Tag Archives: Book of Mormon

Granite Vault

I’m really good at liking a topic for a few days, then being distracted by other things, and then losing the fire for what was so interesting in that topic. And/or, coming back to that topic later and basically rediscovering what I’d discovered, and never really progressing beyond that.

I think I want to write about wisdom in D&C 10 and Words of Mormon, in part as a chance to finally write-up my ideas about Words of Mormon. But that basically means I’m done researching and I just need to write up my thoughts. But then, I don’t feel like I’m done thinking about wisdom at all, so I feel like that’s cheating a bit, so I put things off. 🙂

Well, whether I’m doing that today or not, I’m not sure. But in thinking about what I’d like to say about the wisdom of Mormon making an abridgment, or the wisdom in Nephi et al making the small plates, the image I have in my head this morning is the Granite Vault that the Church keeps for genealogical records. It’s still pretty astounding to me that those are kept as they are – in a huge granite room in the mountainside! But it’s a testament to just how vital we think genealogical records are. It’s a massive back-up system, put in the earth, in a stone box, just in case our other records fail us.

That seems to me to be what Mormon’s abridgment was about too. He knew that the Lamanites would destroy any records they found. Ammaron had hidden the records in the earth and told Mormon where to find them. Later, Mormon went to that hill, and added his own account of the people’s history onto the plates. Later still, Mormon used those records to make an abridgment of the Nephite’s history that could be carried around and not left in that same hill – a history he could pass on to Moroni after he died. Moroni carries that record around [and adds to it, so was he carrying all of the other records? Did he sneak back to the hill to read? Did he receive the 24 plates when Mormon gave him the abridgment?] knowing that if the Lamanites found him, they would destroy that abridgment (though, hopefully the original documents would be safe in the hill). That is, the information in the plates was so important that it was wise to have a second copy just in case something happened.

Then Moroni, knowing that what was on the abridgment was so important — the most important parts of the story — he also hid that up in a stone box in a hill as our back up copy, and here we are hundreds of years later using the information from that hill to inform and restore our understanding of human history.

The other original documents still exist somewhere else. (Much like the original documents from libraries and churches and cemeteries and government offices all over the world.) But this back-up copy worked; it survived.

(There’s a story on the family search website about the records in the Vault restoring genealogical information that was lost in a storm in the Pacific islands. https://familysearch.org/archives/about-granite-mountain/)

But in addition to all of this, it seems that Nephi’s two plates also served this purpose! In part, there were two records in order that one had historical details and the other had spiritual details. We latter-day Saints usually note that but say that really he made two documents so that we could have the first half of the story when Martin Harris lost the 116 pages. So which is it? A back-up copy meant to restore information, or a separate document with a different purpose?

Great question.

What I want to mention here, and in the paper I hopefully write, is that Mormon, at least, saw this as a back-up copy. Or, he saw it as wise to have a second copy of the history focused mainly on the spiritual. Nephi may have as well. Why else would he have spent so long giving us the history of how they got to the new world, etc.? Why not just jump to the visions?

Also, does Nephi include so much Isaiah also as a back-up copy, just in case something happens to his people’s copy of the brass plates? Or just in case something happens to our latter-day copy of the Bible? (I don’t mean to fix little words here and there in Isaiah, for multiple reasons. But what if he thought whole chapters would be missing?)

The big insight that I want to write up somewhere is that I think Mormon sees the small plates as a back-up copy of sorts. When he adds his part through the Words of Mormon, I think that he adds much more than what we have there. I think that he adds an abridged abridgment, focused on prophecies and their fulfillments, of Nephite history from Benjamin on down to his own life. (I have an argument for this that I’ve written up on this blog elsewhere, and that would be the main thing I need to write up in a paper!) But if Mormon does do that as I suggest, then it seems that Mormon saw the Small Plates as another back up copy.

But he did put them with his other copy, so maybe not a back up copy. Or at least ,not a back up copy that would be safe if the Lamanites found the first copy. So a back up for what? A back up for our understanding, in case we missed the point of the first abridgment?

Hm. Gotta keep thinking about this way of framing things…


Moroni’s final words + title page

(Just for fun, I wanted to see what it would sound like to read Moroni’s final words in connection with the title page, since that was also written at the end of the Book of Mormon. Here’s how the title page and at least some of Moroni 10 sound back to back:)

The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi

Wherefore, it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites—Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile—Written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation—Written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed—To come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof—Sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by way of the Gentile—The interpretation thereof by the gift of God.

An abridgment taken from the Book of Ether also, which is a record of the people of Jared, who were scattered at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, when they were building a tower to get to heaven—Which is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations—And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.

(Moroni 10:)

3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

6 And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is.

7 And ye may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever.

8 And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them.

30 And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing.

31 And awake, and arise from the dust, O Jerusalem; yea, and put on thy beautiful garments, O daughter of Zion; and strengthen thy stakes and enlarge thy borders forever, that thou mayest no more be confounded, that the covenants of the Eternal Father which he hath made unto thee, O house of Israel, may be fulfilled.

32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.

34 And now I bid unto all, farewell. I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead. Amen.


Ether 12 notes from Joe’s class: The Book of Mormon is a gift

  • Moroni planned to end the Book of Mormon with Ether 15:29-30
    • Then it would end with the destruction of the Gentiles 
    • Gentiles were to be first readers of Book of Mormon! What a clear warning!
  • 12:4 What can’t Ether’s people see?
    • Abrahamic covenant — Abrahamic people are coming
    • Ether’s people, who descend from a pre-Abraham time, could be adopted into the Abrahamic covenant (but instead, they war and destroy themselves)
    • 13:1-14 is where Ether tries to explain this further
  • Ether 12:25 – see weakness
    • Do they worry, then stumble? Or is stumbling with words what reveals their weakness?
  • they = meek? or fools?
  • writing in less-familiar language (prefers Hebrew)
    • What if you had to write something so important, but in a second language?
  • 12:27 – how is grace “sufficient”?
    • grace “added” to Moroni’s words?
    • God translated = grace?
    • we also have a weak translator and a weak writer – when does grace come in?
  • Is weakness taken away?
    • No, it says they will “take no advantage of your weakness.” That means the weakness actually remains.
    • Grace is sufficient such that no one takes advantage
  • What would it mean to “take advantage”?
    • discount the book?
    • use it to teach false, screwy things?
    • attack leaders/person who translated it?
  • So, people do do that, so what does it mean that weakness won’t be taken advantage of?
  • Apparently meek don’t take advantage, but fools will mock
  • Weakness divides readers into 2 groups
    • (kind of like the hearers of the parables)
    • perhaps a mercy that some don’t accept it, b/c they would have greater condemnation?
  • So this book is supposed to be weak.
    • As if God says, “I want fools mocking and I want meek receiving”
    • Often we as Latter-day Saints want to prove that the Book of Mormon is true — STOP! That’s the problem Moroni had
  • v.27 now this idea of weakness is a general principle:
    • Not just Book of Mormon — you too
    • give weakness = humble
    • then gives grace = sufficient
  • Grace is being weak — it’s a gift!
  • Coming to God is not how we fix our weakness, it’s how we see it
  • with gift of grace and weakness, we can bring to pass great things (Benjamin)
  • Moroni says later “Deny not the gifts of God” – does he mean including weakness?
    • (I give unto men weakness)
  • Debt in connection with atonement, is only mentioned in King Benjamin’s speech
    • he says GRACE puts you in debt, not sin
    • are you ever out of debt? No, never
    • try to repay Him, and you are blessed again!
  • Perhaps sin is trying to get out from being God’s servant/slave/in an indebted relationship with Him
    • Either ignore the relationship of servant/slave entirely and go off doing bad stuff
    • Or, we try to be such a perfect servant that we look like we deserve everything we’ve been given
  • “Weak things” become strong
    • But they aren’t lost/changed/replaced
    • sounds like Paul — when I am weak, then I am strong
  • v.28 – Back to Gentiles
    • They will be tempted to mock weakness of Book of Mormon
    • What about your weakness, Gentiles?
    • What about my weakness?
    • Fools can’t see their own weakness (or admit) so they mock others’ weakness
  • Gentiles will see weakness via Faith, Hope, Charity
    • You can see why, when Moroni does add more to the Book of Mormon, he adds his father’s letters on faith, hope, and charity!
    • Moroni tries to find a way to make sure the Gentiles don’t mock by assuring they’ll have charity — But God cuts it short
  • Tells Moroni it doesn’t matter to him
  • Then Moroni bids farewell to Gentiles. “Farewell Gentiles. Good luck!” 🙂
  • Can the Gentiles see the book for what is is? or will they demand it be perfect? Question for all of us
  • Do we read the Book of Mormon in such a way that we take advantage of its weakness?
    • do we use it as an excuse not to get serious about figuring it out?
    • grammar is weird, sentences don’t flow, not well-written, oh well.
    • words were used differently than today so it sounds foreign, oh well
  • Joseph Smith reads v.37-38 before he dies.
    • Farewell Gentiles. Good luck!
  • Its weakness is a gift.
    • with its millions of “it came to pass”es, it’s a gift
    • words you have to look up, it’s a gift
    • God doesn’t give us a list of doctrines, He gives us this.
    • It’s a gift

Joe’s post on what the Book of Mormon says about “adding to” or “taking away” from the Bible

Yay! It’s up! We talked a lot about this post and it went up today so I can link to it:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peculiarpeople/2015/02/the-prophecy-of-this-book/

Definitely worth the time!!


Just thinking about introducing the Book of Mormon

I really like this introduction, already printed in the Book of the Mormon. I am considering giving a friend a copy, and I wanted to see how it was worded and if I though it would work well for her. I am copying and pasting here the first half of the introduction. I think I would print up this part and add a letter to go with it:

The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God’s dealings with ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains the fulness of the everlasting gospel.

 The book was written by many ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Their words, written on gold plates, were quoted and abridged by a prophet-historian named Mormon. The record gives an account of two great civilizations. One came from Jerusalem in 600 B.C.and afterward separated into two nations, known as the Nephites and the Lamanites. The other came much earlier when the Lord confounded the tongues at the Tower of Babel. This group is known as the Jaredites. After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians.

 The crowning event recorded in the Book of Mormon is the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ among the Nephites soon after His resurrection. It puts forth the doctrines of the gospel, outlines the plan of salvation, and tells men what they must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come.

 After Mormon completed his writings, he delivered the account to his son Moroni, who added a few words of his own and hid up the plates in the Hill Cumorah. On September 21, 1823, the same Moroni, then a glorified, resurrected being, appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and instructed him relative to the ancient record and its destined translation into the English language.

 In due course the plates were delivered to Joseph Smith, who translated them by the gift and power of God. The record is now published in many languages as a new and additional witness that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God and that all who will come unto Him and obey the laws and ordinances of His gospel may be saved.


How would you introduce the Book of Mormon?

I have been thinking a lot about how the Book of Mormon introduces itself here and there in the record itself; also about how I would present an introduction to the book. What a hard job that would be! So many different potential audiences! I thought, though, that trying to prepare one such introduction would be a good challenge for me. I say “one such” because it would be impossible to do a perfect one. Each write-up would focus on different things that would also be a good introduction to the book. And each write- up would tailor it to a different audience, focusing on those details that would connect with those people.

So without time to write it up fully this morning (and knowing me, I’ll get on to some other question and never finish!), here is a list of some of the things I might include:

  • A comparison or summary of the Old and New Testaments, explaining that the Old Testament is a record of a people with a covenant, but who misunderstood Christ when he came; the New Testament is a record of many individuals who believed in and worshiped Jesus Christ as their Savior, but who misunderstood the place of the Abrahamic Covenant in the future Church. The Book of Mormon is a record of a people who both worship Christ himself and hold tight to the Abrahamic Covenant.
  • They are a branch of the family of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob who broke off from the rest about 600BC in part because the rest of the family rejected the coming of a Messiah who would overcome the sins of all the world, and not just deliver the covenant people from physical oppression (see the summary of Lehi’s preaching in chapter 1 of 1st Nephi).
  • This branch of the family keeps written records from the moment they brake off from the rest of Israel, through hundreds of years in a new home, until finally in about 400AD they have also rejected both Christ and God’s covenants and destroy each other in a civil war. Mormon is a man who lived at the end of this war. He was the inheritor of the large collection of records which described their wars and prophets and how their faithfulness or unfaithfulness had affected the prosperity of the people. Mormon was afraid that the people would not keep their records now that they had rejected Christ and God’s covenants. So he made an abridgement of these records, a much smaller version that he could carry around while the civil war raged on and on (see Mormon, chapter 6). The large collection of records he buried up in a hill to keep them safe. He continued to add his own record of the war on his smaller version. When he died, his son Moroni inherited the smaller record and continued to add to it. He was the last person to write on that record, and he buried it in the ground. It was this smaller record that Joseph Smith found and translated.

Also:

  • Maybe a chart or another way to show how certain parts are abridged and certain parts aren’t?\
  • An explanation of the idea of “plain and precious” and “covenants” being taken (see 2 Nephi) and perhaps also pointing to the preface to section 76.

Well Micah is laying on my lap kicking my arms and laughing, so I think it’s time to go and get him breakfast!


Search results for “Covenant” in the Book of Mormon

Sometimes we get asked where the Abrahamic Covenant shows up in the Book of Mormon. It’s one of those things that as soon as you know what to look for, you see it all over the place! Any time where it talks about covenants of their fathers, or covenant to Joseph, or covenant to Abraham, or covenants to remember Israel — these are all examples of where Book of Mormon prophets talk about the Abrahamic Covenant.

I decided to make a print-out of all the places where the word “covenant” shows up in the Book of Mormon. It turned out to be 12 full pages, 3 columns, 10 point font!

As I looked through it, I noticed how well it confirmed something that Joe had told me before: As soon as we get to Mosiah, talk of Abraham or the covenant entirely disappears, and it only returns when Christ returns. And when Christ comes, He talks and talks and talks about the covenant made to the fathers (Abraham, Issac, and Jacob/Israel). From that point on, every mention of “covenant” is to the Abrahamic covenant (that made with the fathers about the people usually called “Israel”), except perhaps the last one: Moroni 10:33.

I hadn’t thought about it before, but perhaps the Book of Mormon models what has been prophesied of the last days: it models a situation where a covenant people has forgotten its connection with ancient covenants; it has forgotten that is it Israel and left off talking about God’s covenant with them as a whole people. This has happened by the time of King Benjamin, but we might have seen it happening before that point if we had the rest of Mormon’s abridgment. Then when Christ comes, He “remembers” the people. He remembers them by not letting them be entirely destroyed but preserving a remnant. He remembers them by teaching them about the covenants talked about in Isaiah and Micah and Malachi. He promises them that in the future, their seed will not be destroyed and when they forget again that they are Israel (from Mormon’s time on until the present), God will not let them remain that way forever, but will send the Book of Mormon itself to teach that people that they are Israel and that He remembers still that ancient covenant. Look at the Title Page again:

Which is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—

Which, I think could be said, it exactly what Christ did when He came in Third Nephi. I had never noticed that the Book of Mormon itself models what it says will happen in the last days! It is perhaps trying to prove to future readers that God has already kept His promise once, and He will do it again!

Now, the rest of this post will be very, very long. I am going to copy and paste my entire list of search results for covenant. If it’s in normal letters “covenant” then it refers to the Abrahamic covenant in some way. If it’s in italic letters “covenant” then it refers to personal covenants made between an individual and God, such as a baptismal covenant. And finally, if it’s in italics and also crossed out then it means a covenant between humans and humans, such as the Gadianton robbers. Here it goes!

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