Criticism of Mormonism/Books/No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith/Chapter 5

Table of Contents

Response to claims made in "Chapter 5: Witnesses for God"

A FairMormon Analysis of: No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith, a work by author: Fawn Brodie
Claim Evaluation
No Man Knows My History
Chart.brodie.ch5.jpg

Response to claims made in No Man Knows My History, "Chapter 5: Witnesses for God"

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Response to claim: 69 - The Church has "exaggerated the ignorance" of Joseph Smith in order to bolster the divinity of the Book of Mormon

The author(s) of No Man Knows My History make(s) the following claim:

The Church has "exaggerated the ignorance" of Joseph Smith in order to bolster the divinity of the Book of Mormon.

Author's sources:
  1. Author's opinion. No source provided.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The author provides no evidence of this allegation.


Question: Does the Church teach or believe that Joseph Smith was "illiterate"?

The Church teaches that Joseph was uneducated, not "illiterate"

One website that is critical of the Church makes the following claim about Joseph Smith's education:

This wasn't a family of illiterates. Education was important to the Smith family, and although Joseph may have only had limited formal education in a typical classroom, his parents undoubtedly schooled him at home. Also Joseph was going to high school when he was 20 years old in Harmony PA with the Stowell children.
....
Even today many people home-school their children. Would anyone say that these home-schooled children are uneducated? It's true that they do not have a formal education but for the most part, home-schooled children have similar, and in some cases superior, education than traditionally-schooled children. [1]

The fact that Joseph could read the Bible demonstrates that he was not illiterate

The Church never taught that Joseph Smith was "illiterate." The official account of the First Vision refutes this, since it demonstrates that Joseph was fully capable of reading and understanding the Bible. The statement from the critics that Joseph's family "wasn't a family of illiterates" argues against a point that is never being made.

More to the point, equating Joseph Smith's "home schooling" to 21st-century home schooling is a false comparison. It was Joseph himself that said in his 1832 history that he was "deprived of the benefit of an education." One must ask the question: Why did Joseph's contemporaries not think him capable of producing the Book of Mormon? 21st century "homeschooling" has nothing to do with education on the frontier of 19th century America.

Joseph Smith himself, two years after the Book of Mormon was published, wrote that he "was mearly instructid in reading and writing and the ground rules of Arithmatic"

Here's what Joseph wrote in 1832 (original spelling retained):

I was born in the town of Charon [Sharon] in the State of vermont North America on the twenty third day of December AD 1805 of goodly Parents who spared no pains to instructing me in the christian religion at the age of about ten years my Father Joseph Smith Siegnior moved to Palmyra Ontario County in the State of New York and being in indigent circumstances were obliged to labour hard for the support of a large Family having nine chilldren and as it required the exertions of all that were able to render any assistance for the support of the Family therefore we were deprived of the bennifit of an education suffice it to say I was mearly instructid in reading and writing and the ground rules of Arithmatic which constuted my whole literary acquirements. [2]

Joseph's wife Emma stated the Joseph "could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well-worded letter, let alone dictate a book like the Book of Mormon"

Who would have known Joseph's abilities and weaknesses better than his wife?

Joseph Smith could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well-worded letter, let alone dictate 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.[3]


Joseph Smith (1832): "we were deprived of the bennifit of an education suffice it to say I was mearly instructtid in reading and writing and the ground <rules> of Arithmatic"

Text in blue is in Joseph Smith's own handwriting, the remainder in the handwriting of Frederick G. Williams.

my Father Joseph Smith Seignior moved to Palmyra Ontario County5 in the State of New York and being in indigent circumstances were obliged to labour hard for the support of a large Family having nine chilldren6 and as it required their exertions of all that were able to render any assistance for the support of the Family therefore we were deprived of the bennifit of an education suffice it to say I was mearly instructtid in reading and writing and the ground <rules> of Arithmatic which const[it]uted my whole literary acquirements. [4]


Response to claim: 70 - The Book of Mormon claims that Jesus was born in Jerusalem

The author(s) of No Man Knows My History make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon claims that Jesus was born in Jerusalem (quoting Alexander Campbell)

Author's sources:
  1. Millennial Harbinger, Vol. II, Feb. 1831, p. 85.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The Book of Mormon claims that Jesus was born in the land of Jerusalem.


Question: Why does the Book of Mormon say that Jesus would be born "at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers" when the Bible states that he was born in Bethlehem?

The town of Bethlehem is in the "land of Jerusalem" since it is only five miles away

Some have noted that Alma 7:10 says that Jesus would be born "at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers." Yet, every schoolchild knows that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. They claim that this is a mistake, and evidence that Joseph Smith forged the Book of Mormon.

The town of Bethlehem is in the "land of Jerusalem." In fact, Bethlehem is only 5 miles south of Jerusalem: definitely "in the land," especially from the perspective of Alma, a continent away. Even locals considered Hebron, twenty five miles from Bethlehem, to be in the "land of Jerusalem." This is, in reality, another literary evidence for the Book of Mormon. While a forger would likely overlook this detail and include Bethlehem as the commonly-understood birthplace of Jesus, the ancient authors of the Book of Mormon use an authentic term to describe the Savior's birthplace—thereby providing another point of authenticity for the Book of Mormon.

A picture of Bethlehem taken from Jerusalem in 2006. The photo was taken from Kibbutz Ramat Rachel. Bethlehem is located in Palestinian territory about five miles away from Jerusalem.

This is an old criticism that has been dealt with at least as far back as 1842

This is an old criticism that has been dealt with at least as far back as 1842.[5] but continues to pop up now and again.

BYU professor Daniel C. Peterson pointed out the absurdity of this argument:

To suggest that Joseph Smith knew the precise location of Jesus' baptism by John ("in Bethabara, beyond Jordan" (1 Ne. 10:9) but hadn't a clue about the famous town of Christ's birth is so improbable as to be ludicrous. Do the skeptics seriously mean to suggest that the Book of Mormon's Bible-drenched author (or authors) missed one of the most obvious facts about the most popular story in the Bible — something known to every child and Christmas caroler? Do they intend to say that a clever fraud who could write a book displaying so wide an array of subtly authentic Near Eastern and biblical cultural and literary traits as the Book of Mormon does was nonetheless so stupid as to claim, before a Bible-reading public, that Jesus was born in the city of Jerusalem? As one anti-Mormon author has pointed out, "Every schoolboy and schoolgirl knows Christ was born in Bethlehem." [Langfield, 53.] Exactly! It is virtually certain, therefore, that Alma 7:10 was foreign to Joseph Smith's preconceptions. "The land of Jerusalem" is not the sort of thing the Prophet would likely have invented, precisely for the same reason it bothers uninformed critics of the Book of Mormon.[6]

This is consistent with the usage of the ancient Middle East

It is important to note what Alma's words were. He did not claim Jesus would be born in the city of Jerusalem, but "at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers."

Thus, the Book of Mormon makes a distinction here between a city and the land associated with a city. It does this elsewhere as well:

This is consistent with the usage of the ancient Middle East. El Amarna letter #290 reports that "a town of the land of Jerusalem, Bit-Lahmi [Bethlehem] by name, a town belonging to the king, has gone over to the side of the people of Keilah."[7] (One over-confident 19th century critic blithely assured his readers that "There is no such land. No part of Palestine bears the name of Jerusalem, except the city itself."[8] While this was perhaps true in the 19th century, it was not true anciently. A supposed "howler" turns into evidence for the text's antiquity.

Thus, the Book of Mormon gets it exactly right — the town of Bethlehem is in the "land of Jerusalem." In fact, Bethlehem is only 5 miles south of Jerusalem: definitely "in the land," especially from the perspective of Alma, a continent away. Even locals considered Hebron, twenty five miles from Bethlehem, to be in the "land of Jerusalem."

The use of the term "land of Jerusalem" is authentic ancient usage

Hugh Nibley noted in 1957:

while the Book of Mormon refers to the city of Jerusalem plainly and unmistakably over sixty times, it refers over forty times to another and entirely different geographical entity which is always designated as "the land of Jerusalem." In the New World also every major Book of Mormon city is surrounded by a land of the same name.

The land of Jerusalem is not the city of Jerusalem. Lehi "dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days" (1 Nephi 1:4), yet his sons had to "go down to the land of our father's inheritance" to pick up their property (1 Nephi 3:16,22). The apparent anomaly is readily explained by the Amarna Letters, in which we read that "a city of the land of Jerusalem, Bet-Ninib, has been captured."17 It was the rule in Palestine and Syria from ancient times, as the same letters show, for a large area around a city and all the inhabitants of that area to bear the name of the city.18 It is taken for granted that if Nephi lived at Jerusalem he would know about the surrounding country: "I, of myself, have dwelt at Jerusalem, wherefore I know concerning the regions round about" (2 Nephi 25:6; italics added). But this was quite unknown at the time the Book of Mormon was written—the Amarna Letters were discovered in 1887. One of the favorite points of attack on the Book of Mormon has been the statement in Alma 7:10 that the Savior would be born "at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers" (italics added). Here Jerusalem is not the city "in the land of our forefathers"; it is the land. Christ was born in a village some six miles from the city of Jerusalem; it was not in the city, but it was in what we now know the ancients themselves designated as "the land of Jerusalem." Such a neat test of authenticity is not often found in ancient documents.[9]


Response to claim: 70-71 - Joseph added the story of the Jaredites in order to explain how animals had come to America

The author(s) of No Man Knows My History make(s) the following claim:

Joseph added the story of the Jaredites in order to explain how animals had come to America.

Author's sources:
  1. Author's opinion.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

There is absolutely no evidence for this assumption on the part of the author.


Question: Is it possible that Joseph Smith simply added the Book of Ether to the Book of Mormon as an "afterthought" in order to explain the variety of animals in the New World?

The story of the destroyed civilization to the north was an integral part of the Book of Mormon narrative from the beginning

It is claimed that the story of the Jaredites, as described in the Book of Ether, was added by Joseph Smith as an "afterthought" in order to account for the variety of animals present in the New World at the time of arrival of Lehi's group.

The story of the destroyed civilization to the north was an integral part of the Book of Mormon narrative, and can be seen to have been incorporated by Mormon into his abridgment from the beginning. It was Moroni who decided to transcribe and add a short abridgment of what was contained on the twenty-four plates in order to supplement the record that his father, Mormon, had already produced. The story of the Jaredites was clearly used in the Book of Mormon as an example for the Nephites of a people who were destroyed for their wickedness. The idea that Joseph Smith casually "dictated a terse history" during the "last weeks of writing" in order to tie up some loose ends involving animals is a gross oversimplification of the story of the Jaredites and its relation to the greater Book of Mormon narrative.

The critical claim

Critics suggest that the Book of Ether was simply an "afterthought" added by Joseph Smith to the Book of Mormon in order to explain the presence of a wide variety of animals in the New World at the time of the arrival of Lehi's party. The verses used by critics to support this assertion are Ether 2:1-3:

1 And it came to pass that Jared and his brother, and their families, and also the friends of Jared and his brother and their families, went down into the valley which was northward, (and the name of the valley was Nimrod, being called after the mighty hunter) with their flocks which they had gathered together, male and female, of every kind.

2 And they did also lay snares and catch fowls of the air; and they did also prepare a vessel, in which they did carry with them the fish of the waters.

3 And they did also carry with them deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee; and thus they did carry with them swarms of bees, and all manner of that which was upon the face of the land, seeds of every kind. (Ether 2:1-3)

Critic Fawn Brodie postulated in her biography of Joseph Smith, No Man Knows My History, that "[t]his little detail regarding cargo, flung casually into the story, partly settled the question of how animals had come to America, a problem men had puzzled over for three centuries." [10]:71

The verses in Ether are sufficiently vague that it is really not possible to pin down exactly which animals the Jaredites brought with them to the New World

Hugh Nibley offered his opinion on Brodie's assertion:

Again, the barges of the Jaredites "contained everything which the settlers might need on the new continent," like any Chinese junk, Viking ship, or the Mayflower itself; in fact, ships have a way of carrying with them whatever the personnel will need. Brodie, however, knows that the whole thing is a dishonest adaptation of Noah's ark. [11]

The verses in Ether are sufficiently vague that it is really not possible to pin down exactly which animals the Jaredites brought with them to the New World. Brodie goes on to claim that "Joseph did not trouble to explain the presence of wild animals in America, and he was careless in his choice of domestic beasts. He had the Jaredites bring horses, swine, sheep, cattle, and asses..."[10]:72 Brodie is referring to the belief that the animals mentioned were not present in the pre-Columbian New World, which is addressed in a separate article: Book of Mormon anachronisms. The issue that we address here, however, is whether or not it is valid to claim that the story of the Jaredites was added simply to explain the presence of animals in the New World.

The Book of Mormon does not say that the Jaredites brought horses, swine, sheep, cattle and asses with them

In Ether 9:19 we find,

And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms.Ether 9:19

Contrary to Brodie's claim, the Book of Mormon does not say that the Jaredites brought horses, swine, sheep, cattle and asses with them. Some of these domestic animals no doubt were brought with them, however the book only specifies that they brought "their flocks," without indentifying specifically what the "flocks" were comprised of. For example, it is not specified whether the Jaredites brought horses with them or whether the horses mentioned in Ether 9:19 were already present in the New World. More to the point, one would not reasonably expect the Jaredites to have brought elephants with them on their boats.

The Book of Ether is integrated with the complete Book of Mormon narrative

Brodie claims that at some point during the process of producing the Book of Mormon, that Joseph felt the need to add the story of the Jaredites in order to clean up some unanswered questions. The question is: Is this a reasonable assumption? This raises two questions:

  1. How intricately are elements from the Book of Ether woven into the rest of the Book of Mormon narrative?
  2. Does the order in which the books were translated have any bearing on this?

The first indication of the Jaredites in the Book of Mormon occurs in Mosiah 8:8-9:

8 And they were lost in the wilderness for the space of many days, yet they were diligent, and found not the land of Zarahemla but returned to this land, having traveled in a land among many waters, having discovered a land which was covered with bones of men, and of beasts, and was also covered with ruins of buildings of every kind, having discovered a land which had been peopled with a people who were as numerous as the hosts of Israel.

9 And for a testimony that the things that they had said are true they have brought twenty-four plates which are filled with engravings, and they are of pure gold.

The Jaredites are again alluded to in Alma 37:21

And now, I will speak unto you concerning those twenty-four plates, that ye keep them, that the mysteries and the works of darkness, and their secret works, or the secret works of those people who have been destroyed, may be made manifest unto this people; yea, all their murders, and robbings, and their plunderings, and all their wickedness and abominations, may be made manifest unto this people; yea, and that ye preserve these interpreters.

If the books in the Book of Mormon were translated in a linear fashion, as indicated by witnesses, then the claim that the Book of Ether was added as an afterthought becomes difficult to explain. The Book of Ether wasn't something that could simply be appended to the end of the record to tie up some loose ends. Even if one takes the position that the translation continued onward from the book of Mosiah after the loss of the 116 pages of manuscript and then finished with the books of Nephi through the Words of Mormon, the first reference to the Jaredites still occurs in the early part of the translation timeline.

There are other indications of integration between the two narratives as well. For example, the name "Moroni" appears to be related to the name of the Jaredite city "Moron." The name "Moroni" appears many time in the Book of Mormon, beginning in the book of Alma. The name "Moron" only appears in the Book of Ether. It is, of course, possible to assume that Joseph simply created a Jaredite city name based upon the name of one of his earlier characters, but this then assumes, if one take's Brodie's perspective, that Joseph was trying to use the Book of Ether to "explain" an item in Alma that didn't really require an explanation. It is more reasonable to assume that traces of Jaredite influence survived to be integrated into Nephite culture. If one subscribes to the theory that the Nephites and Lamanites are related to the Maya and Olmec, this fits well with the known influence of Olmec culture on that of the Maya.


Response to claim: 72 - Joseph had the Jaredites bring horses, swine, sheep, cattle, and asses, yet these animals were not found in the Americas

The author(s) of No Man Knows My History make(s) the following claim:

Joseph had the Jaredites bring horses, swine, sheep, cattle, and asses, yet these animals were not found in the Americas at the time of Columbus.

Author's sources:
  1. The author adds in a footnote that Mormons "point to discoveries of small prehistoric horses in the New World as evidence of the truth of the Book of Mormon, and ignore the fact that these animals became extinct long before the supposed Jaredite migration."

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The Book of Mormon does not state that the Jaredites brought all of these animals with them.


Question: Why are horses considered an anachronism in the Book of Mormon?

Horses existed in the New World anciently and spread to other parts of the world, however, it is currently believed that "The last prehistoric North American horses died out between 13,000 and 11,000 years ago, at the end of the Pleistocene." [12]

Modern horses did not arrive in the New World until they were brought by Spanish explorers. Thus, the mention of "horses" in the Americas during Book of Mormon times presents an anachronism--something that doesn't fit the time frame for which it is claimed.

There are at least two possible resolutions to the "horse" problem in the Book of Mormon:

  1. Horses were present but their remains have not been found.
  2. Definitions of the word "horse" were expanded to include new meanings.


Question: What is the origin of the modern horse in the New World?

Most scientists believe that the horse originated in the Americas and spread across land bridges from the Americas to Asia, eventually migrating into Africa and Europe. Over the course of millions of years the horse evolved from a smaller breed to the larger horses of today. Near the end of the Pleistocene period--about 10,000 years ago--the most recent ice-age came to an end. During this time many large mammals that once roamed the Americas became extinct. Among these were mammoths, camels, and the mid-sized horses that once lived in abundance in the New World. Scientists typically postulate that these animals died off due to climate changes and possible over-hunting. In other parts of the world, however, horses continued to thrive and eventually evolved into modern-day horses. When the Spaniards came to the New World in the early sixteenth century, they brought horses with them. Some horses eventually escaped and multiplied in the wild.

A horse skeleton from the La Brea Tarpits, in Los Angeles, California. The Museum notes that this is an example of the "extinct Western horse". Image taken from [1] on the La Brea Tarpits Museum website.



Verses in the Book of Mormon that talk about "horses"

Horses associated with travel and chariots

  • Alma 18:9-10
    And they said unto him: Behold, he is feeding thy horses. Now the king had commanded his servants, previous to the time of the watering of their flocks, that they should prepare his horses and chariots, and conduct him forth to the land of Nephi...Now when king Lamoni heard that Ammon was preparing his horses and his chariots he was more astonished...
  • Alma 18:12
    And it came to pass that when Ammon had made ready the horses and the chariots for the king and his servants...
  • Alma 20:6
    Now when Lamoni had heard this he caused that his servants should make ready his horses and his chariots.
  • 3 Nephi 3:22
    And it came to pass in the *seventeenth year, in the latter end of the year, the proclamation of Lachoneus had gone forth throughout all the face of the land, and they had taken their horses, and their chariots, and their cattle, and all their flocks, and their herds, and their grain, and all their substance, and did march forth by thousands and by tens of thousands, until they had all gone forth to the place which had been appointed that they should gather themselves together, to defend themselves against their enemies.

(It should be noted that we are not told if these chariots served a purpose in riding, or if they were for transport of goods, or if they had a ceremonial function. One assumes some sort of practicality or ritual use in war, since they brought chariots to the siege in 3 Nephi.)

Horse mentioned in quotes of Old World scripture

  • 2 Nephi 12:7
    Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots.
  • 2 Nephi 15:28
    Whose arrows shall be sharp, and all their bows bent, and their horses’ hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind, their roaring like a lion.
  • 3 Nephi 21:14
    Yea, wo be unto the Gentiles except they repent; for it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Father, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots;

Wild horses

  • 1 Nephi 18:25
    And it came to pass that we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men.

Domesticated horses

  • Enos 1:21
    And it came to pass that the people of Nephi did till the land, and raise all manner of grain, and of fruit, and flocks of herds, and flocks of all manner of cattle of every kind, and goats, and wild goats, and also many horses.

Horses as a potential source of food

  • 3 Nephi 4:4
    Therefore, there was no chance for the robbers to plunder and to obtain food, save it were to come up in open battle against the Nephites; and the Nephites being in one body, and having so great a number, and having reserved for themselves provisions, and horses and cattle, and flocks of every kind, that they might subsist for the space of seven years...
  • 3 Nephi 6:1
    And now it came to pass that the people of the Nephites did all return to their own lands in the *twenty and sixth year, every man, with his family, his flocks and his herds, his horses and his cattle...
  • Ether 9:19
    And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms.

It is interesting that the horses are often grouped with cattle, and seem to have played a role in the diet (though this may have been under the exigencies of the siege of 3 Nephi.)


Question: What role do horses not play in the Book of Mormon?

Horses are never ridden or used in battle

Conspicuously absent is any role of the horse in the many journeys recorded in the Book of Mormon. Nor does the Book of Mormon text indicate that horses or chariots play any role in the many Nephite wars (despite a popular classic Book of Mormon painting by Arnold Friburg depicting Helaman leading the 2000 stripling warriors while astride a battle-ready horse); this is in stark contrast to the Biblical account, in which the chariots of Egypt, Babylon, and the Philistines are feared super-weapons upon the plains of Israel.

Nor do we see a role for the horse in gallant cavalry charges that were the romantic warrior ideal in Joseph Smith's day. Nor is there any sign of the rapid war of maneuver and skirmish favored by the cavalry of the western nations. These are not the horses of the nineteenth century's practical realities or fanciful dreams.

There are societies in which the horse was vital, such as among the Hun warriors of Asia and Eastern Europe, for whom horses were a sign of wealth and status, and for whom they were essential for food, clothing, and war. Yet, there is no known horse bone from this period in the archaeological record.[13]


Question: Have any ancient horse remains from the Nephite period been found in the New World?

A few non-Mormon scholars have proposed that real horses survived the New World extinction

Wild horses were present in ancient America during the Pleistocene period (Ice Age), yet were not present at the time of the arrival of the Spaniards. Horses thrived once they were re-introduced by the Spaniards into the New World. The question then is: "Why were horses missing when the Spaniards arrived?" Is it possible that real horses lived in the Americas during Book of Mormon times? And if so, why does there seem to be no archaeological support?

At least a few non-Mormon scholars believe that real horses (of a stature smaller than modern horses) may have survived New World extinction. The late British anthropologist, M.F. Ashley Montague, a non-LDS scholar who taught at Harvard, suggested that the horse never became extinct in America. According to Montague, the size of post-Columbian horses provides evidence that the European horses bred with early American horses.[14]

Non-LDS Canadian researcher, Yuri Kuchinsky, also believes that there were pre-Columbian horses. Kuchinsky, however, believes that horses (smaller than our modern horses) were reintroduced into the west coast of the Americas about 2000 years ago from Asians who came by ship. Among Kuchinsky's evidences for pre-Columbian horses are:

  1. Horse traditions among the Indians that may pre-date the arrival of the Spaniards.
  2. Supposedly pre-Columbian petroglyphs that appear to depict horses.
  3. Noticeable differences between the typical Spanish horse and the much smaller American Indian ponies.[15]


Question: Why don't potential pre-Columbian horse remains in the New World receive greater attention from scientists?

Theories that horses survived extinction after the Pleistocene extinction are viewed as fringe by mainstream scholars and are dismissed

Unfortunately for this solution for the Book of Mormon, however, such theories are typically seen as fringe among mainstream scholars. Due to the dearth of archaeological support, most scholars continue to believe that horses became extinct at the end of the Pleistocene period.

We know, for example, that the Norsemen probably introduced horses, cows, sheep, goats, and pigs into the Eastern North America in the eleventh century A.D., yet these animals didn't spread throughout the continent and they left no archeological remains.[16] According to one non-LDS authority on ancient American, the Olmecs had domesticated dogs and turkeys but the damp acidic Mesoamerican soil would have destroyed any remains and any archaeological evidence of such animal domestication.[17]

Even in areas of the world where animals lived in abundance, we sometimes have problems finding archaeological remains. The textual evidence for lions in Israel, for example, suggests that lions were present in Israel from ancient times until at least the sixteenth century AD. Robert R. Bennett of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute Of Religious Scholarship notes,

A parallel example from the Bible is instructive. The biblical narrative mentions lions, yet it was not until very recently that the only other evidence for lions in Palestine was pictographic or literary. Before the announcement in a 1988 publication of two bone samples, there was no archaeological evidence to confirm the existence of lions in that region.6 Thus there is often a gap between what historical records such as the Book of Mormon claim existed and what the limited archaeological record may yield. In addition, archaeological excavations in Bible lands have been under way for decades longer and on a much larger scale than those in proposed Book of Mormon lands.[18]

In the Bible we read that Abraham had camels while in Egypt, yet archaeologists used to believe that this was an anachronism because camels were supposedly unknown in Egypt until Greek and Roman times. More recently, however, some researchers have shown that camels were used in Egypt from pre-historic times until the present day.

The fact is, however, that there does appear to be archaeological support that horses existed in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. In 1957, for instance, at Mayapan (a site corresponding to Book of Mormon lands/times) horse remains were discovered at a depth considered to be pre-Columbian. Likewise, in southwest Yucatan, a non-Mormon archaeologist found what may likely be pre-Columbian horse remains in three caves. Excavations in a cave in the Mayan lowlands in 1978 also turned up horse remains.[19]

As an article for the Academy of Natural Science explains, such discoveries are typically "either dismissed or ignored by the European scientific community."[20] The problem may be one of pre-conceived paradigms. Dr. Sorenson recently related the story of a non-LDS archaeologist colleague who was digging at an archaeological dig in Tula and discovered a horse tooth. He took it to his supervisor--the chief archaeologist--who said, "Oh, that's a modern horse, throw it away" (which he did)--it was never dated.[21]

Dr. John Clark, director of the New World Archaeological Foundation has expressed similar concerns:

The problem is archaeologists get in the same hole that everybody else gets in. If you find a horse--if I'm digging a site and I find a horse bone--if I actually know enough to know that it is a horse bone, because that takes some expertise--my assumption would be that there's something wrong with my site. And so archaeologists who find a horse bone and say, "Ah! Somebody's screwing around with my archaeology." So we would never date it. Why am I going to throw away $600 to date the horse bone when I already know [that they're modern]? ...I think that hole's screwed up. If I dig a hole and I find plastic in the bottom, I'm not going to run the [radio]carbon, that's all there is to it. Because ...I don't want to waste the money.[22]


Question: Could ancient Americans have expanded the definition of "horse" to include new meanings?

Loan shifting: We must consider the possibility that the ancient author was applying familiar terms to unfamiliar animals that were encountered in the New World

Joseph Smith obviously knew what a "horse" looked like. It stands to reason, therefore, that when Joseph said "horse" that this is exactly what he meant. If we consider, however, that Joseph was receiving revelation that simply conveyed what was written by the ancient author, we must consider the possibility that the ancient author was applying familiar terms to unfamiliar animals that were encountered in the New World. It is important to remember that the Book of Mormon itself is not an ancient text—it is a nineteenth-century translation of an ancient text. Modern readers need to have an understanding of what the ancient author was attempting to convey. Some of the things that seem "plain" to us are not so "plain" upon further investigation or once we understand the culture that produced the text.

For a detailed response, see: Loan shifting: "Horses" as deer and tapirs


Journal of Book of Mormon Studies: "Pottery and other cultural materials were found in levels VII and above. But in some of those artifact-bearing strata there were horse bones, even in level II"

The Journal of Book of Mormon Studies: [23]

Publications from the late 1950s reported results from excavations by scientists working on the Yucatan Peninsula. Excavations at the site of Mayapan, which dates to a few centuries before the Spaniards arrived, yielded horse bones in four spots. (Two of the lots were from the surface, however, and might represent Spanish horses.) From another site, the Cenote (water hole) Ch'en Mul, came other traces, this time from a firm archaeological context. In the bottom stratum in a sequence of levels of unconsolidated earth almost two meters in thickness, two horse teeth were found. They were partially mineralized, indicating that they were definitely ancient and could not have come from any Spanish animal. The interesting thing is that Maya pottery was also found in the stratified soil where the teeth were located. [24]

Subsequent digging has expanded the evidence for an association of humans with horses. But the full story actually goes back to 1895, when American paleontologist Henry C. Mercer went to Yucatan hoping to find remains of Ice Age man. He visited 29 caves in the hill area—the Puuc—of the peninsula and tried stratigraphic excavation in 10 of them. But the results were confused, and he came away disillusioned. He did find horse bones in three caves (Actun Sayab, Actun Lara, and Chektalen). In terms of their visible characteristics, those bones should have been classified as from the Pleistocene American horse species, then called Equus occidentalis L. However, Mercer decided that since the remains were near the surface, they must actually be from the modern horse, Equus equus, that the Spaniards had brought with them to the New World, and so he reported them as such.[25] In 1947 Robert T. Hatt repeated Mercer's activities. He found within Actun Lara and one other cave more remains of the American horse (in his day it was called Equus conversidens), along with bones of other extinct animals. Hatt recommended that any future work concentrate on Loltun Cave, where abundant animal and cultural remains could be seen.[26]

It took until 1977 before that recommendation bore fruit. Two Mexican archaeologists carried out a project that included a complete survey of the complex system of subterranean cavities (made by underground water that had dissolved the subsurface limestone). They also did stratigraphic excavation in areas in the Loltun complex not previously visited. The pits they excavated revealed a sequence of 16 layers, which they numbered from the surface downward. Bones of extinct animals (including mammoth) appear in the lowest layers.

Pottery and other cultural materials were found in levels VII and above. But in some of those artifact-bearing strata there were horse bones, even in level II. A radiocarbon date for the beginning of VII turned out to be around 1800 BC. The pottery fragments above that would place some portions in the range of at least 900–400 BC and possibly later. The report on this work concludes with the observation that "something went on here that is still difficult to explain." Some archaeologists have suggested that the horse bones were stirred upward from lower to higher levels by the action of tunneling rodents, but they admit that this explanation is not easy to accept. The statement has also been made that paleontologists will not be pleased at the idea that horses survived to such a late date as to be involved with civilized or near-civilized people whose remains are seen in the ceramic-using levels.[27] Surprisingly, the Mexican researchers show no awareness of the horse teeth discovered in 1957 by Carnegie Institution scientists Pollock and Ray. (Some uncomfortable scientific facts seem to need rediscovering time and time again.)


Martin: "no theoretical reason why a herd of mastodons, horses, or ground sloths could not have survived in some small refuge until 8000 or even 4000 years ago"

Paul S. Martin:

Admittedly, there is no theoretical reason why a herd of mastodons, horses, or ground sloths could not have survived in some small refuge until 8000 or even 4000 years ago. But in the past two decades, concordant stratiagraphic, palynological, archeological, and radiocarbon evidence to demonstrate beyond doubt the post-glacial survival of an extinct large mammal has been confined to extinct species of Bison…No evidence of similar quality has been mustered to show that mammoths, mastodons, or any of the other 29 genera of extinct large mammals of North America were alive 10,000 years ago. The coincidence in time between massive extinction and the first arrival of big game hunters cannot be ignored.[28]


Grayson: "extinct North American mammals...losses began in Mexico and Alaska during the Pleistocene and ended in Florida perhaps as recently as 2000 years ago"

Grayson:

In the first thorough review of radiocarbon dates associated with the extinct North American mammals, Martin (1958) concluded that the losses began in Mexico and Alaska during the Pleistocene and ended in Florida perhaps as recently as 2000 years ago (1958:405). Soon after, however, Hester (1960:58) concluded that the great majority of herd animals seemed to have been lost swiftly and together around 8,000 years ago even if some, like the mastodon, may have lingered on beyond then. Hester was thus the first to suggest, based on radiocarbon evidence, that a significant number, if not all, of the North American extinctions were synchronous. [29]


Bernardino de Sahagun: "Fodder was provided the deer—horses—which the Spaniards rode"

Bernardino de Sahagun:

Fodder was provided the deer—horses—which the Spaniards rode....The horses—they looked like deer—neighed and whinnied. They were all sweating; water fell from their bodies....[30]


Sorenson: Horse bones in Yucatan "considered to be pre-Columbian on the basis of depth of burial and degree of mineralization"

John L. Sorenson: [31]

Excavations at the Post-Classic site of Mayapan in Yucatan in 1957 yielded remains of horses in four lots. Two of these specimens are from the surface and might have been remains of Spanish animals. Two other lots, however, were obtained from excavation in Cenote [water hole] Ch'en Mul "from the bottom stratum in a sequence of unconsolidated earth almost 2 meters in thickness." They were "considered to be pre-Columbian on the basis of depth of burial and degree of mineralization. Such mineralization was observed in no other bone or tooth in the collection although thousands were examined, some of which were found in close proximity to the horse teeth." Clayton E. Ray somewhat lamely suggests that the fossil teeth were of Pleistocene age and "could have been transported . . . as curios by the Mayans." [32]


Sorenson: "There is an animal which they call chic, wonderfully active, as large as a small dog, with a snout like a sucking pig. The Indian women raise them"

John L. Sorenson:

A good example of the confusion is with the coatimundi (Nasua narica). Landa, the padre who favored us with a detailed description of Yucatan, wrote of the beast, "There is an animal which they call chic, wonderfully active, as large as a small dog, with a snout like a sucking pig. The Indian women raise them, and they leave nothing which they do not root over and turn upside down"...Another name, from the Aztecs, is pisote (Nahuatl pezotli), which means basically glutton. Yet pisote is sometimes applied also to the peccary or wild pig. In regard to the peccary, the Nahuatl terms quauhcoyametl and quahpizotl were developed after the conquest to distinguish the native species from the introduced Castilian pig, so by extension, the coati was sometimes termed quauhpezotli, tree-glutton, to distinguish it from the peccary, the ground-glutton.[33]


Miller and Roper: "two distinct species of peccary live in Mesoamerica....They were hunted and eaten as early as Olmec times"

Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper: [34]

Presently two distinct species of peccary live in Mesoamerica. These include the Collared Peccary (Pecari tajacu) and the White-lipped Peccary (Tayassu pecari), both of which can be found in the tropical regions near the Tuxtlas Mountains of the Yucatan. [35] The Jaredites as they presumably established settlements in Mesoamerica no doubt would have encountered them. They were hunted and eaten as early as Olmec times. Remains of these animals have been found associated with man for several thousands of years. There is a paleo-Indian carving of an extinct camel sacrum in the shape of a peccary. A Picture of this bone is shown by Evans. [36] The bone of this extinct camel came from deposits in central Mexico, and shows ancient interaction between this extinct animal and Pre-columbian natives. Remains of Pre-Columbian peccary have been found finds in Loltún Cave in the Yucatan [37] and in several other caves in the region associated with human artifacts. [38] There is no question that peccaries (“wild pigs”) and man shared this area since prehistoric times.

Image taken from Miller and Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture.


Miller and Roper: "there are sheep native to America. The most common type is the Mountain Sheep, Ovis canadensis"

Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper: [39]

Sheep were probably among the animals brought to America by the Jaredites, although they were not stated explicitly by name (Ether 6:4). They most likely are to be included in the term “flocks,” and are mentioned by name in Ether ( 9:18) several generations later. Sheep have been useful to man for many centuries and were probably man’s first domesticated animal [40] (along with the dog). They are useful for both food and clothing. In addition to Old World sheep, apparently brought to the New World by the Jaredites, there are sheep native to America. The most common type is the Mountain Sheep, Ovis canadensis. Their current geographic range extends south only to northern Mexico. However, their past range was more extensive, as was their habitat before human settlements expanded. [41] They are an animal that can be tamed or at least semi-domesticated. According to Geist , “It is hard to imagine a wild animal more readily tamed than mountain sheep.” [42] Sorenson noted the apparent recovery of sheep wool from a pre-Columbian burial site near Puebla (southeast of Mexico City). [43] Petroglyphs from Mexico and the southwestern United States show many prehistoric depictions of sheep. It appears certain that the association of sheep and man occurred in America before this animal was brought over beginning in 1493 with Columbus’ second voyage.


Wikipedia: Bighorn sheep "crossed to North America over the Bering land bridge"

Bighorn sheep were native to North America at the time the the Jaredites arrived. The following is from Wikipedia:

The bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis)[44] is a species of sheep in North America [45] named for its large horns. These horns can weigh up to 30 lb (14 kg), while the sheep themselves weigh up to 300 lb (140 kg). [46] Recent genetic testing indicates three distinct subspecies of Ovis canadensis, one of which is endangered: O. c. sierrae. Sheep originally crossed to North America over the Bering land bridge from Siberia: the population in North America peaked in the millions, and the bighorn sheep entered into the mythology of Native Americans. [47]


Sorenson: "The Miami Indians, for example, were unfamiliar with the buffalo and simply called them 'wild cows'"

John L. Sorenson:

As with many other animals in the Book of Mormon, it is likely that these Book of Mormon terms are the product of reassigning familiar labels to unfamiliar items...The Miami Indians, for example, were unfamiliar with the buffalo and simply called them “wild cows.” Likewise the “explorer DeSoto called the buffalo simply vaca, cow. The Delaware Indians named the cow after the deer, and the Miami tribe labeled sheep, when they first saw them, ‘looks-like-a-cow’”[48]


Miller and Roper: "Bones of domesticated cattle...have been reported from different caves in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico"

Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper: [49]

Bones of domesticated cattle (Bos taurus – see Figure 2) have been reported from different caves in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.[50] In one instance these bones were found with those of an extinct horse, Equus conversidens. It is especially interesting that along with these cow and horse remains, human artifacts were found in association with them! The indication is that domesticated cattle and the horse coexisted with humans in pre-Columbian time. [51]

Image taken from Miller and Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture.


Pietro Martire d'Anghiera (1912): "the Spaniards noticed herds of deer similar to our herds of cattle"

The current consensus is that ancient Americans did not keep herds of large animals for use as food. However, Pietro Martire d'Anghiera noted the following in 1912:

In all these regions they visited, the Spaniards noticed herds of deer similar to our herds of cattle. These deer bring forth and nourish their young in the houses of the natives. During the daytime they wander freely through the woods in search of their food, and in the evening they come back to their little ones, who have been cared for, allowing themselves to be shut up in the courtyards and even to be milked, when they have suckled their fawns. The only milk the natives know is that of the does, from which they make cheese.[52]


Response to claim: 74 - Joseph had a talent for making men see visions

The author(s) of No Man Knows My History make(s) the following claim:

Joseph had a talent for making men see visions.

Author's sources:
  1. Author's opinion.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This is the author's guess at what happened. According to the author, even Joseph didn't know that he had this ability until after the Book of Mormon was completed.


Response to claim: 77 - The Three Witnesses all told different versions of their experience

The author(s) of No Man Knows My History make(s) the following claim:

The Three Witnesses all told different versions of their experience.

Author's sources:
  • Palmyra Reflector, March 19, 1831.
  • History of the Church, Vol. I, pp. 54-5.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The witnesses own statements, when all of them are considered instead of a select few, tell a much more consistent story.


Martin Harris: "As sure as you see my hand so sure did I see the angel and the plates"

Martin Harris said in the presence of 12-year-old William Glenn:

Gentlemen, do you see that hand? Are you sure you see it? Are your eyes playing a trick or something? No. Well, as sure as you see my hand so sure did I see the angel and the plates.[53]


Martin Harris: "The Book of Mormon is no fake. I know what I know. I have seen what I have seen and I have heard what I have heard"

George Godfrey, and Martin Harris's response to him, after Godfrey suggested that Harris had been deceived:

A few hours before his death and when he was so weak and enfeebled that he was unable to recognize me or anyone, and knew not to whom he was speaking, I asked him if he did not feel that there was an element at least, of fraudulence and deception in the things that were written and told of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and he replied as he had always done so many, many times in my hearing the same spirit he always manifested when enjoying health and vigor and said: ‘The Book of Mormon is no fake. I know what I know. I have seen what I have seen and I have heard what I have heard. I have seen the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon is written. An angel appeared to me and others and testified to the truthfulness of the record, and had I been willing to have perjured myself and sworn falsely to the testimony I now bear I could have been a rich man, but I could not have testified other than I have done and am now doing for these things are true.[54]


David Whitmer (1884): "I saw with these eyes and I heard with these ears"

David Whitmer's response when asked if he "had been mistaken and had simply been moved upon by some mental disturbance, or hallucination, which had deceived them into thinking he saw the Personage, the Angel, the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the sword of Laban."

Whitmer was interviewed by Joseph Smith III, in the presence of others, not all of whom were disposed to believe his account. Significantly, he listed several items that he had seen, besides the golden plates:

Rather suggestively [Colonel Giles] asked if it might not have been possible that he, Mr. Whitmer, had been mistaken and had simply been moved upon by some mental disturbance, or hallucination, which had deceived them into thinking he saw the Personage, the Angel, the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the sword of Laban. How well and distinctly I remember the manner in which Elder Whitmer arose and drew himself up to his full height—a little over six feet—and said, in solemn and impressive tones: "No, sir! I was not under any hallucination, nor was I deceived! I saw with these eyes and I heard with these ears! I know whereof I speak!"[55]


Response to claim: 77 - The author claims that the Three Witnesses were hypnotized by Joseph Smith

The author(s) of No Man Knows My History make(s) the following claim:

The Three Witnesses were hypnotized by Joseph Smith.

Author's sources:
  1. Author's opinion.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

The author is trying to find any explanation for what the witnesses experienced. According to the author, Joseph didn't realize that he had this ability either (it was supposedly a "unconscious but positive talent.")


Question: Could Joseph Smith have hypnotized the witnesses to the Book of Mormon?

The Three Witnesses had the opportunity to qualify their testimony, but all of them insisted that their vision was literal and unmistakable

It is claimed that the Book of Mormon witnesses may have been sincere in their testimony, but were actually the victims of 'hallucination' or 'hypnosis' induced in them by Joseph Smith.

The Three Witnesses had the opportunity to qualify their testimony, but all of them insisted that their vision was literal and unmistakable. In addition, they each verified the literalness of the event by stating that their physical ears heard a heavenly voice. Critics twist the historical record in their effort to eliminate the troublesome witnesses but their testimonies cannot be convincingly dismissed.

(Note: All emphasis in the following quotes has been added.)

David Whitmer—like the other witnesses—had been charged with being deluded into thinking he had seen an angel and the plates. Joseph Smith III remembered when David was such accused, and said:

"How well and distinctly I remember the manner in which Elder Whitmer arose and drew himself up to his full height—a little over six feet—and said, in solemn and impressive tones: 'No sir! I was not under any hallucination, nor was I deceived! I saw with these eyes, and I heard with these ears! I know whereof I speak!'."[56]

Martin Harris used the same qualifying statements to describe his experience in 1829:

"In introducing us, Mr. Godfrey said, 'Brother Harris, I have brought these young men to hear your statement as to whether or not you believe the Book of Mormon to be true.' His face was turned to the wall. He turned and faced us and said, 'Now I don't believe, but I know it to be true, for with these eyes I saw the angel and with these ears (pointing to them) I heard him say it was a true and correct record of an ancient people that dwelt upon this the American continent'."[57]

Oliver Cowdery was asked, “Was your testimony based on a dream, was it the imagination of your mind, was it an illusion”? He responded with the exact same qualifying statements as the other two Witnesses:

"My eyes saw, my ears heard, and my understanding was touched, and I know that whereof I testified is true. It was no dream, no vain imagination of the mind—it was real."[58]

Only 3% of people are capable of experiencing a visual hallucination, and only 9% of the population can hallucinate a voice speaking to them while under the influence of hypnosis

Research by Ernest Hilgard at Stanford found that only 3% of people are capable of experiencing a visual hallucination, and only 9% of the population can hallucinate a voice speaking to them while under the influence of hypnosis. These statistics just further refute psychological arguments against the validity of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon.[59]



Response to claim: 78 - Martin Harris stated that he viewed the plates through "the eye of faith"

The author(s) make(s) the following claim:

Martin Harris stated that he viewed the plates through "the eye of faith."

Author's sources:
  1. Rev. John A. Clark, Gleanings by the Way, (Philadelphia: W.J. and J.K. Simon; New York: Robert Carter, 1842), 256-7 off-site

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Martin Harris stated this, but he also stated many times that he actually saw the physical plates.


Question: Did Martin Harris tell people that he did not see the plates with his natural eyes, but rather the "eye of faith"?

A former pastor, John A. Clark, said that a "gentleman in Palmyra" told him that Harris said that he saw the plates with the "eye of faith"

John A. Clark, a former pastor who considered Joseph Smith a fraud and the Book of Mormon “an imposture,” states,

To know how much this testimony [of three witnesses] is worth I will state one fact. A gentleman in Palmyra, bred to the law, a professor of religion, and of undoubted veracity told me that on one occasion, he appealed to Harris and asked him directly,-”Did you see those plates?” Harris replied, he did. “Did you see the plates, and the engraving on them with your bodily eyes?” Harris replied, “Yes, I saw them with my eyes,-they were shown unto me by the power of God and not of man.” “But did you see them with your natural,-your bodily eyes, just as you see this pencil-case in my hand? Now say no or yes to this.” Harris replied,-”Why I did not see them as I do that pencil-case, yet I saw them with the eye of faith; I saw them just as distinctly as I see any thing around me,-though at the time they were covered over with a cloth.[60]

John A. Clark did not interview Martin Harris - he was repeating what someone else told him

The source cited is “Martin Harris interviews with John A. Clark, 1827 & 1828,” Early Mormon Documents 2:270. However, rather than being an interview between Clark and Harris, as implied by the title of reference work using in the citation, Clark’s actual statement clearly says that he received his information from a “gentleman in Palmyra…a professor of religion,” who said that he had talked with Harris. This is not an interview between Clark and Harris.

Larry E. Morris notes that the “claim that ‘Harris told John A. Clark’ is not accurate. This is not secondhand testimony but thirdhand—’he said that he said that he said.’….As if that weren’t enough, Clark does not name his source—making it impossible to judge that person’s honesty or reliability. What we have is a thirdhand, anonymous account of what Martin Harris supposedly said.” (Larry E. Morris, FARMS Review, Vol. 15, Issue 1.)

Clark's account mixes elements from both before and after Harris viewed the plates as one of the Three Witnesses and portrays Harris as contradicting himself

The two elements that are mixed together in Clark's account are the following:

  1. Martin Harris said that he only saw the plates through the "eye of faith" when they were covered with a cloth prior to his experience as a witness.
  2. Martin Harris saw the plates uncovered as one of the three witnesses.

Note also that the date assigned to these comments places them prior to the publication of the Book of Mormon, yet Clark’s statement appears to include elements from both before and after Harris viewed the plates as a witness. Harris “saw them” with his eyes when he acted as one of the Three Witnesses, but he only saw them through the “eye of faith” when they were covered with a cloth prior to his being a witness. Clark’s third-hand hostile relation of another hostile source, makes no distinction between these events, and instead portrays Harris as contradicting himself.

When Martin Harris said that he had seen the angel and the plates with his "spiritual eyes" or with an "eye of faith" he may have simply been employing some scriptural language that he was familiar with. Such statements do not mean that the angel and the plates were imaginary, hallucinatory, or just an inner mental image—the earliest accounts of Martin Harris' testimony makes the literal nature of the experience unmistakable.

Rather than being hallucinatory or "merely" spiritual, Martin claimed that the plates and angel were seen by physical eyes that had been enhanced by the power of God to view more objects than a mortal could normally see (cf. DC 76:12; DC 67:10-13).


Question: Did Martin Harris tell people that he only saw the plates with his "spiritual eye"?

John H. Gilbert, who printed the Book of Mormon, reported that Harris said that he saw the plates with his "spiritual eye"

John H. Gilbert:

Martin was in the office when I finished setting up the testimony of the three witnesses,—(Harris—Cowdery and Whitmer—) I said to him,—"Martin, did you see those plates with your naked eyes?" Martin looked down for an instant, raised his eyes up, and said, "No, I saw them with a spir[i]tual eye."[61]

Pomeroy Tucker told of Harris using the phrase "seeing with the spiritual eye"

Pomeroy Tucker in his book Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism (1867) also refers to Harris using the phrase "spiritual eye":

How to reconcile the act of Harris in signing his name to such a statement, in view of the character of honesty which had always been conceded to him, could never be easily explained. In reply to uncharitable suggestions of his neighbors, he used to practise a good deal of his characteristic jargon about "seeing with the spiritual eye," and the like. [62]

Martin elsewhere emphasized that the vision was also with the "natural eye," to enable them to "testify of it to the world"

In 1875, Martin said:

"The Prophet Joseph Smith, and Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer and myself, went into a little grove to pray to obtain a promise that we should behold it with our eyes natural eyes, that we could testify of it to the world (emphasis added)."[63]

Harris did not, then, see "spiritual eye" and "natural eye" as mutually exclusive categories. Both described something about the witness experience.


Question: Why would Martin Harris use the phrases "eye of faith" or "spiritual eye" to describe his visionary experience?

Martin Harris was using scriptural language to describe his visionary experience

Why did Martin Harris use the particular phraseology that he did in describing his experience? Perhaps the answer lies in another passage found in the book of Ether 12:19.

And there were many whose faith was so exceedingly strong, even before Christ came, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith, and they were glad.

Here it is noted that those people who have "exceedingly strong" faith can see things "within the veil." But even though they see things in the spiritual realm "with their eyes" it is described as beholding things with "an eye of faith."

Another possibility can be seen in the text of Moses 1:11. It reads:

But now mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes, for my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face.

This dovetails nicely with the description of David Whitmer who "explained that he saw the plates, and with his natural eyes, but he had to be prepared for it—that he and the other witnesses were overshadowed by the power of God." [64]


Question: Do Martin Harris's statements related to the "spiritual eye" or "eye of faith" contradict the reality of his witness?

Some wish to make it appear as though the statements made by Martin Harris about the Three Witnesses’ manifestation discount its reality. Doing so pulls Harris’ statements out of their proper context. This vital viewpoint can be regained by simply taking a look at several passages from the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants—which all predate Martin’s public statements about the nature of his experience.

The scriptural witnesses

Ether 5:2–3

This prophetic passage had a direct application to Martin Harris as one of the Three Witnesses. It said: “the plates . . . . unto three shall they be shown by the power of God

D&C 5:11,13,24–26

“unto [three of my servants] I will show these things . . . . I will give them power that they may behold and view these things as they are.” Speaking specifically of Martin Harris: “then will I grant unto him a view of the things which he desires to see. And then he shall say unto the people of this generation: Behold, I have seen the things which the Lord hath shown unto Joseph Smith, Jun., and I know of a surety that they are true, for I have seen them, for they have been shown unto me by the power of God and not of man. And I the Lord command him, my servant Martin Harris, that he shall say no more unto them concerning these things, except he shall say: I have seen them, and they have been shown unto me by the power of God; and these are the words which he shall say.”

D&C 17:1–3,5

All three of the witnesses were told: “you shall have a view of the plates . . . . And it is by your faith that you shall obtain a view of them, even by that faith which was had by the prophets of old . . . . And after that you have obtained faith, and have seen them with your eyes, you shall testify of them . . . . And ye shall testify that you have seen them, even as my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., has seen them; for it is by my power that he has seen them, and it is because he had faith

From these scriptural texts it is evident that:

  • The Three Witnesses were required by God to exercise faith like “the prophets of old” in order to view the angel and the plates (cf. Moroni 7:37; DC 20:6).
  • God would exercise His power to enable the Three Witnesses to see things that were not usually visible to mortal eyes.
  • Nevertheless, the Three Witnesses would see the angel and the plates “with [their] eyes” and “as they are” in objective reality.

Contemporary witnesses

Joseph Smith was an eyewitness to what Martin Harris said at the exact moment that the manifestation took place. He reported that Martin's words were: "Tis enough; mine eyes have beheld". [65] Another eyewitness, named Alma Jensen, saw Martin Harris point to his physical eyes while testifying that he had seen both the angel and the plates. [66]

Oliver Cowdery wrote a letter to a skeptical author in November 1829, and spoke for both himself and Harris on the question of whether there was some trickery or "juggling" at work:

"It was a clear, open beautiful day, far from any inhabitants, in a remote field, at the time we saw the record, of which it has been spoken, brought and laid before us, by an angel, arrayed in glorious light, [who] ascend [descended I suppose] out of the midst of heaven. Now if this is human juggling—judge ye".[67]


Response to claim: 78 - The author claims that years after the event, David Whitmer embellished his story of seeing the gold plates

The author(s) of No Man Knows My History make(s) the following claim:

Years after the event, David Whitmer embellished his story of seeing the gold plates.

Author's sources:
  • Palmyra Reflector, March 19, 1831.
  • David Whitmer's interview with Orson Pratt, Millennial Star, Vol. XL, pp. 771-2.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

David Whitmer did not embellish his story about seeing the plates. He told the same story many times.


Question: What did David Whitmer's associates say about his character?

Throughout Richmond, Missouri, the non-Mormons knew David Whitmer as an honest and trustworthy citizen

Throughout Richmond, Missouri, the non-Mormons knew David Whitmer as an honest and trustworthy citizen. When one anti-Mormon lectured in David’s hometown and branded David as disreputable, the local (non-Mormon) paper responded with “a spirited front-page editorial unsympathetic with Mormonism but insistent on ‘the forty six years of private citizenship on the part of David Whitmer, in Richmond, without stain or blemish.’” [68]

...The following year the editor penned a tribute on the eightieth birthday of David Whitmer, who “with no regrets for the past” still “reiterates that he saw the glory of the angel.” This is the critical issue of the life of David Whitmer. During fifty years in non-Mormon society, he insisted with the fervor of his youth that he knew that the Book of Mormon was divinely revealed. Relatively few people in Richmond could wholly accept such testimony, but none doubted his intelligence or complete honesty. [69]

Another newspaper declared:

And no man can look at David Whitmer's face for a half-hour, while he charit[abl]y and modestly speaks of what he has seen, and then bodldly and earnestly confesses the faith that is in him, and say that he is a bigot or an enthusiast.[70]

Twenty two non-Mormon citizens signed the following statement, including, Mayor, county clerk, county treasurer, postmaster, revenue collector, county sheriff, two judges, two medical doctors, four bankers, two merchants, and two lawyers:

We the undersigned citizens of Richmond Ray CO Mo where David Whitmer Sr has resided since the year AD 1838, Certify that we have been long and intimately acquainted with him, and know him to be a man of the highest integrity, and of undoubted truth and veracity....[71]

Another said:

Mr. Whitmer is an old citizen of this town, and is known by every one here as a man of the highest honor, having resided here since the year 1838.[72]

Upon Whitmer's death, the local newspaper wrote:

He lived in Richmond about half a century, and we can say that no man ever lived here, who had among our people, more friends and fewer enemies. Honest, conscientious and upright in all his dealings, just in his estimate of men, and open, manly and frank in his treatment of all, he made lasting friends who loved him to the end.[73]


Response to claim: 78 - The Three Witnesses never denied their vision even after they all left the Church because Joseph had "conjured up a vision they would never forget"

The author(s) of No Man Knows My History make(s) the following claim:

The Three Witnesses never denied their vision even after they all left the Church because Joseph had "conjured up a vision they would never forget."

Author's sources:
  1. No source provided.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The author's rather creative explanation for why the witnesses never denied their testimony, despite the fact that they all had disagreements with Joseph Smith.


Question: Did the three witnesses's experience of seeing the plates and the angel take place only in their minds?

The Three Witnesses were very explicit that they had actually seen the angel and the plates

Some critics suggest that the witnesses’ encounter with the angel and the plates took place solely in their minds. They claim that witnesses saw the angel in a “vision” and equate “vision” with imagination. To bolster this claim they generally cite two supposed quotes from Martin Harris. Supposedly Harris was once asked if he saw the plates with his “naked eyes” to which he responded, “No, I saw them with a spiritual eye.”[74] In another interview Harris allegedly claimed that he only saw the plates in a “visionary or entranced state.”[75]

Oliver Cowdery wrote explicitly for himself and Martin Harris when he replied, in a November 1829 letter, to questions about whether "juggling" (i.e., trickery or conjuring) could have explained what they saw:

"It was a clear, open beautiful day, far from any inhabitants, in a remote field, at the time we saw the record, of which it has been spoken, brought and laid before us, by an angel, arrayed in glorious light, [who] ascend [descended I suppose] out of the midst of heaven. Now if this is human juggling—judge ye."[76]

Critics impose their own interpretation on phrases that do not match what the witnesses reported in many separate interviews. When challenged on the very point which the critics wish to read into their statements—their literal reality—both Harris and the other witnesses were adamant that their experience was literal, real, and undeniable. As early convert William E. McLellin reported:

"D[avid] Whitmer then arose and bore testimony to having seen an Holy Angel who had made known the truth of this record to him. [A]ll these strange things I pondered in my heart."[77]


Response to claim: 79 - The first edition of the Book of Mormon said that Joseph was "Author and proprietor," which in later editions was changed to "Translator"

The author(s) of No Man Knows My History make(s) the following claim:

The first edition of the Book of Mormon said that Joseph was "Author and proprietor," which in later editions was changed to "Translator."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Actually, the 1830 edition also states that Joseph was the translator of the record. Copyright requirements necessitated that he be labeled the author.


Question: Why is Joseph Smith listed as "author and proprietor" of the 1830 Book of Mormon instead of as "translator"?

Copyright law in 1830 in New York, where the Book of Mormon was first published, provided for the granting of copyrights to "authors and proprietors" but did not offer the same to translators

Joseph Smith is listed as the "author and proprietor" in the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon. Critics of the Church consider this evidence that Joseph wrote the book himself. However, in order to secure the copyright, Joseph had to apply as the "author and proprietor." As one historian noted:

The fact is, Joseph Smith was complying with federal law (see I Statutes 124, 1790, as amended by 2 Stat. 171, 1802), which dictated the words the district clerk had to write when a person was taking out a copyright on a book. It can be demonstrated historically that many translators, including those who produced the 1824 edition of the King James Version of the Bible, were listed as "Author" to conform to this law.[78]

The first edition of the Book of Mormon contained a transcript of the secured copyright making this clear:

Northern District of New York, to wit:

BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the eleventh day of June, in the fifty-third year of the Independence of the United States of America, A. D. 1829, JOSEPH SMITH, JUN., of the said District, hath deposited in this office the title of a Book, the right whereof he claims as author, in the words following, to wit: "The Book of Mormon: an account written by the hand of Mormon, upon plates taken from the Plates of Nephi. Wherefore it is an abridgment of the Record of the People of Nephi; and also of the Lamanites; written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the House of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile; written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of Prophesy and of Revelation. Written, and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed; to come forth by the gift and power of God, unto the interpretation thereof; sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by the way of Gentile; the interpretation thereof by the gift of God; an abridgment taken from the Book of Ether. Also, which is a Record of the People of Jared, which were scattered at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people when they were building a tower to get to Heaven: which is to shew unto the remnant of the House of Israel, how great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever: and also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile, that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting Himself unto all nations. And now if there be fault, it be the mistake of men; wherefore condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment seat of Christ.—By Joseph Smith. Jun. Author and Proprietor."

In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States, entitled, "An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned;" and also the act, entitled, "An act supplementary to an act, entitled, "An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned, and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints."

R. R. LANSING

Clerk of the Northern District of New York

The title page of the 1830 Book of Mormon

The State of New York would have rejected the copyright if it had been assigned to "God" or "the angel Moroni" as the "author and proprietor"

It would be unreasonable if Joseph Smith were to apply for the copyright and assign "God" or "the angel Moroni" as the "author and proprietor". This complaint is not a serious issue, but merely an effort to find fault. Besides, the 1830 edition also states that the book was a translation of ancient records.

The 1830 Book of Mormon clearly identifies Joseph Smith as the translator of the work

Notice in the first paragraph of the copyright form above that even though Joseph Smith legally claimed his right as "author" he still inserted information making it clear that the text originated from an ancient, pre-written "abridgment" that came forth to the modern world "by the gift and power of God" and through an act of "interpretation" or translation.

It should also be pointed out that in the Preface of the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon the Prophet Joseph Smith designated himself as the "Author" but also indicated no less than six times that he was the translator of the text. Likewise, it can be seen in the 1830 testimony of the Eight Witnesses that Joseph Smith is called the "Author and Proprietor of this work" but it is also said that he "translated" the golden plates in order to obtain the text of the Book of Mormon.

Page 1 from the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon: "I would inform you that I translated, by the gift and power of God...."


Response to claim: 79-80 - Joseph convinced the Eight Witnesses by showing them an empty box and claiming that they did not have sufficient faith to see them

The author(s) of No Man Knows My History make(s) the following claim:

Joseph convinced the Eight Witnesses by showing them an empty box and claiming that they did not have sufficient faith to see them.

Author's sources:
  1. Thomas Ford, History of Illinois, Chicago, 1854, p. 257.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

There is no evidence that this happened, and plenty of evidence to the contrary.


Question: How do critics of the Church attempt to dismiss the experience of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon?

"A thousand things may be conjectured, but when a man declares openly, candidly, and seriously, of what he has seen, hefted and handled with his own hands, and taht in the presence of a God who sees and knows the secrets of the heart, no man possessed of common reason and common sense, can doubt, or will be so vain as to dispute."
—Oliver Cowdery, describing a testimony given by John Whitmer, one of the Eight Witnesses, June 1835.[79]

Some have tried to argue that the Eight witnesses only claimed a 'spiritual' or 'visionary' view of the plates, not a literal, physical one

Critics of the Church attempt to dismiss the experience of the Eight Witnesses by claiming that their view of the plates was not literal. The critics attempt to argue that the witnesses only 'saw' the plates in a spiritual state, and then were allowed to heft a covered box. This flatly contradicts their own reports, and those of others.[80] Richard Anderson has collected eight accounts of John Whitmer's that confirm the reality of his handling of the plates.[81] The critics ignore much documentary evidence in John Whitmer's case alone, simply because his witness is inconvenient for their speculations.

William Smith summarized the matter well when he said of all the Eight witnesses

that they not only Saw with their eyes but handled with their hands the said record . . . nor has either or any one of these witnesses ever to my knowledge Counteracted the testimony as given above Concerning the real existence of these Mormon tablets.[82]

The Eight witnesses consistently affirmed the accuracy of their published testimony, and the physical reality of their experience. The critics will have to seek elsewhere to support their speculations.


Turley claimed that John Whitmer said: "I now say I handled those plates. there was fine engravings on both sides. I handled them...and they were shown to me by a supernatural power"

The critics' attempt to argue that the witnesses only 'saw' the plates in a spiritual state, and then were allowed to heft a covered box. This flatly contradicts their own reports, and those of others.[83] Theodore Turley claimed that John Whitmer said:

[Theodore] Turley said, ‘Gentlemen, I presume there are men here who have heard [John] Corrill say, that Mormonism was true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and inspired of God. I now call upon you, John Whitmer: you say Corrill is a moral and a good man; do you believe him when he says the Book of Mormon is true, or when he says it is not true? There are many things published that they say are true, and again turn around and say they are false.’ Whitmer asked, ‘Do you hint at me?’ Turley replied, ‘If the cap fits you, wear it; all I know is that you have published to the world that an angel did present those plates to Joseph Smith.’ Whitmer replied: ‘I now say, I handled those plates; there were fine engravings on both sides. I handled them;’ and he described how they were hung [on rings], and [said] ‘they were shown to me by a supernatural power;’ he acknowledged all.[84]

So, the apostate Whitmer insists that he physically handled the plates, and attests to having seen fine engraving "on both sides." The critics grasp at straws, and ignore the very clear implication that Whitmer (at this time a bitter enemy of Joseph Smith) claims to have actually seen and handled the plates. The "supernatural power" citation seems to be the imposition of the interviewers' bias (it appears in none of Whitmer's first person accounts or in the Testimony of the Eight Witnesses—see further discussion in main article above).

It is also possible that Whitmer was insisting that Joseph Smith could not have showed him the plates without divine aid; this perspective is not present in any of his other statements, however. The Three witnesses likewise insisted on the physical reality of their experience with the angel, despite the supernatural trappings of their witness experience.

Why, then, did John Whitmer apostatize? He rationalized his choice to disbelieve the translation of the Book of Mormon (despite knowing that the plates were literal and physical) thusly:

I cannot read it, and I do not know whether it is true or not.[85]


Myron H. Bond (1878): John Whitmer "knew as well as he knew he had an existence that Joseph translated the ancient writing which was upon the plates, which he saw and handled"

John Whitmer stated that he had handled the plates and that Joseph's translation occurred by a "supernatural or almighty power"

Myron H. Bond:

[O]ld Father Whitmer told me last winter, with tears in his eyes, that he knew as well as he knew he had an existence that Joseph translated the ancient writing which was upon the plates, which he 'saw and handled,' and which, as one of the scribes, he helped to copy, as the words fell from Joseph's lips, by supernatural or almighty power"[86]


P. Wilhelm Poulson (1878): John Whitmer said "He handed them uncovered into our hands, and we turned the leaves sufficient to satisfy us"

John Whitmer's final interview is impressive:

I said: I am aware that your name is affixed to the testimony in the Book of Mormon, that you saw the plates? He–It is so, and that testimony is true. I–Did you handle the plates with your hands?

He–I did so!

I–Then they were a material substance?

He–Yes, as material as anything can be.

I–They were heavy to lift?

He–Yes, and you know gold is a heavy metal, they were very heavy.

I–How big were the leaves?

He–So far as I recollect, 8 by 6 or 7 inches.

I–Were the leaves thick? He–Yes, just so thick, that characters could be engraven on both sides.

I–How were the leaves joined together?

He–In three rings, each one in the shape of a D with the straight line towards the centre. I-In what place did you see the plates.

He-In Joseph Smith's house; he had them there.

I–Did you see them covered with a cloth?

He–No. He handed them uncovered into our hands, and we turned the leaves sufficient to satisfy us.

I-Were you all eight witnesses present at the same time?

He-No. At that time Joseph showed the plates to us, we were four persons, present in the room, and at another time he showed them to four persons more....

when Joseph Smith [III]...sent word to John Whitmer to reaffirm his testimony, his answer was: 'I have never recalled it, and I have nothing to reaffirm.'[87]


Response to claim: 80 - Joseph may have built some kind of "makeshift deception" to account for those witnesses who described the size, weight and metallic texture of the plates

The author(s) of No Man Knows My History make(s) the following claim:

Joseph may have built some kind of "makeshift deception" to account for those witnesses who described the size, weight and metallic texture of the plates.

Author's sources:
  • William Smith, Saints' Herald, Vol. XXXI, p. 644.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This is complete speculation


Question: What was the size of each of the gold plates?

Each plate was approximately 6 to 7 inches wide and 7 to 8 inches long

  • "7 inches in length, 6 inches in breadth" [88] - Quoting Oliver Cowdery
  • "six inches wide by eight inches long"[89] —Joseph Smith Jr.
  • "seven inches wide by eight inches in length"[90] —Martin Harris
  • "seven by eight inches"[91] —Martin Harris
  • "about eight inches long, seven inches wide"[92] —David Whitmer
  • "about eight inches square" - quoting David Whitmer [93]
  • "six or eight inches square" - Critical newspaper[94]
  • "The plates were each about 7 by 8 inches in width and length." - Parley P. Pratt [95]
  • "about eight inches long, and six wide" - Lucy Mack Smith (allegedly)[96]
  • "Each plate was about six by eight inches"[97]


Question: What was the thickness of each gold plate?

Each plate was as thick as thick paper, parchment or tin

  • "of the thickness of tin" - Oliver Cowdery [98]
  • "of the thickness of plates of tin"[99] —Martin Harris
  • "thin leaves of gold"[100] - Martin Harris
  • "about as thick as parchment"[101] — David Whitmer
  • "[We] could raise the leaves this way (raising a few leaves of the Bible before him)."[102] — William Smith
  • "They seemed to be pliable like thick paper, and would rustle with a metalic [sic] sound when the edges were moved by the thumb, as one does sometimes thumb the edges of a book."[103] — Emma Smith
  • "each as thick as a pane of glass" - Critical newspaper[104]
  • "the plates themselves were about as thick as window glass, or common tin" - Critical newspaper [105]
  • "thickness of tin plates" - Citing David Whitmer [106]
  • "being about the thickness of common tin" - Parley P. Pratt [107]
  • "as thick as common tin" - [108]


Question: What was the thickness of the entire volume of gold plates?

The entire volume was approximately six inches thick

  • "a pile about 6 inches deep." - Quoting Oliver Cowdery [109]
  • "[W]hen piled one above the other, they were altogether about four inches thick."[110] — Martin Harris
  • "six or eight inches thick" - Critical newspaper [111]
  • "The volume was something near six inches in thickness." - Parley P. Pratt[112]
  • "The volume was something near six inches in thickness" - Joseph Smith [113]
  • "the whole being about six inches in thickness"[114]


Response to claim: 81 - Hyrum suggested to Joseph that they attempt to sell the copyright of the Book of Mormon

The author(s) of No Man Knows My History make(s) the following claim:

Hyrum suggested to Joseph that they attempt to sell the copyright of the Book of Mormon in order to obtain enough money to get it published. Joseph "looked into the Urim and Thummim and received a revelation" directing them to go to Toronto.

Author's sources:
  • Oliver Cowdery, Defense in a Rehearsal of My Grounds for Separating Myself from the Latter-Day Saints.
  • David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ, p. 31.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Joseph receive a revelation directing him to attempt to sell the copyright to the Book of Mormon in Canada.


Question: After receiving the revelation to attempt to sell the Book of Mormon copyright in Canada, did Joseph Smith later claim that the revelation was false?

David Whitmer, years after he left the Church, claimed that Joseph said that the revelation did not come from God

David Whitmer claimed that Joseph Smith received a revelation and prophesied that Oliver Cowdery and Hiram Page should go to Canada where they would find a man willing to buy the copyright to the Book of Mormon. When they failed to sell the copyright, Whitmer states that Joseph admitted that the revelation had not come from God.

David Whitmer was not a participant in the trip to Canada

The primary evidence supporting the negative aspects of the Canadian Mission story comes from David Whitmer, who was not a participant in the event, and who had left the church many years before. With the discovery of the Hiram Page letter of 1848 showing that the actual participants involved in the trip felt that Joseph Smith delivered an accurate revelation of what would transpire on the Mission, and in fact even found the event uplifting rather than negative, it is evident that no individual contemporary to the event felt that this represented a false prophecy by Joseph Smith. What we do see is excellent evidence in fulfillment of the teachings of Deuteronomy 12 and 18 that Joseph Smith was perceived as a true prophet of God by those involved in the Mission to Canada in early 1830.


Question: Are there any eyewitness accounts of the events that resulted in the trip to Canada to sell the Book of Mormon copyright?

Joseph Smith decided this could be an opportunity to relieve some of the financial pressure associated with publishing the Book of Mormon

Joseph Smith had been told there were people in Canada willing to buy the copyrights to useful books. Due to the dire financial position of the Church, he decided this could be an opportunity to relieve some of the financial pressure associated with publishing the Book of Mormon. Four men went to Canada.

Joseph Smith received a revelation directing them to go to Kingston, Canada, with some conditions placed upon their success

Before leaving, Joseph Smith received a revelation directing them to go to Kingston, Canada, with some conditions placed upon their success.

...it Pleaseth me that Oliver Cowderey Joseph Knight Hyram Pagee & Josiah Stowel shall do my work in this thing yea even in securing the Copyright & they shall do it with an eye single to my Glory that it may be the means of bringing souls unto me Salvation through mine only Be{t\gotten} Behold I am God I have spoken it & it is expedient in me Wherefor I say unto you that ye shall go to Kingston seeking me continually through mine only Be{t\gotten} & if ye do this ye shall have my spirit to go with you & ye shall have an addition of all things which is expedient in me. amen & I grant unto my servent a privelige that he may sell a copyright through you speaking after the manner of men for the four Provinces if the People harden not their hearts against the enticeings of my spirit & my word for Behold it lieth in themselves to their condemnation &{\or} th{er\eir} salvation.

Revelation book 1 p. 15 1.jpg

The text of the actual revelation was recently discovered and published in The Joseph Smith Papers

The text of the revelation was published in the The Joseph Smith Papers: The Revelations and Translations Series. According to Marlin K. Jensen, Church Historian and Recorder,

Another interesting development from work on the Revelations and Translations Series has been the identification of a previously unpublished revelation on securing a copyright for the Book of Mormon in Canada. David Whitmer, after he left the Church, recalled that the revelation promised success in selling the copyright, but upon return of the men charged with the duty, Joseph Smith and others were disappointed by what seemed like failure. Historians have relied upon statements of David Whitmer, Hiram Page, and William McLellin for decades but have not had the actual text of the revelation. Revelation Book 1 will provide that.

Although we still do not know the whole story, particularly Joseph Smith’s own view of the situation, we do know that calling the divine communication a “failed revelation” is not warranted. The Lord’s directive clearly conditions the successful sale of the copyright on the worthiness of those seeking to make the sale as well as on the spiritual receptivity of the potential purchasers. [115]

Hiram Page, one of the participants, stated he for the first time understood how some revelations given to people were not necessarily for their direct benefit

Hiram Page, who was one of the individuals sent to Canada, laid out the event in a letter in 1848.[116] Page wrote that the revelation Joseph Smith received conditioned success upon whether those individuals in Canada capable of buying the Book of Mormon copyright would have their hearts softened. When unable to sell the copyright, the four men returned to Palmyra. Hiram Page stated he for the first time understood how some revelations given to people were not necessarily for their direct benefit—in fact, Hiram Page believed that the revelation was actually fulfilled.


Question: How did the erroneous story of the attempt to sell the Book of Mormon copyright develop over time?

Hiram Page’s 1848 account of the Canadian Mission trip was sent to William McLellin

Hiram Page’s 1848 account of the Canadian Mission trip was sent to William McLellin. Because it was private correspondence, its existence and details were unknown until the 1930’s, when the letter was donated to the RLDS Church’s archives as part of a larger collection of McLellin materials.[117] The content of the letter was not broadly known until after the document was stolen in 1985, but a copy of the original was donated by a private collector around the year 2000 who had made a copy prior to the theft of the original.

In 1872 William McLellin wrote about the journey to Canada

In 1872 William McLellin wrote about the journey to Canada.[118] He had no first hand knowledge of the event, as he did not join the Church until 1831. He apparently got the description of the event from Martin Harris, who was likewise not there and had no first hand knowledge. From the published account, McLellin ignores Hiram Page’s 1848 letter, and asserts that all involved in the Canadian Mission viewed it as a complete failure. Since all involved were dead, and the only known account by one of the participants, who obviously viewed it as a success, was in McLellin's possession, he apparently did not worry about being corrected.

In about 1881 J.L. Traughber wrote a letter to a German correspondent, who published it in 1886, retelling McLellin’s second or third hand knowledge of the event

In 1881 or shortly thereafter a man by the name of J.L. Traughber wrote a letter to a German correspondent, who published it in 1886, retelling McLellin’s second or third hand knowledge of the event.[119]

In 1886, David Whitmer mentions the trip to sell the copyright for the first time

Beginning in 1886, David Whitmer reports for the first time of the Canadian Mission.[120] Initially Whitmer reports the event in the third person, but by the time of his 1887 pamphlet An Address to All Believers in Christ, 57 years after the event occurred, he reports to having been a first hand witness, and Joseph Smith having given a false prophecy. Whitmer states,

Joseph looked into the hat in which he placed the stone, and received a revelation that some of the brethren should go to Toronto, Canada, and that they would sell the copyright of the Book of Mormon. Hiram Page and Oliver Cowdery went to Toronto on this mission, but they failed entirely to sell the copyright, returning without any money. Joseph was at my father's house when they returned. I was there also, and am an eye witness to these facts. Jacob Whitmer and John Whitmer were also present when Hiram Page and Oliver Cowdery returned from Canada.

Well, we were all in great trouble; and we asked Joseph how it was that he had received a revelation from the Lord for some brethren to go to Toronto and sell the copyright, and the brethren had utterly failed in their undertaking. Joseph did not know how it was, so he enquired of the Lord about it, and behold the following revelation came through the stone: "Some revelations are of God: some revelations are of men: and some revelations are of the devil." So we see that the revelation to go to Toronto and sell the copyright was not of God, but was of the devil or of the heart of man.[121]

Whitmer was looking for evidence to support his conclusion that Joseph Smith was a fallen prophet

One must remember that not only was Whitmer looking for evidence to support his conclusion that Joseph Smith was a fallen prophet, but he also wrote with no fear of contradiction, as all the witnesses to the event were dead.


Question: How does David Whitmer's account of the attempt to sell the Book of Mormon copyright compare to those of the eyewitnesses?

Whitmer's account is at variance in several ways with Hiram Page’s account

Whitmer's account is at variance in several ways with Hiram Page’s account. Whitmer gets the destination city in Canada wrong (he says Toronto, the other accounts, and the revelation itself, say Kingston) and he did not correctly identify all of the participants (he identified Hiram Page and Oliver Cowdery, while Page noted Joseph Knight and Josiah Stowell). Note that the text of the revelation itself finally clears up the issue of exactly who the revelation was directed to,

...it Pleaseth me that Oliver Cowderey Joseph Knight Hyram Pagee & Josiah Stowel shall do my work in this thing...

Page, an eyewitness, makes no mention at disappointment in Joseph Smith, nor is there any mention of a "false prophecy"

Page also makes no mention or even a hint at disappointment in Joseph Smith, nor is there an accusation that the trip was based upon a "false prophecy," so naturally no subsequent "revelation" is noted by Page explaining the mission’s failure.

In Whitmer’s 1887 account we learn for the first time of the supposed post-mission revelation where Joseph Smith is told that some revelations are from God, some from devils, some from men. This account is in all likelihood a fabrication. Unlike his consistent, life-long statements concerning the witness of the Gold Plates, this account, which is probably a second-hand retelling of events 57 years after their occurrence, suddenly appears and is wrong on several of the documentable facts, as well as being inconsistent with the first-hand testimony of Hiram Page, given 40 years earlier than Whitmer and by comparison much closer to the actual event.


Response to claim: 82 - Martin Harris sold his farm to pay for the publication of the Book of Mormon only after Joseph frightened him with the revelation

The author(s) of No Man Knows My History make(s) the following claim:

Martin Harris sold his farm to pay for the publication of the Book of Mormon only after Joseph frightened him with the revelation found in the Book of Commandments Chapter xvi, pp. 40-41.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

|authorsources=

  1. Book of Commandments Chapter xvi, pp. 40-41

}}

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Martin Harris didn't sell his farm: he actually mortgaged his farm to finance the Book of Mormon, but the idea that he was "frightened" into doing it is simply creative speculation on the part of the author.


Notes

  1. "Could Joseph Smith have written the Book of Mormon?", MormonThink.com http://mormonthink.com/josephweb.htm#full
  2. Joseph Smith Letterbook 1, pp. 1-6. Published in: Dean Jessee, Personal Writings of Joseph Smith. This text was copied from Wikisource. The editor notes that insertions are indicated like this and deletions are indicated like this. Text in blue is in Smith's own handwriting, the remainder in the handwriting of Frederick G. Williams. off-site
  3. Joseph Smith III, "Last Testimony of Sister Emma," Saints' Herald 26 (October 1, 1879): 289–90; and Joseph Smith III, "Last Testimony of Sister Emma," Saints' Advocate 2 (October 1879): 50–52.
  4. "History, circa Summer 1832," The Joseph Smith Papers.
  5. See John Hardy, Hypocrisy Exposed (Boston: Albert Morgan, 1842), 3-12 off-site Full title. See later responses in John E. Page, "To a Disciple," Morning Chronicle (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (1 July 1842). off-site, John E. Page, “Mormonism Concluded: To ‘A Disciple.’” Morning Chronicle (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (20 July 1842). off-site, and George Reynolds, "Objections to the Book of Mormon," Millennial Star 44/16 (17 April 1882): 244–47.
  6. Daniel C. Peterson, "Is the Book of Mormon True? Notes on the Debate," in Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited: The Evidence for Ancient Origins, edited by Noel B. Reynolds, (Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1997), Chapter 6. ISBN 093489325X ISBN 0934893187 ISBN 0884944697. off-site GL direct link
  7. James B. Pritchard, editor, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, 3d ed. (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1969), 489, translation by W. F. Albright and George E. Mendenhall; cited by D. Kelly Ogden, "Why Does the Book of Mormon Say That Jesus Would Be Born at Jerusalem? (I Have a Question)," Ensign (August 1984), 51–52.
  8. Origen Bachelor, Mormonism Exposed Internally and Externally (New York: Privately Published, 1838), 13. off-site
  9. Hugh W. Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, 3rd edition, (Vol. 6 of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by John W. Welch, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company; Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1988), Chapter 8, references silently removed—consult original for citations, (italics in original).
  10. 10.0 10.1 Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith, 2nd Edition, (New York: Knopf, 1971)
  11. Hugh W. Nibley, Tinkling Cymbals and Sounding Brass: The Art of Telling Tales About Joseph Smith and Brigham Young (Vol. 11 of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by David J. Whittaker, (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Company ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1991),3–52. ISBN 0875795161. GL direct link
  12. Jay F. Kirkpatrick and Patricia M. Fazio, "The Surprising History of America's Wild Horses," LiveScience.com (July 24, 2008) off-site
  13. S. Bokonyi, History of Domestic Mammals in Central and Eastern Europe (Budapest: Akademiai Kiado, 1974), 267.
  14. Paul R. Cheesman, The World of the Book of Mormon (Bountiful, UT: Horizon Publishers, 1984), 194, 181.
  15. http://www.strangeark.com/nabr/NABR5.pdf
  16. William J. Hamblin, "Basic Methodological Problems with the Anti-Mormon Approach to the Geography and Archaeology of the Book of Mormon," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2/1 (1993): 161–197. wiki off-site GL direct link
  17. John Tvedtnes, “The Nature of Prophets and Prophecy” (unpublished, 1994), 29-30 (copy in Mike Ash’s possession); Benjamin Urrutia, “Lack of Animal Remains at Bible and Book-of-Mormon Sites,” Newsletter and Proceedings of the Society for Early Historic Archaeology, 150 (August 1982), 3-4.
  18. "Horses in the Book of Mormon" (Provo: Utah, FARMS, 2000). off-site
  19. Clay E. Ray, “Pre-Columbian Horses from Yucatan,” Journal of Mammalogy 38:2 (1957), 278.
  20. http://www.ansp.org/museum/leidy/paleo/equus.php)
  21. Mike Ash notes that this story was told at the Q&A session following Dr. Sorenson’s presentation, “The Trajectory of Book of Mormon Studies,” 2 August 2007 at the 2007 FAIR Conference; audio and video in author’s possession.
  22. John Clark during Q&A session following Dr. Clark’s presentation, “Archaeology, Relics, and Book of Mormon Belief,” 25 May 2004 at BYU; audio of Q&A in author Mike Ash's possession.
  23. Anonymous, "Out of the Dust: Were Ancient Americans Familiar with Real Horses?," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 10/1 (2001): N/A–N/A. off-site wiki
  24. See Harry E. D. Pollock and Clayton E. Ray, "Notes on Vertebrate Animal Remains from Mayapan," Current Reports 41 (August 1957): 638; this publication is from the Department of Archaeology at the Carnegie Institution of Washington. See also Clayton E. Ray, "Pre-Columbian Horses from Yucatan," Journal of Mammalogy 38 (1957): 278.
  25. Henry C. Mercer, The Hill-Caves of Yucatan: A Search for Evidence of Man's Antiquity in the Caverns of Central America (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1896), 172.
  26. Robert T. Hatt, "Faunal and Archaeological Researches in Yucatan Caves," Cranbrook Institute of Science, Bulletin 33, 1953. See Peter J. Schmidt, "La entrada del hombre a la peninsula de Yucatan," in Origines del Hombre Americano, comp. Alba Gonzalez Jacome (Mexico: Secretaria de Educacion Publica, 1988), 250.
  27. Schmidt, "La entrada," 254.
  28. Paul S. Martin, "The Discovery of America," Science 179 (1973): 974 n. 3.
  29. Donald K. Grayson (Department of Anthropology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195), "Deciphering North American Pleistocene Extinctions," Journal of Anthropological Research, in press (2007 JAR Distinguished Lecture)
  30. Bernardino de Sahagun, The War of Conquest: How It Was Waged Here in Mexico: the Aztecs' own story (University of Utah Press, 1978).
  31. John L. Sorenson, "Once More: The Horse," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, edited by John W. Welch (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1992), Chapter 10.
  32. Clayton E. Ray, "Pre-Columbian Horses from Yucatan," Journal of Mammalology 38 (1957): 278; Harry E. D. Pollock and Clayton E. Ray, "Notes on Vertebrate Animal Remains from Mayapan," Current Reports 41 (August 1957): 638 (Carnegie Institution, Washington, D.C., Dept. of Archaeology).
  33. John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Co. ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1996 [1985]), 290.
  34. Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture (April 21, 2014)
  35. A. Starker Leopold, “Wildlife of Mexico: The Game Birds and Mammals,” (Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1959), 493-500.
  36. S. T. Evans, “Ancient Mexico & Central America: Archaeology and Culture History,” (London, Thames & Hudson, Ltd., 2004).
  37. Joaquin Arroyo-Cabrales and Ticul Alverez, “A preliminary report of the late Quaternary mammal fauna from Loltún Cave, Yucatán, México,” In B. W. Schubert, J. I. Mead and R. W. Graham (eds.) Ice Age Faunas of North America (Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 2003), 266.
  38. Robert T. Hatt, Faunal and Archaeological Researches in Yucatan Caves (1953), 1-42.
  39. Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture (April 21, 2014)
  40. C. Radulesco and P. Samson, Sur un centre de domestication du mouton dans le Mesolithique de grotte “La Adam, en Dobrogea,” Tierzüchlung und Züchtungsbiologic 76 (1962), 282-320.
  41. E. Raymond Hall and Keith R. Kelson, The Mammals of North America,” (New York, Ronald Press, 1959).1
  42. Valerius Geist, “Mountain Sheep: A Study in Behavior and Evolution,” (Chicago and London: University of Chicago press, 1971), 41.
  43. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, (Salt Lake City, Deseret Book, 1985), 296-97.
  44. "Ovis canadensis". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 18 March 2006.
  45. Grubb, P. (16 November 2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M, eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. off-site
  46. "Bighorn Sheep". Ultimate Ungulate page. off-site
  47. "Bighorn sheep," Wikipedia (accessed 18 August 2014)
  48. John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Co. ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1996 [1985]), 294.
  49. Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture (April 21, 2014)
  50. Robert T. Hatt, “Faunal and archaeological researches in Yucatan caves.” Cranbrook Institute of Science 33 (1953), 1-42.
  51. Joaquin Arroyo-Cabrales and Oscar Polaco, “Caves and the Pleistocene vertebrate paleontology of Mexico.” In B. W. Schubert, J. I. Mead and R. W. Graham (eds.) Ice Age Faunas of North America (Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 2003), 273-291.
  52. Pietro Martire d'Anghiera, De Orbe Novo: The Eight Decades of Peter Martyr d'Anghera (1912), 2:259.
  53. Statement of William M. Glenn to O. E. Fischbacher, May 30, 1943, Cardston, Alberta, Canada, cited in Deseret News, Oct. 2, 1943. Cited in Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), 116. ISBN 0877478465.
  54. George Godfrey, “Testimony of Martin Harris,” from an unpublished manuscript copy in the possession of his daughter, Florence (Godfrey) Munson of Fielding, Utah; quoted in Eldin Ricks, The Case of the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1971), 65–66. Also cited in Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), 117. ISBN 0877478465.
  55. Interview with Joseph Smith III et al. (Richmond, Missouri, July 1884), originally published in The Saints' Herald (28 January 1936) and reprinted in Cook, ed., David Whitmer Interviews, 134—35, emphasis in the original. Cited in Daniel C. Peterson, "Not Joseph's, and Not Modern," in Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon, edited by Donald W. Parry, Daniel C. Peterson, and John W. Welch, (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2002), Chapter 2, references silently removed—consult original for citations. Also quoted in Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), p. 88.
  56. Joseph Smith III visited David Whitmer in 1884, along with a committee from the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and several onlookers. According to Joseph III's memoirs, one of the non-believers there was a military officer, who suggested the possibility that Whitmer "had been mistaken and had simply been moved upon by some mental disturbance or hallucination, which had deceived him into thinking he saw" the angel and the plates. Joseph III's recollection of Whitmer's response is quoted above. See Memoirs of Joseph Smith III, cited in Mary Audentia Smith Anderson, Joseph Smith III and the Restoration (Independence, MO: 1952), pp. 311-12. Cited in Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), 88. ISBN 0877478465.
  57. Alma L. Jensen, attested statement, Dayton, Ohio, 1 June 1936, L. Tom Perry Special Collections Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.
  58. Jacob F. Gates, "Testimony of Jacob Gates," Improvement Era no. 15 (March 1912), 418–419.
  59. Hilgard, Ernest R. (1965). Hypnotic Susceptibility. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc.; Stanford Profile Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.
  60. “Martin Harris interviews with John A. Clark, 1827 & 1828,” Early Mormon Documents 2:270.
  61. John H. Gilbert, "Memorandum," 8 September 1892, Early Mormon Documents, 2: 548.
  62. Pomeroy Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1867), 71 in "Pomeroy Tucker Account, 1867," Early Mormon Documents, 3: 122.
  63. Martin Harris Interview with Ole A. Jensen, July 1875 in Ole A. Jensen, "Testimony of Martin Harris (ONe of the Witnesses of the Book of Mormon)," undated (c. 1918), original in private possession, photocopies at Utah State Historical Society, LDS Church Archives, and Special Collections of BYU's Harold B. Lee Library; cited in Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 2:375.
  64. Nathan Tanner Jr. Journal, 13 April 1886.
  65. NeedAuthor, Times and Seasons 3 no. 21 (1 September 1842), 898. off-site GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  66. Autobiography of Alma L. Jensen, 1932.
  67. Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, in letter dated 29 November 1829, quoted in Corenlius C. Blatchly, "THE NEW BIBLE, written on plates of Gold or Brass," Gospel Luminary 2/49 (10 Dec. 1829): 194. (emphasis added)
  68. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), 74. ISBN 0877478465.
  69. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), 74. ISBN 0877478465.
  70. David Whitmer, interview with Chicago Times (August 1875); cited in Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 5:23.
  71. David Whitmer, Proclamation, 19 March 1881; cited in Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 5:69.
  72. David Whitmer, Interview with Chicago Tribune, 23 January 1888, printed in "An Old Mormon's Closing Hours," Chicago Tribune (24 January 1888); cited in Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 5:209.
  73. David Whitmer, Interview, "The Last Witness Dead! David Whitmer, the aged Patria[r]ch, Gone to His Rest. His Parting Injunction to His Family and Friends. He Departs in Peace," Richmond (MO) Democrat (26 January 1888); cited in Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 5:211.
  74. Wilford C. Wood, Joseph Smith Begins His Work, Vol. 1, 1958, intro.
  75. Anthony Metcalf, Ten Years Before the Mast (Malad, Idaho: Research Publications, 1888), 70-71. Quoted in Dale Morgan, Dale Morgan on Early Mormonism: Correspondence and a New History, ed. John Phillip Walker (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1986), xxx.
  76. Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, in letter dated 29 November 1829, quoted in Corenlius C. Blatchly, "THE NEW BIBLE, written on plates of Gold or Brass," Gospel Luminary 2/49 (10 Dec. 1829): 194.
  77. William E. McLellin, journal, 18 July 1831, reproduced in The Journals of William E. McLellin, 1831–1836, edited by Jan Shipps and John W. Welch (Urbana: Brigham Young University Studies and University of Illinois Press, 1994), 29. ISBN 0842523162..
  78. Kenneth H. Godfrey, "Not Enough Trouble, review of Trouble Enough: Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon by Ernest H. Taves and Joseph Smith and the Origins of the Book of Mormon by David Persuitte," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 19 no. 3 (Fall 1986), 143.
  79. Oliver Cowdery, "Conference Report," Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate 1 (June 1835), 143. Reproduced in Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 5:250.
  80. Many of the quotes collected here are found in Richard Lloyd Anderson, "Attempts to Redefine the Experience of the Eight Witnesses," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 14/1 (2005): 18–31. [{{{url}}} off-site] wiki (Key source)
  81. Richard Lloyd Anderson, "Attempts to Redefine the Experience of the Eight Witnesses," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 14/1 (2005): 18–31. [{{{url}}} off-site] wiki. See especially Anderson's discussion of Dan Vogel's tendency to ignore contrary witnesses from Whitmer that do not fit his thesis here.
  82. William Smith, "Notes Written on 'Chambers' Life of Joseph Smith,'" 15; transcribed by Richard L. Anderson.
  83. Many of the quotes collected here are found in Richard Lloyd Anderson, "Attempts to Redefine the Experience of the Eight Witnesses," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 14/1 (2005): 18–31. [{{{url}}} off-site] wiki (Key source)
  84. "Theodore Turley's Memorandums," Church Archives, handwriting of Thomas Bullock, who began clerking in late 1843; cited in Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 5:241.; see also with minor editing in Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 3:307–308. Volume 3 link
  85. "Theodore Turley's Memorandums," Church Archives, handwriting of Thomas Bullock, who began clerking in late 1843; cited in Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 5:241.; see also with minor editing in Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 3:307–308. Volume 3 link
  86. Myron H. Bond to Editors, 2 August 1878 in Saints' Herald 25 (15 August 1878): 253; in Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 5:251.
  87. Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 5:247–249., original in Deseret Evening News, 6 August 1878; citing a letter from P. Wilhelm Poulson to Editors (31 July 1878) from Ovid City, Idaho.
  88. A.S., “The Golden Bible, or, Campbellism Improved,” Observer and Telegraph. Religious, Political, and Literary, Hudson, Ohio (18 November 1830): 3, quoting Cowdery. off-site
  89. Joseph Smith Jr., "Church History [also known as the Wentworth Letter]," Times and Seasons (1 March 1842), 707. off-site GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  90. Martin Harris interview, Tiffany's Monthly, May 1859, 165.
  91. Martin Harris interview, Iowa State Register, August 1870, as quoted in Backman, Eyewitness Accounts, 226.
  92. David Whitmer interview, Chicago Tribune, 24 January 1888, in David Whitmer Interviews, ed. Cook, 221.
  93. ED Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 15; attributed to David Whitmer off-site
  94. “Mormonism,” Fredonia Censor (New York) (7 March 1832). Reprinted from the Franklin Democrat (Pennsylvania) circa March 1832. off-site
  95. Parley P. Pratt, "Discovery of an Ancient Record in America," Millennial Star 1 no. 2 (June 1840), 30–37. off-site
  96. Henry Caswall, The City of the Mormons; or, Three Days at Nauvoo, in 1842, 2nd ed. revised and enlarged, (London: J. G. F. & J. Rivington, 1843), 26. off-site
  97. W. I. Appleby, A Dissertation of Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream... (Philadelphia: Brown, Bicking & Guilbert, 1844), 1–24. Full title
  98. A.S., “The Golden Bible, or, Campbellism Improved,” Observer and Telegraph. Religious, Political, and Literary, Hudson, Ohio (18 November 1830): 3, quoting Cowdery. off-site
  99. Martin Harris interview, Tiffany's Monthly, May 1859, 165.
  100. Martin Harris interview, Iowa State Register, August 1870, as quoted in Backman, Eyewitness Accounts, 226.
  101. Martin Harris interview, Iowa State Register, August 1870, as quoted in Backman, Eyewitness Accounts, 226.
  102. William Smith, The Saints' Herald, 4 October 1884, 644.
  103. Emma Smith interview, The Saints' Herald, 1 October 1879.
  104. “Mormonism,” Fredonia Censor (New York) (7 March 1832). Reprinted from the Franklin Democrat (Pennsylvania) circa March 1832. off-site
  105. “The Orators of Mormon,” Catholic Telegraph (Cincinnati, Ohio) 1 (14 April 1832): 204–5. Reprinted from Mercer Press (Pennsylvania), circa April 1832. off-site
  106. ED Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 15; attributed to David Whitmer off-site
  107. Parley P. Pratt, "Discovery of an Ancient Record in America," Millennial Star 1 no. 2 (June 1840), 30–37. off-site
  108. W. I. Appleby, A Dissertation of Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream... (Philadelphia: Brown, Bicking & Guilbert, 1844), 1–24. Full title
  109. A.S., “The Golden Bible, or, Campbellism Improved,” Observer and Telegraph. Religious, Political, and Literary, Hudson, Ohio (18 November 1830): 3, quoting Cowdery. off-site
  110. Martin Harris interview, Tiffany's Monthly, May 1859, 165.
  111. “Mormonism,” Fredonia Censor (New York) (7 March 1832). Reprinted from the Franklin Democrat (Pennsylvania) circa March 1832. off-site
  112. Parley P. Pratt, "Discovery of an Ancient Record in America," Millennial Star 1 no. 2 (June 1840), 30–37. off-site
  113. Joseph Smith, "Church History [Wentworth letter]," Times and Seasons 3 no. 9 (1 Mar 1842), 706–710. off-site GospeLink (requires subscrip.) off-site
  114. W. I. Appleby, A Dissertation of Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream... (Philadelphia: Brown, Bicking & Guilbert, 1844), 1–24. Full title
  115. Marlin K. Jensen, “The Joseph Smith Papers: The Manuscript Revelation Books,” Ensign (July 2009) off-site
  116. Letter to William McLellin, February 2, 1848, as cited in Dan Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, Vol. 5, pages 257-9.
  117. Ibid., page 257
  118. William McLellin to Joseph Smith III, September 8, 1872. See Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, Vol. 5, page 328.
  119. John L. Traughber correspondence, which appears to date from 1881. Dan Vogel’s editor comments in “Early Mormon Documents”, Vol. 5, page 333, explain his assumption this was written to James T. Cobb. See page 334 for relevant statements concerning the Mission to Canada.
  120. David Whitmer Interview with Omaha (NE) Herald, Oct. 10, 1886, as quoted by Dan Vogel in Early Mormon Documents, Vol. 5, pages 174-181. See page 180 for relevant material.
  121. David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ by a Witness to the Divine Authenticity of The Book of Mormon (David Whitmer: Richmond, Virginia, 1887).