Who is the author of the Book of Mormon?
This question, asked recently at a ward fireside on this sacred record, produced several possible answers:-Joseph Smith? Those attending the fireside mentioned Joseph Smith frequently. In the first edition of the Book of Mormon, published in 1830, Joseph Smith was listed as "author and proprietor." However, this wording complied with federal law on copyright protection. The law required the names of the "authors and proprietors" of a published work to appear in the first edition. In all subsequent editions, Joseph Smith is listed as "translator." As important as a translator is, the translator is not the author. Joseph Smith did not claim to be the author of any part of the Book of Mormon text.
-Mormon? Perhaps may chose Mormon as the author because his name is in the title of the book. However, Mormon was primarily the abridger of information that had been recorded on sets of plates prepared by other persons before Mormon's birth. Mormon engraved his abridgment on the Plates of Mormon, and the translation of his abridgment comprises 338 pages of the 531 pages in the current edition of the Book of Mormon. Mormon's contribution was enormous, but he is not the author.
-Nephi? Jacob? Moroni? These brethren were also major engravers on the plates translated by Joseph Smith. However, their total contribution comprises only one-third of the total current edition. Thus, neither individually nor collectively could they be considered as the author or authors of the Book of Mormon.
After some discussion, those attending the fireside noted the following dictionary definitions of the word author: "one that is the source of"; "one that brings about." Further discussion led to the unanimous conclusion that only one person qualified as the author of the Book of Mormon: JESUS CHRIST. Only the Savior was involved with the entire preparation and production of the Book of Mormon. He instructed Nephi to begin the initial writing. He counseled subsequent writers and abridgers and engravers. It was by His "gift and power" that Joseph Smith was enabled to translate the book. Concerning that translation, the Lord said: "And he [Joseph Smith] has translated the book, even that part which I have commanded him, and as your Lord and your God liveth it is true." (D & C 17:6)
The four persons directly responsible for over 98 percent of the engravings on the two sets of plates translated to make our present Book of Mormon (Nephi, Jacob, Mormon, and Moroni) also identified Jesus Christ as the true author. They testify that they wrote only those things the Lord commanded them to write. Thus, in a sense, these four engravers served as scribes for the Savior in writing what He commanded. Nearly 10 percent of the words they engraved were directly from the teachings of Jesus Christ or of "the Lord." The remainder of their engravings were written under His inspiration.
Note the individual testimonies of these engravers on what they wrote:
Nephi: "...if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for htey are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me... Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things." (2 Ne. 33:10-11.)
Jacob: "I have spoken the words of your Maker." (2 Ne. 9:40) "...as I inquired of the Lord, thus came the word unto me, saying: Jacob...declare the word which I shall give thee." (Jacob 2:11)
Mormon: "...the Lord...worketh in me to do according to his will...And now I, Mormon, proceed to finish out my record, which I take from the plates of Nephi; and I make it according to the knowledge and the understanding which God has given me." (Words of Mormon 1:7,9) "Behold, I was about to write them, all which were engraven upon the plates of Nephi, ubt the Lord forbade it...Therefore I, Mormon, do write the things which have been commanded me of the Lord." (3 Ne. 26:11-12)
Moroni: "Wherefore, I, Moroni, am commanded to write these things." (Ether 8:26) "And I was about to write more, but I am forbidden." (Ehter 13:13) "ye shall see me at the bar of God; and the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by this man...And God shall show unto you, that that which I have written is true." (Moroni 10: 27,29)
The Lord has indicated in modern times that He stands behind the things He has spoken and revealed to His prophets: "What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken...whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same." (D&C 1:38)
"Who is the author of the Book of Mormon?" JESUS CHRIST.
It is fitting that the complete title of this sacred scripture bears His holy name: The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ.