Introduction, Testimonies, a Brief Explanation, and the Names and Order of the Books

Book of Mormon Student Study Guide, (2000), 9–12


These introductory pages contain valuable information to help you understand and appreciate the Book of Mormon. Do not skip over them. The insights contained in these pages will give you the foundation you will need for an understanding of the sacred record.

Understanding the Scriptures

Introduction

Confounded the tongues (paragraph 2)Confused the language
Precepts (paragraph 6)Commandments, principles
Divinity (paragraphs 7–8)Being from God

Introduction, paragraph 6—What Is a Keystone?

arches with keystones

The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion.

The Prophet Joseph Smith said that “the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion” (History of the Church, 4:461). He also said: “Take away the Book of Mormon and the revelations, and where is our religion? We have none” (History of the Church, 2:52).

President Ezra Taft Benson explained:

“A keystone is the central stone in an arch. It holds all the other stones in place, and if removed, the arch crumbles.

“There are three ways in which the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. It is the keystone in our witness of Christ. It is the keystone of our doctrine. It is the keystone of testimony.

“The Book of Mormon is the keystone in our witness of Jesus Christ, who is Himself the cornerstone of everything we do. It bears witness of His reality with power and clarity. …

Jesus Christ

“The Book of Mormon is also the keystone of the doctrine of the Resurrection. As mentioned before, the Lord Himself has stated that the Book of Mormon contains the ‘fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ’ (D&C 20:9). That does not mean it contains every teaching, every doctrine ever revealed. Rather, it means that in the Book of Mormon we will find the fulness of those doctrines required for our salvation. And they are taught plainly and simply so that even children can learn the ways of salvation and exaltation. The Book of Mormon offers so much that broadens our understandings of the doctrines of salvation. Without it, much of what is taught in other scriptures would not be nearly so plain and precious.

“Finally, the Book of Mormon is the keystone of testimony. Just as the arch crumbles if the keystone is removed, so does all the Church stand or fall with the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. The enemies of the Church understand this clearly. This is why they go to such great lengths to try to disprove the Book of Mormon, for if it can be discredited, the Prophet Joseph Smith goes with it. So does our claim to priesthood keys, and revelation, and the restored Church. But in like manner, if the Book of Mormon be true—and millions have now testified that they have the witness of the Spirit that it is indeed true—then one must accept the claims of the Restoration and all that accompanies it” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 4–5; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 5–6).

Introduction—Prophets Testify of the Book of Mormon

President Marion G. Romney, who was a member of the First Presidency, said: “If we would avoid adopting the evils of the world, we must pursue a course which will daily feed our minds with and call them back to the things of the spirit. I know of no better way to do this than by daily reading the Book of Mormon” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1980, 88; or Ensign, May 1980, 66).

All of the latter-day prophets have testified of the importance of studying the Book of Mormon. President Ezra Taft Benson said: “There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment 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 strait and narrow path. The scriptures are called ‘the words of life’ (D&C 84:85), and nowhere is that more true than it is of the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 6; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 7).

President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “I would like to urge every man and woman … and every boy and girl who is old enough to read to again read the Book of Mormon during this coming year. This was written for the convincing of the Jew and the Gentile that Jesus is the Christ. There is nothing we could do of greater importance than to have fortified in our individual lives an unshakable conviction that Jesus is the Christ, the living Son of the living God. That is the purpose of the coming forth of this remarkable and wonderful book. May I suggest that you read it again and take a pencil, a red one if you have one, and put a little check mark every time there is a reference to Jesus Christ in that book. And there will come to you a very real conviction as you do so that this is in very deed another witness for the Lord Jesus Christ” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [1997], 44).

The Testimony of Three Witnesses

Grace of God the Father God’s gifts and power
Oliver Cowdery

Oliver Cowdery

David Whitmer

David Whitmer

Martin Harris

Martin Harris

Testimony of Three Witnesses—What Does It Mean to “Rid Our Garments of the Blood of All Men”?

Blood, as used in this phrase, is a symbol for sin. Those who receive a calling from the Lord to testify to the world are said to be clean from the blood of the world if they teach and testify faithfully. If they are not faithful in their calling, they will bear some of the responsibility for the sins of those they might have helped to learn the truth (see Jacob 1:18–19).

The Testimony of Eight Witnesses

Hefted Lifted

Testimony of Eight Witnesses—Why Did God Call So Many Witnesses?

The Lord has declared that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (see 2 Corinthians 13:1). Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, explained: “[God’s] word has always been proclaimed by the mouth of duly appointed witnesses who were appointed to testify of his work. The Book of Mormon could not come forth in any way other than the way it did, and fulfill the law. Their prophets declared that the Lord would raise up ‘as many witnesses as seemeth him good,’ [see 2 Nephi 27:12–14] to establish his work” (The Restoration of All Things [1945], 107).

Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith

Supplication (page 1, paragraph 2)Asking, pleading
Countenance (page 1, paragraph 5)Appearance
The source from whence they sprang (page 1, paragraph 7)The place they originally came from
Musing on the singularity (page 2, paragraph 2)Thinking about the unusual nature
Indigent circumstances (page 2, paragraph 4)Poverty
Attested by Divine affirmation (page 3, paragraph 8)As God said it would be

A Brief Explanation about the Book of Mormon

Secular history (paragraph 2)The history of kings, wars, and so on
Abridgment (paragraph 3)Shortened version
Subsequently (paragraph 8)Later

Brief Explanation—How Are the Different Sets of Plates Represented in the Book of Mormon?

The illustration on page 12 of this manual helps explain how the different sets of plates fit together to make up the Book of Mormon record. Notice that there was much more written than Mormon and Moroni were able to include on the plates of Mormon (see Helaman 3:14–15; Ether 15:33).

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the following activities (A–F) as you study the introduction, testimonies, and brief explanation.

Activity A iconWhat Do They Mean to You?

In the quotation from the Prophet Joseph Smith in paragraph 6 of the introduction are the following three principles about the Book of Mormon. In your notebook, explain how each principle is true and what it means to you. Use the information in the introduction and in the “Understanding the Scriptures” section to help you.

  1. 1.

    The Book of Mormon is “the most correct of any book on earth.”

  2. 2.

    The Book of Mormon is “the keystone of our religion.”

  3. 3.

    A person will “get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”

Activity B iconMake a Keystone Arch

Using wooden blocks or other suitable material, construct an arch (see the picture of an arch on p. 9). Label the keystone “The Book of Mormon.” Take your arch to class and show how the keystone holds the arch together.

Activity C iconHow Can I Know That the Book of Mormon Is True?

Read the last two paragraphs of the introduction and, in your notebook, explain what you must do to receive a witness from the Spirit that the Book of Mormon is true.

Activity D iconWhat Did They Witness?

  1. 1.

    List what the Three Witnesses saw and heard and what the Eight Witnesses saw and touched.

  2. 2.

    What does it mean to you that 11 other men testified that the Prophet Joseph Smith did indeed have the gold plates and that three of them saw an angel and heard the voice of the Lord?

Activity E iconWhat Impressed You?

Joseph Smith

After reading the testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, write at least one thing that impressed you about his testimony.

Activity F iconProphets Speak Out on the Book of Mormon

Make a chart with four columns. Label the first column “Promised Blessings,” the second “Counsel about Reading the Book of Mormon,” the third “What the Book Contains,” and the fourth “Testimonies of the Prophets.” Read “What is a Keystone?” and “Prophets Testify of the Book of Mormon” in the “Understanding the Scriptures” section. Look for statements that belong in one of the four categories and write them in the appropriate column.

The Main Sources for the Book of Mormon

Main Sources for Book of Mormon(click to view larger)

Some of the sources for the plates of Mormon

The Plates of Brass

Quoted in

The Small Plates of Nephi

1 Nephi

2 Nephi

Jacob

Enos

Jarom

Omni

Included unabridged

Mormon's explanation for including the small plates of Nephi

Quoted in

The Large Plates of Nephi

Lehi

Mosiah

Alma

Helaman

3 Nephi

4 Nephi

Mormon 1-7

Abridged by Mormon

Moroni's completion of his father's book

The Plates of Ether

The Book of Ether

Abridged by Moroni

The personal writings of Moroni, including the title page

The Plates of Mormon that were given to the Prophet Joseph Smith (does not necessarily reflect the order of the books on the plates)

The book of Lehi (part of Mormon's abridgment; the 116-page translation lost by Martin Harris)

1 Nephi through Omni

The Word of Mormon

Mosiah through Mormon 7

Mormon 8-9

Ether

Moroni

The Sealed Portion

Translated by Joseph Smith

The Book of Mormon