Why study this book?
As students study this book, they will learn valuable lessons from Mormon, a disciple of Jesus Christ who lived faithfully despite being surrounded throughout his life by “a continual scene of wickedness and abominations” (Mormon 2:18). Students will also benefit from studying the words of Moroni, who testified to latter-day readers that “Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing” (Mormon 8:35). As students read about the destruction that came as a consequence of the Nephites’ wickedness, they will learn the importance of living according to the commandments and covenants of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Who wrote this book?
Mormon wrote the first seven chapters of this book as a brief account of the wickedness and wars among the Nephites and Lamanites in his day. He also made a full account of the events from his lifetime on the large plates of Nephi (see Mormon 2:18; 5:9). When Mormon was about 10 years old, the record keeper Ammaron charged him to take responsibility for the sacred records when he came of age. He was to record everything he observed concerning the people (see Mormon 1:4). At age 15, Mormon was “visited of the Lord, and tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus” (Mormon 1:15). In the same year, the Nephites appointed Mormon to lead their armies (see Mormon 2:1). Obedient to Ammaron’s counsel, he later obtained the large plates of Nephi and began to make his record. He also abridged the large plates of Nephi, which included writings from prophets and record keepers from Lehi through Ammaron, and inserted the small plates of Nephi into that abridgement. Near the end of his life, Mormon deposited all the records in the Hill Cumorah, except for a few plates that he gave to his son Moroni (see Mormon 6:6). He then led the Nephites in their last great battle against the Lamanites. Before Mormon died, he directed Moroni to complete his record. Moroni added the words that make up chapters 8–9 of this book.
To whom was this book written and why?
Mormon wrote to Gentiles and members of the house of Israel in the latter days, desiring to “persuade all [the] ends of the earth to repent and prepare to stand before the judgment-seat of Christ” (Mormon 3:22). As Moroni concluded his father’s book, he directly addressed those who would read his words. He warned them of the consequences of their sins and invited them to “come unto the Lord with all [their] heart” (Mormon 9:27).
When and where was it written?
Mormon likely wrote chapters 1–7 of this book between A.D. 345 and A.D. 401 (see Mormon 2:15–17; 8:5–6). He finished his writings after the final battle between the Nephites and the Lamanites at Cumorah in A.D. 385 (see Mormon 6:10–15; 7:1). Moroni probably wrote the material in chapters 8–9 between the years A.D. 401 and A.D. 421, as he wandered “for the safety of [his] life” (see Mormon 8:4–6; Moroni 1:1–3).
What are some distinctive features of this book?
This book describes the fulfillment of prophecies by Nephi, Alma, Samuel the Lamanite, and Jesus Christ regarding the destruction of the Nephites (see 1 Nephi 12:19; Alma 45:9–14; Helaman 13:8–10; 3 Nephi 27:32). Mormon refers to some of his writings as “my record of the destruction of my people” (Mormon 6:1). He showed that the downfall of the Nephites was a consequence of their wickedness (see Mormon 4:12; 6:15–18).
Mormon 1 Ammaron commissions Mormon to keep a record of the people in his day. The Nephites overcome the Lamanites in battle. Wickedness prevails throughout the land, the three Nephite disciples cease to minister among the people, and the gifts of the Spirit are generally withdrawn. However, Mormon is “visited of the Lord.”
Mormon 2–3 The Nephites appoint Mormon to lead their armies. He leads them in battles against the Lamanites for more than 30 years. Despite great destruction and suffering, the Nephites refuse to repent. Mormon retrieves the plates of Nephi from a hill called Shim and begins his record. After several victories, the people begin to boast in their own strength and swear oaths of vengeance against the Lamanites. Mormon refuses to lead them any longer. He writes to persuade all people in the latter days to prepare to stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
Mormon 4 No longer led by Mormon, the Nephite armies continue to battle against the Lamanites. Thousands on both sides are slain. The descendants of Lehi become more wicked than at any other time in their history, and the Lamanites begin to annihilate the Nephites. Mormon takes custody of all the Nephite records and moves them from the hill called Shim to a hill called Cumorah.
Mormon 5–7 Mormon resumes command of the Nephite armies, though he knows they will be destroyed. He prophesies of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. He gathers the Nephites to Cumorah for a final battle against the Lamanites. After the battle, he laments the destruction of his people. Mormon writes to persuade the descendants of the Lamanites to believe in Jesus Christ and be baptized.
Mormon 8–9 After Mormon’s death, Moroni continues the record. He prophesies of the Book of Mormon coming forth by the power of God in a day of unbelief and wickedness. He testifies of Jesus Christ and teaches that miracles and signs accompany faith in Him. He exhorts those who read his words to come unto the Lord and be saved.