World Faiths & Religions

Frequently Asked Questions

Where did the Book of Mormon come from?

According to Mormon theology, the Book of Mormon is a translation of a record telling of three relatively small groups that came to the Americas, by boat, from the ancient Middle East. Two of these groups came from Jerusalem around the time of the Babylonian exile (c. 586/7 B.C.E.), while the third, a non-Israelite group, appears to have come from Mesopotamia at least several hundred years before that. Some of the records kept and written by these groups were passed down, and were eventually edited into one volume by a prophet-historian named Mormon (MORE-mun, rhymes with "nun"), who chose to preserve this record on metal plates instead of more perishable materials. He passed this record on to his son Moroni (more-OH-nigh), who in turn buried it in a particular hill, which Mormon tradition conflates with a hill named Cumorah (kuh-MORE-uh) in the Book of Mormon. This occurred in c. 420 C.E. Fourteen hundred years later, Moroni, now resurrected, was sent by God as an angel to guide Joseph Smith to these buried plates, and provide him with divine means by which to translate them. The resulting translation, first published in 1830, has become known as the Book of Mormon. Non-Mormons account for the Book of Mormon's existence in various ways: by attributing it to Joseph Smith's "religious genius" (whether consciously as a "pious fraud" or unconsciously), a combination of plagiarism and/or co-authorship with co-conspirators, or Satanic inspiration.