The Book of Mormon is a sacred text of the Latter Day Saint movement, which adherents believe contains writings of ancient prophets who lived on the American continent from approximately 2200 BC to AD 421. It was first published in March 1830 by Joseph Smith as The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi.
According to Smith's account and the book's narrative, the Book of Mormon was originally written in otherwise unknown characters referred to as "reformed Egyptian" engraved on golden plates. Smith said that the last prophet to contribute to the book, a man named Moroni, buried it in the Hill Cumorah in present-day Manchester, New York before his death, and then returned to Earth in 1827 as an angel, revealing the location of the plates to Smith, and instructing him to translate the plates into English for use in the restoration of Christ's true church in the latter days. Critics claim that it was authored by Smith, drawing on material and ideas from contemporary 19th-century works rather than translating an ancient record.
The Book of Mormon has a number of original and distinctive doctrinal discussions on subjects such as the fall of Adam and Eve, the nature of the Christian atonement, eschatology, redemption from physical and spiritual death, and the organization of the latter-day church. The pivotal event of the book is an appearance of Jesus Christ in the Americas shortly after his resurrection.
The Book of Mormon is the earliest of the unique writings of the Latter-day Saint movement, the denominations of which typically regard the text primarily as scripture, and secondarily as a historical record of God's dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas. The archaeological, historical and scientific communities generally reject the claims that the Book of Mormon is an ancient record of actual historical events.
The Book of Mormon is divided into smaller books, titled after the individuals named as primary authors and, in most versions, divided into chapters and verses. It is written in English very similar to the Early Modern English linguistic style of the King James Version of the Bible, and has since been fully or partially translated into 108 languages. As of 2011, more than 150 million copies of the Book of Mormon had been published.
According to Joseph Smith, he was seventeen years of age when an angel of God named Moroni appeared to him and said that a collection of ancient writings was buried in a nearby hill in present-day Wayne County, New York, engraved on golden plates by ancient prophets. The writings were said to describe a people whom God had led from Jerusalem to the Western hemisphere 600 years before Jesus' birth. According to the narrative, Moroni was the last prophet among these people and had buried the record, which God had promised to bring forth in the latter days. Smith stated that this vision occurred on the evening of September 21, 1823 and that on the following day, via divine guidance, he located the burial location of the plates on this hill; was instructed by Moroni to meet him at the same hill on September 22 of the following year to receive further instructions; and that, in four years from this date, the time would arrive for "bringing them forth", i.e., translating them. Smith's description of these events recounts that he was allowed to take the plates on September 22, 1827, exactly four years from that date, and was directed to translate them into English.
Accounts vary of the way in which Smith dictated the Book of Mormon. Smith himself implied that he read the plates directly using spectacles prepared for the purpose of translating. Other accounts variously state that he used one or more seer stones placed in a top hat. Both the special spectacles and the seer stone were at times referred to as the "Urim and Thummim". During the translating process itself, Smith sometimes separated himself from his scribe with a blanket between them. Additionally, the plates were not always present during the translating process, and when present, they were always covered up.:42
Smith's first published description of the plates said that the plates "had the appearance of gold". They were described by Martin Harris, one of Smith's early scribes, as "fastened together in the shape of a book by wires." Smith called the engraved writing on the plates "reformed Egyptian". A portion of the text on the plates was also "sealed" according to his account, so its content was not included in the Book of Mormon.
In addition to Smith's account regarding the plates, eleven others stated that they saw the golden plates and, in some cases, handled them. Their written testimonies are known as the Testimony of Three Witnesses and the Testimony of Eight Witnesses. These statements have been published in most editions of the Book of Mormon.
Smith enlisted his neighbor Martin Harris as a scribe during his initial work on the text. (Harris later mortgaged his farm to underwrite the printing of the Book of Mormon.) In 1828, Harris, prompted by his wife Lucy Harris, repeatedly requested that Smith lend him the current pages that had been translated. Smith reluctantly acceded to Harris's requests. Lucy Harris is thought to have stolen the first 116 pages. After the loss, Smith recorded that he had lost the ability to translate, and that Moroni had taken back the plates to be returned only after Smith repented. Smith later stated that God allowed him to resume translation, but directed that he begin translating another part of the plates (in what is now called the Book of Mosiah). In 1829, work resumed on the Book of Mormon, with the assistance of Oliver Cowdery, and was completed in a short period (April–June 1829). Smith said that he then returned the plates to Moroni upon the publication of the book. The Book of Mormon went on sale at the bookstore of E. B. Grandin in Palmyra, New York on March 26, 1830. Today, the building in which the Book of Mormon was first published and sold is known as the Book of Mormon Historic Publication Site.
Since its first publication and distribution, critics of the Book of Mormon have claimed that it was fabricated by Smith and that he drew material and ideas from various sources rather than translating an ancient record. Works that have been suggested as sources include the King James Bible, The Wonders of Nature, View of the Hebrews, and an unpublished manuscript written by Solomon Spalding. FairMormon maintains that all of these theories have been disproved and discredited, arguing that both Mormon and non-Mormon historians have found serious flaws in their research. The position of most adherents of the Latter Day Saint movement and the official position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) is that the book is an accurate historical record.
Smith said the title page, and presumably the actual title of the 1830 edition, came from the translation of "the very last leaf" of the golden plates, and was written by the prophet-historian Moroni. The title page states that the purpose of the Book of Mormon is "to [show] unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; ... and also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations."
The Book of Mormon is organized as a compilation of smaller books, each named after its main named narrator or a prominent leader, beginning with the First Book of Nephi (1 Nephi) and ending with the Book of Moroni.
The book's sequence is primarily chronological based on the narrative content of the book. Exceptions include the Words of Mormon and the Book of Ether. The Words of Mormon contains editorial commentary by Mormon. The Book of Ether is presented as the narrative of an earlier group of people who had come to America before the immigration described in 1 Nephi. First Nephi through Omni are written in first-person narrative, as are Mormon and Moroni. The remainder of the Book of Mormon is written in third-person historical narrative, said to be compiled and abridged by Mormon (with Moroni abridging the Book of Ether).
Most modern editions of the book have been divided into chapters and verses. Most editions of the book also contain supplementary material, including the "Testimony of Three Witnesses" and the "Testimony of Eight Witnesses".
The books from First Nephi to Omni are described as being from "the small plates of Nephi". This account begins in ancient Jerusalem around 600 BC. It tells the story of a man named Lehi, his family, and several others as they are led by God from Jerusalem shortly before the fall of that city to the Babylonians in 586 BC. The book describes their journey across the Arabian peninsula, and then to the promised land, the Americas, by ship. These books recount the group's dealings from approximately 600 BC to about 130 BC, during which time the community grew and split into two main groups, which are called the Nephites and the Lamanites, that frequently warred with each other.
Following this section is the Words of Mormon. This small book, said to be written in AD 385 by Mormon, is a short introduction to the books of Mosiah, Alma, Helaman, Third Nephi, and Fourth Nephi. These books are described as being abridged from a large quantity of existing records called "the large plates of Nephi" that detailed the people's history from the time of Omni to Mormon's own life. The Book of Third Nephi is of particular importance within the Book of Mormon because it contains an account of a visit by Jesus from heaven to the Americas sometime after his resurrection and ascension. The text says that during this American visit, he repeated much of the same doctrine and instruction given in the Gospels of the Bible and he established an enlightened, peaceful society which endured for several generations, but which eventually broke into warring factions again.
The portion of the greater Book of Mormon called the Book of Mormon is an account of the events during Mormon's life. Mormon is said to have received the charge of taking care of the records that had been hidden, once he was old enough. The book includes an account of the wars, Mormon's leading of portions of the Nephite army, and his retrieving and caring for the records. Mormon is eventually killed after having handed down the records to his son Moroni.
According to the text, Moroni then made an abridgment (called the Book of Ether) of a record from a previous people called the Jaredites. The account describes a group of families led from the Tower of Babel to the Americas, headed by a man named Jared and his brother. The Jaredite civilization is presented as existing on the American continent beginning about 2500 BC,—long before Lehi's family arrived shortly after 600 BC—and as being much larger and more developed.
The Book of Moroni then details the final destruction of the Nephites and the idolatrous state of the remaining society. It also includes significant doctrinal teachings and closes with Moroni's testimony and an invitation to pray to God for a confirmation of the truthfulness of the account.
The Book of Mormon contains doctrinal and philosophical teachings on a wide range of topics, from basic themes of Christianity and Judaism to political and ideological teachings. Jesus is mentioned every 1.7 verses and is referred to by one hundred different names.
Stated on the title page, the Book of Mormon's central purpose is for the "convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations."
The book describes Jesus, prior to his birth, as a spirit "without flesh and blood", although with a spirit "body" that looked similar to how Jesus would appear during his physical life. Jesus is described as "the Father and the Son". He is said to be: "God himself [who] shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people ... [b]eing the Father and the Son—the Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son—and they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth." Other parts of the book portray the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost as "one." As a result, beliefs among the churches of the Latter Day Saint movement encompass nontrinitarianism (in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) to trinitarianism (particularly among the Community of Christ). See Godhead (Latter Day Saints).
In furtherance of its theme of reconciling Jews and Gentiles to Jesus, the book describes a variety of visions or visitations to some early inhabitants in the Americas involving Jesus. Most notable among these is a described visit of Jesus to a group of early inhabitants shortly after his resurrection. Many of the book's contributors described other visions of Jesus, including one by the Brother of Jared who, according to the book, lived before Jesus, and saw the "body" of Jesus' spirit thousands of years prior to his birth. According to the book, a narrator named Nephi described a vision of the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus, including a prophecy of Jesus' name, said to have taken place nearly 600 years prior to Jesus' birth.
In the narrative, at the time of King Benjamin (about 130 BC), the Nephite believers were called "the children of Christ". At another place, the faithful members of the church at the time of Captain Moroni (73 BC) were called "Christians" by their enemies, because of their belief in Jesus Christ. The book also states that for nearly 200 years after Jesus' appearance at the temple in the Americas the land was filled with peace and prosperity because of the people's obedience to his commandments. Later, the prophet Mormon worked to convince the faithless people of his time (AD 360) of Christ. Many other prophets in the book write of the reality of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
In the Bible, Jesus spoke to the Jews in Jerusalem of "other sheep" who would hear his voice. The Book of Mormon claims this meant that the Nephites and other remnants of the lost tribes of Israel throughout the world were to be visited by Jesus after his resurrection.
The book delves into political theology within a Christian or Jewish context. Among these themes are American exceptionalism. According to the book, the Americas are portrayed as a "land of promise", the world's most exceptional land of the time. The book states that any righteous society possessing the land would be protected, whereas if they became wicked they would be destroyed and replaced with a more righteous civilization.
On the issue of war and violence, the book teaches that war is justified for people to "defend themselves against their enemies". However, they were never to "give an offense," or to "raise their sword ... except it were to preserve their lives." The book praises the faith of a group of former warriors who took an oath of complete pacifism, refusing to take arms even to defend themselves and their people. However, 2,000 of their descendants, who had not taken the oath of their parents not to take up arms against their enemies, chose to go to battle against the Lamanites, and it states that in their battles the 2,000 men were protected by God through their faith and, though many were injured, none of them died.
The book recommends monarchy as an ideal form of government, but only when the monarch is righteous. The book warns of the evil that occurs when the king is wicked, and therefore suggests that it is not generally good to have a king. The book further records the decision of the people to be ruled no longer by kings, choosing instead a form of democracy led by elected judges. When citizens referred to as "king-men" attempted to overthrow a democratically elected government and establish an unrighteous king, the book praises a military commander who executed pro-monarchy citizens who had vowed to destroy the church of God and were unwilling to defend their country from hostile invading forces. The book also speaks favorably of a particular instance of what appears to be a peaceful Christ-centered theocracy, which lasted approximately 194 years before contentions began again.
The book supports notions of economic justice, achieved through voluntary donation of "substance, every man according to that which he had, to the poor." In one case, all the citizens held their property in common. When individuals within a society began to disdain and ignore the poor, to "wear costly apparel", and otherwise engage in wickedness for personal gain, such societies are repeatedly portrayed in the book as being ripe for destruction.
Joseph Smith characterized the Book of Mormon as the "keystone" of Mormonism, and claimed that it was "the most correct of any book on earth". Smith produced a written revelation in 1832 that condemned the "whole church" for treating the Book of Mormon lightly.
The Book of Mormon is one of four sacred texts or standard works of the LDS Church. Church leaders have frequently restated Smith's claims of the book's significance to the faith. Church members believe that the Book of Mormon is more correct than the Bible because the Bible was the result of a multiple-generation translation process and the Book of Mormon was not.
For most of the history of the LDS Church, the Book of Mormon was not used as much as other books of scripture such as the New Testament and the Doctrine and Covenants. This changed in the 1980s when efforts were made to reemphasize the Book of Mormon. As part of this effort, a new edition was printed with the added subtitle "Another Testament of Jesus Christ".
The importance of the Book of Mormon was a focus of Ezra Taft Benson, the church's thirteenth president. Benson stated that the church was still under condemnation for treating the Book of Mormon lightly. In an August 2005 message, LDS Church president Gordon B. Hinckley challenged each member of the church to re-read the Book of Mormon before the year's end. The book's importance is commonly stressed at the twice-yearly general conference, at special devotionals by general authorities, and in the church's teaching publications. Since the late 1980s, church members have been encouraged to read from the Book of Mormon daily.
The LDS Church encourages discovery of the book's truth by following the suggestion in its final chapter to study, ponder, and pray to God concerning its veracity. This passage is sometimes referred to as "Moroni's Promise". As of April 2011, the LDS Church has published more than 150 million copies of the Book of Mormon.
The Community of Christ, formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, views the Book of Mormon as an additional witness of Jesus Christ and publishes two versions of the book through its official publishing arm, Herald House: the Authorized Edition, which is based on the original printer's manuscript, and the 1837 Second Edition (or "Kirtland Edition") of the Book of Mormon. Its content is similar to the Book of Mormon published by the LDS Church, but the versification is different. The Community of Christ also publishes a 1966 "Revised Authorized Edition", which attempts to modernize some language.
In 2001, Community of Christ President W. Grant McMurray reflected on increasing questions about the Book of Mormon: "The proper use of The Book of Mormon as sacred scripture has been under wide discussion in the 1970s and beyond, in part because of long-standing questions about its historical authenticity and in part because of perceived theological inadequacies, including matters of race and ethnicity."
At the 2007 Community of Christ World Conference, President Stephen M. Veazey ruled out-of-order a resolution to "reaffirm the Book of Mormon as a divinely inspired record." He stated that "while the Church affirms the Book of Mormon as scripture, and makes it available for study and use in various languages, we do not attempt to mandate the degree of belief or use. This position is in keeping with our longstanding tradition that belief in the Book of Mormon is not to be used as a test of fellowship or membership in the church."
There are a number of other churches that are part of the Latter Day Saint movement. Most of these churches were created as a result of issues ranging from differing doctrinal interpretations and acceptance of the movement's scriptures, including the Book of Mormon, to disagreements as to who was the divinely chosen successor to Joseph Smith. These groups all have in common the acceptance of the Book of Mormon as scripture. It is this acceptance which distinguishes the churches of the Latter Day Saint movement from other Christian denominations. Separate editions of the Book of Mormon have been published by a number of churches in the Latter Day Saint movement, along with private individuals and foundations not endorsed by any specific denomination.
The archaeological, historical and scientific communities do not consider the Book of Mormon an ancient record of actual historical events. Their skepticism tends to focus on four main areas:
Most adherents of the Latter Day Saint movement consider the Book of Mormon to generally be a historically accurate account. Within the Latter Day Saint movement there are several apologetic groups that disagree with the skeptics and seek to reconcile the discrepancies in diverse ways. Among these apologetic groups, much work has been published by Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), and Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research (FAIR), defending the Book of Mormon as a literal history, countering arguments critical of its historical authenticity, or reconciling historical and scientific evidence with the text. One of the more common recent arguments is the limited geography model, which states that the people of the Book of Mormon covered only a limited geographical region in either Mesoamerica, South America, or the Great Lakes area. The LDS Church has published material indicating that science will support the historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon.
The first completed manuscript, called the original manuscript, was completed using a variety of scribes. Portions of the original manuscript were also used for typesetting. In October 1841, the entire original manuscript was placed into the cornerstone of the Nauvoo House, and sealed up until nearly forty years later when the cornerstone was reopened. It was then discovered that much of the original manuscript had been destroyed by water seepage and mold. Surviving manuscript pages were handed out to various families and individuals in the 1880s.
Only 28 percent of the original manuscript now survives, including a remarkable find of fragments from 58 pages in 1991. The majority of what remains of the original manuscript is now kept in the LDS Church's Archives.
The second completed manuscript, called the printer's manuscript, was a copy of the original manuscript produced by Oliver Cowdery and two other scribes. It is at this point that initial copyediting of the Book of Mormon was completed. Observations of the original manuscript show little evidence of corrections to the text. Shortly before his death in 1850, Cowdery gave the printer's manuscript to David Whitmer, another of the Three Witnesses. In 1903, the manuscript was bought from Whitmer's grandson by the Community of Christ, known at the time as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On September 20, 2017, the LDS Church purchased the manuscript from the Community of Christ at a reported price of $35 million. The printer's manuscript is now the earliest surviving complete copy of the Book of Mormon, being nearly 100 percent extant. The manuscript was imaged in 1923 and was recently made available for viewing online.
Critical comparisons between surviving portions of the manuscripts show an average of two to three changes per page from the original manuscript to the printer's manuscript, with most changes being corrections of scribal errors such as misspellings or the correction, or standardization, of grammar inconsequential to the meaning of the text. The printer's manuscript was further edited, adding paragraphing and punctuation to the first third of the text.
The printer's manuscript was not used fully in the typesetting of the 1830 version of Book of Mormon; portions of the original manuscript were also used for typesetting. The original manuscript was used by Smith to further correct errors printed in the 1830 and 1837 versions of the Book of Mormon for the 1840 printing of the book.
In the late 19th century the extant portion of the printer's manuscript remained with the family of David Whitmer, who had been a principal founder of the Latter Day Saints and who, by the 1870s, led the Church of Christ (Whitmerite). During the 1870s, according to the Chicago Tribune, the LDS Church unsuccessfully attempted to buy it from Whitmer for a record price. LDS president Joseph F. Smith refuted this assertion in a 1901 letter, believing such a manuscript "possesses no value whatever." In 1895, David Whitmer's grandson George Schweich inherited the manuscript. By 1903 Schweich had mortgaged the manuscript for $1,800 and, needing to raise at least that sum, sold a collection including 72-percent of the Book of the original printer's manuscript (John Whitmer’s manuscript history, parts of Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible, manuscript copies of several revelations, and a piece of paper containing copied Book of Mormon characters) to the RLDS church (now the Community of Christ) for $2,450, with $2,300 of this amount for the printer's manuscript. The LDS Church had not sought to purchase the manuscript.
In 2015 this remaining portion was published by the Church Historian's Press in its Joseph Smith Papers series, in Volume Three of "Revelations and Translations"; and, in 2017, the LDS Church bought the printer's manuscript for US$35,000,000.
The original 1830 publication did not have verse markers, although the individual books were divided into relatively long chapters. Just as the Bible's present chapter and verse notation system is a later addition of Bible publishers to books that were originally solid blocks of undivided text, the chapter and verse markers within the books of the Book of Mormon are conventions, not part of the original text.
Publishers from different factions of the Latter Day Saint movement have published different chapter and verse notation systems. The two most significant are the LDS system, introduced in 1879, and the RLDS system, which is based on the original 1830 chapter divisions.
The RLDS 1908 edition, RLDS 1966 edition, the Church of Christ (Temple Lot) edition, and Restored Covenant editions use the RLDS system while most other current editions use the LDS system.
The Book of Mormon is currently printed by the following publishers:
|Church publishers||Year||Titles and notes||Link|
|The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints||1981||The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. New introductions, chapter summaries, and footnotes. 1920 edition errors corrected based on original manuscript and 1840 edition. Updated in a revised edition in 2013.||link|
|Community of Christ||1966||"Revised Authorized Version", based on 1908 Authorized Version, 1837 edition and original manuscript. Notable for the omission of repetitive "it came to pass" phrases.|
|The Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonite)||2001||Compiled by a committee of Apostles. It uses the chapter and verse designations from the 1879 LDS version.|
|Richard Drew||1992||Photo-enlarged facsimile of the 1840 edition|
|Church of Christ (Temple Lot)||1990||Based on 1908 RLDS edition, 1830 edition, printer's manuscript, and corrections by church leaders.||link|
|Church of Christ with the Elijah Message||1957||The Record of the Nephites, "Restored Palmyra Edition". 1830 text with 1879 LDS chapters and verses.||link|
|Other publishers||Year||Titles and notes||Link|
|Herald Heritage||1970||Facsimile of the 1830 edition.|
|Zarahemla Research Foundation||1999||The Book of Mormon: Restored Covenant Edition. Text from Original and Printer's Manuscripts, in poetic layout.||link|
|Bookcraft||1999||The Book of Mormon for Latter-day Saint Families. Large print with numerous visuals and explanatory notes.|
|University of Illinois Press||2003||The Book of Mormon: A Reader's Edition. Based on the 1920 LDS edition.||link|
|Doubleday||2006 ||The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Text from the current LDS edition without footnotes. First Doubleday edition was in 2004.|
|Experience Press||2006||Reset type matching the original 1830 edition in word, line and page. Fixed typographical errors.|
|Stratford Books||2006||Facsimile reprint of 1830 edition.|
|Penguin Classics||2008||Paperback with 1840 text.||link|
|Yale University Press||2009||The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text. Joseph Smith's dictated text with hundreds of corrections from Royal Skousen's study of the original and printer's manuscripts.||link|
The following non-current editions marked major developments in the text or reader's helps printed in the Book of Mormon.
|Publisher||Year||Titles and notes||Link|
|E. B. Grandin||1830||"First edition" in Palmyra. Based on printer's manuscript copied from original manuscript.||link|
|Pratt and Goodson||1837||"Second edition" in Kirtland. Revision of first edition, using the printer's manuscript with emendations and grammatical corrections.|
|Robinson and Smith||1840||"Third edition" in Nauvoo. Revised by Joseph Smith in comparison to the original manuscript.||link|
|Young, Kimball and Pratt||1841||"First European edition". 1837 reprint with British spellings. Future LDS Church editions descended from this, not the 1840 edition.|
|Franklin D. Richards||1852||"Third European edition". Edited by Richards. Introduced primitive verses (numbered paragraphs).||link|
|James O. Wright||1858||Unauthorized reprinting of 1840 edition. Used by the early RLDS Church in 1860s.||link|
|Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints||1874||First RLDS edition. 1840 text with verses.||link|
|Deseret News||1879||Edited by Orson Pratt. Introduced footnotes, new verses, and shorter chapters.||link|
|Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints||1908||"Authorized Version". New verses and corrections based on printer's manuscript.||link|
|The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints||1920||Edited by James E. Talmage. Added introductions, double columns, chapter summaries, new footnotes, pronunciation guide.||link|
The following versions are published online:
|Online editions||Year||Description and notes||Link|
|LDS Church internet edition||2013||Official Internet edition of the Book of Mormon for the LDS Church.||link|
|LDS Church audio edition||1994||Official LDS version of the Book of Mormon in mp3 audio format, 32 kbit/s||link|
Although some earlier unpublished studies had been prepared, not until the early 1970s was true textual criticism applied to the Book of Mormon. At that time BYU Professor Ellis Rasmussen and his associates were asked by the LDS Church to begin preparation for a new edition of the Holy Scriptures. One aspect of that effort entailed digitizing the text and preparing appropriate footnotes, another aspect required establishing the most dependable text. To that latter end, Stanley R. Larson (a Rasmussen graduate student) set about applying modern text critical standards to the manuscripts and early editions of the Book of Mormon as his thesis project—which he completed in 1974. To that end, Larson carefully examined the Original Manuscript (the one dictated by Joseph Smith to his scribes) and the Printer's Manuscript (the copy Oliver Cowdery prepared for the Printer in 1829–1830), and compared them with the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd editions of the Book of Mormon to determine what sort of changes had occurred over time and to make judgments as to which readings were the most original. Larson proceeded to publish a useful set of well-argued articles on the phenomena which he had discovered. Many of his observations were included as improvements in the 1981 LDS edition of the Book of Mormon.
By 1979, with the establishment of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) as a California non-profit research institution, an effort led by Robert F. Smith began to take full account of Larson's work and to publish a Critical Text of the Book of Mormon. Thus was born the FARMS Critical Text Project which published the first volume of the 3-volume Book of Mormon Critical Text in 1984. The third volume of that first edition was published in 1987, but was already being superseded by a second, revised edition of the entire work, greatly aided through the advice and assistance of then Yale doctoral candidate Grant Hardy, Dr. Gordon C. Thomasson, Professor John W. Welch (the head of FARMS), Professor Royal Skousen, and others too numerous to mention here. However, these were merely preliminary steps to a far more exacting and all-encompassing project.
In 1988, with that preliminary phase of the project completed, Professor Skousen took over as editor and head of the FARMS Critical Text of the Book of Mormon Project and proceeded to gather still scattered fragments of the Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon and to have advanced photographic techniques applied to obtain fine readings from otherwise unreadable pages and fragments. He also closely examined the Printer's Manuscript (then owned by the Community of Christ—RLDS Church in Independence, Missouri) for differences in types of ink or pencil, in order to determine when and by whom they were made. He also collated the various editions of the Book of Mormon down to the present to see what sorts of changes have been made through time.
Thus far, Professor Skousen has published complete transcripts of the Original and Printer's Manuscripts, as well as a six-volume analysis of textual variants. Still in preparation are a history of the text, and a complete electronic collation of editions and manuscripts (volumes 3 and 5 of the Project, respectively). Yale University has in the meantime published an edition of the Book of Mormon which incorporates all aspects of Skousen's research.
Differences between the original and printer's manuscript, the 1830 printed version, and modern versions of the Book of Mormon have led some critics to claim that evidence has been systematically removed that could have proven that Smith fabricated the Book of Mormon, or are attempts to hide embarrassing aspects of the church's past with Mormon scholars viewing the changes as superficial, done to clarify the meaning of the text.
The LDS version of the Book of Mormon has been translated into 83 languages and selections have been translated into an additional 25 languages. In 2001, the LDS Church reported that all or part of the Book of Mormon was available in the native language of 99 percent of Latter-day Saints and 87 percent of the world's total population.
Translations into languages without a tradition of writing (e.g., Kaqchikel, Tzotzil) are available on audio cassette. Translations into American Sign Language are available on videocassette and DVD.
Typically, translators are members of the LDS Church who are employed by the church and translate the text from the original English. Each manuscript is reviewed several times before it is approved and published.
In 1998, the LDS Church stopped translating selections from the Book of Mormon, and instead announced that each new translation it approves will be a full edition.
Events of the Book of Mormon are the focus of several LDS Church films, including The Life of Nephi (1915), How Rare a Possession (1987) and The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd (2000). Such films in LDS cinema (i.e., films not officially commissioned by the LDS Church) include The Book of Mormon Movie, Vol. 1: The Journey (2003) and Passage to Zarahemla (2007).
In 2011, a long-running religious satire musical titled The Book of Mormon, by the South Park creators, premiered on Broadway, winning 9 Tony Awards, including best musical. Its London production won the Olivier Award for best musical.
The LDS Church, which distributes free copies of the Book of Mormon, reported in 2011 that 150 million copies of the book have been printed since its initial publication.
The Book of Mormon has occasionally been analyzed in a non-religious context for its literary merits.
The author labored to give his words and phrases the quaint, old-fashioned sound and structure of our King James's translation of the Scriptures; and the result is a mongrel -- half modern glibness, and half ancient simplicity and gravity. The latter is awkward and constrained; the former natural, but grotesque by the contrast. Whenever he found his speech growing too modern -- which was about every sentence or two -- he ladled in a few such Scriptural phrases as "exceeding sore," "and it came to pass," etc., and made things satisfactory again. "And it came to pass" was his pet. If he had left that out, his Bible would have been only a pamphlet.
Terryl Givens wrote, "Searching for literary wonders in the Book of Mormon is a bit like seeking lyrical inspiration in the books of Chronicles or Judges." Grant Hardy wrote, "If the primary purpose of the Book of Mormon were to function as a sign—as tangible evidence that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God—that mission could have been accomplished much more concisely."
True or not, the Book of Mormon is a powerful epic written on a grand scale with a host of characters, a narrative of human struggle and conflict, of divine intervention, heroic good and atrocious evil, of prophecy, morality, and law. Its narrative structure is complex. The idiom is that of the King James Version, which most Americans assumed to be appropriate for divine revelation.... The Book of Mormon should rank among the great achievements of American literature, but it has never been accorded the status it deserves, since Mormons deny Joseph Smith's authorship, and non-Mormons, dismissing the work as a fraud, have been more likely to riducule than to read it.— Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848, Pg. 314
You should know also that by recent decision of the Brethren the Book of Mormon will henceforth bear the title 'The Book of Mormon,' with the subtitle 'Another Testament of Jesus Christ.'
The Angel Moroni () is an angel stated by Joseph Smith to have visited him on numerous occasions, beginning on September 21, 1823. According to Smith, the angel was the guardian of the golden plates, which Latter Day Saints believe are the source material for the Book of Mormon, buried in the hill Cumorah near Smith's home in western New York. An important figure in the theology of the Latter Day Saint movement, Moroni is featured prominently in Mormon architecture and art. Besides Smith, the Three Witnesses and several other witnesses also reported that they saw Moroni in visions in 1829.
Moroni is thought by Latter Day Saints to be the same person as a Book of Mormon prophet-warrior named Moroni, who was the last to write in the golden plates. The book states that Moroni buried them before he died after a great battle between two pre-Columbian civilizations. After he died, he became an angel who was tasked with guarding the golden plates and directing Smith to their location in the 1820s. According to Smith, he returned the golden plates to Moroni after they were translated and, as of 1838, Moroni still had the plates in his possession.Archaeology and the Book of Mormon
Since the publication of the Book of Mormon in 1830, Mormon archaeologists have attempted to find archaeological evidence to support it. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and other denominations of the Latter Day Saint movement generally believe that the Book of Mormon describes ancient historical events in the Americas, but historians and archaeologists do not regard it as a work of ancient American history.
The Book of Mormon describes God's dealings with three civilizations in the Americas over the course of several hundred years. The book primarily deals with the Nephites and the Lamanites, who - it states - existed in the Americas from about 600 BC to about AD 400. It also deals with the rise and fall of the Jaredite nation, which the Book of Mormon says came from the Old World shortly after the confounding of the languages at the Tower of Babel.
Some early-20th century Mormon researchers claimed various archaeological findings such as place names, and ruins of the Inca, Maya, Olmec, and other ancient American and Old World civilizations as giving credence to the Book of Mormon record. Others disagree with these conclusions, arguing that the Book of Mormon mentions several animals, plants, and technologies that are not substantiated by the archaeological record of the period 3100 BC to 400 AD in the Americas.Ben Platt (actor)
Benjamin Schiff Platt (born September 24, 1993) is an American actor, singer and songwriter. He began his career in theater as a child and has appeared in Broadway productions of The Music Man (2002), The Book of Mormon (2012–2013), and Dear Evan Hansen (2015–2017), receiving multiple accolades for his performance as the title character in the latter, including the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. Platt's film credits include roles in Pitch Perfect (2012), Pitch Perfect 2 (2015), and Ricki and the Flash (2015).
In 2017, Platt signed with Atlantic Records and is scheduled to release his debut studio album, Sing to Me Instead, in March 2019.Criticism of the Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon is a sacred text of the Latter Day Saint movement, which adherents believe contains writings of ancient prophets who lived on the American continent from approximately 2200 BC to AD 421. It was first published in March 1830 by Joseph Smith as The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi, who claimed that it had been written in otherwise unknown characters referred to as "reformed Egyptian" engraved on golden plates. Contemporary followers of the Latter Day Saint movement typically regard the text primarily as scripture, but also as a historical record of God's dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas.The accuracy of Smith's story has been questioned, however. Most scholars reject Smith's claims of ancient origin and many believe that it was fabricated by Smith, drawing on material and ideas from contemporary 19th-century works rather than translating an ancient record, noting that no evidence of a supposed Reformed Egyptian language has ever been discovered. The content found within the book has also been questioned. Scholars have pointed out a number of anachronisms within the text, and no archaeological or genetic evidence has supported the book's claims about the indigenous peoples of the Americas. The text has also undergone many significant revisions, which critics see as a rebuttal of its supposedly divine origins.Adherents have defended the book against these scholarly claims. The oldest, and most significant, defense of the Smith's story comes from the testimonies of the Three Witnesses and the Eight Witnesses, which are published in every copy of the book. More contemporary adherents have also sought to rebut scholarly claims. For instance, an identification of Reformed Egyptian with a known ancient Egyptian dialect has been proposed. Some adherents have also claimed that various archaeological findings give evidence for the book's claims, but, as previously mentioned, there is no evidence for this.Cumorah
Cumorah (; also known as Mormon Hill, Gold Bible Hill, and Inspiration Point) is a drumlin in Manchester, New York, United States, where Joseph Smith said he found a set of golden plates which he translated into English and published as the Book of Mormon.
In the text of the Book of Mormon, "Cumorah" is a hill located in a land of the same name, which is "a land of many waters, rivers and fountains". In this hill, a Book of Mormon figure, Mormon, deposited a number of metal plates containing the record of his nation of Nephites, just prior to their final battle with the Lamanites in which at least 230,000 people were killed.Early Latter Day Saints assumed that the Cumorah in New York was the same Cumorah described in the Book of Mormon, based largely on a letter written by Oliver Cowdery (Letter VII), published in the July 1835 Messenger and Advocate and reprinted several times at the direction of Joseph Smith, but in the early-20th century, scholars from the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS Church) and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) began to speculate that there were two such hills and that final battle in the Book of Mormon took place on a hill in southern Mexico, Central America, or South America. The LDS Church has no official position on the matter, and while these hypotheses are not held by some leaders and members of the LDS Church, they are firmly espoused by others.In the official account of Joseph Smith (as contained in the Book of Mormon pp. X), it is stated that Manchester, Ontario County, New York is the location of the encounter with Angel Moroni.Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies
The Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) was an informal collaboration of academics devoted to Latter-day Saint historical scholarship. In 1997, the group became a formal part of Brigham Young University (BYU), which is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). In 2006, the group became a formal part of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, formerly known as the Institute for the Study and Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts, BYU. FARMS has since been absorbed into the Maxwell Institute's Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies.
FARMS supported and sponsored what it considered to be "faithful scholarship", which includes academic study and research in support of Christianity and Mormonism, and in particular, the official position of the LDS Church. This research primarily concerned the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham, the Old Testament, the New Testament, early Christian history, ancient temples, and other related subjects. While allowing some degree of academic freedom to its scholars, FARMS was committed to the conclusion that LDS scriptures are authentic, historical texts written by prophets of God. FARMS has been criticized by scholars and critics who classify it as an apologetics organization that operated under the auspices of the LDS Church.Genetics and the Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon, the founding document of the Latter Day Saint movement and one of the four books of scripture of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), is an account of three groups of people. According to the book, two of these groups originated from ancient Israel. There is generally no direct support amongst mainstream historians and archaeologists for the historicity of the Book of Mormon.
Since the late 1990s pioneering work of Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza and others, scientists have developed techniques that attempt to use genetic markers to indicate the ethnic background and history of individual people. The data developed by these mainstream scientists tell us that the Native Americans have very distinctive DNA markers, and that some of them are most similar, among old world populations, to the DNA of people anciently associated with the Altay Mountains area of central Asia. These evidences from a genetic perspective agree with a large body of archaeological, anthropological, and linguistic conclusions that Native American peoples' ancestors migrated from Asia at the latest 16,500–13,000 years ago. (See Settlement of the Americas and Genetic history of indigenous peoples of the Americas).
The mainstream scientific consensus about the origin of the ancient Americans and peoples is at odds with the claims put forth in the Book of Mormon, though Mormon apologists have made efforts to reconcile these contradictions. The LDS Church released an essay on their website titled "Book of Mormon and DNA Studies". The conclusion states, "Much as critics and defenders of the Book of Mormon would like to use DNA studies to support their views, the evidence is simply inconclusive."Historicity of the Book of Mormon
Many members of the Latter Day Saint movement claim historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Most, but not all, Mormons hold the book's connection to ancient American history as an article of their faith. This view finds no acceptance outside of Mormonism. The theory that the Book of Mormon is an ancient American history is not considered scientifically credible by anyone. Mormon apologists have proposed multiple theories to explain apparent inconsistencies with the archaeological, genetic, linguistic and other records.Lamanite
The Lamanites () are one of the four civilizations of the Book of Mormon, a sacred text of the Latter Day Saint movement, published in 1830 by its founder Joseph Smith, which purports to be an ancient history of God's dealings with people in the Western Hemisphere. (The others are the Jaredites, the Mulekites, and the Nephites.)
In the Book of Mormon's narrative, the Lamanites began as wicked rivals to the more righteous Nephites, but when the Nephite civilization became decadent, it lost divine favor and was destroyed by the Lamanites. Mormons have historically associated Lamanites with present-day Native American cultures, but there is no scientific or archaeological evidence for that to be the case or that Lamanites or any of the three other groups ever existed.Linguistics and the Book of Mormon
According to most adherents of the Latter Day Saint movement, the Book of Mormon is a 19th-century translation of a record of ancient inhabitants of the American continent, which was written in a script which the book refers to as "reformed Egyptian". This claim, as well as virtually all claims to historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon, are generally rejected by non-Latter Day Saint historians and scientists. Linguistically based assertions are frequently cited and discussed in the context of the subject of the Book of Mormon, both in favor of and against the book's claimed origins.
Both critics and promoters of the Book of Mormon have used linguistic methods to analyze the text. Promoters have published claims of stylistic forms that Joseph Smith and his contemporaries are unlikely to have known about, as well as similarities to Egyptian and Hebrew. Critics of the Book of Mormon claim there are places where the language is anachronistic and suggestive of a 19th-century origin consistent with Smith's upbringing and life experience, as well as the books and other literature published just preceding the time that the Book of Mormon was published.A problem with linguistic reviews of the Book of Mormon is that the claimed original text is either unavailable for study or never existed. Smith said that he returned the golden plates to an angel after he finished the translation.List of Book of Mormon people
This list is intended as a quick reference for individuals mentioned in the Book of Mormon.List of Latter Day Saint movement topics
In an effort to bring together pages on various religions, below is a list of articles that are about or reference Latter Day Saint movement topics.
As a rule, the links below should direct to existing articles, not empty pages (non-existent articles), or off-site web pages. If an article is needed, please create a Stub and/or leave a request for additional information on Talk:List of Latter Day Saint movement topics.Matt Stone
Matthew Richard Stone (born May 26, 1971) is an American animator, producer, screenwriter, actor, and composer. He is known for co-creating South Park (1997–present) as well as co-writing the Tony Award-winning musical The Book of Mormon (2011) with his creative partner Trey Parker. Stone was interested in film and music as a child, and attended the University of Colorado, Boulder following high school, where he met Parker. The two collaborated on various short films, and starred in a feature-length musical, titled Cannibal! The Musical (1993).
Stone and Parker moved to Los Angeles and wrote their second film, Orgazmo (1997). Before the premiere of the movie, South Park premiered on Comedy Central in August 1997. The duo, who possess full creative control of the show, have since produced music and video games based on the show, which continues to run. They worked on a feature film titled South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999), which received acclaim from both critics and fans. Alongside Parker, he has also produced various feature films and television series, including Team America: World Police (2004). After several years of development, The Book of Mormon, a musical co-written by Stone, Parker, and composer Robert Lopez, premiered on Broadway and became immensely successful. In 2013, he and Parker established their own production studio, Important Studios.
Stone has been the recipient of various awards over the course of his career, including five Primetime Emmy Awards for his work on South Park, as well as three Tony Awards and one Grammy Award for The Book of Mormon.Mormonism
Mormonism is the predominant religious tradition of the Latter Day Saint movement of Restorationist Christianity started by Joseph Smith in Western New York in the 1820s and 30s. After Smith was killed in 1844, most Mormons followed Brigham Young on his westward journey to the area that became the Utah Territory, calling themselves The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Other sects include Mormon fundamentalism, which seeks to maintain practices and doctrines such as polygamy, and other small independent denominations. The second-largest Latter Day Saint denomination, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, since 2001 called the Community of Christ, does not describe itself as "Mormon", but follows a Trinitarian Christian restorationist theology, and considers itself Restorationist in terms of Latter Day Saint doctrine.
The word Mormon originally derived from the Book of Mormon, a religious text published by Smith, which he said he translated from golden plates with divine assistance. The book describes itself as a chronicle of early indigenous peoples of the Americas and their dealings with God. Based on the book's name, Smith's early followers were more widely known as Mormons, and their faith Mormonism. The term was initially considered pejorative, but Mormons no longer consider it so (although generally preferring other terms such as Latter-day Saint or LDS).Mormonism has common beliefs with the rest of the Latter Day Saint movement, including the use of and belief in the Bible, and in other religious texts including the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. It also accepts the Pearl of Great Price as part of its scriptural canon, and has a history of teaching eternal marriage, eternal progression and polygamy (plural marriage), although the LDS Church formally abandoned the practice of plural marriage in 1890. Cultural Mormonism, a lifestyle promoted by Mormon institutions, includes cultural Mormons who identify with the culture, but not necessarily the theology.Moroni (Book of Mormon prophet)
Moroni (), according to the Book of Mormon, was the last Nephite prophet, historian, and military commander who lived in the Americas in the late fourth and early fifth centuries. He is later known as the Angel Moroni, who presented the golden plates to Joseph Smith, who translated the plates upon which the Book of Mormon was originally written.Nephites
The Nephites () are one of many groups (including the Lamanites, Jaredites, and Mulekites) to be mentioned in the Book of Mormon to be settled in the ancient Americas. The Book of Mormon is a religious text of the Latter Day Saint movement. The term is used throughout the Book of Mormon to describe the religious, political, and cultural traditions of the group of settlers.
The Nephites are described as a group of people that descended from or were associated with Nephi, the son of the prophet Lehi, who left Jerusalem at the urging of God in about 600 BC and traveled with his family to the Western Hemisphere and arrived to the Americas in about 589 BC. The Book of Mormon notes them as initially righteous people who eventually "had fallen into a state of unbelief and awful wickedness" and were destroyed by the Lamanites in about AD 385.Some Mormon scholars claim that the ancestors of the Nephites settled somewhere in present-day Central America after they had left Jerusalem. However, both the Smithsonian Institution and the National Geographic Society have issued statements that they have seen no evidence to support the claims of the Book of Mormon.Origin of the Book of Mormon
There are several theories as to the origin of the Book of Mormon. Most adherents to the Latter Day Saint movement view the book as a work of inspired scripture. The most common belief of adherents is that promoted by Joseph Smith, who said he translated ancient golden plates inscribed by prophets. Smith claimed the angel Moroni, a prophet in the Book of Mormon, directed him in the 1820s to a hill near his home in Palmyra, New York where the plates were buried. Besides Smith himself, there were at least 11 witnesses who said they saw the plates in 1829, and three also claiming to have been visited by an angel. Several other witnesses observed Smith dictating the text that eventually became the Book of Mormon.
Critics have explored a number of issues, including (1) whether Joseph Smith actually had golden plates, or whether the text of the Book of Mormon originated in his mind or through inspiration; (2) whether it was Smith himself who composed the book's text or an associate of Smith's, such as Oliver Cowdery or Sidney Rigdon; and (3) whether the book was based on prior works, such as the View of the Hebrews, the Spalding Manuscript, or the King James Version of the Bible.Reformed Egyptian
The Book of Mormon, a work of scripture of the Latter Day Saint movement, describes itself as having a portion originally been written in reformed Egyptian characters on plates of metal or "ore" by prophets living in the Western Hemisphere from perhaps as early as the 4th century BC until as late as the 5th century AD. Joseph Smith, the movement's founder, published the Book of Mormon in 1830 as a translation of these golden plates. Scholarly reference works on languages do not, however, acknowledge the existence of either a "reformed Egyptian" language or "reformed Egyptian" script as it has been described in Mormon belief. No archaeological, linguistic, or other evidence of the use of Egyptian writing in ancient America has been discovered.The Book of Mormon (musical)
The Book of Mormon is a musical comedy. First staged in 2011, the play makes light of various Mormon beliefs and practices, but ultimately endorses the positive power of love and service. The script, lyrics, and music were written by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone. Parker and Stone were best known for creating the animated comedy South Park; Lopez had co-written the music for the musical Avenue Q.
The Book of Mormon follows two Mormon missionaries as they attempt to preach the Mormon religion to the inhabitants of a remote Ugandan village. The earnest young men are challenged by the lack of interest of the locals, who are distracted by more pressing issues such as AIDS, famine and oppression from the village warlords.In 2003, after Parker and Stone saw Avenue Q, they met with the musical's co-writer Lopez and began developing the musical, meeting sporadically for several years. Parker and Stone grew up in Colorado, and references to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had been commonplace in their previous works. For research, the trio took a trip to Salt Lake City to meet with current and former Mormon missionaries. Beginning in 2008, developmental workshops were staged. The show's producers, Scott Rudin and Anne Garefino, opted to open the show directly on Broadway.
The show opened on Broadway in March 2011, after nearly seven years of development. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responded indifferently; however, they did purchase advertising space in its playbill in later runs. The Book of Mormon garnered overwhelmingly positive critical responses, and set records in ticket sales for the Eugene O'Neill Theatre. The show was awarded nine Tony Awards, one of which was for Best Musical, and a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. The original Broadway cast recording became the highest-charting Broadway cast album in over four decades, reaching number three on the Billboard charts. In 2013, the musical premiered in the West End, followed by two US national tours. A production in Melbourne and the first non-English version, in Stockholm, both opened in January 2017. Productions in Oslo and Copenhagen followed.
The Book of Mormon has grossed over $500 million, making it one of the most successful musicals of all time.
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