Mormonism and Wikipedia/Golden plates/Translating

Table of Contents

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

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

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


 Updated 9/21/2011

Section review

Translating the plates

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

Joseph Smith said that the plates were engraved in an unknown language, and Smith told associates that he was capable of reading and translating them. This translation took place mainly in Harmony, Pennsylvania (now Oakland Township), Emma's hometown, where Smith and his wife had moved in October 1827 with financial assistance from a prominent, though superstitious, Palmyra landowner Martin Harris.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

  •  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.
    Violated by John Foxe —Diff: off-site

    The paragraph only mentions Martin Harris a single time in the context of providing financial assistance, and even then the word "superstitious" is used. For what possible reason, other than to smear Harris' character as a later witness, would this warrant a footnote in which Harris is called a "visionary fanatic" and a "great man for seeing spooks?"

}}

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

The translation occurred in two phases: the first, from December 1827 to June 1828, during which Smith transcribed some of the characters and then dictated 116 manuscript pages to Harris, which were lost. The second phase began sporadically in early 1829 and then in earnest in April 1829 with the arrival of Oliver Cowdery, a schoolteacher who volunteered to serve as Smith's full-time scribe. In June 1829, Smith and Cowdery moved to Fayette, New York, completing the translation early the following month. Smith used scribes to write the words he said were a translation of the golden plates, dictating these words while peering into seer stones, which he said allowed him to see the translation. Smith's translation ability evolved naturally out of his earlier treasure seeking,

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

}}

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

and he used a process that was "strikingly similar" to the way Smith used seer stones for treasure hunting.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

}}

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

For the earliest phase of translation, Smith said that he translated using what he called the "Urim and Thummim"—a set of large spectacles with stones where the eye-pieces should be.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

}}

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

There is no eye-witness testimony that Smith ever wore the large spectacles, although some witnesses understood that he placed them in his hat while translating.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

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

    David Whitmer did state in one interview that Joseph was "affixing the magical spectacles to his eyes."

Each time before resuming the work all present would kneel in prayer and invoke the Divine blessing on the proceeding. After prayer Smith would sit on one side of a table and the amanuenses, in turn as they became tired, on the other. Those present and not actively engaged in the work seated themselves around the room and then the work began. After affixing the magical spectacles to his eyes, Smith would take the plates and translate the characters one at a time. The graven characters would appear in succession to the seer, and directly under the character, when viewed through the glasses, would be the translation in English. ("The Book of Mormon;' Chicago Tribune, December 17, 1885, 3· The Tribune correspondent visited and interviewed Whitmer on December 15, 1885, at Whitmer's home in Richmond, Missouri. )

}}

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

Witnesses did observe Smith using a single seer stone (not part of a set of spectacles) in the translation,

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

}}

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

the same brown stone Smith had earlier used for treasure seeking.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

}}

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

Smith seems to have used a single stone during the second phase of translation.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

}}

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

Smith placed the stone in a hat, buried his face in it to eliminate all outside light, and peered into the stone to see the words of the translation.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

}}

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

A few times during the translation, a curtain or blanket was raised between Smith and his scribe or between the living area and the area where Smith and his scribe worked.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

}}

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

Sometimes Smith dictated to Martin Harris from upstairs or from a different room.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

}}

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

Smith's "translation" did not require any use of the plates themselves.

Author's sources:
  1. Marquardt (2005) , p. 97; Van Wagoner (Walker) , pp. 53.

FairMormon Response

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

As he looked into the stone, Smith told his friends and family that the written translation of the ancient script appeared to him in English.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

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

    Joseph Smith himself never stated that "the ancient script appeared to him in English." This description was provided only by second-hand sources—most notably David Whitmer:

“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. quoted by Russell M. Nelson, “A Treasured Testament,” Ensign, Jul 1993, 61) off-site

}}

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

There are several proposed explanations for how Smith composed his translation. In the 19th century, the most common explanation was that he plagiarized the work from a manuscript written by Solomon Spaulding.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

}}

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

This theory is deemed to be repudiated by Smith's preeminent modern biographers.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

  •  Correct, per cited sources

}}

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

The most prominent modern theory is that Smith composed the translation in response to the provincial opinions of his time,

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

  •  Correct, per cited sources

}}

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

perhaps while in a magical trance-like state.

Author's sources:
  1. Bloom (1992) , p. 86; Riley (1902) , pp. 84, 195.

FairMormon Response

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

As a matter of faith, Latter Day Saints generally view the translation process as either an automatic process of transcribing text written within the stone,

Author's sources:
  1. Bushman (2005) , p. 72 (arguing that this transcription method is the only one consistent with the historical record).

FairMormon Response

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

or an intuitive translation by Smith assisted by a mystical connection with God through the stone.

Author's sources:
  1. Quinn (expressing his personal view shared by several other Mormon apologists, and noting that while this view might pose problems vis-à-vis the historical record, it helps explain the origin of the Book of Mormon's grammatical mistakes).

FairMormon Response

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

Smith's dictations were written down by a number of assistants including Emma Smith, Martin Harris, and notably, Oliver Cowdery.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

}}

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

In May 1829, after Smith had lent 116 un-duplicated manuscript pages to Martin Harris, and Harris had lost them, Smith dictated a revelation explaining that Smith could not simply re-translate the lost pages because his opponents would attempt to see if he could "bring forth the same words again."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

  •  Correct, per cited sources

}}

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

According to Grant Palmer, Smith believed "a second transcription would be identical to the first. This confirms the view that the English text existed in some kind of unalterable, spiritual form rather than that someone had to think through difficult conceptual issues and idioms, always resulting in variants in any translation."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

}}

References

Wikipedia references for "Golden Plates"

Further reading

Articles on this subject

FairMormon's Wikipedia Article Reviews

A FairMormon Analysis of Wikipedia article "Martin Harris"

A FairMormon Analysis of Wikipedia article "Oliver Cowdery"

A FairMormon Analysis of Wikipedia article "First Vision"

Summary: Current review is based upon Wikipedia revision dated 9/17/2011. This article has undergone moderate improvements in its use of sources since our last review. The article still contains a substantial amount of original research based upon primary sources, with the intent to disprove the vision and highlight perceived discrepancies between vision accounts. Believing scholars are labeled "apologists" in an attempt to diminish their credibility.

A FairMormon Analysis of Wikipedia article "Joseph Smith"

Summary: Current review is based upon Wikipedia revision dated 9/3/2011. This article has undergone substantial improvements in its use of sources since our initial review in 2009. Most of the citations are now accurately represented.

A FairMormon Analysis of Wikipedia article "Golden plates"

Summary: Current review is based upon Wikipedia revision dated 9/21/2011. This article has undergone only minor improvements in its use of sources since our last review. The article contains a large amount of original research on the part of the wiki editors.

A FairMormon Analysis of Wikipedia article "Three Witnesses"

Summary: Current review is based upon Wikipedia revision dated 9/28/2011. This article has been constructed in such a way as to discredit the witnesses by emphasizing any perceived contradictions in their various statements regarding their encounter with the gold plates.


Copyright © 2005–2013 FairMormon. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The content of this page may not be copied, published, or redistributed without the prior written consent of FairMormon.
We welcome your suggestions for improving the content of this FAIR Wiki article.

Sites we recommend: