Book of Mormon

by Rex C. Reeve, Jr.

The short Book of Mormon (A.D. 320-400/421), within the Book of Mormon, documents the extraordinary collapse of Nephite civilization, as had been foretold (1 Ne. 12:19-20; Alma 45:10-14). It consists of Mormon's abridgment of his larger and more complete history (Morm. 1- 6), his final admonition both to future Lamanites and to other remnants of the house of Israel (chap. 7), and the prophetic warnings of Mormon's son Moroni2 to future readers of the record (chaps. 8-9). Because Nephites of Mormon's day had rejected Jesus Christ and his gospel, superstition and magic replaced divine revelation (Morm. 1:13-19). A border skirmish (1:10) escalated into a major war, driving the Nephites from their traditional lands (2:3-7, 16, 20-21). Following a ten-year negotiated peace, they repulsed a Lamanite attack, which Mormon, former commander of the Nephite army, refused to lead. As conditions worsened, Mormon reluctantly agreed to command the Nephite army at Cumorah, where they were destroyed (chaps. 3-6). With poignant anguish, Mormon lamented over his slain people: "O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you!" (6:17-22).

Mormon concluded his record by inviting Lamanites and other remnants of the house of Israel to learn of their forefathers, to lay down their weapons of war, and to repent of their sins and believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. His final words are, "If it so be that ye believe in Christ, and are baptized, first with water, then with fire and with the Holy Ghost,…it shall be well with you in the day of judgment. Amen" (7:10).

After the final battle (A.D. 385), Moroni 2—alone and unsure of his own survival—noted his father's death and concluded his father's record (8:1-5). Fifteen years later (A.D. 400), Moroni recorded that survivors of his people had been hunted from place to place until they were no more except for himself. He also observed that the Lamanites were at war with one another and that the whole country witnessed continual bloodshed. For a second time he closed the work, promising that those who would receive this record in the future and not condemn it would learn of greater spiritual matters (8:6-13).

Moroni apparently returned to the record a third time (between A.D. 400 and 421). Having seen a vision of the future (8:35), he testified that the plates of the Book of Mormon would come forth by the power of God in a day when people would not believe in miracles. Secret combinations would abound, churches be defiled, and wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, and pollutions be upon the earth. Moroni also spoke warnings to those in the latter days who do not believe in Christ and who deny the revelations of God, thus standing against the works of the Lord (8:14-9:27). He mentioned the difficulty of keeping records, written as they were in "reformed Egyptian" (9:31-33; cf. Ether 12:23-25). Moroni closed his father's volume with a testimony of the truth of his words (9:35-37).

Bibliography

MacKay, Thomas W. "Mormon and the Destruction of Nephite Civilization." In Studies in Scripture, ed. K. Jackson, Vol. 8. Salt Lake City, 1988.

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