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Elder Christofferson on the Book of Mormon at the Library of Congress

TitleElder Christofferson on the Book of Mormon at the Library of Congress
Publication TypeVideo
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsChristofferson, D. Todd
Date Published12/2016
PublisherThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Place PublishedWashington, D.C.
KeywordsEarly Church History; Eight Witnesses; Historicity; Prophet; Smith, Joseph, Jr.; Three Witnesses; Translation

Since its initial publishing 186 years ago, the Book of Mormon has made an indelible mark not only on the lives of its serious readers but also on American popular culture at large.

The book was added to the list of "Books That Shaped America" in 2013 and since June 2016 has been a part of the “America Reads” exhibit at the Library of Congress. The exhibit’s purpose is to foster new conversations about 65 books the American public says have had “a profound effect on American life.” The exhibit features some of the rarest and most interesting editions in the Library’s collections, including an original copy of the Book of Mormon.

“[The Book of Mormon] has spawned pageants and plays, appeared in films, inspired musical lyrics, and received 4 out of 5 stars on the Apple Store,” Elder D. Todd Christofferson said Wednesday at the exhibit, where he spoke for 20 minutes about the book’s history and impact. “It has been illustrated in comic strips, displayed in paintings, told through historical fiction, and imprinted on clothing. A copy of the Book of Mormon was even checked out to President Abraham Lincoln at the Library of Congress on November 18, 1861.”

The Book of Mormon, a record of ancient-American civilizations, is a foundational scripture for Latter-day Saints, along with the Bible and other books. Mormons believe Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon over the course of about three months from gold plates, then published an initial 5,000 copies in 1830.

“It is a miracle to see that what began with 5,000 copies in a small print shop in Palmyra, New York, in 1830 has resulted in millions of copies available in multiple languages around the globe,” Elder Christofferson said.

In fact, more than 176 million copies of the Book of Mormon have been printed since 1830, and the book has been translated into 110 languages — 89 full translations, with selections of the book in another 21 languages. In addition to this, the Book of Mormon is available on and the Church's mobile applications (as well as some third-party mobile applications).

Elder Christofferson also spoke of the Book of Mormon’s impact on literature, which today includes literary readings of the Book of Mormon in university-level English courses across the country. Such classes allow the Book of Mormon to speak for itself rather than debating historical accuracy or Joseph Smith’s methods of translating the book. “You don't have to believe in its historic claims to appreciate [the Book of Mormon] as literature,” Elder Christofferson said, quoting scholar David Bokovoy.

Citation Key2824