#157: An Unused Gift

The Book of Mormon is the most literarily beautiful, doctrinally truthful and everlastingly applicable book I’ve ever encountered. (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865651869/The-surprising-story-of-a-Book-of-    Mormon-in-the-Harvard-library.html?pg=all#EHuJWr2WS8kdCu7d.03)

Paul Alan Cox is an Ethno Botanist whose scientific research focuses on discovering new medicines by studying patterns of wellness and illness among indigenous peoples. He is the author of 200 scientific papers, reviews, and books and his discovery of the anti AIDS drug candidate prostratin led TIME Magazine to name Cox as one of eleven  “Heroes of Medicine” for his search for new medicines from plants (TIME: The Plant Hunter). He currently is the Executive Director of the Institute for Ethno Medicine, in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

In 1978 he was studying for his doctorate, spending considerable time in the Wildner Library searching obscure literature on tropical rain forest ecology. The Wildner Library, which is at Harvard, is second in America only to the Library of Congress in terms of number of volumes, and is truly a plethora of wonderful resources for scholarly studies.

Following a full day of study at the library Paul decided to take a break to see if the library had any books about Mormonism. With the assistance of the librarian he discovered just how many books, both for and against, were on the shelves. A small dusty volume on an upper shelf caught his eye and he pulled it down. To his amazement, he discovered an early edition of the Book of Mormon, with the following inscription, “Gift to Harvard College” by “Brigham Young, of the City of the Great Salt Lake.” Excited by his discovery, he  asked if he could check it out. The librarian told him he could, but when she went to stamp the due date on the back of the book, she stopped, “There is no circulation paper here. I will have to glue one in.” He asked if that meant that the book had never been checked out. “Correct,” she replied, “this book has never been circulated.”

After making that edition, she proceeded to stamp the book. Paul excitedly exited the library, and descended the long stone steps. He crossed the Harvard yard towards his small graduate office in the basement of the Biological Laboratories, passing en route some of the worlds most advanced and expensive laboratories. He thought of the 130 years that this copy of the Book of Mormon he was now carrying had sat on that library shelf untouched and collecting dust until he finally saw it. He also thought about the amazing influence it had on his life, and his family, and remembered too, the Apostle Paul’s prophetic counsel regarding the last days with its chilling reminder, that men would be “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7).

Although many of the worlds most learned have failed to search for, or perhaps have disregarded the Book of Mormon and it message, the Saints should never neglect this treasure in earthen vessels bequeathed to us in these last days. Many of these seeds have been planted long ago to one-day blossom testifying of the truthfulness of the latter–day glory. May the scattered of the Restoration anticipate this book will yet serve as the Rosetta stone to reveal and unlock the obstacles, which divide us that we will yet speak with one voice as this testimony sweeps the earth as with a flood to gather the elect into the Holy City.

to be learned is good, if they hearken unto the counsels of God ( 2Nephi 6:61 [2Nephi 9:29])