Question: Why did the author of the ''Letter to a CES Director'' feel the need to make a single hostile quote appear as if it were two separate quotes?

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Question: Why did the author of the Letter to a CES Director feel the need to make a single hostile quote appear as if it were two separate quotes?

The original Letter to a CES Director presents two separate quotes attributed to Stephen Burnett

The original Letter to a CES Director presents two separate quotes attributed to Stephen Burnett in order to demonstrate that Martin Harris only saw the plates in his imagination:

“Never saw the plates with his natural eyes but only in vision or imagination”
– Letter from Stephen Burnett to “Br. Johnson,” April 15, 1838, in Joseph Smith Letter Book, p. 2

Three quotes later, the following quote is listed from the same source:

“…when I came to hear Martin Harris state in public that he never saw the plates with his natural eyes only in vision or imagination, neither Oliver nor David & also that the eight witnesses never saw them & hesitated to sign that instrument for that reason, but were persuaded to do it, the last pedestal gave way, in my view our foundation was sapped & the entire superstructure fell in heap of ruins, I therefore three week since in the Stone Chapel…renounced the Book of Mormon…after we were done speaking M Harris arose & said he was sorry for any man who rejected the Book of Mormon for he knew it was true, he said he had hefted the plates repeatedly in a box with only a tablecloth or a handkerchief over them, but he never saw them only as he saw a city throught [sic] a mountain. And said that he never should have told that the testimony of the eight was false, if it had not been picked out of—–—[him/me?] but should have let it passed as it was…”
– Letter from Stephen Burnett to “Br. Johnson,” April 15, 1838, in Joseph Smith Letter Book, p. 2

The first quote is actually just a phrase taken from the second quote

The first quote is actually part of the second one, highlighted in blue:

“…when I came to hear Martin Harris state in public that he never saw the plates with his natural eyes only in vision or imagination, neither Oliver nor David & also that the eight witnesses never saw them & hesitated to sign that instrument for that reason, but were persuaded to do it, the last pedestal gave way, in my view our foundation was sapped & the entire superstructure fell in heap of ruins, I therefore three week since in the Stone Chapel…renounced the Book of Mormon…after we were done speaking M Harris arose & said he was sorry for any man who rejected the Book of Mormon for he knew it was true, he said he had hefted the plates repeatedly in a box with only a tablecloth or a handkerchief over them, but he never saw them only as he saw a city throught [sic] a mountain. And said that he never should have told that the testimony of the eight was false, if it had not been picked out of—–—[him/me?] but should have let it passed as it was…”

– Letter from Stephen Burnett to “Br. Johnson,” April 15, 1838, in Joseph Smith Letter Book, p. 2

The claim cannot be sustained when one examines the witnesses own statements

The letter claims that Martin Harris said that he, Oliver Cowdery, and David Whitmer, and all the eight witnesses had never seen the plates. But, this claim is clearly false—they insisted over and over again (in and out of the Church) that they had seen plates. Martin Harris himself insisted upon this.


Book of Mormon witnesses: Statements

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