Monday, 10 May 2010

where did the book of mormon come from?

there are 2 different explanations:
1. stone in the hat story
2. translating gold plates

the lds church claims that it is a combination of these 2 although they only teach about the "translating of the golden plates". you will not find any mention of the stone in the hat story in any classroom manuals. the only way i found out about it was reading "anti-mormon" literature. i recently found that the stone in the hat story is only mentioned 2 times in general conference talks in the entire gospel library.

in a talk given by russell nelson called A Treasured Testament he even begins by saying:
The details of this miraculous method of translation are still not fully known.
!!! and even more interesting is that his first example of an account of translation isnt even a translation, but is about joseph smith looking at a stone inside of hat!:
Yet we do have a few precious insights. David Whitmer wrote:

“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, Mo.: n.p., 1887, p. 12.)
i can only wonder what was going on in the minds of church members hearing this for the first time? note that this account was given almost 60 years after the supposed translation.

then nelson goes on to example number 2:
Emma Smith, who acted as an earlier scribe for Joseph, gave this account in 1856:

“When my husband was translating the Book of Mormon, I wrote a part of it, as he dictated each sentence, word for word, and when he came to proper names he could not pronounce, or long words, he spelled them out, and while I was writing them, if I made any mistake in spelling, he would stop me and correct my spelling although it was impossible for him to see how I was writing them down at the time. Even the word Sarah he could not pronounce at first, but had to spell it, and I would pronounce it for him.

“When he stopped for any purpose at any time he would, when he commenced again, begin where he left off without any hesitation, and one time while he was translating he stopped suddenly, pale as a sheet, and said, ‘Emma, did Jerusalem have walls around it?’ When I answered, ‘Yes,’ he replied, ‘Oh! [I didn’t know.] I was afraid I had been deceived.’ He had such a limited knowledge of history at that time that he did not even know that Jerusalem was surrounded by walls.” (Edmund C. Briggs, “A Visit to Nauvoo in 1856,” Journal of History, Jan. 1916, p. 454.)
here are 2 things to note:
* there is absolutely no mention of how joseph was translating. it just says that he was translating; emma smith does not say here: "as joseph read from the gold plates, i wrote a part of it"
* deceived? by who, god? did he think he had been deceived while "translating" by the "power of god"? this leads one to believe that joseph was using divination to create the book of mormon with the help of some unknown entity/spirit who he didnt know whether or not he could trust.

then nelson shares this example:
On another occasion, Emma Smith recorded:
“The plates often lay on the table without any attempt at concealment, wrapped in a small linen tablecloth, which I had given him to fold them in. I once felt of the plates as they thus lay on the table, tracing their outline and shape. They seemed to be pliable like thick paper, and would rustle with a metallic sound when the edges were moved by the thumb, as one does sometimes thumb the edges of a book.” (“Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” Saints’ Herald, 1 Oct. 1879, p. 290; spelling modernized.)
* "without any attempt at concealment" except for the fact that she says she felt something that felt like metal plates wrapped (concealed) inside a piece of cloth. note that this account, for some reason, came 50 years after the supposed translation took place. and again, here she does not say: "i saw gold metal plates with reformed egyptian hieroglyphics on them."

i find it odd that nelson doesnt mention the accounts of the 3 and 8 witnesses.

i think its funny how although none of the examples nelson gives here support a translation account of reading from gold plates, that the talk in the printed version includes a picture of joseph smith reading from gold plates (without a urim and thummim), separated by a sheet nonetheless, with oliver cowdery on the other side. i think the article should have also included a picture of joseph smith with his head buried in a hat.

and im surprised that this talk was even allowed to be given!: by the gift and power of god

additional recommended reading: translation or divination?

see if you can find a single picture of the version of translation where joseph reads from the stone in the hat in the gospel library media/artwork resource center in the scriptures section.
ill spare you the trouble, there isnt a picture of this account.

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