Mormon (Book of Mormon)
Mormon was a prophet, military leader, and record keeper in the Book of Mormon. He lived between the years A.D. 311-385. The reason the Book of Mormon has his name in the title, is because Mormon was the person that took all the records of his people and combined and abridged them into a smaller more readable record.
The purpose of Mormon’s abridgement was not to give a full account of his people, but to help turn people to God. He supports this theme by emphasizing that those who follow God are blessed while those who turn away from Him suffer. In The Words of Mormon, a small book written by Mormon, he further explains his purposes and the reasons why he is making an abridgement of the records of his people (see Words of Mormon 1: 1-11)
To understand better the important role that Mormon played in the Book of Mormon, it is best to look at his life from beginning to end. Mormon was born in A.D. 311 and named after his father. He was a descendent of Nephi who was the first leader of the Nephites. When Mormon was ten years old Ammaron, the man who was in charge of the Nephite records met Mormon and gave him the responsibility of being in charge of the records. He told Mormon that he had hid the records in a hill to preserve them and that when Mormon turned 24 years old, he should go to the hill, get the plates of Nephi, and write in them a record of what happened to the Nephites.
A year later, when Mormon was eleven, war began between the Nephites and the Lamanites (a group of different peoples who were been enemies of the Nephites). Peace was restored when the Nephites fought the Lamanites and forced them to retreat. Mormon witnessed his people, the Nephites, who had been a righteous people become wicked and Jesus Christ’s Church was taken away from them. At 15, Mormon tried to preach to the people and get them to repent, but God told him to stop because the people had known the truth and of God and had willfully turned away from Him. In this same year Mormon was appointed the military leader of the Nephites.
Mormon continued leading the army for much of his life. As Ammaron had instructed, Mormon went to the hill and retrieved the plates of Nephi when he was 24, and began keeping a record of all that happened to his people. A long war continues with the Lamanites, and the Nephites are pushed out of much of their land. In approximately A.D. 350, when Mormon was 39, a peace treaty was made with the Lamanites and their land was divided. There was peace for ten years, during this time, Mormon preached repentance and prepared the people for war—the people would not repent.
At the end of the ten years fighting began again. The Nephites fought the Lamanites and once again forced them to retreat. The Nephites began to be proud of their own strength and made oaths to destroy the Lamanites. This happened in about the year A.D. 362, when Mormon was 51. When the people began to desire to destroy the Lamanites and not just defend their lands and people, Mormon refused to lead them because of their wickedness. By this time, Mormon had been leading the armies of the Nephites for 36 years. The Lord told Mormon that he should be a witness of what was happening to the Nephites because of their wickedness.
When Mormon was 64 years old, he saw that the Lamanites are going to take over the land where the records were still hidden. He knew the Lamanites would destroy the records if they found them so, he went and got them and hid them all in the Hill Cumorah which was the only land in which the Nephites still had a strong hold. The people asked Mormon to lead their armies again, and Mormon accepted.
In A.D. 385, when Mormon was 74, he realized that his people will not survive the next battle. He gathered all the people to Cumorah, and put his son Moroni in charge of the records. A large battle was fought between the Nephites and the Lamanites. Mormon was injured, but not killed. All of the Nephites except for 24 men including Mormon’s son were slaughtered during this battle. From the Book of Mormon it can be guessed that about 230,000 men were killed, this number does not include women and children. The remaining Nephites were either hunted down or else they joined the Lamanites. They found Mormon and killed him, the only Nephite that survived was Moroni, who was left to finish the record of his people and hide them in the hill Cumorah with the rest of the records.