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Moroni 1


A Confirming Covenant Witness

      Mormon 8 -- Moroni












Moroni 1:1 I Moroni, after Having Made an End of Abridging the Record of the People of Jared:


     According to J. N. Washburn, there is no more convincing evidence of the variety of material and structure in the Book of Mormon than the difference between the records of Ether and Moroni. Just turn the page, and the change hits the eye forcefully. And yet both came to us from the same writer, Moroni, son of Mormon. The book of Ether is narrative almost throughout. That is, it is narrative with rich commentary in pertinent places. The book of Moroni contains no narrative at all. The nearest thing to it is in chapter 9. [J.N. Washburn, The Contents, Structure and Authorship of the Book of Mormon, pp. 70-71]

     Another interesting difference between the actual writings of Moroni and his abridgments was pointed out by E. Cecil McGavin in a series of radio talk over KSL radio in 1941. According to Brother McGavin, the term "and it came to pass" is used by Moroni 117 times in forty pages of his abridgment of the records of the Jaredites. Yet in thirteen pages of his own writing, consisting of over 7,000 words, he does not use the expression a single time (Quoted in J. N. Washburn, The Contents, Structure and Authorship of the Book of Mormon, pp. 160-161).


Moroni 1:1 I Had Supposed Not to Have Written More:


     At the beginning of his abridgment of the book of Moroni, Moroni states that he "had supposed not to have written more" (Moroni 1:1) What this possibly implies is that Ether's just previous "Amen" (Ether 15:34) was considered by Moroni as his own final Amen also. Assuming this was the case, Moroni, after having had time to contemplate his father's writings and also his own additional writings, would have taken the Title Page in hand to add the following:

     An abridgment taken from the book of Ether also, which is a record of the people of Jared, which were scattered at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people when they were building a tower to get to heaven--which is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel how great things the Lord hath done for their fathers, And that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever. And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting Himself unto all nations. And now if there be fault, it be the mistake of men; Wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment seat of Christ. (Taken from The Restored Covenant Edition, Zarahemla Research Foundation)


     Note* The Restored Covenant Edition published by the RLDS Zarahemla Research Foundation is supposed to be an accurate rendering of the Printers Manuscript in possession of the RLDS Church. Yet the name "Moroni" appears at the bottom of the Title Page. As this seemed out of place I called their director, Raymond Treat, and in conversation he explained some of the reasons that they put the name there. He said that the Title Page is presently missing from the Printer's Manuscript. However, Oliver Cowdery used the Printer's Manuscript in order to publish the 1840 edition of the Book of Mormon in which the name "Moroni" first appears on the Title Page. Previous editions were all compared with the first edition. Since Oliver Cowdery was the custodian of the Printer's Manuscript before its delivery to the RLDS Church, Raymond Treat and the committee in charge of publishing The Restored Covenant Edition felt that the name should be retained. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Moroni 1:1 I Had Supposed Not to Have Written More:


     Moroni begins his book of Moroni with the phrase, "I had supposed not to have written more" (Moroni 1:1) possibly indicating that it had been some time since his last entry. According to Donl Peterson, the book of Moroni was written about A.D. 420-421, approximately thirty-five years after the final battle at Cumorah. [H. Donl Peterson, Moroni: Ancient Prophet Modern Messenger, p. 58]


Moroni 1:2 Their wars are exceedingly fierce among themselves (Illustration): (89) Copy of a painting from the walls of Cacaxtla, Mexico, showing ceremonial dress of military leaders, and their captives, during the time period around A.D. 600. [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni, p. 188]


Moroni 1:2 They Put to Death Every Nephite That Will Not Deny the Christ:


     According to Daniel Ludlow, Moroni's book which bears his own name was evidently written sometime between A.D. 400 and 421. Thus it was written at least 15 years after the beginning of the battle of Cumorah. Yet Moroni indicates that some Nephites are still alive, for he says the Lamanites are putting to death every Nephite "that will not deny the Christ" (Moroni 1:2). [Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 195] [See the commentary on Mormon 8:3,5]


Moroni 1:3 I Wander Withersoever I Can:


     At the beginning of the final chapters in the Book of Mormon (the book of Moroni), Moroni makes the following statement:

           Now I, Moroni, after having made an end of abridging the account of the people of Jared, I had supposed not to have written more, but I have not as yet perished; and I make not myself known to the Lamanites lest they should destroy me. For behold, their wars are exceedingly fierce among themselves; and because of their hatred they put to death every Nephite that will not deny the Christ. And I, Moroni, will not deny the Christ; wherefore, I wander whithersoever I can for the safety of mine own life. Wherefore, I write a few more things, contrary to that which I had supposed. . . (Moroni 1:1-4)


     According to Verneil Simmons, apparently Moroni left the land of his birth some time after beginning to engrave these last chapters. His journey took him from central Mexico to the hill in New York where he was to bury the abridgment in a stone box near the top of a glacial mound. One would suppose that the Lord had shown him the need for placing the record in that particular place. We do not know how much time was spent in travelling that distance but we do know that he did not have to walk all the way, carrying the record. We should remember that shipping in the Gulf of Mexico had been a way of life from long before Christ's appearance. Certainly the people did not lose the art during the peaceful years of the kingdom period. It was undoubtedly still going on, with some possible disruptions due to the long-drawn-out war. Settlement up the Mississippi and Ohio rivers from Mesoamerica is attested to by archaeological evidence. In fact, travel by water was the one feasible way for Moroni to have reached the area where he buried the abridgment. Quoting Louis A. Brennan, (No Stone Unturned, pp. 288,289) three thousand years ago . . . the Ohio River did not flow directly west and enter the Mississippi at its present entrance point, at Cairo, Illinois. It turned south much sooner -- just below Louisville -- and, using the bed of the present Yazoo River, entered the Mississippi in the present state of Mississippi, at the already mentioned Poverty Point culture settlement at Jaketown. The north-south route was thus more direct, shorter and a more natural one to follow, an aqueous camino real. This circumstance is what makes Willey's view of diffusion of traits out of Mexico into the Hopewell territory both attractive and convincing."

     Moroni would have found settlements all the way up the Ohio. He could have traveled by water to within a very short distance of the hill in western New York. [Verneil Simmons, Peoples, Places and Prophecies, pp. 232-233, 281]


Moroni 1:3 I Wander Withersoever I Can:


     According to Joseph Allen, certainly the possibility appears to be much more logical for Moroni to wander alone for 20 years with a handful of plates (records) than for the entire Nephite nation to travel with their women and children, and "all" the records, to an unknown land, a land mixed with cold and snow (items that are not mentioned in the Book of Mormon). The trip from Mexico to New York is nearly 4,000 miles. Traveling that distance appears not only to be an unwise military decision on the part of Mormon but also suicide for the entire Nephite nation. The Lamanites would have had no need to pursue the Nephites for at least two reasons: (1) The Lamanites wanted the Nephites out of the land. That would have been accomplished without a battle (if the Nephites went to New York); and (2) The Lamanites would not have needed to pursue the Nephites because the Nephites probably would not have survived the trek in such a short period of time. [Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 345]


Geographical Theory Map: Moroni 1:3 Moroni Wanders Whithersoever (401 A.S. - 421 A.S.)


Moroni 1:3 I Wander Withersoever I Can:


     There have been some stories that have become part of Mormon folklore and which might throw some geographical light on Moroni's statement in Moroni 1:3, "I wander whithersoever I can for the safety of mine own life." Richard Cowan includes two stories in his book, Temples to Dot the Earth, that are related to the dedication of two different temples sites:

           The St. George Temple Site: Brigham Young directed local Church leaders in St. George to consider possible sites where the temple might be built. Two hilltop locations were proposed. Nevertheless, the group could not agree on which to recommend. A young man who was present described later what had happened: when President Young arrived, he "somewhat impatiently chided them, and at the same time asked them to get into their wagons, or whatever else they had, and with him find a location." He had them drive to the lowest part of the valley, a swamp infested with marsh grass and cattails.

           "But, Brother Brigham," protested the men, "this land is boggy. After a storm, and for several months of the year, no one can drive across the land without horses and wagons sinking way down. There is no place to build a foundation." President Young countered, "We will make a foundation."

           Later on, while the brethren were plowing and scraping where the foundation was to be, a horse's leg broke through the ground into a spring of water. The brethren then wanted to move the foundation line twelve feet to the south, so that the spring of water would be on the outside of the temple.

           "Not so," insisted Brigham Young. "We will wall it up and leave it here for some future use. But we cannot move the foundation. This spot was dedicated by the Nephites. They could not build [the temple], but we can and will build it for them."143 According to one popular tradition, Moroni, the last survivor of the Nephites, dedicated the site for this temple.144

           The Manti Temple: On his way back to Salt Lake City from the St. George Temple dedication, President Brigham Young stopped in Manti to dedicate the temple site there. He arrived April 24, 1877, and on that same afternoon he personally supervised the work of William Folsom and Truman O. Angell, Jr., as they surveyed the site and set stakes. During a stake conference meeting the following morning, Brigham Young unexpectedly stood up and left. He asked Warren S. Snow to go with him to the temple hill. Snow recalled that they proceeded to the southeast corner of where the temple would stand. "Here is the spot where the Prophet Moroni stood and dedicated this piece of land for a Temple site," President Young affirmed, "and that is the reason why the location is made here, and we can't move it from this spot; and if you and I are the only persons that come here at high noon to-day, we will dedicate this ground."145 Apparently the matter of the temple's location had not been fully resolved among local residents even yet.


[Richard O. Cowan, Temples to Dot the Earth, pp. 74, 91-92]


Moroni 1:3 I wander withersoever I can for the safety of mine own life (Illustration): The Mortal Moroni. Sculptor: Avard Fairbanks. Photographed by Jed A. Clark. Among Church-related subjects LDS sculptor Avard Fairbanks depicted is this statue of The Mortal Moroni, which stands in a park west of the Manti Temple. [L.D.S. Church, The Ensign, September 1989, inside front cover]


Moroni 1:3 I did seal them up The hill Cumorah (Illustration): Hill Cumorah, Manchester, New York. Photographer: George Edward Anderson. This 1907 view shows the land around the hill which, at the time of the photograph, was used predominantly for farming. [Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Ensign, February 1993, inside back cover]


Moroni 1:4 I [Moroni] write a few more things (Illustration): Chart: Writings of Moroni. [John W. Welch and Morgan A. Ashton, "Charting the Book of Mormon," Packet 1, F.A.R.M.S.]