Thursday, March 6, 2014

What I read in ... the Book of Mormon title page

I love that, no matter how many times we have read the scriptures, there is always more to find and discover. Last night I read the title page to the Book of Mormon and found something new.

The title page was written by a guy named Moroni just before he buried the record for Joseph Smith to find 1400-some-odd years later. Its main job is to tell the reader what they are about to get themselves into: it's written to the house of Israel and the Gentiles so they know that Jesus is the Christ and that He will fulfill the covenants He made with the house of Israel. It also gives the world's briefest synopsis of the Book of Mormon story.

The new thing I saw came before all that. In that all-caps, serif font it says
"THE 
BOOK OF MORMON

AN ACCOUNT WRITTEN BY
THE HAND OF MORMON
UPON PLATES
TAKEN FROM THE PLATES OF NEPHI"

I asked myself: What are the very first things Moroni, probably unconsciously, wants us to know?
1 - This is my dad's book. He wrote it. He physically wrote it with his own hand. I'm not going to take credit for my dad's life work.
2 - He wrote it on plates. The gold is irrelevant. It's just plates. Of course, if you're holding these plates right now, you kind of know that.
3 - Mormon, my dad, used sources. His primary source material came from other plate records we call the plates of Nephi.

In other words: MORMON AND MORONI CITE THEIR SOURCES!!! and that is the first thing they want us to know.

My number one single greatest complaint about the students at AUN is the constant plagiarism to which I am subjected and the neverending headaches and struggle I have trying to convince them that the quote-mark key is not their enemy. Here in the very first words of the Book of Mormon, we see the prophets taking care to cite their sources and give credit where it's due.

It flooded back to me how often Mormon mentions the plates he's working from, explaining that he isn't recording even 1% of it all, adding a whole section just to explain what he's copying and where these other plates came from, mentioning that the words he's about to write came from Alma's very own record, and evaluating the reliability of the sources (now if the guy who kept the records didn't make any mistakes, it was this year....).

I didn't weep, but that was beautiful to me. Mormon and Moroni cite their sources. Just one more reason why I love this book. :)