Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Book of Mormon - history

A painting of Joseph Smith Jr. receiving the Golden Plates from the angel Moroni.

Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon is one of the sacred texts of the Latter Day Saint movement, regarded by Latter Day Saints as divinely revealed and named after the prophet-historian Mormon who, according to the text, compiled most of the book. It was published by the founder of the movement, Joseph Smith, Jr., in March 1830 in Palmyra, New York, USA. Its purpose, as stated on its title page, "is to show the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord has done for their fathers" and to convince "Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself to all nations."

Joseph Smith, Jr. said the book was a translation of Golden Plates. He said that the angel Moroni told him the plates were buried in a hill near his home (which he later called the Hill Cumorah). He said the translation was made through the power of God with aid of the Urim and Thummim, which were with the plates. During the production of the work Smith obtained the affidavits of Three Witnesses and Eight Witnesses who testified they saw the plates. These affidavits are published as part of the Book. When the book was complete, he said he returned the plates to the angel Moroni.

Along with the Bible, which is also held by Latter Day Saints to be the Word of God as far as it is translated correctly, the Book of Mormon is esteemed as part of canon by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Community of Christ and other churches that claim Joseph Smith as their founder. In 1982, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints added the subtitle Another Testament of Jesus Christ to its editions of the book to help clarify and emphasize its purpose. Prior to 1982, some editions of the Book of Mormon had included the subtitle, A Second Testament of Jesus Christ.

Joseph Smith's own account of the authorship of the Book of Mormon
According to the accounts of Joseph Smith and his associates, the original record was engraved on thin, malleable sheets of metal with the appearance of gold and bound with three rings at one edge. The leaves were engraved on both sides with considerable skill. According to the account presented in the book, it is an abridgment of earlier records by Mormon and his son, Moroni, about 400 AD. At the end of Moroni's ministry (approximately 421 AD), he hid these plates along with several other items in a stone box in a hillside (now named the Hill Cumorah) near Palmyra, New York.

On September 22, 1823, Joseph Smith stated that he was directed by God through the angel Moroni to the place where the plates were stored. He was not immediately allowed to take them, but after four years was finally entrusted with them. Through the power of God and the Urim and Thummim he was able to translate the characters (which, according to the Book, were related to 600 BC Egyptian with Hebrew influence) into English.

Joseph Smith claimed he was commanded to show the plates to several people and no one else. Accounts by these individuals are recorded in the front of the Book of Mormon as "The Testimony of Three Witnesses" and "The Testimony of Eight Witnesses." Some of the witnesses later became disaffected with Joseph Smith's leadership and the church, but none withdrew their testimony of what they signed.[citation needed]

The golden plates were commonly referred to as a "Golden Bible," particularly by non-Mormons, though a few members also used the term in early descriptions. The label "Golden Bible" actually predates the Book of Mormon as legends of such an artifact existed in Canada and upstate New York while Joseph Smith was growing up in Vermont.

For more information visit:http://www.lds.org/portal/site/LDSOrg

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