Question: Did David Whitmer tell John Murphy that the angel Moroni "had no appearance or shape" and that he saw "nothing"?

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Question: Did David Whitmer tell John Murphy that the angel Moroni "had no appearance or shape" and that he saw "nothing"?

John Murphy quoted David Whitmer as saying that his witness experience was just a "feeling" or an "impression"

David Whitmer was interviewed by John Murphy in June 1880. Murphy reported that Whitmer claimed that the angel that showed him the plates "had no appearance or shape" and that Whitmer saw "nothing, in the way you understand it." Upon seeing the published interview, Whitmer strongly objected to the way Murphy had portrayed him, and published a proclamation refuting Murphy's characterization of his experience as a witness.

The following is a portion of Murphy's interview with David Whitmer, written from Murphy's perspective. (John Murphy to the Editor, undated, Hamiltonian, 21 January 1881, quoted in "David Whitmer Interview with John Murphy, June 1880," Early Mormon Documents 5:63):

[Murphy]: "First of all, I heard you saw an angel. I never saw one. I want your description of [the] shape, voice, brogue and the construction of his language. I mean as to his style of speaking. You know that we can often determine the class a man belongs to by his language."

[Whitmer]: "It had no appearance or shape."

[Murphy]: "Then you saw nothing nor heard nothing?"

[Whitmer]: "Nothing, in the way you understand it."

[Murphy]: "How, then, could you have borne testimony that you saw and heard an angel?"

[Whitmer]: "Have you never had impressions?"

[Murphy]: "Then you had impressions as the quaker when the spirit moves, or as a good Methodist in giving a happy experience, a feeling?"

[Whitmer]: "Just so."

When David Whitmer read the Murphy interview, he published a rebuttal to John Murphy's portrayal of his witness experience

Whitmer himself refuted Murphy's account:

Unto all Nations, Kindreds, tongues and people unto whom this present Shall come.

It having been represented by one John Murphy of Polo Mo. that I in a conversation with him last Summer, denied my testimony as one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon.

To the end therefore, that he may understand me now if he did not then, and that the world may know the truth, I wish now standing as it were, in the very sunset of life, and in the fear of God, once for all to make this public Statement;

That I have never at any time, denied that testimony or any part thereof, which has so long since been published with that book as one of the three witnesses.

Those who know me best, well know that I have adhered to that testimony.—

And that no man may be misled or doubt my present views in regard to the same, I do now again affirm the truth of all my statement[s], as then made and published.

He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear; It was no Delusion. What is written is written, and he that readeth let him understand.[1]


  1. "David Whitmer Proclamation, 19 March 1881," quoted in Early Mormon Documents 5:69