“Lesson 4: Title Page, Introduction, and Testimony of Witnesses,” Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual (2012)
“Lesson 4,” Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual
As you teach the Book of Mormon, you will help students discover truths that will bring them closer to God. From the beginning of the book, it is clear that the writers of the Book of Mormon intended it to testify that Jesus is the Christ. The book also reaffirms God’s covenant with the house of Israel and demonstrates the need for all of God’s children to make and keep sacred covenants. As students prayerfully study the Book of Mormon, they will gain a greater testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and of the Restoration of His Church in the latter days. They will also learn to exercise greater faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement.
The suggestions for teaching this lesson may take longer to teach than the time allotted for your class. Prayerfully consider which portions your class needs the most.
Invite students to turn to the title page of the Book of Mormon. This page begins with the words “The Book of Mormon, an account written by the hand of Mormon upon plates taken from the plates of Nephi.” The Prophet Joseph Smith explained the origin of the title page:
“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 … book of plates, which contained the record which has been translated, … and … said title page is not by any means a modern composition, either of mine or of any other man who has lived or does live in this generation” (in History of the Church, 1:71).
Invite students to read the title page of the Book of Mormon silently. Ask them to look for phrases that state the purposes of the Book of Mormon. (You may want to give students a hint that these purposes are expressed as things the Book of Mormon will “show unto” those who read it.) Invite several students to write their findings on the board. When they have finished, ask students to reread the second paragraph to themselves, inserting their own names in place of “the remnant of the House of Israel.”
As you have read the Book of Mormon, which of its purposes have been fulfilled in your life? How have they been fulfilled?
How does it help you to know that those who make covenants with the Lord will not be “cast off forever”?
Tell students that there may be times when they feel alone or that they have been “cast off.”
Why is it important to know during these times that you are not “cast off forever”?
How is this promise an expression of God’s love for you?
To help students appreciate the primary purpose of the Book of Mormon, ask a student to read the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson:
“The major mission of the Book of Mormon, as recorded on its title page, is ‘to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.’
“The honest seeker after truth can gain the testimony that Jesus is the Christ as he prayerfully ponders the inspired words of the Book of Mormon.
“Over one-half of all the verses in the Book of Mormon refer to our Lord. Some form of Christ’s name is mentioned more frequently per verse in the Book of Mormon than even in the New Testament.
“He is given over one hundred different names in the Book of Mormon. Those names have a particular significance in describing His divine nature” (“Come unto Christ,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 83).
Share your testimony that the Book of Mormon is a witness that Jesus is the Christ.
Draw on the board a picture of an arch (see the accompanying illustration), or make a model of an arch from wood or other materials.
Ask a student to read aloud the statement by Joseph Smith in the introduction to the Book of Mormon (see paragraph six). You may want to suggest that students mark the statement in their scriptures.
What purpose does a keystone serve?
Explain that the keystone is the central stone at the top of an arch. When an arch is constructed, the two sides are built up with supports to hold them. The space at the top of the arch is carefully measured, and the keystone is cut to fit it exactly. When the keystone is put in place, the arch can stand without supports.
What happens to the arch if the keystone is removed? (If you are using a model, demonstrate by removing the keystone.)
How does the Book of Mormon function like a keystone in relation to the restored gospel?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson. (You may want to prepare the statement on a handout for students to insert into their scriptures. Alternatively, you may want to invite students to write President Benson’s statement in their scriptures, at the top or bottom of the first page of the introduction.)
“There are three ways in which the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. It is the keystone in our witness of Christ. It is the keystone of our doctrine. It is the keystone of testimony” (“The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 5).
To help students understand how the Book of Mormon is the keystone of testimony, invite a student to read the following statement by President Benson:
“The Book of Mormon is the keystone of testimony. Just as the arch crumbles if the keystone is removed, so does all the Church stand or fall with the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. … If the Book of Mormon be true … then one must accept the claims of the Restoration and all that accompanies it” (“The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion,” 6).
How has your testimony of the Book of Mormon influenced your testimony of gospel doctrines and principles?
How has the Book of Mormon brought you nearer to God?
You may want to tell about how your study of the Book of Mormon has strengthened your testimony and brought you closer to God.
Invite students to participate in a role play. Ask them to imagine they are giving a copy of the Book of Mormon to someone who is not a member of the Church. Help them prepare for the role play by dividing them into two groups. Ask the first group to read paragraphs 2–4 of the introduction to the Book of Mormon. Ask the second group to read paragraphs 5–8. Have both groups look for information they feel would be important to share when teaching about the Book of Mormon.
After giving students time to study and prepare, invite a student to come to the front of the class to play the role of a person who is not a member of the Church. Also ask a student from each of the two groups to come to the front of the class. Explain that these two students will act as missionary companions. They will use the material their groups discovered in the introduction to teach the first student about the Book of Mormon.
When students have finished the role play, you may want to ask the rest of the class if there are additional items from the introduction that they might have shared if they had been selected to teach.
You may want to point out that the Book of Mormon does not claim to give a history of all the peoples who lived anciently in the Western Hemisphere. It is a record only of the descendants of Lehi (the Nephites and Lamanites) and the people of Jared. There may have been other people who inhabited the continents in the Western Hemisphere before, during, and after the events recorded in the Book of Mormon.
Invite students to read Moroni 10:3–5 silently.
According to Moroni, how can we know that the Book of Mormon is true?
Invite students to read paragraphs 8–9 in the introduction to the Book of Mormon. Ask them to identify three additional truths of which they will gain a witness if they accept Moroni’s challenge.
Testify to students that as we read, ponder, and pray about the Book of Mormon, the Holy Ghost will witness that it is true, that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom on the earth.
Ask students to imagine that they have witnessed someone taking a valuable item from their neighbor’s house.
When solving a crime, why is it valuable to have a witness?
Why would it be helpful to have more than one witness?
Ask students to read “The Testimony of Three Witnesses” silently. Invite them to look for phrases that are especially meaningful to them. You may want to suggest that they mark these phrases.
Which phrases did you mark? Why are they meaningful to you? (You may want to point out that the voice of God declared to the Three Witnesses that the plates were translated by the gift and power of God.)
Ask a student to read “The Testimony of Eight Witnesses” aloud. Invite the rest of the class to listen for differences between the testimonies of the Three Witnesses and the Eight Witnesses.
What differences did you notice?
Invite students to write their own witnesses of or feelings about the Book of Mormon. They may want to write in their scripture study journals or on a blank page in their scriptures. Some students may feel they do not yet know that the Book of Mormon is true. Encourage them to seek to obtain a testimony this year.