Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Title Page of The Book of Mormon and it's Introduction

I don't usually go a day without reading from the pages of the Book of Mormon.  In order to gather more participants to this event I put off starting again for a couple of weeks.  This morning was like I'd been holding my breath and reading again was like finally coming up for air!

I love the boldness with which the Lord declares the truth to His children.  He makes plain, His intentions and what is needed to find joy and happiness.  The title page, to me has that declarative and resonant ring I also feel in The Family:  A Proclamation to the World.

I always begin my reading with a question.  One whose answer I hope to find again and again throughout the book.  I've struggled to identify such a question for this time through.  That is until this morning.  I found my question in the Introduction.  At the end of the paragraph the Introduction declares that The Book of Mormon "...tells men what they must do to gain peace in this life..."  I have not been sufficiently at peace lately and need to be.  I hope to find peace, above all else, in this present journey through my favorite book.

The Title page singles out the Lamanites as having need of The Book of Mormon's convincing power.  Last night I sat among four Native American kids at the Detention Center.  My heart swelled with love for them, mixed with sorrow for the cultural challenges they presently face.  Their numbers in detention are grossly disproportionate to their numbers in the population at large.  I am aware that the Introduction to the Book of Mormon has been recently changed.  It used to say that the Lamanites were the principal ancestors of the American Indians; in newer editions, the Introduction says they are among the ancestors of the American Indians.  Some, I've spoken to think this explains why the Church is finding more success in South and Central America as opposed to North America among the indigenous peoples.  My heart tells me that Lamanite, Israelite, blood, flows in the veins of my four sweet friends.  Whatever the percentage, it will one day leaven the loaf.

I received my testimony of The Book of Mormon when I was about 15.  I have had that testimony reaffirmed many times since, most poignantly a couple of years ago while standing atop the Hill Cumorah.  In the last paragraph of the Introduction we are reminded that this Book is fundamental to our faith in The Lord, the veracity of Joseph Smith's prophetic calling and the singular truthfulness of the Church.  My heart swells with appreciation for this book and it's resulting testimony because there have been the times when my heart faltered as to the reliability of the Church and the Prophet.  Times when I was tempted to give up.  But I just couldn't deny or doubt The Book of Mormon.  The strength of its gift of testimony has carried me through and I am eternally grateful it could and did.


D1Warbler said...

This time through the Book of Mormon I am reading online with the added benefit of being able to click on cross references and instantly read each one. What an amazing way to read the scriptures!

I have learned much in the last few minutes of perusing the Title Page, Introduction, Statements of the Three and Eight Witnesses, as well as the Witness of Joseph Smith, Jr.; A Brief Explanation of the Book of Mormon, and the First Chapter of Nephi.

I was especially struck by the Witness of the Three and the Eight Witnesses this time through. I have understood, before, who the Eight Witnesses were, but I found it so lovely, as I read through their names this evening, to see that Hyrum, Samuel and Joseph Smith, Senior were represented among the Eight. What a blessing they were given -- which probably strengthened each throughout the rest of his life as each testified of the truthfulness of that book!

I especially thought it was fitting that Hyrum and Samuel, who gave their very lives for the work, were so blessed by the Lord.

Love Life and Learning said...

First, Myke, thank you for the preparation time....I'm glad to have thought about this new opportunity in anticipation to starting this morning. I wondered if you would start with the Title Page? (You probably told us somewhere along the way). I had to begin there and was glad you did too. I went on though this morning because I was not sure where you would begin. So I am ahead already and out of sink. I will slow the pace, but oh the things I encountered ").

The title page, today, connected some dots for me between the the record and the interpretation of the record. It isn't profound but a pattern. I like patterns. {Mormon} "Written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation".... {Joseph}Interpreted by way of commandment and also by the spirit of prophecy and revelation.

The pattern for me(Wendy)is to read "by way of commandment and also by the spirit of prophecy and revelation."

Love Life and Learning said...

I just read what I wrote this morning and I meant to say translation of the record instead of interpretation of the record.

Candleman said...

I like that thought, of looking for patterns. Thank you Wendy for pointing it out. I can tell already that I'm going to learn so much from each of you! What a blessed time, to have the privilege of doing things like this.

D1Warbler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
D1Warbler said...

I didn't mean to remove my most recent post. I hit the wrong button and it was removed. (I guess I learned a quick lesson!)

What I wanted to say to Wendy was that I appreciated her "Pattern."

I had understood from my reading of the Title Page that the book was written by commandment and was read by commandment, but I had forgotten that it was also translated by commandment.

Most importantly, as you say, the spirit of prophecy and revelation has to accompany each of those steps for the promise of the record to be fulfilled.

Joseph Smith's commanded translation, through the spirit of prophecy and revelation, thus becomes the vehicle through which that which was written by commandment and read by commandment is understood.

It is only through his inspired translation that we who read it can receive the ultimate message contained in the record -- a witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ and the fulness of his gospel.

D1Warbler said...

I just thought of the fact that we usually understand that the Book of Mormon was translated through inspiration and revelation, and that we read it through inspiration and revelation, but I wonder how often we understand that it was also written through inspiration and revelation.

D1Warbler said...


I loved hearing about your Book of Mormon Class. Up until six years ago, I was part of an ongoing, informal, Stake Book of Mormon class. A core group of five or six women, joined by a small fluctuating number of other women, met weekly for an hour and a half over the course of eight years to study the Book of Mormon.

The teacher had taught Seminary and Institute for years, and was extremely sensative to the spirit.

During this class, we would read from two or three verses of scripture, up to a chapter or two, while discussing what we had read. With inspiriation, the teacher also occasionally brought in other materials for a particular lesson, such as talks by General Authorities.

However, the most amazing thing about this class was that we never sat in the same place in our classroom, nor did we start with the same person in our reading order, yet -- almost invariably -- each one of us ended up reading the very verse or verses from this marvelous book which we needed to hear that day.

I have never before or since been in such a class, but count it a rare privilege to have had such an experience -- which only ended when this teacher left to accompany her husband on a Senior Couple mission to Samara, Russia.

Already, from the comments given on this blog, I am looking forward to another rewarding experience with The Book of Mormon.

D1Warbler said...

Also, Candleman, I found it interesting that you had had such a wonderful experience in the Joseph Smith log cabin in Palmyra. I also had an amazing experience in that cabin.

While we were there, the Senior Missionary Sister guiding our tour told us how that cabin was sited. She explained that the Church had gone to great effort to try and place that cabin over the exact space the original had occupied. Many things were done to insure that that criteria was met, including using lazer technology to site the building.

She said that once the archeologists thought they had the right space, they did a grid study. During that grid study, they found a single, small, gold bead. (They had found other artifacts like eating utinsels, etc., but such artifacts don't usually give clues as to who owned them.) They immediately realized, however, that the gold bead might have such a story, so they looked back through the family's journals to see if anyone had mentioned a gold bead necklace or bracelet, etc.

In Lucy Mack Smiths journal, they found the answer. She wrote about breaking her gold bead necklace -- which was evidently so precious to her that she knew exactly how many beads were on the string! (This was the same gold bead necklace that she offered to the jailers in Palmyra to obtain her husband's release from jail when he was imprisoned over a debt.)

The family was able to find all but one bead from that necklace -- i.e., the bead that had sifted down through the floorboards of the "keeping room" of that cabin, where it lay for over one hundred-eighty years, waiting to be discovered.

Unbeknownst to that missionary I had come that day seeking to deepen my testimony of the truth of The Book of Mormon and of it's Prophet, Joseph Smith. Like you, I, too, appreciate sacred space.

As the missionary then quoted the scripture from James, I knew without a doubt that Joseph Smith had sat in that very sacred space and read those words from the family bible -- words which then led him to the Sacred Grove and to the restoration of the gospel.

I also knew at that moment that if the Lord had needed to sift that gold bead down through the floorboards of that cabin just so I would eventually know that that was where Joseph had read from the family bible, and from that knowledge, would be able to strengthen my testimony of the truth of The Book of Mormon, and of it's translator, that he would have done that just for me!

(What an amazing understanding that gave me of my importance to Him and -- by extension -- of the importance of all of his children to our Heavenly Father.)

(I was later able to see that gold bead when it was displayed at the Church History Museum in 2005 during their retrospective exhibit about Joseph Smith during the 200 year anniversary of his birth.)

D1Warbler said...

previous comment continued:

Also, because I then knew that that was the exact place where the family had lived in 1823, I knew that Moroni had appeared to Joseph Smith in that small upper bedroom which he shared with his siblings.

Understanding that was also a great revelation, because I then realized what trust his siblings and parents had had in this young man, to believe that Moroni had appeared three times that night in a room which Joseph shared with all of his brothers (his sisters only separated from them by a curtained doorway) and, yet, hadn't awakened any of the rest of them during his visits! (Not even the brothers sleeping in the same bed Joseph was sleeping in were awakened, and even they didn't question his testimony to them about Moroni's visits!)

Again, as I stood in that upper bedroom, it was amazing to understand what sacred space I was standing in.

I can't imagine being left to meditate in that room by myself. What a gift you were given.