1) UPON PLATES TAKEN FROM THE PLATES OF NEPHI.
In this instance the plates of Nephi referred to are the large plates. The golden plates which Joseph Smith received from Moroni contained several different sets of plates, including
- the small plates of Nephi (Nephi's unabridged record which constitutes 1 Ne, 2 Ne, Jacob, Enos, Jarom, Omni),
- Mormon's abridgment of the large plates of Nephi which included the history of the people from Lehi to Mormon's day (the 116 pages contained Mormon's abridged record from the days of Lehi to the days of king Benjamin),
- Moroni's continuation of Mormon's record (Mormon 8:1) which includes Moroni's abridgment of the record of the Jaredites and his own history, and
- the sealed portion which contains the writings of the brother of Jared, see Ether 3:25-27.
2) Explanation of the term, "Jew and Gentile."
Some have been confused by the Book of Mormon's use of the term, "Jew." In the Book of Mormon and often in colloquial English, the term Jew refers to one who is of the House of Israel. It does not mean one who is of the tribe of Judah. By Lehi's day, the ten tribes had already been taken north by the Assyrians and the Kingdom of Judah consisted mostly of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. There would have been a few Levites among the group and according to 1 Chron 9:3, some of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. Thus Lehi's ancestors were Manassehites which lived in the southern kingdom and had avoided capture by the Assyrians.
When the Book of Mormon uses the term, "Gentile," it refers to one who is not of the House of Israel. Frequently, it refers to the northern European nations and their descendants, including the early inhabitants the United States of America. In spite of the fact that other sources suggest that there is quite a bit of the blood of Israel scattered among these peoples, they are referred to, in general, as Gentiles.
3) What about the Mulekites?
Moroni explains the record as an abridgment of the records of two peoples, the Nephites/Lamanites and the Jaredites. The Mulekites were left off this list because they did not keep any records which could contribute to the record (Omni 1:15-19) and because they were assimilated into the Nephites shortly after they were discovered in Zarahemla.
4) If there are faults they are the faults of men;
A) Moroni was concerned that the Gentiles would find fault with the Book of Mormon. Writing in reformed Egyptian, which was not his native language, he felt his writings were not powerful like the brother of Jared's. It should be noted that the brother of Jared had the advantage of writing in his native language which originated from the perfect, Adamic language. See Mormon 8:12, Mormon 9:31-33, and Ether 12:23-26.
B) Doctrinally, the Book of Mormon is "the most correct of any book on earth," but occasionally one can find problems with syntax, grammar, etc. In one case, the awkwardness of Mormon's engraving on plates becomes clear, thus we see that they buried their weapons of peace, or they buried the weapons of war, for peace. (Alma 24:19) These small imperfections are of no doctrinal consequence and their occurrence does not detract from the correctness of the book.
C) Some readers have difficulty with the language of the Book of Mormon and its wordiness. A famous Mark Twain quote about the Book of Mormon is taken from his work, Roughing It, written in 1872, "It is chloroform in print. If Joseph Smith composed this book, the act was a miracle -- keeping awake while he did it was, at any rate.... Whenever he (Joseph Smith) found his speech growing too modern which was [p.111] about every sentence or two -- he ladled in a few such scriptural phrases as 'exceeding sore,' 'and it came to pass,' etc...and made things satisfactory again. 'And it came to pass,' was his pet. If he had left that out, his Bible would have been only a pamphlet." In poking fun of this great work, readers need to remember the reply of the Lord to Moroni's concern as recorded in Ether 12:26, Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and in Mormon 8:12, And whoso receiveth this record, and shall not condemn it because of the imperfections which are in it, the same shall know of greater things than these.