The Prophet Joseph Smith is the only mortal man who can be confidently described as an “eyewitness” of the translation of the Book of Mormon. Why? Because he was the only man who successfully translated and therefore understood the process. He may have also been the only mortal to have used the plates in the latter days. We have at least 13 documented statements, directly from the Prophet Joseph Smith, in which he discusses the translation.
Excerpt from “Seer Stone v. Urim & Thummim: Book of Mormon Translation on Trial”
Given Joseph Smith’s firsthand knowledge of and experience with the translation of the Book of Mormon, one would suppose that faithful Latter-day Saint researchers and authors would treat the Prophet Joseph Smith’s words as authoritative, placing them in a pre-eminent position within their works. We have at least 13 documented statements, directly from the Prophet Joseph Smith. In addition to this compilation, we have second-hand statements written down by those who heard Joseph Smith speak of his experiences. Joseph Smith testified unequivocally that he translated the Book of Mormon using the Nephite interpreters, also known as the Urim and Thummim.
Surprisingly, several modern progressive historians put forth the charge that the Prophet Joseph Smith “said very little” or “never gave any details.” For example, Roger Nicholson comments:
As it turns out, he [ Joseph Smith] said very little about the actual translation method used to produce the Book of Mormon, except to note that it was performed “by the gift and power of God.”1
Was the only detail Joseph Smith ever gave regarding the translation that the work was performed “by the gift and power of God”? The FAIR Blog on LDS Living alleges similarly:
How did Joseph Smith translate the Book of Mormon? Joseph didn’t share many details of the translation process other than the fact that he received the translation by the gift and power of God.2
Avowed detractors of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ mimic the same claim, as if there was a coordinated attempt to discredit the Prophet Joseph Smith and erase his testimony from history. “MormonThink” also commented:
When Joseph was asked how exactly he translated the Book of Mormon, he never gave any details, he only said that he did it by the “gift and power of God.” 3
Coincidentally, the same historians who claim that Joseph Smith “didn’t share any details” are also those who claim that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon using a seer stone in a hat. However, Joseph Smith did speak on the translation, and that his statements plainly contradict the seer stone hypothesis in every respect. FAIRMormon again dogmatically declares that Joseph Smith gave only one detail regarding translation, that it was performed “by the gift and power of God”:
How exactly did Joseph Smith translate the gold plates? Joseph Smith only stated that he translated the Book of Mormon by the “gift and power of God.” . . . Joseph Smith himself never recorded the precise physical details of the method of translation . . . the translation of the Book of Mormon was carried out “by the gift and power of God.” These are the only words that Joseph Smith himself used to describe the translation process.4
Contrary to the claims of these progressive authors, an analysis of Joseph Smith’s written testimonies provides the following data points:
- Joseph Smith used ancient, physical, Nephite plates to translate the Book of Mormon. He did not leave them covered or hiding underneath his bed or elsewhere during translation.
- Joseph Smith translated using the Jaredite-Nephite Urim and Thummim and not a seer stone. The Urim and Thummim and the seer stone are two different artifacts.
- Joseph Smith temporarily lost the Urim and Thummim in 1828 after the 116 pages (Book of Lehi) were stolen, but the plates and the Urim and Thummim were returned after a period of sorrow and contrition.
- Moroni and other Nephite prophets once lived. They are legitimate historical figures and the Book of Mormon is an historical record. The Jaredite, Nephite, and Lamanite civilizations once existed and the descendants from these nations are still alive today.
- Joseph Smith “translated,” in the true sense of the word, the Nephite plates to produce the Book of Mormon we read today.
- Many “false reports” were spread in Joseph Smith’s day regarding the translation of the Book of Mormon. These false reports, antagonistic to the clear statements made by the Prophet Joseph Smith, still circulate today and are now heavily incorporated into the progressive “new narrative.”
Real answers: Facts without fear
Did Joseph Smith study and master the Nephite language? Or did Joseph Smith translate the Book of Mormon using a dark seer stone in a hat? Why are progressive historians creating a new history using sources from a man who vowed to wash his hands in the blood of Joseph Smith, while boasting that he had deceived the Prophet and his God?
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1830 (Preface to 1830 Book of Mormon)
As many false reports have been circulated respecting the following work, and also many unlawful measures taken by evil designing persons to destroy me, and also the work, I would inform you that I translated, by the gift and power of God, and caused to be written, one hundred and sixteen pages, the which I took from the Book of Lehi, which was an account abridged from the plates of Lehi, by the hand of Mormon; which said account, some person or persons have stolen and kept from me, notwithstanding my utmost exertions to recover it again—and being commanded of the Lord that I should not translate the same over again, for Satan had put it into their hearts to tempt the Lord their God, by altering the words, that they did read contrary from that which I translated and caused to be written; and if I should bring forth the same words again, or, in other words, if I should translate the same over again, they would publish that which they had stolen, and Satan would stir up the hearts of this generation, that they might not receive this work: but behold, the Lord said unto me, I will not suffer that Satan shall accomplish his evil design in this thing: therefore thou shalt translate from the plates of Nephi, until ye come to that which ye have translated, which ye have retained; and behold ye shall publish it as the record of Nephi; and thus I will confound those who have altered my words. I will not suffer that they shall destroy my work; yea, I will shew unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the Devil. Wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, I have, through his grace and mercy, accomplished that which he hath commanded me respecting this thing. I would also inform you that the plates of which hath been spoken, were found in the township of Manchester, Ontario county, New-York.
(Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., iii [Preface], The Joseph Smith Papers, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-mormon-1830/9.)
1832 (Joseph Smith ~Summer 1832 history)
it came to pass when I was seventeen years of age I called again upon the Lord and he shewed unto me a heavenly vision for behold an angel of the Lord came and stood before me and it was by night and he called me by name and he said the Lord had forgiven me my sins and he revealed unto me that in the Town of Manchester Ontario County N.Y. there was plates of gold upon which there was engravings which was engraven by Maroni & his fathers the servants of the living God in ancient days and deposited by the commandments of God and kept by the power thereof and that I should go and get them and he revealed unto me many things concerning the inhabitents of of the earth which since have been revealed in commandments & revelations
and it was on the 22d day of Sept. AD 1822 and thus he appeared unto me three times in one night and once on the next day and then I immediately went to the place and found where the plates was deposited as the angel of the Lord had commanded me and straightway made three attempts to get them and then being excedingly frightened I supposed it had been a dreem of Vision but when I considred I knew that it was not therefore I cried unto the Lord in the agony of my soul why can I not obtain them behold the angel appeared unto me again and said unto me you have not kept the commandments of the Lord which I gave unto you therefore you cannot now obtain them for the time is not yet fulfilled therefore thou wast left unto temptation that thou mightest be made accquainted with the power of the advisary therefore repent and call on the Lord thou shalt be forgiven and in his own due time thou shalt obtain them for now I had been tempted of the advisary and saught the Plates to obtain riches and kept not the commandment that I should have an eye single to the Glory of God
therefore I was chastened and saught diligently to obtain the plates and obtained them not untill I was twenty one years of age and in this year I was married to Emma Hale Daughtr of Isaach Isaac Hale who lived in Harmony Susquehanna County Pensylvania on the 18th January AD, 1827, on the 22d day of Sept of this same year I obtained the plates—
and in December following we mooved to Susquehana by the assistence of a man by the name of Martin Harris who became convinced of the vision and gave me fifty Dollars to bare my expences and because of his faith and this rightheous deed the Lord appeared unto him in a vision and shewed unto him his marvilous work which he was about to do and he imediately came to Suquehannah and said the Lord had shown him that he must go to new York City with some of the characters so we proceeded to coppy some of them and he took his Journy to the Eastern Cittys and to the Learned saying read this I pray thee and the learned said I cannot but if he would bring the blates they would read it but the Lord had forbid it and he returned to me and gave them to me to translate and I said cannot for I am not learned but the Lord had prepared spectacles for to read the Book therefore I commenced translating the characters and thus the Propicy of Isiaah was fulfilled which is writen in the 29 chaptr concerning the book
and it came to pass that after we had translated 116 pages that he desired to carry them to read to his friends that peradventur he might convince them of the truth therefore I inquired of the Lord and the Lord said unto me that he must not take them and I spake unto him (Martin) the word of the Lord and he said inquire again and I inquired again and also the third time and the Lord said unto me let him go with them only he shall covenant with me that he will not shew them to only but four persons and he covenented withe Lord that he would do according to the word of the Lord
therefore he took them and took his journey unto his friends to Palmire Wayne County & State of N York and he brake the covenent which he made before the Lord and the Lord suffered the writings to fall into the hands of wicked men and Martin was Chastened for his transgression and I also was chastened for my transgression for asking the Lord the third time wherefore the Plates was taken from me by the power of God and I was not able to obtain them for a season and it came to pass after much humility and affliction of Soul I obtained them again
when Lord appeared unto a young man by the name of Oliver Cowdery and shewed unto him the plates in a vision and also the truth of the work and what the Lord was about to do through me his unworthy Servant therefore he was desiorous to come and write for me to translate now my wife had writen some for me to translate and also my Brothr Samuel H Smith but we had become reduced in property and my wives father was about to turn me out of doores & I had not where to go and I cried unto the Lord that he would provide for me to accomplish the work whereunto he had commanded me. (Joseph Smith History, circa Summer 1832, 4-6, The Joseph Smith Papers, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-circa-summer-1832/4.)
1833 (Joseph Smith January 4, 1833 letter to Noah C. Saxton)
The Book of Mormon is a reccord of the forefathers of our western Tribes of Indians, having been found through the ministration of an holy Angel translated into our own Language by the gift and power of God, after having been hid up in the earth for the last fourteen hundred years containing the word of God, which was delivered unto them, By it we learn that our western tribes of Indians are desendants from that Joseph that was sold into Egypt, and that the Land of America is a promised land unto them, and unto it all the tribes of Israel will come. with as many of the gentiles as shall comply with the requesitions of the new coenant.
(Joseph Smith to N. E. Sexton [N. C. Saxton], Joseph Smith History, volume A-1, 4 January 1833, 261, The Joseph Smith Papers, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-1838-1856-volume-a-1-23-december-1805-30-august-1834/267.)
1835 (Joseph Smith to Robert Matthews, as recorded in Joseph Smith’s journal)
When I was about 17 years old I saw another vision of angels, in the night season after I had retired to bed I had not been a sleep, when but was meditating upon my past life and experiance, I was verry concious that I had not kept the commandments, and I repented hartily for all my sins and transgression, and humbled myself before Him; whose eyes are over all things, all at once the room was iluminated above the brightness of the sun an angel appeared before me, his hands and feet were naked pure and white, and he stood between the floors of the room, clothed with in purity inexpressible,
he said unto me I am a messenger sent from God, be faithful and keep his commandments in all things, he told me of a sacred record which was written on plates of gold, I saw in the vision the place where they were deposited, he said the indians, were the literal descendants of Abraham he explained many things of the prophesies to me,
one I will mention which is this in Malachi 4 behold the day of the Lord cometh &c; also that the Urim and Thumim, was hid up with the record, and that God would give me power to translate it, with the assistance of this instrument he then gradually vanished out of my sight, or the vision closed, while meditating on what I had seen, the Angel appeard to me again and related the same things and much more, also the third time bearing the same tidings, and departed;
during the time I was in this vision I did not realize any thing else around me except what was shown me in this communication: after the vision had all passed, I found that it was nearly day-light, the family soon arose, I got up also:— on that day while in the field at work with my Father he asked me if I was sick I replyed, I had but little strenght, he told me to go to the house, I started and went part way and was finally deprived of my strength and fell, but how long I remained I do not know;
the Angel came to me again and commanded me to go and tell my Father, what I had seen and heard, I did so, he wept and told me that it was a vision from God to attend to it I went and found the place, where the plates were, according to the direction of the Angel, also saw them, and the angel as before; the powers of darkness strove hard against me, I called on God, the Angel told me that the reason why I could not obtain the plates at this time was because I was under transgression, but to come again in one year from that time, I did so, but did not obtain them also the third and the fourth year, at which time I obtained them, and translated them into the english language; by the gift and power of God and have been preaching it ever since.
(Joseph Smith Journal, 9–11 November 1835, 24-26, The Joseph Smith Papers, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/journal-1835-1836/25.)
1838 (Joseph Smith in Elder’s Journal)
Question 4th. How, and where did you obtain the book of Mormon?
Answer. Moroni, the person who deposited the plates, from whence the book of Mormon was translated, in a hill in Manchester, Ontario County New York, being dead; and raised again therefrom, appeared unto me, and told me where they were; and gave me directions how to obtain them. I obtained them, and the Urim and Thummim with them; by the means of which, I translated the plates; and thus came the book of Mormon.
(Joseph Smith, Elders’ Journal 1 (July 1838): 42-43, The Joseph Smith Papers, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/elders-journal-july-1838/10.)
1839-1841 (Joseph Smith history ~June 1839–~1841)
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. He also said that the fullness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it as delivered by the Saviour to the ancient inhabitants. Also that there were two stones in silver bows and these put into a breast plate
which constituted what is called the Urim & Thummin deposited with the plates, and that was what constituted seers in ancient or former times and that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating the book. . .
Again he told me that when I got those plates of which he had spoken (for the time that they should be obtained was not yet fulfilled) I should not show them to any person, neither the breastplate with the Urim and Thummin only to those to whom I should be commanded to show them, If I did I should be destroyed. While he was conversing with me about the plates the vision was opened to my mind that I could see the place where the plates were deposited and that so clearly and distinctly that I knew the place again when I visited it.
I left the field and went to the place where the messenger had told me the plates were deposited, and owing to the distinctness of the vision which I had had concerning it, I knew the place the instant that I arrived there.* Under a
stound stone of considerable size, lay the plates deposited in a stone box, This stone was thick and rounding in the middle on the upper side, and thinner towards the edges, so that the middle part of it was visible above the ground, but the edge all round was covered with earth. Having removed the earth off the edge of the stone, and obtained a lever which I got fixed under the edge of the stone, and with a little exertion raised it up, I looked in and there indeed did I behold the plates, the Urim and Thummin and the Breastplate as stated by the messenger
At length the time arrived for obtaining the plates, the Urim and Thummin and the breastplate, In On the twenty second day of September, One thousand Eight hundred and twenty seven, having went as usual at the end of another year to the place where they were deposited, the same heavenly messenger delivered them up to me with this charge that I should be responsible for them. That if I should let them go carelessly or through any neglect of mine I should be cut off, but that if I would use all my endeavours to preserve them untill he (the messenger) should call for them, they should be protected. . .
. . . immediately after my arrival there [Pennsylvania] I commenced copying the characters of the plates. I copyed a considerable number of them and by means of the Urim and Thummin I translated some of them which I did between the time I arrived at the house of my wife’s father in the month of December, and the February following. Some time in this month of February the aforementioned Mr Martin Harris came to our place, got the characters which I had drawn off of the plates and started with them to the City of New York. For what took place relative to him and the characters I refer to his own account of the circumstances as he related them to me . . .
Mr Harris having returned from this tour he left me and went home to Palmyra, arranged his affairs, and returned again to my house about the twelfth of April, Eighteen hundred and twenty eight, and commenced writing for me while I translated from the plates, which we continued untill the fourteenth of June following, by which time he had written one hundred and sixteen pages of manuscript on foolscap paper. . .
In the mean time while Martin Harris was gone with the writings, I went to visit my father’s family at Manchester. I continued there for a short season and then returned to my place in Pensylvania. Immediately after my return home I was walking out a little distance, when Behold the former heavenly messenger appeared and handed to me the Urim and Thummin again (for it had been taken from me in consequence of my having wearied the Lord in asking for the privilege of letting Martin Harris take the writings which he lost by transgression) and I enquired of the Lord through them and obtained the folowing revelation. . .
After I had obtained the above revelation, both the plates, and the Urim and Thummin were taken from me again, but in a few days they were returned to me.*** when I enquired of the Lord, and the Lord said thus unto me *** I did not however go immediately to translating, but went to laboring with my hands upon a small farm . . .
Two days after the arrival of Mr Cowdery (being the seventh of April) I commenced to translate the book of Mormon and he commenced to write for me, which having continued for some time I enquired of the Lord through the Urim and Thummin and obtained the following revelation. . .
During the month of April I continued to translate, and he to write with little cessation, during which time we received several revelations. . . .
Whilst continuing the work of translation during the month of April; Oliver Cowdery became exceedingly anxious to have the power to translate bestowed upon him and in relation to this desire the folowing revelations [Doctrine and Covenants 8 & 9] were obtained. . . .
We still continued the work of translation, when in the ensuing month (May, Eighteen hundred and twenty nine) we on a certain day went into the woods to pray and inquire of the Lord respecting baptism for the remission of sins as we found mentioned in the translation of the plates. . . .
We had been threatened with being mobbed, from time to time, and this too by professors of religion, and their intentions of mobbing us, were only counteracted by the influence of my wife’s father’s family (under Divine Providence) who had became very friendly to me and were opposed to mobs; and were willing that I should be allowed to continue the work of translation without interruption: . . .
We also showed him [Samuel H. Smith, brother of the Prophet] that part of the work which we had translated, and labored to persuade him concerning the Gospel of Jesus Christ which was now about to be revealed in it’s fulness. . . .
Mr Joseph Knight Senr. of Colesville, Broom County, Penn; who having heard of the manner in which we were occupying our time, very kindly and considerately brought us, a quantity of provisions, in order that we might not be interrupted in the work of translation, by the want of such necessaries of life . . .
David Whitmer came to the place where we were residing . . . for the purpose of having us accompany him to his father’s place and there remain untill we should finish the work. He proposed that we should have our board free of charge, and the assistance of one of his brothers to write for me, as also his own assistance when convenient. . . . we accepted the invitation and accompanied Mr Whitmer to his father’s house, and there resided untill the translation was finished . . .
Upon our arrival, we found Mr Whitmer’s family very anxious concerning the work, and very friendly towards ourselves. They continued so, boarded and lodged us according to proposal, and John Whitmer, in particular, assisted us very much in writing during the remainder of the work. . . .
In th course of the work of translation, we ascertained that three special witnesses were to be provided by the Lord, to whom he would grant, that they should see the plates from which this work (the Book of Mormon) should be translated, and that these witnesses should bear record of the same; as will be found, recorded, Book of Mormon . . .
Almost immediately after we had made this discovery, it occurred to Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and the aforementioned Martin Harris (who had came to enquire after our progress in the work) that they would have me enquire of the Lord, to know if they might not obtain of him to be these three special witnesses; and finally they became so very solicitous, and teazed me so much, that at length I complied, and through the Urim and Thummin, I obtained of the Lord for them the folowing Revelation. . . . Given previous to their viewing the plates containing the Book of Mormon. . . .
. . . an angel stood before us; in his hands he held the plates which we had been praying for these to have a view of: he turned over the leaves one by one, so that we could see them, and discern the engravings thereon distinctly . . .
. . . we heard a voice from out of the bright light above us, saying “These plates have been revealed by the power of God, and they have been translated by the power of God; the translation of them which you have seen is correct, and I command you to bear record of what you now see and hear”. . . . it now remained for these three individuals to fulfil the commandment which they had received, viz: to bear record of these things; . . .
Mean time we continued to translate, at intervals, when not necessitated to attend to the numerous enquirers, that now began to visit us; some for the sake of finding the truth, others for the purpose of putting hard questions, and trying to confound us, among the latter class, were several learned Priests who generally came for the purpose of disputation: . . .
Mean time our translation drawing to a close, we went to Palmyra, Wayne County, N. Y: Secured the Copyright; and agreed with Mr Egbert Grandon to print five thousand Copies, for the sum of three thousand dollars.
I wish also to mention here, that the Title Page of the Book of Mormon is a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand side of the collection or book of plates, which contained the record which has been translated; and the language of the whole running same as all Hebrew writing in general; and that, said Title Page is not by any means a modern composition either of mine or of any other man’s who has lived or does live in this generation. Therefore, in order to correct an error which generally exists concerning it, I give below that part of the Title Page of the English Version of the Book of Mormon, which is a genuine and literal translation of the Title Page of the Original Book of Mormon, as recorded on the plates.
(Joseph Smith History, circa June 1839–circa 1841 [Draft 2], 5-34, The Joseph Smith Papers, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-circa-june-1839-circa-1841-draft-2/5.)
1842 (Joseph Smith in the Times and Seasons)
I was informed [by Moroni] that I was chosen to be an instrument in the hands of God to bring about some of his purposes in this glorious dispensation.
I was also informed concerning the aboriginal inhabitants of this country, and shown who they were, and from whence they came; a brief sketch of their origin, progress, civilization, laws, governments, of their righteousness and iniquity, and the blessings of God being finally withdrawn from them as a people was made known unto me: I was also told where there was deposited some plates on which were engraven an abridgement of the records of the ancient prophets that had existed on this continent. The angel appeared to me three times the same night and unfolded the same things. After having received many visits from the angels of God unfolding the majesty, and glory of the events that should transpire in the last days, on the morning of the 22d of September A. D. 1827, the angel of the Lord delivered the records into my hands.
These records were engraven on plates which had the appearance of gold, each plate was six inches wide and eight inches long and not quite so thick as common tin. They were filled with engravings, in Egyptian characters and bound together in a volume, as the leaves of a book with three rings running through the whole. The volume was something near six inches in thickness, a part of which was sealed. The characters on the unsealed part were small, and beautifully engraved. The whole book exhibited many marks of antiquity in its construction and much skill in the art of engraving. With the records was found a curious instrument which the ancients called “Urim and Thummim,” which consisted of two transparent stones set in the rim of a bow fastened to a breastplate.
Through the medium of the Urim and Thummim I translated the record by the gift, and power of God.
In this important and interesting book the history of ancient America is unfolded, from its first settlement by a colony that came from the tower of Babel, at the confusion of languages to the beginning of the fifth century of the Christian era. We are informed by these records that America in ancient times has been inhabited by two distinct races of people. The first were called Jaredites and came directly from the tower of Babel. The second race came directly from the city of Jerusalem, about six hundred years before Christ. They were principally Israelites, of the descendants of Joseph. The Jaredites were destroyed about the time that the Israelites came from Jerusalem, who succeeded them in the inheritance of the country. The principal nation of the second race fell in battle towards the close of the fourth century. The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country. This book also tells us that our Saviour made his appearance upon this continent after his resurrection, that he planted the gospel here in all its fulness, and richness, and power, and blessing; that they had apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers and evangelists; the same order, the same priesthood, the same ordinances, gifts, powers, and blessing, as was enjoyed on the eastern continent, that the people were cut off in consequence of their transgressions, that the last of their prophets who existed among them was commanded to write an abridgement of their prophesies, history &c., and to hide it up in the earth, and that it should come forth and be united with the bible for the accomplishment of the purposes of God in the last days. For a more particular account I would refer to the Book of Mormon, which can be purchased at Nauvoo, or from any of our travelling elders.
As soon as the news of this discovery was made known, false reports, misrepresentation and slander flew as on the wings of the wind in every direction, the house was frequently beset by mobs, and evil designing persons, several times I was shot at, and very narrowly escaped, and every device was made use of to get the plates away from me, but the power and blessing of God attended me, and several began to believe my testimony.
(Joseph Smith, “Church History,” Times and Seasons 3, (March 1, 1842): 707, The Joseph Smith Papers, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/times-and-seasons-1-march-1842/5.)
1843 (Joseph Smith’s letter to the Times and Seasons editor)
To the EDITOR of the TIMES & SEASONS.
Sir:—Through the medium of your paper, I wish to correct an error among men that profess to be learned, liberal and wise; and I do it the more cheerfully, because I hope sober-thinking and sound-reasoning people will sooner listen to the voice of truth, than be led astray by the vain pretentions of the self-wise. The error I speak of, is the definition of the word “MORMON.” It has been stated that this word 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, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech; and if our plates had been sufficiently large, we should have written in Hebrew: but the Hebrew hath been altered by us, also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold ye would have had no imperfection in our record, but the Lord knoweth the things which we have written, and also, that none other people knoweth our language; therefore he hath prepared means for the interpretation thereof.”
Here then the subject is put to silence, for “none other people knoweth our language,” therefore the Lord, and not man, had to interpret, after the people were all dead.
And, as Paul said, “the world by wisdom know not God,” so the world by speculation are destitute of revelation; and as God in his superior wisdom, has always given his saints, wherever he had any on the earth, the same spirit, and that spirit, as John says, is the true spirit of prophecy, which is the testimony of Jesus, I may safely say that the word Mormon stands independent of the learning and wisdom of this generation.— Before I give a definition, however, to the word, let me say that the Bible in its widest sense, means good; for the Savior says accoding 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 MORMON; which means, literally, more good.
(Joseph Smith, “Correspondence,” Times and Seasons, (May 15, 1843): 194, The Joseph Smith Papers, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/letter-to-editor-circa-15-may-1843/1.)
1843 (Joseph Smith letter to James Arlington Bennet)
The boldness of my plans and measures, can readily be tested by the touch-stone of all schemes, systems, projects, and adventures,— truth, for truth is a matter of fact— and the fact is, that by the power of God I translated the book of Mormon from hierogliphics; the knowledge of which was lost to the world. In which wonderful event, I stood alone, an unlearned youth, to combat the wordly wisdom and multiplied ignorance of eighteen centuries. with a new revelation; which, (if they would receive it) (the everlasting gospel) would open the eyes of more than eight hundred millions of people, and make plain the “old paths,” wherein if a man walk in all the ordinances of God blameless, he shall inherit eternal life: And Jesus Christ, who was, and is, and is to come, has borne me safely over every snare and plan laid in secret, or openly, through priestly hypocrisy, sectarian prejudice, popular philosphy, executive power, or law defying mobocracy, to destory me.
(Joseph Smith to James Arlington Bennet, 13 November 1843, The Joseph Smith Papers, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/letter-to-james-arlington-bennet-13-november-1843/2.)
Joseph Smith accounts identified by him as revelations
May 1829 (as printed in the 1844 Doctrine and Covenants)
Revelation given to Joseph Smith, jr. May, 1829, informing him of the alteration of the Manuscript of the fore part of the book of Mormon.
1 Now, behold I say unto you, that because you delivered up those writings which you had power given unto you to translate, by the means of the Urim and Thummim,5 into the hands of a wicked man, you have lost them; and you also lost your gift at the same time, and your mind became darkened; nevertheless, it is now restored unto you again, therefore see that you are faithful and continue on unto the finishing of the remainder of the work of translation as you have begun: do not run faster, or labor more than you have strength and means provided to enable you to translate; be diligent unto the end: pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer satan and that you may escape the hands of the servants of satan, that do uphold his work. Behold, they have sought to destroy you; yea, even the man in whom you have trusted, has sought to destroy you. And for this cause I said, that he is a wicked man, for he has sought to take away the things wherewith you have been intrusted; and he has also sought to destroy your gift, and because you have delivered the writings into his hands, behold wicked men have taken them from you: therefore, you have delivered them up; yea, that which was sacred unto wickedness. And behold satan has put it into their hearts to alter the words which you have caused to be written, or which you have translated, which have gone out of your hands: and behold I say unto you, that because they have altered the words, they read contrary from that which you translated and caused to be written; and on this wise the devil has sought to lay a cunning plan, that he may destroy this work: for he has put into their hearts to do this, that by lying they may say they have caught you in the words which you have pretended to translate.
2 Verily I say unto you, that I will not suffer that satan shall accomplish his evil design in this thing, for behold he has put it into their hearts to get thee to tempt the Lord thy God, in asking to translate it over again; and then behold they say and think in their hearts, we will see if God has given him power to translate, if so, he will also give him power again; and if God giveth him power again, or if he translates again, or in other words, if he bringeth forth the same words, behold we have the same with us, and we have altered them: therefore, they will not agree, and we will say that he has lied in his words, and that he has no gift, and that he has no power: therefore, we will destroy him, and also the work, and we will do this that we may not be ashamed in the end, and that we may get glory of the world.
3 Verily, verily I say unto you, that satan has great hold upon their hearts; he stirreth them up to iniquity against that which is good, and their hearts are corrupt, and full of wickedness and abominations, and they love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil: therefore they will not ask of me. Satan stirreth them up, that he may lead their souls to destruction. And thus he has laid a cunning plan, thinking to destroy the work of God, but I will require this at their hands, and it shall turn to their shame and condemnation in the day of judgment; yea, he stirreth up their hearts to anger against this work; yea, he saith unto them, deceive and lie in wait to catch, that ye may destroy: behold this is no harm, and thus he flattereth them, and telleth them that it is no sin to lie, that they may catch a man in a lie, that they may destroy him, and thus he flattereth them, and leadeth them along until he draggeth their souls down to hell; and thus he causeth them to catch themselves in their own snare; and thus he goeth up and down, to and fro in the earth, seeking to destroy the souls of men.
4 Verily, verily I say unto you, wo be unto him that lieth to decieve, because he supposes that another lieth to deceive, for such are not exempt from the justice of God.
5 Now, behold they have altered these words, because satan saith unto them, He hath deceived you: and thus he flattereth them away to iniquity, to get thee to tempt the Lord thy God.
6 Behold I say unto you, that you shall not translate again those words which have gone forth out of your hands; for behold they shall not accomplish their evil designs in lying against those words. For, behold, if you should bring forth the same words they will say that you have lied; that you have pretended to translate, but that you have contradicted yourself: and behold they will publish this, and satan will harden the hearts of the people to stir them up to anger against you, that they will not believe my words. Thus satan thinketh to overpower your testimony in this generation, that the work may not come forth in this generation: but behold here is wisdom, and because I show unto you wisdom, and give you commandments concerning these things, what you shall do, show it not unto the world until you have accomplished the work of translation.
7 Marvel not that I said unto you, here is wisdom, show it not unto the world, for I said, show it not unto the world, that you may be preserved. Behold I do not say that you shall not show it unto the righteous; but as you cannot always judge the righteous, or as you cannot always tell the wicked from the righteous: therefore, I say unto you, hold your peace until I shall see fit to make all things known unto the world concerning the matter.
8 And now, verily I say unto you, that an account of those things that you have written, which have gone out of your hands, are engraven upon the plates of Nephi; yea, and you remember, it was said in those writings, that a more particular account was given of these things upon the plates of Nephi.
9 And now, because the account which is engraven upon the plates of Nephi, is more particular concerning the things, which in my wisdom I would bring to the knowledge of the people in this account: therefore, you shall translate the engravings which are on the plates of Nephi, down even till you come to the reign of king Benjamin, or until you come to that which you have translated, which you have retained; and behold, you shall publish it as the record of Nephi, and thus I will confound those who have altered my words. I will not suffer that they shall destroy my work; yea, I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil.
10 Behold they have only got a part, or an abridgment of the account of Nephi. Behold there are many things engraven on the plates of Nephi, which do throw greater views upon my gospel: therefore, it is wisdom in me, that you should translate this first part of the engravings of Nephi, and send forth in this work. And behold, all the remainder of this work, does contain all those parts of my gospel which my holy prophets; yea, and also my disciples desired in their prayers, should come forth unto this people. And I said unto them, that it should be granted unto them according to their faith in their prayers; yea, and this was their faith, that my gospel which I gave unto them, that they might preach in their days, might come unto their brethren, the Lamanites, and also, all that had become Lamanites, because of their dissensions.
11 Now this is not all, their faith in their prayers were, that this gospel should be made known also, if it were possible that other nations should possess this land; and thus they did leave a blessing upon this land in their prayers, that whosoever should believe in this gospel, in this land, might have eternal life;—yea, that it might be free unto all of whatsoever nation, kindred, tongue, or people, they may be.
12 And now, behold, according to their faith in their prayers, will I bring this part of my gospel to the knowledge of my people.— Behold, I do not bring it to destroy that which they have received, but to build it up.
13 And for this cause have I said, if this generation harden not their hearts I will establish my church among them. Now I do not say this to destroy my church, but I say this to build up my church; therefore, whosoever belongeth to my church need not fear, for such shall inherit the kingdom of heaven: but it is they who do not fear me, neither keep my commandments, but buildeth up churches unto themselves, to get gain; yea, and all those that do wickedly, and buildeth up the kingdom of the devil; yea, verily, verily I say unto you, that it is they that I will disturb, and cause to tremble and shake to the centre.
14 Behold I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God: I came unto my own, and my own received me not. I am the light which shineth in darkness, and the darkness compreheneth [sic] it not. I am he who said other sheep have I which are not of this fold, unto my disciples, and many there were that understood me not.
15 And I will show unto this people, that I had other sheep, and that they were a branch of the house of Jacob: and I will bring to light their marvelous works, which they did in my name: yea, and I will also bring to light my gospel, which was ministered unto them, and behold they shall not deny that which you have received, but they shall build it up, and shall bring to light the true points of my doctrine: yea, and the only doctrine which is in me, and this I do, that I may establish my gospel, that there may not be so much contention: yea, satan doth stir up the hearts of the people to contention, concerning the points of my doctrine; and in these things they do err, for they do wrest the scriptures, and do not understand them: therefore, I will unfold unto them this great mystery, for behold, I will gather them as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if they will not harden their hearts; yea, if they will come, they may, and partake of the waters of life freely.
16 Behold this is my doctrine: whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church, whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me: therefore he is not of my church.
17 And now, behold whosoever is of my church, and endureth of my church to the end, him will I establish upon my Rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
18 And now, remember the words of him who is the life and the light of the world, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God: Amen.
Revelation, March 1829 [D&C 5], Joseph Smith Papers, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-march-1829-dc-5/3.
Behold I say unto you that my servant hath desired A witness that my Servant Joseph hath got the things which he hath testified that he hath got and now Behold thus shall ye say unto him I the Lord am God I have given these things unto him & I have commanded him that he should stand as A witness of these things nevertheless I have caused him that he should enter into A covenant with me that he should not show them except I Command him & he hath no power over them e[x]cept I grant it unto him & he hath A gift to translate the Book3 & I have commanded him that he should shall pretend to no other gift for I will grant unto him no other gift and verily I say unto you that woe shall come unto the Inhabitents of the Earth if they will not hearken unto my words for Behold if they will not believe my words they would not believe my servants if it were possible he could show them all things O ye unbelieving ye stiffnecked Generation Behold I have reserved the things which have been spoken of which I have entrusted to my servant for A wise perpose in me & it shall be made Known unto future Generations but for this Generation they shall have my word yea & the testimony of three of my Servants shall go forth with my word unto this Generation yea three shall Know of A surety that those things are true for I will give them power that they may Behold & vew these things as they are4 & to none else will I grant this power among this Generation5 & the testimony of three Witnesses will I send forth6 & my word & behold whosoever beleaveth in my word him will I visit with the manifestations of my spirit & they shall be Born of me & their testimony shall also go forth & thus if the People of this Generation harden not their hearts I will work a reformation among them & I will put down all lieings & deceivings & Priest Craft & envyings & strifes & Idolatries and sorceries7 & all maner of Iniquities & I will establish my Church yea even the church which was taught by my Desiples8 & now if this Generation do hardon their hearts against my words Behold I deliver them up unto Satan for he reigneth & hath much Power at this time for he that hath hath got great hold upon the hearts of the People of this Generation & how far from the iniquities of Sodom and Gomorrah do they come at this time & Behold the Swoard of Justice doth hang above their heads & if they persist in the hardness of ther hearts the time cometh that it must fall upon them Behold I tell you these things even as I also told the People of the destruction of Jerusalem9 & my word shall be verrified at this time as it hath hitherto been verrified & now I command my Servant Joseph that he repenteth & walketh more uprightly before me & yield to the perswations of men no more & that he be firm in Keeping the commandments which I have commanded him10 & if he do this Behold I grant unto him Eternal life even if he should be slain. And now I speak again concerning the the man that desireeth the Witness11 Behold I say unto him if he exalteth himself & doth not humble himself sufficiently before me I will grant unto him no such vews but if he will go out & bow down before me & humble himself in mighty prayer & faith in the sincerity of his heart then will I grant unto him a vew of the things which he desireth to vew then shall he say unto the People of this Generation Behold I have seen the things & I know of a surety that they are true for I have seen them & they have been shone unto me by the Power of God12 & I command him that he say no more except I have seen them & they have been shone unto me by the Power of God13 & these are the words which he shall say but if he deny this he shall brake the covenant which he hath covenanted with me & Behold he is condemned & now except he humble himself & acknowledge unto me the things which he hath done that is wrong & covenant with me that he will Keep my commandments & exercise faith in me Behold I say unto him he shall have no such vews for I will grant unto him no such vews of which I have spoken & if this be the case I command him that he shall do no more nor trouble me no more Concerning this matter & if this be the case Behold I say unto you Joseph when thou hast translated a few more pages & then shalt thou stop for a season even untill I command thee again. then thou mayest translate & excep thou do this Behold thou shalt have no more gift & I will take away the things which I have entrusted with thee14 & now because I foresee the lieing in wait to destroy thee yea I foresee that if my Servant humbleth not himself & receive a witness from my hand that he will fall into transgression & there are many that lie in wait to destroy thee off the face of the Earth & for this cause that thy Days may be prolounged I have given unto you these Commandments Yea for this Cause have I said stop & stand still untill I Command thee & I will provide means whereby thou mayest Accomplish the thing I have Commanded thee15 & if thou art faithful in Keeping my Commandments ye shall be lifted up at the last Day
April 1829 (as printed in the 1844 Doctrine and Covenants)
Revelation given April, 1829, to Oliver Cowdery, and Joseph Smith, jr.
1 A great and marvelous work is about to come forth unto the children of men: behold I am God, and give heed unto my word, which is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, to the dividing asunder of both joints and marrow: Therefore give heed unto my words.
2 Behold the field is white already to harvest, therefore whoso desireth to reap, let him thurst in his sickle with his might, and reap while the day lasts, that he may treasure up for his soul everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God: Yea, whosoever will thurst [thrust] in his sickle and reap, the same is called of God; therefore, if you will ask of me you shall receive; if you will knock it shall be opened unto you.
3 Now as you have asked, behold I say unto you, keep my commandments, and seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion: seek not for riches but for wisdom, and behold the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, and then shall you be made rich. Behold he that hath eternal life is rich.
4 Verily, verily I say unto you, even as you desire of me, so shall it be unto you; and if you desire, you shall be the means of doing much good in this generation. Say nothing but repentance unto this generation: keep my commandments, and assist to bring forth my work according to my commandments, and you shall be blessed.
5 Behold thou hast a gift, and blessed art thou because of thy gift. Remember it is sacred and cometh from above: and if thou wilt inquire, thou shalt know mysteries which are great and marvelous; therefore thou shalt exercise thy gift, that thou mayest find out mysteries, that thou mayest bring many to the knowledge of the truth; yea, convince them of the error of their ways. Make not thy gift known unto any, save it be those who are of thy faith. Trifle not with sacred things. If thou wilt do good, yea, and hold out faithful to the end, thou shalt be saved in the kingdom of God, which is the greatest of all the gifts of God; for there is no gift greater than the gift of salvation.
6 Verily, verily I say unto thee, blessed art thou for what thou hast done, for thou hast inquired of me, and behold as often as thou hast inquired, thou hast received instruction of my Spirit. If it had not been so, thou wouldst not have come to the place where thou art at this time.
7 Behold thou knowest that thou hast inquired of me, and I did enlighten thy mind; and now I tell thee these things, that thou mayest know that thou hast been enlightened by the Spirit of truth; yea, I tell thee, that thou mayest know that there is none else save God, that knowest thy thoughts and the intents of thy heart: I tell thee these things as a witness unto thee, that the words or the work which thou hast been writing is true.
8 Therefore be diligent, stand by my servant Joseph faithfully in whatsoever difficult circumstances he may be, for the word’s sake. Admonish him in his faults and also receive admonition of him. Be patient; be sober; be temperate: have patience, faith, hope and charity.
9 Behold thou art Oliver, and I have spoken unto thee because of thy desires; therefore, treasure up these words in thy heart. Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love.
10 Behold I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I am the same that came unto my own and my own received me not. I am the light which shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.
11 Verily, verily I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things; did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God? And now, behold you have received a witness, for if I have told you things which no man knoweth, have you not received a witness? And behold I grant unto you a gift, if you desire of me, to translate even as my servant Joseph.
12 Verily, verily I say unto you, that there are records which contain much of my gospel, which have been kept back because of the wickedness of the people; and now I command you, that if you have good desires, a desire to lay up treasures for yourself in heaven, then shall you assist in bringing to light, with your gift, those parts of my scriptures which have been hidden because of iniquity.
13 And now, behold I give unto you, and also unto my servant Joseph, the keys of this gift, which shall bring to light this ministry; and in the mouth of two or three witnesses, shall every word be established.
14 Verily, verily I say unto you, if they reject my words, and this part of my gospel and ministry, blessed are ye, for they can do no more unto you than unto me; and if they do unto you, even as they have done unto me, blessed are ye, for you shall dwell with me in glory: but if they reject not my words, which shall be established by the testimony which shall be given, blessed are they; and then shall ye have joy in the fruit of your labors.
15 Verily, verily I say unto you, as I said unto my disciples, where two or three are gathered together in my name, as touching one thing, behold there will I be in the midst of them: even so am I in the midst of you.— Fear not to do good my sons, for whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap: therefore, if ye sow good, ye shall also reap good for your reward:
16 Therefore fear not little flock, do good, let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my Rock, they cannot prevail. Behold I do not condemn you, go your ways and sin no more: perform with soberness the work which I have commanded you; look unto me in every thought, doubt not, fear not: behold the wounds which pierced my side, and also the prints of the nails in my hands and feet: be faithful; keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdom of heaven: Amen.
April 1829 (as printed in the 1844 Doctrine and Covenants)
Revelation given to Oliver Cowdery, April, 1829.
1 Behold I say unto you, my son, that because you did not translate according to that which you desired of me, and did commence again to write for my servant Joseph Smith, jr. even so I would that you should continue until you have finished this record, which I have intrusted unto him: and then behold, other records have I, that I will give unto you power that you may assist to translate.
2 Be patient my son, for it is wisdom in me, and it is not expedient that you should translate at this present time. Behold the work which you are called to do, is to write for my servant Joseph; and behold it is because that you did not continue as you commenced, when you began to translate, that I have taken away this privilege from you. Do not murmur my son, for it is wisdom in me that I have dealt with you after this manner.
3 Behold you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought, save it was to ask me; but behold I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right, I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right: but if it be not right, you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought, that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong: therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred, save it be given you from me.
4 Now if you had known this, you could have translated; nevertheless, it is not expedient that you should translate now. Behold it was expedient when you commenced, but you feared and the time is past, and it is not expedient now: for, do you not behold that I have given unto my servant Joseph sufficient strength, whereby it is made up? and neither of you have I condemned.
5 Do this thing which I have commanded you, and you shall prosper. Be faithful, and yield to no temptation. Stand fast in the work wherewith I have called you, and a hair of your head shall not be lost, and you shall be lifted up at the last day: Amen.
Secondhand Statement Compilation
1831, Oliver Cowdery
Br. Hyrum Smith said that he thought best that the information of the coming forth of the book of Mormon be related by Joseph himself to the Elders present that all might know for themselves.
Br. Joseph Smith jr. said that it was not intended to tell the world all the particulars of the coming forth of the book of Mormon, & also said that it was not expedient for him to relate these things &c.
Minute Book 2, 25 October 1831, 13, The Joseph Smith Papers, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/minutes-25-26-october-1831/4.
1840, Matthew L. Davis
Throughout his [Joseph Smith’s] whole address he displayed strongly, a Spirit of Charity and Forbearance— The Mormon Bible, he said, was communicated to him direct from Heaven. If there was such a thing on Earth, as the author of it, then he (Smith) was the author; but the idea that he wished to impress was, that he had penned it, as dictated by God. I have taken some pains to explain this man’s belief, as he himself explained it, I have done so, because, it might satisfy your curiosity, and might be interesting to you, and some of your friends. I have changed my opinion of the Mormons. They are an injured and much abused people.
Joseph Smith History, vol. C-1, 6 February 1840, 1015, The Joseph Smith Papers,
1842, Reverend George Moore
. . . Called on the “Prophet Jo [Joseph] Smith.” His carriage was at the door and he was about going away, but he received me very kindly, asked me into his house. I remained about 10 minutes. He was very communicative. We conversed about the golden plates, which he professes to have dug up and translated into the Book of Mormon. “Those plates are not now in this country,” he said—”they were exhibited to a few at first for the sake of obtaining their testimony—no others have ever seen them—and they will never again be exhibited.” He showed me some specimens of the hieroglyphics, such as, he says, were on the gold plates. He asked me if I was a Clergyman—and of what denomination—and what were the fundamental doctrines of our faith—on my telling him that we believed in divine Unity—in one God in one person—he said, we don’t agree with you there. We believe in three Gods, equal in power and glory. There are three personages in heaven, but those three are not one. I suppose, from what I hear, that Smith makes it a point not to agree with any one in regard to his religious opinions, and adapts himself to the person with whom he talks for the time being . . . He expressed a desire to have a long conversation with me, but he had an engagement, and I was soon going away, so that we could not have much conversation. Our interview was short, but pleasant. . . . At Nauvoo, they have what is called a “peep stone,” and two boys, who are believed to have the power of looking into this stone, and seeing what people are doing at a distance, and of such implicit faith in this, that they go to see the peep-stone boys as soon as they lose any thing. But I hear that Joe [Joseph] Smith gives no countenance to this superstition.”
Diary, pp. 105-106.] [Diary, p. 179.]
Donald Q. Cannon, “Reverend George Moore Comments on Nauvoo, the Mormons, and Joseph Smith,” Western Illinois Regional Studies 5 (1978): 10-11, https://archive.org/details/westernillinoisr51west/page/n5.
1839, Parley P. Pratt
(published in 1874)
While visiting with brother Joseph in Philadelphia, a very large church was opened for him to preach in, and about three thousand people assembled to hear him. Brother Rigdon spoke first, and dwelt on the Gospel, illustrating his doctrine by the Bible. When he was through, brother Joseph arose like a lion about to roar; and being full of the Holy Ghost, spoke in great power, bearing testimony of the visions he had seen, the ministering of angels which he had enjoyed; and how he had found the plates of the Book of Mormon, and translated them by the gift and power of God. He commenced by saying: “If nobody else had the courage to testify of so glorious a message from Heaven, and of the finding of so glorious a record, he felt to do it in justice to the people, and leave the event with God.”
The entire congregation was astounded; electrified, as it were, and overwhelmed with the sense of the truth and power by which he spoke, and the wonders which he related. A lasting impression was made; many souls were gathered into the fold. And I bear witness, that he, by his faithful and powerful testimony, cleared his garments of their blood. Multitudes were baptized in Philadelphia and in the regions around; while, at the same time, branches were springing up in Pennsylvania, in Jersey, and in various directions.
(Autiobiography of Parley P. Pratt, pg. 330-331)
1835, Joseph Curtis
In the spring of 1835 Joseph smith in Company with his father & mother & some others came to Michigan & paid us a visit—in a meeting stated the reason why he preached the doctrine he did I will state a few things according to my memory—as a revival of some of the secs was going on some of his fathers family joined in with the revival himself being quite young he feeling anxiety to be religious his mind somewhat troubled this scripture came to his mind which sayes if a man lack wisdom let him ask of god who giveth liberaly and upbradeth not believeing it he went with a determinati to obtain to enquire of the lord himself after some strugle the Lord manifested to him that the different sects were [w]rong also that the Lord had a great work for him to do—it worried his mind—he told his father—his father told him to do as the Lord manifested—had other manifestations
saw an angel with a view of the hill cumorah & the plates of gold had certain instructions got the plates & by the assistance of the Urim & Thumim translated them by the gift & power of God
also stated he done nothing more than he was commanded to do & for this his name was cast out as evil for this he was persecuted
Joseph Curtis, 1818-1883, Joseph Curtis reminiscences and diary, https://catalog.lds.org/assets/24463061-0287-4460-8a45-62d078b75991/0/10.
1844, Addison Everett (recorded in 1882)
Joseph Smith, recollections of Addison Everett (Letter to Joseph F. Smith, 1882)
Dearly Beloved Brother J F Smith I hasten to giv you all the Informaton I am in [posession] of on the subject you call for A few days before Br Joseph & Hiram ware calld to Carthage by Gov. Ford I was passing the Manshon House I observed Br Joseph & Hiram & some five or six Brethren in earnest conversation Before the Door of the House I opened the gate and steped in The first words I heard was Brother Hiram said Wm Law told the Mob at Carthage that the rason He renounced Mormonism was Joseph believed in a plurality of of Gods. & He could never Believ that Doctrine. Brother Joseph replied who tol Him I Believed in A plurality of Gods I Never told Him Why the Poor fool the Holy Ghost told Him. Now brethren fit up our meting plan & I will preach you a Sermon on the subject of a plurality of the gods & I will giv you my Text In advance. You will find it in the first chapter of revelations of St John fifth & sixth verses, Unto Him that hath loved us And Saved us from our sins in His Own Blood & Hath made us unto (Kings and Prist) (unto our) God, and His Father. At this moment and Elder came in through the gate Having Just returned from a preaching Mission & Brother Joseph recivd him very cordialy & He related to Brother Joseph some items of his Mission and said He had seen Br Oliver Cowdry and had a long conversation and He Brother Oliver Bore a faithful Testimony to the Gospel & to the Book of Mormon and Said God Bore witness to Him out of Heaven that the Book of Mormon was Translated correctly. Br Joseph Exresed Greate Symphathy for Br Oliver saying Poor Boy Poor Boy casting his eyes to the ground. And then Said as they Ware Translating the Book of Mormon at His Father In Laws in Susquhanah County Penny Tey Ware thretned By a Mob And in the same time Father Knights came down from Colevill Broom County New York and Desired them to go home with him and preach to them in his neighbourhood and on Account of the Mob Spirit prevailing they concludid to Go. And they ware teaching And preaching the Gospele they ware taking With a writ and Before a Judge as fals Prophets. And the prossicuting Atorny had concieved in his own Mind That a few Simple qustions would Convince the Court By the Answers Br Joseph would giv to that the charge was Correct so he calls out Jo which was the first Merical Jesus raught Why said Br Joseph we read He Created the worlds And what He done previous to that I have not as yet Learned. This answer completly confounded the Prossicuting Atorny that he requested the Judge to Dismis the case. and went out To Organ the Mob that was on the Out Side. At about this time a Lawyer By the Name of Reede I think was his name came in to the court and Stated He was Mr Smiths Atorney and wished to see him in a Private room And was put in to a Back room and when in he hoisted a window and told Br Joseph & Oliver to flee in to the forest which was close at hand. And they wandered in a dense Forest all Night and often times in Mud and water up to thare Knees. And Brother Oliver got quite exausted in the After Part of the Night and Brother Joseph had to put his arm arround him and allmost carry him. And Just as the day Broke in the East Brother Oliver gave out Entirely and he Br Joseph leaned him against an Oake tree Just out side a field fenc Br Oliver Crying out how long O Lord O how Long Br Joseph hav we got to suffer these things Just this moment Peter James & John came to us and Ordained to us to the Holy Apostelship and gave unto us the Keys of the Dispensation of the fullness of times. And we had some 16 or 17 miles to goe to reach our place of residence and Brother Oliver could travel as well as I could after the Endowment. Now as to time and Place. I heard the Name of the Banks of the Susquehanah river spoken of But whare it was plaed I cannot till. No doubt the Oake tree and the field fence was ajacent to the river. As to time I cannot Be Very Explsit. But as the Mob spirit had not abated when they returned they had to remove to Father Whitmores to finish the Translation. I should judge it to be the Latter part of August.
it will now be in place to record the Prophets testimony on the book of mormon it ocured at a public meeting of the saints near the temple, for the walls of that building were not yet erected, he saide that he had acomplished that, which the world could never rob him off, the Church of Christ was established never more to be cast down or overcome or the authority given to another people, and said he I did translate the book of Mormon by the gift and power of god, and it is before the world, and all the powers of earth and hell can never rob me of the honour of it, and I now bear this testimony to you my bretheren and sisters of this fact, and on another ocation I heard him say at a public meeting in the Temple for on the saboths the meetings were held within its walls when as yet the building was no inclosed neither had the walls reached their with he spoke of the angel comeing forth as recorded in the revelations of saint John on the Ile of patmmus which reads as follows, and I john saw another angel flying threw the midst of heaven haveing the everlast gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth and to every nation kindred tonge and people crying saying with a loud voice fear god, and give glory to him, and worship him, that made heaven the earth and the sea and the fountains of water, the Prophet saide this was the angel that did apear unto him and commishoned him to preach the gospel as it is now preached by the Elders of this Church and must be carried to all the world, his was a divine mishon that god would hounour, and he wished the saints to understand this, and to be firm, and know most ashuredly that this was so yes verily so, this was a testemony that I was glad to ear it was given in such a kind manner, and with such force and power that it seemed to me no man could resist disbelieve such an independent and powerful statement, as he made that day and the spirit of god, seemed to carry his words home deep into the hearts of the people, and it might be consistantly sade that all present believed him, for they manifested by signs unmistakeable, throuout the entire congregation that such was the fact, and as for my part I had made up my mind never to be absent from Church if posible it could be avoided lest I should loose the golden opertunaty of being instructed in all correct prinsables pertaining to our holy religion as he could teach them for it was unsertain how long he might be permitted to live to benefit the world of mankind, for satans emesaries had allready become quite bold, and saide that he was not fit to live, when at the same time they knew nothing of the excelent qualaties of the man and the feeling of his heart towards all mankind.
James Palmer, 1820-1905, James Palmer reminiscences, https://catalog.lds.org/assets/6f4c7be1-f095-445b-8f97-49e2f6a98b33/0/88.
- Roger Nicholson, “The Spectacles, the Stone, the Hat, and the Book: A Twenty-first Century Believer’s View of the Book of Mormon Translation,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 5 (2013): 125, accessed January 2019, https://www.mormoninterpreter.com/the-spectacles-the-stone-the-hat-and-the-book-a-twenty-first-century-believers-view-of-the-book-of-mormon-translation/; emphasis added.
- FAIR Blog, “How Did Joseph Smith Translate the Book of Mormon?” LDS Living, June 14, 2016, accessed March 2019, http://www.ldsliving.com/How-did-Joseph-Smith-translate-the-Book-of-Mormon-/s/72921; emphasis added.
- “Translation of the Book of Mormon,” MormonThink, accessed February 2019,
http://www.mormonthink.com/transbomweb.htm; emphasis added.
- “Question: How Exactly Did Joseph Smith Translate the Gold Plates?” FAIR
Mormon, accessed August 2018, https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Book_of_
gold_plates.3F; emphasis added.
- The 1833 Book of Commandments version of this account reads, “. . . because you delivered up so many writings, which you had power to translate, into the hands of a wicked man . . .”
Why can’t we just believe the words of Joseph Smith himself? Thank you for compiling Joseph Smith’s own accounts about how he translated the Book of Mormon, so that we have them before us. Obviously he is the only mortal man who knew without question the translation process. Joseph’s accounts clearly validate the six points we know about the translation, presented in this article.
I just finished reading again the book, Seer Stone v. Urim and Thummim: Book of Mormon Translation on Trial. It is very well-written and gives documented evidence proving how absurd it is to believe that Joseph Smith looked at a stone in a hat to translate the Book of Mormon. Everyone needs to read and re-read that exceptional book. For some reason, many have a very inaccurate perception of who Joseph Smith is. It has been wisely said, “We project our own character onto Joseph Smith.” We need to study the Prophet Joseph’s life and teachings in order to gain a true understanding of his greatness, and then maybe we’ll appreciate what he himself wrote about the translation of the Book of Mormon.
I enjoy these articles written by the Joseph Smith Foundation and the simplicity to them with so many resources. I just can’t believe how so many people miss Joseph’s own words when he says he translated using the Jaredite-Nephite Urim and Thummim and NOT a seer stone. The Urim and Thummim and the seer stone are TWO different artifacts- why we keep confusing this is a mystery!
It’s so sad that the Church is producing YouTube videos with this seer stone in the hat concept.