Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?
October 2011

“Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?” Liahona, Oct. 2011, 22–23

Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?

Ancient prophets, historians, and leaders engraved their testimonies and history on golden plates. Later, the Prophet Joseph Smith, by the gift and power of God, translated an abridgment of those original plates.

Authors or Sources of the Original Ancient Records

Records That Made Up the Plates

Nephi1, Jacob, Enos, Jarom, Omni, and others

Small plates of Nephi (spiritual records; about 600 B.C. to 130 B.C.)


Words of Mormon (connects the small plates and the abridgment of the large plates of Nephi; see verses 1–18)

Brass plates of Laban (see 1 Nephi 5:10–14)

Large plates of Nephi (temporal records and religious history; about 130 B.C. to A.D. 321)


Lehi (see 2 Nephi 1:1–4, 11; D&C 3, section introduction); Benjamin (see Omni 1:12–23; Words of Mormon 1:16–18; Mosiah 1–6); Mosiah2 (see Omni 1:23–25; Mosiah 6:3); Alma the Younger, Sons of Mosiah, Helaman2, Pahoran, Captain Moroni, Nephi3, Nephi4


Records of Mormon (about A.D. 345 to A.D. 385)

Jaredite records on 24 plates, including the writings of Ether (see Ether 1:1–5)

Book of Ether, edited Jaredite records (about 2400 B.C. to 600 B.C.)


Records of Moroni (see Mormon 9:30–37; about A.D. 385 to A.D. 421)

Golden Plates Given to the Prophet Joseph Smith by the Angel Moroni on September 22, 1827

The Book of Mormon

Plates of Mormon (records compiled and abridged by Mormon and Moroni)

Title Page*

1 Nephi

2 Nephi





Words of Mormon




3 Nephi

4 Nephi




Sealed portion (not translated)

  • Joseph Smith explained, “The title-page of the Book of Mormon is a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand side of the collection or book of plates” (History of the Church, 1:71).

On the evening of September 21, 1823, the angel Moroni appeared to young Joseph Smith and told him of the golden plates that would be translated as the Book of Mormon. Four years later, Joseph was able to take the plates in order to translate them (see Joseph Smith—History 1:27–54).

The original manuscript of the translation was completed in 1829, the printer’s manuscript was completed during 1829–30, and the first 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon were published in 1830.

From left: Photograph by Jed Clark; Mormon Abridging the Plates, by Tom Lovell; The Angel Moroni Appears to Joseph Smith, by Tom Lovell; photograph by Craig Dimond; Moroni Delivering the Golden Plates, by Gary Kapp, may not be copied; photograph by Emily Leishman; photo illustration by John Luke