In the past, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has sometimes been referred to as the “Mormon” Church. Likewise, its member have sometimes been referred to as “Mormons” rather than Latter-day Saints. These nicknames come from an additional book of scripture named the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
Our eighth Article of Faith states, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.”
The Book of Mormon is a history of peoples who were led from the Old World to the New. The major portion of it spans 1,000 years of history from 600 BC to 400 AD. The highlight of the book is the record of a visit by Jesus Christ after His resurrection to the people in the Americas. Jesus foreshadowed this visit when He said, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” (John 10:16 KJV)
Ancient prophets in the Americas recorded the history of their peoples, along with their teachings and prophecies. These were written on thin sheets of gold. The last prophet of these peoples was named Moroni. He buried the plates with a firm hope that the record would be given to others at some time in the future.
In 1823 that same Moroni, then a resurrected being, came to the boy Joseph Smith. He quoted ancient biblical prophecies, which he said were about to be fulfilled. He also revealed to Joseph where the plates were hidden. The next day, Joseph went to that place and uncovered the plates. Moroni met him there and gave him more instruction. But Joseph was not allowed to take the plates at that time.
Each year Joseph went to the same place and was met by Moroni for further instruction. Finally, in 1827 Joseph was allowed to take the plates. The translation proceeded slowly at first. Joseph was poor and had all the daily activities to provide for himself and his wife. Different people served as scribes. One scribe took a large section of manuscript to show to his family and lost it.
Finally in April 1829, a schoolteacher named Oliver Cowdery arrived at Joseph’s home in Pennsylvania. He had met with Joseph’s family in New York and had become convinced that Joseph was a modern-day prophet. He traveled to see Joseph and was asked to serve as scribe. Once Oliver arrived, the process of translation proceeded rapidly, and the Book of Mormon was ready for publication that summer. Since then almost 200 million copies of the Book of Mormon have been printed.
The Book of Mormon is named for the prophet Mormon, who abridged the records of the preceding prophets and added his own commentary. His purpose in writing the book was to show God’s dealing with His children, His love for them and His long suffering with them and to convince people that Jesus is the Christ. The Book of Mormon contains more than 6,000 verses and refers to Jesus Christ almost 4,000 times. It is a witness that the Lord is mindful of people in all times and in all places. It is a reminder that He is mindful of us today, too. That can bring us a peace in these turbulent times.
You can get your own digital copy of the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ for free in the App Store for Apple or Google Play for Android. If you’d like a paper copy, it’s available at no cost at comeuntochrist.org.