Introduction to Abridged Plates of Nephi
composed ca. 345 ad8This text has long been out of place, for here in the middle of his work, Mormon introduces himself to the reader and speaks of Lehi, and of the various plates he relies on for his record. The published Book of Mormon places it in Third Nephi 5:8. I have argued in Abridging Works that this text is an introductory chapter for the planned “small record” of his people (later grown into a grand history); and moreover, that it was the first page of the remainder leaf kept by Joseph Smith, after the original translation had been lost by Martin Harris. The other leaf was likely the partial account of King Benjamin, as mentioned in volume two, fn.1, pg.1. These two texts represent the first and the last pages from that lost translation. It makes some sense to insert the introduction here, where he speaks of “twenty five years,” and given that no other introduction of the author was provided, after Harris lost Mormon’s original opening chapters, and Smith replaced these in 1829 with an original translation taken from the Plates of Nephi.
And there had many things transpired which, in the eyes of some, would be great and marvelous. Nevertheless, they cannot all be written in this book. Yea, this book cannot contain even a hundredth part of what was done among so many people in the space of twenty and five years. But behold there are records which do contain all the proceedings of this people. And a shorter but true account was given by Nephi. Therefore I have made my record of these things according to the Record of Nephi, which was engraven on the plates which were called the Plates of Nephi.
And behold, I do make the record on plates which I have made with mine own hands. And behold, I am called Mormon, being called after the land of Mormon, the land in which Alma did establish the church among the people, yea, the first church which was established among them after their transgression. Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life.
And it hath become expedient that I, according to the will of God, that the prayers of those who have gone hence, who were the holy ones, should be fulfilled according to their faith, should make a record of these things which have been done. Yea, a small record of that which hath taken place from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem, even down until the present time. Therefore I do make my record from the accounts which have been given by those who were before me, until the commencement of my day. And then I do make a record of the things which I have seen with mine own eyes. And I know the record which I make to be a just and a true record. Nevertheless there are many things which, according to our language, we are not able to write. And now I make an end of my saying which is of myself, and proceed to give my account of the things which have been before me. I am Mormon, and a pure descendant of Lehi.
I have reason to bless my god and my savior, Jesus Christ! That he brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem; and no one knew it save it were himself and those whom he brought out of that land; and that he hath given me and my people so much knowledge unto the salvation of our souls. Surely he hath blessed the House of Jacob, and hath been merciful unto the Seed of Joseph. And insomuch as the Children of Lehi have kept his commandments he hath blessed them and prospered them according to his word. Yea, and surely shall he again bring a remnant of the Seed of Joseph to the knowledge of the Lord their god. And as surely as the Lord liveth, will he gather in from the four quarters of the earth all the remnant of the Seed of Jacob, who are scattered abroad upon all the face of the earth. And as he hath covenanted with all the House of Jacob, even so shall the covenant wherewith he hath covenanted with the House of Jacob be fulfilled in his own due time, unto the restoring all the House of Jacob unto the knowledge of the covenant that he hath covenanted with them. And then shall they know their Redeemer, who is Jesus Christ the son of God! And then shall they be gathered in from the four quarters of the earth unto their own lands, from whence they have been dispersed. Yea, as the Lord liveth so shall it be. Amen.