Question Box: The Mormon Bible

From the question box: Does the Mormon Bible have the book of revelation in it?

Short answer: yes.

Our church has four officially canonized books of scripture, of which the Bible is one. We use and love the Bible because it is a book that contains revealed truth about God and Jesus Christ. No other book in our canon is referred to as a “Bible”, so when you say “the Mormon Bible”, you are really talking about the same Bible used by any other Christian church. In that sense, our Bible has the book of Revelation in it just like any other Bible does.

However, when somebody refers to “the Mormon Bible”, we assume they mean The Book of Mormon, which is another book in our canon of scripture. It is the testimony of Jesus Christ as recorded by a branch of the house of Israel that emigrated from Jerusalem before the Babylonian captivity. It contains many great truths, prophecies and testimonies of Jesus Christ, but it does not have the Revelation of John referred to in the question.

For more information as well as a discussion of our other books of scripture, you can follow the links below:

More Than the Bible?

The Book of Mormon: The Mormons’ Bible?

The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ

Question: Nephite Kings

Q. So I was reading in the Book of Mormon in Mosiah chapter 25:13 which says, “And now all the people of Zarahemla were numbered with the Nephites, and this because the kingdom had been conferred upon none but those who were descendants of Nephi.” My question is about the kings being descendants of Nephi. I have always thought they were descendants of Jacob. Where did I go wrong?

A. Nephi was both the king and the religious leader of the Nephites in his day. After his death, however, the offices of king and religious leader were held by different people. Jacob, Nephi’s brother, acted as the leader of the church while an unnamed man was anointed by Nephi to be king and ruler (Jacob 1:9). This unnamed man came to be known as second Nephi with succeeding kings also being called by the name Nephi regardless of their actual name (Jacob 1:11). They really liked Nephi (who was reluctant even to be named king to begin with) and honored him by perpetuating his name.

The Book of Mormon follows the lives of civilizations and individuals, providing a rich and deep backdrop for the eternal truths taught therein. I have found that using a study guide such as the Church’s Institute manual (found here) is helpful in keeping things straight and understanding context.

What is the purpose of the Book of Mormon?

“[The Book of Mormon] is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas
and contains, as does the Bible, the fulness of the everlasting gospel.” (Introduction to the Book of Mormon)

The purpose of the Book of Mormon is two-fold:

1) The full title of the Book of Mormon is “The Book of Mormon Another Testament of Jesus Christ”.  The Book of Mormon contains the account of Christ’s visitation to the people on the American continent shortly after His resurrection.  It stands as another witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ with the Bible and was written “to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations” (Title Page of the Book of Mormon).

2) It provides spiritual evidence of the truthfulness of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The Introduction to the Book of Mormon ends with an invitation and a promise: “We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true (Moroni 10:3-5)…Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is his revelator and prophet in the last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the second coming of the Messiah.”

Other related articles:
The Restoration
What Do Mormons Believe? – The Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon Made Simple
Book of Mormon Christians
The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ
Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon – An Apostle’s Testimony
The Book of Mormon: The Mormons’ Bible?
Book of Mormon Evidence

My Favorite Book of Mormon Story

My favorite Book of Mormon Story begins in Helaman, chapter 7. I just started reading it again tonight, it is the story of a lone prophet among an influx of unrighteous, proud, and dangerous people. Nephi (the son of Helaman) was praying aloud in his garden about the deplorable state of the people when a crowd noticed and gathered around him. He called them to repentance, warning them that they will be destroyed unless they heed the word of the Lord.

At the end of his preaching, he told the people to go to the judgment seat and there they would find the Chief Judge dead by the hand of his brother. He reveals that these brothers were both members of the infamous Gadianton Robbers.

Immediately, 5 men run from where Nephi is preaching to the judgment seat to verify Nephi’s words, they agreed that if it were true, they would then believe in Nephi as a prophet. Sure enough, when they arrived, they found the Chief Judge lying in a pool of blood.

Meanwhile, the servants who discovered the murdered Chief Judge had gone out and told others about the murder. When a crowd of onlookers arrived, they found these 5 men and assumed they were the ones who had killed him and they were thrown into prison.

Later, at the burial of the Chief Judge, those who had been gathered at Nephi’s garden wondered what happened to the 5 who went to check – when it was discovered that they were the same 5, they were set free. But the people were now suspicious of Nephi, claiming that he was in league with the murderers and Nephi was a false prophet trying to gain power. So they brought him in for questioning. But Nephi was firm, and testified to his accusers that the Lord will destroy this people if they will not repent. Then Nephi gives them further proof, he tells them that if they go to the brother of the Chief Judge and accuse him, they will find blood on his cloak and he would confess.

And they did.

And he did.

And many believed that Nephi was a prophet of God.

I love how dramatic this story is, it reads just as shocking as any blockbuster movie or thriller novel. It shows how powerful prophets can be, when the situation demands it and the trust God gives his prophets. It shows how fickle groups of people can be and warns against governments run by evil and corrupt men/women.

The Testimonies of Witnesses

If you take a close look at the Book of Mormon (and I hope you will), you will inevitably uncover a controversy:  its origin.

It was published in 1829 by Joseph Smith, but he did not claim authorship; his claims were a bit more extraordinary.  He said an angel led him to the buried book, written on metal sheets the color of gold.  The text was a form of hieroglyphics, and he was able to translate it into English over the course of a few months using “the gift and power of God” residing in a pair of special interpretive stones, the Urim and Thummim.  When the translation was finished, the angel came and collected the gold plates and then the manuscript was taken to the printer.

Joseph kept the gold plates hidden from the public at the Lord’s command; many find the story that the angel Moroni took them back to be suspiciously convenient.  Since the plates are not available today for examination, skeptics have contended that there were no plates to begin with.

Does his story hold water?

Some dismiss the question too easily before examining any evidence.  The story’s supernatural elements (an angel and a pair of interpreting stones) provide convenient rationale to attribute it to fiction.  Even those who believe in the power of God may feel more comfortable disregarding the story because it doesn’t jive with their current conception of God or simply because it is something of which they’ve never heard.  In essence they say, “Surely something so powerful and interesting, if true, would have been brought to my attention already.”

Joseph’s story is, admittedly, somewhat fantastical.  It stretches one’s worldview.  Fortunately, the Lord provided aid to the incredulous:  eyewitnesses.

Were there actual gold plates?

In the summer of 1829 in Manchester, New York, just after completing the translation, Joseph met with eight close associates and (with the Lord’s permission) showed them the gold plates.  They were permitted to see, feel, and hold the record and examine closely the inscriptions on each leaf.  They each signed the following testimonial, published with the Book of Mormon ever since (my emphasis):

Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That Joseph Smith, Jun., the translator of this work, has shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship. And this we bear record with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shown unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our names unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen. And we lie not, God bearing witness of it.

Christian Whitmer
Jacob Whitmer
Peter Whitmer, Jun
John Whitmer
Hiram Page
Joseph Smith, Sen
Hyrum Smith
Samuel H. Smith

This was not some idle piece of writing for them.  It implicated them.  They were interviewed, accused, and mocked.  From that day on, they each stood firm in their eyewitness testimony of these plates.  Five of the eight remained in good standing with the Church, enduring mobs, extermination orders, and repeated forced expulsion from their homes.  Jacob Whitmer and Hiram Page stopped practicing, but still believed; and John Whitmer was excommunicated in a later Church incident, but not one of them (not even John who had ample reason and opportunity to expose the prophet) rescinded his testimony.  If there were no plates, the reason for their steadfastness becomes a mystery.

Others had experiences that confirm the existence of the plates.  For instance, Joseph’s wife Emma described the following concerning the period of translation:

The plates often lay on the table without any attempt at concealment, wrapped in a small linen tablecloth, which I had given him to fold them in. I once felt of the plates, as they thus lay on the table, tracing their outline and shape. They seemed to be pliable like thick paper, and would rustle with a metallic sound when the edges were moved by the thumb, as one does sometimes thumb the edges of a book.

These testimonies, among others, corroborate the young prophet’s story of the gold plates.  It is strong evidence that they existed.

Was there an actual angel?

A few days prior to the eight witnesses’ encounter with the plates, three of Joseph’s closest friends were given a more miraculous manifestation.  The gold plates were revealed at the hands of the angel Moroni and the voice of the Lord declared the record to be true.  Their testimony accompanies each copy of the Book of Mormon as well:

Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken. And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true. And it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.

Oliver Cowdery
David Whitmer
Martin Harris

As you can see, these witnesses had a different type of encounter with the gold plates.  They saw an angel and heard the voice of God.  They were commanded to “bear record of it,” or tell people about it.


Now, just the testimony of these three alone would be solid ground for a case in a court of law, but there is another even juicier part of this tale.  Several years later, all three of these men struggled with Joseph Smith’s leadership and were excommunicated from the Church.  For some time they were among Joseph’s strongest critics, yet every time they were interviewed (and there were hundreds of interviews, usually with very skeptical interrogators), they would each enthusiastically stand by their commitment to bear record of the plates and the angel who revealed them.

Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris eventually made amends with the Church leadership and returned to full fellowship.  David Whitmer remained separate from the Church, but committed to believing in the Book of Mormon and the angel Moroni.  Every one of them testified of the plates on their death beds.

Is Joseph’s story true?

That is a question you must decide for yourself.  Eight eyewitnesses claimed to have seen and hefted the plates and committed their testimony to writing.  Emma felt them through a cloth on the table.  Three eyewitnesses had them presented by an angel and lived up to the command to testify.  Even when they most wanted to see the prophet fail and could have recanted and exposed him, they didn’t.  Even at death’s door, with nothing left to gain, they stood by their words.  And these are just a few examples among many more.

These things may be enough to convince you or not; I don’t know.  I only hope to illustrate that there are good, rational reasons to believe Joseph Smith’s story.

The witnesses weren’t what made me believe it, but learning about them helped solidify my belief.  Really what convinced me was reading the book that came from these gold plates.  Near the end of the book, Moroni (the angel) writes, “by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”  Read it yourself and take the chance to ask God in prayer if it is true.

The power of God is not a fairy tale.  When He brings forth scripture, He provides witnesses; when He calls a prophet, He gives reason to believe.  His actions make tangible marks on the world.  When you pray to Him, He will give distinct answers to your heart and mind.