The revealed text

The revealed text
The light of revelation at the Whitmer farm where Joseph and Oliver worked upstairs to finish translating the Book of Mormon

Monday, December 28, 2015

Lesson 1 - the Keystone of Our Religion

Because the Book of Mormon is the "keystone of our religion," we ought to know where the events took place. The text speaks of covenants associated with the promised land. Where is the promised land? What did Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery have to say about that?


Looking Northeast at the Hill Cumorah (upper right) and the valley in which the Jaredites and Nephites had their final battles. Photo by J. Neville from a drone at 400 feet.


From Moroni's America, p. xi: 

     When we read the Book of Mormon under the light Joseph and Oliver provided, we see it in a completely new way.
     We come to realize that the Gospel was restored where it was lost.
     The light of the Gospel was extinguished in the Old World when the Apostles were killed and the Church fell into apostasy, but that light endured in the New World until the Nephite civilization was finally destroyed in New York around 400 A.D. What better place for the restoration of the Gospel than the scene of its disappearance? And from the New World, the gospel is taken back to the Old World.
     We come to realize that the early history of the Church paralleled Nephite history, in reverse.
     The Nephites were destroyed in New York, so the Church was established there. The Nephites had been driven from Zarahemla and diminished on their way to Cumorah, so the Church grew on its way to Zarahemla from Cumorah. Joseph Smith was eventually buried in an ancient Nephite cemetery in Nauvoo—across the river from Zarahemla.
     Finally, we come to realize that just as the Gospel was taken from the entire Earth, now it is spreading to the entire Earth.
And the Book of Mormon is the means for making that possible.

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Questions:
1. When we read the Testimony of the Three Witnesses, what were the witnesses testifying of? Read their testimony closely.

2. What additional things did these three men testify about? Oliver Cowdery, for example, wrote 8 letters about early Church history. Here's how he introduced them (from Letter VII, p. 4).


That our narrative may be correct, and particularly the introduction, it is proper to inform our patrons, that our brother J. SMITH jr. has offered to assist us. Indeed, there are many items connected with the fore part of this subject that render his labor indispensable. With his labor and with authentic documents now in our possession, we hope to render this a pleasing and agreeable narrative, well worth the examination and perusal of the Saints.-To do justice to this subject will require time and space: we therefore ask the forbearance of our readers, assuring them that it shall be founded upon facts. (emphasis added)

     In Letter VII, Oliver described the location of the final battles of the Jaredites and the Nephites this way:

At about one mile west rises another ridge of less height, running parallel with the former, leaving a beautiful vale between. The soil is of the first quality for the country, and under a state of cultivation, which gives a prospect at once imposing, when one reflects on the fact, that here, between these hills, the entire power and national strength of both the Jaredites and Nephites were destroyed. 

(Letter VII, p. 14) (emphasis added)

     Notice that Oliver said this was a fact. It was not speculation, a guess, or a tradition of unknown origin. It is a fact that these final battles took place in New York.

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