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The Book of Mormon is a sacred text of the Latter Day Saint movement. 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. According to Smith, the book was originally written in otherwise unknown characters referred to as "reformed Egyptian" on golden plates that he discovered in 1823 and then translated. The plates, Smith said, had been buried in a hill near his home in Manchester, New Yorkmarker, where he found them by the guidance of an angel, a resurrected ancient American prophet-historian named Moroni.

The Book of Mormon is the earliest of the defining publications of the Latter Day Saint movement. The churches of the movement typically regard the Book of Mormon not only as scripture, but as a historical record of God's dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas, written by American prophets from perhaps as early as 2500 B.C. to about 400 A.D.

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. 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 Atonement, eschatology, redemption from physical and spiritual death, and the organization of the latter-day church.

Origin

A page from the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon, covering
Joseph Smith Jr. said that when he was seventeen years of age an angel of God, named Moroni, appeared to him and told him that a collection of ancient writings, engraved on golden plates by ancient prophets, was buried in a nearby hill in Wayne County, New Yorkmarker. 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.

Smith's first published description of the plates said that 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." 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 presumed content was not included in the Book of Mormon.

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 and the Testimony of Eight Witnesses. 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. 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 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). Smith said that he then returned the plates to Moroni upon the publication of the book.

Allegations of fabrication

Critics of the Book of Mormon claim that the book was fabricated by Smith and/or portions of it were plagarized from various works that were available to Smith, ranging from the King James Bible, The Wonders of Nature, View of the Hebrews, to an unpublished manuscript written by Solomon Spalding.

For a few followers of the LDS 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.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. Most in the LDS movement believe Smith's position that it is a literal historical record.

Content

Title

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. 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."

Organization

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.

Chronology



The books from 1 Nephi to Omni are described as being from "the small plates of Nephi". This account begins in ancient Jerusalemmarker 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, 3 Nephi, and 4 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 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. 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 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. It mentions a few spiritual insights and some important doctrinal teachings, then closes with Moroni's testimony and an invitation to pray to God for a confirmation of the truthfulness of the account.

Doctrinal and philosophical teachings

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

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" 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 .

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. 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. In another vision, according to the book, a different narrator 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 B.C.) 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 (360 A.D.) of Christ. The prophet Moroni is said to have buried the plates with faith in Christ. Many other prophets in the book also wrote of the reality of the Messiah.

Jesus spoke to the Jews in Jerusalemmarker of “other sheep” who would hear his voice, which the Book of Mormon claims meant that the Nephites and other remnants of the lost tribes of Israelmarker throughout the world were to be visited by Jesus after his resurrection.

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:
  • The Old Testament prophet Isaiah spoke of prophets who would "whisper out of the dust." The Book of Mormon interprets this as a reference to itself.
  • The Book of Mormon describes the Fall of Man as a prerequisite for procreation. "Adam fell that men might be, and men are, that they might have joy."


Teachings about political theology

The book delves into political and ideological themes, but places them 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 the battle the 2,000 men were protected by God, and none of them died.

The book points out monarchy as an ideal form of government, but only when the monarch is righteous. 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. 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 Concern for the poor is portrayed as leading to collective wealth 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.

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. The other texts are the Bible (the King James Version), the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. 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." 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. Joseph Smith told of receiving a revelation condemning the "whole church" for treating the Book of Mormon and the former commandments lightly. Every church president since Joseph Smith has stressed the importance of studying the Book of Mormon along with the church's other standard works.

The Book of Mormon’s significance was reiterated in the late 20th century by Ezra Taft Benson, Apostle and 13th President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In an August 2005 Ensign message, then LDS 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 and at special devotionals by general authorities.

The church encourages discovery of the book’s truth by following the suggestion in the final chapter to study, ponder, and pray to God concerning its veracity. This passage is referred to as Moroni's Promise.

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 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 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."

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."

Greater Latter Day Saint movement

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 (the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price), to disagreements with the leadership of the original Church of Christ as formed by Joseph Smith or his successors. 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. The Book of Mormon has been published under alternate titles such as The Nephite Record and The Record of the Nephites.

Historical Authenticity

Most adherents of the LDS movement consider the Book of Mormon to be a historically accurate account. 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.


  • References to animals, plants, metals and technologies in the Book of Mormon that archaeological or scientific studies have found no evidence of in post-Pleistocene, pre-Columbian America, frequently referred to as anachronisms.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. Items typically listed include cattle1 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

    http://www.mormonfortress.com/cows1.html, horses,"[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.) asses,, oxen, sheep, swine, goats1 Nephi 18:25

    http://www.irr.org/mit/smithsonian.html paragraph 4, elephants,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) wheat, steel, brass, chains, iron, scimitars, and chariots.


  • The lack of linguistic connection between any Native American languages and Near Eastern languages.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.


  • The lack of DNA evidence linking any Native American group to the ancient Near East.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. 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


Within the LDS movement, there have been many apologetical counter claims attempting to reconcile these apparent discrepancies. Among those apologetic groups, a great deal of research, opinion, and speculation has been published by the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), and Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research (FAIR), attempting to either prove the veracity of Book of Mormon claims, or countering arguments critical to its historical authenticity.

Manuscripts

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. These pages were never returned and are assumed to be lost. The original manuscript was then hand copied by Oliver Cowdery and two other scribes into a manuscript for the printer. 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.

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 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. In October 1841, the entire original manuscript was placed into the cornerstone of the Nauvoo Housemarker, 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. A total of only 28% 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 Archives. The printer's manuscript is now the earliest complete surviving copy of the Book of Mormon, being nearly 100% extant; it is owned by the Community of Christ.

Editions

Current

The Book of Mormon is published by the following:
Church publishers Year Titles and notes
LDS Church 1982 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.
Community of Christ 1966 "Revised Authorized Version", based on 1908 Authorized Version, 1837 edition and "original manuscript".
The Church of Jesus Christ 2001 Compiled by a committee of Apostles.
Richard Drew 1992 Photo-enlarged facsimile of the 1840 edition
Church of Christ 1990 Uses 1908 RLDS edition, 1830 edition, Printer's Manuscript, and corrections by church leaders.
Church of Christ with the Elijah Message 1957 The Record of the Nephites, "Restored Palmyra Edition". 1830 text with LDS chapters and verses.
Other publishers Year Titles and notes
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.
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.
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.
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.


Historic

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
E. B. Grandin 1830 "First edition" in Palmyra. Based on Printer's Manuscript copied from Original Manuscript.
Pratt and Goodson 1837 "Second edition" in Kirtlandmarker. Revision of first edition, using the Printer's Manuscript with emendations and grammatical corrections.
Robinson and Smith 1840 "Third edition" in Nauvoomarker. Revised by Joseph Smith in comparison to the Original Manuscript.
Young, Kimball and Pratt 1841 "First European edition". 1837 reprint with British spellings. Future editions descended from this, not the 1840 edition.
Franklin D. Richards 1852 "Third European edition". Edited by Richards. Introduced primitive verses (numbered paragraphs).
James O. Wright 1858 Unauthorized reprinting of 1840 edition. Used by the early RLDS Church in 1860s.
RLDS Church 1874 First RLDS edition. 1840 text with verses.
Deseret News 1879 Edited by Orson Pratt. Introduced footnotes, new verses, and shorter chapters.
RLDS Church 1908 "Authorized Version". New verses and corrections based on Printers Manuscript.
LDS Church 1920 Edited by James E. Talmage. Added introductions, double columns, chapter summaries, new footnotes, pronunciation guide.


Online

The following versions are available online:
Online editions Link Year Description and notes
Original 1830 Edition link 1830 Scanned copy of original 1830 printing of the Book of Mormon, by page.
LDS Church Internet Edition link 1994 Official internet edition of the Book of Mormon for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
LDS Church Audio Edition link 1994 Official LDS version of the Book of Mormon in mp3 audio format, 32 kbit/s.
RLDS Edition link 1908 Online version of the 1908 edition for the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Community of Christ).
Church of Christ (Temple Lot) Independence Edition link 1990 Official online 1990 Independence Edition, Church of Christ, PDF viewer required.
Restored Covenant Edition link 1999 The Restored Covenant Edition of The Book of Mormon
The Record of The Nephites link 1957 The name of the Book of Mormon given by The Church of Christ with the Elijah Message


Textual Criticism

In 1989, scholars at Brigham Young Universitymarker 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. 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.

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.

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 of the Book of Mormon 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.

Translations into languages without a tradition of writing (e.g., Kakchiqel, 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 many 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.

Footnotes

  1. . 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 .
  2. "Praise to the Man" Gordon B. Hinckley, Church President from 1995 to 2008, mentions the millions who have believed in the Book of Mormon, Statistical Report 2007
  3. http://www.fairlds.org/FAIR_Brochures/King_James_Bible_and_the_Book_of_Mormon.pdf
  4. http://www.lds-mormon.com/bookofmormonquestions.shtml#BOM10
  5. See for example
  6. See for example
  7. See for example
  8. “The Life and Ministry of Joseph Smith,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, (2007),xxii–25[1]
  9. Pearl Of Great Price, Joseph SMith - History 1:59
  10. .
  11. 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.
  12. .
  13. Testimony of Three Witnesses
  14. Testimony of Eight Witnesses
  15. , ,
  16. Doctrine and Covenants, Section 3 and
  17. Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), 70."
  18. Testimony of Joseph Smith
  19. “The Life and Ministry of Joseph Smith,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, (2007),xxii–25
  20. 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."
  21. The Book of Mormon Title Page
  22. Book Of Mormon, Words Of Mormon 1:3
  23. 1 Nephi 18:23
  24. Book Of Mormon, A BRIEF EXPLANATION ABOUT THE BOOK OF MORMON
  25. http://scriptures.lds.org/en/ether/1 See verse 3
  26. Sacred Sites: Searching for Book of Mormon Lands. by Joseph L. Allen Published: October 2003 p.8
  27. Book Of Mormon, Book of Moroni Chapter Summaries
  28. Book of Mormon, Moroni Ch. 10
  29. Book Of Mormon, Moroni 10:4
  30. .
  31. .
  32. .
  33. See to
  34. See , ; See also
  35. See
  36. See in the King James Version of the Bible
  37. , ,
  38. Isaiah 29:4
  39. ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; .
  40. ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; .
  41. .
  42. .
  43. .
  44. ; ; ; .
  45. See e.g. Russell M. Nelson, “Living by Scriptural Guidance,” Ensign, Nov 2000, 16–18 (discusses how the four standard works of the church can provide guidance in life)
  46. History of the Church, 4:461; see also Additional Information
  47. Ezra Taft Benson, “The Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, Jan 1992.
  48. http://scriptures.lds.org/dc/84/54-57#54; see also
  49. Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, Nov 1986, 4
  50. ; for further discussion see Gene R. Cook, “Moroni’s Promise,” Ensign, Apr 1994, 12.
  51. 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 at http://www.cofchrist.org/docs/NativeAmericanConference/keynote.asp
  52. 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
  53. http://www.religioustolerance.org/lds.htm
  54. 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."
  55. 1 Nephi 18:25
  56. Asses and horses are both in the genus Equus so see the footnote concerning horses.
  57. Ether 9:19
  58. 1 Nephi 4:9
  59. Alma 18:9
  60. http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/book_of_mormon/manuscripts.html
  61. http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/FQ_changes.shtml#printed
  62. There are three lines missing from the printer's manuscript in its current condition, covering 1 Nephi 1:7—8, 20. http://mi.byu.edu/publications/jbms/?vol=15&num=1&id=401
  63. The revised text was first published in 1981 and the subtitle was added in October 1982:
  64. BYU Catalog for "Book of Mormon. English. 1840 (1992)"
  65. Experience Press
  66. ; ;
  67. ; ;
  68. 3913 Changes in The Book of Mormon Jerald and Sandra Tanner
  69. "Taking the Scriptures to the World", Ensign, July 2001, 24
  70. Welcome
  71. "Translation Work Taking Book of Mormon to More People in More Tongues," Ensign, February 2005, 75–76
  72. "Translation Work Taking Book of Mormon to More People in More Tongues", 6 February 2005


See also



References



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