. When changes are made or interpretations given, they are done with the approval of the First Presidency. The First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles, all ordained as prophets, seers, and revelators, have a unique and divine commission to teach and expound the gospel of Jesus Christ. Their statements are listed under the heading “Selected Statements of the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles.” The statements of other Church leaders, historians, and writers are categorized under the heading “Other Commentary.”

Other Quotes

Occasionally, I have included excellent statements by some of the Brethren prior to their ordination to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles under the heading “Selected Statements of the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles.” For example, Bruce R. McConkie’s popular work Mormon Doctrine and portions of his Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, which were written while he was a member of the First Council of the Seventy, are frequently quoted in the History and Commentary. Quotations from these books should have been listed under “Other Commentary” in the History and Commentary in order to be consistent because the writers were not yet ordained to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Note: So that there is no misunderstanding, realize that the History and Commentary is a private publication. As the author, or more often, the compiler, I selected the quotations in the textbook. You may be aware of other quotations that you feel are more complete, relevant, or appropriate. Please use them in your study. This compilation contains some of my choices based upon many years of classroom experience with college and university students, fellow professors of the Pearl of Great Price, and other serious students of scripture. After I organized the material for the book, it was necessary to condense it by nearly two hundred pages to be sensitive to cost and size factors. References in the text that are cited but not quoted are those that were deleted.

Elder Franklin D. Richards, who compiled the first edition of the Pearl of Great Price, wrote in the preface, “True believers in the Divine mission of the prophet Joseph Smith will appreciate this little collection of precious truths as a Pearl of Great Price that will increase their ability to maintain and defend the holy faith by becoming possessors of it.” (H&C, p. 13)

Anticipate and enjoy an exciting and rewarding learning experience.

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There are five units in this course. They are entitled as follows:

  1. Historical Background of the Pearl of Great Price (5 lessons)
  2. In the Beginning (4 lessons)
  3. The Plan of Salvation and the Adversary (4 lessons)
  4. Early Dispensations (6 lessons)
  5. The Latter Days (5 lessons)

The best way to approach the course material is to first study and prayerfully ponder the assigned reading in the Pearl of Great Price; second, read the supplemental reading A History and Commentary; and then paraphrase the information aloud to see if you have had a clear understanding of the content.


When you feel confident in what you have learned, proceed to answer the questions in the assignment. Be neat in your writing; eliminate cross-outs and poor spelling as much as possible. You will submit all the lessons from each unit at one time, carefully following the directions in the lessons. You may submit only one unit per week unless you have received my prior special permission. All five units should be submitted, graded, and returned to you before you take the final.

Most of the questions in the lessons require a short essay answer. In addition, there are some completion and matching questions. You will complete an assignment for each lesson. If you desire to work for an A grade, you should answer all of the questions. If you desire to work for a B grade, do not answer questions marked “optional.” Your lesson assignments will count for 50 percent of your final course grade. The other 50 percent of your grade will be based on your final examination.

Portfolios are to be turned in through the following formats: Word, Doc, RTF, or PDF.

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At the conclusion of the course, you will take a final examination. It will be primarily a short answer exam with some objective questions (multiple choice, matching, true-false, and completion). The final examination will count for 50 percent of your grade.

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Grading Outline
Assignment Percent
Unit 1 Portfolio 10%
Unit 2 Portfolio 10%
Unit 3 Portfolio 10%
Unit 4 Portfolio 10%
Unit 5 Portfolio 10%
Final Exam 50%
Total 100%
A 100 94
A- 93 90
B+ 89 87
B 86 83
B- 82 80
C+ 79 77
C 76 73
C- 72 70
D+ 69 67
D 66 63
D- 62 60
E 59 0

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Copyright Notice

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.

“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment

Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy)

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University Policy - Title IX Statement

Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Brigham Young University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day).

BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by Sexual Misconduct, including the university’s Victim Advocate, as well as a number of non-confidential resources and services that may be helpful. Additional information about Title IX, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found at or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.

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Accessibility Notice

BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in BYU's programs and activities. In this spirit, BYU Independent Study aspires to improve web accessibility for users. While not required by law, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA provide a wide range of helpful recommendations to make Web content more accessible. BYU Independent Study strives to apply WCAG 2.0 recommendations where feasible, but may deviate from any recommendations that would result in an undue hardship to BYU Independent Study or alterations to program and course content and objectives. If you have questions about accessibility, or if you need to report problems with any accessibility features please see our Accessibilities and Accommodations Web Page.

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Course Policies

These policies are specific to this course. For additional information about general policies, please refer to Independent Study Course Policies page.


5 instructor-graded portfolio assignments, may be resubmitted once for a fee.

Resubmit an assignment for a fee.


1 exam (multiple-choice and short-answer questions), may retake once for a fee, must pass to earn credit for the course.

Retake an exam for a fee.

Getting Help

Please use the help menu in this course to contact Independent Study or your instructor. You can find a list of free tutors available to BYU Independent Study students on the Free Tutoring Services website.

Note: The Harold B. Lee Library website provides a number of online resources and librarians are available via phone, chat, and email to answer questions about library-related issues.

Inappropriate Use of Course Content

All course materials (e.g., outlines, handouts, syllabi, exams, quizzes, media, lecture content, audio and video recordings, etc.) are proprietary. Students are prohibited from posting or selling any such course materials without the express written permission of BYU Independent Study. To do so is a violation of the Brigham Young University Honor Code.

Copyright © 2016 Brigham Young University. All rights reserved.

Published by the
Department of Independent Study
Division of Continuing Education
Brigham Young University
120 MORC
Provo, Utah 84602-1514