is hard to understand why so many people are prepared to accept facts
as recorded by historians in secular history and yet refuse to accept
ecclesiastical history as recorded in the scriptures by men whose
characters are beyond reproach, and even refuse to believe, as having
come from the Lord, prophecies that have been fulfilled and verified by
secular history. Especially have men through the ages refused to accept
prophets of their own time, and many of them have been persecuted,
ridiculed, and slain.
scriptures are replete with incidents lamenting the fact that the
majority of people have always refused to accept the prophets who have
cried repentance unto them and reminded them of their iniquities. You
will remember what the Savior said to the multitude when denouncing the
Scribes and the Pharisees:
have record of many other revelations that were received by the
prophets in early days as well as in modern times. Prophecies
concerning the birth, mission, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus
Christ are foretold many times by different prophets, both in the Bible
and in the Book of Mormon, some of them hundreds of years before his
birth. We have the words of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Lehi, Alma, and
many others prophesying of this great event.
records in some detail his visions of these happenings, as shown to him
by an angel of the Lord. He beheld Mary, the mother of Jesus, bearing a
child in her arms, even the Lamb of God, the Redeemer of the world. He
saw the prophet who baptized him, the Holy Ghost descending upon him,
his work with the Twelve, his healing the sick, the casting out of
devils and unclean spirits.
of Faith of the LDS Faith
The Articles of
Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were written
by Joseph Smith in answer to an inquiry from John Wentworth, editor of
the Chicago Democrat newspaper, about the beliefs of the
Mormons. The articles give a concise overview of some of the basic
beliefs of the LDS people.
the Church, Vol. 4, pp. 535—541
1. WE believe in God, the
Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
2. We believe that men will be punished for
their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
3. We believe that through the Atonement of
Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and
ordinances of the Gospel.
4. We believe that the first
principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord
Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the
remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy
5. We believe that a man must be called of
God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in
authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances
6. We believe in the same organization
that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets,
pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
7. We believe in the gift of tongues,
prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and
8. We believe the Bible to be the word
of God as far as it is translated correctly•; we also
believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
9. We believe all that God has
revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet
reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of
the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the
American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth;
and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the
dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege,
let them worship how, where, or what they may.
believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates,
in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in
doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition
of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many
things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything
virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after
Nauvoo, Illinois, 1842
The major mission of the Book of Mormon, as recorded on its title page,
is "to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ,
the eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations." The honest
seeker after truth can gain the testimony that Jesus is the Christ as
he prayerfully ponders the inspired words of the Book of Mormon. Over
one-half of all the verses in the Book of Mormon refer to our Lord.
Some form of Christ's name is mentioned more frequently per verse in
the Book of Mormon than even in the New Testament. He is given over one
hundred different names in the Book of Mormon. Those names have a
particular significance in describing His divine nature. (See Names and
Titles of Jesus Christ)
Let us consider some of the
attributes of our Lord, as found in the Book of Mormon, that show that
Jesus is the Christ. Then let us confirm each of those attributes about
Him with a brief quote from the Book of Mormon.
He is Alive: "The life of the world... a life which is endless."
He is Constant: "The same yesterday, today, and forever." (2 Nephi
He is the Creator: "He created all things, both in heaven and in
earth." (Mosiah 4:9.)
He is the Exemplar: He "set the example .... He said unto the children
of men: Follow thou me." (2 Nephi 31:9-10.)
He is Generous: "He commandeth none that they shall not partake of his
salvation." (2 Nephi 26:24.)
He is Godly: He is God. (See 2 Nephi 27:23.)
He is Good: "All things which are good cometh of God." (Moroni 7:12.)
He is Gracious: "He is full of grace." (2 Nephi 2:6.)
He is the Healer: The "sick, and... afflicted with all manner of
diseases... devils and unclean spirits... were healed by the power of
the Lamb of God." (1 Nephi 11:31.)
He is Holy: "O how great the holiness of our God!" (2 Nephi 9:20.)
He is Humble: "He humbleth himself before the Father." (2 Nephi 31:7.)
He is Joyful: "The Father hath given" Him a "fulness of joy." (3 Nephi
He is our Judge: We "shall be brought to stand before the bar of God,
to be judged of him." (Mosiah 16:10.)
He is Just: "The judgments of God are always just." (Mosiah 29:12.)
He is Kind: He has "loving kindness... towards the children of men." (1
He is the Lawgiver: He "gave the law." (3 Nephi 15:5.)
He is the Liberator: "There is no other head whereby ye can be made
free." (Mosiah 5:8.)
He is the Light: "The light... of the world; yea, a light that is
endless, that can never be darkened." (Mosiah 16:9.)
He is Loving: "He loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own
life." (2 Nephi 26:24.)
He is the Mediator: "The great Mediator of all men." (2 Nephi 2:27.)
He is Merciful: There is a "multitude of his tender mercies." (1 Nephi
He is Mighty: "Mightier than all the earth." (1 Nephi 4:1.)
He is Miraculous: A "God of miracles." (2 Nephi 27:23.)
He is Obedient: Obedient unto the Father "in keeping his commandments."
(2 Nephi 31:7.)
He is Omnipotent: He has "all power, both in heaven and in earth."
He is Omniscient: "The Lord knoweth all things from the beginning." (1
He is our Redeemer: "All mankind were in a lost and in a fallen state,
and ever would be save they should rely on this Redeemer." (1 Nephi
He is the Resurrection: He brought to pass "the resurrection of the
dead, being the first that should rise." (2 Nephi 2:8.)
He is Righteous: "His ways are righteousness forever." (2 Nephi 1:19.)
He is the Ruler: He rules "in the heavens above and in the earth
beneath." (2 Nephi 29:7.)
He is our Savior: "There is none other name given under heaven save it
be this Jesus Christ... whereby man can be saved." (2 Nephi 25:20.)
He is Sinless: He "suffereth temptation, and yieldeth not to the
temptation." (Mosiah 15:5.)
He is Truthful: "A God of truth, and canst not lie." (Ether 3:12.)
He is Wise: "He has all wisdom." (Mosiah 4:9.)
As I reflect on these and many other marks of our Lord's divinity, as
found in the Book of Mormon, my heart cries out with the hymnist: Oh
Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder Consider all the worlds thy hands
have made, I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy pow'r
thruout the universe displayed; Then sings my soul my Savior God, to
thee, How great thou art/How great thou art/ (''How Great Thou Art,"
Hymns, 1985, no 86.)
Once one is convinced, through the Book of Mormon, that Jesus is the
Christ, then he must take the next step; he must come unto Christ.
Learning the precepts found in what the Prophet Joseph Smith called the
most correct book on earth, the Book of Mormon, is but the first step.
Abiding by those precepts found in the keystone of our religion gets a
man nearer to God than through any other book. Can we not see why we
should be reading this book daily and practicing its precepts at all
We have an increasing number who have been convinced, through the Book
of Mormon, that Jesus is the Christ. Now we need an increasing number
who will use the Book of Mormon to become committed to Christ. We need
to be convinced and committed.
Let us turn again to the Book of Mormon, this time to learn some
principles about coming unto Christ, being committed to Him, centered
in Him, and consumed in Him. We will quote but a few of the numerous
passages on the matter.
First we need to know that Christ invites us to come unto Him. "Behold,
he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are
extended towards them,... yea, he saith: Come unto me and ye shall
partake of the fruit of the tree of life." (Alma 5:33-34.)
Come, for He stands "with open arms to receive you." (Mormon 6:17.)
Come, for "he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead
your cause." (Jacob 3:1.)
"Come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him."
As Moroni closed the record of the Jaredite civilization, he wrote, "I
would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles
have written." (Ether 12:41.) (See Book of Mormon Peoples)
In Moroni's closing words written toward the end of the Nephite
civilization, he said, "Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in
him,... and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love
God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace
sufficient for you." (Moroni 10:32 .)
Those who are committed to Christ "stand as witnesses of God at all
times and in all things, and in all places" that they may be in "even
until death." (Mosiah 18:9.) They "retain the name" of Christ "written
always" in their hearts. (Mosiah 5:12.) They take upon themselves "the
name of Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end."
When we live a Christ-centered life, "we talk of Christ, we rejoice in
Christ, we preach of Christ." (2 Nephi 25:26.) We "receive the pleasing
word of God, and feast upon his love." (Jacob 3:2.) Even when Nephi's
soul was grieved because of his iniquities, he said, "I know in whom I
have trusted. My God hath been my support." (2 Nephi 4:19-20.)
We remember Alma's counsel: "Let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and
whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy
thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy
heart be placed upon the Lord forever. Counsel with the Lord in all thy
doings." (Alma 37:36-37.)
"Remember, remember," said Helaman, "that it is upon the rock of our
Redeemer, who is Christ,... that ye must build your foundation; that
when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds,... [they] shall have
no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery." (Helaman
Nephi said, the Lord "hath filled me with his love, even unto the
consuming of my flesh." (2 Nephi 4:21.) Those who are consumed in
Christ "are made alive in Christ." (2 Nephi 25:25.) They "suffer no
manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ."
(Alma 31:38.) They are "clasped in the arms of Jesus." (Mormon 5:11.)
Nephi said, "I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul." (2
Nephi 33:6.) Lehi said, "I am encircled about eternally in the arms of
his love." (2 Nephi 1:15.)
Let us read the Book of Mormon and be convinced that Jesus is the
Christ. Let us continually reread the Book of Mormon so that we might
more fully come to Christ, be committed to Him, centered in Him, and
consumed in Him.
We are meeting the adversary every day. The challenges of this era will
rival any of the past, and these challenges will increase both
spiritually and temporally. We must be close to Christ, we must daily
take His name upon us, always remember Him, and keep His commandments.
(See Sacrament Prayers)
In the final letter recorded in the Book of Mormon from Mormon to his
son Moroni, he gave counsel that applies to our day. Both father and
son were seeing a whole Christian civilization fall because its people
would not serve the God of the land, even Jesus Christ. Mormon wrote,
"And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor
diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under
condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle
of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest
our souls in the kingdom of God." (Moroni 9:6.) You and I have a
similar labor to perform now to conquer the enemy and rest our souls in
Then that great soul Mormon closes his letter to his beloved son,
Moroni, with these words:
"My son, be faithful in Christ; and may not the things which I have
written grieve thee, to weigh thee down unto death; but may Christ lift
thee up, and may his sufferings and death, and the showing his body
unto our fathers, and his mercy and long-suffering, and the hope of his
glory and of eternal life, rest in your mind forever.
"And may the grace of God the Father, whose throne is high in the
heavens, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who sitteth on the right hand of
his power, until all things shall become subject unto him, be, and
abide with you forever." (Moroni 9:25-26.)
My prayer for each of us is that we too will follow that inspired
counsel: "Be faithful in Christ." Then He will lift us up and His grace
will be and abide with us forever.
of the Book of Mormon
In this wooden box, Joseph Smith hid the Book of Mormon plates. The
inside of the box measures 14" x 16". The depth is 6 1/4" sloping to
4". The lid and bottom are walnut, and the sides are made from boxwood.
The box was also used as a lap desk. In the possession of emeritus
Church Patriarch Eldred G. Smith.
The Prophet Joseph Smith called the Book of Mormon "the most
correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion" and
said that a person "would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts,
than by any other book" (TPJS, p. 194), for it contains the fulness of
the gospel of Jesus Christ (D&C 20:8-9). To members of THE CHURCH
of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints, the Book of Mormon forms the
doctrinal foundation of the Church and speaks the word of God to all
The Book of Mormon both confirms and supplements the Bible: "Behold,
this [the Book of Mormon] is written for the intent that ye may believe
that [the Bible]; and if ye believe [the Bible] ye will believe [the
Book of Mormon] also" (Morm. 7:9). The Bible is primarily a record of
God's dealings with the forebears and descendants of Jacob or Israel in
the ancient Near East. Latter-day Saints believe the Book of Mormon to
be a record of God's dealings principally with another group of
Israelites he brought to the Western Hemisphere from Jerusalem about
600 B.C. (see Lehi). They anticipated the birth and coming of Jesus
Christ and believed in his Atonement and gospel. Their complex, lengthy
records were abridged by a prophet named Mormon, inscribed on plates of
gold, and buried by his son, Moroni, after internecine wars destroyed
all of the believers in Christ in the New World except Moroni (A.D.
JOSEPH SMITH AND THE BOOK OF MORMON. In his short lifetime, Joseph
Smith brought forth many scriptures (see Doctrine and Covenants; Pearl
of Great Price). His first prophetic calling was to bring forth the
Book of Mormon. In 1823, at age seventeen, he was shown the hidden
record by Moroni, then a resurrected angelic messenger from God (JS—H
1:27-54). After several visitations during the next four years, Joseph
was allowed to remove the sacred record from its resting place in the
hill Cumorah, near Palmyra, New York. Despite many interruptions and
persistent persecutions (JS—H 1:57-60), Joseph Smith translated the
lengthy record in about sixty working days. Latter-day Saints bear
testimony that he did this "through the mercy of God, by the power of
God" (D&C 1:29), "by the inspiration of heaven" (Messenger and
Advocate [Oct. 1834]:14-16; JS—H 1:71, n.). He had the assistance of
several scribes, chiefly Oliver Cowdery, who wrote what Joseph Smith
dictated. The book was published in Palmyra in 1830. At least eleven
witnesses, in addition to Joseph Smith, saw and/or hefted the Book of
Mormon plates before he returned them to Moroni (see Book of Mormon
PURPOSES AND CONTENTS. The Book of Mormon, as its modern subtitle
states, stands with the Bible as "Another Testament of Jesus Christ."
Its main purposes are summarized on its title page: to show the
remnants of the Book of Mormon people what great things God did for
their forefathers, to make known the covenants of the Lord, and to
convince "Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God,
manifesting himself unto all nations." The central event in the Book of
Mormon is the appearance of the resurrected Christ to righteous
inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere after his ascension into heaven
at Jerusalem. During his visit, Christ delivered a sermon that is
similar to the Sermon on the Mount recorded in the New Testament, but
with certain vital clarifications and additions. He declared his
doctrine, the fulness of his gospel necessary to enter the kingdom of
God; and he established his Church with its essential ordinances, and
ordained disciples to preside over the Church. At this time, Christ
also explained the promises of God to Israel; healed the sick and
disabled; blessed the children and their parents; and expressed his
great love, allowing each individual to come forward and touch the
wounds he had received during his crucifixion (see 3 Ne. 11-26). The
record of Jesus' visit and many other passages in the Book of Mormon
verify the divine sonship, ministry, Atonement, resurrection, and
eternal status of the Lord Jesus Christ and show that the fulness of
his gospel is the same for all people, whenever and wherever they have
The ancestors of these people to whom Jesus appeared had been in the
Western Hemisphere for about 600 years. The Book of Mormon opens with
the family of Lehi in Jerusalem at the time of the biblical prophet
Jeremiah. Lehi was warned by God about 600 B.C. to take his family and
flee Jerusalem before it was destroyed by Babylon (1 Ne. 1:1-2). The
account, written by Lehi's son Nephi1, first tells of his family's
departure from Jerusalem and of his dangerous return to the city with
his brothers to obtain sacred records that contained their lineage, the
five books of Moses, and a history of the Jews and writings of prophets
down to Jeremiah's time (1 Ne. 3- 5).
The group traveled in the wilderness until they reached a pleasant land
by the sea where Nephi, with God's instruction, built a ship that took
them to the New World (1 Ne. 17- 18). Nephi's older brothers, Laman and
Lemuel, expressed resentment at Nephi's closeness to the Lord and did
not want him to rule over them (1 Ne. 16:37-39; 18:10). When the family
reached the New World, this antagonism led to a schism between the
Nephites and Lamanites that pervades the Book of Mormon.
As the Nephite sermons, prophecies, and historical records were
compiled and handed down, the writers emphasized that those who keep
God's commandments prosper. Unfortunately, many who prospered became
proud and persecuted others, with war as the eventual result. The
desolation of war humbled the people, who began again to call upon God.
Ancient American prophets, like biblical prophets such as Moses,
Isaiah, and Daniel, were shown visions of the future of various
nations. For example, Nephi foresaw Christopher Columbus' discovery of
America, the influx of Gentiles into the New World, and the American
Revolution (1 Ne. 13:12-15, 18-19), as well as the birth and earthly
ministry of Jesus Christ. Christ's birth, ministry, and death were
prophesied by Lehi, Nephi, Benjamin, Samuel the Lamanite, and other
prophets. When Mosiah1 discovered a people who had left Jerusalem with
Mulek, a son of Zedekiah (see Jer. 52:10; Omni 1:12-15; Hel. 8:21), and
King Limhi's messengers found a record of the extinct Jaredites, the
Nephites learned that they were not the only people God had brought to
the Western Hemisphere.
After the appearance of Jesus Christ, the Nephites and Lamanites
enjoyed peace for more than 160 years (4 Ne. 1:18-24). Then, many who
had been righteous broke their covenants with God, and the Church and
their civilization began to collapse. At last, in A.D. 385, the few
remaining Nephites were hunted and killed by Lamanites. The book ends
with Moroni, the last Nephite, writing to the people of modern times,
admonishing them to "come unto Christ, and be perfected in him" (Moro.
MODERN APPLICATIONS. Latter-day Saints embrace the Book of Mormon as a
record for all people. In addition to instructing their contemporaries
and descendants, the prophets who wrote these ancient records foresaw
modern conditions and selected lessons needed to meet the challenges of
this world (Morm. 8:34-35). Their book is a record of a fallen people,
urging all people to live righteously and prevent a similar fall today.
The Book of Mormon has had a profound effect on the Church and its
members. It is so fundamental that Joseph Smith said, "Take away the
Book of Mormon and the revelations and where is our religion? We have
none" (TPJS, p. 71).
The Book of Mormon teaches that the living God has spoken to several
peoples throughout the earth who have written sacred records as he has
commanded (2 Ne. 29:11-12). The Book of Mormon is one such record.
It also stands as evidence to Latter-day Saints that God restored his
true and living Church through Joseph Smith. The importance of this
belief for Latter-day Saints cannot be overestimated, for they are
confident that God watches over the people of the earth and loves them,
and that he continues to speak to them through contemporary prophets
who apply unchanging gospel principles to today's challenges.
The Book of Mormon also is important to Latter-day Saints as an aid in
understanding the Bible and the will of God. Nephi prophesied that many
"plain and precious" truths and covenants would be taken from the
gospel and the Bible after the deaths of the apostles (1 Ne. 13:26-27).
Many questions that have arisen from the Bible are answered for
Latter-day Saints by the Book of Mormon, such as the mode of and
reasons for baptism (2 Ne. 31; 3 Ne. 11:23-26); the proper way to
administer the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper (Moro. 4-5); the nature
of the Resurrection (Alma 40); the effects of the Fall of Adam, and the
reasons for evil and suffering in the world (2 Ne. 2). The Book of
Mormon reinforces the LDS doctrine that the gospel of Jesus Christ
existed before the Creation and has been revealed to prophets and
believers throughout time.
Also sacred to Latter-day Saints is the Book of Mormon as a tutor in
discerning the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Many Latter-day Saints,
including those born into LDS families, trace their conversion to Jesus
Christ and their commitment toward the Church to prayerful study of the
Book of Mormon, and through it they learn to recognize the Holy Spirit.
Thus, the book becomes a continuing symbol of personal revelation and
of God's love for and attention to the needs of each person. It also
declares that all mankind will be judged by its precepts and
commandments (Mosiah 3:24; Moro. 10:27; see Judgment). It is evidence
that God remembers every creature he has created (Mosiah 27:30) and
every covenant he has made (1 Ne. 19:15; 3 Ne. 16:11). The Book of
Mormon is the base from which millions have begun a personal journey of
spiritual growth and of service to others.
For LDS children, the Book of Mormon is a source of stories and heroes
to equal those of the Bible—Joseph in Egypt, Daniel in the lions' den,
the faithful Ruth, and brave Queen Esther. They tell and sing with
enthusiasm about the army of faithful young men led by Helaman1 (Alma
56:41-50); of the prophet Abinadi's courage before wicked King Noah
(Mosiah 11-17); of Nephi and his unwavering faithfulness (1 Ne. 3- 18);
of Abish, a Lamanite woman who for many years appears to be the lone
believer in Christ in King Lamoni's court until the missionary Ammon
taught the gospel to the king and queen (Alma 19); and of Jesus'
appearances to the Nephites (3 Ne. 11- 28). There are many favorites.
The book is used to teach children doctrines, provide examples of the
Christlike life, and remind them of God's great love and hope for all
The book is central to missionary work. It is the Church's most
important missionary tool and is destined to go to every nation,
kindred, tongue, and people (Rev. 14:6-7). All LDS missionaries
encourage those they contact to read and pray about the book as a means
of receiving their own testimony from God about the truthfulness of the
Book of Mormon, a witness of Jesus Christ.
Latter-day Saints are regularly admonished to make fuller use of the
Book of Mormon. In 1832, two and one-half years after the book was
published, the word of the Lord warned the Saints that they had treated
the revelations too lightly and had neglected to "remember the new
covenant, even the Book of Mormon" (D&C 84:57). Church leaders
repeatedly encourage members to make the Book of Mormon a greater part
of their lives. President Ezra Taft Benson has counseled Latter-day
Saints to read the book daily and to share it and the gospel message
with all the world.
READING THE BOOK OF MORMON. This sacred record asks the reader to
approach its words with faith and prayer. One of its teachings is that
readers will "receive no witness until after the trial of [their]
faith" (Ether 12:6). Therefore, although aspects of the book may seem
unusual or improbable at first, it invites its readers to entertain
them as possibilities until the whole picture becomes clear and other
feelings are experienced and thoughts considered. Moreover, the final
inscription of Moroni2 on the title page asks readers to look beyond
human weaknesses in the book: "If there are faults they are the
mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God." He closed
his own book within the Book of Mormon by exhorting all who receive
these things to ask God, with a sincere heart and with real intent,
having faith in Christ, if they are not true, and promises that God
will manifest the truth of it (Moro. 10:4).
Latter-day Saints of all ages and interests find rewards in reading the
Book of Mormon. At first, people tend to focus attention on its main
messages and story lines. With further reading and pondering, they
discover numerous themes, meaningful nuances, interesting details, and
profound spiritual expressions.
The first-time reader may find the Book of Mormon difficult at times.
Its style, as translated into English, is somewhat similar to that of
the King James Version of the Bible, and the reader who is not familiar
with the Bible will encounter some unfamiliar word usages. The 1981
edition of the Book of Mormon is annotated with many Bible references
and aids to facilitate a more detailed comparison.
Book of Mormon prophets Nephi, Jacob, and Abinadi quote extensively
from Isaiah (see, e.g., 2 Ne. 6-8 [Isa. 49-51]; 2 Ne. 12-24 [Isa.
2-14]; Mosiah 14 [Isa. 53]), an Old Testament prophet whose poetic
style and allusions have challenged readers of the Bible and also have
proved difficult to many who study the Book of Mormon. Initially, some
Church leaders encourage first-time readers to move through these
chapters, understanding what is accessible and saving the rest for
later study. In Isaiah's writings, Latter-day Saints find an important
testimony of Christ and of the fulfillment of God's covenants with the
house of Israel. Christ admonished his followers to "search these
things diligently, for great are the words of Isaiah" (3 Ne. 23:11).
Another possible hurdle for readers is the book's nonchronological
insertions. Nephi and Jacob and Jacob's descendants wrote first-person
accounts from about 590 B.C. until about 150 B.C., and then Mormon
(about A.D. 385) inserted a shorter chapter to explain his role as
abridger of another record. Then the reader is returned via Mormon's
abridgment to the history of Nephi's successors and of the descendants
of Alma1. As groups of people break away from and return to the main
body, parts of their records are incorporated into the book, causing
the reader to jump back to earlier events. Likewise, Moroni's
abridgment of the very ancient book of Ether appears out of
chronological order near the end. In addition, the Book of Mormon, like
the Old Testament, describes events from widely separated intervals. As
an abridgment, it contains only a small part of the proceedings of
these ancient peoples.
APPROACHING THE TEXT. The arrangement of the Book of Mormon lends
itself to many approaches. Three mutually supportive avenues are most
often followed. First, the book serves as a source of guidance and
doctrine, yielding lessons and wisdom applicable to contemporary life.
This approach is recommended in the writings of Nephi, who wrote that
he "did liken the scriptures unto [his people], that it might be for
[their] profit and learning" (1 Ne. 19:23). Latter-day Saints find its
pages rich with ennobling narratives, clear doctrines, eternal truths,
memorable sayings, and principles. Knowing the conditions of the latter
days, the ancient prophets periodically address the individual reader
directly. Latter-day Saints emphasize the need to read the Book of
Mormon prayerfully, with faith in God, to benefit personally from its
teachings and to come unto Christ.
A second approach to the Book of Mormon, adding historical dimension to
the first approach, is to study the book as an ancient text. The reader
who accepts the Book of Mormon as an ancient Hebrew lineage history
written by prophets in the New World will find the book consistent with
that description and setting. The book is a repository of ancient
cultures that are as far removed from modern readers as are those of
the Old and New Testaments. Continuing research has found Hebrew poetic
forms, rhetorical patterns, and idioms, together with many Mesoamerican
symbols, traditions, and artifacts, to be implicit in the book or
consistent with it.
Finally, one may enjoy the Book of Mormon as a work of literature.
Although the style may seem tedious or repetitive at times, there are
order, purpose, and clarity in its language. Its words are often as
beautiful and as memorable as passages in the Psalms, the Gospel of
John, and other notable religious works of prose and poetry.
Most faithful readers of the Book of Mormon, however, do not define or
limit themselves to any single approach or methodology, for these
approaches are all transcended by the overriding implications of the
book's divine origins and eternal purposes. Study and faith, reflection
and application, all help a person know and comprehend the messages of
the Book of Mormon. But for millions of Latter-day Saints, their most
important experience with the Book of Mormon has been the spiritual
knowledge that they have received of its truth. It has changed and
enriched their lives and has brought Jesus Christ and his teachings
closer to them.
(See Basic Beliefs home page; Book of Mormon home page; Overview of the
Book of Mormon home page)
Benson, Ezra Taft. A Witness and a Warning. Salt Lake City, 1988.
Downs, Robert B. Books That Changed America. London, 1970.
Faust, James E. "The Keystone of Our Religion." Ensign 13 (Nov. 1983):9.
Nibley, Hugh W. "The Mormon View of the Book of Mormon." Concilium 10
(Dec. 1967):82-83; reprinted, CWHN 8:259-64.