The Book of Mormon


What is the Book of Mormon about, and is there any evidence for it?


Reference Links

The Jaredites' Journey to America
Coriantumr and Shiz
The Lamanites, DNA, and Archaeology
Zelph and Other BOM Sites
 
Video Transcript

The Book of Mormon tells the story of three groups of people who sailed from the middle east to America.

The first group was the Jaredites, who left the middle east during the time of the biblical Tower of Babel, sometime in the third millennium B.C., which makes them the very first inhabitants of North America.

The Jaredites crossed the ocean in eight small wooden barges, bringing with them animals and seeds to start a new life in the land of promise. They grew into a civilization that numbered in the millions and lasted for about 1500 years, but they destroyed themselves through war, leaving only a single survivor, Coriantamr, who lived to see the coming of the next group of people.

Around 600 BC, when Jerusalem was oppressed by the Babylonians, two separate groups of Israelites crossed the Atlantic, the followers of Lehi and of Mulek.

Although never named in the Bible, Mulek is supposedly one of the sons of the biblical King Zedekiah, the last king of Judah who was dethroned by the Babylonians. And although the Bible states no less than three times that Zedekiah’s sons were killed before his eyes, the Book of Mormon claims that this one son escaped to North America.

The prophet Lehi and his people also left to escape the pending destruction of Jerusalem. His descendents split into two groups, the Nephites, whom the Mulekites joined, and the Lamanites.

The Nephites, who were white, and the Lamanites, who were marked with dark skin because of their wickedness, and were generally at odds with each other for several centuries, until the resurrected Jesus Christ came to North America and united the civilizations in peace for 200 years.

Then they split again, with the Nephites staying believers in Christ, and the Lamanites revolting against the church. The Lamanites eventually wiped out the Nephites in about 400 AD, leaving a single survivor, Moroni, who would bury their history on the Golden Plates and later come back as an angel to tell Joseph Smith about them.

The LDS church clearly taught that the Lamanites then became the ancestors of the Native Americans and even many Pacific Islanders. This presents a problem because the DNA evidence has conclusively proved that these people groups have no Israelite ancestry.

In response to this, the introduction to the Book of Mormon, which used to state that the Lamanites were the principle ancestors of Native Americans, was changed in 2006 to state that they are only among their ancestors.

Another issue is the complete lack of any archaeological evidence that these large civilizations described in the Book of Mormon even existed at all. And this creates a problem with identifying the geography of these people, with modern LDS scholars suggesting Mexico and Guatemala, but with Joseph Smith identifying Book of Mormon sites in the United States.

For example, in Illinois, Joseph Smith found a skeleton which he identified as Zelph, a renowned white Lamanite chief who had died in battle. The Book of Mormon story is certainly incredible, and there’s more to explore on it at ldsvideo.org.