Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon is a volume of scripture used by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormon Church as it is commonly called, in conjunction with the Bible and other modern-day scripture.
What is the Book of Mormon?
The Book of Mormon is a book of scripture translated from ancient
gold plates. It contains a record of the people who lived upon the
American continents, ancestors of the current Native Americans and
people of South America. The Book of Mormon testifies of Christ and of
His divinity and role in the Atonement of mankind. The Book of Mormon
also contains doctrine that explains the precious truths of Christ's
Church. The culminating point of the book is the visitation of Christ
to the people in America and His teachings, which parallel the New
What is the purpose of the Book of Mormon?
The Book of Mormon was written "to show unto the remnant of the
House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers;
and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not
cast off foreveró And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile
that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God manifesting Himself to all
nations."1 The Book of Mormon is to be used in conjunction with the Bible as a second witness of Christ.
Who wrote the Book of Mormon?
Ancient prophets and apostles of Christ wrote the Book of Mormon,
just as prophets and apostles wrote the Bible. The ancient record was
abridged by Mormon about 400 A.D. "As a result, there are a variety of
distinct literary styles in the Book of Mormon, ranging from classical
Hebrew poetical components in the writings of Nephi, Benjamin (quoted
by his son in the Book of Mosiah), and Alma (who provides us with one
of the most majestic examples ever of the ancient Semitic poetical
form, chiasmus, in Alma 36), to the terse, direct prose of reluctant military men such as Mormon and Moroni." 2
Many who would discredit the Church claim that Joseph Smith, a young
New York farm boy with little education wrote the Book of Mormon
himself. Jeff Lindsay, on his web site, offers a number of
Book of Mormon Evidences that disprove the theory that Joseph Smith was the author of the Book of Mormon.
Foremost is the accurateness of the geography, culture, and warfare
of the ancient American inhabitants, things that the world, let alone
Joseph Smith did not know at the time the Book of Mormon was published.
Who was Mormon?
Mormon was a leader of the Nephite army during the last days of the
Nephite civilization. He was also a prophet of God entrusted with the
care of the gold plates. During his lifetime he abridged the ancient
records, which spanned a period of over 1,000 years. Writing down those
things that God told him were most pertinent and important for man
today. His abridged gold plates were the plates that the prophet Joseph
How did the Mormons get the Book of Mormon?
The angel Moroni,
son of Mormon, and last righteous Nephite, appeared to Joseph Smith in
1823, after the first vision, in which Joseph Smith has seen God the
Father and His Son Jesus Christ. The angel Moroni told Joseph Smith
about an ancient record contained on gold plates buried in the Hill
Cumorah. The angel Moroni told Joseph that he would be given the plates
at a future date.
For a discussion on recently discovered ancient evidence for Book of Mormon authenticity, see the Book of Mormon Evidences page.
How was the Book of Mormon translated?
The text inscribed on the gold plates was "reformed
Egyptian" which was more compact than Hebrew, the language spoken by the people of the Book of Mormon.
used the power of God to translate the Book of Mormon, through the help
of the Urim and Thummim, ancient seer stones. Although not explained in
the Bible they are mentioned in the following references. (Ex. 28:30;
Lev. 8:8; Num. 27:21; Deut. 33:8; 1 Sam. 28:6; Ezra 2:63; Nehemiah
7:65) The translation was not easy and did take effort and faith
on the part of Joseph Smith.3 The actual details of how the gold plates were translated is not known.
During the translation process Joseph Smith sat with the plates and
verbally gave the translation to a scribe, primarily Oliver Cowdery,
although the prophet's wife Emma and a few others acted as scribes for
a short time.
Concerning the translation Emma said, "After meals, or after
interruptions, [Joseph] would at once begin where he had left off,
without either seeing the manuscript or having any portion of it read
to him. He had neither manuscript nor book to read from, [and] if he
had anything of the kind he could not have concealed it from me"4 The other scribes agree with Emma that the Bible or any other book was not used by Joseph Smith during the translation process.
An article by Dr. Ricks, "The Translation and Publication of the Book of Mormon," with more detailed information is available online.
Who else saw the gold plates?
The angel Moroni himself showed the gold plates to three other men:
Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris. Even after each
subsequently left the Church they never denied seeing the angel Moroni
and the gold plates. A detailed review of their stories and the
significance of their testimony are offered by Richard L. Anderson in
his article, Book of Mormon Witnesses.
Later Joseph Smith showed an additional eight men the gold plates
himself. Their witness and testimonies, along with that of the previous
three, are recorded at the beginning of the Book of Mormon.
(1) Book of Mormon. Title page.
(2) Jeff Lindsay, A Brief Introduction to the Book of Mormon. http://www.jefflindsay.com/BOMIntro.shtml#3
(3) Doctrine and Covenants 9:5,7
(4) "Last Testimony of Sister Emma," Saints' Herald, Oct. 1, 1879, p. 290.