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The spiritual text that forms the basis of Mormonism—in the last edition edited by its founder, Joseph Smith, Jr. THE BOOK OF MORMONis one of the most influential— as well as controversial—religious documents in American history, and is regarded as sacred scripture by followers around the world, including members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the fourth-largest religious body in the United States. According to Mormon belief, The Book of Mormonwas inscribed on golden plates by ancient prophets. I t contains stories of ancient peoples migrating from the Near East to the Americas, and also explains that Jesus Christ appeared to the New World after his resurrection. The golden plates were discovered in upstate New York and translated by Joseph Smith, Jr., under the guidance of an angel, Moroni. From this divine revelation, Smith founded the Mormon sect, which is now comprised of more than 12.5 million members worldwide.
JOSEP H SMIT H, JR. (1805-û1844) founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
LAURIE F. MAFFLY-ûKIPP is an associate professor of religion at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.