Translating Gold Plates
Galatians 1:6-9; “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”
On April 6, 1830 the LDS Church officially came into being. According to claims made by Joseph Smith, Jr. the Christian church had become the whore of Babylon and God had to intervene with a gospel contradicting all previous testaments. In the aftermath of the Christian church’s riotous behavior we now have the Book of Mormon.
In light of the upcoming anniversary and the LDS’ General Conference, I wanted to bring attention to the way Joseph Smith’s “Golden Bible” came into being.
In the beginning of Smith’s translation process, his side-kick Martin Harris took home the first 116 pages and subsequently “lost” them. In consequence of his irresponsibility, God took the “interpreters” or Urim and Thummim away from Joseph. While many questions arise just in this one scenario, it’s said the angel returned the interpreters – at least in some reports of the Church’s history anyway…
The references here are just a handful of examples of how Smith translated God’s new gospel. While most Mormons believe Smith merely translated the plates written in Reformed Egyptian into English, the truth is that he didn’t use the plates at all when writing the Book of Mormon.
Also important is how those who testified of Smith’s translation process referred to the Urim and Thummim. The Urim and Thummim was actually a seer stone Smith had found several years before he started “translating” the Book of Mormon. He would place the stone in his hat and give the translation to whoever was acting as scribe at the time.
I also have to ask why Smith was reluctant to tell people how the translation process came about. Why would this matter if it was from God? See Ensign article listed below.
Why make such a big deal about the plates if they weren’t used in translating?
Why isn’t there even one shred of evidence these plates existed?
When you read the actual testimonies of those involved, you’ll see that not one single person actually saw the plates with their own two eyes. They all say they saw them with their “spiritual eyes” or “hefted them while they were wrapped in a frock”. When you think about the importance of this huge event in the history of mankind and God, it should concern you if there are no eyewitness accounts of the scriptures!
Ensign, January 1997, “By the Gift and Power of God”;
“The Prophet Joseph alone knew the full process, and he was deliberately reluctant to describe details…
Oliver Cowdery is reported to have testified in court that the Urim and Thummim enabled Joseph “to read in English, the reformed Egyptian characters, which were engraved on the plates” (“Mormonites,” Evangelical Magazine and Gospel Advocate, 9 Apr. 1831). If these reports are accurate, they suggest a process indicative of God’s having given Joseph “sight and power to translate” (D&C 3:12).
If by means of these divine instrumentalities the Prophet was seeing ancient words rendered in English and then dictating, he was not necessarily and constantly scrutinizing the characters on the plates—the usual translation process of going back and forth between pondering an ancient text and providing a modern rendering.
The revelatory process apparently did not require the Prophet to become expert in the ancient language. The constancy of revelation was more crucial than the constant presence of opened plates, which, by instruction, were to be kept from the view of unauthorized eyes anyway.
While the use of divine instrumentalities might also account for the rapid rate of translation, the Prophet sometimes may have used a less mechanical procedure. We simply do not know the details.” – Neal Maxwell
Times and Seasons, Vol. 3, No.9, March 1, 1842, pg 707; “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.”
Doctrines of Salvation 3:225; “While the statement has been made by some writers that the Prophet Joseph Smith used a seer stone part of the time in his translating of the record, and information points to the fact that he did have in his possession such a stone, yet there is no authentic statement in the history of the Church which states that the use of such a stone was made in that translation. The information is all hearsay, and personally, I do not believe that this stone was used for this purpose. The reason I give for this conclusion is found in the statement of the Lord to the Brother of Jared as recorded in Ether 3:22-24.”
Saints Herald, Vol. 26, 03 (1 Oct 1879), No. 19: pg 289-290;“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…. The plates often lay on the table without any attempt at concealment, wrapped in a small linen table-cloth, which I had given him to fold them in.” – Emma Smith’s testimony when interviewed by her son Joseph Smith, III
Dialogue, Vol. 15, No. 2, Summer 1982, pg 51; ““I have sometimes had seasons of skepticism, in which I did seriously wonder whether the Prophet and I were men in our sober senses, when he would be translating from plates, through ‘the Urim and Thummim,’ and the plates not be in sight at all.” – Oliver Cowdery
Kansas City Journal, 5 June 1881; “I, as well as all of my father’s family, Smith’s wife, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris were present during the translation. The translation was by Smith, and the manner as follows: He had two small stones of a chocolate color, nearly egg shaped and perfectly smooth, but not transparent, called interpreters, which were given him with the plates. He did not use the plates in the translation, but would hold the interpreters to his eyes and cover his face with a hat, excluding all light.” – David Whitmer
The quote above is also located in An Address to All Believers in Christ
History of the Church 1:21-22; “In the meantime, 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 Pennsylvania. 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 Thummim 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…” – July 1828
Essentials in Church History, pg 68; “The Angel Receives the Plates.—After the completion of the translation of the Book of Mormon in 1829, the angel again appeared to Joseph Smith and received back the plates into his keeping. Of this circumstance the Prophet wrote in 1838: “By the wisdom of God, they [the plates] remained safe in my hands, until I had accomplished by them what was required at my hand. When, according to arrangement, the messenger called for them, I delivered them up to him, and he has them in his charge until this day.”” – 1838
Joseph Smith–History 1:59-60; “At length the time arrived for obtaining the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate…. By the wisdom of God, they remained safe in my hands, until I had accomplished by them what was required at my hand. When, according to arrangements, the messenger called for them I delivered them up to him: and he has them in his charge unto this day, being the second day of May, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-eight.”
We’re praying the Mormon people take an honest inventory of the Church’s history and evaluate the evidence for themselves.
Compare these things with the Bible and be prepared for the Lord to show you the truth. Know that He always hears the prayers of the sincere seeker! There’s no shame in asking questions!
Using stones or crystals is a form of witchcraft and condemned by God! Looking into the ground or into stones for answers isn’t from the Lord and especially if the “message” tells you that all of Christianity is wrong and God has “another gospel or testament” for you to transcribe and believe! Leviticus 19:26.
With Love in Christ;
1 Cor 1:18
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