How is the Book of Mormon different from the Bible? How did Joseph Smith obtain the “golden plates” or Book of Mormon?
The Book of Mormon is another witness that Jesus Christ really lived, that He was and is God’s Son. It contains the writings of ancient prophets. One of these, Lehi, lived in Jerusalem around 600 B.C. God commanded Lehi to lead a small group of people to the American continent. There they became a great civilization.
God continued to call prophets among these people. The Book of Mormon is a collection of the writings of their prophets and record keepers.
In September 1823, Joseph Smith was visited by a heavenly messenger named Moroni - the last of these ancient prophets to keep the record - in the same way that angels often appeared to Church leaders in the New Testament (see especially the book of Acts). The Angel Moroni informed Joseph that God had a work for him to do. Moroni told Joseph that a record of the ancient inhabitants of the American continent was buried in a nearby hill and that the record contained the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In September 1827, Joseph received the record, which was written on thin plates of gold. We now know it was not uncommon for people from that era of ancient America to keep records on metal plates. Joseph translated the book into English by the inspiration of God. The book is called The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. It is named after Mormon, an ancient prophet who made an abridgment of the sacred records of his people.
The Book of Mormon was published in 1830. Since that time it has blessed the lives of millions of people through its powerful message about Jesus Christ and His gospel.
The book verifies, as another testament of Christ, the reality and divinity of Jesus Christ. These prophets knew about Heavenly Father’s plan for His children and the mission of Jesus Christ. They recorded that Christ appeared, after His Resurrection, to the people in America, taught them His gospel, and formed His Church among them. The book contains the teachings of Jesus Christ, testifying of His Atonement and His love. It supports and verifies the Bible. The Bible contains prophecies about these people in America (see Ezekiel 37:15-17, Isaiah 29:18).
The Book of Mormon concludes with a great promise that those who read it and sincerely pray about it can know by the Holy Ghost that it is true (Moroni 10:4).