Since 1982 the Book of Mormon has carried the sub-title "Another Testament of Jesus Christ."
This addition to the name of the Book of Mormon was truly an inspired action by the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve.When the sub-title was first announced, some wondered why the word testament was used rather than witness since the phrase "America's Witness for Christ' had long bee used in referring to the Book of Mormon.
But an examination of the roots of the word "testament" shows that it encompasses "witness" and actually adds additional strength and power.
Testament comes from a prehistoric Italic compound whose first and second constitutions are akin to the Latin tres, meaning three, and stare meaning to stand. Thus the Latin originally meant "third person standing by,' so called because a witness is a third party in most actions.
This interesting background is certainly in harmony with the scriptural principle given by the Lord: ". . . and in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established." (See D&C 6:28.)
But there is more. From the Latin we also get "testify," meaning to bear witness, to act as a witness, or to bear witness to.
In late Latin we also have testamentum, which adds the dimension of covenants to its meaning. Certainly the scriptures testify of the covenants between God and man and attest in an "Old" Testament, a "New" Testament, and "Another" testament that Jesus Christ is the mediator of the new covenant.
Testament is a powerful word that is supported by such synonyms as testimony, attestation, confirmation, evidence, proof, and witness.
Surely the Book of Mormon testifies to the divinity of Jesus Christ. It attests to His atoning sacrifice. It confirms His resurrection. It provides irrefutable evidence of His divine role as Creator and Redeemer, and is tangible proof that His gospel is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
But as a testament, it is only effective when its testimony is given. Because it is a book, such testimony is given when it is read and studied, silently or aloud. Until its witness leaps from the pages into the heart, mind, and soul of the reader or listener, the testimony is mute.
It is much like the individual, personal testimonies of us as members of the Church. Unless they are nurtured regularly and plentifully they are not effective in our lives.
The late apostle, Elder John A. Widtsoe, said of this:
"He who would retain his testimony is required to give constant study to the gospel. He cannot live forever on that which he learned yesterday. By a little study every day, light will follow light, and understanding will increase. . . . To keep his testimony, a person must increase in the use of gospel principles. There must be stricter conformity with the higher as well as the lesser laws of life - more activity in Church service; increasing charity and kindness; greater sacrifice for the common good; more readiness to help advance the plan of salvation; more truth in all we do. . . . By such feeding, a testimony may be kept; may remain whole and sound; and may grow to become an increasingly certain guide and a constant joy in life." (Taken from Gospel Interpretations, 1947.)
For the Book of Mormon to be effective in our lives, we need to feast daily on its truth and drink deeply from its refreshing fountains of understanding.
Unless, by constant use, the Book of Mormon becomes to us "Another Testament of Jesus Christ," we will stand condemned by it. The Lord has said of this sacred record:
"And those who receive it in faith, and work righteousness, shall receive a crown of eternal life;
"But those who harden their hearts in unbelief and reject it, it shall turn to their own condemnation -" (D&C 20:14-15.)
Receive the Book of Mormon in faith. Follow its righteous counsel, and let it be "a certain guide and a constant joy," for ". . . as your Lord and your God liveth it is true." (D&C 17?6.)