Joseph Smith says the angel described the gold plates as "an account of the former inhabitants of this continent."

Jun 1839 - Jan 1841
Joseph Smith, Jr.

"History, circa June 1839–circa 1841 [Draft 2]," 5, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed May 11, 2022

James Mulholland
Joseph Smith, Jr.
Reading Public

He called me by name and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me and that his name was Nephi [Moroni]. That God had a work for me to do, and that my <​name​> should be had for good and evil among all nations kindreds and tongues. or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people. He said there was a book deposited written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent and the source from whence they sprang.

BHR Staff Commentary

The Joseph Smith Papers provides an explanation for the Nephi/Moroni error:

"A later redaction in the hand of Albert Carrington changed “Nephi” to “Moroni” and noted that the original attribution was a “clerical error.” Carrington probably made the note in 1871, at a time when he was Church Historian and Recorder. He and others at the Historian’s Office were assigned by Brigham Young to investigate the difference of the name of the angel in this source compared with other sources. Early sources often did not name the angelic visitor, but sources naming Moroni include Oliver Cowdery’s historical letter published in the April 1835 LDS Messenger and Advocate; an expanded version of a circa August 1830 revelation, as published in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants; and a JS editorial published in the Elders’ Journal in July 1838. The present history is the earliest extant source to name Nephi as the messenger, and subsequent publications based on this history perpetuated the attribution during JS’s lifetime."

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