Our Foundation Stories Part IV: The Book of Mormon Translation

John Nilsson book of mormon, books, curiosity, faith, God, historicity, history, joseph, LDS, Mormon, mormon, prophets, restoration, smith, theology 44 Comments

Was the Book of Mormon translated? Was the Book of Mormon revealed? Was it inspired? Was it all three, or a combination of the above? How much does it matter?

The accounts left by Joseph and others involved suggest that the translation of the Book of Mormon was conducted, with a few variations, largely in this manner: Joseph and the scribe sequestered in a room, with a sheet or curtain drawn up to shield them from the casual view of others in the house. The plates wrapped in a cloth on the scribe’s table, with the scribe writing down what Joseph dictates. Joseph himself at least periodically buries his face in a hat to peer intently at his seerstone, in which he sees words, whether one at a time, or in clusters is unclear. Joseph also feels free enough with his work to correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, and word choice, both immediately and after the Book of Mormon was published.

In later productions, like the Books of Abraham, Moses, and the revision of the Bible, there was apparently even less physicality to the process. Other than the Egyptian papyri purchased from Michael Chandler, there appeared to be no seerstone or other mechanical device used in the writing of these books. They were received much as most of the sections of the D&C (with the obvious seerstone section aside) were, by inspiration.

Given the above, what does it say about Joseph Smith that he began his prophetic translations with physical objects and moved away from them later on? That he “graduated” in a spiritual sense? Were the physical objects necessary prompts to revelatory experience?

Why would Moroni bother with giving Joseph physical objects like the plates which were apparently so cumbersome and the desire of his neighbors when God could simply reveal the contents of the book to Joseph? And why would Moroni take them back again? Were the plates themselves like the “slippery” treasures spoken of in the text of the Book of Mormon itself, a thing of great worth which is impossible to control?

Comments

comments

Comments 44

  1. I don’t think you’ll find any historical support for the idea that Joseph translated with the plates in the same room except at the beginning when he and Martin Harris translated the 116 pages. It’s pretty consistent thereafter that witnesses report that Joseph used exclusively the face in the hat method. It’s almost as though he learned very early on that he didn’t need to have the plates physically present any more than he needed the writing of John or Moses in the room in order to produce English translations.

  2. Actually I think it’s impossible to really fathom the mind of Joseph Smith, since he was, to a much larger extent than any of us can appreciate, taught by the Spirit. When you consider that Moses was able to “behold” every single particle of the Earth at once, it becomes obvious that a mind that has been opened up like this functions very differently from our own.

    The plates definitely needed to be there, as tangible, physical relics of the fallen people. Also, it was prophesied this way, as the voice from the dust. So Joseph needed to have the plates in his hands to learn a lot about himself and the work he had to accomplish.

    Later on, I’d definitely say he’d “graduated.” I mean, try translating something yourself from one language to another, or doing one of many other activities that involve “close reading” of a particular text (I’m a conductor so the setting of music to words springs to mind as a good example). You no longer need any sort of crutch as you being to own the words on the page. (I know several older conductors who have entire libretti completely memorized, word for word). Once you’ve translated the Book of Mormon-by the Holy Ghost-it’s fair to say your mind works on a completely different level than before. And so I think it’s going to be difficult to ascertain what Joseph needed to complete his other translations, on what level was his mind functioning, etc. On the one hand, he never truly mastered Hebrew, but on the other hand, he spoke scripture almost as a language, with its phrasing and cadence inextricably intertwined with his everyday and sermoning speech.

  3. Why would Moroni bother with giving Joseph physical objects like the plates, which were apparently so cumbersome?

    After I found out about Joseph Smith using the black hat and apparently not using the Gold Plates in a direct translation, I really felt for Moroni!

    Plates were described as being 6 inches wide, 8 inches long, and something near 6 inches in thickness. Gold has certain interesting properties. It is a very heavy metal, its specific gravity being 19.3. It is very soft and malleable. Plates made of gold would therefore pack down very tightly when stacked. Some estimates are of approximately 200lbs. Even if it was half or a quarter its still darn heavy.

    It must of almost crippled Moroni to bringing them up from South America and then after all that they weren’t even literally translated directly from.

    If this is the case I would imagine Moroni has already had a few words about this with Joseph!

    If we can rely on the following maybe he didn’t bring them up physically at all. It could have all be done in a visionary realm.

    According to Joseph Smith’s history, Joseph then goes to find Harris, and while praying together, Harris cries out, “Tis enough, tis enough; mine eyes have beheld; mine eyes have beheld;” (Ibid, p. 55).

    Martin Harris later stated, “I never saw the gold plates, only in a visionary or entranced state. …In about three days I went into the woods to pray that I might see the plates. While praying I passed into a state of entrancement, and in that state I saw the angel and the plates.” (Anthony Metcalf, Ten Years Before the Mast, n.d., microfilm copy, p. 70-71).

    When Harris was asked if he saw the plates with his naked eyes, he would later admit he only saw the plates with a spiritual eye. (Wilford C. Wood, Joseph Smith Begins His Work, Vol. 1, 1958, introduction.

    Brigham Young related a story from the life of Oliver Cowdery in which Cowdery claimed that he and Joseph Smith walked right into the Hill Cumorah with the gold plates of the Book of Mormon and put them back on a table. In this huge cave were piles of gold plates and a sword with writing on it (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 19, p. 38.).
    David Whitmer’s 1885 he was interviewed by Zenas Gurley. Gurley asked if Whitmer knew that the plates were real metal. Whitmer said that he did not touch or handle them. He was then asked if the table they were on was literal wood or if the whole thing was a like a vision. Whitmer replied that the table had the appearance of literal wood as shown in the vision, in the glory of God (Zenas H. Gurley, Jr., Interview with David Whitmer on January 14, 1885.).

  4. James, while the theory you throw out has been argued, most persuasively by Vogel, there are lots of contradictory evidence. For example, in an interview with David B. Dille in 1853, Martin Harris says that he physically held the plates.

    That is the problem with documenting the translation process of the Book of Mormon: there are lots of people claiming personal experience in watching it occur, all of them say they know how it happens, yet many of them contradict each other. To get the best picture, in my view, all of them need to be compared and contrasted, giving credence to the earliest accounts (preferably first-hand), and then find common themes. When this is done concerning the actual physicality of the plates, it is very clear that those immediately involved were convinced that JS had physical, tangible plates.

  5. I think from our own history one can see that Joseph did not really “translate” the plates after the 116 pages were lost. This is all a very interesting subject to discuss. I enjoy it. But it really doesn’t have much to do anymore with why I value the Book of Mormon or not. Don’t believe the Book of Mormon because of evidence. Believe it because it has a valuable message that you can use in your search for understanding of the divine.

    Why was it important that the Book of Mormon was written on plates? That’s a great question. I can think of a lot of possible answers. Sure, it would be just as easy for it to have been personal inspiration. I don’t think Joseph ever actually learned to translate “reformed egyptian.” He didn’t learn it as a language like a translator would learn. I’ve worked professionally as a military translator.

    I personally think that it was an important marketing story — that the book came from an ancient record. I don’t mean that in a negative way. It’s just practical, and it doesn’t mean it is false. It was an important “marketing” feature” in Joseph’s day. People were fascinated by ancient and mysterious cultures. We still are today. What if Joseph told everyone he dictated it as a revelation using folk magic (and there were no plates)? However the BoM was produced, people close to Joseph believed it was inspired. They did not believe he was capable of fabricating it. Emma described Joseph sitting for long periods peering into his hat and dictating the BoM. She commented that he was normally not capable of dictating a coherent short letter to an assistant (or scribe). He had no other materials in the house to draw from besides the Bible maybe, and that he would not have been able to hide things from her. That was her belief as an eyewitness. She knew him very well, including his personal failings.

    I find the Book of Mormon to be valuable. The messages in it are valuable spiritually. The origin or historicity of it do not alter the concepts it contains for me.

  6. I’m still coming to terms with the BOM’s historicity, and what it means to my faith one way or the other. I’m cool with JS looking into a hat for “translation” purposes; I’m cool with Moroni taking the plates back; I’m cool with the 3 witnesses’ “spiritual” witness (where they saw, but did not handle the plates). But in a scenario where the plates never existed, or in which JS authored the BOM from fictional characters, even by inspiration, is troublesome from an epistemological perspective. What are we to understand about the nature of truth if the characters who purport to have been historical turn out only to have been allegorical or fictional? How can their life struggles, experiences, and the examples they set really instruct and inspire us if we know they did not really exist? Why did JS feel the need to couch in fictional stories new doctrines about Adam’s Fall, the nature of the Atonement, and a gospel of Jesus Christ that includes enduring to the end, when he could have simply claimed prophetic insight in sermons?

    I’m inclined to believe that there *must* be some historicity to the Book of Mormon. I’m aware that the document we have in our hands is a “translation” of an editorialized abridgment of essentially Nephite-only history and religious practice, and that the human failings of all parties involved in the creation and transmission of such documents needs to be taken into account. If I’m to accept “truths” in the BOM couched in historical information, I feel like I need for that historical information to have some measure of truth (in the “it actually happened”) to it as well. I’m open to different interpretations, however. For those of you who don’t believe in the BOM’s historicity, but still believe that it contains valuable spiritual messages, how do you resolve the two?

  7. Ben number 5

    Imagine Joseph Smith wrapping his linen shirt around this 200 pound block of gold plates, tucking it casually under his arm and strolling off towards home, some three miles distance! Imagine him further, running at the top of his speed through the woods, jumping over logs, and knocking down not one or two, but three assailants in the process, all the while with the 200 pounds of gold plates safely under his arm!

    Have you ever just lifted 50 pound bags of salt from you car to the water softener 15 yards. You may start to fill it after you have emptied the third!

    If you want to experiment, lead is the nearest common metal to gold in weight, its specific gravity being 11.35. Try tucking a 200 pound block of lead under your arm, and running and leaping through the woods with it for three miles!

    I know Joseph Smith was pretty strong in the broom pulling contest – but he must of indeed had the hugest adrenalin rush going to pull this off.

    I want it to be physical- but I feel like im talking my self into believing into believing in Leprechauns.

    If it was anything its got to be inspired!

  8. #6:
    Emma described Joseph sitting for long periods peering into his hat and dictating the BoM. She commented that he was normally not capable of dictating a coherent short letter to an assistant (or scribe). He had no other materials in the house to draw from besides the Bible maybe, and that he would not have been able to hide things from her. That was her belief as an eyewitness.

    Emma allegedly made this statement, as you may know, during an “interview” with her son, Joseph Smith III, a few months before her death. JS III waited to publish the “interview” until after Emma’s death, eliminating the opportunity for her to dispute any of the published version. At best, one has to conclude that Joseph Smith III was not always accurate when it came to his family and his religious statements. In some cases, it’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that he deliberately misrepresented the truth. This being said, we have to be a bit careful about his publication of the Emma “interview,” in general.

    To complicate matters further, the published “interview” has Emma insisting that there Joseph Smith Jr. never claimed to have a revelation on plural marriage, that he never had any wives beside her, and for good measure, that he never had “improper relations” with any other women (note that Joseph Smith III seems to have used “improper relations” to refer to polygamy in other instances). The historical record is convincing, for all but a very small group of “RLDS Restorationists,” that Joseph Smith certainly did have plural wives, and that Emma was well aware of the fact.

    So we have the postumous publication of a single interview, with an 80-ish year old woman (memory issues?), as presented by her son (a skilled lawyer with a significant religious agenda). The comments about Joseph Smith Jr.’s translation of The Book of Mormon fit Joseph Smith III’s religious agenda, just as much as the anti-polygamy comments. We know that the anti-polygamy comments were completely false, whether due to (a) Emma’s memory faltering from old age, (b) Emma choosing to misrepresent the truth, or (c) Joseph Smith III choosing to misrepresent the truth.

    If the published version of the “interview” contains falsehoods that served the religious agenda of the publisher (Joseph Smith III), how can we really trust any other statements in the interview that serve the publisher’s agenda? Maybe Emma said these things about the Book of Mormon translation, but maybe she didn’t.

    For that matter, why do LDS sources keep publishing this small excerpt of the Emma “interview,” knowing that other portions of the “interview” openly contradict LDS faith/historical claims? Isn’t this a bit of misrepresentation in itself, cherry-picking the more convenient/agreeable portions of an unreliable “interview,” as if the whole thing was reliable and faith-promoting?

  9. I think the Law of Moses and the higher law instituted by Christ may be helpful to this discussion. The Law of Moses required a lot of outward, physical acts as part of worship. It was meant to be preparatory to the higher, spiritual law. In the same way, Joseph needed the plates at first in order to learn how to receive inspiration before he could do it unaided.

  10. James: You bring up good points, but I’m gonna respectfully disagree. We have several witnesses giving actual weight to the plates, saying it is between 40-60 pounds. We are just wimps compared to them ;).

    Nick L: You bring up great points on how many of these accounts, specifically the later ones, are very problematic. The same critiques you say of Emma’s “interview” could also be applied to David Whitmer as well, because all of his statements and interviews were also driven by an agenda. He had his own theology of how revelation occured and desired to present the translation in a way where JS was as much a clean slate as possible. While all of these accounts should never be completely disregarded, they are some of the only ones who personally witnessed it, after all, a critical eye should always be employed.

    I find it interesting how late many of the eyewitnesses accounts come. Emma’s classic account doesnt show up until 1879, a few months after her death; almost all of Martin Harris’ accounts, including all of his statements that JS used a seer stone, come at least five years after his death; and finally, all of David Whitmer’s famous interviews come after all the other eyewitnesses are dead, and therefore he had a monopoly on the story. All these factors, and several others, make reconstructing this important event all the more problematic.

  11. James #9 – “200 pound block of gold plates” Accounts I read were that the plates weighed between 30 and 40 lbs. Where do you get 200 lbs.? The metal sheets were practically paper thin according to Emma’s description (feeling them through the linen cloth).

    Nick #10 – I think the account is used freely because 1) there’s not a good substitute account, 2) we agree on the nature of the plates with the RLDS (now CoC), so on that topic it’s (deemed) “reliable”, and 3) Emma’s the closest witness in terms of time spent in the presence of the process, so it just doesn’t make sense to dismiss her.

    I think we would all be very surprised at the process if, like Olivery Cowdery, we tried it for ourselves. In a way it sounds to me like those Magic 8 Balls. You have to come up with a good question (study it out in your mind) and then you look into it and the words appear. I’m not being flippant. It just reminded me of that.

  12. While all of these accounts should never be completely disregarded, they are some of the only ones who personally witnessed it, after all, a critical eye should always be employed.

    Absolutely! One of my biggest “pet peeves” among certain historians is the odd habit of ignoring the first-hand accounts of the actual participants in early Mormon events. These “scholars” seem intent on rehashing what some other LDS historian has already decided about the events, rather than examing the first-hand evidence. Rather than examining the original journals, affidavits, and other records, they feel compelled to “stand on the shoulders of the great men who’ve gone before them.” (That’s an inside joke for those who attended my MHA presentation in Vermong–grin!!)

  13. #13:
    You have to come up with a good question (study it out in your mind) and then you look into it and the words appear.

    I find that much of life depends on asking the right questions. When we ask the wrong questions, we can get all sorts of misguided “answers.”

  14. Nick Literski:
    “At best, one has to conclude that Joseph Smith III was not always accurate when it came to his family and his religious statements.”

    Yeah, yeah, I know. Everyone who said something about the Church had an agenda (both positive and negative). It’s just the way life works. Religion is really just one big opinion in the end. That is why I have such a hard time “knowing” the BoM was all made up now, just like I thought I used to “know” in the past that it was translated from gold plates the way I was taught growing up.

    I enjoy the history. It’s very interesting. The guessing and trying to get into people’s minds is a fun excercise. At some point we all have to decide if we want to believe something, not believe it or hover somewhere in between. If I threw out everything that had a flaw in it, i’d be left with nothing. It’s actually the flaws that keep me interested and searching for wisdom.

    So I come back again full circle and enjoy what I find as valuable while it’s valuable to me. Enjoy and live life. That is what I want. I am a religious person by nature, and i’ll take whatever wisdom I can find, wherever it can be found.

  15. Valoel, I’d hasten to point out that my #10 doesn’t discount the possibility that the Book of Mormon is everything Joseph claimed it to be. I was simply pointing out that the particular “interview” is quite problematic as a historical source, and that we should be careful in quoting from it as “evidence” of Joseph’s claims.

  16. #13 hawkgrrrl-

    If the plates were made by gold, they would have weighed 200 lbs. That is why there is a question if it was actually written on gold plates. It is more likely that the plates were made of tin.

    On May 15, 1999, the LDS Church News ran an article entitled “Hands-on opportunity”. It said the following:

    “He had also been instructed by an angel, Moroni, who had met with him each year for four years. On his last visit, he was entrusted with plates of solid gold, which he had been translating by the power of the Spirit”

    Don’t forget that the angel Moroni said that they were gold plates.

    “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”

  17. #18:
    If the plates were made by gold, they would have weighed 200 lbs. That is why there is a question if it was actually written on gold plates.

    Maybe deity performed a miracle, whereby the gold plates actually weighed only 1/5th of what they ordinarily would have, so that others would have to exercise faith that they existed, and the wicked could be fooled into unbelief.

  18. Hawkgirl number 13

    The Weight of the Plates

    Moroni told Joseph Smith that plates were of gold. Joseph described the plates as being 6 inches wide, 8 inches long, and something near 6 inches in thickness. Gold has certain interesting properties. It is a very heavy metal, its specific gravity being 19.3. It is very soft and malleable. Plates made of gold would therefore pack down very tightly when stacked. A little figuring will reveal to the reader that the plates weighed 200.81 pounds or thereabouts!

    Mormon metallurgist Reed Putnam estimates that if the plates were made of pure gold, they would have probably weighed around 100 pounds. Still, this is not at all a reasonable weight that can be carried by even the strongest of New York farm boys. In perspective, that would be like carrying a bag of Portland cement under one’s arm.

    Researchers for the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) have attempted to come to the prophets rescue. In a bulletin cover (number F-15) they provide an explanation for this anomaly. Entitled “Where the Gold Plates Gold?” it theorized that the plates were not made of pure gold at all. Rather, they theorize, that they were composed of an alloy called tumbaga. This Central American alloy, the article states, is made up of 8K gold and copper. In other words, the plates would have been primarily composed of 66% copper and only 33% gold.

  19. #20 – That cracked me up, Nick.

    #18 – “Gold plates” doesn’t necessarily mean “solid gold”. Again, assumptions are just that – assumptions, even when they appear in the Church News. That isn’t scripture – and it certainly isn’t considered “the revealed word of God.”

    #16 – “So I come back again full circle and enjoy what I find as valuable while it’s valuable to me. Enjoy and live life. That is what I want. I am a religious person by nature, and i’ll take whatever wisdom I can find, wherever it can be found.”

    Well said.

    #15 – Amen. Right answers to wrong questions can be wrong answers.

  20. James & Zelph – thanks for the clarification. I guess I always assumed the plates were some sort of alloy vs. solid gold. Gold doesn’t seem terribly practical for many reasons. Whatever the weight, Moroni might have a bone to pick with JS as noted by James!

    As to whether physical objects were necessary or what the purpose was, it seems like the 16 stones to light the barges, or even the liahona. Why have scriptures at all? Why not just pray for all the direction we need? Why go to church and not just commune with nature? Religious touchstones seem to be important to us as physical beings.

  21. “We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel…”

    Let me ask anyone here, is being a FAIR apologist a calling and if so who sets them apart?

  22. RE: #7 “For those of you who don’t believe in the BOM’s historicity, but still believe that it contains valuable spiritual messages, how do you resolve the two”

    The spiritual messages can be found or derived from new and old testament passages and themes. Someone in an earlier post likened King Benjamin’s sermon to a sermon from a methodist camp meeting sermon. I’m sorry but I don’t see anything new in the BOM that’s not found in the Bible or in the writings of reformers, theologians, etc..

  23. Hawkgrrl, I have to admit that I get annoyed at people who bring up old chestnuts, such as treating the gold plates as if they were a solid block of gold rather than plates. Too bad people just came back and repeated the foolishness after you pointed it out to them rather than participating in the thread. /Sigh.

    I liked Nick’s comments. There is this terrible temptation these days to take accounts published after the principle players have passed from the scene and use those as definitive, without paying attention to agendas or variations.

    Absolutely! One of my biggest “pet peeves” among certain historians is the odd habit of ignoring the first-hand accounts of the actual participants in early Mormon events. These “scholars” seem intent on rehashing what some other LDS historian has already decided about the events indeed.

    Those of you who have gold wedding rings, anyone have even 18 caret gold? Probably not, yet how many of you state “I have an almost gold wedding ring” when it isn’t 24 caret? Odds are you’d even describe it as solid gold …

    As to FAIR, last I knew it wasn’t a calling. Wasn’t a part of the Church either, just a group, like Mormon Matters, and no one calls and sets aside the permabloggers here.

  24. “As to FAIR, last I knew it wasn’t a calling. Wasn’t a part of the Church either, just a group, like Mormon Matters, and no one calls and sets aside the permabloggers here.”

    I guess that means we are all equally heretical.

  25. Stephen Marsh – “no one calls and sets aside the permabloggers here” So, you weren’t called and set apart to the church office of permablogger (the modern day equivalent of “etc.” as outlined in Article of Faith 6)? We’ll have to get someone on that! 🙂

  26. Post
    Author

    Stephen Marsh,

    For myself, I remember an elaborate ceremony of induction and authorization, involving, er, one or two emails and a password…

  27. 27 Stephen 23 Hawkgirl

    More thoughts from a foolish old chestnut.

    Mormon metallurgist Reed Putnam estimates that if the plates were made of pure gold, they would have probably weighed around 100 pounds. Still, this is not at all a reasonable weight that can be carried by even the strongest of New York farm boys. In perspective, that would be like carrying a bag of Portland cement under one’s arm.
    The possibility of the plates being too heavy for Smith to carry has not escaped the notice of LDS apologists. To credit their founder with the ability to carry such a weight while running at “the top of his speed” would seem to conclude that Smith had no idea how heavy gold really was, thus making it appear that he fabricated this story.
    Researchers for the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) have attempted to come to Smith’s rescue. In a bulletin cover (number F-15) they provide an explanation for this anomaly. Entitled “Where the Gold Plates Gold?” it theorized that the plates were not made of pure gold at all. Rather, they theorize, that they were composed of an alloy called tumbaga. This Central American alloy, the article states, is made up of 8K gold and copper. In other words, the plates would have been primarily composed of 66% copper and only 33% gold.
    The article debunks the notion that the plates could have been made of pure gold since “pure gold would be too soft to make useful plates.” However, this argument overlooks Mosiah 8:9 in the Book of Mormon that mentions 24 Jaredite plates that were “filled with engravings, and they are of pure gold.”
    This argument also fails to take into account a photograph in earlier editions of the Book of Mormon that showed a “gold tablet found in Persia in 1961, dating to the time of Darius II (Fourth century B.C.), covered with cuneiform engravings.” The caption went on to say, “This tablet is about the size of the gold plates of the Book of Mormon.” In his book entitled An Approach to the Book of Mormon, Dr. Hugh Nibley also mentioned this parallel as evidence to the fact that Smith had plates of gold. If the plates deposited by Moroni were really an alloy made primarily of copper, why go to such lengths?
    The FARMS’ article supports the tumbaga theory by referring to William Smith, Joseph’s brother, who was quoted in the Saints Herald (31, 1884, p. 644) as stating that the plates were a mixture of gold and copper. One can only imagine how William arrived at such a conclusion since there is no evidence to suggest that the plates were ever analyzed. Making William’s statement even less credible is the fact that he admitted to having never seen the plates. He claimed, “I was permitted to lift them as they laid in a pillow-case; but not to see them, as was contrary to the commands he had received. They weighed about sixty pounds according to the best of my judgment” (A New Witness for Christ in America 2:417). FARMS insists that tumbaga plates would have weighed only about 53 pounds. In other words, it would be like carrying a sack of redi-mix concrete.
    Despite the effort from FARMS to change LDS history, it appears that the tumbaga theory is not being taken too seriously. As recently as May 15, 1999, the LDS Church News ran an article entitled “Hands-on opportunity.” Speaking of Joseph Smith, it read, “He had also been instructed by an angel, Moroni, who had met with him each year for four years. On his last visit, he was entrusted with plates of solid gold, which he had been translating by the power of the Spirit.”
    Above from MRM

    http://www.mrm.org/topics/book-mormon/how-heavy-were-those-gold-plates

    It looks like a case the church overrides FARMS on this one!

  28. Nick, well said in #10. Still, it’s clear that you have yet to learn how to stand on the shoulders of the great men who came before you. Ha! That Vermont moment was very, very funny.

  29. My favorite part was when he said it was clear that I hadn’t done any research, despite the fact that he knew damn well my endnotes were jam packed, and mostly primary source material. When he prepared his “shoot this boy down fast” remarks, he hadn’t counted on me putting all the documents up on the screen as a PowerPoint during the presentation. 😉

    Really, wouldn’t most people have at least tried to adjust their attack, after seeing that?

  30. James, we already covered that – and your #35 is nothing more than a repeat of #21. Let me make it crystal clear:

    The Book of Mormon does not include the claim that the final product made by Mormon was “pure gold”. There are only three uses of that phrase in the entire book – one about the hilt of Laban’s sword, one about the seats of King Noah’s high priests and one about the original 24 plates of the record of the Jaredites (the one you incorrectly site as showing that the BofM was of pure gold). Since there ARE references to “pure gold”, it is worth pointing out all the other instances where “pure gold” is not the reference. Also, there is only one use of “pure gold” in the D&C, and that one deals with a vision.

    This issue is dead and not going anywhere.

  31. 14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
    15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.

  32. Nick #10,

    Good on ya Nick! Bloggs often give far too much credit to history that comes from opponents to Joseph Smith (and had he lived long enough, Emma would probably have ended up as his ex-wife and enemy).

    But then you come up with #39?? You ought to repent and go back to church next Sunday 🙂

  33. I am staggered by the posturing and jousting that many of these comments appear to be and which would do the most unimaginative Pharisee proud. The point is that this book, whether it came on gold plates or a roll of toilet paper tells of a thousand year old civilisation numbering millions who occupied North and South America with all the attendant culture, wars and language and then disappeared without trace. Not a blade, a bone, a weapon, a coin, a ruin, a word and one single manuscript that no one ever saw except Joseph Smith. As to any spiritual merit in its contents it ranks no better than The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and takes a lot longer to get it said. The book is pure fiction so lets not get sidetracked with ‘did he? didn’t he?’ issues and deal with Joseph Smith. He was an utter fraud, let’s dump the guy.

  34. I beleive that apostasy started (anciently) in the same way that you all have been speculating, with all your theories on what ‘really happened in Church Hx. We have the scriptures we have the Holy Ghost as a guide in your hearts and in your whole beings. Follow His proptings, if you do you will not go astray.

    Yes, I know you all like a good story, and just as most people they want to be noticed by others (15 minuets of fame)

    But if you are really after the truth, seek the Holy Ghost, He will communicate in a perfect personal way the only one truth.

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