The coming forth of the Book of Mormon, foretold by ancient prophets, began with an angelic visitation in 1823 to 17-year-old Joseph Smith. Seven years later, in 1830, this scriptural canon of the Latter-day Saints was published for the world. “The Book of Mormon [is] the most correct of any book on earth,” Joseph Smith stated, “and the keystone1 of our religion.”2 These scriptures testify of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, His mission, and His ministry.
The Prophet Joseph received these ancient metal records written in “reformed Egyptian” from the heavenly messenger Moroni3 and translated them by “the gift and power of God”4 into the Book of Mormon. The sacred writings chronicle God’s dealings with his people in the Western Hemisphere centuries ago.
The prophetic work of Joseph Smith rapidly unfolded as the Book of Mormon went “before the world.”5 Joseph declared that “a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”6
Joseph Smith Quotes
“By the power of God I translated the Book of Mormon from hieroglyphics, the knowledge of which was lost to the world, in which wonderful event I stood alone, an unlearned youth, to combat the worldly wisdom and multiplied ignorance of eighteen centuries, with a new revelation” (History of the Church, 6:74).
“Great opposition and much persecution followed the believers of [the Book of Mormon’s] authenticity; but it had now come to pass that truth had sprung out of the earth; and righteousness had looked down from heaven—so we feared not our opponents, knowing that we had both truth and righteousness on our side; that we had both the Father and the Son, because we had the doctrines of Christ, and abided in them” (Times and Seasons, Dec. 1, 1842, 22).
“I did translate the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God, and it is before the world, and all the powers of earth and hell can never rob me of the honour of it” (quoted in James Palmer, Journal, 75, Church History Library, Salt Lake City; capitalization modernized).
Ezra Taft Benson, 13th President of the Church, 1985–1994
“The Book of Mormon is the keystone in our witness of Jesus Christ, who is Himself the cornerstone of everything we do. . . .
“. . . Just as the arch crumbles if the keystone is removed, so does all the Church stand or fall with the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. . . . If the Book of Mormon be true—and millions have now testified that they have the witness of the Spirit that it is indeed true—then one must accept the claims of the Restoration and all that accompanies it” (“The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 5–6).
Russell M. Nelson, 17th President of the Church, 2018–Present
“I have read [the Book of Mormon] many times. I have also read much that has been written about it. Some authors have focused upon its stories, its people, or its vignettes of history. Others have been intrigued by its language structure or its records of weapons, geography, animal life, techniques of building, or systems of weights and measures.
“Interesting as these matters may be, study of the Book of Mormon is most rewarding when one focuses on its primary purpose—to testify of Jesus Christ” (“A Testimony of the Book of Mormon,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 69).
William W. Phelps, Early Member of the Church
“By that book I found a key to the holy prophets; and by that book began to unfold the mysteries of God, and I was made glad. Who can . . . estimate the worth of such a book?” (William W. Phelps to Oliver Cowdery, “Letter No. 10,” Messenger and Advocate, Sept. 1835, 178).
What is contained in the Book of Mormon?
The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. As the Bible is a record of God’s dealings with the inhabitants of the Eastern Hemisphere, the Book of Mormon tells of a people who were led by God from Jerusalem to the Western Hemisphere 600 years prior to the birth of the Savior. The Lord blessed them with prophets as He had His children in the Old World. Following His Crucifixion and Resurrection, Jesus Christ appeared to these people in the Western Hemisphere and taught them His gospel, which is contained in the Book of Mormon.
How significant is the Book of Mormon to us today?
The Book of Mormon was written anciently for our day. It was prepared by the hand of the Lord over a period of more than a thousand years by seers who were writing and speaking to future readers. They saw, understood, and spoke to us in the last days. “Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present,” Mormon wrote (Mormon 8:35). The records were preserved for another 1,500 years to come forth in their purity for our generation. Joseph Smith taught, “Take away the Book of Mormon and the revelations, and where is our religion? We have none” (History of the Church, 2:52).
Online Resources at ChurchofJesusChrist.org
- “A Period of Preparation, 1823–29”—Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual (Church Educational System manual, 2003), 37–51
- “Repent and Remember . . . the Book of Mormon”—in “The Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual (Church Educational System manual, 2002), 184
- “The Plates Were Translated”—in “Joseph Smith: First President of the Church,” Presidents of the Church Student Manual (Church Educational System Manual, 2004), 8
- “Heavenly Tutors Were Sent to Joseph”—in “Joseph Smith: First President of the Church,” Presidents of the Church Student Manual (Church Educational System Manual, 2004), 8
- “Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon”—in “Establishing the Foundations of the Church,” Our Heritage: A Brief History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1996), 5–11