The Book of Mormon is a book of scripture believed by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) to be another testament of Jesus Christ, and a companion to the Bible. It is said to be a record of the history of the ancient peoples of the Americas, and of their dealings with God and Jesus Christ. Said to be the keystone of the LDS faith, and the word of God, the Book of Mormon is a highly controversial and debated book by non-believers.
The Book of Mormon's modern-day history begins in 1823 when a young man in upstate New York, Joseph Smith, prayed to God for guidance in choosing a religion. Subsequently, he claimed that he was visited by the angel Moroni who spoke of a record that Joseph would be given to translate. In 1827, Joseph was said to have been led to the records, buried in Hill Cumorah, outside of Palmyra, New York. By "inspiration" from God, Joseph Smith claimed to have translated the thin, gold plates into what is now known as the Book of Mormon. It was finally published in English in 1830.
According to believers, the Book of Mormon is a compilation of the writings of ancient prophets of the Americas, who lived from 590 BC to 421 AD. The history was said to be compiled and abridged by the prophet Mormon, for whom the book was named. It tells the story of the ancient civilization of people, some who had descended from a man named Lehi, who had left Jerusalem in 600 BC and journeyed over land and sea to find a new life. Although Latter-day Saints believe that it is another testament of Christ, it is also a history of these people, and the trials they endured, including wars, and the rise and fall of their civilizations.
One of the most debated aspects of the Book of Mormon is the claim that Jesus Christ visited the Americas and taught and ministered to what he had called his "other sheep," not "of this fold." Mormons believe that after his resurrection, Jesus visited them and asked the people to witness the wound marks of his crucifixion. According to the Book of Mormon, Christ also called an additional 12 disciples, healed, and performed miracles, just as in the Bible.
Since its first publishing, the Book of Mormon has been published in 72 languages and distributed worldwide. More than 120 million copies have been printed, with a recent hardcover edition published by Doubleday.