Mormonism and Wikipedia/Golden plates/Witness accounts

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

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

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


 Updated 9/21/2011

Section review

Descriptions of the plates

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

Smith said the angel Moroni had commanded him not to show the plates to any unauthorized person.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

  •  Correct, per cited sources

}}


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

However, Smith eventually obtained the written statement of several witnesses. It is unclear whether the witnesses believed they saw the plates with their physical eyes, or they "saw" the plates in a vision. For instance, although Martin Harris continued to testify to the truth of the Book of Mormon even when he was estranged from the church, at least during the early years of the movement, he "seems to have repeatedly admitted the internal, subjective nature of his visionary experience."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

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

According to some sources, Smith initially intended that the first authorized witness be his firstborn son;

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

  •  Violates Wikipedia: No Original Research off-site— Do not use unpublished facts, arguments, speculation, and ideas; and any unpublished analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position.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

    The wiki editors have conflated two sources to conclude that Joseph's firstborn son would be "an authorized witness." The sources state no such thing. These two statements have been conflated by the wiki editor to draw the conclusion given in the main text.
  • The first hostile source, Willard Chase, says the following:

He said that would not do, as he was commanded to keep it two years, without letting it come to the eye of any one but himself. This commandment, however, he did not keep, for in less than two years, twelve men said they had seen it.

...

Harris went to Pennsylvania, and on his return to Palmyra, reported that the Prophet's wife, in the month of June following would be delivered of a male child that would be able when two years old to translate the Gold Bible. Then, said he, you will see Joseph Smith, Jr. walking through the streets of Palmyra, with a Gold Bible under his arm, and having a gold breast-plate on, and a gold sword hanging by his side. This, however, by the by, proved false.

  • The second source, also hostile, is Isaac Hale, who states:

I inquired of Joseph Smith Jr., who was to be the first who would be allowed to see the Book of Plates? He said it was a young child."

}}

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

but this child was stillborn in 1828.

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 COgden —Diff: off-site

    Note that this statement is in deliberate contrast to the preceding statement. The wiki editor wishes to subtly demonstrate Joseph's lack of prophetic ability by synthesizing the previous conclusion—Joseph's firstborn would be a witness—with the fact that the firstborn child was stillborn.

}}

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

In March 1829, Martin Harris came to Harmony to see the plates, but was unable to find them in the woods where Smith said they could be found.

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.

    Note that this is the second time that this statement from Isaac Hale about Martin attempting to find the plates in the woods has been employed. There is no objective reason for doing so. The real reason, of course, is that the wiki editor wishes to demonstrate for a second time that Joseph told Martin something that did not come to pass.

}}

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

The next day,

Author's sources:
  1. Hale (1834) , p. 265.

FairMormon Response

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

Smith dictated a revelation stating that Harris could eventually qualify himself

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

  •  Correct, per cited sources

}}

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

to be one of three witnesses with the exclusive right to "view [the plates] as they are".

Author's sources:
  1. Phelps (1833) , pp. 11–12. Smith’s dictated text of the Book of Ether (chapter 2) also made reference to three witnesses, stating that the plates would be shown to them "by the power of God" Smith (1830) , p. 548.

FairMormon Response

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

By June 1829, Smith determined that there would be eight additional witnesses, a total of twelve including Smith.

Author's sources:
  1. In June 1829, around the time these eleven additional witnesses were selected, Smith dictated a revelation commanding Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer (two of the eventual Three Witnesses) to seek out twelve "disciples", who desired to serve, and who would "go into all the world to preach my gospel unto every creature", and who would be ordained to baptize and to ordain priests and teachers Phelps (1833) , p. 37. According to D. Michael Quinn, this was a reference to selecting the witnesses of the Book of Mormon, who would be a leading body of Smith's Church of Christ.[Citation needed}. Mormon religious and apologetic commentators understand this revelation as referring to the eventual (in 1835, six years later) formation of the first Quorum of the Twelve.[Citation needed}

FairMormon Response

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

During the second half of June 1829,

Author's sources:
  1. Van Horn (1881) .

FairMormon Response

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

Smith took Harris, Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer (known collectively as the Three Witnesses),

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

  •  Correct, per cited sources

}}

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

into woods in Fayette, New York, where they said they saw an angel holding the golden plates and turning the leaves.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

  •  Correct, per cited sources

}}

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

The four also said they heard "the voice of the Lord" telling them that the translation of the plates was correct, and commanding them to testify of what they saw and heard.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

  •  Correct, per cited sources

}}

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

A few days later, Smith took a different group of Eight Witnesses

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

  •  Correct, per cited sources

}}

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

to a location near Smith's parents' home in Palmyra

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

}}

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

where they said Smith showed them the golden plates.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

  •  Correct, per cited sources

}}

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

Statements over the names of these men, apparently drafted by Joseph Smith,

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

    Grant Palmer was a former Church Educational System instructor. He is not a linguist, and is certainly not a qualified source, as required per Wikipedia rules, to serve as an authority on the authorship of the witness statements.

}}

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

were published in 1830 as an appendix to the Book of Mormon.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

  •  Correct, per cited sources

}}

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

According to later statements ascribed to Martin Harris, the witnesses viewed the plates in a vision and not with their "natural eyes."

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.

    Note that this is the second time the "spiritual eye" statements and Gilbert's statement have been included in the wiki article.
  •  References not included in the Wikipedia article
    The wiki article omits Harris' many statements in which he confirms the physical reality of the plates. For example, at his death, Harris reported:

The Book of Mormon is no fake. I know what I know. I have seen what I have seen and I have heard what I have heard. I have seen the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon is written. An angel appeared to me and others and testified to the truthfulness of the record, and had I been willing to have perjured myself and sworn falsely to the testimony I now bear I could have been a rich man, but I could not have testified other than I have done and am now doing for these things are true. (George Godfrey, “Testimony of Martin Harris,” from an unpublished manuscript copy in the possession of his daughter, Florence (Godfrey) Munson of Fielding, Utah; quoted in Eldin Ricks, The Case of the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1971), 65–66.)

}}

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

In addition to Smith and the other eleven who claimed to be witnesses, a few other early Mormons said they saw the plates. For instance, Smith's mother Lucy Mack Smith said she had "seen and handled" the plates.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

  •  Correct, per cited sources

}}

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

Smith's wife Emma and his younger brother William also said they had examined the plates while they were wrapped in fabric.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

  •  Correct, per cited sources

}}

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

Others said they had visions of the plates or had been shown the plates by an angel, in some cases years after Smith said he had returned the plates.

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.


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