Reader voices: The prophet Mormon and his work on the Book of Mormon

By Keith Schofield

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, Aug. 4 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

The copy of The Book of Mormon owned by Lucy Mack Smith in Salt Lake City on Monday, Sept. 12, 2011.

Mike Terry, Deseret News

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The prophet Mormon was an amazing human being and a man among men. Mormon was a child prodigy, a skilled military commander, a great historian, a powerful prophet and a loving father and son.

Mormon had no guile and he consistently showed tenderness and compassion for his fellow men.

Mormon and a minority of those faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ were surrounded all their days by "wickedness and abominations," but in Mormon's writings, he has an eternal perspective which made him cheerful, buoyant and optimistic in the gospel.

Joseph Smith and Mormon had little if any interaction in this life (see Journal of Discourses, 17:374 for reference to possible interaction).

These two great men, Joseph Smith and Mormon, both had a hand in advancing the work of bringing forth the Book of Mormon.

One of the many things Joseph Smith did as a leader of early The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the translation and publication of The Book of Mormon. And Mormon worked to compile and edit it.

The Lord knows the greatness of his people. His knowledge of Mormon led him to select and call on Mormon among all other men to edit the book that Joseph Smith translated (for the call see 3 Nephi 5:14-16; Words of Mormon 1:9,11; Mormon 3:17-22; Mormon 5:9, 12-­15; first paragraph of The Book of Mormon title page).

Make no mistake, however. The command to compile the Book of Mormon made staggering demands on the devoted Mormon. The Nephites held a massive number of records including the large plates and small plates of the Nephites and voluminous other records (see Helaman 3:13-16). The records were so extensive that four times Mormon felt compelled to declare that he could not write "the hundredth part of the things of my people" (see Words of Mormon 1:5; Helaman 3:14; 3 Nephi 5:8; 3 Nephi 26:6).

When you think about it, Mormon was faced with the including the doctrines of the gospel in that hundredth part of history of Nephite affairs (1 Nephi 15:13).

Readers can get a sense of what Mormon had to cope with in selecting material for this book by a few of his comments:

1. "(T)here had many things that have transpired which in the eyes of some, would be great and marvelous; nevertheless, they cannot all be written in this book" (see 3 Nephi 5:9).

2. Mormon used only four verses to record an extensive history of the Lord's people beginning with the Creation and the Fall by Ammon, probably the the greatest Nephite missionary ever. Ammon included "the plan of redemption and "all the works of the Lord."

Mormon did not report verbatim or in outline even apart of Ammon's teachings (Alma 18:36-39).

3. Nephi, grandson of Helaman, had faith so great that "angels did minister unto him daily." "And he did minister many things unto (the Nephites); and all of them cannot be written, and a part of them would not suffice, therefore they we not written in this book. And Nephi did minister with power and with great authority" (3 Nephi 7:17).

Mormon also had to decide which Nephite historical episodes would best illustrate man's proper relationship with God so that these episodes might be included in The Book of Mormon.

The Book of Mormon is a dazzling spiritual treasure because its editor was a divinely inspired spiritual giant.

Mormon is amazing because of his production of The Book of Mormon. It was the consecrated and successful labor of his life.

To know these and other parts of Mormon's life helps me to feel a greater love, appreciation and understanding for the wonderful Book of Mormon.

Keith Schofield is the author of "Mormon: Divine Genius of the Book of Mormon."

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