From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Mormon is a term used to describe the adherents, practitioners, followers or constituents of certain denominations within the Latter Day Saint movement. The term most often refers to a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), which is commonly called the Mormon Church. The LDS Church claims that "Mormon" should properly be applied only to its members, to avoid possible confusion with Mormon fundamentalist groups which practice plural marriage. However, the term is nevertheless used to refer to many other sects that recognize Brigham Young as a prophet, including Mormon fundamentalists. The term is not usually applied to other sects within the Latter Day Saint movement, such as the Community of Christ, who did not associate with Brigham Young after the death of Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of the movement.
The term originated from the Book of Mormon, first published in 1830 by Joseph Smith, Jr. According to the Book of Mormon, Mormon is the name of an indigenous American prophet–historian who compiled the majority of the book.
Origin of the term
The term "Mormon" is taken from the title of the Book of Mormon, a sacred text adherents believe to have been translated from golden plates revealed by an angel to Joseph Smith, Jr. and published in 1830. According to the text of the Book of Mormon, Mormon was the name of a fourth century prophet–historian who compiled and abridged many records of his ancestors into the Book of Mormon. The book is believed by Mormons to be a literal record of God's dealings with pre-Columbian civilizations in the Americas from approximately 2600 BC through AD 420, written by prophets and followers of Jesus Christ. The book records the teachings of Jesus Christ to the people in the Americas as well as Christ's personal ministry among the people of Nephi after his resurrection. Mormons believe the Book of Mormon is another witness of Jesus Christ, "holy scripture comparable to the Bible".
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, one of the earliest published usages of the term "Mormon" to describe believers in the Book of Mormon was in 1833 by the Louisville (Kentucky) Daily Herald in an article, "The Mormons and the Anti-Mormons".
The terms "Mormon" and "Mormonite" were first used in the 1830s as pejoratives to describe those who followed Joseph Smith and believed in the divine origin of the Book of Mormon. The term was soon adopted by Mormons themselves, however, and has lost its generally pejorative status.
The term "Mormon" is most often used to refer to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). However, the term is also adopted by other adherents of Mormonism, including adherents of Mormon fundamentalism. The term "Mormon" is generally disfavored by other denominations of the Latter Day Saint movement, such as the Community of Christ, which have distinct histories from that of the LDS Church since Smith's death in 1844.
The term is particularly embraced by adherents of Mormon fundamentalism, who continue to believe in and practice plural marriage, a practice that the LDS Church officially abandoned in 1890. Seeking to distance itself from polygamy and Mormon fundamentalism, the LDS Church has taken the position that the term Mormon should only apply to the LDS Church and its members, and not other adherents who have adopted the term. The church cites the AP Stylebook, which states, "The term Mormon is not properly applied to the other Latter Day Saints churches that resulted from the split after [Joseph] Smith’s death." Despite the LDS Church's position, the term Mormon is widely used by journalists and non-journalists to refer to adherents of Mormon fundamentalism.
The official name of the Salt Lake City, Utah-based church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While the term "Mormon Church" has long been attached to the church as a nickname, it is an unauthorized title, and its use is not encouraged by the church, although the use of "Mormon" in other contexts is not generally considered offensive and is commonly used by the church's members. LDS Church leaders have encouraged members to use the church's full name to emphasize the church's focus on Jesus Christ.
J. Gordon Melton, in his Encyclopedia of American Religions, subdivides the Mormons into Utah Mormons, Missouri Mormons, Polygamy-Practicing Mormons, and Other Mormons. In this scheme, the Utah Mormon group includes the non-polygamous organizations descending from those Mormons who followed Brigham Young to what is now Utah. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is by far the largest of these groups, and the only group to initially reside in Utah. The Missouri Mormon groups include those non-polygamous groups that chose not to travel to Utah and are currently headquartered in Missouri, which Joseph Smith, Jr. designated as the future site of the New Jerusalem. These organizations include Community of Christ, Church of Christ (Temple Lot), Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and others. Polygamy-Practicing Mormon groups are those that currently practice polygamy, regardless of location. Other Mormon groups include those that are not headquartered in Utah or Missouri and do not practice polygamy, such as The Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonite) and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite).
The terms "Utah Mormon" and "Missouri Mormon" can be problematic if interpreted to mean more than the location of the various groups' headquarters. The majority of members of "Utah Mormon" groups and "Missouri Mormon" groups no longer live in either of these U.S. states. Although a majority of Utahns are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the LDS Church has a worldwide membership with the majority of its members outside the United States. Nor do most "Missouri Mormons" live in Missouri.
Meaning of the word
The May 15, 1843 issue of the official Mormon periodical Times and Seasons contains an article, purportedly written by Joseph Smith, Jr., deriving the etymology of the name "Mormon" from English "more" + Egyptian mon, "good", and extolling the meaning as follows:
It has been stated that this word [mormon] was derived from the Greek word mormo. This is not the case. There was no Greek or Latin upon the plates from which I, through the grace of God, translated the Book of Mormon. Let the language of that book speak for itself. On the 523d page, of the fourth edition, it reads: And now behold we have written this record according to our knowledge in the characters which are called among us the Reformed Egyptian ... none other people knoweth our language; therefore [God] hath prepared means for the interpretation thereof." ... [The] Bible in its widest sense, means good; for the Savior says according to the gospel of John, "I am the good shepherd;" and it will not be beyond the common use of terms, to say that good is among the most important in use, and though known by various names in different languages, still its meaning is the same, and is ever in opposition to bad. We say from the Saxon, good; the Dane, god; the Goth, goda; the German, gut; the Dutch, goed; the Latin, bonus; the Greek, kalos; the Hebrew, tob; and the Egyptian, mon. Hence, with the addition of more, or the contraction, mor, we have the word MOR-MON; which means, literally, more good.
Whether Smith was the actual author of this passage is uncertain. Official LDS Church historian B. H. Roberts removed the quote from his History of the Church compilation, saying he found evidence that W. W. Phelps wrote that paragraph and that it was "based on inaccurate premises and was offensively pedantic." LDS Church apostle Gordon B. Hinckley noted that the "more good" translation is incorrect but added that "Mormon means 'more good'" is a positive motto for members of the LDS Church.
Meaning in the Book of Mormon
According to the Book of Mormon, a man named Mormon compiled nearly 1000 years of writings as well as chronicled events during his lifetime. Most of the text of the Book of Mormon consists of this compilation and his own writings, which may account for its title. However, the name "Mormon" is also used in the Book of Mormon as a place name (e.g. Waters of Mormon), which Ancient America Foundation scholar David Lamb uses to offer an alternate explanation for the title:
[The prophet] Mormon was not named after his father; he was named after the land of Mormon. He had been taught about his heritage by his parents and understood the sacred significance associated with the name Mormon. No doubt his father also bore the name Mormon for the same reason. In 3 Nephi 5:12 he gives us a clear indication that the name Mormon is symbolically synonymous with the restoration of the covenant which took place in the land of Mormon by Alma and his people.
A study of the Introduction of the Book of Mormon tells us its main purpose is to restore a knowledge of the covenants to the house of Israel. This adds weight to the understanding that the name Mormon was always associated with the place of the restoration of the covenant to the Nephites. In fact, the name Mormon became synonymous with the concept of restoring the covenants.
In light of this understanding, the Book of Mormon is not named for a man. It is named for the place where the covenant was restored. Symbolically, the Book of Mormon bears the name "Book of the Restoration of the Covenant."
In some countries, Mormon and some phrases including the term are registered trademarks owned by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. (a holding company for the LDS Church's intellectual property). In the United States, the LDS Church has applied for a trademark on "Mormon" as applied to religious services; however, the United States Patent and Trademark Office rejected the application, stating that the term "Mormon" was too generic, and is popularly understood as referring to a particular kind of church, similar to "Presbyterian" or "Methodist", rather than a service mark. The application is on appeal as of mid-2007. In all, the Intellectual Reserve, Inc. owns more than 60 trademarks related to the Mormon Church.
- ^ 3 Nephi, chapters 11-26, from scriptures.lds.org, an official website of the LDS Church
- ^ Introduction, Book of Mormon
- ^ Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. "Mormon".
- ^ The term "Mormon fundamentalist" appears to have been coined in the 1940s by LDS Church Apostle Mark E. Petersen: Ken Driggs, "'This Will Someday Be the Head and Not the Tail of the Church': A History of the Mormon Fundamentalists at Short Creek", Journal of Church and State 43:49 (2001) at p. 51.
- ^ The LDS Church now strictly prohibits polygamy and any member practicing it is subject to excommunication. For description of the dispute over the term "Fundamentalist Mormon," see Carrie Moore and Elaine Jarvik (2006-09-09). "Plural lives: the diversity of fundamentalism". Deseret Morning News. http://www.deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,645199994,00.html. .
- ^ Mormons and Polygamy, LDS News Room.
- ^ "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The," Associated Press, The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, 2002, ISBN 0738207403, p.48
- ^ LDS Church Style Guide.
- ^ a b Gordon B. Hinckley, "Mormon Should Mean 'More Good,'" Ensign, Nov. 1990, p. 51.
- ^ See "Style Guide - The Name of the Church". http://www.lds.org/newsroom/page/0,15606,4043-1---15-168,00.html. Retrieved 2006-12-04.
- ^ Russell M. Nelson, "Thus Shall My Church Be Called," Ensign, May 1990, 16.
- ^ J. Gordon Melton (1996, 5th ed.). Encyclopedia of American Religions. (Detroit: Gale, ISBN 0810377144) pp. 561–585.
- ^ "Correspondence", Times and Seasons (Nauvoo, Illinois), vol. 4, no. 13, p. 194] (May 15, 1843); quoted in Joseph Smith, Jr. (Joseph Fielding Smith ed., 1938) Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book) pp. 299–300.
- ^ Defender of the Faith: The B. H. Roberts Story, pp. 291–292
- ^ Mormon.org: the Book of Mormon
- ^ David Lamb, The Meaning of the Name of "Mormon"
- ^ For example, "Mormon Tabernacle Choir" is registered as United States Federal TM Reg. No. 2766231, and "Mormon" is registered in the European Community serial number EC004306701, registered July 6, 2006
- ^ Office Action, November 1, 2005.
- ^ Federal TM Ser. No. 78161091: "Current Status: Abandoned after an ex parte appeal. Date of Status: 2007-08-22"
- ^ http://www.trademarkia.com/company-intellectual-reserve-inc-613675-page-1-2
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints|
- LDS Newsroom LDS Church criticisms of the use of the word "Mormon" in news reports
- Mormon.org - Official outreach web site for the LDS Church.
- "The Mormons" - PBS Special can be watched online
- Mormon Times - For and about members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints