The best way to learn about the Book of Mormon is to read it. Although you can read many articles on it, you really need to study it for yourself, to know what it says without anyone else’s interpretation getting in the way. Many people who taught against the book changed their minds after they read it. Even if they didn’t convert, they realized much of what they’d been told about the Book of Mormon was false. You just have to read it for yourself from cover to cover.
You can study the Book of Mormon in much the same way you study the Bible, if you do so. The first step is to approach it with an open mind. Put aside any gossip you’ve heard and any negative feelings you have and just be prepared to make your own discoveries. Approach it as though you’d never heard of it.
Preparing to Read the Book of Mormon
The first step is to pray. Ask God to guide your reading so you will see the important things in the book and understand them. Ask Him to help you know if it’s true.
Mormons have a phrase that helps them remember how to study the scriptures: Search, ponder, and pray.” Using this method, they will search the scriptures for specific things, think deeply and long about the issues and what they learn, and then pray to know the mind of God.
As you are reading, the stories will capture your attention. However, the stories exist to teach a spiritual lesson, as they do in the Bible. In between the stories are important sermons and lessons about Jesus Christ. These are important to pay attention to, even if they might seem difficult to understand.
Getting Help Understanding the Book of Mormon
The Church has created lesson manuals used when Mormons study the scriptures. If you’d like to discover what Mormons see when they read the Book of Mormon, you might try reading some of these manuals. They are free online and are the actual manuals used in Mormon classes. They range from lessons for young children to more scholarly studies for college students, as well as the regular Sunday School lessons for teens and adults.
One way many people study is to choose a few themes that interest them. Watch for those themes and mark them with different colored pencils—for instance, scriptures about Jesus Christ might be in read, and scriptures about the atonement might be in blue. These allows you to notice all teachings on a given subject. When you have finished reading, you can quickly page through the book and read all the teachings on that subject at once, getting a more complete picture of what the Mormons teach on a given subject.
In the Book of Mormon, you will find that Christ and His mission are mentioned on average every 1.7 verses.
Reading the study aids will help you get the most from your reading. The chapter and book summaries help you to identify important themes in each section. The footnotes will help you find related scriptures from all books of Mormon scripture, including the Bible. This allows you to see the teachings in a larger context. There are maps and other study aids that will improve your ability to understand what you read.
Early in the Book of Mormon, you will find some wise advice from Nephi, the first writer in the book. He suggests we “liken the scriptures” to our own lives. This means to ask ourselves how what we are reading applies to our lives. What practical application can it have? How can it make my life better? How does it affect my understanding of God and Jesus Christ?
The Book of Mormon will contain many surprises for you, particularly if those who have not actually read it themselves have been your only source of information. To really know the book, you have to actually read it—really read it—all the way through and then ask God for His opinion of the book.