Question: What role did Joseph fill in the community as a youth?

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Question: What role did Joseph fill in the community as a youth?

Joseph acted as a "village seer"

Brant Gardner notes that Joseph filled the role of "village seer," and that the invitation of village seers to assist local treasure diggers was actually an English tradition. According to Keith Thomas,

There was not necessarily anything magical about the search for treasure as such, but in practice the assistance of a conjurer or wizard was very frequently invoked. This was partly because it was thought that special divining tools might help, such as the 'Mosaical Rods' for which many contemporary formulae survive.[1]

Gardner continues by confirming that "[w]hat the modern world tends to know about the village seers is the result of only one of the ways in which their talents were put to use. Since they could see that which was hidden, local seers became involved in the mania of digging for lost treasure."[2] Add to this the statements regarding Joseph's money digging activities mentioned in the Hurlbut affidavits, and it is easy to see why critics wish to make an issue regarding Joseph's utilization of the his "treasure seeking" seer stone to assist in the translation of the Book of Mormon.


  1. Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic, 234 quoted by Gardner in Joseph the Seer...
  2. Brant A. Gardner, Joseph the Seer—or Why Did He Translate With a Rock in His Hat?, 2009 FAIR Conference presentation.