The Book of Alma is one of the books that make up the Book of Mormon. The full title is The Book of Alma: The Son of Alma. The title refers to Alma the Younger, a prophet and "chief judge" of the Nephites.
The Book of Alma is the longest of all the books of the Book of Mormon, consisting of 63 chapters. The book records the first 39 years of what the Nephites termed "the reign of the judges", a period in which the Nephite nation adopted a constitutional theocratic government in which the judicial and executive branches of the government were combined.
The history of the book is outlined as follows:
Challenges to the GovernmentEdit
The first four chapters, describe the rebellions of followers of Nehor and Amlici. Contrary to the dominant lay ministry that existed in the Nephite culture, Nehor established a church in which priests were given a separate social status and were paid for their ministry. After killing a religious leader during a theological argument, Nehor was tried and executed for his crimes. The followers of Amlici resented the dominant political and religious parties and sought to reestablish the monarchy that the reign of the judges replaced. Alma, the chief judge and governor as well as the high priest over the people of Nephi, lead an army against Amlici and his followers and drove the rebellion out of the land.
The Ministry of Alma Among the NephitesEdit
Towards the end of chapter four, Alma realizes that the affairs of the Church require his entire concentration. He resigns from his political office and appoints Nephihah as chief judge and governor of the land. Chapters 5-16 record sermons and missionary travels of Alma between 83 and 78 B.C. Alma and one of his converted followers, Amulek, provide important teachings about the atonement of Christ, overcoming pride and the natural man, retaining conversion, the resurrection of all men, and judgment day. Later, their teachings about faith and worship in Alma 32-34 are important sources of instruction and insight.
The Ministry of the Sons of Mosiah Among the LamanitesEdit
Chapters 17 to 27 describe the missionary labors of the sons of King Mosiah II who was the last king over the people of Nephi prior to the peaceful transition of the nation from a monarchy to a republican form of government. The sons of Mosiah, named Ammon, Aaron, Omner and Himni, chose to devote themselves to missionary labors preaching to the people of the Lamanite nation, which periodically went to war against the Nephite nation. They lived and taught among the Lamanites between the years 91 and 77 B.C.
The Ministry of Alma Among the ZoramitesEdit
Chapters 28 to 35 relate the account of a rebellion of a subgroup of the Nephite nation who called themselves Zoramites. The Zoramites believed in a form of predestination and taught that all others except their people would be damned. Their apostasy from the Church was conjoined with plans to rebel against the Nephite government. Alma took two of his sons, the sons of Mosiah, Amulek, and Zeezrom on a mission among the Zoramites in an attempt to restore their loyalty to both the Church and the state. Alma and his companions had some success among the poor class of Zoramites who were then exiled from the Zoramite community by the governing rich class of Zoramites. The wealthier Zoramites eventually defected and united with the Lamanites.
The Commandments of Alma to his ChildrenEdit
Chapters 36 to 42 record the teachings of Alma to his sons, Helaman, Shiblon, and Corianton. These teachings discuss the ministry and atonement of Jesus, the laws of justice and mercy, the need for repentance, and the resurrection and judgment of all people.
A Period of WarEdit
Chapters 43 to 62 record the struggles of the Nephite people during a war against the attacking Lamanite nation between the years of 74 and 57 B.C. The Chief Captain (senior military commander) of the Nephites during this time was Captain Moroni. The Nephites were ultimately successful in their defense against the Lamanites.
Chapter 63 includes concluding historical notes covering the years 56 to 53 B.C. This is largely a period of post-war reconstruction and exploration in the Nephite nation.