Question: Is the Church trying to hide something through its use of artwork?

Table of Contents

Question: Is the Church trying to hide something through its use of artwork?

The manner of the translation is described repeatedly in Church publications, despite the inaccurate artwork

The implication is that the Church's artistic department and/or artists are merely tools in a propaganda campaign meant to subtly and quietly obscure Church history. The suggestion is that the Church trying to "hide" how Joseph really translated the plates.

On the contrary, the manner of the translation is described repeatedly, for example, in the Church's official magazine for English-speaking adults, the Ensign. Richard Lloyd Anderson discussed the "stone in the hat" matter in 1977,[1] and Elder Russell M. Nelson quoted David Whitmer's account to new mission presidents in 1992.[2]

The details of the translation are not certain, and the witnesses do not all agree in every particular. However, Joseph's seer stone in the hat was also discussed by, among others: B.H. Roberts in his New Witnesses for God (1895)[3] and returns somewhat to the matter in Comprehensive History of the Church (1912).[4] Other Church sources to discuss this include The Improvement Era (1939),[5] BYU Studies (1984, 1990)[6] the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies (1993),[7] and the FARMS Review (1994).[8] LDS authors Joseph Fielding McConkie and Craig J. Ostler also mentioned the matter in 2000.[9]

Neal A. Maxwell: "To neglect substance while focusing on process is another form of unsubmissively looking beyond the mark"

Elder Neal A. Maxwell went so far as to use Joseph's hat as a parable; this is hardly the act of someone trying to "hide the truth":

Jacob censured the "stiffnecked" Jews for "looking beyond the mark" (Jacob 4:14). We are looking beyond the mark today, for example, if we are more interested in the physical dimensions of the cross than in what Jesus achieved thereon; or when we neglect Alma's words on faith because we are too fascinated by the light-shielding hat reportedly used by Joseph Smith during some of the translating of the Book of Mormon. To neglect substance while focusing on process is another form of unsubmissively looking beyond the mark.[10]

Those who criticize the Church based on its artwork should perhaps take Elder Maxwell's caution to heart.

Notes

  1. Richard Lloyd Anderson, "By the Gift and Power of God," Ensign (September 1977), 83. off-site
  2. Russell M. Nelson, "A Treasured Testament," Ensign (July 1993), 61. off-site
  3. Brigham H. Roberts, "NAME," in New Witnesses for God, 3 Vols., (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1909[1895, 1903]), 1:131–136. ISBN 0962254541.
  4. Brigham H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1965), 1:130–131. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  5. Francis W. Kirkham, "The Manner of Translating The BOOK of MORMON," Improvement Era (1939), ?.
  6. Dean C. Jessee, "New Documents and Mormon Beginnings," Brigham Young University Studies 24 no. 4 (Fall 1984), 397–428.; Royal Skousen, "Towards a Critical Edition of the Book of Mormon," Brigham Young University Studies 30 no. 1 (Winter 1990), 51–52.
  7. Stephen D. Ricks, "Translation of the Book of Mormon: Interpreting the Evidence," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2/2 (1993): 201–206. wiki
  8. Matthew Roper, "A Black Hole That's Not So Black (Review of Answering Mormon Scholars: A Response to Criticism of the Book, vol. 1 by Jerald and Sandra Tanner)," FARMS Review of Books 6/2 (1994): 156–203. off-site
  9. Joseph Fielding McConkie and Craig J. Ostler, Revelations of the Restoration (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 2000), commentary on D&C 9.
  10. Neal A. Maxwell, Not My Will, But Thine (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1988), 26.