The Book of Mormon: A Book for Our Day

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Daniel H. Ludlow
The Book of Mormon Was Written for Our Day

Of the 522 pages in the present edition of the Book of Mormon, more than 515 were either written or abridged by four men: Nephi, Jacob, Mormon, and Moroni. Four of the remaining seven pages were written by two additional writers—Enos and Jarom. All of these major writers of the Book of Mormon fully understood that their writings were primarily for the people of future generations, rather than for the people of their own day.

That each of these writers understood that the records were designed primarily for future generations is made clear in the following quotations:

Nephi: “The Lord God promised unto me that these things which I write shall be kept and preserved, and handed down unto my seed, from generation to generation….” (2 Nephi 25:21.)

Jacob: “For he [Nephi] said that the history of his people should be engraven upon his other plates, and that I should preserve these plates and hand them down unto my seed, from generation to generation.” (Jacob 1:3.)

Enos: “Wherefore, I knowing that the Lord God was able to preserve our records, I cried unto him continually…that he would preserve the records; and he covenanted with me that he would bring them forth unto the Lamanites in his own due time.” (Enos, verses 15-16.)

Jarom: “And as these plates…are written for the intent of the benefit of our brethren the Lamanites,…it must needs be that I write a little….” (Jarom, verse 2.)

Mormon: “…I would speak somewhat unto the remnant of this people who are spared,…that they may know of the things of their fathers; yea, I speak unto you, ye remnant of the house of Israel….” (Mormon 7:1.)

Moroni: “I write a few more things, that perhaps they may be of worth unto my brethren, the Lamanites, in some future day….” (Moroni 1:4.)

Through the power of vision and prophecy, these writers were shown the people of our day, for whom they were writing their records. Thus, from the voluminous records at their disposal, they were able to select those principles and experiences which would be most useful in helping us to meet our challenges and solve our problems. An effect of these visions of the future is indicated by Moroni in the following statement:

“Behold, the Lord hath shown unto me great and marvelous things concerning that which must shortly come, at that day when these things shall come forth among you.

“Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.” (Mormon 8:34-35.)

The following brief quotations show the extent to which Moroni saw our day in vision. Concerning the conditions which would exist in the world at the time of the publication of the Book of Mormon, Moroni expressed the following thoughts in Mormon chapter 8:
“It shall be said that miracles are done away. (verse 26.)
“It shall come in a day when the power of God shall be denied. (verse 28.)
“There shall also be heard of wars, rumors of wars, and earthquakes. (verse 30.)
“There shall be great pollutions upon the face of the earth;…murders…robbing…lying…deceivings…whoredoms, and all manner of abominations. (verse 31.)
“There shall be many who will say, Do this, or do that, and it mattereth not, for the Lord will uphold such at the last day. (verse 31.)
“There shall be churches built up that shall say: Come unto me, and for your money you shall be forgiven of your sins. (verse 32.)
“Ye do walk in the pride of your hearts…and your churches…have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts. (verse 36.)
“Ye do love money…more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted. (verse 37.)
“Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? (verse 38.)
“Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life? (verse 39.)
“Why do ye build up your secret abominations to get gain?” (verse 40.)

Many purposes can and have been listed for the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, including the following list of reasons prepared by B.H. Roberts:

First, to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord has done for their fathers.

Second, to teach them the covenants the Lord made with their fathers, that the remnants may know that they are not cast off forever.

Third, to convince both Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, and that He manifests Himself to all nations.

Fourth, to bring the knowledge of a Saviour to the remnant of the house of Israel on the western hemisphere, through the testimony of the Nephites and Lamanites as well as through the testimony of the Jews, that they might more fully believe the Gospel.

Fifth, to bring to the Jews the testimony of the Nephites that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God; that they might have the testimony of the Nephites as well as that of their fathers that Jesus is their Messiah.

Sixth, to be a witness for the truth of the Bible, to establish its authenticity and its credibility by bringing other witnesses than those of the Eastern world to testify to the same great truths that are contained in the sacred pages of the Bible.

Seventh, to restore to the knowledge of mankind many plain and precious truths concerning the Gospel which men have taken out of the Jewish Scriptures, or obscured by their interpretations.

Other students and scholars have suggested the following additional reasons for the publication of the Book of Mormon:
1. To help the people of this generation solve their problems.
2. To convince mankind that every person must be judged of his works.
3. To prepare the faithful for the second coming of Jesus Christ, and for the millennial reign.
4. To test the faith of this generation and to help the faithful.
5. To provide mankind with secrets of national survival.

Unfortunately, many members of the Church read the Book of Mormon as though it were simply a history book. The major writers of the Book of Mormon did not intend it to be a history book at all. In fact, Jacob said that his brother Nephi commanded him that he “should not touch, save it were lightly, concerning the history of this people.” (Jacob 1:2.) The Book of Mormon was written to include principles which would help us solve our problems.

Each time we read a story or incident in the Book of Mormon, we should ask ourselves these questions: Why did Mormon (or Nephi, etc.) select this particular story or event to include in the records? What principle is contained in this account which would help us understand and solve our problems?

The following are major areas of interest to us:
1. Advantages and disadvantages of different methods of government.
2. Causes and effects of war (The answers to such questions as, Under what conditions is war justified? Should we disarm if any enemy is preparing to come to battle against us? Etc.)
3. Secrets of national survival (The Book of Mormon includes principles which can help a righteous people preserve themselves from their enemies.)
4. Evils and dangers of secret combinations which are built up to get power and gain over the people.
5. Inherent weakness of priestcraft, and a warning for us against those who set themselves up as teachers of the truth but who are not concerned with the welfare of Zion.
6. Reality of the devil, and an indication of some of the methods he uses.
7. Wise and proper uses of wealth.
8. Plain and precious truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
9. Reality and divinity of Jesus Christ and His atonement.
10. Major aspects of the gathering of the House of Israel in the last day.
11. Purposes and principles of missionary work.
12. Warnings against pride, indifference, procrastinations, dangers of following false traditions, hypocrisy, unchastity, etc.

The prophets of the Book of Mormon have given us sound principles and excellent advice which we can use in meeting our problems today. It is up to us to learn these principles and to apply them in our lives.
Daniel H. Ludlow, “The Book of Mormon Was Written for Our Day,” Instructor, July 1966, pp. 265-66
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There are some misconception in a normal Sunday School setting when teachers would point out that the translation was done by the Urim & Thummim alone. That is not the case. Apostle B.H. Roberts noted some earlier journal entries that revealed that Joseph had seer stones to aid him in this translation.

The Prophet possessed a Seer Stone, by which he was enabled to translate as well as with the Urim and Thummim, and for convenience he sometimes used the Seer Stone. Martin said further that the Seer Stone differed in appearance entirely from the Urim and Thummim that was obtained with the plates, which were two clear stones set in two rims, very much resembling spectacles, only they were larger.

The Seer Stone referred to here was a chocolate-colored, somewhat egg-shaped stone which the Prophet found while digging a well in company with his brother Hyrum, for a Mr. Clark Chase, near Palmyra, N. Y. It possessed the qualities of Urim and Thummim, since by means of it--as described above--as well as by means of the Interpreters found with the Nephite record, Joseph was able to translate the characters engraven on the plates. [6 B.H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Vol. 1 (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1957), 129.]

Looking at our current technology, storage devices in the near future will be replaced by Crystal Array Device. It has been in the works since the 1990s and should be on the market in the coming decade. Something to think about....:D

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I was reminded, the reasoning behind on what I wrote earlier, the answer is within the first verse, that the children did not receive all of the gospel from their parents. Note here, the phrase "I WAS TAUGHT SOMEWHAT.." For me, it just says, I receive a portion of the truth, but not all the truth from my parents. Does that make sense?

1 I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father;

Though, the term GOODLY is only crossed reference once to a Proverbs verse [22:1], GOOD but I don't think Nephi was referring to worldly riches.

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Adding to Heather's list, same author, gives a comprehensive list of major messages for our time.

The Book of Mormon offers many major messages for our time. Following is only a partial list of those messages that seem to have a modern application. In other words, the Book of Mormon provides information on these subjects that should help us solve serious problems and challenges we now face. Some of these pertain primarily to members of the Church, but most of them pertain to all mankind.

1. The principle of moral agency. This is critical to our political, economic, and social life. See 2 Nephi 2:11, 15-16, 26-27; 10:23; 26:27; Mosiah 2:33; 5:8; 18:28; 23:13; Alma 3:26-27; 12:31; 13:3; 29:4-5; 41:3-7; 58:40-41; 61:9, 21; Helaman 14:30-31.

2. Dealing with unbelievers within the Church. The story of Korihor in Alma 30:37-53 is a good example. See also Alma 1:1-25; 2; 11:21-46; 12:1-9; 14:26-29; 15:1-12; 31-35.

3. The preparation of a people for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the millennial reign. The seven pages of the Book of Omni (361 b.c. to 130 b.c.) and the four pages of 4 Nephi (36 a.d. to 321 a.d.) cover 516 years—half the time period of the Lehite record. But the 261 pages of Mosiah, Alma, and Helaman cover only 130 years (130 b.c. to 1 b.c.). Why? See also Helaman 14-16 and 3 Nephi 1-11.

4. The nature and purpose of translated beings. The experience of the three Nephite disciples helps us understand Elijah, Moses, and John the Revelator. The Book of Mormon indeed offers "inspired commentary" on the Bible. See Alma 45:18-19; 3 Nephi 28:1-12; 36-40; Ether 15:34.

5. The proper uses of wealth. See 2 Nephi 26:30; Jacob 2:12-14; 17-19; Mosiah 4:16, 26.

6. America is a choice land to the righteous. See 1 Nephi 2:19-20; 13:30; 2 Nephi 1:1-12, 20; 10:19; Alma 36:30; 37:13; Ether 1:38-43; 2:7-12, 15; 9:20; 10:28; 13:2.

7. The principles of national survival, including the importance of the spirit of discernment. See Alma 43:23-24; Mosiah 10:10-11; Alma 2:30-38; 37:13; 56:46-56; 3 Nephi 4:8-15; Mormon 2:14-15; 3:2, 7-8; Ether 2:7-12; 9:20; Moroni 9:20.

8. Advice and principles concerning different types of government. For examples on monarchy, the reign of judges, and other government types, see Mosiah 2:9-19; 11:1-15; 23:7-8; 29:1-44; Helaman 5:1-2; 3 Nephi 7:1-3; Ether 6:22-30.

9. What causes war? The Book of Mormon examines cycles of righteousness, blessings, prosperity, pride, selfishness (class distinction, persecution, hatred), war, punishment, humility, and repentance. See 1 Nephi 14:15-17; 22:13-14, 17; Alma 16:9-10; 50:21; Mormon 4:11-12; Ether 13-15.

10. Is war justified? See1 Nephi 14:15-17; 22:13-14; Alma 16:9-10; 43:46-47; 48:14; 50:21; 3 Nephi 3:20-21; Mormon 4:11-12; Ether 13-15).

11. Does God always protect the righteous in time of war or threatened destruction?

12. The reality of the devil and some of the methods he uses.

13. The importance of keeping a sacred oath or of keeping one's word.

14. Why we should be humble without being compelled to be humble. See Alma 31 for Alma's experience with the Zoramites.

15. Warnings against indifference and procrastination.

16. Warnings against pride.

17. Warnings against the dangers of following false traditions.

18. Warnings against the teachings of agnostics, atheists, and unbelievers. See the stories of Korihor (Alma 30), Nehor (Alma 1-2), and Sherem (Jacob 7).

19. Warnings against hypocrisy and idols.

20. Warnings against unchastity.

21. Warnings against priestcraft. " He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion" (2 Nephi 26:29).

22. Warnings against the evils and dangers of secret combinations.Such warnings can be found in several books: 2 Nephi 9:9; 26:22; Alma; Helaman; 3 Nephi; 4 Nephi; Mormon; Ether 8-9, 11, 13, 14. The warnings found in the Book of Ether may be why Moroni included this book.

23. Warnings against the corrupting powers of heavy taxation. See the example of wicked king Noah in Mosiah 11.

24. The importance of serving our fellowmen.

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“Ye do love money…more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted. (verse 37.)...

“Why do ye build up your secret abominations to get gain?” (verse 40.)

I can't help but think of all the dirty politicians, giant corporations, earmark spending and private contributions with shady, smoke-filled back room deals, etc going on now in the government.

The little guy (tax-payer) is getting hurt with soaring prices on food, fuel, etc. I have no doubt we're in the last days, but we've been in the last days for quite some time, even at the door.

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I would love to get people's ideas on this. I have put together a little something to track the plates from author to author and to help define the large plates and the small plates. Also, to bring out the fact that Mosiah (Benjamin's father, not son) left the Land of Nephi, much like Lehi left Jerusalem, and the people of Zarahemla became Nephites. Please offer suggestions or corrections.

Book of Mormon Writers in Order

Division of Small Plates of Nephi and Large Plates of Nephi, who they were passed to, and who wrote in each book, and a little history to help understand the separation of the Land of Nephi and Zarahemla:

Small Plates of Nephi

1 Nephi

2 Nephi

Jacob (Nephi's brother)

Enos (Jacob's son)

Jarom (Enos' son)

Omni (Jarom's son)

These plates were passed to the name of each book until Omni.

Within Omni, the plates were passed to:

Amaron (Omni's son)

Chemish (Amaron's brother)

Abinabom (Chemish's son)

Amaleki (Abinadom's son)

Amaleki wrote of how Mosiah (father of King Benjamin) was commanded by the Lord to leave the land of Nephi and take all those who would go with him into the wilderness (Omni 1: 12-15). They found a city called Zarahemla. The people of Zarahemla and those Nephites that went with Mosiah united in Zarahemla, and Mosiah became their king and he taught the people of Zarahemla to understand his language. The people of Zarahemla left Jerusalem at the time king Zedekiah was carried away captive into Babylon (about the same time as Lehi, presumably after Lehi left since they knew Zedekiah was carried away, but not too long after since they didn’t seem to know what happened to Zedekiah once in Babylon).

Omni 1:

23 Behold, I, Amaleki, was born in the days of Mosiah; and I have lived to see his death; and Benjamin, his son, reigneth in his stead.

The book of Mosiah is named after the son of king Benjamin, not the Mosiah that left the land of Nephi. It was here that Mosiah (Benjamin's son) translated a stone that spoke of Coriantumr, who the people of Zarahemla found shortly after they arrived on the land. Coriantumr lived with the people of Zarahemla 9 moons. Coriantumr's people left Jerusalem at the confounding of the languages during the time of the Tower of Babel.

Mosiah 1:

1 AND now there was no more contention in all the land of Zarahemla, among all the people who belonged to king Benjamin, so that king Benjamin had continual peace all the remainder of his days.

2 And it came to pass that he had three sons; and he called their names Mosiah, and Helorum, and Helaman. And he caused that they should be taught in all the language of his fathers, that thereby they might become men of understanding; and that they might know concerning the prophecies which had been spoken by the mouths of their fathers, which were delivered them by the hand of the Lord.

The Words of Mormon divide his abridgment of the Small Plates of Nephi from the Large Plates of Nephi. Mormon's abridgment of the Large Plates of Nephi comprise:

Mosiah (Son of Benjamin, not the one who fled the land of Nephi)



3rd Nephi

4th Nephi

Mormon (to chapter 7)

Mormon explained it in The Words of Mormon (after Omni) this way:

10 Wherefore, it came to pass that after Amaleki had delivered up these plates (Small Plates of Nephi) into the hands of king Benjamin, he took them and put them with the other plates (Large Plates of Nephi), which contained records which had been handed down by the kings, from generation to generation until the days of king Benjamin.

11 And they were handed down from king Benjamin, from generation to generation until they have fallen into my hands...

So, from that point on (Benjamin) it would seem the plates were handed from father to son.


Mormon 8:

1 Behold I, Moroni, do finish the record of my father, Mormon...

Moroni wrote chapters 8 and 9 in the Book of Mormon. Then, he abridged the record of the people of Coriantor, which was written by his descendant Ether, who were led away from Jerusalem at the time the Lord counfounded the language of the people when they built the Tower of Babel.

Ether 1:

6 And on this wise do I give the account. He that wrote this record was Ether, and he was a descendant of Coriantor.

Some notable events that happened after the reign of king Mosiah (son of Benjamin):

Ammon leads a small group of people from Zarahemla to find the people of Zeniff, or the descendants of those who left Zarahemla long ago.

Limhi sent men from the land of Nephi to find the land of Zarahemla. And, some people, who used to live in the land of Nephi, left Zarahemla earlier to find the Nephites or Lamanites. Before Amaleki, who gave the plates to King Benjamin, died he said this...

Omni 1:

29 And it came to pass that they also took others to a considerable number, and took their journey again into the wilderness.

30 And I, Amaleki, had a brother, who also went with them; and I have not since known concerning them. And I am about to lie down in my grave; and these plates are full. And I make an end of my speaking.

Both sides were sending groups of people to find the other. Ammon, who came from Zarahemla, was finally successful in finding the Land of Nephi…

Mosiah 21:

24 But when he (king Limhi) found that they (Ammon and those with him) were not (priests of Noah), but that they were his brethren, and had come from the aland of Zarahemla, he was filled with exceedingly great joy.

25 Now king Limhi had sent, previous to the coming of Ammon, a asmall number of men to bsearch for the land of Zarahemla; but they could not find it, and they were lost in the wilderness.

26 Nevertheless, they did find a land which had been peopled; yea, a land which was covered with dry bones; yea, a land which had been peopled and which had been destroyed; and they, having supposed it to be the land of Zarahemla, returned to the land of Nephi, having arrived in the borders of the land not many days before the coming of Ammon.

27 And they brought a record with them, even a record of the people whose bones they had found; and it was engraven on plates of ore.

28 And now Limhi was again filled with joy on learning from the mouth of Ammon that king Mosiah had a gift from God, whereby he could interpret such engravings; yea, and Ammon also did rejoice.

These are the same 24 plates of "ore" that Moroni abridged as the Book of Ether.

Ether 1:

1 And now I, Moroni, proceed to give an account of those ancient inhabitants who were destroyed by the hand of the Lord upon the face of this north country.

2 And I take mine account from the twenty and four plates which were found by the people of Limhi, which is called the Book of Ether.

3 And as I suppose that the first part of this record, which speaks concerning the creation of the world, and also of Adam, and an account from that time even to the great tower, and whatsoever things transpired among the children of men until that time, is had among the Jews—

Then Moroni writes a "few more words" called the The Book of Moroni and seals up the records.

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When there are discussions about the Book of Mormon and about how it fits into our day I become concerned that many think it is inspired and directed towards those that do not reed it. I, on the other hand, believe it is directly pointed to those that read it. The warnings are specifically for us Later-Day Saints.

And yes - I do not know about you guys but I struggle ever day with pride.

The Traveler

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  • 3 weeks later...

Number 24 needs to be pointed out to my elders quorum....

And just telling them doesn't seem to work :)

You need to have a major natural disaster to motivate them, at least for a weekend. Our ward will be going down to assist the flood victims in souther Indiana this weekend.

In the recent Sunday School GD class, we've discussed Alma's coming up as high priest and chief judge, his struggles with Nehor and Amlici.

One thing I noted was the change in the Church members over just a few years. Right after Alma went forth to straighten out the Church the first time, the members were humble and even though they became wealthier than the non-members, they used their wealth to help the poor and needy. While the wicked quickly went to the first main sign of pride: pricey clothing; the righteous were "neat and comely" in appearance. (I'm not quite sure how that works out for Mitt Romney's new $12M home in California.) ^_^

After the wars with Amlici's people, the Church became wealthy again. However, this time the Church jumped on the pride and money wagon. They wore the fancy clothes, refused to assist the poor and needy, and persecuted those they felt were underneath them.

Such pride, with its easy first markers of wickedness, is a tell-tale sign of upcoming tribulation and destruction if the modern day Nephites: Americans, and particularly LDS, do not heed this warning.

We've been warned by modern prophets to get out of debt. Get food storage. Own an affordable home. Fix up our homes. Do the basics such as: scripture study, prayer, FHE, fasting, and service. Set an example.

Recently they've warned of pornography as an evil deception that destroys families. I can just imagine Jacob standing at the temple, wagging his finger at the men for watching filthy Internet and tv porn, showing how such actions cause wives and children to suffer and cry.

After reading it over 75 times, I am amazed at how intricate the book is, and how in touch with our day it is.

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I do occasionally listen to scriptures on my MP3 player. Sometimes the lull me to sleep, the voices they use are so calm and peaceful...

However, I get more out of them when I read, but mostly because I am a more visual than aural person. I like to pause and ponder what I'm reading, which I'm less apt to do when listening. Still, I can listen easier when biking or moving about than I can reading the text.

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  • 2 months later...

I am no bragger when it comes to reading the BoM. That is less than 3 times a year since I joined the Church in 1975.

I have a friend who is a stake president, Tom Matkin, who has read the Book of Mormon through once a month, every month without fail, for over 20 years. He's literally read the book hundreds of times, 18 pages a day. THAT is an admirable goal to aspire to.

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Reading it that fast really inhibits your understanding of it would it not?

I think that is too fast to really delve into it and understand it.

It depends on the individual. I find value in reading it both quickly and slowly. Once you've read it several dozen times, the wording is familiar enough that small phrases leap out at you to ponder, even when reading it quickly.

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I read abuot 2 hours per day. One hour in the morning and then 15-20 min intervals throughout the day. I manage to read it twice per year since 1998 when I joined the church. I tend to read other things during the weekend.

I think it is different for everyone but I am inclined to believe that reading too fast keeps us from really savoring the text and reflecting on its meaning.

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