A few years ago right after my mission I tried to get into the habit of daily blogging about the Book of Mormon. It didn’t last for very long. This year, as I am teaching Sunday School on the Book of Mormon I am hoping that I will actually be able to do what I wanted to do long ago. There are a lot of other great bloggers such as John Hancock and Dan Peterson who have similarly started daily blogging from the Book of Mormon, so I feel like I am in very good company as I try to do so. I am also trying to read along in Russian to keep up my language skills, and to see if I get any additional insights from doing so.
I am going to start with the Title Page and Introduction, but then probably going to jump into 1 Nephi after that.
I believe it is highly instructive when we start to read anything, be it a newstory, a blog post, or an article (law review or otherwise) to begin by considering carefully what the author hopes to convey through his/her writing. Luckily for readers of the Book of Mormon, we have a Title Page that is part of the original record which conveys what Moroni believed his work would accomplish.
Joseph Smith explained that ““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”
The first indication of why the Book of Mormon was written is that it was “[w]ritten by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation.” Thus, from the start we know that the Book of Mormon is no ordinary book. It isn’t a mere historical work of fancy, or a project commenced by the author for his own aims. Instead, the writing and compiling of the Book of Mormon was inspired and commanded by God. Moreover, it was written not through ordinary means, but through the spirit of Prophecy and of Revelation. This is something we have to keep in mind as we read the work. More than mere mortal insight may be found in its pages
Second, the book was “[s]ealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by way of the Gentile.” That is to say, that it was prepared to come forth in our day, and to a people other than the ones who wrote the book. It is filled with marvelous and prophetic instruction that is particularly instructive to us and our day.
Third, the book “is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers. . . .” So, the Book of Mormon is a history, but it is a history focused on a particular theme. It is especially meant to show the miraculous power of God, and his work on this continent.
Fourth, the book seeks to help us “know the covenants of the Lord.” Covenant making and keeping is prominent from the start of the Book. The Lord’s covenant with Lehi and his descendants is fulfilled throughout the
Fifth, the book is intended to help the descedants of those in the Book of Mormon know “that they are not cast off forever.” Thus, the Book of Mormon is at its core a powerful tale of redemption. Its history shows how God can redeem a wicked and lost people, and correspondingly how a great and righteous people can fall into darkness if they drift from the Lord. Redemption, of individuals and nations is a core message that permeates the book.
Finally, and most fundamentally, the Book is for “the convincing of the Jew and Gentile,” or in other words everybody, “that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.” Thus, Jesus Christ is the foundational pillar of the work. He permeates every page. Everything points towards him. We cannot read the book without coming away impressed by its christ-centric nature. And the fundamental argument that Moroni (and Nephi and Mormon) hoped to convey is that Jesus is the Messiah, the God of the whole world.
I believe that Moroni successfully achieved all of his goals, and hope as I continue to Blog to be able to show how he did so.