"The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible" ("Introduction").I feel before I begin explaining the emergence of the Book of Mormon, it is important to understand a fundamental principle of the book.
The Book of Mormon is a record or history of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas.
It begins with an account of how the first inhabitants of America got there. It tells how they crossed the seas and came from Jerusalem to the Americas (about 591 B.C.) and proceeds to give a history of those people on the American continent.
The Golden Plates
The actual text of the Book of Mormon is a compilation of four kinds of metal record plates (Explanation of the Book of Mormon):
- The Plates of Nephi
- The Plates of Mormon
- The Plates of Ether
- The Plates of Brass
Each of the four plates which Mormon compiled into the golden plates, were written on by the hand of the current prophet. Nephi, the first prophet in the Book of Mormon, states, "I know that the record which I make is true; and I make it with mine own hand;" (1 Nephi 1: 3) He states that he writes in the "...language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians " (1 Nephi 1:2)
When each prophet was about to die, he passed the plates on to the next record keeper and thus within the Book of Mormon, we get a history which spans from about 600 B.C. to about 421 A.D.
After Mormon completed his writings and compilation, he gave the golden plates to his son Moroni (about 401 A.D.), who added a few words of his own and was directed by the Lord to hide them in the hill Cumorah to be preserved until the Lord saw fit to bring them forth again. The golden plates were not brought forth for another 1,400 years.