Mormonism and Wikipedia/Golden plates/Sealed portion

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An analysis of claims made in the Wikipedia article "Golden plates" - "Sealed" portion

A FairMormon Analysis of: Wikipedia article "Golden plates", a work by author: Various

An analysis of claims made in the Wikipedia article "Golden plates" - "Sealed" portion

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 Updated 9/21/2011

Section review

"Sealed" portion

Response to claim: "According to Joseph Smith and others, the book of Golden Plates contained a 'sealed" portion'"

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

According to Joseph Smith and others, the book of Golden Plates contained a "sealed" portion

Author's sources:
  1. Smith (1842) , p. 707

FairMormon Response

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


Response to claim: "containing 'a revelation from God, from the beginning of the world to the ending thereof'"

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

containing "a revelation from God, from the beginning of the world to the ending thereof."

Author's sources:
  1. Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 27:7. The "sealing" of apocalyptic revelations in a book has precedents in the Bible. See, for example, Isaiah 29:11, Daniel 12:4, and Revelation 5:1–5. The Book of Mormon states that this vision was originally given to the Brother of Jared, recorded by Ether on a set of 24 plates later found by Limhi, and then "sealed up". Book of Mormon, Ether 1:2. According to this account, Moroni copied the plates of Limhi onto the sealed portion of the Golden Plates.

FairMormon Response

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

  •  Violates Wikipedia: No Original Research off-site— Do not use unpublished facts, arguments, speculation, and ideas; and any unpublished analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position.

    For some reason, the wiki editors are muddling the fact that witnesses reported that a number of the plates were physically bound together so that they could not be read. Instead, they perform a bit of original research by bringing in various Bible and Book of Mormon verses to put forth the idea that the "sealing" might not have been physical. Wikipedia requires secondary sources in order to advance ideas such as those presented in the footnote. There are no secondary sources given that make the associations given by the wiki editors.


Response to claim: "the language of the Book of Mormon may be interpreted to describe a sealing that was spiritual, metaphorical"

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

Smith never described the nature of the seal, and the language of the Book of Mormon may be interpreted to describe a sealing that was spiritual, metaphorical,

Author's sources:
  1. i.e. that the book was "sealed" in the sense that its contents were hidden or kept from public knowledge

FairMormon Response

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

  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.

    There seems to be some attempt here to obfuscate the nature of the sealed portion by conflating witness descriptions with other types of "sealing" described in the Book of Mormon.
  • From Smith (1842) . Joseph Smith is describing the physical appearance of the plates:

These records were engraven on plates which had the appearance of gold, each plate was six inches wide and eight inches long and not quite so thick as common tin. They were filled with engravings, in Egyptian characters and bound together in a volume, as the leaves of a book with three rings running through the whole. The volume was something near six inches in thickness, a part of which was sealed. The characters on the unsealed part were small, and beautifully engraved. The whole book exhibited many marks of antiquity in its construction and much skill in the art of engraving. With the records was found a curious instrument which the ancients called "Urim and Thummim," which consisted of two transparent stones set in the rim of a bow fastened to a breastplate.

  •  Violates Wikipedia: No Original Research off-site— Do not use unpublished facts, arguments, speculation, and ideas; and any unpublished analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position.
    Violated by COgden —Diff: off-site

    Note the clear description that a portion of the plates were sealed. Joseph is very clearly describing the physical aspects of the plates. To state, as the main wiki text does, that he "never described the nature of the seal" is simply incorrect. For the wiki editor to imply that Joseph needed to be more precise in his description of a physical seal without providing any supporting citation constitutes original research.


Response to claim: "physical, or a combination of these elements"

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

physical, or a combination of these elements.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

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

  •  Violates Wikipedia: No Original Research off-site— Do not use unpublished facts, arguments, speculation, and ideas; and any unpublished analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position.

    This is an assertion made by the wiki editors which has no support from a reliable source.


Response to claim: "The Book of Mormon refers to other documents and plates as being 'sealed'"

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon refers to other documents and plates as being "sealed" to be revealed at some future time. For example, the Book of Mormon says the entire set of plates was "sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord"

Author's sources:
  1. Smith (1830)

FairMormon Response

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


Response to claim: "separate records of John the Apostle were 'sealed up'"

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

and that separate records of John the Apostle were "sealed up to come forth in their purity" in the end times.

Author's sources:
  1. Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 14:26

FairMormon Response

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


Response to claim: "One set of plates to which the Book of Mormon refers was 'sealed up'"

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

One set of plates to which the Book of Mormon refers was "sealed up" in the sense that they were written in a language that could not be read.

Author's sources:
  1. Book of Mormon, Ether 3:22.

FairMormon Response

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

  •  Violates Wikipedia: No Original Research off-site— Do not use unpublished facts, arguments, speculation, and ideas; and any unpublished analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position.
    Violated by COgden —Diff: off-site

  • Ether 3:22 reads,

And behold, when ye shall come unto me, ye shall write them and shall seal them up, that no one can interpret them; for ye shall write them in a language that they cannot be read.

  • Note that the scripture says that "ye shall write them and shall seal them up," indicating that the seal and the "language that could not be read" are different things.


Response to claim: "Smith may have understood the sealing to be a supernatural or spiritual sealing"

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

Smith may have understood the sealing to be a supernatural or spiritual sealing "by the power of God" (2 Nephi 27:10),

Author's sources:
  1. Quinn (1998) , pp. 195–196.

FairMormon Response

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

  •  Violates Wikipedia: No Original Research off-site— Do not use unpublished facts, arguments, speculation, and ideas; and any unpublished analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position.
    Violated by COgden —Diff: off-site

    It should be noted that editor COgden originally wrote this as "supernatural or magical."
  •  Violates Wikipedia: Neutral Point-of-View off-site— All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view, representing fairly, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources.

    Quinn's interpretation, a minority opinion, is given precedence (i.e. it appears first) in the wiki article over statements of multiple eyewitnesses listed later, who simply stated that a portion of the plates were physically sealed.
  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.

    From the cited source, Quinn's opinion is that the seal was "a non-material restriction":

Modern Mormons have often pictured a physical seal, especially when reading about the untranslated portion of the plates. This expectation appears in official LDS magazines as an illustration of a band of metal securing the leaves of the gold plates. Such a view was a parallel to the book described in Revelation 5:1, but the Book of Mormon nowhere describes a physical seal. Instead, the seal was a non-material restriction. "For the book shall be sealed by the power of God" (2 Ne. 27:10)


Response to claim: "the 'interpreters' (Urim and Thummim) with which Smith said they were buried or 'sealed'"

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

an idea supported by a reference in the Book of Mormon to the "interpreters" (Urim and Thummim) with which Smith said they were buried or "sealed."

Author's sources:
  1. Book of Mormon, Ether 4:5. According to Martin Harris, anyone who looked into the "interpreters", "except by the command of God", would "perish" Harris (1859) , p. 166.

FairMormon Response

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

  •  Violates Wikipedia: No Original Research off-site— Do not use unpublished facts, arguments, speculation, and ideas; and any unpublished analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position.
    Violated by COgden —Diff: off-site

    Wikipedia editors are not supposed to directly interpret primary sources. To draw a conclusion and say that something is "supported by a reference" in the Book of Mormon violates this.
  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.
    Violated by COgden —Diff: off-site

    Harris' statement is tangential and has nothing whatsoever to do with a portion of the plates being sealed.
  • For a detailed response, see: Book of Mormon/Witnesses/Viewing gold plates would result in death


Response to claim: "when Smith visited the hill, he was stricken by a supernatural force because the plates were 'sealed by the prayer of faith'"

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

Oliver Cowdery also stated that when Smith visited the hill, he was stricken by a supernatural force because the plates were "sealed by the prayer of faith."

Author's sources:
  1. Cowdery (1835b) , p. 198.

FairMormon Response

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

  •  Violates Wikipedia: No Original Research off-site— Do not use unpublished facts, arguments, speculation, and ideas; and any unpublished analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position.

    The wiki authors continue to throw in every use of the word "sealed" that can be found in an apparent attempt to somehow demonstrate confusion on the part of witnesses regarding the sealed portion of the plates.
  • From the cited source:

You now see why you could not obtain this record; that the commandment was strict, and that if ever these sacred things are obtained they must be by prayer and faithfulness in obeying the Lord. They are not deposited here for the sake of accumulating gain and wealth for the glory of this world: they were sealed by the prayer of faith, and because of the knowledge which they contain they are of no worth among the children of men, only for their knowledge.

  • Oliver was clearly not referring to the sealed portion of the plates that was described by witnesses—he was referring to the value of the record contained on the entire set of plates.


Response to claim: "Several witnesses described a physical sealing placed on part of the plates"

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

Several witnesses described a physical sealing placed on part of the plates by Mormon or Moroni. David Whitmer said that when an angel showed him the plates in 1829, "a large portion of the leaves were so securely bound together that it was impossible to separate them,"

Author's sources:
  1. David Whitmer interview, Chicago Tribune, 24 January 1888, in David Whitmer Interviews, ed. Cook, 221. Near the end of his life, Whitmer said that one section of the book was "loose, in plates, the other solid". Storey (1881) .

FairMormon Response

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

Finally, after all of the various and sundry descriptions of the word "sealed" given above, the wiki editors finally reach the point at which they report what witnesses actually said—that a number of the plates were bound together in a manner that would not allow them to be read.


Response to claim: "the "sealed" part of the plates were held together as a solid mass"

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

that the "sealed" part of the plates were held together as a solid mass "stationary and immovable,"

Author's sources:
  1. Cole (1831)

FairMormon Response

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


Response to claim: "'as solid to my view as wood'"

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

"as solid to my view as wood,"

Author's sources:
  1. Poulson (1878) .

FairMormon Response

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


Response to claim: "there were 'perceptible marks where the plates appeared to be sealed'"

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

and that there were "perceptible marks where the plates appeared to be sealed"

Author's sources:
  1. Storey (1881)

FairMormon Response

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


Response to claim: "with leaves "so securely bound that it was impossible to separate them"

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

with leaves "so securely bound that it was impossible to separate them."

Author's sources:
  1. Whitmer (1888) . Orson Pratt, who said he had spoken with many witnesses of the plates,Pratt (1859) , p. 30, assumed that Joseph Smith could "break the seal" if only he had been "permitted" Pratt (1877) , pp. 211–12.

FairMormon Response

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

  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.

    Orson Pratt did not "assume" anything. The cited source states:

A great many, in reading this record carelessly, would wonder why it was that a part of these plates should be sealed, and why Joseph Smith should not be permitted to break the seal. It was because, in this great revelation, the sealed portion of the plates from which the Book of Mormon was taken, contained this great vision, given to the brother of Jared. Joseph was not permitted to translate it, neither to break the seal of the book; it is to be reserved to come forth in due time.
(Orson Pratt, (1877) Journal of Discourses 19:212.)


Response to claim: "Lucy Mack Smith said that some of the plates were 'sealed together'"

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

In 1842, Lucy Mack Smith said that some of the plates were "sealed together" while others were "loose."

Author's sources:
  1. Smith (1842b) , p. 27.

FairMormon Response

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


Response to claim: "The account of the Eight Witnesses says they saw the plates in 1829...implying that they did not examine untranslated parts, such as the sealed portion"

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

The account of the Eight Witnesses says they saw the plates in 1829 and handled "as many of the leaves as [Joseph] Smith has translated," implying that they did not examine untranslated parts, such as the sealed portion.

Author's sources:
  1. Smith (1830)

FairMormon Response

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


Response to claim: "In one interview, David Whitmer said that "about half" the book was unsealed; in 1881, he said "about one-third" was unsealed"

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

In one interview, David Whitmer said that "about half" the book was unsealed; in 1881, he said "about one-third" was unsealed.

Author's sources:
  1. Cole (1831) ; Poulson (1878)
  • Storey (1881)

FairMormon Response

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

  •  Violates Wikipedia: Neutral Point-of-View off-site— All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view, representing fairly, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources.

    The wiki editors deliberately juxtapose two accounts given 50 years apart in order to make a point that David Whitmer is inconsistent in his story.


Response to claim: "Whitmer's 1881 statement is consistent with an 1856 statement by Orson Pratt"

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

Whitmer's 1881 statement is consistent with an 1856 statement by Orson Pratt, an associate of Smith's who never saw the plates himself but who had spoken with witnesses,

Author's sources:
  1. Pratt (1859) , p. 30.

FairMormon Response

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


Response to claim: "Orson Pratt said:, 'about two-thirds were sealed up, and Joseph was commanded not to break the seal'"

The author(s) of Wikipedia article "Golden plates" make(s) the following claim:

that "about two-thirds" of the plates were "sealed up".

Author's sources:
  1. Pratt (1856) , p. 347.

FairMormon Response

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

Orson Pratt said:

...about two-thirds were sealed up, and Joseph was commanded not to break the seal;
(Orson Pratt, (1856) Journal of Discourses 3:347.)


References

Wikipedia references for "Golden Plates"

Further reading

Articles on this subject

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