The Angel Moroni (/mˈrn/[1]) is an angel whom Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, reported as having visited him on numerous occasions, beginning on September 21, 1823. According to Smith, the angel Moroni was the guardian of the golden plates buried near his home in western New York, which Latter Day Saints believe were the source of the Book of Mormon. An important figure in the theology of the Latter Day Saint movement, Moroni is featured prominently in its architecture and art. Besides Smith, the Three Witnesses and several other witnesses also reported that they saw Moroni in visions in 1829.

Bern Switzerland Temple statue of Angel Moroni

Moroni is thought by Latter Day Saints to be the same person as a Book of Mormon prophet-warrior named Moroni, who was the last to write in the golden plates. According to the Book of Mormon, the angel Moroni was a pre-Columbian warrior who buried the golden plates. After he died, he became an angel who was tasked with directing Smith to their location in the 1820s. According to Smith, he then returned the golden plates to Moroni after they were translated and, as of 1838, Moroni still had the plates in his possession.[2]

Angel's name and identity edit

There have been two conflicting accounts as to the name of the angel. Initially, Smith merely referred to "an angel" without identifying its name. Thus, in an 1831 letter from Lucy Mack Smith to her brother, she discusses Moroni as the person who buried the plates, but does not identify him as the unnamed "holy angel" that gave Smith the means to translate the golden plates.[3] In Smith's 1832 history, he said he was visited by "an angel of the Lord", who mentioned the Book of Mormon prophet "Moroni" as the last engraver of the golden plates; however, Smith's account did not say whether or not the angel was referring to himself as Moroni.[4]

Smith identified the angel as Moroni in 1835, while preparing the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, in which he indicated a number of angels who would come to the earth after the Second Coming and drink sacramental wine with himself and Oliver Cowdery.[5] Among those angels, the revelation listed "Moroni, whom I have sent unto you to reveal the book of Mormon, containing the fulness of my everlasting gospel; to whom I have committed the keys of the record of the stick of Ephraim".[5] Around this time, Cowdery was writing a history of Smith in which he identified the angel as the prophet Moroni from the Book of Mormon.[6] In July 1838, Smith wrote an article for the church periodical Elders' Journal, in the form of questions and answers, that stated the following:

Question 4th. How, and where did you obtain the book of Mormon?

Answer. Moroni, the person who deposited the plates, from whence the book of Mormon was translated, in a hill in Manchester, Ontario County, New York, as a resurrected being, appeared unto me, and told me where they were; and gave me directions how to obtain them.[7]

However, on May 2, 1838, a few months before Smith's statement in Elders' Journal, Smith began dictating a church history that included a detailed account of his visits from the angel.[8] In this text, Smith identified the angel as "Nephi", which is the name of the Book of Mormon's first narrator.[9] Smith's 1838 identification as "Nephi" was left unchanged when the 1838 history was published in 1842 in Times and Seasons, which Smith edited himself,[10] and in Millennial Star.[11] In the latter, an editorial referred to the 1823 vision and praised "the glorious ministry and message of the angel Nephi".[12] In 1851, after Smith's death (1844), the identification as "Nephi" was repeated when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) published its first edition of the Pearl of Great Price.[13] It was also repeated in 1853 when Smith's mother Lucy Mack Smith published a history of her son.[14]

As a further complication, Mary Whitmer, mother to one of the Three Witnesses and four of the Eight Witnesses, said she had a vision of the golden plates, shown to her by an angel whom she always called "Brother Nephi",[15] who may or may not have been the same angel to which Smith referred.

Nevertheless, based on Smith's other statements that the angel was "Moroni," and based on both prior and later publications, most Latter Day Saints view Smith's 1838 identification of the angel as Nephi as a mistake, perhaps on the part of the transcriber or a later editor.[16] In the version of Smith's 1838 history published by the LDS Church, as well as the portion canonized by that denomination as the Pearl of Great Price, the name "Nephi" has been changed by editors to read "Moroni".[17] The Community of Christ publishes the original story, including the identification of "Nephi", but indicates "Moroni" in a footnote.[18]

Description edit

In one of Smith's histories, he described him as an "angel of light" who "had on a loose robe of most exquisite whiteness. It was a whiteness beyond anything earthly I had ever seen .… His hands were naked and his arms also a little above the wrists .… Not only was his robe exceedingly white but his whole person was glorious beyond description".[19] According to Smith's sister Katharine, the angel "was dressed in white raiment, of whiteness beyond anything Joseph had ever seen in his life, and had a girdle about his waist. He saw his hands and wrists, and they were pure and white".[20]

Appearances to Joseph Smith and others edit

The angel Moroni directs Joseph Smith to the plates of the Book of Mormon.

Smith said that on the night of September 21, 1823, Moroni appeared to him and told him about the golden plates that were buried in a stone box a few miles from Smith's home. Smith said that the same angel visited him various times over the course of the next six years; Smith also said that the angel visited him to retrieve the golden plates after Smith had finished translating a portion of the writing on the plates[21] into the Book of Mormon.[2]

In addition to Smith, several other early Mormons said they had visions where they saw the angel Moroni. Three Witnesses said they saw the angel in 1829: Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris. Other early Mormons who may have said they saw Moroni include:

Mary Whitmer may also have seen Moroni, although she referred to the angel she saw as "Brother Nephi".[36][22]

Mortal life of Moroni the prophet edit

According to the Book of Mormon, Moroni was the son of Mormon,[37] the prophet for whom the Book of Mormon is named. Moroni may have been named after Captain Moroni, an earlier Book of Mormon figure.[38] Before Mormon's death in battle, he passed the golden plates to Moroni. Moroni then finished writing on the plates and concluded the record, presumably burying them in the hill Cumorah in western New York.[39] He is the namesake of the Book of Moroni in the Book of Mormon.

Theological significance edit

Angel Moroni USVA headstone symbol

Because of his instrumentality in the restoration of the gospel, Moroni is commonly identified by Latter Day Saints as the angel mentioned in Revelation 14:6, "having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people."

The image of the angel Moroni blowing a trumpet is commonly used as an unofficial symbol of the LDS Church. Moroni appears on the cover of some editions of the Book of Mormon. Statues of the angel stand atop many LDS temples, with most statues facing east.

In 2007, the LDS Church stated that an image of the angel Moroni in an advertisement violated one of the church's registered trademarks.[40]

Theorized origin of the name edit

Commenting on the name of the angel Moroni, Grant H. Palmer speculates that Smith had read of the city Moroni on the island Comoros from either a map or tales of Captain William Kidd, popular at the time.[41] According to Latter-day Saint scholar Hugh Nibley, the use of "mor" in the Book of Mormon is an Egyptian word, and means "beloved, good, everything nice and desirable."[42]

Sculptors edit

The Nauvoo Temple was the first Latter Day Saint temple to be crowned with a figure of an angel. This angel, not officially identified as Moroni, was a metal weathervane with gold leaf on the trumpet. It was designed by William Weeks (architect of the Nauvoo temple) and installed in January 1846.[43] This figure was positioned in a flying horizontal position holding an open book in one hand and a trumpet in the other.

Cyrus Dallin sculpted the first angel which was identified as Moroni. This angel was placed on the Salt Lake Temple during the capstone ceremony on April 6, 1892, one year to the day before the temple was dedicated. Dallin's design is a dignified, neoclassical angel in robe and cap, standing upright with a trumpet in hand. It stands 3.8 meters high, was molded in hammered copper from the plaster original, and was covered with 22-karat gold leaf. On March 18, 2020, the trumpet held by the statue of Angel Moroni on the Salt Lake Temple fell to the ground as a result of a 5.7 magnitude earthquake.[44]

Torleif S. Knaphus fashioned a replica of the Dallin angel in the 1930s, but the casting of his angel wasn't placed on a temple until many years later. In 1983, castings of this angel were placed on the Idaho Falls Temple (8th operating temple) and the Atlanta Temple (21st operating temple).[45]

Millard F. Malin's angel, which was placed on the Los Angeles Temple in 1953, is known as the second Angel Moroni statue. His angel was cast in aluminum, stands 4.7 meters high, and weighs 953 kilograms. It has Native American features, wears a Mayan style cloak, and holds the gold plates in its left hand.[46]

Avard Fairbanks sculpted the third Angel Moroni statue, which was placed on the Washington D.C. Temple, dedicated in 1974. This angel was created as a one-meter model which was sent to Italy where it was enlarged, cast in bronze, and gilded. The finished statue is 5.5 meters high and weighs over 4,000 pounds (1,800 kg). The Seattle Washington, Jordan River Utah, and México City México temples each have a 4.6 meter casting of this statue.[46]

Karl Quilter sculpted his first Angel Moroni in 1978. Two sizes were made, one three meters high, the other just over two meters. These statues were designed to reduce the cost and weight of the previous Angel Moroni statues, in order to become a standard part of the temple architecture. The Quilter angels are made of fiberglass and covered with gold leaf. In 1998, with the construction of many new smaller temples, Quilter was commissioned to create a new angel. This angel was similar in design to his previous angels, but he gave Moroni a slightly larger build, with his left hand opened and his body turned slightly to show more action. The Bern Switzerland Temple's Angel Moroni is patterned after Quilter's 1998 design. Quilter's Angel Moroni is now on over one hundred temples around the world.[47]

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ "Pronunciation Guide". Book of Mormon. Retrieved April 1, 2013.
  2. ^ a b Joseph Smith–History, 1:60, Pearl of Great Price.
  3. ^ (Morgan 1986, p. 349).
  4. ^ (Smith 1832, p. 4).
  5. ^ a b (Smith et al. 1835, p. 180).
  6. ^ (Cowdery 1835, p. 112).
  7. ^ (Smith 1838–1842, pp. 42–43).
  8. ^ (Smith 1838a, p. 7).
  9. ^ (Smith 1838a, p. 5).
  10. ^ (Smith 1842d, p. 753)
  11. ^ (Pratt & Ward 1842, p. 53).
  12. ^ (Pratt & Ward 1842, p. 71).
  13. ^ (Richards 1851, p. 41).
  14. ^ (Smith 1853, p. 79).
  15. ^ (Whitmer 1888, p. 621).
  16. ^ See FAIR Wiki, "Nephi or Moroni" Archived August 7, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ Joseph Smith–History 1:27 .
  18. ^ Harper, Steven C. (August 22, 2019), "The Joseph (F.) Smith Story", First Vision, Oxford University Press, pp. 127–140, doi:10.1093/oso/9780199329472.003.0019, ISBN 978-0-19-932947-2, retrieved November 1, 2023
  19. ^ (Smith 1838).
  20. ^ (Salisbury 1895, p. 11).
  21. ^ "Uncle Dale's Old Mormon Articles: Palmyra Area 1829-31". Archived from the original on November 7, 2013.
  22. ^ a b Pettit, Tom. "Moroni Appeared to 17 Different People!". Living Heritage Tours. Retrieved April 24, 2016.
  23. ^ "The Angel Moroni". BYU Idaho. March 11, 2003. Retrieved March 18, 2023.
  24. ^ Peterson, H. Donl (2000). Moroni: Ancient Prophet, Modern Messenger. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book. pp. 165–166. ISBN 1-57008-709-1.
  25. ^ "The Angel Moroni". BYU Idaho. March 11, 2003. Retrieved March 18, 2023.
  26. ^ Peterson, H. Donl (2000). Moroni: Ancient Prophet, Modern Messenger. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book. pp. 167–168. ISBN 1-57008-709-1.
  27. ^ Nielsen, Chad (March 12, 2023). "Zerah Pulsipher and the Angel". Times and Seasons. Retrieved March 18, 2023.
  28. ^ "The Angel Moroni". BYU Idaho. March 11, 2003. Retrieved March 18, 2023.
  29. ^ Peterson, H. Donl (2000). Moroni: Ancient Prophet, Modern Messenger. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book. pp. 168–169. ISBN 1-57008-709-1.
  30. ^ Russell, William D.; Walker, Ronald W. (1999). "Wayward Saints: The Godbeites and Brigham Young". The Western Historical Quarterly. 30 (4): 524. doi:10.2307/971442. ISSN 0043-3810. JSTOR 971442.
  31. ^ Peterson, H. Donl (2000). Moroni: Ancient Prophet, Modern Messenger. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book. p. 170. ISBN 1-57008-709-1.
  32. ^ Peterson, H. Donl (2000). Moroni: Ancient Prophet, Modern Messenger. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book. p. 171. ISBN 1-57008-709-1.
  33. ^ Peterson, H. Donl (2000). Moroni: Ancient Prophet, Modern Messenger. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book. pp. 170–171. ISBN 1-57008-709-1.
  34. ^ Peterson, H. Donl (2000). Moroni: Ancient Prophet, Modern Messenger. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book. pp. 166–167. ISBN 1-57008-709-1.
  35. ^ Peterson, H. Donl (2000). Moroni: Ancient Prophet, Modern Messenger. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book. p. 170. ISBN 1-57008-709-1.
  36. ^ Skousen, Royal (2014). "Another Account of Mary Whitmer's Viewing of the Golden Plates". The Interpreter Foundation. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
  37. ^ "Mormon 6". Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  38. ^ "Alma 48". Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  39. ^ Smith, Joseph Jr. (July 1838), "Editor's note", Elders' Journal of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1 (3): 42–43, archived from the original on May 20, 2007, retrieved May 28, 2007.
  40. ^ Andrew Adams, "Angel Moroni at the Center of Controversial Ad Campaign" Archived September 25, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, KSL Radio, March 23, 2007.
  41. ^ Palmer, Grant H. (2014). "Joseph Smith, Captain Kidd, Cumorah, and Moroni" (PDF). John Whitmer Historical Association Journal. 34 (1): 50–57. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 16, 2016. Retrieved May 24, 2017.
  42. ^ See Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of The Book of Mormon, Semester 3, Lecture 71 Archived March 11, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  43. ^ Leonard, Glen M. (2002), Nauvoo: A Place of Peace, A People of Promise, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, p. 253
  44. ^ Toone, Trent (March 18, 2020). "Utah earthquake causes Angel Moroni on Salt Lake Temple to lose his trumpet". Deseret News. Retrieved September 18, 2020.
  45. ^ Hunter, J. Michael (January 2000). "I Saw Another Angel Fly". Ensign: 32–33. Archived from the original on January 6, 2015. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
  46. ^ a b Hunter, J. Michael (January 2000). "I Saw Another Angel Fly". Ensign: 34. Archived from the original on January 6, 2015. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
  47. ^ Hunter, J. Michael (January 2000). "I Saw Another Angel Fly". Ensign: 36. Archived from the original on January 6, 2015. Retrieved January 6, 2015.

References edit

Further reading edit

External links edit