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Book of Mormon

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The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is part of the scriptural canon of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (members of which are often referred to as Mormons), along with the Christian Bible, the Doctrine and Covenants (a record of revelations received during the 19th century by Joseph Smith, with some additions by his successors) and the Pearl of Great Price. The Book of Mormon also is considered scriptural by the Community of Christ and other smaller churches that grew out of the religious movement begun by Joseph Smith.

The Book of Mormon is composed of the following books which are divided into chapters and verses similar to the Bible:

The Book of Mormon also contains introductory text concerning the origins of the book, its contents and purpose. This material is divided as follows:

  • Title Page text (http://scriptures.lds.org/bm/ttlpg)
NOTE: This link goes to an official Mormon site which does not list an original title page to the 1830 first edition of the Book of Mormon. In the first printing of the first edition Joseph Smith is listed as "Author and Proprietor" and not as "Translator" of the text.
  • Introduction text (http://scriptures.lds.org/bm/intrdctn)
  • The Testimony of Three Witnesses text (http://scriptures.lds.org/bm/thrwtnss)
  • The Testimony of Eight Witnesses text (http://scriptures.lds.org/bm/eghtwtns)
  • The Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith text (http://scriptures.lds.org/bm/jsphsmth)
  • A Brief Explanation About The Book of Mormon text (http://scriptures.lds.org/bm/explntn)

Summary

1 Nephi begins in ancient Jerusalem around 600 BC, at roughly the same time as the Book of Jeremiah in the Bible. It tells the story of Lehi, his family, and several others as they are led by God to travel from Jerusalem to the Americas. The books from 1 Nephi to Omni recount the group's dealings from around 600 BC to around 130 BC, in which they grow to a sizeable number, and eventually split into two groups, the Nephites and the Lamanites.

The Words of Mormon, allegedly written in AD 385, is a short introduction to the books of Mosiah: Alma, 3 Nephi and 4 Nephi. Mormon compiled The Book of Mormon (thus the name). He included the original records comprising 1 Nephi - Omni, then abridged a large quantity of collected records detailing the national history from the end of Omni until his own time.

3 Nephi contains an account of the visit of the glorified, resurrected Jesus Christ to the Americas after his ministry in Jerusalem. Here he gives much of the same instruction given in the Gospels of the Bible, and establishes an enlightened, peaceful society which endures several generations.

Mormon is an account of the events which occurred during Mormon's life, after the enlightened society of 3 and 4 Nephi had deteriorated yet again into warring groups.

Ether is another abridgement by Mormon, this time of the records of a much earlier civilization beginning at the time of the Tower of Babel. In this account, a man named Jared, his family and others were led by God to the Americas before the languages were confounded and formed a civilization long before Lehi's family arrived. Mormon placed this account after the end of his own work, before turning over the record to his son Moroni.

Moroni witnesses the final destruction of his people and the idolatrous state of the remaining society. He adds a few spiritual insights and mentions some important doctrinal teachings, and ends the book with an invitation to pray to God for a confirmation of the truthfulness of the account.

Origins of the Book of Mormon

Various explanations exist for the origin of The Book of Mormon. These include:

  • Joseph Smith translated an ancient record by divine help. (See below).
  • Joseph Smith wrote the book himself.
  • Someone else (Sidney Rigdon is often named, a close friend of Smith) wrote the book and allowed Smith to take credit for it.
  • The manuscript of another book relating to early American inhabitants was stolen and altered.
  • An unpublished novel about early American inhabitants was read by Joseph Smith, who used ideas from the novel when he composed the Book of Mormon.
  • For further discussion of alternate explanations which are contrary to the official history of the LDS Church, see Authenticity of The Book of Mormon

According to the Church, this is how the records comprising The Book of Mormon were found and translated:

The original record was engraved on thin sheets of gold and bound with rings at one edge, much like a modern book. At the end of Moroni's ministry (around AD 421), he hid these gold plates along with several other artifacts in a stone box.

In 1823, Joseph Smith was directed by God to the place where the plates were stored. He was not immediately allowed to take them, but was eventually entrusted with them. With God's help he was able to translate the characters (described in The Book of Mormon as consisting of reformed Egyptian (Mormon 9:32,34 (http://scriptures.lds.org/morm/9))) into English.

The gold plates were quite heavy, and were consequently much sought-after by those monetarily inclined. Church history records many attempts by others to find and take the plates from Joseph Smith.

Joseph Smith was allowed to show the plates to several people, and these accounts are recorded in the front of The Book of Mormon as "The Testimony of Three Witnesses" and "The Testimony of Eight Witnesses". After translation was complete, an angel received the plates from Joseph Smith, and no public account of their whereabouts has been made since.

Although they did not disavow their statements on the origin of the book, most of the witnesses later became disaffected with Joseph Smith and/or the church he founded.


For critical analyses applying specifically to The Book of Mormon, see Authenticity of The Book of Mormon.

External links

Text of the Book of Mormon from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints:

http://scriptures.lds.org/bm/contents

Text of the Book of Mormon from the Community of Christ: http://www.centerplace.org/hs/bofm/default.htm



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