There is More
Author note: This is the first post that comes from a series of emails I have shared with a few individuals. They are the result of conversations involving questions and concerns. As I have tried to express myself I have regurgitated many ideas that have been presented to me over the last few years that I believe to be true. As far as there is any truth to these words of expression, they are from the spirit. Any doctrinal errors are my own fault. Any grammatical errors are also my own fault. I present these in a very raw form.
WHY IS THE BOOK OF MORMON CALLED ‘THE BOOK OF MORMON’?
Because Mormon was the prophet who compiled and abridged the records.
My experience is that this is the generally accepted answer. A brief exchange that might precede this is:
Why are Mormons called ‘Mormon’?
Because we believe The Book of Mormon to be scripture and it is the keystone of our religion.
Seems simple enough…and oh how I enjoy simple things. But as with most things relating to the kingdom, we see what we can, when we can.
Perhaps there is another acceptable answer to these questions. Let’s look at the title page of The Book of Mormon. Unlike many parts of our “standard works” books (index, Bible dictionary, maps, footnotes, chapter headings, etc.), the title page is brought forth from the record itself. Joseph Smith stated that it was from the last leaf.
The title-page of the Book of Mormon is a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand side of the collection or book of plates, which contained the record which has been translated, the language of the whole running the same as all Hebrew writing in general; and that said title page is not by any means a modern composition, either of mine or of any other man who has lived or does live in this generation… (History of the Church, 1:71)
Moroni was the final compiler and the one who sealed up the record (Mormon 8:14, Moroni 10:2) and because it is the last leaf, this most likely suggests that Moroni was the author. Because it is a portion of the translation it should be studied and treated like the rest of the record. What did a prophet deem worthy of being the title page this sacred work?
The purpose of The Book of Mormon is recorded here on the title page.
…Which is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations… (The Book of Mormon Title Page)
There are at least four parts to this:
- remnant of the house of Israel
- their fathers
- knowing the covenants
- Christ manifesting Himself
All of these questions should be asked:
- Who are the “remnant”?
- What are the great things the Lord hath done for their fathers?
- Who are their fathers?
- What are the covenants?
- In what manner does Jesus Christ manifest Himself?
Covenants must be important. It seems like one of the main objectives of The Book of Mormon is to make them known.
Now most of us have heard the phrase “Abrahamic Covenant”.
And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers. It was conferred upon me from the fathers; it came down from the fathers, from the beginning of time, yea, even from the beginning, or before the foundation of the earth, down to the present time, even the right of the firstborn, or the first man, who is Adam, or first father, through the fathers unto me. (Abraham 1:2-3)
Notice Abraham mentions “the fathers” and the first father who is Adam. What is one of the promises Adam received?
And in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, which beareth record of the Father and the Son, saying: I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and forever, that as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will. (Moses 5:9)
Abraham “became a rightful heir” and these things are available to “all mankind, even as many as will”. Could these covenants be what The Book of Mormon is trying to show us; that we can be rightful heirs with the Fathers? I believe so and I believe it is a message hidden in its very title.
The prophet who abridged the records contained in The Book of Mormon is named Mormon, but that is not why the book carries that name. The individual named Mormon was named after a place.
And behold, I am called Mormon, being called after the land of Mormon, the land in which Alma did establish the church among the people, yea, the first church which was established among them after their transgression. (3 Nephi 5:12)
Let’s look at parts of the record containing the account of Alma establishing the church.
In the land of Mormon there was a forest called Mormon, and in that forest there were waters called “Mormon” or “the waters of Mormon”.
And now it came to pass that all this was done in Mormon, yea, by the waters of Mormon, in the forest that was near the waters of Mormon; yea, the place of Mormon, the waters of Mormon, the forest of Mormon, how beautiful are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer; yea, and how blessed are they, for they shall sing to his praise forever. (Mosiah 18:30)
What was done in Mormon?
And after this manner he did baptize every one that went forth to the place of Mormon; and they were in number about two hundred and four souls; yea, and they were baptized in the waters of Mormon, and were filled with the grace of God. (Mosiah 18:16)
- How does one receive the blessings pertaining to the “Abrahamic Covenant” without being a literal decedent?
- How does one become “a rightful heir”?
- Is it through an adoption of sorts?
- How does this process take place?
- Was Alma doing just that?
The Book of Mormon is synonymous with covenant. Mormon was named after a place where covenants were made – even restored. To those people it was a new covenant. Though it was an eternal/everlasting covenant, it was new to them. Read what some of those covenants are in Mosiah 18.
The Old Testament and The New Testament are covenants. The Book of Mormon is a covenant and brings the two together. The Old Covenant and the New Covenant become one in The Book of Covenant (Mormon). Recognizing this, perhaps, brings a bit more meaning to this scripture:
And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—
Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written. (D&C 84:54-57)
This also helps answer the question as to why are we called Mormons. When we are referred to as “Mormon”, it should be because we are a people of covenant – not because an awesome guy named Mormon compiled a holy writ which bears his name. No, this awesome guy was named after a place which contained a “fountain of pure water” (Mosiah 18:5) where individuals were given the invitation to enter into a covenant to be rightful heirs with the fathers.
Are you a “Mormon”?
The Book of Mormon is referred to as the “new covenant” in Section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants. It is new in that time, just like the covenant was new in the time of Alma. Where Alma restored a covenant in the waters of Mormon, Joseph did likewise through the Book of Mormon.
Finally, the last point mentioned in the title page pertaining to the purpose of the record:
And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations…
How does He manifest Himself? One example is found here:
Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am; (D&C 93:1)
…I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. (JSH 1:16)
…I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, which I never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot.
And the Spirit said unto me: Behold, what desirest thou? (1 Nephi 11:1-2)
And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto them saying:
Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.
And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come. (3 Nephi 11:13-15)
We could copy scripture after scripture to illustrate how He manifests Himself. However, the important part of this message is to recognize that The Book of Mormon is a covenant and the purpose it serves is of Him manifesting Himself unto you. This is to fulfill the work of the Lord.
For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. (Moses 1:39)
What is eternal life?
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3)
How do you KNOW? Read 3 Nephi 11:13-15 again.
This knowledge is eternal life. This is the covenant. This is His work.
How do we obtain this covenant? What is our part?
Well, every blessing is based on a law. It’s a matter of fulfilling (or qualifying) under the appropriate law.
There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. (D&C 130:20-21)
So, what if you believe these things? What if you accept His invitation? Can a person come out from under the condemnation mentioned in D&C 84? Alma give us the answer:
And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.
And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.
And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell. (Alma 12:9-11)
At some point it might be a fruitful effort to study out the word “mysteries”. What does it mean?
Anyhow, hopefully I have proposed enough questions already. Hopefully you notice this is a seed. Hopefully you take prophetic council and do what we are supposed to do with seeds.
Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.” (Alma 32:28)
“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. (Moroni 10:4)