Journal of Book of Mormon Studies


Janiece Johnson


The Book of Mormon, translator, plates, revelation, publication


Leather-bound copies of the first edition of the 586-page Book of Mormon were published and sold beginning March 26, 1830. Before there was a prophet, there was a translator-legally the "author and proprietor" of the Book. The title page told of the plates written "by the spirit of Prophecy and Revelation'' from which the Book originated. Before the publication was complete, Joseph Smith had encouraged Oliver Cowdery that "a great call for our books" had already commenced. The Book emerged before there was any church to join. The rest would come later; initially individuals decided how they would respond to this "Golden Bible." Was it counterfeit or divine? Was it the "greatest piece of superstition'' or a "revelation from God"? What would it be to them?