Have you ever wondered how Mormons—properly referred to as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—got their nickname?
It’s a pretty simple answer. Members of the Church read and revere a book of scripture called the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
The Book of Mormon is not a replacement or substitute for the Holy Bible but a companion to it. Members of the Church are taught from the Bible and the Book of Mormon and consider both to be holy scripture containing the word of God.
The Book of Mormon takes place in the ancient Americas and is a compilation of spiritual and historical records written by prophets, just as the Bible is.
Like the Bible, the Book of Mormon is a book of scripture that teaches about Jesus and has inspired millions all over the world, yet the book’s power is distinctly personal. It provides hope and builds faith one soul at a time.
The Book of Mormon contains sacred writings from followers of Jesus. Just like God spoke to Moses and Noah in the Bible, He also spoke to people in the Americas. These men, called prophets, wrote down God’s word. Their writings were eventually gathered into one book by a prophet named Mormon.
Jesus frequently compared Himself to a shepherd. He often spoke of his love for those who follow Him, whom he referred to as His sheep. In John, chapter 10, while speaking to the people in ancient Palestine, He declared,
“And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd”
Who were the other sheep Christ spoke of in that parable? The history of some of these “other sheep” is recounted in the Book of Mormon
Jesus spent His mortal life near Jerusalem, teaching the Jews of His gospel. However, Jesus also taught people in the American continents. The crowning event recorded in the Book of Mormon is in fact the account of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ ministering, teaching, and blessing people in the Americas. That visit was life-changing for them then.
The Book of Mormon teaches the gospel of Jesus Christ, outlines God’s plan of happiness for His children, and tells them what they must do to gain peace in this life and exaltation in the life to come.
The Book of Mormon is actually a collection of histories passed down from one writer to another. The first author was the prophet Nephi, who left Jerusalem with his family in about 600 BC and sailed to the Americas. Nephi passed the record to his younger brother Jacob, who gave it to his son Enos. Each author always gave the record to someone they trusted.
“They should be kept and handed down from one generation to another, and be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord until they should go forth unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.” —Alma 37:4
Why is it called the Book of Mormon?
After hundreds of years, the record was given to Mormon, who was both a prophet and military leader. Mormon condensed all the writings into one volume, engraved on thin sheets of metal. He titled it the Book of Mormon. Before he died, Mormon passed the plates to his son Moroni. Moroni added a few words, then buried the plates.
Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon
In 1823, Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith as an angel and told him where the plates were buried. Joseph Smith translated the plates into English by the gift and power of God, and the Book of Mormon was published in Palmyra, New York, in 1830.
Since that time, this sacred volume has been translated into more than 100 languages, and over 150 million copies have appeared in print.
The Book of Mormon exists to testify of Jesus Christ and His life and mission, confirming what is taught in the Bible and clarifying points of doctrine. Through living the teachings found in the Bible and Book of Mormon, people will find peace and truth.
We cherish the Holy Bible
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, like many people around the world, find comfort and inspiration in the Bible. We believe it to be the sacred word of God.
In the Bible, the Apostle Paul taught, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Corinthians 13:1). When God teaches an important principle, He sends another source to confirm it. The Book of Mormon is a second witness to the Bible’s teachings. As many people today drift from God and religion, having more than one witness of God’s words can help us stay on track.
God’s people have always been taught by living prophets. Like us today, the women and men of those times struggled with temptation, searched for wisdom, and led happier lives when they followed the teachings of Jesus Christ. We can recognize ourselves in their stories—inspired and inspiring spiritual records.
The Book of Mormon is evidence that God loves all His children and is involved in their lives. It serves as a witness to the truths in the Bible and to the divinity and teachings of Jesus Christ.