Firesides/28 November 2010 - Sweden/1

Table of Contents

Response to questions about the translation of the Book of Mormon

1: BoM translation2: Polygamy and Polyandry3: Polygamy forced?4: Book of Abraham5: "Lying for Lord"6: Mark Hofmann7: Blood atonement8: First Vision9: Sanitized history10: "Not all truth is useful"11: Angelic affidavits12: Blacks and priesthood13: Temple concerns14: Evidence of Vikings15: Adam-God16: Kinderhook

The attendees of The "Swedish Rescue" fireside ask the following question:

One of my questions is regarding the process of how the Book of Mormon came about.
  • The fact that how the Book of Mormon came about was actually by Joseph Smith looking into the hat in the seer stone, the stone that he found in a well, and the stone that he used both before and after becoming a prophet in seeking for treasure.
  • There’s a lot of efforts being made in order to make these plate[s] come about and they weren’t even part of the process, they were hidden away most of the time, sometimes not even in the same room where the writing was being done....Why, why do we still keep to this version that the plates were used in an actual translation process...Why some sort of revelation?

Question: Why were the plates needed?

Answer: To demonstrate that the record actually existed

The plates were needed because the plates were real and they were preserved and they were passed down from generation to generation. Once Joseph Smith got them, then the method of translation was up to the Lord and the Lord chose to use a method of translation that was far more efficient, far better, and far more accurate than anything Joseph Smith could have done letter by letter. Because it would have taken him — he didn’t know the language. How else was he going to translate it if God didn’t help him?
—Brother Turley's response to this question at the Sweden fireside

Question: Why the Urim and Thummin and why the hat?

Answer: To block out the light so that the revelatory tool could be used effectively

The hat was apparently to block light out so that Joseph could see what he was doing with the record. If you have a computer sometimes the light, you know, affects the screen. We don’t know exactly how it works, Joseph Smith said he wasn’t meant to know how it works, but he did say this: in the early days of his translation, he was relying on revelatory tools of some sort or another— Urim and Thummim, seer stones, whatever the case may be.
—Brother Turley's response to this question at the Sweden fireside

Question: Did Joseph translate the plates using both the Nephite interpreters (the "Urim and Thummim") and a seer stone?

Answer: Yes

To help him with the translation, Joseph found with the gold plates “a curious instrument which the ancients called Urim and Thummim, which consisted of two transparent stones set in a rim of a bow fastened to a breastplate.” Joseph also used an egg-shaped, brown rock for translating called a seer stone.
“A Peaceful Heart,” Friend, September 1974, 7.

Question: Did Joseph translate the plates using a seer stone placed in a hat?

Answer: Yes

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."
—Russell M. Nelson, “A Treasured Testament,” Ensign, July 1993, 61.

Question: Were both the Nephite interpreters and the seer stone referred to as the Urim and Thummim?

Answer: Yes

He described the instrument as “spectacles” and referred to it using an Old Testament term, Urim and Thummim (see Exodus 28:30). He also sometimes applied the term to other stones he possessed, called “seer stones” because they aided him in receiving revelations as a seer. The Prophet received some early revelations through the use of these seer stones.
—Gerrit Dirkmaat, "Great and Marvelous Are the Revelations of God," Ensign, January 2013.

Question: Did Joseph locate his seer stone while digging a well?

Answer: Yes

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.
—B. H. Roberts, Defense of the Faith and the Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1907), 1:257.

Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture, "The Spectacles, the Stone, the Hat, and the Book: A Twenty-first Century Believer’s View of the Book of Mormon Translation"

Roger Nicholson,  Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture, (2013)
This essay seeks to examine the Book of Mormon translation method from the perspective of a regular, nonscholarly, believing member in the twenty-first century, by taking into account both what is learned in Church and what can be learned from historical records that are now easily available.

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