Joseph Smith/Money digging/Was this a blot on his character/Further Reading

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Further reading

Further reading

FairMormon Answers articles

"Magic" in Mormon history

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Joseph Smith's family and "folk magic"

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Joseph Smith, Jr.

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Early Smith family history

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Joseph Smith's character

Summary: It is claimed that Joseph Smith was a disreputable person.

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Joseph Smith's alleged narcissism

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Treasure seeking, money digging and Joseph Smith, Jr.

Summary: Was Joseph Smith's engagement in "money digging" or looking for buried treasure a blot on his character?

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The relationship between Joseph Smith's seer stone and the Urim and Thummim

Summary: Joseph Smith used the Nephite Interpreters as well as his own seer stone (both of which were later referred to as "Urim and Thummim") to translate the Book of Mormon.

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Joseph Smith's First Vision

Summary: Joseph Smith's claim that he saw the Father and the Son in 1820 has produced a wide variety of criticism. This set of articles addresses the various critical claims related to the First Vision. The linked articles below are designed to help readers to see some of the weaknesses that are found in arguments that are made against Joseph Smith's First Vision accounts. Some of these arguments are currently being advocated in anti-Mormon literature that is handed out near the Sacred Grove in Palmyra, New York.

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Joseph Smith and the "occult" or "magick"

Summary: Citing Joseph Smith's experiences with folk magic, treasure seeking and seer stones, it is claimed that Joseph Smith's spiritual experiences were originally products of magic and the occult. Some charge that only much later did Joseph retrofit his experiences in Christian, religious terms: speaking of God, angels, and prophethood rather than in terms of magic, treasure guardians and scrying. It is also claimed that a "vagabond fortune-teller" named Walters became popular in the Palmyra area, and that when Walters left the area, "his mantle fell upon" Joseph Smith.

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Joseph Smith as a translator

Summary: It is claimed that Joseph Smith claimed to translate other texts or items, which can be checked against modern academic translations. They claim that this "cross-checking" proves that Joseph could not have translated the Book of Mormon or other ancient texts.

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The "Joseph Smith Translation" of the Bible

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Joseph Smith and miracles

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Joseph Smith and the priesthood

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Joseph Smith as a prophet

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Joseph Smith and legal issues

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Kirtland Safety Society

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Joseph Smith, politics and government

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Joseph Smith and polygamy

Summary: Joseph Smith is frequently criticized for his introduction and practice of polygamy. From a Christian perspective, these attacks usually focus on arguing that polygamy is unchristian or unbiblical, and that Joseph hid the truth from the world. From a secular perspective, it is asserted that the practice of polygamy sprung from Joseph's carnal desires to marry young women. Of particular interest is the fact that Joseph was sealed to women who were already married to other men (polyandry).

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Death of Joseph Smith

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Joseph Smith's status in Latter-day Saint belief

Summary: Do members worship Joseph Smith or treat him as more than a man? Critics charge that since Joseph claimed (or it was claimed in his behalf) the right to "approve whether or not someone gets into heaven," this arrogates to a mortal a right properly reserved for God and Jesus Christ. Some critics have even charged that "Mormons worship Joseph Smith."

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Joseph Smith and legal issues

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Joseph Smith: Alleged false prophecies

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Mormonism and prophets

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Mormonism and doctrine

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Official or "core" Mormon doctrine

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Establishing new Mormon doctrine

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Mormon doctrine of the past

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Statements made by past prophets as "scripture"

Summary: Are statements of past prophets considered doctrine? It is claimed that anything that is, or ever was, officially published by the Church ought to represent doctrine.

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The Law of Adoption: The sealing of men and women as children to prominent Latter-day Saint leaders

Summary: Critics point to the early practice of sealing men and women as children to prominent LDS leaders as an example of changes in LDS belief.

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Repudiated concepts in Mormonism

Summary: Some teachings previously considered doctrinal have since been repudiated by the Church.

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Why would a current prophet repudiate the teachings of an earlier prophet?

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"Blood atonement"

Summary: It is claimed that during the administration of Brigham Young apostates were secretly put to death, and that the teachings of LDS leaders at the time were that apostasy was the unforgivable sin, and that the only thing an apostate could do to redeem himself was to give his own life, willingly or unwillingly.

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Mormonism and the concept that some were "neutral" in the "war in heaven"

Summary: Is it true that LDS scripture states that those with lighter skin color "are favored because of what they did as spirits in a pre-earth life?" Is it true that some Church leaders taught that people who were born with dark skin were "neutral" in the pre-existence?

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Mormonism and the "curse of Cain"

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Brigham Young's Adam-God theory

Summary: Brigham Young taught that Adam, the first man, was God the Father. Since this teaching runs counter to the story told in Genesis and commonly accepted by Christians, critics accuse Brigham of being a false prophet. Also, because modern Latter-day Saints do not believe Brigham's "Adam-God" teachings, critics accuse Mormons of either changing their teachings or rejecting teachings of prophets they find uncomfortable or unsupportable.

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Mormon views of various beliefs

Rapture and LDS theology

Summary: What is the "Rapture"? Do Latter-day Saints believe in this or a similar doctrine?

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The Law of Adoption: The sealing of men and women as children to prominent Latter-day Saint leaders

Summary: Critics point to the early practice of sealing men and women as children to prominent LDS leaders as an example of changes in LDS belief.

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Joseph Smith's First Vision

Summary: Joseph Smith's claim that he saw the Father and the Son in 1820 has produced a wide variety of criticism. This set of articles addresses the various critical claims related to the First Vision. The linked articles below are designed to help readers to see some of the weaknesses that are found in arguments that are made against Joseph Smith's First Vision accounts. Some of these arguments are currently being advocated in anti-Mormon literature that is handed out near the Sacred Grove in Palmyra, New York.

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FairMormon web site

"Magic" FAIR web links
  • Matthew B. Brown, “Revised or Unaltered?: Joseph Smith’s Foundational Stories,” 2006 FAIR Conference lecture
    Debunks the “Walters the Magician” rumor floating around Palmyra, New York. FairMormon link
  • Brant A. Gardner, "Joseph the Seer—or Why Did He Translate With a Rock in His Hat?," 2009 FAIR Conference lecture, 7 August 2009 off-site
1826 trial FAIR web links
  • Russell Anderson, "The 1826 Trial of Joseph Smith," (2002 FAIR Conference presentation.) FairMormon link (Key source)
  • Danel W. Bachman, "Mormonism -- Shadow or Reality? History or Propaganda? Joseph Smith as a Case Study," (2000 FAIR Conference presentation.) FairMormon link
  • Richard L. Bushman, "Joseph Smith Miscellany," (Mesa, Arizona: FAIR, 2005 FAIR Conference). FairMormon link
Joseph Smith FairMormon articles on-line
  • Ron Barney, "Joseph Smith’s Visions: His Style and his Record" FairMormon link
Joseph Smith other visionary issues FairMormon links
  • Craig Ray, "Joseph Smith's History Confirmed," (Mesa, Arizona: FAIR, August 2002) FairMormon link

External links

"Magic" web links
  • Richard L. Anderson, "Joseph Smith's New York Reputation Reappraised," Brigham Young University Studies 10 no. 3 (1970), 283–314. PDF link
    Discusses content of Hurlbut ‘affidavits’ / Stafford, Chase, Ingersoll, Deming ‘affidavits’ – money digging / other Smith family with seerstone.
  • Richard L. Anderson, "The Mature Joseph Smith and Treasure Searching," Brigham Young University Studies 24 no. 4 (1984). PDF link
    Caution: this article was published before Mark Hofmann's forgeries were discovered. It may treat fraudulent documents as genuine. Click for list of known forged documents.
    Discusses money-digging; Salem treasure hunting episode; fraudulent 1838 Missouri treasure hunting revelation; Wood Scrape; “gift of Aaron”; “wand or rod”; Heber C. Kimball rod and prayer; magic; occult; divining lost objects; seerstone; parchments; talisman
  • Richard L. Anderson, "The Alvin Smith Story: Fact and Fiction," Ensign (August 1987), 58. off-site
    Discusses Salamander Letter / Magic; Chase affidavit; Saunders memories; rumored Oliver Cowdery history
  • Richard Lloyd Anderson, "Review of Joseph Smith's New York Reputation Reexamined by Rodger I. Anderson," FARMS Review of Books 3/1 (1991): 52–80. off-site
    Discusses seerstones; magic; money-digging; animal sacrifice; ‘faculty of Abrac’.
  • Mark Ashurst-McGee, "Moroni as Angel and as Treasure Guardian," FARMS Review 18/1 (2006): 34–100. [{{{url}}} off-site] wiki
  • Davis Bitton, "Review of John L. Brooke, The Refiner’s Fire: the Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844," Brigham Young University Studies 34 no. 4 (1994–95), 182–192. PDF link
  • John Gee, "Abracadabra, Isaac and Jacob (Review of The Use of Egyptian Magical Papyri to Authenticate the Book of Abraham: A Critical Review by Edward H. Ashment)," FARMS Review of Books 7/1 (1995): 19–84. off-site
  • John Gee, "'Bird Island' Revisited, or the Book of Mormon through Pyramidal Kabbalistic Glasses: Review of Written by the Finger of God: A Testimony of Joseph Smith's Translations by Joe Sampson," FARMS Review of Books 7/1 (1995): 219–228. off-site
  • John Gee, "Review of Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, revised and enlarged edition, by D. Michael Quinn," FARMS Review of Books 12/2 (2000): 185–224. [{{{url}}} off-site]  (Key source)
  • William J. Hamblin, "'Everything Is Everything': Was Joseph Smith Influenced by Kabbalah? Review of Joseph Smith and Kabbalah: The Occult Connection by Lance S. Owens," FARMS Review of Books 8/2 (1996): 251–325. off-site
  • William J. Hamblin, "That Old Black Magic (Review of Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, revised and enlarged edition, by D. Michael Quinn)," FARMS Review of Books 12/2 (2000): 225–394. [{{{url}}} off-site]
  • William J. Hamblin, Daniel C. Peterson, and George L. Mitton, "Review of John L. Brooke, The Refiner’s Fire: the Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844," Brigham Young University Studies 34 no. 4 (1994–95), 167–181. PDF link
  • William J. Hamblin, Daniel C. Peterson, and George L. Mitton, "Mormon in the Fiery Furnace Or, Loftes Tryk Goes to Cambridge] (Review of The Refiner's Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844 by John L. Brooke)," FARMS Review of Books 6/2 (1994): 3–58. off-site
    Shorter version of BYU Studies paper above; discusses Hermeticism; Masonry
  • Marvin S. Hill, "Money-Digging Folklore and the Beginnings of Mormonism: An Interpretive Suggestion," Brigham Young University Studies 24 no. 4 (Fall 1984), 473–488.
    Caution: this article was published before Mark Hofmann's forgeries were discovered. It may treat fraudulent documents as genuine. Click for list of known forged documents. off-site
  • Rhett S. James, "Writing History Must Not Be an Act of Magic (Review of Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, revised and enlarged edition, by D. Michael Quinn)," FARMS Review of Books 12/2 (2000): 395–414. [{{{url}}} off-site]
  • Larry E. Morris, "'I Should Have an Eye Single to the Glory of God’: Joseph Smith’s Account of the Angel and the Plates (Review of: "From Captain Kidd’s Treasure Ghost to the Angel Moroni: Changing Dramatis Personae in Early Mormonism")," FARMS Review 17/1 (2005): 11–82. off-site
  • Larry E. Morris, "Joseph Smith and "Interpretive Biography", review of Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet by Dan Vogel," FARMS Review 18/1 (2006): 321–374. [{{{url}}} off-site] wiki
  • Stephen E. Robinson, "Review of Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, by D. Michael Quinn," Brigham Young University Studies 27 no. 4 (1987), ?–??. PDF link
  • Matthew Roper, "Unanswered Mormon Scholars (Review of Answering Mormon Scholars: A Response to Criticism Raised by Mormon Defenders)," FARMS Review of Books 9/1 (1997): 87–145. [ off-site] (page 87–145; see especially section "Joseph Smith and 'Magic'")
  • Janet Thomas, "Magic," in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow, (New York, Macmillan Publishing, 1992), 2:849. off-site
  • Ronald W. Walker, "Joseph Smith: The Palmyra Seer,," Brigham Young University Studies 24 no. 4 (Fall 1984), 461–472. off-site
    Caution: this article was published before Mark Hofmann's forgeries were discovered. It may treat fraudulent documents as genuine. Click for list of known forged documents.
  • Ronald W. Walker, "The Persisting Idea of American Treasure Hunting," Brigham Young University Studies 24 no. 4 (Fall 1984), 427–459. off-site
    Caution: this article was published before Mark Hofmann's forgeries were discovered. It may treat fraudulent documents as genuine. Click for list of known forged documents.
  • Benson Whittle, "review of Michael Quinn, Mormonism and the Magic World View, 1st ed.," Brigham Young University Studies 27 no. 4 (Fall 1984), 105–121. off-site
  • William A. Wilson, "review of Michael Quinn, Mormonism and the Magic World View, 1st ed.," Brigham Young University Studies 27 no. 4 (Fall 1984), 96–104. off-site
Joseph Smith, Jr. on-line articles

Printed material

"Magic" printed materials
  • Mark Ashurst-McGee, "A Pathway to Prophethood: Joseph Smith Junior as Rodsman, Village Seer, and Judeo-Christian Prophet," (Master's Thesis, University of Utah, Logan, Utah, 2000).
  • Richard L. Bushman, "Joseph Smith's Family Background," in The Prophet Joseph: Essays on the Life and Mission of Joseph Smith, ed. Larry C. Porter and Susan Easton Black (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1988), 1–18. ISBN 0875791778. GL direct link
  • Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Knopf, 2005), 41–52.
  • Stephen D. Ricks and Daniel C. Peterson, “Joseph Smith and ‘Magic’: Methodological Reflections on the Use of a Term,” in Robert L. Millet, ed., To Be Learned Is Good If . . . (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1987), 129–147.


Joseph Smith, Jr. printed materials
  • Richard L. Bushman, "Joseph Smith's Family Background," in The Prophet Joseph: Essays on the Life and Mission of Joseph Smith, ed. Larry C. Porter and Susan Easton Black (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1988), 1–18. ISBN 0875791778. GL direct link
  • Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Knopf, 2005), 1.
  • Mark L. McConkie, Remembering Joseph: Personal Recollections of Those Who Knew the Prophet Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company, 2003).(print version) ISBN 978-1570089633 GL direct link (Key source)