Question: What did contemporary witnesses have to say about the Book of Mormon translation process?

Table of Contents

Question: What did contemporary witnesses have to say about the Book of Mormon translation process?

Hostile news account 11 August 1829

and after penetrating “mother earth” a short distance, the [Golden] Bible was found, together with a huge pair of spectacles! He had been directed, however, not to let any mortal being examine them, “under no less penalty” than instant death! They were therefore nicely wrapped up and excluded from the “vulgar gaze of poor wicked mortals!” It was said that the leaves of the bible were plates of gold, about 8 inches long, 6 wide, and one eighth of an inch thick, on which were engraved characters or hyeroglyphics. By placing the spectacles in a hat, and looking into it, Smith could (he said so, at least,) interpret these characters.[1]

  • Scribe: Not specified
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: "Spectacles" (i.e., Nephite interpreters)
  • Method: Spectacles in hat

Martin Harris (eyewitness), paraphrased in the The Gem 5 September 1829

“In the autumn of 1827 a man named Joseph Smith of Manchester, in Ontario County, said that he had been visited by the spirit of the Almighty in a dream, and informed that in a certain hill in that town was deposited a Golden Bible, containing an ancient record of divine origin. He states that after the third visit from the same spirit in a dream he proceeded to the spot, removed earth, and there found the bible, together with a large pair of spectacles. He had also been directed to let no mortal see them under the penalty of immediate death, which injunction he steadfastly adheres to. The treasure consisted of a number of gold plates, about 8 inches long, 6 wide, and one eighth of an inch thick, on which were engraved hieroglyphics. By placing the spectacles in a hat and looking into it, Smith interprets the characters into the English language.[”][2]

  • Scribe: Martin Harris
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: "Spectacles"
  • Method: Spectacles in hat

Martin Harris (eyewitness), paraphrased and reprinted in New-York Telescope 20 Feb 1830

...he proceeded to the spot, and found the bible, with a huge pair of spectacles....He is said to have shown some of these characters to Professor Samuel L. Mitchell, of this city, who could not translate them. Martin Harris returned, and set Joseph Smith to the business of translating them: who, “by placing the spectacles in a hat and looking into them, Joseph Smith said he could interpret these characters.”[3]

  • Scribe: Martin Harris
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: "Spectacles"
  • Method: Spectacles in hat

Hostile news account 27 Feb 1830

The inspired man who wrote the “Gold Bible” on “plates of brass,” in the “reformed Egyptian” language, on account of its brevity, as we are informed, through the medium of one of these psuedo prophets, never had half the trouble that we experience in deciphering the unseemly scrolls of this dark representative of old Pluto’s dominions. His letters and communications are all written in heathen Greek, and the characters so fine and imperfect, that notwithstanding the great power of our editorial spectacles, we have in one instance burnt the scrawl in despair![4]

  • Scribe: Not specified
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: "Spectacles"?
  • Method: Not specified

Hostile news account circa May 1830

A fellow by the name of Joseph Smith, who resides in the upper part of Susquehanna county, has been, for the last two years we are told, employed in dedicating as he says, by inspiration, a new bible. He pretended that he had been entrusted by God with a golden bible which had been always hidden from the world. Smith would put his face into a hat in which he had a white stone, and pretend to read from it, while his coadjutor transcribed.[5]

  • Scribe: Not specified
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Stone
  • Method: In a hat

Hostile news account 2 June 1830

Now the rest of the acts of the magician [Walters], how his mantle fell upon the prophet Jo. Smith Jun. and how Jo. made a league with the spirit, who afterwards turned out to be an angel, and how he obtained the “Gold Bible,” Spectacles, and breast plate–will they not be faithfully recorded in the book of Pukei?”[6]

  • Scribe: Not specified
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Spectacles and breast plate [Walters the magician is said to have had a "magic stone" which he took with him.]
  • Method: Not specified

Hostile news account 7 July 1830

BOOK OF PUKEI.—Chap. 2. Contents.—....8 spectacles-breastplate-Oliver, &c....[Joseph] art chosen to interpret the book, which Mormon has written, to wit, the gold Bible? 8. “And lo! I answered the spirit of the money diggers saying, how can these things be, as I can neither read nor write? And he said unto me” ‘I will give thee a breast plate, to keep thee from evil, and I will send thee an assistant, even Oliver, the pedagogue.’[7]

  • Scribe: Oliver Cowdery
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Spectacles and breast plate
  • Method: Not specified

Hostile news account 2 August 1830

the vices and follies of others, if rightly appreciated are full of instruction, & we only require JO SMITH’S Magic Spectacles, or some other powerful optical instrument to turn them to our own advantage.[8]

  • Scribe: Not specified
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: "Spectacles" (i.e., Nephite interpreters)
  • Method: Not specified

Hostile news account 16 November 1830

...which is said to be translated from Egyptian Hieroglyphics, on metal plates, by one Smith, who was enabled to read the characters by instruction from Angels....[9]

  • Scribe: Not specified
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Not specified
  • Method: Taught by angels

Oliver Cowdery in hostile news account 18 November 1830

According to the narrative given by one of these disciples—Oliver Cowdery—at their late exhibition in Kirtland, this pretended Revelation was written on golden plates, or something resembling golden plates, of the thickness of tin—7 inches in length, 6 inches in breadth, and a pile about 6 inches deep. None among the most learned in the United States could read, and interpret the hand-writing, (save one, and he could decipher but a few lines correctly,) excepting this ignoramus, Joseph Smith, Jr. To him, they say, was given the spirit of interpretation; but he was ignorant of the art of writing, he employed this Oliver Cowdery and others to write, while he read, interpreted, and translated this mighty Revelation.[10]

  • Scribe: Oliver Cowdery
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Not specified
  • Method: Spirit of inspiration

Hostile news account 20 November 1830

You have probably heard of the Gold Bible taken from the earth by Joseph Smith, the money-digger. This he has translated from the Egyptian reformed language to English, by a pair of stone spectacles (provided by an angel) and a dark hat before his eyes.[11]

  • Scribe: Not specified
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Stone spectacles
  • Method: Hat before eyes

Hostile news account 4 December 1830

In the Fall of 1827, a man named Joseph Smith of Manchester, Ontario county, N.Y. reported that he had three times been visited in a dream, by the spirit of the Almighty, and informed that in a certain hill in that town, was a Golden Bible, containing an ancient record of a divine nature and origin. On going to the spot he found buried the Bible with a huge pair of spectacles: The leaves (he said, tho' he was not permitted to shew them) were plates of gold, about 8 inches long, 6 wide, and 1-8th of an inch thick, on which were engraved characters or hieroglyphicks, which with the spectacles he could interpret. Martin Harris an industrious farmer, caught the contagion, took some of the characters to different learned men to translate, but without success. He returned, set Smith to work at translating it, and has had it printed.[12]

  • Scribe: Not specified
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Spectacles
  • Method: Not specified

Hostile news account 8 December 1830

Some year or two since the crdulous [incredulous?] were amused with the tale that, guided by inspiration, some one had found many golden plates buried in the earth near Palmyra, Wayne county, in this state, upon which were revealed,in an unknown tongue, (an odd sort of revelation one would think) the whole duty of man. This the finder and comrade were enabled, by supernatural agency, to translate since which the book has been printed and travelling preachers have gone forth with it, to enlighten the world.[13]

  • Scribe: Not specified
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Not specified
  • Method: Supernatural agency

Hostile news account 14 December 1830

This new Gospel they say was found in Ontario co. N.Y. and was discovered by an Angel of light, appearing in a dream to a man by the name of Smith, who, as directed, went to a certain place and dug from the earth a stone box, containing plates of gold, on which this gospel was engraved in characters unknown. The said Smith though a man so illiterate that he cannot write, was, by divine inspiration, enabled to give the true interpretation, and the man who wrote from the mouth of Smith, is one of the four mentioned above.[14]

  • Scribe: Not specified
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Not specified
  • Method: By divine inspiration

Hostile news account 18 December 1830

At a recent period, an angel appeared to a poor ignorant man residing in, or near Palmyra, in Ontario county, in the State of New-York, and directed him to open the earth at a place designated, where he would find the new revelation engraved on plates of metal. In obedience to the celestial messenger, Smith repaired to the spot, and on opening the ground, discovered an oblong stone box, tightly closed with cement. He opened the sacred depository, and found enclosed a bundle of plates resembling gold, carefully united at one edge with three silver wires, so that they opened like a book. The plates were about seven inches long and six broad, and the whole pile was about seven inches long and six broad, and was about six inches deep; each plate about the thickness of tin. They were engraved in a character unintelligible to the learned men of the United States, to many of whom it is said they have been presented. The angel afterwards appeared to the three individuals, and showed them the plates. To Smith was given to transcribe the character which he was enabled to do by looking through two semitransparent stones, but as he was ignorant of the writing, Cowdry and others wrote as Smith interpreted. They say, that part of the plates escaped from them in a supernatural manner, and are again to be revealed when the events of time shall require them.[15]

  • Scribe: Oliver Cowdery and others
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Two semitransparent stones [the Nephite interpreters?]
  • Method: "by looking through two semitransparent stones"; not otherwise characterized

Hostile news account 7 February 1831

He that touched these stones appeared unto the brother of Jared, and said: “Behold I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son.” Two of these stones were sealed up with the plates, and became the spectacles of Joseph Smith, according to a prediction uttered before Abraham was born....This prophet Smith, through his stone spectacles, wrote on the plates of Nephi, in his book of Mormon, every error and almost every truth discussed in New York for the last ten years....[it] is, without exaggeration, the meanest book in the English language: but it is a translation made through stone spectacles, in a dark room, and in the hat of the prophet Smith, from the reformed Egyptian!!![16]

  • Scribe: Not specified
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Spectacles (two stones); "stone spectacles."
  • Method: In a dark room, in the hat

Hostile news account 7 March 1831

the surface of which was covered with hieroglyphic characters, unintelligible to Smith, the finder, who could [218] not read English. However the angel (ghost!) that discovered the plates to him, likewise informed him that he would be inspired to translate the inscriptions without looking at the plates, while an amanuensis would record his infallible reading....[17]

  • Scribe: Not specified
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Not specified
  • Method: Inspired; results would be "infallible"
  • Plates: not necessary to look at while translating

Martin Harris (eyewitness), paraphrased in the Palmyra Reflector 19 March 1831

Harris declares, that when he acted as amanuenses, and wrote the translation, as Smith dictated, such was his fear of the Divine displeasure, that a screen (sheet) was suspended between the prophet and himself.... [18]

  • Scribe: Martin Harris
  • Curtain: Present
  • Instrument: Not specified
  • Method: Not specified

Oliver Cowdery (eyewitness), paraphrased in hostile press 9 April 1831

During the trial it was shown that the Book of Mormon was brought to light by the same magic power by which he pretended to tell fortunes, discover hidden treasures, &c. Oliver Cowdry, one of the three witnesses to the book, testified under oath, that said Smith found with the plates, from which he translated his book, two transparent stones, resembling glass, set in silver bows. That by looking through these, he was able to read in English, the formed Egyptian characters, which were engraved on the plates.

So much for the gift and power of God. by which Smith says he translate his book. Two transparent stones, undoubtedly of the same properties, and the gift of the same spirit as the one in which he looked to find his neighbor’s goods.[19]
  • Scribe: Oliver Cowdery
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Two transparent stones with plates; distinguished from the seer stone or "peep" stone.
  • Method: Looking through the stones

Hostile press account circa May 1831

He [Joseph] has 10 year’s translating to do; he looks in a small stone he has, and there reads the will of the Lord and writes it for the good of his fellow men.[20]
  • Scribe: Not specified
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: A stone; not clear if this is translation of Book of Mormon or other revelation
  • Method: Not specified

Ezra Booth (non-eyewitness) 27 Oct 1831

So also in translating.—The subject stands before his eyes in print, but it matters not whether his eyes are open or shut; he can see as well one way as the other....

These treasures were discovered several years since, by means of the dark glass, the same with which Smith says he translated most of the Book of Mormon.[21]
  • Scribe: Not specified
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: "dark glass" (? "peep stone" variant)
  • Method: Eyes open or closed

Hostile news account 18 November 1831

The preacher said he [Joseph] found in the same place two stones, with which he was enabled by placing them over his eyes and putting his head in a dark corner, to decypher the hieroglyphics on the plates![22]
  • Scribe: Not specified
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Two stones (Nephite interpreters)
  • Method: Place over eyes, in the dark

Nancy Towle - visiting critic 1832

He accordingly went; and was directed by the angel to a certain spot of ground, where was deposited a “Box”— [138] and in that box contained “Plates,” which resembled gold; also, a pair of “interpreters,” (as he called them,) that resembled spectacles; by looking into which, he could read a writing engraven upon the plates, though to himself, in a tongue unknown.[23]
  • Scribe: Not specified
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Pair of interpreters/spectacles
  • Method: Able to read the writing engraven on plates

News report 7 Mar 1832

Smith with divine aid, was able to translate the plates...[24]
  • Scribe: Not specified
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Not specified
  • Method: Divine aid

News report of LDS missionary [Lyman Johnson and Arson (Orson?) Pratt] teachings 14 April 1832

God by his goodness inspired Smith himself to translate the whole.—Smith, however, not being qualified to write, employed an amanuensis, who wrote for him....[25]
  • Scribe: Mentioned, but no individual
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Not specified
  • Method: Divine inspiration

Hostile news report 10 October 1832

A slight excavation of the earth, enabled him to arrive at this new revelation, written in mysterious characters, upon gold plates. A pair of spectacles, of strange and peculiar construction were found with the plates, to aid the optics of the prophet....[26]
  • Scribe: Not specified
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Spectacles
  • Method: Divine inspiration

Hostile book report 1833

he found a book with golden clasps and cover, and a pair of elegantly mounted spectacles, somewhat old-fashioned to be sure, but astonishing magnifiers, and possessing qualities which it might puzzle Sir David Brewster to explain on optical principles.

Smith had some difficulty in undoing the clasps of this precious volume, but on opening it, though his eyes were good, it appeared to contain nothing but blank paper. It then occurred to him to fit on his spectacles, when, lo! the whole volume was filled with certain figures and pothooks to him unintelligible. Delighted with his good fortune, Smith trudged home with the volume in his pocket and the spectacles on his nose, happy as bibliomaniac who has been lucky enough to purchase some rare Editio Princeps [first edition] “dog cheap” from the ignorant proprietor of an obscure book-stall. On reaching his own house, his first care was to secure his miraculous treasures from profane observation; his second, to copy out a page or two of the characters, and look about for an interpreter. His search was long fruitless, but, at length, he hit on precisely the two individuals who were qualified conjointly for the office. One of these gentlemen possessed the faculty of reading the hieroglyphics, and the other of interpreting....[27]
  • Scribe: Not specified—note that Joseph is not even said to be the translator
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Spectacles
  • Method: "Translation" by others


W.W. Phelps (1833): "through the aid of a pair of Interpreters, or spectacles—(known, perhaps, in ancient days as Teraphim, or Urim and Thummim)"

W.W. Phelps wrote the following in the January 1833 edition of The Evening and The Morning Star:

The book of Mormon, as a revelation from God, possesses some advantage over the old scripture: it has not been tinctured by the wisdom of man, with here and there an Italic word to supply deficiencies.-It was translated by the gift and power of God, by an unlearned man, through the aid of a pair of Interpreters, or spectacles-(known, perhaps, in ancient days as Teraphim, or Urim and Thummim) and while it unfolds the history of the first inhabitants that settled this continent, it, at the same time, brings a oneness to scripture, like the days of the apostles; and opens and explains the prophecies, that a child may understand the meaning of many of them; and shows how the Lord will gather his saints, even the children of Israel, that have been scattered over the face of the earth, more than two thousand years, in these last days, to the place of the name of the Lord of hosts, the mount Zion. [28]

It appears that the seer stone was also referred to as the "Urim and Thummim" after 1833, indicating that the name could be assigned to any device that was used for the purpose of translation.[29]

  • Scribe: Not specified
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Spectacles/Interpreters—"perhaps" the teraphim or urim and thummim [first association of the Nephite stones with the urim and thummim?]
  • Method: By the gift and power of God

Joseph Smith (eyewitness) in American Revivalist and Rochester Observer - 2 Feb 1833

having been found through the ministration of an holy Angel, translated into our own language by the gift and power of God....[30]
  • Scribe: Not specified
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Not specified
  • Method: By the gift and power of God

Hostile press report 7 March 1833

the golden plates were said to be engraved in a language that none but Smith could read—and that an angel gave him a pair of spectacles which

he put in a hat and thus read and translated, while one of the witnesses wrote it down from his mouth....[31]
  • Scribe: Multiple; later identifies "Oliver Powdery" [sic] as "the scribe."
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Spectacles
  • Method: In the hat

Hostile press report May 1833

They have a revelation of their own, which, they affirm, was given to the people of this continent, (the Indians,) on plates, and deposited in the earth, and kept concealed in the earth of the Lord, till the fulfilment of its time, which has now been accomplished: and to prove that Joseph Smith is that wonderful prophet, to whom these marvellous plates and their profound mysteries [263] should be revealed, they recite the 29th chapter of Isaiah, saying that the prophet Smith is that unlearned man, to whom the book was given to read, and he said I cannot, for I am not learned! But this difficulty was soon removed by the spirit which came upon him, and blest him with the gift of tongues. The book then was clearly opened to his understanding, and he translated it to one of the witnesses, who wrote it in our language. [check spelling][32]
  • Scribe: "one of the witnesses"
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Not specified
  • Method: "spirit...blest him with the gift of tongues"

Eber D. Howe (non-eyewitness), paraphrasing Martin Harris (eyewitness) in Mormonism Unvailed

[Martin Harris] says he wrote a considerable part of the book, as Smith dictated, and at one time the presence of the Lord was so great, that a screen was hung up between him and the Prophet; at other times the Prophet would sit in a different room, or up stairs, while the Lord was communicating to him the contents of the plates. He does not pretend that he ever saw the wonderful plates but once, although he and Smith were engaged for months in deciphering their contents.[33]:14 [34]

  • Scribe: Martin Harris
  • Curtain: present
  • Instrument: Not specified
  • Method: not specified
  • Locations: Different room; Stairs
  • Plates: Not present

Charles Anthon (non-eyewitness), in Mormonism Unvailed

This young man was placed behind a curtain, in the garret of a farm house, and, being thus concealed from view, put on the spectacles occasionally, or rather, looked through one of the glasses, decyphered the characters in the book, and, having committed some of them to paper, handed copies from behind the curtain, to those who stood on the outside. Not a word, however, was said about the plates having been decyphered "by the gift of God:' Every thing, in this way, was effected by the large pair of spectacles.[33]:270 [35]

  • Scribe: Martin Harris
  • Curtain: present
  • Instrument: Nephite interpreters ("spectacles"; "large pair of spectacles")
  • Method: "looked through one of the glasses"

Isaac Hale (eyewitness), Mormonism Unvailed

I told them, that I considered the whole of it a delusion, and advised them to abandon it. The manner in which he pretended to read and interpret, was the same as when he looked for the money-diggers, with the stone in his hat, and his hat over his face, while the Book of Plates were at the same time hid in the woods![33]:265

  • Scribe: Not identified
  • Curtain: Not mentioned
  • Instrument: stone
  • Method: placed stone in hat

Charles Anthon paraphrasing Martin Harris (eyewitness), Mormonism Unvailed

A “gold book,” consisting of a number of plates of gold, fastened together in the shape of a book by wires of the same metal, had been dug up in the northern part of the state of New York, and along with the book an enormous pair of “gold spectacles” ! These spectacles were so large, that, if a person attempted to look through them, his two eyes would have to be turned towards one of the glasses merely, the spectacles in question being altogether too large for the breadth of the human face. Whoever examined the plates through the spectacles, was enabled not only to read them, but fully to understand their meaning. All this knowledge, however, was confined at that time to a young man, who had the trunk containing the book and spectacles in his sole possession. This young man was placed behind a curtain, in the garret of a farm [270] house, and, being thus concealed from view, put on the spectacles occasionally, or rather, looked through one of the glasses, decyphered the characters in the book, and, having committed some of them to paper, handed copies from behind the curtain, to those who stood on the outside. Not a word, however, was said about the plates having been decyphered “by the gift of God.” Every thing, in this way, was effected by the large pair of spectacles.[33]:269 [36]

  • Scribe: Joseph Smith
  • Curtain: Present
  • Instrument: Spectacles
  • Method: Looking through spectacles, not a divine process

[Note that this comment would have derived from prior to the formal translation process, and likely reflects only Joseph's act of copying the characters so they could be taken to Harris accompanied by his interpretation.]

Mormonism Unvailed - 1834

They at the same time gave out that, along with the plates, was found a huge pair of silver spectacles, altogether too large for the present race of men, but which were to be used, nevertheless, in translating the plates. [17] The translation finally commenced. They were found to contain a language not now known upon the earth, which they termed “reformed Egyptian characters.” The plates, therefore, which had been so much talked of, were found to be of no manner of use. After all, the Lord showed and communicated to him every word and letter of the Book. Instead of looking at the characters inscribed upon the plates, the prophet was obliged to resort to the old “peep stone,” which he formerly used in money-digging. This he placed in a hat, or box, into which he also thrust his face. Through the stone he could then discover a single word at a time, which he repeated aloud to his amanuensis, who committed it to paper, when another word would immediately appear, and thus the performance continued to the end of the book.[33]:16-17
  • Scribe: Not specified
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Seer stone
  • Method: Placed in hat or box
  • Plates: Not looked at directly
Another account they give of the transaction, is, that it was performed with the big spectacles before mentioned, and which were in fact, the identical Urim and Thumim mentioned in Exodus 28–30, and were brought away from Jerusalem by the heroes of the book, handed down from one generation to another, and finally buried up in Ontario county, some fifteen centuries since, to enable Smith to translate the plates without looking at them ![33]:17
  • Scribe: Not specified
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Spectacles
  • Method: Not specified
But Don Quixote told his squire Sancho, that great fortune was often very near when we least expected it ; thus it was with Smith in diging after hidden treasures—the famous brass plates, the gold spectacles and the interpreting stone were found, perhaps, when he least expected it[33]:54
  • Scribe: Not specified
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Spectacles and stone
  • Method: Not specified
We are informed that Smith used a stone in a hat, for the purpose of translating the plates. The spectacles and plates were found together, but were taken from him and hid up again before he had translated one word, and he has never seen them since—this is Smith’s own story. Let us ask, what use have the plates been or the spectacles, so long as they have in no sense been used ? or what does the testimony of Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer amount to?
  • Scribe: Not specified
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Stone; "spectacles" not used at all
  • Method: Stone in hat
  • Plates: Not present

Hostile news account Jan 1834

But, by the special power of the Spirit, Smith was enabled to translate them.[37]
  • Scribe: Not specified
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Not specified
  • Method: "Special power of the Spirit"
  • Plates: Not specified

Hostile news account 4 June 1834

In the year 1828, one Joseph Smith, an illiterate young man, unable to read his own name, of Palmyra, Wayne County, New York, was reported to have found several golden plates, together with a pair of spectacles, relics of high antiquity. The spectacles were designed to aid mental vision, under rather peculiar circumstances. They were to be adjusted, and the visage thrust into a close hat. This done Smith could interpret the sacred mysteries of the plates, in which lay, by the hypothesis, in the top of the hat![38]
  • Scribe: Not specified
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Spectacles
  • Method: Spectacles in the hat
  • Plates: Not specified

Oliver Cowdery (eyewitness) 7 September 1834

These were days never to be forgotten—to sit under the sound of a voice dictated by the inspiration of heaven, awakened the utmost gratitude of this bosom! Day after day I continued, uninterrupted, to write from his mouth, as he translated, with the Urim and Thummim, or, as the Nephites whould have said, “Interpreters,” the history, or record, called “The book of Mormon.”[39]
  • Scribe: Not specified
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Urim and thummim ("interpreters")
  • Method: Not specified
  • Plates: Not specified

Hostile press account - 1834/35

This famous book, which its misguided followers regard as a second Bible, or more properly as the Mohammedans do the Koran, is said to be a translation from certain brass plates, found by one Joseph Smith, in the town of Palmyra, (N. Y.) in 1826. They were enclosed in a box, which had to all appearance been used for common sized window glass. Smith pretended to interpret them, with a stone in his hat, and this hat over his face, while one Martin Harris was employed to write down the contents at his dictation.[40]
  • Scribe: Martin Harris (later mentions Cowdery)
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Stone
  • Method: Stone in the hat
  • Plates: Presence not specified; plates' box implied to be of modern origin; plates said to be "brass"—this source is clearly garbling at least some of the story.

W.W. Phelps to Oliver Cowdery - Feb 1835

The first one is where you sat day after day and wrote the history of the second race that inhabited this continent, as the words were repeated to you by the Lord’s prophet, through the aid of the “Urim and Thumim,” “Nephite Interpreters,” or Divine Spectacles. I mean when you wrote the book of Mormon, containing the fulness of the gospel to the world, and the covenant to gather Israel, for the last time, as well as the history of the Indians, who, till then, had neither origin among men, not records amid the light and knowledge of the great 19th century.[41]
  • Scribe: Oliver Cowdery
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Interpreters/Spectacles/Urim and Thummim
  • Method: Not specified
  • Plates: Not specified

Hostile press account March 1835

Smith pretended that he had found some golden or brass plates, like the leaves of a book, hid in a box in the earth, to which he was directed by an Angel, in 1827,—that the writing on them was in the “Reformed Egyptian language,”—that he was inspired to interpret the writing, or engraving, by putting a plate in his hat, putting two smooth flat stones, which he found in the box, in the hat, and putting his face therein—that he could not write, but as he translated, one Oliver Cowdry wrote it down.[42]
  • Scribe: Oliver Cowdery
  • Curtain: Not specified
  • Instrument: Two stones found with plates (interpreters?)
  • Method: Stones in the hat with a plate
  • Plates: In the hat

Notes

  1. “Golden Bible,” Rochester Advertiser and Daily Telegraph (New York) (31 August 1829). Reprinted from Palmyra Freeman, 11 August 1829. off-site
  2. "Golden Bible," Rochester (NY) Gem 1 (5 September 1829): 70; cited in Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 2:272.
  3. C. C. Blatchley, “Caution Against the Golden Bible,” New-York Telescope 6, no. 38 (20 February 1830): 150. off-site
  4. “Diabolical,” The Reflector (Palmyra, New York) new series, no. 8 (27 February 1830): xxx. off-site
  5. Cincinnati Advertiser and Ohio Phoenix (2 June 1830). Reprinted from Wayne County Inquirer, Pennsylvania, circa May 1830. off-site
  6. The Book of Pukei.—Chap. I,” The Reflector (Palmyra, New York) 3d series, no. 5 (12 June 1830): 36–37.
  7. The Book of Pukei.—Chap. 2,” The Reflector (Palmyra, New York) 3d series, no. 8 (7 July 1830): 60.
  8. Every thing in this world . . .,” The Reflector (Palmyra, New York) 3d series, no. 14 (28 August 1830): 108–9.
  9. The Golden Bible,” Painesville Telegraph (Ohio) (16 November 1830).
  10. A.S., “The Golden Bible, or, Campbellism Improved,” Observer and Telegraph (Hudson, Ohio) (18 November 1830).
  11. [citation needed] 20.nov.1830
  12. [citation needed] 4.dec.1830
  13. 8.dec.1830 [citation needed]
  14. [citation needed] 14.dec.1830
  15. Delusion,” The Jesuit or Catholic Sentinel (Boston, Massachusetts) (18 December 1830): 125. Reprinted from Geauga Gazette (Ohio) circa November 1830.
  16. Alexander Campbell, Delusions (Boston: Benjamin H. Greene, 1832), p. 89, 92, 94 of original; originally published in Millennial Harbinger 2 (7 February 1831): 85–96. off-site O. Cowdery reply #1 #2 Full title
  17. David S. Burnett, “Something New.—The Golden Bible,” Evangelical Inquirer (Dayton, Ohio) 1, no. 10 (7 March 1831): 217–19.
  18. “Gold Bible, No. 6,” The Reflector (Palmyra, New York) 2, no. 16 (19 March 1831), xxx. off-site
  19. A.W.B., “Mormonites,” Evangelical Magazine and Gospel Advocate (Utica, New York) 2, no. 15 (9 April 1831): 120.
  20. The Mormon Delusion,” Baptist Chronicle and Literary Register (Georgetown, Kentucky) 2, no. 9 (September 1831): 135–36. Reprinted from Hampshire Gazette (circa May 1831), and the Vermont Chronicle.
  21. “Mormonism—No. III,” Ezra Booth to Rev. I. Eddy, 24 October 1831 Ohio Star (Ravenna, Ohio) (27 October 1831). off-site
  22. The Mormonites,” Christian Intelligencer and Eastern Chronicle (Gardiner, Maine) (18 November 1831): 184. Reprinted from Illinois Patriot (Jacksonville, Illinois) (16 September 1831).
  23. Nancy Towle, Vicissitudes Illustrated in the Experience of Nancy Towle in Europe and America(Charleston: For the Authoress, 1832), 137–47.
  24. “Mormonism,” Fredonia Censor (New York) (7 March 1832). Reprinted from the Franklin Democrat (Pennsylvania) circa March 1832. off-site
  25. “The Orators of Mormon,” Catholic Telegraph (Cincinnati, Ohio) 1 (14 April 1832): 204–5. Reprinted from Mercer Press (Pennsylvania), circa April 1832. off-site
  26. “Mormonism,” Boston Recorder (Boston, Massachusetts) 17, no. 41 (10 October 1832). Reprinted from Lockport Balance (New York), circa September 1832. off-site
  27. Thomas Hamilton, Men and Manners in America (Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Blanchard, 1833), 364–65.
  28. W.W. Phelps, "The Book of Mormon," The Evening and The Morning Star 1:58 .
  29. Stephen D. Ricks, The Translation and Publication of the Book of Mormon, Featured Papers, Maxwell Institute, Provo UT. off-site
  30. [Communication from Joseph Smith, Jr.,] “Mormonism,” The American Revivalist and Rochester Observer (Rochester, New York) 7, no. 6 (2 February 1833). off-site]
    Only the last two paragraphs of Joseph’s letter to the newspaper were printed. The entire letter appeared eleven years later in the November 15, 1844 issue of the Times and Seasons.
  31. David Marks, [Untitled Remarks on Mormonism], Morning Star (Limerick, Maine) 7, no. 45 (7 March 1833): 177.
  32. Mormonites,” Gospel Luminary 6, no. 8 (May 1833): 263–65.
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 33.3 33.4 33.5 33.6 Eber D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed (Painesville, OH, 1834). (Affidavits examined)
  34. Based on reports by Doctor Philastus Hurlbut.
  35. Here, Howe reprints a letter, dated February 17, 1834, written by Charles Anthon.
  36. Statement made by Isaac Hale, Joseph Smith's father-in-law.
  37. Jason Whitman, “The Book of Mormon,” The Unitarian (Boston) 1 (January 1834): 39.
  38. Mormonism,” Protestant Sentinel (Schenectady, New York) n.s. 5, no. 1 (4 June 1834): 4–5. Reprinted from New England Review, circa May 1834.
  39. "Oliver Cowdery to W.W. Phelps, 7 September 1834," Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate 1 no. 1 (October 1834), 13–16.
  40. J. Newton Brown, “Mormonites,” Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (Boston: Shattuck & Company, 1835), xxx. Reprinted from Cross and Baptist Journal, Fall 1834. off-site
  41. W. W. Phelps to Oliver Cowdery, Christmas 1834, "Letter No. 4," Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate 1 no. 5 (February 1835), 65-67.
  42. “Mormonism,” New York Weekly Messenger and Young Men’s Advocate (29 April 1835). Reprinted from The Pioneer (Rock Springs, Illinois), March 1835. off-site