Book of Mormon

Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon is a sacred text of the Latter Day Saint movement that adherents believe contains writings of ancient prophets who lived on the American continent from approximately 2600 BC to AD 421.[1][2] It was first published in March 1830 by Joseph Smith, Jr. as The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi.[3]

According to Smith's account, and also according to 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 claimed that the last prophet to contribute to the book, a man named Moroni, buried it in a hill in present-day New York and then returned to earth in 1827 as an angel,[4] revealing the location of the book to Smith and instructing him to translate and disseminate it as evidence of the restoration of Christ's true church in the latter days.

The Book of Mormon has a number of original and distinctive doctrinal discussions on subjects such as the fall of Adam and Eve,[5] the nature of the Atonement,[6] eschatology, redemption from physical and spiritual death,[7] and the organization of the latter-day church. The pivotal event of the book is an appearance of Jesus Christ to 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 not only as scripture but also as a historical record of God's dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas.[8] 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.[9]



A page from the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon, covering 1 Nephi 4:38- 5:14

Joseph Smith Jr. said that when he was seventeen years of age an angel of God, named Moroni, appeared to him,[10] and said that a collection of ancient writings, engraved on golden plates by ancient prophets, was buried in a nearby hill in Wayne County, New York. The writings described 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 he was instructed by Moroni to meet at the hill annually each September 22 to receive further instructions and that four years after the initial visit, in 1827, he was allowed to take the plates and was directed to translate them into English.[10][11]

Smith's first published description of the plates said the plates "had the appearance of gold," and were described by Martin Harris, one of Smith's early scribes, to be "fastened together in the shape of a book by wires."[12] Smith called the engraved writing on the plates "reformed Egyptian".[13] 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.[14]

In addition to Smith's account regarding the plates, eleven others signed affidavits that they saw and handled the golden plates for themselves. Their written testimonies are known as the Testimony of Three Witnesses[15] and the Testimony of Eight Witnesses.[16] These affidavits are published as part of the introductory pages to the Book of Mormon.

Smith enlisted the help of his neighbor, Martin Harris (one of the Three Witnesses), who later mortgaged his farm to underwrite the printing of the Book of Mormon, as a scribe during his initial work on the text. In 1828, Harris, prompted by his wife, Lucy Harris, repeatedly requested that Smith lend him the current pages that had been translated. Smith reluctantly relented to Harris' requests. Lucy Harris is thought to have stolen the first 116 pages.[17] 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.[18][19][20][21] Smith later stated that God allowed him to resume translation, but directed that he begin translating another part of the plates. In 1829, with the assistance of Oliver Cowdery, work on the Book of Mormon recommenced, and was completed in a remarkably short period (April–June 1829).[22] Smith said that he then returned the plates to Moroni upon the publication of the book.[19][23] The Book of Mormon went on sale at the bookstore of E. B. Grandin on March 26, 1830.[24] Today the building in which the Book of Mormon was first published and sold is known as the Book of Mormon Historic Publication Site.

Critics of the Book of Mormon claim that it was fabricated by Smith[25][26][27] and that portions of it were plagiarized from various works available to him. Works that have been suggested as sources include the King James Bible,[28][29] The Wonders of Nature,[30][31] View of the Hebrews,[26][27][32] and an unpublished manuscript written by Solomon Spalding.[33][34][35]

For some followers of the Latter Day Saint movement, unresolved issues of the book's historical authenticity and the lack of conclusive archaeological evidence have led them to adopt a compromise position that the Book of Mormon may be the creation of Smith, but that it was nevertheless created through divine inspiration.[36] The position of most members 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 actual and accurate historical record.[37]


Book of Mormon 1830 edition reprint.jpg
Books of the Book of Mormon
Cover page of The Book of Mormon from an original 1830 edition, by Joseph Smith, Jr.
(Image from the U.S. Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division.)


Smith stated that 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.[38][39] 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."[40]


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. 1 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, which are statements by men who said they saw the golden plates with Joseph Smith and could verify their existence.


The books from 1 Nephi to Omni are described as being from "the small plates of Nephi".[41] 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.[42] 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, 3 Nephi, and 4 Nephi.[43] 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 3 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 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 in battle 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.[43] The account describes a group of families led from the Tower of Babel [44] 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,[45] - long before Lehi's family arrived in 600 BC - and as being much larger and more developed. The dating in the text is only an approximation.

The Book of Moroni then details the final destruction of the Nephites and the idolatrous state of the remaining society.[46] It mentions a few spiritual insights and some important doctrinal teachings,[47] then closes with Moroni's testimony and an invitation to pray to God for a confirmation of the truthfulness of the account.[48]

Doctrinal and philosophical teachings

A depiction of Joseph Smith's description of receiving the golden plates from the angel Moroni at the Hill Cumorah.

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.


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."[49]

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.[50] Jesus is described as "the Father and the Son".[51] 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."[52]

Other parts of the book portray the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost as "one."[53] 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 of the 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.[54] Many of the book's narrators described other visions of Jesus, including one by a narrator who, according to the book, lived thousands of years before Jesus, but who saw the "body" of Jesus' spirit thousands of years prior to his birth.[50] In another vision, according to the book, a different narrator described a vision of the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus,[55] including a prophecy of Jesus' name,[56] said to have taken place nearly 600 years prior to Jesus' birth.[57]

In the narrative, at the time of King Benjamin (about 130 BC), the Nephite believers were called "the children of Christ".[58] 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.[59] The book also states that for nearly 200 years after Jesus' appearance at the temple in the Americas,[60] the land was filled with peace and prosperity because of the people's obedience to his commandments.[61] Later, the prophet Mormon worked to convince the faithless people of his time (A.D. 360) of Christ. The prophet Moroni is said to have buried the plates with faith in Christ.[62] Many other prophets in the book also wrote of the reality of the Messiah.

Jesus spoke to the Jews in Jerusalem of “other sheep” who would hear his voice,[63] which the Book of Mormon claims 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.[64]

Other distinctive religious teachings

On most religious issues, Book of Mormon doctrines are similar to those found in the Bible and among other Christian denominations. Among its distinctive theological interpretations are the following:

  • When the Old Testament prophet Isaiah wrote of prophets who would "whisper out of the dust,"[65] he was referring to the publication of the Book of Mormon.[66]
  • The Fall of Man is a prerequisite for procreation, and a necessary requirement for the return to God: "Adam fell that men might be, and men are, that they might have joy."[67]

Teachings about political theology

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[68] 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.[69]

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."[70] 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.[71] 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 the battle the 2,000 men were protected by God and, though many were injured, none of them died.[72]

The book points out monarchy as an ideal form of government, but only when the monarch is righteous.[71][73] However, 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.[74] The book further records the decision of the people to be ruled no longer by kings,[75] choosing instead a form of democracy led by elected judges.[76] 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.[77] 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.[78]

The book supports notions of economic justice, achieved through voluntary donation of "substance, every man according to that which he had, to the poor."[79] In one case, all the citizens held their property in common[78] Concern for the poor is portrayed as leading to collective wealth.[80] However, 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.[81]

Religious significance

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Book of Mormon is one of four sacred texts or standard works of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The other texts are the Bible (the King James Version), the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.[82] Church members officially regard the Book of Mormon as the "most correct" book of scripture, in that "a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than any other book."[83] This is, in part, because church members believe the Bible was the result of a multiple-step translation process and the Book of Mormon was not.[84] Joseph Smith told of receiving a revelation condemning the "whole church" for treating the Book of Mormon and the former commandments lightly.[85]

The Book of Mormon’s significance to the LDS Church was reiterated in the 1980s by Ezra Taft Benson, the thirteenth President of the Church.[86] In an August 2005 Ensign message, Church President Gordon B. Hinckley challenged each member of the church to re-read the Book of Mormon before the year's end.[87] The book’s importance is commonly stressed at the twice-yearly general conference and at special devotionals by general authorities.

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 referred to as Moroni's Promise.[88]

Community of Christ

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 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 of the 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."[89]

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."[90]

Greater Latter Day Saint movement

There are a number of other churches that are part of the Latter Day Saint movement.[91] 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. A number of churches in the Latter Day Saint movement have published their own editions of the Book of Mormon, along with private individuals and foundations not endorsed by any specific denomination.

Historical authenticity

The archaeological, historical and scientific communities have in general been skeptical about the claims of the Book of Mormon. Critics of such tend to focus on four main areas:

  • The lack of correlation between locations described in the Book of Mormon and American archaeological sites.[92]

Most adherents of the Latter Day Saint movement consider the Book of Mormon to generally be a historically accurate account.[37] Within the Latter Day Saint movement there are several apologetic groups that 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), attempting to defend 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 conjectures 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 Book of Mormon was dictated by Joseph Smith to several scribes over a period of nearly two years, resulting in an original manuscript that was eventually printed into the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, minus the first 116 pages of the Book of Lehi, which were lost after Smith lent the uncopied manuscript to Martin Harris who gave them to his wife Lucy.[17] These pages were never returned and are assumed to be lost.[17] The original manuscript was then hand copied by Oliver Cowdery and two other scribes into a manuscript for the printer.[105] 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. [106][107] 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.[105][107] The printer's manuscript was further edited, adding paragraphing and punctuation to the first third of the text.[105]

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.[105] The original manuscript was used by Joseph Smith to further correct errors printed in the 1830 and 1837 versions of the Book of Mormon for the 1840 printing of the book.[105] 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.[106] Surviving manuscript pages were handed out to various families and individuals in the 1880s.[106] A total of only 28% of the original manuscript now survives, including a remarkable find of fragments from 58 pages in 1991.[105] The majority of what remains of the original manuscript is now kept in the LDS Church Archives.[105] The printer's manuscript is now the earliest complete surviving copy of the Book of Mormon, being nearly 100% extant;[108] it is owned by the Community of Christ.[105]


Chapter and verse notation systems

The original 1830 publication did not have chapter and verse markers. Just as the Bible's chapter and verse notation system is a later addition of Bible publishers to books that were originally solid blocks of undivided text, the chapters and verse markers within the books of the Book of Mormon are mere conventions, not part of the original text.

Different publishers from different factions of the Latter Day Saint movement have published different competing 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.[109]

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.[110] New introductions, chapter summaries, and footnotes. 1920 edition errors corrected based on Original Manuscript and 1840 edition.[111] link
Community of Christ 1966 "Revised Authorized Version", based on 1908 Authorized Version, 1837 edition and "original manuscript". Notable for the omission of "it came to pass" phrases.
The Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonite) 2001 Compiled by a committee of Apostles.
Richard Drew 1992 Photo-enlarged facsimile of the 1840 edition[112]
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 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.[113] 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 [114] The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Text from the current LDS edition without footnotes. First Doubleday edition was in 2004.[115]
Experience Press 2006 Reset type matching the original 1830 edition in word, line and page. Fixed typographical errors.[116]
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. First edition text with hundreds of corrections from Royal Skousen's study of the original manuscripts.[117] 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.[111]
Robinson and Smith 1840 "Third edition" in Nauvoo. Revised by Joseph Smith in comparison to the Original Manuscript.[111] link
Young, Kimball and Pratt 1841 "First European edition". 1837 reprint with British spellings.[111] Future editions descended from this, not the 1840 edition.[118]
Franklin D. Richards 1852 "Third European edition". Edited by Richards. Introduced primitive verses (numbered paragraphs).[111] link
James O. Wright 1858 Unauthorized reprinting of 1840 edition. Used by the early RLDS Church in 1860s.[111] link
RLDS Church 1874 First RLDS edition. 1840 text with verses.[111] link
Deseret News 1879 Edited by Orson Pratt. Introduced footnotes, new verses, and shorter chapters.[111] link
RLDS Church 1908 "Authorized Version". New verses and corrections based on Printer's Manuscript.[111] link
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 1920 Edited by James E. Talmage. Added introductions, double columns, chapter summaries, new footnotes,[111] pronunciation guide.[119] link


The following versions are published online:

Online editions Year Description and notes Link
LDS Church internet edition 1994 Official internet edition of the Book of Mormon for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. link
LDS Church audio edition 1994 Official LDS version of the Book of Mormon in mp3 audio format, 32 kbit/s. link

Textual criticism

In 1989, scholars at Brigham Young University began work on a critical text edition of the Book of Mormon. Volumes 1 and 2, published in 2001, contain transcriptions of all the text variants of the English editions of the Book of Mormon, from the original manuscript to the newest editions.[120] Volume 4, which is being published in parts, is a critical analysis of all the text variants. Volume 3, which is not yet published, will describe the history of all the English-language texts from Joseph Smith to today.[121]

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.[26][27][105]

Non-English translations

Translations of the Book of Mormon.

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% of Latter-day Saints and 87% of the world's total population.[122]

Translations into languages without a tradition of writing (e.g., Kakchiqel, Tzotzil) are available on audio cassette.[123] 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 many times before it is approved and published.[124]

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.[125]


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which distributes free copies of the Book of Mormon, reported in 2011 that 150 million copies of the book have been distributed since its initial publication.[126]

The initial printing of the Book of Mormon in 1830 produced 5000 copies.[127] The 50 millionth copy was printed in 1990, with the 100 millionth following in 2000 and reaching 150 million in 2011.[127]


  1. ^ Gordon B. Hinckley, "Praise to the Man", 1979-11-04.
  2. ^ Church Educational System (1996, rev. ed.). Book of Mormon Student Manual (Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), ch. 6.
  3. ^ Smith (1830, title page). In 1982, in an effort to clarify and emphasize its purpose, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) retitled its editions of the book to The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ LDS Church (2008).
  4. ^ Roberts (1902, pp. 11, 18–19).
  5. ^ See for 2 Nephi 2 for example.
  6. ^ See for 2 Nephi 9 for example.
  7. ^ See for Alma 12 for example.
  8. ^ "Introduction", Book of Mormon (1981 LDS Church ed.).
  9. ^
  10. ^ a bThe Life and Ministry of Joseph Smith,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, (2007),xxii–25.
  11. ^ Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith - History 1:59
  12. ^ Smith, Joseph, Jr. (March 1, 1842). "Church History [Wentworth Letter"]. Times and Seasons (Nauvoo, Illinois) 3 (9): 906–936. .
  13. ^ Only LDS linguists accept the existence of any language or character set known as "reformed Egyptian" as described in LDS tradition. The only example of reformed Egyptian extant is the "Caractors Document", also known as the "Anthon Transcript", a paper written by Smith with examples of what he claimed to be "reformed Egyptian" characters. See Reformed Egyptian for details and references.
  14. ^ Smith (1842, p. 707).
  15. ^ Testimony of Three Witnesses
  16. ^ Testimony of Eight Witnesses
  17. ^ a b c Hitchens 2007, pp. 163, Givens 2002, pp. 33, Givens 2002, pp. 33
  18. ^ Doctrine and Covenants, Section 3 and
  19. ^ a b Brodie 1971
  20. ^ Givens 2002
  21. ^ Hitchens 2007, pp. 163–164
  22. ^ Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), 70."
  23. ^ Testimony of Joseph Smith Hitchens 2007, pp. 164
  24. ^ Kunz, Ryan (March 2010). "180 Years Later, Book of Mormon Nears 150 Million Copies". Ensign (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints): 74–76. Retrieved 2011-03-24. 
  25. ^ Tanner, Jerald and Sandra (1987). Mormonism - Shadow or Reality?. Utah Lighthouse Ministry. pp. 91. ISBN 9993074438. 
  26. ^ a b c Brody, Fawn (1971). No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith (2d ed.). New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 
  27. ^ a b c Krakauer, Jon (2003). Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith. New York: Doubleday. 
  28. ^ Abanes, Richard (2003). One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church. Thunder's Mouth Press. pp. 72. ISBN 1568582838. 
  29. ^ Tanner, Jerald and Sandra (1987). Mormonism - Shadow or Reality?. Utah Lighthouse Ministry. pp. 73–80. ISBN 9993074438. 
  30. ^ Abanes, Richard (2003). One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church. Thunder's Mouth Press. pp. 68. ISBN 1568582838. 
  31. ^ Tanner, Jerald and Sandra (1987). Mormonism - Shadow or Reality?. Utah Lighthouse Ministry. pp. 84–85. ISBN 9993074438. 
  32. ^ Roberts, Brigham H. (1992). Brigham D. Madsen. ed. Studies of the Book of Mormon. Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books. ISBN 1-56085-027-2. 
  33. ^ Howe, Eber D (1834). Mormonism Unvailed. Painesville, Ohio: Telegraph Press. 
  34. ^ Spaulding, Solomon (1996). Reeve, Rex C. ed. Manuscript Found: The Complete Original "Spaulding" Manuscript. Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University 
  35. ^ Roper, Matthew (2005). "The Mythical "Manuscript Found"". FARMS Review (Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute) 17 (2): 7–140. Retrieved 2007-01-31 
  36. ^ Grant H. Palmer. 2002. An Insider's View of Mormon Origins. Salt Lake City, Signature Books.
    Brent Lee Metcalfe, ed. 1993. New Approaches to the Book of Mormon: Explorations in Critical Methodology. Salt Lake City: Signature Books.
  37. ^ a b "The limited success so far in swaying popular LDS opinion is a constant source of frustration for Mormon apologists...It appears that Mormons are generally content to picture the Book of Mormon story in a setting that is factually wrong. For most Mormons, the limited geography models create more problems than they solve. They run counter to the dominant literal interpretation of the text and contradict popular folklore as well as the clear pronouncements of all church presidents since the time of Joseph Smith", Simon G. Southerton (2004, Signature Books), Losing a Lost Tribe, pp. 164-165.
    "Some of the [Community of Christ]'s senior leadership consider the Book of Mormon to be inspired historical fiction. For leaders of the Utah church, this is still out of the question. [The leadership], and most Mormons, believe that the historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon is what shores up Joseph Smith's prophetic calling and the divine authenticity of the Utah church", Southerton (2004), pg. 201.
    Quotations from temple dedicatory sermons and prayers in Central and South America by President Gordon B. Hinckley in 1999-2000 continually refer to Native LDS members in attendance as "children of Lehi" (Southerton [2004], pp. 38-39).
    "Latter-Day Saints believe their scripture to be history, written by ancient prophets...", Grant Hardy (2009, Yale University Press), "Introduction," The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text, ed. Royal Skousen, pg. x.
  38. ^ Joseph Smith stated that the "title page is not by any means a modern composition either of mine or of any other man's who has lived or does live in this generation."
  39. ^ Smith, Joseph (October 1842). "Truth Will Prevail". Times and Seasons III (24): 943. Retrieved 2009-01-30. 
  40. ^ The Book of Mormon Title Page
  41. ^ Book of Mormon, Words of Mormon 1:3
  42. ^ 1 Nephi 18:23
  44. ^ Ether 1:3
  45. ^ Sacred Sites: Searching for Book of Mormon Lands. by Joseph L. Allen Published: October 2003 p.8
  46. ^ Book Of Mormon, Book of Moroni Chapter Summaries
  47. ^ Book of Mormon, Moroni 10
  48. ^ Moroni 10:4
  49. ^ Smith (1830, Title Page)
  50. ^ a b Ether 3:16.
  51. ^ Ether 3:14.
  52. ^ Mosiah 15:1-14
  53. ^ 3 Nephi 19:22-23
  54. ^ See 3 Nephi 11 to 3 Nephi 26
  55. ^ 1 Nephi 11
  56. ^ Mosiah 3:8
  57. ^ See 1 Nephi 10:4, 1 Nephi 19:8; See also 3 Nephi 1
  58. ^ Mosiah 5:7
  59. ^ Alma 46:13-15
  60. ^ 4 Nephi 22-23
  61. ^ 4 Nephi 1
  62. ^ See Book of Mormon Title page
  63. ^ See John 10:16 in the King James Version of the Bible
  64. ^ 3 Nephi 15:13-24, 3 Nephi 16:1-4, 2 Nephi 29:7-14
  65. ^ Isaiah 29:4
  66. ^ 2 Nephi 26:15-16
  67. ^ 2 Nephi 2:25
  68. ^ 1 Nephi 2:20; 1 Nephi 13:30; 2 Nephi 1:5; 2 Nephi 10:19; Jacob 5:43; Ether 1:38-42; Ether 2:7,10-15; Ether 9:20; Ether 10:28; Ether 13:2.
  69. ^ 1 Nephi 2:20; 1 Nephi 4:14; 2 Nephi 1:20; 2 Nephi 4:4; Jarom 1:9; Omni 1:6; Mosiah 1:7; Mosiah 2:22,31; Alma 9:13; Alma 36:1,30; Alma 38:1; Alma 48:15,25.
  70. ^ Alma 48:14
  71. ^ a b Alma 24
  72. ^ Alma 56:47-56
  73. ^ Mosiah 29:13
  74. ^ Mosiah 29:18-22
  75. ^ Mosiah 29
  76. ^ Helaman 6:17
  77. ^ Alma 62:9-11
  78. ^ a b 3 Nephi 26:19.
  79. ^ Alma 1:26-27.
  80. ^ Helaman 6:17.
  81. ^ Jacob 2:13-13; Alma 4:6; Alma 5:53; 4 Nephi 1:24.
  82. ^ See e.g. Russell M. Nelson, “Living by Scriptural Guidance,” Ensign, November 2000, 16–18 (discusses how the four standard works of the church can provide guidance in life)
  83. ^ Joseph Smith, B. H. Roberts ed. History of the Church, 4:461; see also Additional Information.
  84. ^ Ezra Taft Benson, “The Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, Jan 1992.
  85. ^ Doctrine and Covenants 84:54-57.
  86. ^ Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, Nov 1986, 4.
  87. ^ Gordon B. Hinckley (August 2005). "A Testimony Vibrant and True". Ensign. Retrieved 2008-03-07. 
  88. ^ Moroni 10:3-5; see Gene R. Cook, “Moroni’s Promise,” Ensign, April 1994, 12.
  89. ^ McMurray, W. Grant, "They "Shall Blossom as the Rose": Native Americans and the Dream of Zion," an address delivered February 17, 2001, accessed on Community of Christ website, September 1, 2006.
  90. ^ Andrew M. Shields, "Official Minutes of Business Session, Wednesday March 28, 2007," in 2007 World Conference Thursday Bulletin, March 29, 2007. Community of Christ, 2007
  91. ^
  92. ^ Citing the lack of specific New World geographic locations to search, Michael D. Coe, a prominent Mesoamerican archaeologist and Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Yale University, writes (in a 1973 volume of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought): "As far as I know there is not one professionally trained archaeologist, who is not a Mormon, who sees any scientific justification for believing [the historicity of The Book of Mormon], and I would like to state that there are quite a few Mormon archaeologists who join this group."
  93. ^ Cecil H. Brown. 1999. Lexical Acculturation in Native American Languages. Oxford Studies in Anthropological Linguistics, 20. Oxford
    Paul E. Minnis & Wayne J. Elisens, ed. 2001. Biodiversity and Native America. University of Oklahoma Press.
    Gary Paul Nabhan. 2002. Enduring Seeds: Native American Agriculture and Wild Plant Conservation. University of Arizona Press.
    Stacy Kowtko. 2006. Nature and the Environment in Pre-Columbian American Life. Greenwood Press.
    Douglas H. Ubelaker, ed. 2006. Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 3, Environment, Origins, and Population. Smithsonian Institution.
    Elizabeth P. Benson. 1979. Pre-Columbian Metallurgy of South America. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library.
    R.C. West, ed. 1964. Handbook of Middle American Indians, Volume 1, Natural Environment & Early Cultures. University of Texas Press.
    G.R. Willey, ed. 1965. Handbook of Middle American Indians, Volumes 2 & 3, Archeology of Southern Mesoamerica. University of Texas Press.
    Gordon Ekholm & Ignacio Bernal, ed. 1971. Handbook of Middle American Indians, Volume 10 & 11, Archeology of Northern Mesoamerica. University of Texas Press.
  94. ^ 1 Nephi 18:25
    LDS scholars think that this may be a product of reassigning familiar labels to unfamiliar items. For example, the Delaware Indians named the cow after the deer, and the Miami Indians labeled sheep, when they were first seen, "looks-like-a cow."
    John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Co. ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1996 [1985]), 294. ISBN 1-57345-157-6
  95. ^ a b c 1 Nephi 18:25
  96. ^ "[H]orses became extinct in North America at the end of the Pleistocene..." (Donald K. Grayson. 2006. "Late Pleistocene Faunal Extinctions," Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 3, Environment, Origins and Population. Smithsonian. Pages 208-221. quote on pg 211)
    "The youngest dates on North American fossil horses are about 8150 years ago, although most of the horses were gone around 10,000 years ago" (Donald R. Prothero & Robert M. Schoch. 2002. Horns, Tusks, and Flippers: The Evolution of Hoofed Mammals. The Johns Hopkins University Press. Page 215.)
    "During the Pleistocene both New World continents abounded in [horses] and then, some 8000 years ago, the last wild horses in the Americas became extinct..." (R.J.G. Savage & M.R. Long. 1986. Mammal Evolution: An Illustrated Guide. Facts on File Publications. Page 204.)
  97. ^ Asses and horses are both in the genus Equus so see the footnote concerning horses.
  98. ^ 1 Nephi 18:25 paragraph 4
  99. ^ Ether 9:19
  100. ^ Donald K. Grayson. 2006. "Late Pleistocene Faunal Extinctions," Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 3, Environment, Origins and Population. Smithsonian. Pages 208-221. The Pleistocene extinction of the two Proboscidea genera Mammut and Mammuthus are mentioned on pages 209 and 212-213.
    "T[he] megafauna [of North America] then disappeared from the face of the earth between 12,000 and 9,000 years ago..." (Donald R. Prothero & Robert M. Schoch. 2002. Horns, Tusks, and Flippers: The Evolution of Hoofed Mammals. The Johns Hopkins University Press. Page 176.)
    "In North America three other proboscideans survived the end of the Ice Age--the tundra woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius), the woodland American mastodont (Mammut americanum) and the grazing mammoth (Mammuthus jeffersoni). Hunting by early man is the most likely cause of the final extinction..." (R.J.G. Savage & M.R. Long. 1986. Mammal Evolution: An Illustrated Guide. Facts on File Publications. Page 157.)
    "Mammut became extinct only about 10,000 years ago." (Dougal Dixon et al. 1988. The Macmillan Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. Collier Books. Page 244.)
    "M[ammuthus] primigenius survived until about 10,000 years ago." (Dixon et al. 1988, page 245)
  101. ^ 1 Nephi 4:9
  102. ^ Alma 18:9
  103. ^ Lyle Campbell. 1979. "Middle American languages," The Languages of Native America: Historical and Comparative Assessment. Ed. Lyle Campbell and Marianne Mithun. Austin: University of Texas Press. Pages 902-1000.
    Lyle Campbell. 1997. American Indian Languages: The Historical Linguistics of Native America. Oxford University Press.
    Jorge Súarez. 1983. The Mesoamerican Indian Languages. Cambridge University Press.
  104. ^ The traditional view of the Book of Mormon suggests that Native Americans are principally the descendents of an Israelite migration around 600 BC. However, DNA evidence shows no Near Eastern component in the Native American genetic make-up. For example:
    Simon G. Southerton. 2004. Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church. Signature Books. The entire book is devoted to the specific topic of DNA evidence and the Book of Mormon." ...[T]he DNA lineages of Central America resemble those of other Native American tribes throughout the two continents. Over 99 percent of the lineages found among native groups from this region are clearly of Asian descent. Modern and ancient DNA samples tested from among the Maya generally fall into the major founding lineage classes... The Mayan Empire has been regarded by Mormons to be the closest to the people of the Book of Mormon because its people were literate and culturally sophisticated. However, leading New World anthropologists, including those specializing in the region, have found the Maya to be similarly related to Asians. Stephen L. Whittington...was not aware of any scientists 'in mainstream anthropology that are trying to prove a Hebrew origin of Native Americans... Archaeologists and physical anthropologists have not found any evidence of Hebrew origins for the people of North, South and Central America.'" (pg 191)
    D. Andrew Merriwether. 2006. "Mitochondrial DNA," Handbook of North American Indians. Smithsonian Institution Press. Pg 817-830. "Kolman, Sambuughin, and Bermingham (1995) and Merriwether et al. (1996) used the presence of A, B, C, and D to argue for Mongolia as the location for the source population of the New World founders. More specifically perhaps, they argued that the present-day Mongolians and present-day Native Americans are both derived from the same ancestral population in Asia, presumably in the Mongolia-Southern Siberia-Lake Baikal region. T.G. Schurr and S.G. Sherry (2004) strongly favor a southern Siberian origin for the majority of lineages found in the New World." (pg 829)
    Tatiana M. Karafet, Stephen L. Zegura, and Michael F. Hammer. 2006. "Y Chromosomes," Handbook of North American Indians. Smithsonian Institution. Pp. 831-839. "Zegura et al. (2004) have presented the following scenario for the early peopling of the Americas based on Y chromosome data: a migration of a single, polymorphic Asian population across Beringia with a potential common source for both North American founding lineages (Q and C) in the Altai Mountains of southwest Siberia. Since all their STR-based SNP lineage divergence dates between the Altai and North Asians versus Native Americans...ranged from 10,100 to 17,200 year ago, they favored a relatively late entry model." (pg. 839)
    Defenders of the book's historical authenticity suggest that the Book of Mormon does not disallow for other groups of people to have contributed to the genetic make-up of Native Americans.[citation needed] Nevertheless, this is a departure from the traditional view that Israelites are the primary ancestors of Native Americans, and therefore would be expected to present some genetic evidence of Near Eastern origins. A recently announced change in the Book of Mormon's introduction, however, allows for a greater diversity of ancestry of Native Americans. See, for example, the following Deseret News article published on November 9, 2007: Intro Change in Book of Mormon Spurs Discussion
  105. ^ a b c d e f g h i Skousen, Royal. "Changes in the Book of Mormon" (Transcription of live presentation). 2002 FAIR Conference: FAIR. Retrieved 2009-09-25. "LDS apologetics perspective to changes in versions of the Book of Mormon." 
  106. ^ a b c
  107. ^ a b
  108. ^ There are three lines missing from the printer's manuscript in its current condition, covering 1 Nephi 1:7—8, 20.
  109. ^ The Zarahemla Research Foundation publishes a 48 page booklet titled, "Book of Mormon Chapter & Verse: RLDS-LDS Conversion Table" to enable readers of an LDS edition to find references from an RLDS edition and visa versa.
  110. ^ The revised text was first published in 1981 and the subtitle was added in October 1982: "Report of the 152nd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints". Ensign: 1. November 1982. Retrieved 2009-02-12. 
  111. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Skousen, Royal (1992). "Book of Mormon Editions (1830-1981)". Encyclopedia of Mormonism. 1. Macmillan. pp. 175–6. Retrieved 2009-02-12. 
  112. ^ BYU Catalog for "Book of Mormon. English. 1840 (1992)"
  113. ^ Johnson, D. Lynn (2000). "The Restored Covenant Edition of the Book of Mormon—Text Restored to Its Purity?". FARMS Review (Provo, Utah: FARMS) 12 (2). Retrieved 2009-02-12. 
  114. ^ Moore, Carrie A. (November 9, 2007). "Intro change in Book of Mormon spurs discussion". Deseret News.,5143,695226049,00.html. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  115. ^ Moore, Carrie A. (November 11, 2004). "Doubleday Book of Mormon is on the way". Deseret News.,5143,595104489,00.html. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  116. ^ Experience Press
  117. ^ "The Book of Mormon - Skousen, Royal; Smith, Joseph". Yale University Press. Retrieved 2009-09-22. 
  118. ^ Crawley, Peter (1997). A Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church, Volume One 1830-1847. Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University. p. 151. ISBN 1-57008-395-9.,3772. Retrieved 2009-02-12. 
  119. ^ Woodger, Mary Jane (2000). "How the Guide to English Pronunciation of Book of Mormon Names Came About". Journal of Book of Mormon Studies (Provo, Utah: FARMS) 9 (1). Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  120. ^ Skousen May 2001;Skousen January 2001;Skousen March 2001
  121. ^ Skousen 2004;Skousen 2005;Skousen 2006
  122. ^ "Taking the Scriptures to the World", Ensign, July 2001, 24
  123. ^ Welcome
  124. ^ "Translation Work Taking Book of Mormon to More People in More Tongues," Ensign, February 2005, 75–76
  125. ^ "Translation Work Taking Book of Mormon to More People in More Tongues", 6 February 2005
  126. ^ "150 Million and Counting: The Book of Mormon reaches another milestone", Church News, 2011-04-18.
  127. ^ a b "Book of Mormon Reaches 150 Million Copies",, 2011-04-20.

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