To help students understand the structure of the Book of Mormon.
Before the Video
Hold up a copy of the Book of Mormon and ask, “Who wrote the Book of Mormon?” Answers may vary greatly, but will probably include Mormon, Nephi, Moroni, and Joseph Smith. Write these four names on the board in preparation for the next activity.
Have the students refer to the title page of the Book of Mormon and match the following phrases with one of the names on the board: “written by” (Mormon), “taken from” (Nephi), “sealed by” (Moroni), and “translated by” (Joseph Smith Jr.).
Three of the four prophets listed on the board were also involved in a process called abridging. To “abridge” means to shorten, paraphrase, quote, re-tell, and comment on an original work. Ask “Which of the prophets did not abridge parts of the Book of Mormon?” (Joseph Smith Jr.). Allow students five minutes to try to abridge the description on the title page of the Book of Mormon by rewriting it. Discuss the challenges involved in abridging.
Using the Video
“Look For” Activity
Have the students label six strips of paper to be used as bookmarks with the following phrases:
From the small plates of Nephi
From Mormon’s abridgement of the large plates of Nephi
From Moroni’s abridgement of the plates of Ether
As students watch the video, suggest they try to determine where to divide the Book of Mormon with the six bookmarks. You may also have students refer to the following pages in their own books as they watch the video: title page, A Brief Explanation about the Book of Mormon, and Names and Order of Books in the Book of Mormon.
Show the Video
The video shows a seminary teacher and his class encountering oversized models of the Book of Mormon, the gold plates, and other source plates.
After the Video
Use the following graphic as a review of the video:
Note: Although the video portrayal shows a sealed portion on the gold plates, this is not intended to represent any authoritative statement regarding the proportion of sealed plates to unsealed plates. No record has been found in which Joseph Smith stated how the sealed portion of the gold plates were sealed or what fraction of the total volume the sealed portion constituted. Orson Pratt said that two thirds of the plates were sealed (see Journal of Discourses, 3:347), while George Q. Cannon wrote that only one third of them were sealed (see A History of the Prophet Joseph Smith for Young People , 27; see also Life of Joseph Smith the Prophet , 45).
For a reference concerning the Book of Lehi being on the lost 116 pages of manuscript, see the preface to the first edition of the Book of Mormon, written by Joseph Smith in 1830.
Have students turn to Names and Order of Books in the Book of Mormon. Divide the list of books into their source groups and mark them.
Read 1 Nephi 9 with the class. Help the students discover which group of plates Nephi was discussing. Have them look up the following references and identify which plates were being discussed:
Emphasize the miracle of the Book of Mormon, including its structure and prophecies concerning the various plates. You may want to testify of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, that God put it together “for a wise purpose,” and that the coming forth of the book was not by chance. You could also indicate that a book this complex could not have been written by an uneducated young man like Joseph Smith.