Criticism of Mormonism/Websites/MormonThink/Translation of the Book of Mormon/Source quotes without commentary

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Resources.png    MormonThink web page "Translation of the Book of Mormon" content without commentary

This page simply displays all of the source quotes and citations used on the critical web page in the order that they appear. There are no "Critic's comment," "Apologetic response," or "Our Thoughts" sections. We make no attempt to explain, summarize or draw conclusions from these quotes. We will provide additional context by including additional text from these quotes when necessary. We also attempt to add sources and links to the full original text, rather than links to other websites which simply quote the text.

Source quotes

Critical website's source quote
In writing for your father I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table close by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Emma Smith Bidamon Interview with Joseph Smith III, February 1879, cited in Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, Vol. 1. p. 541.

  • Source text: "Emma Smith Bidamon Interview with Joseph Smith III, February 1879," cited in Early Mormon Documents, Vol. 1. (ed. Dan Vogel) p. 541.

Critical website's source quote
Smith's wife Emma supported Harris's and Whitmer's versions of the story in recalling that her husband buried his face in his hat while she was serving as his scribe.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Robert N. Hullinger, Joseph Smith's Response to Skepticism, pp. 9-10.

Critical website's source quote
I will now give you a description of the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated. Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ (Richmond, MO: n.p., 1887), 12.

Critical website's source quote
I, as well as all of my father's family, Smith's wife, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, were present during the translation... . He did not use the plates in the translation.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. David Whitmer, Kansas City Journal, June 5, 1881, reprinted in Millennial Star Vol. 43, p. 423.

Critical website's source quote
Martin Harris related an incident that occurred during the time that he wrote that portion of the translation of the Book of Mormon which he was favored to write direct from the mouth of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He said that the Prophet possessed a seer stone, by which he was enabled to translate as well as from the Urim and Thummim, and for convenience he then used the seer stone, Martin explained the translation as follows: By aid of the seer stone, sentences would appear and were read by the Prophet and written by Martin and when finished he would say "Written," and if correctly written that sentence would disappear and another appear in its place, but if not written correctly it remained until corrected, so that the translation was just as it was engraven on the plates, precisely in the language then used.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Edward Stevenson, The Salt Lake Herald, September 3, [1870]

  • Context:

Martin Harris related an incident that occurred during the time that he wrote that portion of the translation of the Book of Mormon which he was favored to write direct from the mouth of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He said that the Prophet possessed a seerstone, by which he was enabled to translate as well as from the Urim and Thummim, and for convenience he then used the seerstone. Martin explained the translation as follows: By aid of the seerstone, sentences would appear and were read by the Prophet and written by Martin, and when finished he would say, "Written," and if correctly written, that sentence would disappear and another appear in its place, but if not written correctly it remained until corrected, so that the translation was just as it was engraven on the plates, precisely in the language then used. Martin said, after continued translation they would become weary, and would go down to the river and exercise by throwing stones out on the river, etc. While so doing on one occasion, Martin found a stone very much resembling the one used for translation, and on resuming their labor of translation, Martin put in place the stone that he had found. He said that the Prophet remained silent, unusually and intently gazing in darkness, no traces of the usual sentences appearing. Much surprised, Joseph exclaimed, "Martin! What is the matter? All is as dark as Egypt!" Martin's countenance betrayed him, and the Prophet asked Martin why he had done so. Martin said, "to stop the mouths of fools," who had told him that the Prophet had learned those sentences and was merely repeating them, etc.

After returning from a trip to Palmyra to settle his affairs, Martin began to transcribe. From April 12 to June 14, Joseph translated while Martin wrote, with only a curtain between them. On occasion they took breaks from the arduous task, sometimes going to the river and throwing stones. Once Martin found a rock closely resembling the seerstone Joseph sometimes used in place of the interpreters and substituted it without the Prophet’s knowledge. When the translation resumed, Joseph paused for a long time and then exclaimed, “Martin, what is the matter, all is as dark as Egypt.” Martin then confessed that he wished to “stop the mouths of fools” who told him that the Prophet memorized sentences and merely repeated them.

  • Source text: Kenneth W. Godfrey, "A New Prophet and a New Scripture: The Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon," Ensign (January 1988) off-site

Critical website's source quote
...chocolate-colored, somewhat egg-shaped stone which the Prophet found while digging a well in company with his brother Hyrum....Joseph was able to translate the characters engraven on the plates

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Martin Harris, quoted by B.H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church 1:129

  • Context:

The seer stone referred to here was a chocolate-colored, somewhat egg-shaped stone which the Prophet found while digging a well in company with his brother Hyrum. It possessed the qualities of Urim and Thummim, since by means of it-as described above—as well as by means of the “Interpreters” found with the Nephite record, Joseph was able to translate the characters engraven on the plates.

  • Source text: B.H. Roberts, Defense of the Faith and the Saints, (1907), 1:257. (Available on Google Books)

Critical website's source quote
By aid of the Seer Stone, sentences would appear and were read by the Prophet and written by Martin, and when finished he would say 'written;' and if correctly written, the sentence would disappear and another appear in its place; but if not written correctly it remained until corrected, so that the translation was just as it was engraven on the plates, precisely in the language then used.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Martin Harris, quoted by B.H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church 1:29

Critical website's source quote
The manner in which he pretended to read and interpret, was the same as when he looked for the money-diggers, with a stone in his hat, and his hat over his face, while the Book of Plates were at the same time hid in the woods

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Isaac Hale, quoted by Eber D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 1834

  • Context:

The next day after this happened, I went to the house where Joseph Smith Jr., lived, and where he and Harris were engaged in their translation of the Book. Each of them had a written piece of paper which they were comparing, and some of the words were "my servant seeketh a greater witness, but no greater witness can be given him." There was also something said about "three that were to see the thing" -- meaning I supposed, the Book of Plates, and that "if the three did not go exactly according to the orders, the thing would be taken from them." I enquired whose words they were, and was informed by Joseph or Emma, (I rather think it was the former) that they were the words of Jesus Christ. I told them, that I considered the whole of it a delusion, and advised them to abandon it. The manner in which he pretended to read and interpret, was the same as when he looked for the money-diggers, with the stone in his hat, and his hat over his face, while the Book of Plates were at the same time hid in the woods!

After this, Martin Harris went away, and Oliver Cowdery came and wrote for Smith, while he interpreted as above described. This is the same Oliver Cowdery, whose name may be found in the Book of Mormon. Cowdery continued a scribe for Smith until the Book of Mormon was completed as I supposed and understood.

  • Source text: Isaac Hale statement made on March 20th, 1834 in E. D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed; Also reprinted in "Isaac Hale Statement, 1834," Early Mormon Documents (ed. Dan Vogel) 4:287.

Critical website's source quote
When Joseph was translating the Book of Mormon [I] had occasion more than once to go into his immediate presence, and saw him engaged at his work of translation. The mode of procedure consisted in Joseph's placing the Seer Stone in the crown of a hat, then putting his face into the hat, so as to entirely cover his face, resting his elbows upon his knees, and then dictating word after word, while the scribes - Emma, John Whitmer, O. Cowdery, or some other wrote it down.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Michael Morse, Emma Smith's brother-in-law, published in an 1879 article in the RLDS publication Saint's Herald

  • Note: Michael Morse's words are actually being paraphrased by W. W. Blair rather than being quoted verbatim as implied by the web site.
  • Context:

He further states that when Joseph was translating the Book of Mormon, he, (Morse), had occasion more than once to go into his immediate presence, and saw him engaged at his work of translation.

The mode of procedure consisted in Joseph's placing the Seer Stone in the crown of a hat, then putting his face into the hat, so as to entirely cover his face, resting his elbows upon his knees, and then dictating, word after word, while the scribe -- Emma, John Whitmer, O. Cowdery, or some other, wrote it down.


Bro. Cadwell enquired as to whether Joseph was sufficiently intelligent and talented to compose and dictate of his own ability the matter written down by the scribes. To this Mr. Morse replied with decided emphasis, no. He said he then was not at all learned, yet was confident he had more learning than Joseph then had.

Bro. Cadwell enquired how he (Morse) accounted for Joseph's dictating the Book of Mormon in the manner he had described. To this he replied he did not know. He said it was a strange piece of work, and he had thought that Joseph might have found the writings of some good man and, committing them to memory, recited them to his scribes from time to time.

  • Source text: Letter to the editor from W. W. Blair, May 22, 1879, The Saints' Herald, Vol. 26, No. 12. off-site

Critical website's source quote
Now the way he translated was he put the urim and thummim into his hat and darkened his eyes then he would take a sentence and it would appear in bright roman letters then he would tell the writer and he would write it then that would go away the next sentence would come and so on. But if it was not spelt rite it would not go away till it was rite, so we see it was marvelous. Thus was the hol [whole] translated.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Joseph Knight, Sr.

  • Context:

Now the way he translated was he put the urim and thummim into his hat and Darkned his Eyes than he would take a sentance and it would apper in Brite Roman Letters then he would tell the writer and he would write it[.] Then <that would go away> the next sentance would Come and so on But if it was not Spelt rite it would not go away till it was rite[,] so we see it was marvelous[.] thus was the hol [whole] translated.

  • Source text: “Joseph Knight Sr., Reminiscence, Circa 1835-1847” in Early Mormon Documents, ed. Dan Vogel, (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 2002), 4:17-18.

Critical website's source quote
These were days never to be forgotten - to sit under the sound of a voice dictated by the inspiration of heaven, awakened the utmost gratitude of this bosom! Day after day I continued, uninterrupted, to write from his mouth, as he translated, with the Urim and Thummim, or, as the Nephites would have said, 'Interpreters,' the history, or record, called 'The book of Mormon."

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Oliver Cowdery, Latter Day Saint's Messenger and Advocate, Vol. 1 No. 1

Critical website's source quote
I have sometimes had seasons of skepticism, in which I did seriously wonder whether the Prophet and I were men in our sober senses, when he would be translating from plates, through 'the Urim and Thummim', and the plates not be in sight at all.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Oliver Cowdery, Defence in a rehearsal of my grounds for separating myself from the Latter Day Saints

  • NOTE: The pamphlet Defence in a rehearsal of my grounds for separating myself from the Latter Day Saints, attributed to Oliver Cowdery, is a known forgery. Several have debunked the forgery, including Jerald Tanner of the anti-Mormon Utah Lighthouse Ministries.
  • Context:

I have sometimes had seasons of skepticism, in which I did seriously wonder whether the Prophet and I were men in our sober senses, when he would be translating from plates, through “the Urim and Thummim” and the plates not be in sight at all. But I believed in both the Seer and the “Seer stone,” and what the First Elder announced as revelation from God, I accepted as such, and committed to paper with a glad mind and happy heart and swift pen; for I believed him to be the soul of honor and truth, a young man who would die before he would lie.

At some point in this process [Richard Lloyd] Anderson approached the Tanners directly about his growing doubts. In response Jerald made the question a matter of his own investigation, and on April 7, 1967, he and Sandra issued a tract entitled A Critical Look: A Study of the Overstreet "Confession" and the Cowdery "Defence", which set out to prove that the Defence, along with another document related to Cowdery that also placed the LDS Church in a bad light, were both forgeries.

  • Source text: Ronald V. Huggins in "Jerald Tanner's Quest for Truth - Part 3," Salt Lake City Messenger, No. 111, (November 2008) (This is located on the Utah Lighthouse Ministries website).
  • The forgery is also discussed by Richard Lloyd Anderson in the April 1987 Ensign.

Similar faults appear in a better-known historical forgery claiming to come from Oliver Cowdery the year after he left the Church. In 1906 the “mountain evangelist” R. B. Neal, a leader in the American Anti-Mormon Association, published a document with much fanfare but without evidence of the document’s authenticity. Reverend Neal claimed that the publication was a reprint of an 1839 document explaining Oliver Cowdery’s apostasy: Defence in a Rehearsal of My Grounds for Separating Myself from the Latter Day Saints.

“No more important document has been unearthed since I have been engaged in this warfare,” R. B. Neal asserted. 4

With such convictions, one can be sure that Reverend Neal would have produced evidence to prove that the original actually existed. But all we have is his 1906 first printing, which is silent about why no one had ever heard of the document until a half century after Oliver Cowdery’s death.

  • Source text for the Ensign quote: Richard Lloyd Anderson, "I Have a Question," Ensign, April 1987. off-site

Critical website's source quote
The manner in which this was done was by looking into the Urim and Thummim, which was placed in a hat to exclude the light, (the plates lying near by covered up), and reading off the translation, which appeared in the stone by the power of God

Critical website's source(s)


  1. William Smith, quoted by Francis Kirkham, A New Witness for Christ in America, 2:417

  • Context:

He translated them by means of the Urim and Thummim, (which he obtained with the plates), and the power of God. The manner in which this was done was by looking into the Urim and Thummim, which was placed in a hat to exclude the light, (the plates lying near by covered up), and reading off the translation, which appeared in the stone by the power of God.

  • Source text: “William Smith, On Mormonism, 1883” in Early Mormon Documents, ed. Dan Vogel, (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 1996), 1:497.

Critical website's source quote
A fellow by the name of Joseph Smith, who resides in the upper part of Susquehanna county, has been, for the last two years we are told, employed in dedicating as he says, by inspiration, a new bible. He pretended that he had been entrusted by God with a golden bible which had been always hidden from the world. Smith would put his face into a hat in which he had a white stone, and pretend to read from it, while his coadjutor transcribed.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Cincinnati Advertiser of June 2, 1830

  • Context:

A fellow by the name of Joseph Smith, who resides in the upper part of Susquehanna county, has been, for the last two years we are told, employed in dedicating as he says, by inspiration, a new bible. He pretended that he had been entrusted by God with a golden bible which had been always hidden from the world. Smith would put his face into a hat in which he had a white stone, and pretend to read from it, while his coadjutor transcribed. The book purports to give an account of the “Ten Tribes,” and strange as it may seem, there are some who have full faith in his Divine commission. The book it seems is now published. We extract the following from the Rochester Republican.

Wayne Co. Inq.

BLASPHEMY.—“Book of Mormon” alias The Golden Bible.—The “Book of Mormon” has been placed in our hands. A viler imposition was never practised. It is an evidence of fraud, blasphemy, and credulity, shocking to the Christian and moralist. The “author and proprietor is one Joseph Smith, Jr,” a fellow who, by some hocus pocus, acquired such an influence over a farmer of Wayne county, that the latter mortgaged his farm for $3,000 which he paid for printing and binding 5000 copies of this blasphemous work. The volume consists of about 600 pages, and is divided into the books of Nephi, of Jacob, of Mosiah, of Alma, of Mormon, of Ether, and of Helaman. “Copy right secured.”

  • Source text: Cincinnati Advertiser and Ohio Phoenix, June 2, 1830. Reprinted from Wayne County Inquirer, Pennsylvania, circa May 1830. off-site (Brigham Young University, "19th Century Publications about the Book of Mormon.")

Critical website's source quote
it was not expedient for him to tell more than had already been told about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and it was not well that any greater details be provided.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Conference of the church in October 1831, in Orange, Ohio

  • Note: The words quoted are Stephen D. Ricks', not a transcription from the October 1831 conference.
  • Context:

We might ask ourselves, why was it that Joseph was so hesitant to answer the question in greater detail? And we know that he was, because in 1831, in October Conference in Orange, Ohio, his brother Hyrum, whom he so dearly loved, and for whom he did so much, and who did so much for him, asked him, in front of the conference, if he would please get up and tell the conference members in greater detail than he had before, just exactly how the Book of Mormon was translated. And in answer to that request, Joseph said that it was not expedient for him to tell more than had already been told about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and it was not well that any greater details be provided.

  • Source text: Stephen D. Ricks, "The Translation and Publication of the Book of Mormon," Neal A. Maxwell Institute. off-site

Critical website's source quote
His reticence was probably well justified and may have been due to the inordinate interest which some of the early Saints had shown in the seer stone or to the negative and sometimes bitter reactions he encountered when he had reported some of his sacred experiences to others.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Stephen Ricks

  • Context:

Joseph's hesitation to speak in detail about the translation process is reflected in his response to his brother Hyrum's request at a conference held in Orange, Ohio in October 1831 that he provide a first-hand account concerning the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. The Prophet replied that "it was not intended to tell the world all the particulars of the coming forth of the book of Mormon and . . . it was not expedient for him to relate these things."[5] His reticence was probably well justified and may have been due to the inordinate interest which some of the early Saints had shown in the seer stone or to the negative and sometimes bitter reactions he encountered when he had reported some of his sacred experiences to others.[6] Other witnesses to the translation of the Book of Mormon were more explicit and detailed in their description of the process, providing us with considerable additional insight into the means which the Prophet used in completing the translation of the Book of Mormon as well as the method he employed.

  • Source text: Stephen D. Ricks, Joseph Smith's Translation of the Book of Mormon, Neal A. Maxwell Institute. Note [5]: "Minutes of a General Conference held at the dwelling of br. Serenes Burnet in the Town of Orange, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, October 25, 1836," Far West Record, p. 13 = Joseph Smith, op. cit. I:220, note. Note [6]: Richard van Wagoner and Steven Waliler, "Joseph Smith: 'The Gift of Seeing'," Dialogue 15:2 (1982), 57.

Critical website's source quote
Q: 'Was Joseph Smith not a money digger?' 'Yes, but it was not a very profitable job for him, as he only got fourteen dollars a month for it.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.120

  • Context:
    • Ninth—"What signs does Joseph Smith give of his divine mission?" The signs which God is pleased to let him give, according to His wisdom thinks best, in order that He may judge the world agreeably to His own plan.
    • Tenth—"Was not Joseph Smith a money digger?" Yes, but it was never a very profitable job for him, as he only got fourteen dollars a month for it.
    • Eleventh—"Did not Joseph Smith steal his wife?" Ask her, she was of age, she can answer for herself.
  • Source text: Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 120.

Critical website's source quote
Mr. Stowel was at this time at old Mr. Smith's digging for money. It was reported by these money-diggers, that they had found boxes, but before they could secure them, they would sink into the earth.... There were a great many strange sights. One time the old log school-house south of Palmyra, was suddenly lighted up, and frightened them away. Samuel Lawrence told me that while they were digging, a large man who appeared to be eight or nine feet high, came and sat on the ridge of the barn, and motioned to them that they must leave.... These things were real to them, I believe, because they were told to me in confidence, and told by different ones, and their stories agreed, and they seemed to be in earnest-I knew they were in earnest

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Martin Harris, An interview with Martin Harris, published in Tiffany's Monthly, 1859, p.165

  • Context:

"After this, on the 22d of September, 1827, before day, Joseph took the horse and wagon of old Mr. Stowel, and taking his wife, he went to the place where the plates were concealed,[ 164 ]and while he was obtaining them, she kneeled down and prayed. He then took the plates and hid them in an old black oak tree top which was hollow. Mr. Stowel was at this time at old Mr. Smith's, digging for money. It was reported by these money-diggers, that they had found boxes, but before they could secure them, they would sink into the earth. A candid old Presbyterian told me, that on the Susquehannah flats he dug down to an iron chest, that he scraped the dirt off with his shovel, but had nothing with him to open the chest; that he went away to get help, and when they came to it, it moved away two or three rods into the earth, and they could not get it. There were a great many strange sights. One time the old log school-house south of Palmyra, was suddenly lighted up, and frightened them away. Samuel Lawrence told me that while they were digging, a large man who appeared to be eight or nine feet high, came and sat on the ridge of the barn, and motioned to them that they must leave. They motioned back that they would not; but that they afterwards became frightened and did leave. At another time while they were digging, a company of horsemen came and frightened them away. These things were real to them, I believe, because they were told to me in confidence, and told by different ones, and their stories agreed, and they seemed to be in earnest—I knew they were in earnest.

"Joseph did not dig for these plates. They were placed in this way: four stones were set up and covered with a flat stone, oval on the upper side and flat on the bottom. Beneath this was a little platform upon which the plates were laid; and the two stones set in a bow of silver by means of which the plates were translated were found underneath the plates. "These were seven inches wide by eight inches in length, and were of the thickness of plates of tin; and when piled one above the other, they were altogether about four inches thick; and they were put together on the back by three silver rings, so that they would open like a book. "The two stones set in a bow of silver were about two inches in diameter, perfectly round, and about five-eighths of an inch thick at the centre; but not so thick at the edges where they [ 165 ]came into the bow. They were joined by a round bar of silver, about three-eighths of an inch in diameter, and about four inches long, which, with the two stones, would make eight inches. "The stones were white, like polished marble, with a few gray streaks. I never dared to look into them by placing them in the hat, because Moses said that 'no man could see God and live,' and we could see anything we wished by looking into them; and I could not keep the desire to see God out of my mind. And beside, we had a command to let no man look into them, except by the command of God, lest he should 'look aught and perish.'

Critical website's source quote
Martin Harris (speaking to a group of Saints at Clarkston, Utah in the 1870's): I will tell you a wonderful thing that happened after Joseph had found the plates. Three of us took some tools to go to the hill and hunt for some more boxes, or gold or something, and indeed we found a stone box. ...but behold by some unseen power, it slipped back into the hill

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Testimony of Mrs. Comfort Godfrey Flinders, Utah Pioneer Biographies, vol. 10, p.65, Genealogical Society of Utah, as cited in an unpublished manuscript by LaMar Petersen

  • Context:

The Prophet, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and myself went into a little grove to pray to obtain a promise that we should behold it with our own eyes natural eyes, that we could testify of it to the world. We prayed two or three times and at length an angle [angel] stood before us Oliver [and David] and showed them the plates, but I had gone by myself for I knew it was me that was keeping the angle [angel] from appearing. In my desperation I asked the Prophet Seer to kneel down with me and to pray for me also that I may also <see> the plates, and we did kneel down and pray Imediately [immediately] the angle [angel} stood before us me and said: "Look["] and when I looked glanced the angel, I fell but I stood on my feet and seen the Angel turn the leaves of gold and I said "It is enough my Lord and my God.["] I then heard the voice of God say "The Book is true and is translated correctly."

Brother Harris then turned himself as though he had no more to say and we made ready to go. He then spoke again and said, "I will tell you th a wonderful thing that happened after Joseph had found the plates: three of us took a notion to take some of tools to go to the hill and hunt for some more boxes or gold or something, and Indeed we found a stone box; we got quiet [quite] excited about it; and dug quiet [quite] carefully around it; we were ready to take it up: but behold <by> some unseen power it slipped and back into the hilll we stood there and looked at it; One of us took a crowbar and tried to drive it through the lid and hold drive it through the lid to hold it; but it glanced and only broke one corner off of the box.

Some time that box will be found and you will see the corner broken off; then you will know I have told the truth.["]

"Again, Brothern as sure as you are standing here and see me, just that sure did I see the angel with the golden plates in his hand for he turned the golden leaves and showed them to me.

I have promised that I will bear record witness both here and hereafter.["]

  • Source text: "Martin Harris Interview with Ole A. Jensen, July 1875," in Early Mormon Documents, ed. Dan Vogel, (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 1998), 2:375-6. Editor notes that this is taken from 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, Salt Lake City, Utah; LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah; and Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Provo, Utah). The editor also notes that "A copy of Jensen's statement containing some slight variations was at one time in the possession of Comfort Elizabeth Godfrey Flinders."

Critical website's source quote
Warrant issued upon written complaint upon oath of Peter G. Bridgeman, who informed that one Joseph Smith of Bainbridge was a disorderly person and an imposter. Prisoner brought before Court March 20, 1826.

Prisoner examined: says that he came from the town of Palmyra, and had been at the house of Josiah Stowel in Bainbridge most of time since; had small part of time been employed in looking for mines, but the major part had been employed by said Stowel on his farm, and going to school. That he had a certain stone which he had occasionally look at to determine where hidden treasures in the bowels of the earth were; that he professed to tell in this manner where gold mines were at a distance under ground, and had looked for Mr. Stowel several times, and had informed him where he could find these treasures, and Mr. Stowel had been engaged in digging for them. That at Palmyra he pretended to tell by looking at this stone where coined money was buried in Pennsylvania and while at Palmyra had frequently ascertained in that way where lost property was of various kinds; that he had occasionally been in the habit of looking through this stone to find lost property for three years, but of late had pretty much given it up on account of its injuring his health, especially his eyes, making them sore; that he did not solicit business of this kind, and had always declined having anything to do with this business.

Josiah Stowel sworn: says that prisoner had been at his house something like five months; had been employed by him to work on farm part of time; that he pretended to have skill of telling where hidden treasures in the earth were by means of looking through a certain stone; that prisoner had looked for him sometimes; once to tell him about money buried in Bend Mountain in Pennsylvania, once for gold on Monument Hill, and once for a salt spring; and that he positively knew that the prisoner could tell, and did possess the art of seeing those valuable treasures through the medium of said stone; that he found the [word illegible] at Bend and Monument Hill as prisoner represented it; that prisoner had looked through said stone for Deacon Attleton for a mine, did not exactly find it but got a p- [word unfinished] of ore which resembled gold, he thinks; that prisoner had told by means of this stone where a Mr. Bacon had buried money; that he and prisoner had been in search of it; that prisoner had said it was in a certain root of a stump five feet from the surface of the earth, and with it would be found a tail feather; that said Stowel and prisoner thereupon commenced digging, found a tail feather, but money was gone; that he supposed the money moved down. That prisoner did offer his services; that he never deceived him; that prisoner looked through stone and described Josiah Stowel's house and outhouses, while at Palmyra at Simpson Stowel's, correctly; that he had told about a painted tree, with a man's head painted upon it, by means of said stone. That he had been in company with prisoner digging for gold, and had the most implicit faith in prisoner's skill.

Arad Stowel sworn: says that he went to see whether prisoner could convince him that he possessed the skill he professed to have, upon which prisoner laid a book upon a white cloth, and proposed looking through another stone which was white and transparent, hold the stone to the candle, turn his head to look, and read. The deception appeared so palpable that witness went off disgusted. McMaster sworn: says he went with Arad Stowel, and likewise came away disgusted. Prisoner pretended to him that he could discover objects at a distance by holding this white stone to the sun or candle; that prisoner rather declined looking into a hat at his dark colored stone, as he said that it hurt his eyes.

Jonathon Thompson: says that prisoner was requested to look for chest of money; did look, and pretended to know where it was; and prisoner, Thompson and Yeomans went in search of it; that Smith arrived at spot first; was at night; that Smith looked in hat while there, and when very dark, and told how the chest was situated. After digging several feet, struck something sounding like a board or plant. Prisoner would not look again, pretending that he was alarmed on account of the circumstances relating to the trunk being buried [which] came all fresh to his mind. That the last time he looked he discovered distinctly the two Indians who buried the trunk, that a quarrel ensued between them, and that one of said Indians was killed by the other, and thrown into the hold beside the trunk, to guard it, as he supposed. Thompson says that he believes in the prisoner's professed skill; that the board he struck his spade upon was probably the chest, but on account of an enchantment the trunk kept settling away from under them when digging; that notwithstanding they continued constantly removing the dirt, yet the trunk kept about the same distance from them. Says prisoner said that it appeared to him that salt might be found at Bainbridge, and that he is certain that prisoner can divine things by means of said stone. That as evidence of the fact prisoner looked into his hat to tell him about some money witness lost sixteen years ago, and that he described the man the witness supposed had taken it, and the disposition of the money: And therefore the Court find the Defendant guilty.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Joseph Smith's 1826 court transcript

  • Source text: "Bainbridge (NY) Court Record, 20 March 1826," in Early Mormon Documents, 4:248-55.

Critical website's source quote
If this court record is authentic it is the most damning evidence in existence against Joseph Smith.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Hugh Nibley, The Myth Makers, p. 246

  • Context:

You knew its immense value as a weapon against Joseph Smith if its authenticity could be established. And the only way to establish authenticity was to get hold of the record book from which the pages had been purportedly torn. After all, you had only Miss Pearsall's word for it that the book ever existed. Why didn't you immediately send he back to find the book or make every effort to get hold of I? Why didn't you "unearth" it, as they later said you did? . . . The authenticity of the record still rests entirely on the confidential testimony of Miss Pearsall to the Bishop. And who was Miss Pearsall? A zealous old maid, apparently: "a woman helper in our mission," who lived right in the Tuttle home and would do anything to assist her superior. The picture I get is that of a gossipy old housekeeper. If this court record is authentic, it is the most damning evidence in existence against Joseph Smith. Why, then, [speaking to Tuttle] was it not republished in your article in the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge after 1891? . . . in 1906 Bishop Tuttle published his Reminiscences of a Missionary Bishop in which he blasts the Mormons as hotly as ever. . . yet in the final summary of his life's experiences he never mentions the story of the court record - his one claim to immortal fame and the gratitude of the human race if it were true!

Critical website's source quote
through the aid of a pair of Interpreters, or spectacles - (known perhaps, in ancient days as Teraphim, or Urim and Thummim).

Critical website's source(s)


  1. W.W. Phelps, The Evening and Morning Star (Jan. 1833)

  • Context:

The book of Mormon, as a revelation from God, possesses some advantage over the old scripture: it has not been tinctured by the wisdom of man, with here and there an Italic word to supply deficiencies.-It was translated by the gift and power of God, by an unlearned man, through the aid of a pair of Interpreters, or spectacles-(known, perhaps, in ancient days as Teraphim, or Urim and Thummim)

Critical website's source quote
The statement has been made that the Urim and Thummim was on the altar in the Manti Temple when that building was dedicated. The Urim and Thummim so spoken of, however, was the seer stone which was in the possession of the Prophet Joseph Smith in early days. This seer stone is now in the possession of the Church.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Joseph Fielding Smith

  • Source text: Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1956), 3:225.

Critical website's source quote
... he used a stone called a "Seers stone," the "Interpreters" having been taken away from him because of transgression. The "Interpreters" were taken from Joseph after he allowed Martin Harris to carry away the 116 pages of Ms [manuscript] of the Book of Mormon as a punishment, but he was allowed to go on and translate by use of a "Seers stone" which he had, and which he placed in a hat into which he buried his face, stating to me and others that the original character appeared upon parchment and under it the translation in English.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. David Whitmer, quoted by Zenas H. Gurley, RLDS Saints' Herald 1885

  • Source text: David Whitmer, quoted by Zenas H. Gurley, cited in Richard van Wagoner and Steven Walker, "Joseph Smith: 'The Gift of Seeing'," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 15:2 (Summer 1982), 54. off-site

Critical website's source quote
the term Urim and Thummim (first used by W. W. Phelps in 1833), which is generally associated with the Nephite interpreters, is frequently used in a rather undifferentiated manner to indicate either the seer stone or the interpreters.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Stephen Ricks

  • Context:

Further, in the Historical Record of the Church is recorded: "As a chastisement for this carelessness, the Urim and Thummim was taken from Smith. But by humbling himself, he again found favor with the Lord and was presented a strange ovalshaped, chocolate colored stone, about the size of an egg, but more flat which it was promised should answer the same purpose. With this stone all the present book was translated."16 In addition, the term "Urim and Thummim," (first used by W. W. Phelps in 1833) which is generally associated with the Nephite interpreters, is frequently used in a rather undifferentiated manner to indicate either the seer stone or the interpreters. As a consequence, mention of the "Urim and Thummim" cannot be allowed as undisputed evidence for the use of the Nephite interpreters after the loss of the 116 pages.

  • Source text: Stephen D. Ricks, "Joseph Smith's Translation of the Book of Mormon," Neal A. Maxwell Institute. off-site

Critical website's source quote
The Seer Stone referred to here was a chocolate-colored, somewhat egg-shaped stone which the Prophet found while digging a well in company with his brother Hyrum,... It possessed the qualities of Urim and Thummim, since by means of it - as described above - as well by means of the Interpreters found with the Nephite record, Joseph was able to translate the characters engraven on the plates.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. B.H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, vol. 1, page 129

Critical website's source quote
The sum of the whole matter, then, concerning the manner of translating the sacred record of the Nephites, according to the testimony of the only witnesses competent to testify in the matter is: With the Nephite record was deposited a curious instrument, consisting of two transparent stones, set in the rim of a bow, somewhat resembling spectacles, but larger, called by the ancient Hebrews 'Urim and Thummim,' but by the Nephites 'Interpreters.' In addition to these 'Interpreters' the Prophet Joseph had a 'Seer Stone,' possessed of similar qualities to the Urim and Thummim; that the prophet sometimes used one and sometimes the other of these sacred instruments in the work of translation; that whether the 'Interpreters' or the 'Seer Stone' was used the Nephite characters with the English interpretation appeared in the sacred instrument; that the Prophet would pronounce the English translation to his scribe, which when correctly written would disappear and the other characters with their interpretation take their place, and so on until the work was completed

Critical website's source(s)


  1. B.H. Roberts, The Seventy's Course in Theology, First Year, p.111

Critical website's source quote
He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fullness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants. Also, that there were two stones in silver bows (and these stones, fastened to a breast-plate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim) deposited with the plates, and the possession: and use of these stones was what constituted Seers in ancient or modern times, and that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating the book."

Critical website's source(s)


  1. History of Joseph Smith, the Prophet, 2:34-35

Critical website's source quote
accomplish some business of importance, which could not very well be done without the aid of the stone.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Willard Chase, ca. 11 Dec. 1833, in E. D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 241

  • Context:

After obtaining the stone, he began to publish abroad what wonders he could discover by looking in it, and made so much disturbance among the credulous part of community, that I ordered the stone to be returned to me again. He had it in his possession about two years. --I believe, some time in 1825, Hiram Smith (brother of Joseph Smith) came to me, and wished to borrow the same stone, alledging that they wanted to accomplish some business of importance, which could not very well be done without the aid of the stone. I told him it was of no particular worth to me, but merely wished to keep it as a curiosity, and if he would pledge me his word and honor, that I should have it when called for, he might take it; which he did and took the stone. I thought I could rely on his word at this time, as he had made a profession of religion. But in this I was disappointed, for he disregarded both his word and honor. In the fall of 1826, a friend called upon me and wished to see that stone, about which so much had been said; and I told him if he would go with me to Smith's, (a distance of about half a mile) he might see it. But to my surprize, on going to Smith's, and asking him for the stone, he said, "you cannot have it;" I told him it belonged to me, repeated to him the promise he made me, at the time of obtaining the stone: upon which he faced me with a malignant look and said, "I don't care who in the Devil it belongs to, you shall not have it."

  • Source text: Willard Chase statement made 11th December, 1833 in E. D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 241.

Critical website's source quote
For a time, the Lord took the Urim and Thummim and the plates from Joseph. But these things were soon restored to him. "The angel was rejoiced when he gave me back the Urim and Thummim," the Prophet recalled, "and said that God was pleased with my faithfulness and humility, and loved me for my penitence and diligence in prayer, in the which I had performed my duty so well as to . be able to enter upon the work of translation again.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Lucy Mack Smith, "The History of Lucy Smith, Mother of the Prophet," 1844-45 manuscript, book 7, p. 11, Church Archives

Critical website's source quote
that the Prophet possessed a seer stone, by which he was enabled to translate as well as from the Urim and Thummim.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Martin Harris

  • Context:

that the Prophet possessed a seer stone, by which he was enabled to translate as well as from the Urim and Thummim, and for convenience he then used the seer stone.

  • Source text: Deseret News, 28 Dec. 1881

Critical website's source quote
Mr. Harris says: "Joseph Smith, jr., found at Palmyra, N. Y., on the 22d day of September, 1827, the plates of gold upon which was recorded in Arabic, Chaldaic, Syriac, and Egyptian, the Book of Life, or the Book of Mormon. I was not with him at the time, but I had a revelation the summer before, that God had a work for me to do. These plates were found at the north point of a hill two miles north of Manchester village. Joseph had a stone which was dug from the well of Mason Chase, twenty-four feet from the surface. In this stone he could see many thing to my certain knowledge. It was by means of this stone he first discovered these plates.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Martin Harris, (August 1859) Mormonism—No. II, Tiffany's Monthly, 5(4), Joel Tiffany, ed., pp. 163–170

Critical website's source quote
We were waiting on Martin Harris who was doing his best to sell a part of his farm, in order to raise the necessary funds. After a time Hyrum Smith and others began to get impatient, thinking that Martin Harris was too slow and under transgression for not selling his land at once, even if at a great sacrifice. Brother Hyrum thought they should not wait any longer on Martin Harris, and that the money should be raised in some other way. Brother Hyrum was vexed with Brother Martin, and thought they should get the money by some means outside of him, and not let him have anything to do with the publication of the Book, or receiving any of the profits thereof if any profits should accrue. He was wrong in thus judging Bro. Martin, because he was doing all he could toward selling his land. Brother Hyrum said it had been suggested to him that some of the brethren might go to Toronto, Canada, and sell the copy-right of the Book of Mormon for considerable money: and he persuaded Joseph to inquire of the Lord about it. Joseph concluded to do so. He had not yet given up thestone. 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 copy-right of the Book of Mormon. Hiram Page and Oliver Cowdery went to Toronto on this mission, but they failed entirely to sell the copy-right, 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 copy-right, 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 man: and some revelations are of the devil." So we see that the revelation to go to Toronto and sell the copy-right was not of God, but was of the devil or of the heart of man. When a man enquires of the Lord concerning a matter, if he is deceived by his own carnal desires, and is in error, he will receive an answer according to his erring heart, but it will not be a revelation from the Lord.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ, p.30 - p.31

  • Source text: David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ. off-site (Wikisource)
  • Source text: David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ off-site (FAIR Wiki)

Critical website's source quote
he asked Joseph [Smith, Jr.] whether he could not ascertain what his mission was and Joseph answered that he would see. & asked Pratt and John Whitmer to go up stairs with him. and arriving there Joseph produced a small stone called a seer stone. and putting it into a hat soon commenced speaking.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Orson Pratt

  • Context:

at Peter Whitmer Sr’s residence he [Orson Pratt] asked Joseph whether he could not ascertain what his mission was, and Joseph answered him that he would see, & asked Pratt and John Whitmer to go upstairs with him, and on arriving there Joseph produced a small stone called a seer stone, and putting it into a Hat soon commenced speaking and asked Elder P[ratt]. to write as he would speak, but being too young and timid and feeling his unworthiness he asked whether Bro. John W[hitmer]. could not write it, and the Prophet said that he could: Then came the revelation to the Three named given Nov. 4th 1830.

  • Source text: James R. B. Vancleave to Joseph Smith III, 29 Sept. 1878, “Miscellaneous Letters and Papers,” Library-Archives, Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Independence, Missouri. See also Lyndon W. Cook, ed., David Whitmer Interviews: A Restoration Witness (Orem, UT: Grandin Book Co., 1991), 239-40. Quoted in H. Michael Marquardt & Wesley P. Walters, Inventing Mormonism. (1994)

Critical website's source quote
sometimes Joseph used a seer stone when enquiring of the Lord, and receiving revelation.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Orson Pratt

  • Context:

Declared that sometimes Joseph used a seer stone when enquiring of the Lord, and receiving revelation, but that he was so thoroughly endowed with the inspiration of the Almighty and the spirit of revelation that he oftener received them without any instrument, or other means than the operation of the spirit upon his mind.

  • Source text: The Latter-Day Saints Millennial Star, 40:787. off-site

Critical website's source quote
through the Urim and Thummim

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Newel K. Whitney, 7 October 1835, patriarchal (prophetic) blessing

  • Context:

The following blessing was given by president Joseph Smith, Jr. through the Urim and Thummim, according to the spirit of prophecy and revelation, on Wednesday, the 7th of October, 1835, and written by president Frederick G. Williams, who acted as Clerk. Blessed of the Lord is brother [Newel K.] Whitney, even the bishop of the church of the Latter Day Saints; for the bishopric shall never be taken away from him while he liveth. And the time cometh that he shall overcome all the nar rowmindedness of his heart, and all his coveteous desires that so easily besetteth him; and he shall deal with a liberal hand to the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted, the widow and the fatherless: and mar velously and miraculously shall the Lord his God provide for him, even that he shall be blessed with all the fulness [p. 33]

  • Source text: "Blessing for Newel K. Whitney, 7 October 1835," Joseph Smith Papers (Church History Press) off-site

Critical website's source quote
directed his enchantments and dog sacrifices; and it was all by the same spirit.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Hiel Lewis, "Review of Mormonism: Rejoinder to Elder Cadwell." Amboy Journal, June 4, 1879, Quoted in Quinn, 172

  • Context:

Friend Cadwell, you say Messrs. Lewis would have us believe that [Joseph] Smith, [Josiah] Stowell, and others were such idiots as to offer in sacrifice a white dog, etc. Whether fools or idiots, or not, we would have you believe that they did just such absurd things. And it is no greater stretch of credulity than it is to believe what you and others do of Joseph Smith. The facts are that the sacrifice of white dogs, bloack sluts, black cats, and such like was an indispensable part or appendage of the art which Smith, the embryo prophet, was then practicing. He claimed to possess the supernatural power of second sight, or to see things at a distance, and deep under ground, and his frequent references to "the enchantment," proves that he was a conjurer, a sorcerer, which Webster defines an "an enchanter," and sorcery as witchcraft, or intercourse with the devil....So we have no reason to doubt the truth of the statement about the white dog, and the black slut, and that something of the kind took place each time the enchantment removed the treasure. It is hard to believe that men of common intelligence could believe that Smith could thus see, and believe in his conjuration; be so foolish as to spend thousands of dollars in such a way; but Smith translated his book of Mormon, mostly with this same peep stone and hat....and it is just as hard to believe in this inspired translation as to believe in the fact and efficacy of his dog sacrifices....Smith translated the book of Mormon by means of the same peep stone, and under the same inspiration that directed his enchantments and dog sacrifices; it was all by the same spirit. Christ says "by their fruits ye shall know them;" and by the application of Christ's rule, we know that Smith was a fasle [false] prophet, to be sure, not equal to Mahommed.....Let me also tell you that you are laboring under a delusion.

  • Source text: "Joseph and Hiel Lewis Statements, 1879," ,” in Early Mormon Documents, ed. Dan Vogel, (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 2002), 4: 308-9. Vogel lists the original source as "Hiel Lewis, "Review of Mormonism. Rejoinder to Elder Cadwell," Amboy Journal 24 (4 June 1879): 1.

Critical website's source quote
The manner in which he pretended to read and interpret, was the same as when he looked for money-diggers with the stone in his hat, and his hat over his face, while the Book of Plates were at the same time hid in the woods!

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Isaac Hale, in Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, p. 264

  • Context:
I first became acquainted with JOSEPH SMITH, Jr. in November, 1825. He was at that time in the employ of a set of men who were called "money-diggers;" and his occupation was that of seeing, or pretending to see by means of a stone placed in his hat, and his hat closed over his face. In this way he pretended to discover minerals and hidden treasure....After these occurrences, young Smith made several visits at my house, and at length asked my consent to his marrying my daughter Emma. This I refused, and gave him my reasons for so doing; some of which were, that he was a stranger, and followed a business that I could not approve; he then left the place. Not long after this, he returned, and while I was absent from home, carried off my daughter, into the state of New York, where they were married without my approbation or consent.....Smith stated to me, that he had given up what he called "glass-looking," and that he expected to work hard for a living, and was willing to do so.....Soon after this, I was informed they had brought a wonderful book of Plates down with them....I was allowed to feel the weight of the box, and they gave me to understand, that the book of plates was then in the box-into which, however, I was not allowed to look....I considered the whole of it a delusion, and advised them to abandon it. The manner in which he pretended to read and interpret, was the same as when he looked for the money-diggers, with the stone in his hat, and his hat over his face, while the Book of Plates were at the same time hid in the woods!
  • Source text: "Isaac Hale Statement, 1834," ,” in Early Mormon Documents, ed. Dan Vogel, (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 2002), 4:284-7 . Originally printed in E.D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed: or, A Faithful Account of That Singular Imposition and Delusiton, from Its Rise to the Present Time (Painesville, Ohio: E. D. Howe, 1834), 262-66.

Critical website's source quote
Joe Smith never handled one shovel of earth in those diggings. All that Smith did was to peep with stone and hat, and give directions where and how to dig, and when and where the enchantment moved the treasure. That Smith said if he should work with his hands at digging there, he would lose the power to see with the stone.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Alva Hale, Quoted in Joseph Lewis, "Review of Mormonism," Amboy Journal, June 11, 1879, cited in David Persuitte, Joseph Smith and the Origins of the Book of Mormon (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2000), 38

Critical website's source quote
Prisoner examined: says... That he had a certain stone which he had occasionally looked at to determine where hidden treasures in the bowels of the earth were; that he professed to tell in this manner where gold mines were a distance under ground, and had looked for Mr. Stowel several times, and had informed him where he could find these treasures, and Mr. Stowel had been engaged in digging for them... .he pretended to tell by looking at this stone where coined money was buried in Pennsylvania and while at Palmyra had frequently ascertained in that way where lost property was of various kinds; that he had occasionally been in the habit of looking through this stone to find lost property for three years, but of late had pretty much given it up on account of its injuring his health, especially his eyes, making them sore;

Critical website's source(s)


  1. transcript of the 1826 Trial in Bainbridge, NY

Critical website's source quote
says that prisoner [Joseph Smith] was requested to look for a chest of money; did look, and pretended to know where it was;... Smith looked in hat while there, and when very dark, and told how the chest was situated [under the ground]... . the last time he looked he discovered distinctly two Indians who buried the trunk, that a quarrel ensued between them, and that one of the said Indians was killed by the other, and thrown into the hole beside the trunk, to guard it, as he supposed... . . on account of an enchantment the trunk kept settling away from under them when digging; that notwithstanding they continued constantly removing the dirt, yet the trunk kept about the same distance from them.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Jonathan Thompson, transcript of the 1826 Trial in Bainbridge, NY

Critical website's source quote
on account of having heard that he possessed certain keys by which he could discern things invisible to the natural eye.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Lucy Mack Smith

  • Context:

A short time before the house was completed, a man by the name of Josiah Stoal, came from Chenango County, New York, with the view of getting Joseph to assist him in digging for a silver mine. He came for Joseph on account of having heard that he possessed certain keys, by which he could discern things invisible to the natural eye.

Joseph endeavored to divert him from his vain pursuit, but he was inflexible in his purpose, and offered high wages to those who would dig for him, in search of said mine, and still insisted upon having Joseph to work for him. Accordingly, Joseph and several others returned with him and commenced digging. After laboring for the old gentleman about a month, without success, Joseph prevailed upon him to cease his operations; and it was from this circumstance of having worked by the month, at digging for a silver mine, that the very prevalent story arose of Joseph's being a money-digger.

  • Source text: History of Joseph Smith by His Mother Lucy Mack Smith, (Bookcraft:Salt Lake City) 91-92.

Critical website's source quote
To our great grief, however, we soon found that Satan had been lying in wait to deceive,... Brother Hiram Page had in his possession a certain stone, by which he obtained certain "revelations" ... all of which were entirely at variance with the order of God's house, ... the Whitmer family and Oliver Cowdery, were believing much in the things set forth by this stone, we thought best to inquire of the Lord concerning so important a matter ...

Critical website's source(s)


  1. History of the Church, by Joseph Smith, vol. 1, pp.109-10

  • Context:

To our great grief, however, we soon found that Satan had been lying in wait to deceive, and seeking whom he might devour. Brother Hiram Page had in his possession a certain stone, by which he had obtained certain "revelations" concerning the upbuilding of Zion, the order of the Church, etc., all of which were entirely at variance with the order of God's house, as laid down in the New Testament, as well as in our late revelations. As a conference meeting had been appointed for the 26th 3 day of September, I thought it wisdom not to do much more than to converse with the brethren on the subject, until the conference should meet. Finding, however, that many, especially the Whitmer family and Oliver Cowdery, were believing much in the things set forth by this stone, we thought best to inquire of the Lord concerning so important a matter; and before conference convened...

  • Source text: History of the Church, by Joseph Smith, 1:109-10.

Critical website's source quote
those things which he hath written from that stone are not of me, and that Satan deceiveth him.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Doctrine and Covenants 28:11

Critical website's source quote
the Urim and Thummim

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Journal of Discourses 2:111

  • Context:

The question is asked many times, "Has brother Brigham got the Urim and Thummim?" Yes, he has got everything; everything that is necessary for him to receive the will and mind of God to this people. Do I know it? Yes, I know all about it; and what more do you want? That is true, gentlemen; I am one of his witnesses in the last days, and to bear testimony of the truth of "Mormonism."

Critical website's source quote
the Seer Stone that Oliver Cowdery gave Phineas Young....the pouch containing it made by Emma.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Franklin D. Richards, 1882

  • Source text: Interview with David Whitmer, Des Moines Daily News, Oct. 16, 1886.

Critical website's source quote
On Sunday last I saw and handled the seer stone that the Prophet Joseph Smith had. It was a dark color, not round on one side. It was shaped like the top of a baby's shoe, one end like the toe of the shoe, and the other round.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. One of John Taylor's body guards, 1887

  • Source text: Samuel Bateman diary, 17 Aug, 1887, Lee library

Critical website's source quote
Before leaving I Consecrated upon the Altar the seers Stone that Joseph Smith found by Revelation some 30 feet under the Earth Carried By him through life

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Wilford Woodruff's journal, 18 May, 1888

  • Source text: Wilford Woodruff's journal, 18 May, 1888

Critical website's source quote
showed me the Seerers Stone that the Prophet Joseph Smith had by which he done some of the Translating of the Book of Mormon with. I handeled [sic] it with my own hands. I felt as though I see & was handling a very Sacred thing. I trust & feel that it will work in his hands as it did in the Prophet Joseph Smiths hands....color was mahoganey.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Frederick Kesler diary

  • Source text: Fredrick Kesler diary, 1 Feb, 1899, Marriott Library

Critical website's source quote
The statement has been made that the Urim and Thummim was on the altar in the Manti Temple when that building was dedicated. The Urim and Thummim so spoken of, however, was the seer stone which was in the possession of the Prophet Joseph Smith in early days. This seer stone is now in the possession of the church.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Doctrines of Salvation,Vol. 3, p. 225

  • Context:

SEER STONE NOT USED IN BOOK OF MORMON TRANSLATION. We have been taught since the days of the Prophet that the Urim and Thummim were returned with the plates to the angel. We have no record of the Prophet having the Urim and Thummim after the organization of the Church. Statements of translations by the Urim and Thummim after that date are evidently errors. The statement has been made that the Urim and Thummim was on the altar in the Manti Temple when that building was dedicated. The Urim and Thummim so spoken of, however, was the seer stone which was in the possession of the Prophet Joseph Smith in early days. This seer stone is now in the possession of the church.

  • Source text: Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 3, p. 225. (1956)

Critical website's source quote
The stone was not chocolate brown but rather the color of brown sugar. It was 3-4 inches long, 2 inches wide, and had a hump in the middle which made it perhaps 2 inches thick at the thickest point. It was fiat on the bottom and had three black, concentric circles on the top 1/2 inch. Below the circles were many small black circles. The stone was not transparent.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Mary Brown Firmage interview with Richard S. Van Wagoner, 11 Aug 1986. Van Wagoner papers, Marriott Library

  • Source text: Mary Brown Firmage interview with Richard S. Van Wagoner, 11 Aug 1986. Van Wagoner papers, Marriott Library

Critical website's source quote
shown by Earl Olson....seer stones in First Presidency Vault.....[#1] milk chocolate, like a baseball no stripes.....[#2] shiny or polished stone, [with] stripes, dark brown [-] size between egg and handball....[#3] small stone

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Grant Palmer

Critical website's source quote
Behold, I say unto you,(Oliver)...that because you did not translate according to that which you desired of me, and did commence again to write for my servant, Joseph Smith, Jun., even so I would that ye should continue until you have finished this record...Be patient, my son, for it is wisdom in me, and it is not expedient that you should translate at this present time. Behold, the work which you are called to do is to write for my servant Joseph. And, behold, it is because that you did not continue as you commenced, when you began to translate, that I have taken away this privilege from you. Do not murmur, my son, for it is wisdom in me that I have dealt with you after this manner.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. D&C 9

Critical website's source quote
The order of translation in turn bears on the date of section 10 in the Doctrine and Covenants, currently dated "summer 1828". The manuscript version of the History of the Church gives May, 1829 for the date of section 10. The Book of Commandments, the first printed version of the Doctrine and Covenants dated the section May, 1829, as well. A later editor changed the date to summer, 1828, because the directions for translating I Nephi are in that section. The revelation would have lost its point by May, 1829 if Joseph had begun the translation of I Nephi three months previously.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Richard Bushman

  • Context:

The order of translation in turn bears on the date of section 10 in the Doctrine and Covenants, currently dated "summer 1828". The manuscript version of the History of the Church gives May, 1829 for the date of section 10. The Book of Commandments, the first printed version of the Doctrine and Covenants dated the section May, 1829, as well. A later editor changed the date to summer, 1828, because the directions for translating I Nephi are in that section. The revelation would have lost its point by May, 1829 if Joseph had begun the translation of I Nephi three months previously. On the other hand, if Joseph had not translated I Nephi by May because he had started with Mosiah when he resumed work after the loss of the 116 pages, section 10 was relevant in May.

  • Source text: Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism, 223. off-site (Google Books)

Critical website's source quote
Mormon elders and women [at Kirtland] often searched the bed of the river for stones with holes caused by the sand washing out, to peep into. N. K. Whitney's wife had one. I took it to search for a cot I had lost from my injured finger. She said it was wicked to trifle with sacred things.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Newel K. Whitney's brother

  • Context:

For example, Elizabeth Ann Smith Whitney (b. 1800) had her own seer stone. Bishop Whitney's brother later stated: "Mormon elders and women [in Kirtland] often searched the bed of the river for stones with holes caused by the sand washing out, to peep into. N. K. Whitney's wife had one. I took it to search for a cot [i.e. bandage] I had lost from my injured finger. She said it was wicked to trifle with sacred things."

  • Source text: "Reminiscences of Elizabeth Ann Smith Whitney," in Carol Cornwall Madsen, In Their Own Words: Women and the Story of Nauvoo (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1994). Cited in D. Michael Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, (Salt Lake City:Signature Books, 1998) 248.

Critical website's source quote
found a brown colored stone about 2 1/2 inches wide and 6 inches long with two holes in it. The Prophet Joseph examined it and declared it to be a seer stone. It is not known if Elias could use it but his daughter could. She located drowned persons, lost cattle and other items for people who sought such information. Her daughter [Elias's granddaughter] also could use it and after [sic] would see whatever she desired. One strange thing happened though: she once asked to see Satan-which she did-but that was the last time that stone ever worked for anyone.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Descendants of Elias Pulsipher

  • Context:

Descendants of Elias Pulsipher (b. 1805) have stated that, while in Kirtland, he "found a brown colored stone about 2 1/2 inches wide and 6 inches long with two holes in it. The Prophet Joseph examined it and declared it to be a seer stone. It is not known if Elias could use it but his daughter could. She located drowned persons, lost cattle and other items for people who sought such information. Her daughter [a granddaughter of Elias] also could use it and after would see whatever she desired. One strange thing happened though: she once asked to see Satan—which she did—but that was the last time that stone ever worked for anyone."

  • Source text: "Statement by Elaine Mullins, descendant of Elias Pulsipher," in Kraut, Seers and Seer Stones, 55. Cited in D. Michael Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, (Signature Books: Salt Lake City, 1998) 249.

Critical website's source quote
Joseph said there is a [seer] Stone for every person on Earth.....I don't know that I have ever had a desire to have one.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Brigham Young, 1855

Critical website's source quote
The president of the priests has a right to the Urim and Thummim, which gives revelation

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Brigham Young, History of the Church 7:285

  • Context:

'This church has been led by revelation, and unless we forsake the Lord entirely, so that the priesthood is taken from us, it will be led by revelation all the time. The question arises with some who has the right to revelation? I will not ascend any higher than a priest, and ask the priest what is your right? You have the right to receive the administration of angels. If an angel was to come to you and tell you what the Lord was going to do in this day, you would say you had a revelation. The president of the priests has a right to the Urim and Thummim, which gives revelation. He has the right of receiving visits from angels. Every priest then in the church has the right of receiving revelations. Every member has the right of receiving revelations for themselves, both male and female.

  • Source text: History of the Church 7:285 off-site

Critical website's source quote
Showed that the gift of seeing was a natural gift, that there are thousands in the world who are natural born Seers, but when the Lord selected Joseph Smith to be his vice-gerent and mouthpiece upon the earth in this dispensation, he saw that he would be faithful and honor his calling

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Brigham Young, 1860

  • Context:

President Brigham Young delivered an interesting discourse on the gifts of the Holy Ghost and showed that this people are destined to become a kingdom of kings and priests. Showed that the gift of seeing was a natural gift, that there are thousands in the world who are natural born Seers, but when the Lord selected Joseph Smith to be his vice-gerent and mouthpiece upon the earth in this dispensation, he saw that he would be faithful and honor his calling. He advised the wicked to forsake their sins, to love righteousness and mercy; counseled all Saints not to touch nor taste that which would pollute them, but inasmuch as they were righteous to continue in their righteousness, that they might be prepared to enter into the kingdom of our God.

  • Source text: Deseret News, No. 43, Vol. X (December 26, 1860)

Critical website's source quote
Brigham Young in saying that He did not profess to be a prophet seer & Revelator as Joseph Smith was, was speaking of men being born Natural Prophets & seers. Many have the gift of seeing through seer stones without the Priesthood at all. He had not this gift [of using seer stones] naturally yet He was an Apostle & the President of the Church."

Critical website's source(s)


  1. John Taylor

  • Context:

Brigham Young in saying that He did not profess to be a prophet seer & Revelator as Joseph Smith was, was speaking of men being born Natural Prophets & seers. Many have the gift of seeing through seer stones without the Priesthood at all. He had not this gift naturally yet He was an Apostle & the Presidet of the Church & kingdom of God on the Earth and all the Keys of the Holy Priesthood & of Revelation was sealed upon him & the spirit & power of Revelation was upon him daily.

  • Source text: Wilford Woodruff Journal, 5:549-550

Critical website's source quote
Do not seek for those who have peepstones, for soothsayers, and for those who profess to be able to counteract the influence of witchcraft," and concluded: "All who take these methods and encourage these practices I say that the anger of Almighty God will descend upon them unless they repent," (JD 26: 65-66)

Critical website's source(s)


  1. George Q. Cannon, 1884, Journal of Discourses 26:65-66

  • Context:

Now, I have heard that there are men among us who are professing to cure witchcraft and other evils of that kind. I believe they call themselves astrologers. More injurious ideas and practices than these cannot be introduced among a people to lead them to destruction, and I wish to warn you before sitting down, in regard to this. Do not seek for those who have peepstones, for soothsayers, and for those who profess to be able to counteract the influence of witchcraft. They who say so, seek to play upon your fears, they seek to take advantage of superstitious fears, and seek to use them for their own advantage and bring those who will listen to them in bondage to an influence and spirit that is as foreign to the spirit of God as hell is foreign to heaven. Any man who professes to have this authority, to have this power, and to use power outside of that which the Priesthood authorizes, is a man that should not be listened to; his claims are false, and his methods are from beneath and not from God. And I say to all of you, witchcraft you may defy if you live as you should do—defy it, not in a spirit of defiance, not in a spirit to bring evil influences upon you, but in the power and strength of our Father and God. No evil influence of that kind, if you live as you should do, can have power over you; you are entrenched in the power of God, in the spirit and gifts of God; you are entrenched round about so that none of these wicked influences can have power over you. I wonder if Job thought there was somebody bewitching him when his property was stolen and destroyed, when his servants were killed, when his son's house fell and killed his children, when his boils came upon him. I wonder if he thought that he was bewitched. Why, I hear of some people, if anything happens to them, even if any of their chickens die, who are ready to say: "I am bewitched; there is somebody bewitching me." Such expressions and ideas are prompted by the worst folly that ever possessed the mind of a Latter-day Saint. Do not such persons know that not a hair of their heads can fall to the ground unnoticed? Has not the Savior said so, our Lord and Master? And if so, do you not think He will care for us? Do not your angels stand continually before the face of our Father in heaven? And yet shall people unto whom God has made such glorious promises, and upon whom He has poured out such glorious blessings—shall they bow to these wicked influences, these spirits that are not of God, that are full of vileness and darkness and evil, and do that which they say, and seek to wizards and to soothsayers, and to diviners and to men and women who, by hidden works of darkness, profess to obtain knowledge—will the Latter-day Saints do this to take their vile remedies, and if their children are sick, seek unto them? The men and women who do this—I do not want to prophecy evil about them—are in great danger of losing the spirit and power of God, and having it withdrawn from them, and if they do not repent it will most assuredly be withdrawn from them. All who take these methods and encourage these practices I say that the anger of Almighty God will descend upon them unless they repent, and they will find that their hidden works of darkness will not avail them when the Lord feels after them, and when His condemnation rests upon them; they will find this out to their everlasting sorrow. Men who are guilty of these practices, and who seek to lead away the unwary. and to prey upon the ignorant and unsophisticated, and to take advantage of their fears, and instil superstition into the mind, cannot escape condemnation. These methods are not of God, and beware of them, all of you, and tell all your friends that it is sinful in the sight of God to yield to such influences. Pray, rather, to the Father, in the name of Jesus, to let His angels be around about you, to let His power encircle you, to let His Spirit be in your hearts and in your habitations, and rest down upon your little ones, and be of strong faith, and say, like Job, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him." Yes, that righteous man, though God should slay him, yet he would not fail to trust Him to the uttermost.

Critical website's source quote
He has but little encouragement to offer for the use of seer stones.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Wilford Woodruff

  • Context:

Being at the President's Office early this morning I had a conversation with President Woodruff concerning the Seer Stones spoken of yesterday, and particularly of the stone owned by Bro. Rushton, which latter I showed to the President. He attributes no importance at all to the stone; and he sustains me in my opinion concerning Mrs. Russel and her divinations. Later in the day Bro. Rushton called upon me and gave me a history of the stone. He found it in Nauvoo, associated with a valuable record, and with a store of gold; but neither the record nor the gold could he obtain. He claims that the location of the stone was revealed to him in a day vision thrice repeated; and at first it was under a seal, the nature of which he declined to explain. He says the stone possesses a celestial and a terrestrial side, and is capable of revealing matters connected with this world and the spirit land. One surface of the stone is devoted to the Ten Tribes, and in that the Seer can perceive the place and circumstances of that people beyond the ice.

Bro. Rushton says the stone served him to locate the burial places of several of Joseph Smith s kindred, the prophet having placed several of the brethren under covenant to bury his dead together.

Since that work was accomplished, Rushton has lost his gift, but lives in hope that it will be restored to him. The stone he believes will be of service in the vicarious work of the Temples by revealing the condition and desires of those behind the vail. Bro. Rushton and I met Pres. Woodruff, but Rushton declined to explain to the President the nature of the seal under which the stone was laid. Pres. Woodruff says he has but little encouragement to offer for the use of Seer Stones.

  • Source text: James E. Talmage, Diary

Critical website's source quote
peep-stones, in the hands of silly and irresponsible people....occupy the same place exactly as other forms of witchcraft and fortune-telling.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Susa Young Gates, 1900

  • Context:

(p. 396) We have spiritualism, which boldly proclaims itself for what it it; then follow the subtler forms of the same apostate teachings; Christian Science, Mind Healers, Buddhism, Theosophy—with its sinuously fascinating doctrine of reincarnation—and the train of attendant impish beliefs with not enough coherence to have recognized leaders, but with sufficient evil in them to be very dangerous, and misleading. As fortune-telling by cards, tea cups, and the lines in hand through the medium of gypsies and other sources; and peep-stones, in the hands of silly and irresponsible people; such is a partial list of the dangers that beset our young people and that lead some of them astray. Add to these the foolish and vain superstitions that come to us by tradition and inheritance, and the vicious dream books that sometimes are surreptitiously scattered among our boys and girls, and mothers may well shudder as they draw their loved children about them, protecting them with enfolding arms from the contamination.

(p. 401) Then come the peep-stones. These occupy the same place exactly as other forms of witchcraft and fortune-telling. A righteous man or woman, who had discovered in himself a gift and the accompanying stone for its exercise, would so instantly place the stone and the gift under the hands of the proper authority that no harm would accrue to himself or others through its use. A very good test to put to such a matter would be for the young man who hears that such a man or woman has a peep-stone, to inquire at once: Does he or she use it under the direction and sanction and with the full knowledge and approval of the President of the Church?

  • Source text: Susa Young Gates, "Witchcraft," The Young Women's Journal, (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint, January 1900) 11:396. off-site (Google Books)

Critical website's source quote
There are men among us, holding the Holy Priesthood, who in events of their lives would rather stare into a bit of flint-glass that enterprising dealers name a seer-stone, for the solution of their troubles, than to go with the power and authority of their Priesthood to the Almighty Father in prayer.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. John A. Widtsoe

  • Context:

There would be no need to burden the pages of the Era, whose readers regard truth as the end of their existence, with a discussion of one of the pseudo-sciences, were it not that untruth, clad in the pilfered garments of verity, and with the authority of respected men, is insinuating itself into the lives of some Latter-day Saints. Insidious and insinuating doctrines are leading even some of the young men astray, temporarily, from that unyielding faith in the Gospel which is our strength and our glory. There are men among us, holding the Holy Priesthood, who in events of their lives would rather stare into a bit of flint-glass that enterprising dealers name a seer-stone, for the solution of their troubles, than to go with the power and authority of their Priesthood to the Almighty Father in prayer. There are persons among us who, after receiving the ordinances of The Church, will place more confidence in the fortune teller with his deck of cards, than in the promises given them as children by the Priesthood. Others, in the direction of their affairs, will give greater heed to the twaddle of a phrenologist, than to the earnest council of an Apostle of the Lord. And, I grieve to say, there are men holding the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood, whose books on astrology are worn with much use, while their patriarchal blessings, clean and bright, are mislaid with other antiquated documents. True, the number of those who can harmonize such beliefs with their faith in the Gospel is small; and true, too, few of those who have been deceived are long led away. However, to forewarn is to forearm; hence, this article has been written for those who may be tempted.

  • Source text: John A. Widtsoe, "The Folly of Astrology," Improvement Era (February 1901), 290. off-site

Critical website's source quote
10 Then the white stone mentioned in Revelation 2:17, will become a Urim and Thummim to each individual who receives one, whereby things pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms will be made known;
11 And a white stone is given to each of those who come into the celestial kingdom, whereon is a new name written, which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it. The new name is the key word.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. D&C 130: 10-11

Critical website's source quote
While the statement has been made by some writers that the Propher JS used a seerstone part of the time in his translating of the record, and information points to the fact that he did have in his possession such a stone, yet there is no authentic statement in the history of the church which states that the use of such a stone was made in that translation. The information is all hearsay, and personally, I do not believe that the stone was used for this purpose.

...

It hardly seems reasonable to suppose that the prophet would substitute something evidently inferior [to the U&T] under these circumstances. It may have been so, but it is so easy for a story of this kind to be circulated due to the fact that the prophet did possess a seerstone, which he may have used for some other purposes.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Doctrines of Salvation vol.3 pg 225-226

  • Context:

While the statement has been made by some writers that the Prophet Joseph Smith used a seer stone part of the time in his translating of the record, and information points to the fact that he did have in his possession such a stone, yet there is no authentic statement in the history of the Church which states that the use of such a stone was made in that translation. The information is all hearsay, and personally, I do not believe that this stone was used for this purpose. The reason I give for this conclusion is found in the statement of the Lord to the Brother of Jared as recorded in Ether 3:22-24. These stones, the Urim and Thummim which were given to the Brother of Jared, were preserved for this very purpose of translating the record, both of the Jaredites and the Nephites. Then again the Prophet was impressed by Moroni with the fact that these stones were given for that very purpose. It hardly seems reasonable to suppose that the Prophet would substitute something evidently inferior under these circumstances. It may have been so, but it is so easy for a story of this kind to be circulated due to the fact that the Prophet did possess a seer stone, which he may have used for some other purposes.

  • Source text: Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 3, p. 225-226. (1956)

Critical website's source quote
The details of this miraculous method of translation are still not fully known. Yet we do have a few precious insights. David Whitmer wrote: "Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man." (David Whitmer,An Address to All Believers in Christ, Richmond, Mo.: n.p., 1887, p. 12.)

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Russell M. Nelson, "A Treasured Testament," Ensign, July 1993, 61

  • Source text: Russell M. Nelson, "A Treasured Testament," Ensign (July 1993) off-site

Critical website's source quote
it was not intended to tell the world all the particulars of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon....it was not expedient for him to relate these things

Critical website's source(s)


  1. History of the Church, 1:220

  • Context:

Another item of interest will be found in the following circumstance: Several of the brethren took occasion to testify to the truth of the Book of Mormon; and now the minutes—"Brother Hyrum Smith said that he thought best that the information of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon be related by Joseph himself to the Elders present, that all might know for themselves."

"Brother Joseph Smith, Jun., said that it was not intended to tell the world all the particulars of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon; and also said that it was not expedient for him to relate these things" (p. 13). This will account for the Prophet confining himself to the merest generalities in all his statements concerning the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.

  • Source text: History of the Church 1:220 off-site

Critical website's source quote
Once Martin found a rock closely resembling the seerstone Joseph sometimes used in place of the interpreters and substituted it without the Prophet's knowledge. When the translation resumed, Joseph paused for a long time and then exclaimed, 'Martin, what is the matter, all is as dark as Egypt.' Martin then confessed that he wished to 'stop the mouths of fools' who told him that the Prophet memorized sentences and merely repeated them.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Kenneth Godfrey, "A New Prophet and a New Scripture," Ensign, Jan. 1988

  • Context:

From April 12 to June 14, Joseph translated while Martin wrote, with only a curtain between them. On occasion they took breaks from the arduous task, sometimes going to the river and throwing stones. Once Martin found a rock closely resembling the seerstone Joseph sometimes used in place of the interpreters and substituted it without the Prophet’s knowledge. When the translation resumed, Joseph paused for a long time and then exclaimed, “Martin, what is the matter, all is as dark as Egypt.” Martin then confessed that he wished to “stop the mouths of fools” who told him that the Prophet memorized sentences and merely repeated them.

Critical website's source quote
I was at the house of his father in Manchester, two miles south of Palmyra village, and was picking my teeth with a pin while sitting on the bars. The pin caught in my teeth, and dropped from my fingers into shavings and straw. I jumped from the bars and looked for it. Joseph and Northrop Sweet also did the same. We could not find it. I then took Joseph on surprise, and said to him--I said, "Take your stone," I had never seen it, and did not know that he had it with him. He had it in his pocket. He took it [out] and placed it in his hat--the old white hat--and placed his face in his hat. I watched him closely to see that he did not look [to] one side; he reached out his hand beyond me on the right, and moved a little stick, and there I saw the pin, which he picked up and gave to me. I know he did not look out of the hat until after he had picked up the pin.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Martin Harris

  • Context:

Mr. Harris says: "Joseph Smith, jr., found at Palmyra, N.Y., on the 22d day of September, 1827, the plates of gold upon which was recorded in Arabic, Chaldaic, Syriac, and Egyptian, the Book of Life, or the Book of Mormon. I was not with him at the time, but I had a revelation the summer before, that God had a work for me to do. These plates were found at the north point of a hill two miles north of Manchester village. Joseph had a stone which was dug from the well of Mason Chase, twenty-four feet from the surface. In this stone he could see many things to my certain knowledge. It was by means of this stone he first discovered these plates.

"In the first place, he told me of this stone, and proposed to bind it on his eyes, and run a race with me in the woods. A few days after this, I was at the house of his father in Manchester, two miles south of Palmyra village, and was picking my teeth with a pin while sitting on the bars. The pin caught in my teeth, and dropped from my fingers into shavings and straw. I jumped from the bars and looked for it. Joseph and Northrop Sweet also did the same. We could not find it. I then took Joseph on surprise, and said to him—I said, 'Take your stone.' I had never seen it, and did not know that he had it with him. He had it in his pocket. He took it and placed it in his hat—the old white hat—and placed his face in his hat. I watched him closely to see that he did not look one side; he reached out his hand beyond me on the right, and moved a little stick, and there I saw the pin, which he picked up and gave to me. I know he did not look out of the hat until after he had picked up the pin."

Critical website's source quote
In imitation of the true order of heaven where seers receive revelation from God through the Urim & Thummim, the devil gives revelations to some of his followers through peepstones or crystal balls.

Critical website's source(s)


  1. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine