Today we’re looking at Emma Smith’s version of history when her husband, Joseph Smith, Jr., translated the Book of Mormon. Her testimony was recorded by their son, Joseph Smith, III.
There have been many questions from historians about the BoM translation process in the past 185 years, far too many to count. The first question I have about the whole thing is this:
Why didn’t Emma ever look under the cloth?
The whole story seems so far-fetched, and would cause even the most ardent believer to wonder why…
How did the translation get from point A to B if Smith couldn’t read, write, or dictate a coherent sentence?
If the plates weighed about 60 lbs. like we’ve read in testimonies of others, how did this woman lift this thing just to dust around it?
How can we believe Emma’s testimony she never quarreled with Joseph when there’s written documentation stating otherwise?
Furthermore, how can we believe Emma’s testimony when she also said that Joseph Smith never practiced polygamy?
“Q.-What of the truth of Mormonism?
“A.-I know Mormonism to be the truth; and believe the church to have been established by divine direction. I have complete faith in it. In writing for your father I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table close by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us.
“Q.-Had he not a book or manuscript from which he read or dictated to you?
“A.-He had neither manuscript nor book to read from.
“Q.-Could he not have had, and you not know it?
“A.-If he had had anything of the kind he could not have concealed it from me.
“Q.-Are you sure that he had the plates at the time you were writing for him?
“A.-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.
“Q.-Where did Father and Oliver Cowdery write?
“A.-Oliver Cowdery and your father wrote in the room where I was at work.
“Q-Could not Father have dictated the Book of Mormon to you, Oliver Cowdery, and the others who wrote for him, after having first written it, or having first read it out of some book?
“A.-Joseph Smith [and for the first time she used his name direct, having usually used the words, ‘your father,’ or ‘my husband’] could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well-worded letter; let alone dictating a book like the Book of Mormon. And, though I was an active participant in the scenes that transpired, and was present during the translation of the plates, and had cognizance of things as they transpired, it is marvelous to me, ‘a marvel and a wonder,’ as much so as to anyone else.
“Q.-I should suppose that you would have uncovered the plates and examined them?
“A.-I did not attempt to handle the plates, other than I have told you, nor uncover them to look at them. I was satisfied that it was the work of God, and therefore did not feel it to be necessary to do so.
“Major Bidamon here suggested: Did Mr. Smith forbid your examining the plates?
“A.-I do not think he did. I knew that he had them, and was not specially curious about them. I moved them from place to place on the table, as it was necessary in doing my work.
“Q-Mother, what is your belief about the authenticity or origin of the Book of Mormon?
“A.-My belief is that the Book of Mormon is of divine authenticity-I have not the slightest doubt of it. I am satisfied that no man could have dictated the writing of the manuscripts unless he was inspired; for, when acting as his scribe, your father would dictate to me hour after hour; and when returning after meals, or after interruptions, he would at once begin where he had left off, without either seeing the manuscript or having any portion of it read to him. This was a usual thing for him to do. It would have been improbable that a learned man could do this; and, for one so ignorant and unlearned as he was, it was simply impossible.
“Q.-What was the condition of feeling between you and Father?
“A.-It was good.
“Q.-Were you in the habit of quarreling?
“A.-No. There was no necessity for any quarreling. He knew that I wished for nothing but what was right; and, as he wished for nothing else, we did not disagree. He usually gave some heed to what I had to say. It was quite a grievous thing to many that I had any influence with him.
“Q.-What do you think of David Whitmer?
“A.-David Whitmer I believe to be an honest and truthful man. I think what he states may be relied on.
“Q.-It has been stated sometimes that you apostatized at Father’s death, and joined the Methodist Church. What do you say to this?
“A.-I have been called apostate; but I have never apostatized, nor forsaken the faith I at first accepted; but was called so because I would not accept their new-fangled notion.
“Q.-By whom were you baptized? Do you remember?
“A.-I think by Oliver Cowdery, at Bainbridge.
“Q.-You say that you were married at South Bainbridge, and have used the word Bainbridge. Were they one and the same town?
“A.-No. There was Bainbridge and South Bainbridge; some distance apart; how far I don’t know. I was in South Bainbridge.
“These questions, and the answers she had given to them, were read to my mother by me, the day before my leaving Nauvoo for home, and were affirmed by her. Major Bidamon stated that he had frequently conversed with her on the subject of the translation of the Book of Mormon, and her present answers were substantially what she had always stated in regard to it.