Answering the Bible Answer Man: The Gold Plates

FairMormon Staff

The Gold Plates Found by Joseph Smith

HANK HANEGRAAF:

Supposedly the angel Moroni told Joseph Smith where gold plates were that would contain the fullness of the everlasting gospel and that these plates were written in reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics. Tell us what that is.

RICHARD ABANES:

Well, first of all there is no such thing as reformed Egyptian. That’s the first thing we need to know. The second thing we need to know is that yes indeed Joseph had this story that there were gold plates buried in a hill called Cumorah and that an angel named Moroni told him where these plates were and when he brought them out he translated them and that’s how you get the Book of Mormon. But a lot of people don’t know that his story changed quite a bit. He originally said that he found the golden plates by looking into a peepstone or sort of like crystal ball reading and then he said that a spirit came to him in a dream to show him where the plates were then he said an angel appeared to him. All kinds of stories came up from this, so he got these plates and that’s where we get the Book of Mormon and that’s what he founded his religion on.

The Truth about the Gold Plates and the Book of Mormon:

  • Reformed Egyptian—Critics claim that Jews or Israelites (like the Nephites) would not have used the language of their slave period — Egyptian — to write sacred records, that there is no evidence in Egyptology of something called “reformed Egyptian,” and that the Book of Mormon’s claim to have been written in this language is therefore suspect. However, the claim that Israelites would not use Egyptian is clearly false. By the ninth to sixth centuries before Christ, Israelites used Egyptian numerals mingled with Hebrew text. The Papyrus Amherst 63 contains a text of Psalms 20:2-6 written in Aramaic (the language of Jesus) using Egyptian characters. This text was originally dated to the second century B.C., but this has since been extended to the 4th century B.C. (Link)
  • Urim and Thummim and seer stones—Joseph Smith used the Nephite Interpreters as well as his own seer stone (both of which were later referred to as “Urim and Thummim”) to translate the Book of Mormon. (Link)
  • Translation—What do we know about the method used to translate the Book of Mormon? Were the plates sometimes not in the room while Joseph was translating them? Critics claim that each sentence and word in the 1830 Book of Mormon “had supposedly come directly from God.” (Link)
  • Witnesses—The world was not left with Joseph Smith’s testimony alone. The Book of Mormon provided multiple official and unofficial witnesses who corroborated aspects of Joseph’s account.Critics have long tried to dismiss or destroy the witnesses’ witness. This page links to subpages which discuss various attacks in detail. (Link)

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