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.
(The Title Page of the Book of Mormon)
The title page of the Book of Mormon is part of the ancient text of the book. As Joseph Smith explained:
The title-page of the Book of Mormon is a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand side of the collection or book of plates, which contained the record which has been translated, the language of the whole running the same as all Hebrew writing in general [that is, from right to left]; and that said title page is not by any means a modern composition, either of mine or of any other man who has lived or does live in this generation (Teachings: Joseph Smith, Chapter 4: The Book of Mormon: Keystone of Our Religion).
There are two interesting facts from this description. One is that the book was written from right to left, like a Hebrew book, rather than from left to right like a book in English. The other is that the title page was the very last page, not the first one. It seems likely, therefore, that it was written by Moroni and that he wrote it immediately after writing Moroni 10. In fact, there are a number of similarities between Moroni 10 and the title page, including:
- Moroni 10 was addressed to “my brethren, the Lamanites” (Moroni 10:1). They were the only people in Moroni’s world, and he wasn’t in a position to be able to teach them because they “put to death every Nephite that will not deny the Christ” (Moroni 1:2). I’m impressed that he was able to feel love toward them in spite of their hatred toward him, and that he made the effort to teach their descendants through the written word. On the title page, Moroni expands the audience, saying that the Book of Mormon as a whole is addressed “to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile.”
- He tells us on the title page that the Book of Mormon would come forth “by the gift and power of God.” Two of his exhortations in Moroni 10 are to “deny not the power of God” and to “deny not the gifts of God” (Moroni 10:7-8).
- Similarly, in Moroni 10, he exhorts his readers to “lay hold upon every good gift,” (Moroni 10:30), which recalls his father’s teaching that we can only “lay hold upon every good thing” if we learn not to condemn good things (Moroni 7:19). Similarly, Moroni concludes the title page with the following warning: “condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.”
- Incidentally, the last 3 verses of Moroni 10 are about becoming spotless so that we are prepared for the Final Judgment (Moroni 10:32-34).
- The three purposes of the Book of Mormon, as laid out on the title page, appear in Moroni 10:
- The first purpose is “to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers.” In Moroni 10, he exhorts his readers to “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” (Moroni 10:3).
- The second purpose is “that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever.” In Moroni 10, he exhorts the Lamanites to “awake, and arise from the dust,… that the covenants of the Eternal Father which he hath made unto thee, O house of Israel, may be fulfilled” (Moroni 10:31).
- The third purpose is “to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.” In Moroni 10, he exhorts his readers to “remember that [Christ] is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and that all these gifts of which I have spoken, which are spiritual, never will be done away, even as long as the world shall stand, only according to the unbelief of the children of men” (Moroni 10:19).
I’m grateful for the truths taught by Moroni in the final chapter of the Book of Mormon and on the title page. Today, I will remember how much our Heavenly Father loves His children, and how much He has blessed them throughout history. I will remember that He is the same “yesterday, today, and forever,” and that He keeps His covenants. I will have faith in Him, knowing that, just as He blessed his children in ancient times with gifts and power, He will bless me if I exercise faith in Him.