The Book of Mormon: The Mormons’ Bible?

You know that book the Mormons read?

> Twilight?

No.  Try again.

> The Book of Mormon?

Yes, that’s the one.  How much do you know about it?

> It’s the Mormon version of the Bible.

Um, okay.  We need to talk.  This article is for you.

First, it’d be good to understand what the Bible is.  The Bible comes in two sections: the Old Testament and the New Testament.  I’ll use bullets to summarize as quickly as I can:

Old Testament

  • Begin date: “In the beginning…”
  • Moses writes about creation, Eden, the flood, the tower of Babel, Abraham, the establishment and exodus of Israel.
  • Law of Moses instituted for Israel.
  • Other prophets and historians write about Israelite conquests and generally the lineage history of the  house of Israel.
  • Stories of the Lord’s intervention, prophets foretell Israel’s captivity in Babylon.
  • Israel is taken captive by Babylon (around 600 BC), then eventually set free to rebuild; prophets foretell the coming of the Messiah.
  • End date: About 400 BC.

New Testament

  • Begin date: About 1 BC.
  • Jesus is born and hailed as the Messiah, he grows up and starts teaching and performing miracles.
  • Jesus is crucified for the world’s sins and is resurrected (33 AD); he establishes a Church on the shoulders of his Apostles.
  • An important Jew (Saul) hates this upstart Church and tries to destroy it; he is later visited by Jesus and becomes Paul, an important missionary.
  • Paul travels all over Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome teaching about Jesus; many NT books are letters to his followers.
  • Some writings from other Apostles (Peter, James, John, etc.).
  • Prophesies of the eventual return of the Messiah, Jesus.
  • End date: About 70 AD.

Mormons believe the teachings, visions, and prophecies in the Bible (both testaments) to be the word of God breathed to the prophets who served as scribes and mouthpieces for the Almighty.

> You’re kidding me.  Mormons read the Bible?  The same one I read?

Yup.  We English-speaking Mormons prefer the King James Version.

> So, how is the Book of Mormon any different?

Well, let’s examine the Book of Mormon.  It actually has two major sections, too.  The first one is the main story:


  • Begin date: About 600 BC.
  • Israel is about to be taken captive by the Babylonians (see Old Testament, above); the Lord tells a prophet named Lehi to get his family out before it happens.
  • They travel away from Jerusalem, through the desert, to the sea and build a ship.
  • The Lord brings them across oceans to the American continent (they probably land in Mexico or Guatemala).
  • Lehi’s family breaks apart into Nephites and Lamanites.
  • A lineage history of the Nephites, their kings and the wars with the Lamanites.
  • Prophesies of their future and of the coming Messiah.
  • Signs testify when the Messiah is born (a new star, 1 BC), and when he dies (earthquakes, tempests, volcanoes, 33 AD).
  • The resurrected Jesus arrives and shows crucifixion nail prints in his hands and feet, teaches the gospel, performs miracles, and sets up a Church.
  • Peace reigns for centuries.
  • Wickedness returns.  The Nephite dynasty is destroyed.
  • Mormon summarizes everything by inscribing this whole story on thin sheets of gold, bound in book form (about 400 AD).
  • Mormon gives the gold plates to his son, Moroni, who adds the Jaredite history, journeys to a hill in New York, and buries them in a stone box.
  • End date: About AD 421.


  • Begin date: about 3,000 BC
  • Jared and family are led by the Lord to leave the tower of Babel; they move out and build barges to float to the American continent (probably Mexico).
  • Jared’s brother sees visions of the future and foretells the coming of a Messiah.
  • Lineage history of Jared’s descendants; wars, kings, important events.
  • Jaredites turn wicked and destroy themselves.
  • Ether summarizes the account on metal plates, they are recovered by the Nephites, and added to the gold plates by Moroni.
  • End date: about 600 BC.

> So, wait.  That’s not even the Bible stories or anything.  Instead of Moses and Paul you’ve got Nephi and Jared and Moroni.

Yes.  It’s vital to see the distinction between the Bible and the Book of Mormon.  They are about two completely separate groups of peoples on opposite sides of the globe.  That’s the main difference.  To put it simply:

Bible = Middle East

Book of Mormon = America

> But you mentioned Jesus.  Is that the same Jesus as in the Bible?  How does he show up in America?

Same Jesus, born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth: the Son of God.  After he died and was resurrected, he appeared to the peoples of the Book of Mormon.

> I heard that the Book of Mormon replaces the Bible, and I’m not comfortable with that idea.

They are two very different accounts of separate peoples.  They’re like cake and ice cream.  Neither one is meant to replace the other.  In fact, they are enhanced when used together.  Give me both!

> Okay, but wouldn’t the Bible have mentioned something about the Book of Mormon?

It does!  The Lord told the Bible prophet Ezekiel that the stick of Judah (the Bible) and the stick of Joseph (the Book of Mormon) will be joined together “and they shall become one in thine hand” (Ezekiel 37:16-17).  Also, Jesus Christ taught the disciples that he had other sheep, “which are not of this fold” whom he intended to visit (John 10:16).

In the Book of Mormon, an angel explained to Nephi that “These last records [the Book of Mormon] . . . shall establish the truth of the first [the Bible] . . . and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved” (1 Nephi 13:40).

What they have in common is their devotion to the Savior of all men.  Jesus is the long-foretold Messiah.  We may be saved from our sins and crimes and from death itself through His holy name.  These books of scripture tell us how we can receive this precious gift.  I recommend you read both.  You may order a free copy of each from (the official Church website).

> Alright.  I’m clicking on that link right now!

The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ

In 1830, a young man named Joseph Smith published a book that he claimed was sent from God.  That book, the Book of Mormon, contained teachings and prophecies centered on Jesus Christ.  It was written for the purpose of “convincing Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting Himself to all nations” (Title Page).  It continues to be published to this day and is distributed worldwide in every major language.  To me, the Book of Mormon adds an extraordinary amount of spirituality, peace, and insight to my life.  It is through the Book of Mormon that I came to understand more clearly the Bible and the role of Jesus Christ.

The Book of Mormon is about a people who left Jerusalem and lost their connection to the prophets of the Bible that lived there.  In order to teach this separate people, God called prophets among them.  Through their history, each wrote down their own experiences, prophecies and sermons.  All the writings were condensed and compiled  into a single volume a thousand years later by a prophet named Mormon.  That volume, written on gold plates, was buried anciently and retrieved by Joseph Smith by commandment of God.  He translated the work though the power of God into English and worked to distribute the book to as many of God’s children as would receive it.

It is through the Book of Mormon that we can more clearly see that Jesus Christ has been known to all of His followers, no matter where or when.  The power of the Book of Mormon comes from its witness that Jesus is the savior and redeemer of the world.  That witness is given by every one of the prophets in the Book of Mormon.  One of those prophets, named Nephi, expressed his reason for writing of Christ.

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophecy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins (2 Nephi 25:26).

Nephi’s brother, Jacob, expressed similar feelings.  “For this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us” (Jacob 4:4).

With such a purpose of this book, it is important to understand clear what it is.  I’ve seen that some people refer to our scriptures as the Mormon Bible.  This term is confusing because it implies that the Book of Mormon replaces the Holy Bible, which it doesn’t.  We believe in and study the Holy Bible (in English, we usually read the King James version) along with the Book of Mormon.  The two are inseparably combined and go hand in hand.  With both of these resources available, a greater clarity of the scriptures can be understood by those willing to study it out.

For example, in the gospel of Matthew we read that Christ went to John the baptist to be baptized.  John realized that if there was anyone ever who never needed baptism for remission of sins, it was Jesus.  Yet Jesus was supposed to be baptized, saying, “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15).  What exactly does it mean “to fulfill all righteousness”?  A prophet from the Book of Mormon explains it for us: “And now, I would ask of you, my beloved brethren, wherein the Lamb of God did fulfil all righteousness in being baptized by water?  Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments” (2 Nephi 31:6-7).  This is just a single example of many such topics.  We learn about Christ’s sacrifice and suffering, the priesthood, faith, the purpose of the law and many others in this book.

The Book of Mormon also teaches us that a testimony of Jesus Christ will protect us.  It demonstrates very vividly the promise that the Lord has made to His people as He said, “If ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper in the land, but inasmuch as ye do not these things, ye shall be swept off the face of the land.” (See 2 Nephi 1:9-11)  This seems to be the overarching theme that is shown by periods of prosperity followed by periods of war and famine, ending ultimately in the complete destruction of a people that had fully rejected Christ in their lives.

In short, every single prophet taught the people about Christ, His mission on earth, His atonement and our eternal indebtedness to Him.  They were taught to humble themselves before Him, to learn of Him, to pray to Him, to do His will, and above all, to be as He is.  We too can learn the lessons the people of the Book of Mormon were taught, with the added benefit of perspective.  Consequences of embracing or leaving behind the gospel of Christ are put in plain view in scripture.

Any way you look at it, the Book of Mormon is phenomenal.  In just over 500 pages, a history of a people, spanning about a thousand years, is presented.  It is complete with personal stories of its authors, societal issues of an ancient people and above all, prophecy after prophecy and principle after principle relating to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  If you have not yet read it, please do so at your first possible chance.

“Hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, . . . and they teach all men that they should do good.  And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day.” 2 Nephi 33:10-11

See also: Safety for the Soul by Jeffrey R. Holland

What is your great question of the soul?

I read an interesting quote the other day, about how people in our church “need to know how to use the Book of Mormon to arouse mankind’s interest in studying it, and they need to show how it answers the great questions of the soul” (Ezra Benson).

That quote made me think: what are the great questions of the soul? I thought of several and I want to show you how the Book of Mormon answers them. Many of the questions I thought of are below, along with a specific passage in the Book of Mormon to help answer that question. There are many more questions and many more passages, but this is just a small glimpse into the book I love so much. I hope this helps some of you orient yourselves to the Book of Mormon, which has helped me answer my own soul’s greatest question.

Is there a god? (2 Nephi 2:14; Alma 30:43-44)

If so, how can I know? (Alma 22:16-18)

What is God like? (2 Nephi 26:23-24, 33, 27:23)

Does life have a purpose? (Alma 42)

Can I know that purpose? (Mormon 9:21, 27-28)

Is there life after death? (Alma 11:45, Alma 40)

I know that although this site is targeted to people who want to know more about what Mormons believe, it is frequently visited by members of our church. I encourage all of you who have read this far to leave a comment in this section. Tell about a great question of your soul, or simply ask it here. If you have found your answer in the Book of Mormon, put the scriptures that helped you. If you know of any scriptures to help anybody out, put them there. We can all gain something from this experience if you share your thoughts in the comments right now, and we need your contribution.

Open Book Test

Open bookIn August, I arrived in Des Moines, for medical school.  Since I’ve been here, I’ve had a test just about every week.  They’ve sure kept me busy and I’m always studying for the next exam.  One morning as I was about to run out the door to school I noticed a card on my dresser.  It was a picture of the scriptures with a little saying, “Life is an open book test.  Find your answers in the scriptures.”  And then it quoted from 2 Nephi in the Book of Mormon.

I thought about that saying all day.  I’ve always liked open book tests in school.  If you were ever unsure of an answer, you could flip through the pages and find it.  It also seemed that professors only gave open book tests on the hardest of materials.

Life truly is a test.  We are tested every day, to see if we are willing to choose Christ and follow him.  He has given us the scriptures to show us the answers for our life’s test.

Survey: Reading the Scriptures

Q. Survey question for all authors: How does reading the scriptures help you? Haven’t you read them several times by now?

Thaddeus: Reading the scriptures is like eating breakfast.  It gives me the spiritual nutrition I need for that day.  Some people are overwhelmed by the volume of verses in our canon, but you don’t look in your fridge and say, “Oh man!  I couldn’t possibly eat all that food!”  Somehow you do, but it isn’t really a chore.  In fact, it’s more of a disappointment when the food is gone.  Reading through all the scripture stories just once gave me a cursory superficial glance at the treasures that are available.  That first read-through was essential to understanding the basic plots and doctrines, but I see it as the primer coat to learning much deeper truths.  Each time I read the Book of Mormon or the New Testament, etc.  I keep a study journal to record new insights I receive along the way.  Sometimes the insights are answers to prayer unrelated to the topics I read, but reading puts me in a mindset to receive revelation.

Jan: Scripture study is totally vital to my day.  It helps me in every way because when I study the scriptures, I am letting Heavenly Father know that I would like His help that day in whatever I am going to be doing.  So even if the words from the book of Isaiah (where I’m reading right now) aren’t explicitly applicable to my day, the Spirit that accompanies me throughout the day is.  I have found that the more I am involved in reading, thinking and discussing the scriptures, the more they come together in my mind and give me the perspective that I need to live my life well.  And yes, I’ve gone through them several times already but each time through I have noticed more beauty and depth.  Again, I would attribute that to the Spirit.

scripture (1)

Bret: For one thing, just because I’ve read the scriptures several times, doesn’t mean I won’t learn anything new from them.  Every time I read through a passage, not only is my memory refreshed, but different points that I passed over previously are brought to my attention.  Often times that is because that particular point is relevant to my life here and now.  Sure I knew that Jesus loves us, but until I read the words, “Jesus wept” while I struggled in my own life, I didn’t realize how individual and how deep that love goes.  Scripture reading also tends to calm a person down and invoke reflection when taken seriously.

Bus: Interesting, we just talked as a family yesterday about how many times we had read each of the standard works; our reading of the Bible is lacking.  What do I get out of reading scriptures?  A broader perspective of the daily tasks I have before me and a comfort in knowing that there is an ultimate truth and a loving father that wants what’s best for me.

Dave: There are currently 3.1 million good things in the scriptures.   Guidance, doctrine, advice, inspiration. There’s no way I could pick them all up from one, two, or a hundred reads  (much less remember them).  I also find that reading the scriptures opens my heart to the personal inspiration that God is constantly trying to give me.