Book of Mormon Come Follow Me Cornerstone

Come Follow Me 2024: Book of Mormon Resources

See what scholars, historians, and general authorities teach about the Book of Mormon.

The Come Follow Me 2024 Sunday School lessons focus on the Book of Mormon. We’ve put together this library of study helps that cover everything from the gold plates and translation of the Book of Mormon to the theology taught by Jesus Christ in 3 Nephi. We’ve also got 2024’s Book of Mormon reading chart with links to the Church website.

Frequently updated. This will be updated throughout the year as we publish new articles about Come Follow Me 2024. We also regularly add new content that you might find interesting:

Come Follow Me 2024: Table of Contents

Come Follow Me 2024 and the Gold Plates

The angel Moroni gave the book to Joseph Smith

A resurrected angel named Moroni gave Joseph Smith the golden plates that would be used to translate the Book of Mormon. The angel Moroni tutored the prophet for several years, and there are nearly two dozen documented encounters.

Emma Smith protected the gold plates

Emma Hale Smith repeatedly took measures to keep the gold plates safe from enemies of the Prophet. In one instance, she rode bareback on a horse for an hour to warn Joseph about efforts to steal the plates. In another, Emma hid the plates in a barrel of beans and asked her brother to sleep outside and guard the barrel.

We aren’t sure why Joseph needed the gold plates

The gold plates play a key role in the narrative of the Book of Mormon’s translation. And scholars such as Richard Bushman think that the plates were essential to Joseph’s translation process. They just aren’t sure why.

For example, historical records suggest that Joseph rarely consulted the plates when engaging in the translation process. His own accounts indicate that the translation took place by looking not at the gold plates, but seer stones.

Unfortunately, the historical record limits our ability to draw conclusions.

Supplement your Come Follow Me 2024 study by learning about Joseph Smith’s use of seer stones translating the Book of Mormon.

A cultural history

Richard Bushman has written a cultural history of Joseph Smith’s gold plates. The Oxford University Press publication looks at how the plates have been contextualized by scholars, artists, and the Church. He enjoyed learning that there has been a softening of criticism towards the gold plates, as scholars have begun to treat Joseph more seriously (rather than outright dismissing him as a fraud).

Book of Mormon Historicity in Come Follow Me 2024

Historicity matters to Latter-day Saints

Elder Dallin H. Oaks has taught that the historicity of the Book of Mormon “is an issue so fundamental that it rests upon faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” He emphasizes that secular learning can’t “prove” the book’s historical authenticity, but that it plays an important role when combined with faith and revelation:

Though argument does not create conviction, the lack of it destroys belief. What seems to be proved may not be embraced; but what no one shows the ability to defend is quickly abandoned. Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, quoting Austin Farrer

It sheds light on the biblical documentary hypothesis

The documentary hypothesis is a big deal for scholars of the Bible. It looks at growing evidence that several authors may have contributed to the first five books of Moses. While the hypothesis sometimes troubles religious students, Jeffrey Bradshaw says that it has a familiar ring for Latter-day Saints:

The notion that a series of individuals may have had a hand in the authorship and redaction of Genesis should not be foreign to readers of the Book of Mormon, where inspired editors have explicitly revealed the process by which they wove separate overlapping records into the finished scriptural narrative.

Tracing Ancient Threads in the Book of Moses

Book of Mormon names may have ancient origins

Scholars associated with the Interpreter Foundation have spent decades studying the origins of Book of Mormon names and proper nouns like Nephi, King Benjamin, Mosiah, and Jershon. In a groundbreaking onomasticon published in 2022, Stephen D. Ricks says that the evidence for ancient origins in the Latter-day Saint scripture is overwhelming.

Those who believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God will see this dictionary as a confirmation that the book is ancient and true.

Do Book of Mormon Names Have Ancient Origins?

An emeritus general authority wrote an apologetic treatise

Tad R. Callister is perhaps known for writing The Infinite Atonement or serving in the General Sunday School Presidency. However, the former general authority has also written a book in defense of the record translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith.

In particular, Callister sought to provide church members with answers they could provide to critics:

I felt like we didn’t have to be on the defense all the time. We could also be on the offense. If someone’s a true, honest critic, they should not only have the privilege to ask questions but should be responsible for answering some of our questions—including some that are very difficult for them to respond to.

Tad Callister and the Book of Mormon

A BYU scholar discovered the origins of Nahom

S. Kent Brown stumbled across what he calls the “first archeological proof for the Book of Mormon” in a catalogue about a Yemeni exhibit in Paris. As he read an archaeologist’s translation of an ancient altar, Brown discovered what he believes is the origin of Nahom:

It took about thirty minutes for me to come to realize that I had just read the name Nahom as a tribal name in south Arabia (Nihm, or more properly without the vowels, NHM).

And the time was exactly right, for Lehi and Sariah were on the move in the early sixth century.

The Old Testament and New Testament: What Happened in Between?

The Book of Mormon has chiasmus

The book includes several instances of chiasmus, a literary form common in ancient Hebrew writings. To this day, one of the most popular articles in the history of BYU Studies Quarterly is “Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon,” by Jack Welch.

Navajo Lamanite descendants

The Navajo people have sometimes been referred to as descendants of the Lamanites from the Book of Mormon. However, historian Farina King says we should take care to realize that this comparison can come across as discriminatory, rather than empowering.

Everyone now uses the same manual for Come Follow Me 2024, including children, young women, Aaronic Priesthood quorums, and adults.

Your family no longer needs separate manuals for Come Follow Me 2024.

Come Follow Me 2024: Jesus Christ in the Book of Mormon

The Savior is at the heart of the Book of Mormon. His influence and teachings in the book border on endless—although Robert J. Matthews identified a few key highlights:

  • The world needs a Savior.
  • Jesus is the Savior of all the world.
  • Jesus rose from the grave with his physical body.
  • The Book of Mormon presents nearly one hundred names for the Savior.
  • The Book of Mormon tells how Christ’s Atonement works.
  • The Book of Mormon tells what an anti-Christ is.
  • The Lord supports His servants in all manner of trials.
  • Jesus was compassionate and tender.

The Book of Mormon enriches the Savior’s character

The crowning event in the Book of Mormon is the appearance of the resurrected Jesus Christ in the Americas. While the Savior repeated many of the teachings given to those in Jerusalem, there’s also a great deal of new information—not only about what the Messiah taught, but also who He was.

3–4 Nephi present to us a Savior who resists easy categorization. He blurs the boundaries between humanity and divinity, between father and son, between male and female, and between individuality and relationality.

Daniel Becerra, Finding Christ in 3rd Nephi and 4th Nephi
The Book of Mormon serves as another testament of Jesus Christ and includes an account of the Savior visiting the Americas after His death and resurrection.

It includes the search for the nature of God

Christians have long seen Jesus as both human and divine. However, what that means and why it is are questions that have been wrestled with for ages. That includes Christians in the Book of Mormon, according to Jason Combs, editor of Ancient Christians: An Introduction for Latter-day Saints.

Jesus and Samuel the Lamanite

The Savior refers to Samuel as “Samuel, the Lamanite” in the Book of Mormon. “There could be many reasons why,” said BYU professor Jan Martin:

[One] reason could be that Jesus wanted to remind the Nephites that he was no respecter of persons and that He utilizes individuals from all walks of life and from all sociopolitical groups to do His work. Jesus may have been teaching the Nephites to value and respect Samuel’s words and to stop overlooking them as they compiled their records.

Jan J. Martin, “Did Samuel the Lamanite Experience Prejudice?

I AM statements of Jesus

The Book of Mormon contains dozens of statements which Jesus declares ‘He is’ something. In many cases, the I AM statements align almost perfectly with their contextual inclusions in the Old and New Testaments. And, in special cases, the Book of Mormon contains I AM statements of Jesus found nowhere else in scripture.

Mormon Studies

There’s an annotated edition

The Annotated Book of Mormon gives Latter-day Saints an opportunity to study Restoration scripture in a new way. “It’s basically the equivalent of an academic study Bible for the Book of Mormon,” author Grant Hardy said of the volume published by Oxford University Press.

The Book of Mormon is in the middle of a popular renaissance

The Book of Mormon is a keystone of the Latter-day Saint faith, but it’s also gaining buzz in circles such as American religious history. For example, Max Perry Mueller says the book’s influence is growing in scholarly circles:

The Book of Mormon is having a moment outside of Mormon Studies. Even outside of Religious Studies, as more and more Mormon and non-Mormon academics are taking the text’s complexity and richness more seriously.

Max Perry Mueller on ‘Race and the Making of the Mormon People’

Hugh Nibley inspired Richard Bushman

Richard Bushman struggled with his testimony as a young college student and felt out of sorts when he served a mission after his sophomore year. Bushman’s mission president directed him towards the works of Hugh Nibley with the directive, “See if you can find a better explanation than the one in the book itself.”

The future biographer of Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling accepted the challenge and dived into Nibley’s apologetic research.

These little specks of evidence provided the kind of rational support I was looking for in my quest for conviction. Nibley opened up a Middle Eastern antiquity I had not dreamed existed.

Hugh Nibley Observed: Rare Stories You’ll Want to Read

There’s an academic journal devoted to it

The Journal of Book of Mormon studies published by the Maxwell Institute has scores of scholarly articles about the good word of God in Latter-day Saint scripture. The peer-reviewed periodical seek to promote “an understanding of the history, meaning, and significance of the scriptures and other sacred texts revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith.” That includes (but isn’t limited to) the Book of Mormon.

Note: The journal used to be called the Journal of Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture.

It has apocalyptic material

Latter-day Saints were talking about apocalyptic happenings even before the Church was founded in 1830. The nature of those conversations have changed over time, but historian Christopher Blythe says that the Book of Mormon contributed to early apocalyptic discussions.

The Book of Mormon is filled with apocalyptic material and details the destructions of several civilizations in the Promised Land (the Americas). We spend much less time talking about apocalyptic events in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries than we did in the nineteenth, but it ebbs and flows.

Latter-day Saints and the American Apocalypse with Christopher Blythe

There are economic implications

Economics professor Lindon Robison spent years searching for ways to apply principles from Book of Mormon to neoclassical economic paradigms. But it didn’t work.

So, he came at the problem from the opposite direction and looked for manifestations of economic principles:

Never before in my economic studies had I read such a definitive economic development declaration. The steadiness of the church and the people’s love for each other produced a material abundance.

I wanted to understand how and why caring could produce economic prosperity. So I began a study that has continued until this day.

Lindon Robison on Latter-day Saint Economic History

Someone’s writing a cultural history of Book of Mormon geography

Christopher Blythe joined the Maxwell Institute to write a cultural history of Book of Mormon geography.

The book will look at how Latter-day Saints have speculated about the setting of the Book of Mormon and why different theories have been more or less influential at different times in Latter-day Saint history.

Scholar Finds Brigham Young Revelation
An artificially-generated image illustrating the relevance of cultural theories of Book of Mormon geography that will be covered in Chris Blythe’s forthcoming work.

There’s a study edition

Study bibles are the rage on college campuses. They provide readers with an opportunity to look at familiar verses in friendly layouts, while also providing access to key scholarly insights and footnotes. Now, Mormon Studies readers can experience the same kind of academic insights in a Maxwell Institute study edition:

It helps readers appreciate the sacred text by offering, in an accessible format, some of the advances in scholarship on the Book of Mormon over the past generation.

Spencer Fluhman, What Is the Maxwell Institute Study Edition of the Book of Mormon?

There are key areas of research

Book of Mormon research is in its “golden age,” according to Joseph Spencer and Nick Frederick. They indicate that there are several key approaches to Book of Mormon Studies, including literary, theological, biblical comparison, gender, and ethics.

Uncanonized revelation about the Book of Mormon copyright

A new book about Joseph Smith’s uncanonized revelations includes the word of the Lord in relation to securing the copyright for the Book of Mormon.

Odds and Ends for Come Follow Me 2024

Bruce R. McConkie wrote an unpublished commentary

Bruce R. McConkie is perhaps best known for writing Mormon Doctrine or giving a powerful talk about the Savior’s atonement. McConkie is widely regarded for his mastery of the scriptures. But what many don’t know is that he wrote a personal commentary on the record translated by Joseph Smith.

As a young man he had written an informal commentary-like collection of notes on the Book of Mormon solely for his own benefit, but he threw away those extensive notes since they had served their purpose.

The Many Legacies of Bruce R. McConkie

Fun fact: Bruce R. McConkie’s wife, Amelia Smith McConkie, was the daughter of Joseph Fielding Smith, who was the son of Joseph F. Smith, who was the son of Hyrum Smith.

There’s a connection to Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson is one of today’s most influential fiction writers. The author of epics like Mistborn and The Way of Kings is also a faithful Latter-day Saint who occasionally draws inspiration from his religion.

The connection has caused BYU scholar Nick Frederick to pose a fun question: Could Brandon Sanderson have saved the Nephites?

You could be cursed for rejecting the Book of Mormon

Joseph Smith instituted a practice similar to the New Testament ritual of shaking the dust off of one’s feet. While no longer practiced, Joseph’s brother performed a ritual curse against an antagonistic hotelier in the church’s early history:

In June 1830, Samuel Smith (Joseph’s brother) performed the first recorded instance of modern ritual cursing. He performed it against an innkeeper who rejected the Book of Mormon and denied Samuel room and board during his missionary service.

Samuel Weber, What Did It Mean to “Shake Off the Dust of Thy Feet”?

It sheds light on the Gospel of John

The Gospel of John went through several different compositional stages, and Eric Huntsman sees something similar at play in the Book of Mormon:

The example I often use is that of Amulek’s sermon to Zoramites about Christ’s “infinite and eternal atonement” in Alma 34. His words were presumably written in the record of his missionary companion, Alma, who then included them in the Large Plates. Mormon subsequently abridged them into his record, which Joseph Smith eventually translated.

Reading the Gospel of John with Eric Huntsman

The “Elvis” Book of Mormon is a forgery

A special copy of the Book of Mormon was donated to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1989. What made this edition special was the claim that it contained annotations made by Elvis Presley. The story took on a life of its own. Soon, even one of the Osmond brothers was touting the fascinating volume.

But some stories make better Latter-day Saint myths than realities. In this case, a historian discovered that the book wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

His [Keith Erekson‘s] analysis concluded that none of the annotations in the book came from Elvis, nor did he likely have time to read the book between the time it was given to him and his death.

Elvis Has Left the Library: Identifying Forged Annotations in a Book of Mormon

Bruce R. McConkie wrote the chapter headings

Biographer Dennis B. Horne explains that Elder McConkie played a pivotal role in the the publication of the 1979–81 edition of the standard works:

He wrote the chapter and section headings for all the standard works, and did a great deal of work on the introductory material and the Bible Dictionary.

Bruce R. McConkie and Mormon Doctrine

Joseph’s approach to revelation inspires the author of The Work and the Glory

The Work and the Glory is a historical fiction narrative of early church history. The bestselling series by Gerald Lund has sold millions of copies and was made into a move trilogy. To this day, Joseph’s approach to revelation inspires Lund.

“I’ve got a list of 500 things,” Lund said, when explaining what he’d ask the Prophet about revelation. “But if I were wise, I’d say, ‘Tell me what you have learned about revelation, Joseph.'”

It might be able to help pinpoint Christ’s birthdate

Scholars typically struggle to narrow down the time of Christ’s birth to more than a few years. However, one BYU professor thinks Jesus was born in December of 5 BC, in part because of notations indicating that Lehi left Jerusalem about 600 BC.

There’s new Book of Mormon art

BYU’s Anthony Sweat is known for his artistic depictions of lesser-known events from Latter-day Saint history. One of his most well-known pieces is called “Translating with Oliver,” and depicts the Prophet Joseph looking at seer stones inside of a hat.

“My reason for creating an image of Joseph using the hat was to give a hitherto undepicted faithful visual to some of these historical sources that mention a hat,” said Sweat.

“Translating with Oliver” by Anthony Sweat depicts Joseph Smith translating the Book of Mormon by looking at seer stones in a hat.

We know the names of only three Book of Mormon women

There are nearly 200 women with identifiable names in all of scripture. However, almost none of them come from the Book of Mormon:

Over 170 women are identified by name in all the standard works, with only two named in the Doctrine & Covenants (Emma Hale Smith and Vienna Jaques) and three Book of Mormon women named (Sariah, Isabel, and Abish).

Women of the Old Testament: Witnessing of Christ

Willard Richards and the Book of Mormon

One of the early leaders of the Church had a powerful initial experience with the Book of Mormon. Willard Richards, who would go on to serve in the First Presidency with Brigham Young, read the book twice in 10 days and immediately thereafter sought the ordinance of baptism.

[He] later declared that before reading half a page he was convinced that it was either of God or the devil—that it could not be the work of man.

Alex Smith, “Who Was Willard Richards?

Joseph Smith had an experience like Nephi

Nephi experienced his friends and family become angry only for them to back down and not follow through on physical threats. Joseph Smith had a similar experience when he revealed Section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants.

Pioneer reactions to D&C 76 weren’t always positive. The radical doctrine caught many off guard, and even led some to form a mob and notify Joseph that he would be attacked. The Prophet “dared anyone to touch a Mormon saying that anyone who should do so would be stricken by the Lord.” The crowd backed down—but only for a moment. Shortly thereafter, members of the Church led a mob that attacked Joseph Smith for dramatically changing doctrine.

Book of Mormon quotes

Abiding by its precepts

Joseph said the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth and the keystone of our religion and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than any other book.

Joseph Smith Quotes

Which is of greater worth?

My brothers and sisters, how precious is the Book of Mormon to you? If you were offered diamonds or rubies or the Book of Mormon, which would you choose? Honestly, which is of greater worth to you?

President Russell M. Nelson, What Would Your Life Be Without It?

The minute you begin a serious study

There is a power in the Book of Mormon which will begin to flow into your lives the minute you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the straight and narrow path.

President Ezra Taft Benson, “Flooding the Earth and Our Lives

Its primary purpose

Study of the Book of Mormon is most rewarding when one focuses upon its primary purpose: To testify of Jesus Christ.

Elder Russell M. Nelson, “A Testimony of the Book of Mormon

If the Book of Mormon is true

Now, if the Book of Mormon is true, our acceptance of it will lead to salvation in the highest heaven. On the other hand, if we say it is true when in fact it is not, we are thereby leading men astray and surely deserve to drop down to the deepest hell.

Bruce R. McConkie, What Think Ye of the Book of Mormon?

Ask ourselves

Each time we read the book we should probably ask ourselves: “Why did these writers choose these particular stories or events to include in the record? What value are they for us today?”

Elder L. Tom Perry, “Blessings Resulting From Reading the Book of Mormon

It is true

I want it absolutely clear when I stand before the judgment bar of God that I declared to the world, in the most straightforward language I could summon, that the Book of Mormon is true.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Safety for the Soul
“Safety for the Soul” is a helpful Come Follow Me 2024 study guide because of Elder Holland’s testimony of the Book of Mormon.

Book of Mormon theology

The end of Old Testament sacrifices

The Book of Mormon clearly shows the point at which Old Testament sacrifices were done away with:

As we know from 3 Nephi 9 in the Book of Mormon, with His death we no longer offer up burnt offerings, but rather the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

Let’s Talk About Temples and Ritual

It’s rich with theology

The Maxwell Institute published a series of 12 brief theological introductions to the Book of Mormon. Each book is written by a different Latter-day Saint scholar. For example, Terryl Givens wrote about 2nd Nephi and Daniel Becerra tackled 3rd Nephi.

Each scholar is an expert in the modern academic fields of philosophy, theology, literature, or history, but each also works from a position of deep personal faith. The series invites Latter-day Saints to slow down, dive deeper, and read scripture more transformatively.

The Book of Mormon: Brief Theological Introductions

Few have caught the vision

According to Elder Bruce R. McConkie, most people don’t appreciate the book’s value and theology:

Few men on earth, either in or out of the Church, have caught the vision of what the Book of Mormon is all about.

Bruce R. McConkie Quotes

The Book of Mormon complements the Bible

The Book of Mormon was never intended to replace the Bible. President Russell M. Nelson stated:

Love for the Book of Mormon expands one’s love for the Bible and vice versa. Scriptures of the Restoration do not compete with the Bible; they complement the Bible.

Scriptural Witnesses

The Book of Mormon has new teachings about the Fall of Adam and Eve

Second Nephi contains an account of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden that radically differs from traditional Christianity. Latter-day Saint intellectual Terryl Givens says that the account given by Nephi “changes everything”:

In Eve’s celebration of their “transgression,” we find a repudiation of original sin and original guilt, or life as a purgatory, of suffering as punishment, of a God incapable of basic principles of justice and equity. We return to a lovely conception of those events in Eden recognized by the early Christian Irenaeus, who wrote in words eerily foreshadowing Lehi’s (and Alma’s).

Terryl Givens and the Maxwell Institute on 2nd Nephi

Even small books add value

The Maxwell Institute’s Sharon J. Harris gained notoriety when Elder M. Russell Ballard referenced her brief theological introductions in his general conference talk, “Watch Ye Therefore, and Pray Always.” In other circles, she’s gained renown for referring to the short books of Enos, Jarom, and Omni as “itty bitty books.”

Each author, no matter how small his contribution, is a link in the chain that ensures the record will survive into the future.

Brief Theological Introductions to Enos, Jarom, and Omni in the Book of Mormon

Some scholars think Freemasonry influenced the Book of Mormon

It’s becoming increasingly well-known that there’s a connection between Freemasonry and the temple endowment. But one pair of scholars thinks that Masonic influence can be seen in many other places as well.

Our book comments on each form of Latter-day Saint scripture (Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Egyptian papers) and gives examples of Masonic midrash found therein. It’s quite fascinating to see so many Masonic ideas within our familiar religious texts.

How Did Freemasonry Influence Joseph Smith?

But not everyone agrees

Jeff Bradshaw of the Interpreter Foundation doesn’t think the evidence for Masonic influences in the Book of Mormon is especially convincing. However, he sees a stronger case when it comes to practices from the Kirtland School of the Prophets.

Though evidence of Masonic language and ideas in the Book of Mormon and the Book of Moses is generally unconvincing, descriptions of some practices from the Kirtland School of the Prophets seem to recall Masonic ritual language patterns (see, for example, Doctrine and Covenants 88:128ff.).

What is the Relationship Between Freemasonry and the Temple Endowment?

The Book of Mormon helps interpret Isaiah

The prophecies of Isaiah are one of the Hebrew Bible’s most wondrous realities, but scholars often wrestle to pinpoint precisely what Isaiah refers to and why. Latter-day Saints don’t have that struggle, according to Ann Madsen (wife of Truman G. Madsen):

When you’re an Isaiah scholar, there’s no continuing revelation like the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and the temple. We have a lot of help as Latter-day Saints.

Ann Madsen Reflects on Isaiah, Jehovah, and the Temple

It’s a focus of BYU devotionals

About three dozen professors, apostles, and general authorities have spoken about the Book of Mormon in BYU devotionals. President Kimball gave the first-recorded address (“The Lamanite“) in 1957. In the years that followed, contributors such as Neal A. Maxwell and John W. Welch offered additional insights:

Atonement in the Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon includes several unique teachings about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. This includes the first scriptural reference to an “infinite atonement,” and the only place outside of the Doctrine & Covenants where Gethsemane’s role is emphasized.

There are more references to atonement in the Book of Mormon than any other standard work. However, that can be a misleading fact, according to BYU’s Nicholas Frederick. “The Greek term katallagē actually appears more frequently [in the New Testament],” Frederick said. “The King James translators just tend to translated it as reconciliation [instead of atonement].”

Justice, atonement, and restoration

The Savior’s mortal ministry was replete with radical teachings that challenged human notions of justice. In an interview about Latter-day Saint atonement theology, Terryl Givens shares an interesting insight about the word “justice” in the Book of Mormon:

In some passages in the Book of Mormon—justice is another name for the law of restoration, according to which God promises that we shall receive according to our desires. . . .

As I read those passages, justice is the principle by which the sanctity of moral agency is upheld.

Terryl Givens, “Does Atonement Theology Matter to Latter-day Saints?

Gathering the Ten Tribes

Moses restored the keys of the gathering of Israel in the Kirtland Temple. In an article about the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham, Robert L. Millet quotes Elder Bruce R. McConkie when explaining the role of the Book of Mormon:

The ten tribes are to come back like anyone else: by accepting the Book of Mormon and believing the restored gospel. There cannot be two separate and independent church organizations on earth at one and the same time; at least it cannot be in a day when it is possible to govern the Church from one place. The President of the Church holds the keys whereby the Ten Tribes will be led from the lands of the north to their Palestinian homeland. He, not they, will direct their return.

Bruce R. McConkie

Abinadi’s legacy

Abinadi may be best known for suffering a martyr’s death in the book of Mosiah. However, his teachings about gospel topics like the resurrection of Jesus Christ influenced other Book of Mormon prophets.

Alma, Amulek and Mormon seem to particularly draw on Abinadi. Surprisingly, King Benjamin also appears to have been influenced by Abinadi.

John Hilton III, “How Did Abinadi Influence Book of Mormon Prophets?

Theology of Mosiah

James Falcouner has written a brief theological introduction to Mosiah. It includes a number of tender insights into the Book of Mormon, such as what King Benjamin meant when he spoke of submitting to what the Lord “inflicts” upon us, what “nothingness” likely meant at the time, and how sin and service are connected.

“It isn’t that we get our remission of sins by doing service,” he wrote in a From the Desk interview, “but that receiving the loving grace of a remission of sins brings us to want to give loving grace to others.”

Alma in the Book of Mormon

Alma makes several fascinating contributions in the Book of Mormon. In a book about the theology of Alma, Kylie Nielson Turley makes several interesting observations, including:

  • Alma’s trauma. There is evidence that Alma went silent for many years after witnessing his friends and people burned to death. Turley says the trauma had a lasting impact on him, and that his record was never the same afterward.
  • Abish. It’s possible that Abish wrote her own story as found in Alma 19. The narrator of her story shares details no one else would have known, and the diction changes to reveal Abish’s interior motives. “The originality and the interiority of these words suggests that they may be Abish’s words,” Turley wrote.
  • Alma the Younger’s age. Popular culture often depicts Alma the Younger as a young man—sometimes even a teenager. However, Turley points at that the details in the story strongly suggest he was 30s, 40s, or 50s when he was converted.

Come Follow Me 2024: Translation of the Book of Mormon

There were multiple scribes

Joseph Smith used five scribes for his translation of the Book of Mormon. Each of them participated at various times:

  1. Emma Smith
  2. John Whitmer
  3. Martin Harris
  4. Oliver Cowdery
  5. Samuel Smith

Translation vs. revelation

When it comes to the translation of the Book of Mormon, early Latter-day Saints generally used the terms translation and revelation interchangeably. As Michael Hubbard MacKay explains:

Joseph claimed the translation of the text came from revelation as he utilized the seer stones—a process he called “the gift and power of God.” So these two things were closely linked in early Latter-day Saint conceptualizations.

How Did Joseph Smith Translate the Book of Abraham?

Joseph’s translation wasn’t a “translation”

Scholars often refer to Joseph Smith’s “translation” of the Book of Mormon in upstate New York—and the Prophet himself used the word. But his work bringing it forth wasn’t a translation in the traditional sense of the word (i.e., translating words from one language into another language).

Joseph’s translation process remains one of the greatest mysteries from the church’s early history. We may not know precisely how his translation took place, but Latter-day Saints also don’t need to be afraid of what history tells us.

Sam Brown states:

I don’t believe that we should put scare quotes (or air quotes) around the word translation when we talk about Joseph Smith’s scriptures.

I’m quite persuaded that he was translating and that translating is much more interesting and powerful than we’ve given it credit for.

Sam Brown on the Words and Worlds of Early Mormonism

Fun fact: Kent P. Jackson said there are several words that describe what the prophet meant by translate. For example, in reference Joseph’s work with the King James Version of the Bible, Jackson suggests phrases like render, transfer, and change help explain what the Prophet was doing.

“Joseph Smith also used the verb correct to describe what he was doing with the Bible,” said Jackson. “He was correcting it.”

Book of Mormon translation timeline

The Book of Mormon was translated over roughly three months during 1829. Latter-day Saint scholar John W. Welch says that it took about 21 days for Joseph to translate 1 Nephi–Words of Mormon, and 53 days to complete Mosiah–Moroni:

MonthPossible chapters translated
April 1829Mosiah 1–29; Alma 1–51
May 1829Alma 52–63; Helaman; 3 Nephi; 4 Nephi, Mormon, Ether; Moroni
June 18291 Nephi; 2 Nephi; Jacob; Enos; Jarom; Omni; Words of Mormon;
A possible Book of Mormon timeline based on John W. Welch’s article, “Timing the Translation of the Book of Mormon: ‘Days [and Hours] Never to Be Forgotten.'”

There’s a King James Bible connection

Few people use the King James Version as their primary study Bible. Even within the Church, English-speaking Latter-day Saints are the primary demographic that still prioritizes the 400-year old translation. In part, this is the case because Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon using King James language.

“They effectively became cousins,” said BYU scholar Thomas Wayment. “And to the modern ear they sound similar in English.”

There’s a book devoted to Joseph Smith’s translations

Joseph Smith famously said that the Book of Mormon was produced in New York by the “gift and power of God.” But what that means remains a mystery to many in the Mormon Studies community.

It’s one reason why a group of scholars published a book with the University of Utah Press devoted to Joseph Smith’s production of ancient scripture.

Producing Ancient Scripture includes 16 scholarly chapters about Joseph Smith’s translation activities related to the Book of Mormon, King James Bible, Kinderhook Plates, and more.

The book includes several chapters related to the Book of Mormon, including:

  • “By the Gift and Power of God”: Translation among the Gifts of the Spirit (Christopher James Blythe)
  • Performing the Translation: Character Transcripts and Joseph Smith’s Earliest Translating Practices (Michael Hubbard MacKay)
  • Reconfiguring the Archive: Women and the Social Production of the Book of Mormon (Amy Easton-Flake and Rachel Cope)
  • Nephi’s Project: The Gold Plates as a Book History (Richard Bushman)
  • Seeing the Voice of God: The Book of Mormon on Its Own Translation (Samuel Morris Brown)

Brigham Young said it might be different if Joseph translated it again

Hebrew scholar Matthew Grey reports that Brigham Young made an interesting statement about Joseph Smith that suggests the Prophet’s translation process may have been more fluid than we realize:

Brigham Young is even reported to have said in 1862 that if Joseph would have translated the Book of Mormon at that time, “in many instances it would materially differ from the present translation” (see Journal of Discourses 9:311).

Joseph Smith’s Use of Hebrew in the Book of Abraham

Forgers tried to trick Joseph Smith

The Prophet’s claims about the Book of Mormon led a group of men to try and trick him. They created a forgery known as the Kinderhook Plates as a joke to falsely fulfill Parley P. Pratt’s prophecy that “truth would spring up out of the earth.”

Things got taken to another level when someone gave the plates to Joseph in Nauvoo. But history has exaggerated the attention Joseph gave the plates.

He attempted to translate from the Kinderhook plates (using his own abilities rather than seeking divine help), and then quickly abandoned the project.

In a sense, the joke exceeded their wildest dreams when that happened. But then nothing much came [and Smith] quickly abandoned [his] translation effort.

Did the Kinderhook Plates Really Fool Joseph Smith?

Jane Manning James held Joseph’s seer stones

Jane Manning James had the opportunity to handle Joseph Smith’s seer stones. Biographer Quincy Newell said that the priceless opportunity occurred while living in the Nauvoo Mansion House.

In the words of Jane Manning James:

One morning I met Brother Joseph coming out of his Mother’s room he said good morning and shook hands with me. I went in to his Mother’s room she said good morning, bring me that bundle from my bureau and sit down here.

I did as she told me, she placed the bundle in my hands and said, handle this and then put in the top drawer of my … bureau and lock it up.

After I had done it she said sit down.

Do you remember that I told you about the Urim and Thummim when I told you about the Book of Mormon?

I answered, yes Ma’am, she then told me I had just handled it. You are not permitted to see it, but you have been permitted to handle it. You will live long after I am dead and gone. And you can tell the Latter-day Saints, that you was permitted to handle the Urim and Thummim.

Jane Manning James: Your Sister in the Gospel

He didn’t look at the plates

Some artistic renderings of the Book of Mormon translation show Joseph with the plates in front of him. But that doesn’t line up with the historical evidence, according to Michael Hubbard Mackay:

If he would have, his promise to God to never show the plates to anyone would have been broken. Even when he copied characters from the plates, he placed a blanket between him and those who were helping make copies.

Michael Hubbard Mackay, Let’s Talk About the Translation of the Book of Mormon

Witnesses of the Book of Mormon

The three witnesses never abandoned their testimonies

Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris were chosen to serve as special witnesses of the Book of Mormon, obtaining a vision of the angel Moroni and beholding the physical gold plates. While each of them became disaffected from the Church, they held true to their witnesses of the Latter-day Saint scripture:

Despite differences with Joseph Smith that led each of the Three Witnesses to part ways individually with the Church (Cowdery and Harris later returned), they continued to affirm their testimony as witnesses throughout their lives.

Church History Topics: Witnesses of the Book of Mormon

Joseph never retracted his claims about the book’s divine origins

Scholars associated with the Joseph Smith Papers have learned many things about the Prophet. One thing that has impressed R. Eric Smith is that Joseph was “consistent and unwavering” in his testimony.

From considering Joseph’s papers as a whole, a key point I take away is that he was consistent and unwavering in testimony. Across the various types of documents and across the years, he doesn’t backtrack about the First Vision, the Book of Mormon, his calling to be a prophet, the reception of divine authority, or the great work and role of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Know Brother Joseph: Q&A with the Editors

Martin Harris plays a bigger role than you think

Many people know Martin Harris for only the role he played in the loss of the 116 pages. But his biographer, Dr. Susan Easton Black, says that Latter-day Saints might be surprised how prominent Harris’s role was in the church’s early history.

Readers will discover in Martin Harris: Uncompromising Witness of the Book of Mormon that there is much more to the story of this Book of Mormon witness than the follies which led to the loss of the 116 page manuscript.

This biography reveals the compelling story of a man who struggled to keep his faith in the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith and the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ when family and friends turned against him. It tells of a businessman whose fascination with worldly honors, flirtations with apostasy, and pride nearly cost him the joy of his later years in the west.

If readers will set aside their preconceived notion about the flawed character of Martin Harris, they will discover in the text insights about this Book of Mormon witness not found elsewhere.

Martin Harris and the 116 Pages: There’s More to the Story

We don’t know if Lucy Harris stole the 116 pages

Many people have claimed that Lucy Harris stole the 116 pages from her husband, Martin Harris. There’s evidence that she may have participated in the initial theft, but never knew what ultimately became of them. On the other hand, there’s also evidence that she wasn’t involved, including the lack of her own confession:

Without this confession and without others claiming the deed, speculation ran rampant as to what happened to the manuscript and what were the ulterior motives behind the theft.

Susan Easton Black, “Did Lucy Harris Steal the 116 Pages?

Joseph’s family played a role

Historian Kyle Walker reveals that five of Joseph’s family member played a role in bringing forth the Book of Mormon. And despite the ups-and-downs of family life, the Smith family testified of the record’s miraculous nature long after the Prophet’s death.

Both parents, and all eight of his siblings, never lost faith in his prophetic role or in their belief in the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon.

These were the individuals who knew his character best. Their united support is one of the strengths of the Restoration.

What Did Joseph Smith’s Family Know about the First Vision?

A study edition includes new witnesses

Joseph Smith includes the testimonies of 11 witnesses in the Book of Mormon, including Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris. But they weren’t the only people who witnessed the miracles associated with the holy scripture. Accordingly, the Maxwell Institute Study Edition of the Book of Mormon includes the testimony of Emma Smith.

“Emma Smith . . . speaks very matter-of-factly about things she experienced daily over the course of several years,” said Grant Hardy, the editor of the study edition. “It just seemed like time to give Emma her due.”

William McLellin didn’t waver

William McLellin was strongly convinced by the testimony of the Book of Mormon’s three witnesses. Although he eventually became an enemy of the Church, his testimony of the Restoration scripture never seemed to waver.

“When a man goes at the Book of M[ormon,] he touches the apple of my eye,” McLellin said after his disaffection from the Church. “I have more confidence in the Book of Mormon than any book of this wide earth!”

Book of Mormon FAQ

How many pages is the Book of Mormon?

There are 531 pages in the Book of Mormon used by most readers, or roughly 270,000 words. However, the total page count varies depending on which edition you have.

How many chapters are in the Book of Mormon?

There are 239 chapters in the most recent edition of the Book of Mormon. These are divided into books such as Nephi, Mosiah, Alma, and Moroni.

What is the Book of Mormon mainly about?

The Book of Mormon is the story of two civilizations that left the Middle East in ancient times and came to the Western Hemisphere. It records their spiritual progression and temporal contentions, and culminates in a visit from Jesus Christ after His resurrection.

Who wrote the introduction to the Book of Mormon?

Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote the Introduction for the 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon. That version was then slightly modified in the subsequent edition. For example, it now states that the “Lamanites are among the principal ancestors of the American Indians” (emphasis added).

Book of Mormon reading chart 2024

All of these Come Follow Me 2024 resources are available in the Gospel Library app:













Come Follow Me 2024: Further Reading

About the Book of Mormon

Popular Come Follow Me podcasts

  • Follow Him (Link)
  • Talking Scripture (Link)

List of books in the Book of Mormon

  • First Book of Nephi
  • Second Book of Nephi
  • Book of Jacob
  • Book of Enos
  • Book of Jarom
  • Book of Omni
  • Words of Mormon
  • Book of Mosiah
  • Book of Alma
  • Book of Helaman
  • Third Nephi
  • Fourth Nephi
  • Book of Mormon
  • Book of Ether
  • Book of Moroni

By Kurt Manwaring

Writer. History nerd. Latter-day Saint.

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