Book of Mormon Translation

Posted by: Andee / Category: ,

I have gone on about the Book of Mormon translation. It's definitely one of my hot topics. As I have mentioned before, I remember seeing paintings in church as a child and young adult of Joseph Smith and his scribe translating the plates. The plates were in plain view of both parties, and they appeared hard at work. Below is a painting I was shown while I was in Young Women's classes. Unfortunately, almost everything about this painting is incorrect, and the church knows it. Why use this painting as a visual aid if you know it's not correct? Isn't that dishonest?

Joseph Smith Painting shown to me as a child.

I would like to take the time to share quotes from people who were eyewitnesses to the dictation of the Book of Mormon. Their stories are very different from the tale I was told in church as a child, and the Mormon church is definitely aware of the evidence. They just do their best to distance themselves from something that seems to be an obvious tall tale... at least in my eyes.

Emma Hale Smith was Joseph's first wife. She was also the first person to help Joseph as his scribe... Emma's testimony of the translation to her son went as follows:

"In writing for your father I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at a table close by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat, with a stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us." History of the RLDS Church, 8 vols. (Independence, Missouri: Herald House, 1951), "Last Testimony of Sister Emma," 3:356.
One of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon was David Whitmer. This is what he shared about the translation:
"I will now give you a description of the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated. Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man." David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ, Richmond, Missouri: n.p., 1887, p. 12
"I, as well as all of my father's family, Smith's wife, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, were present during the translation. . . . He [Joseph Smith] did not use the plates in translation" Interview given to Kansas City Journal, June 5, 1881, reprinted in the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Journal of History, vol. 8, (1910), pp. 299-300.
The plates were not even used? Why in the world was it then necessary for the plates to exist at all? If Joseph Smith had the ability to place a stone in a hat and divinely dictate the Book of Mormon word for word, why the need for the plates? That doesn't add up. Not at all. When I asked a missionary about this, he responded with, "It doesn't matter how the translation occurred. Joseph Smith was a prophet of God." I couldn't disagree more.

In 1826, four years before the publication of the Book of Mormon, Joseph was arrested, jailed, and examined in court in Bainbridge, New York on the charge of being "a disorderly person and an impostor" in connection with his use of a peep stone to search for buried treasure. While the evidence indicates he was found guilty of this charge, the young Joseph was apparently released on the condition that he leave the area.

Wow. Why wasn't I told that either? Because the church knows how bad it looks for them. If members and investigators knew the real story they would be much more likely to stop and think about how much they could trust Joseph Smith. The reason the church doesn't want people to know is because they would lose numbers. If they lose numbers, they lose tithing. No tithing, no money. Just my thoughts on the matter.

Pay. Pray. Obey.