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When I told people I was writing a book on the women in the Book of Mormon, I was sometimes met with a laugh and the comment, “Well, that will be a short book!” It’s true—if I were to write a book just about the women who are named in the Book of Mormon, this would indeed be a short book. Aside from three Biblical women (Eve, Sarah, and Mary), there are only three women named in the Book of Mormon: Sariah, the mother of Nephi; Abish, the Lamanite missionary; and Isabel, the harlot.
Yet, as you can see from the length of this book, there are many more women between the pages of the Book of Mormon. I’m sure you know some of them: Nephi’s wife, Ishmael’s daughters, King Lamoni’s wife, Morianton’s maidservant, and the wicked daughter of Jared. There are many women whose stories we are familiar with—we just forget about them because we don’t have their names.
There are also many women in the Book of Mormon we skip over completely because they are mentioned only in groups: the granddaughters of Laman and Lemuel, the women who attended King Benjamin’s speech, King Noah’s wives and concubines, the women led astray by Korihor, and the women who traveled with the Brother of Jared—just to name a few. I have tried my best in this book to identify and write about these groups of women and to give them names that are easy to remember and that can be used to share these women’s stories.
It can be tempting when studying the women in the Book of Mormon to focus on what we don’t know—names, histories, feelings, spiritual experiences, what they used for diaper wipes— rather than what we do know, which is actually quite a lot. Not only do we know a lot about the history of the time they lived, we also know what they believed (or at least what they were taught). We also know that there is real breadth and depth to the experiences of women in the Book of Mormon. We see them testify, prophesy, speak in tongues, work miracles, see Jesus Christ, influence nations, stand up to evil, teach children, cross oceans, explore new lands, follow armies, support husbands, forge peace, bear children, burn as martyrs, convert kings and queens, lead countries, participate in temple work, and fight for their nation.
It becomes easier to forgive Nephi and Mormon for their lack of attention to things like names, babies, and domestic details (which personally I would love to have) when we remember that the purpose of the Book of Mormon, as it states on the title page, is to “show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ.” The Book of Mormon writers, though they don’t include many women in their stories, do a remarkable job at including women’s spiritual experiences, which is impressive, especially for ancient records.
Another important thing that the Book of Mormon teaches us is the equality of men and women before God. While women may be noticeably excluded from much of the historical context of the Book of Mormon (a complaint you can have about all books of scripture), they are impressively included in the spiritual context of the book. The Old and New Testaments, while rich in doctrine that we know includes women, rarely use female pronouns to make such inclusion clear. The Book of Mormon, on the other hand, often uses inclusive language, making it clear that women are included in the spiritual teachings.
In this book, I am inviting you to take a walk with these ancient Book of Mormon sisters, to learn from their stories—the good, the bad, and the ugly. From their good examples and experiences, learn about faith, courage, peacemaking, and charity. From their bad examples, learn to repent, to forgive, to honor your covenants, and to obey God’s commandments. And from their ugly experiences, sufferings, and injustices, learn about mercy, healing, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon really is another testament of Jesus Christ, and my hope is that as you study the women in the Book of Mormon, your testimony of Christ will strengthen and you will feel His infinite love for all the people of the earth—male and female.
** The following was from the Introduction of the Walking With the Women of the Book of Mormon!