In this article I am going to start going through various elements of the book of Mormon. Looking at the historical and evidential background to the book of Mormon, as well as if what the LDS church teaches today is the same story that history represents as to how the book of Mormon came to be.
Let me give a bit of a disclaimer in that I am no scholar so I am borrowing heavily from other sources particularly http://www.utlm.org and the book “An Insiders view of Mormon Origins” by Grant Palmer, I would really recommend you look at both of those for much better and more detailed explanations of all this, however if I misquote something or say something that you can show to be false, not simply something you disagree with then please let me know and I will happily make appropriate changes.
However the information I give will be sourced and is worth consideration, by all means don’t accept these things because I say them, I simply want to promote dialogue and help LDS people see some of the issues that the church will rarely if ever present itself.
So a quick bit of background is the LDS belief that when Joseph Smith prayed which church to join God the Father and Jesus appeared to Him stating all the churches are wrong and to join none of them. After this Smith started getting visitations from an angel called Moroni, as time went on Moroni told Smith of some gold plates containing the records of ancient civilizations that came from Jerusalem to America. Moroni eventually showed Smith where these plates were and Smith then translated these plates into the book of Mormon. This is quite a cut down version but is just some background to the following information.
LDS Scripture Doctrine and Covenants 20:8-10 says this
Joseph Smith, Jr., founder and prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, said that he used interpreters in order to translate the Book of Mormon from the Golden Plates. The interpreters he described as a pair of stones, fastened to a breastplate joined in a form similar to that of a large pair of spectacles. Smith later referred to this object as the Urim and Thummim. In 1823, Smith said that the angel Moroni, who had told him about the Golden Plates, also told him about the Urim and Thummim, “two stones in silver bows” fastened to a breastplate, and the angel intimated that they had been prepared by God to aid in the translation of the Golden Plates. Smith’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith, described these Urim and Thummim as being like “two smooth three-cornered diamonds.”
Smith also said he used these devices to assist him in receiving other divine revelations, including some of the sections of the Doctrine and Covenants and portions of the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. Although many of Smith’s associates said they saw him use the devices, only Oliver Cowdery seems to have attempted to use them to receive his own revelation. Latter Day Saints believe that Smith’s Urim and Thummim were functionally identical to the biblical Urim and Thummim. Previously, it was thought that there was no evidence that the latter were ever used to translate unknown texts. However, Dr. Cornelis Van Dam of the Theological Colleges of the Canadian Reformed Churches recently published a book titled The Urim and Thummim: A Means of Revelation in Ancient Israel, in which he examines a new possible role of these ancient Israelite objects. Van Dam puts forth the idea that the Urim and Thummim were actually used in ancient Israel as a means of receiving revelation from God.
Smith extends the use of the term “Urim and Thummim” to describe the dwelling place of God, the earth in a future state, and the white stone mentioned in the Book of Revelation. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urim_and_Thummim)
When Smith was given these plates along with a Urim and Thummim He then by the power of God (meaning with no knowledge of Egyptian) translated the Reformed Egyptian Gold plates using the Urim and Thummim, dictating to various people but mostly Oliver Cowdery with a sheet between so people could not see the plates Smith was translating from.
So Firstly in understanding the Historical background to the above it is helpful to understand something of Joseph Smith’s background,
Joseph Smith’ occupation early in life was Money Digging In Fawn Brodies biography of Smith “No man knows My History” She writes this:
Joseph’s money-digging began in earnest with this discovery of a “seer stone” when he was digging a well for Mason Chase. Martin Harris stated that it came from twenty-four feet under-ground, and Joseph Capron testified that Joseph could see wondrous sights in it, “ghosts, infernal spirits, mountains of gold and silver.” Joseph’s wife once described this stone as “not exactly black but rather dark in colour,” though she admitted to non of the early uses to which it was put. (Letter from Emma Smith to Mrs Pilgrim, Nauvoo Illinois March 27, 1871, in the RLDS archives)
Additionally in 1826 Smith was tried in court and found guilty of being a Disorderly Person and an imposter, please go to this site (http://www.utlm.org/newsletters/no68.htm#JOSEPH%20SMITH%20GUILTY) for the full story on this (too long to quote here)
In this court case Joseph Smith denied spending all his time looking for mines however admitted that “he had a certain stone which he had occasionally looked at to determine where hidden treasures in the bowels of the earth were;” (see website quoted above)
The purpose of this article is to show from Historical sources that Joseph Smith’s activity in Money digging and occult practices carried on in the process of bringing about the book of Mormon, and that the Urim and Thummim the LDS church talks about today are actually Occult Seer Stones that Smith used to create the book of Mormon without any gold plates even being present in the dictation process.
Consider this Image below
For a time Emma Smith acted as her husbands scribe. She said that she recieved dictation from him as he sat “with his face buried in his hat…hour after hour with nothing between us. (Last testimony of Sister Emma”. Saints Herald, 1 Oct. 1879, 290.
In 1834 Emma’s father, Isaac Hale, gave a similar description of the translation process:. . .
I went to the house where Joseph Smith Jr., lived, and where he and Harris were engaged in their translation of the Book. . . . I told them then, that I considered the whole of it a delusion, and advised them to abandon it. The manner in which he [Smith] 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! (Isaac Hale Statement, Early Mormon Documents, vol. 4, p. 287)
David Whitmer frankly admitted that he never did see Joseph Smith use what was later known as the Urim and Thummim (the two stones set in silver bows). This information is found in an article in the Saints’ Herald:
According to the testimony of Emma Smith and David Whitmer, the angel took the Urim and Thummim from Joseph Smith at the time of the loss of the 116 pages. This was in June 1828, one year before David became involved with the work of translation. David Whitmer could never have been present when the Urim and Thummim were used. All of this he clearly states in his testimony to Brother Traughber:
LaMar Petersen, author and historian, observed:
The church has always been strongly committed to the belief that Joseph translated directly from the plates, but at least one modern LDS scholar, Nels L. Nelson, a professor at Brigham Young University, concluded otherwise: “Joseph Smith did not look directly at the plates while translating. In fact the plates, while they were in the possession of the Prophet, were probably not immediately at hand with him during most of the translation” (The Creation of the Book of Mormon: A Historical Inquiry, by LaMar Petersen, Freethinker Press, 2000, p. 96).
So where were the plates?
Martin Harris one of the 3 witnesses claiming to have seen the gold plates (more on this later) said the plates were hid in the woods while they were being translated. (Interview by John Clark in 1828 In the Episcopal recorder, quoted in Early Mormon Documents)
David Whitmer who observed the dication process said Joseph “did not use the plates in the translation” (Mormonism, Kansas city daily journal 5 June 1881) and Whitmer also stated that Joseph used a seer stone placed in his hat. (Van Wagoner and Walker, “The Gift of Seeing,” 51-52)
The more I look into the background of this the more clear it seems that Smith carried on his interest in seer stones as from his digging for magic items in his process of translating the book of Mormon.
What is a seer stone?
This stone can be used to access past, present and the future. Imagine yourself as this beautiful stone because that is what you are beautiful. All people see is the outside of us, basing their opinion on what they can see and not what lies beneath. If people took the time to look at us differently they would find someone very special. As you look inside a seer stone you find yourself looking at what’s inside the quartz surrounding these trapped gems. I bet as you looked at these pictures you were drawn deep inside admiring the beauty within rather than the beauty on the outside. Strange don’t you think two striking individual objects special in their own way looked at in two complete different ways? Now imagine if the people we met could see what lies deep inside us. All that magic, our thoughts, our love, the way we care, our cute ways, what makes us laugh, our dreams and most importantly the complete you. (http://www.crystalbear.com/page18.htm)
The book of Mormon comes from this, Joseph Smith having his face in a hat looking at a seer stone (or a Urim and Thummim as called today), dictating what he saw. Joseph Smith carried on what he knew, which was occult practices previously used for finding money that he already had been to court and found guilty of being an impostor for, He used to bring about the Book of Mormon.
To Mormons reading this I would urge you look up what I have said, I have barely scratched the surface of all of the information out there on this subject, please go to http://www.utlm.org and you will find hours worth of reading material full of sources backing up what I have said.
However this still leaves a question, where did Joseph Smith get the book of Mormon from? How could he have made it all up?
Mormon Missionaries will always ask you how could a young relatively uneducated boy like Joseph Smith make up the book of Mormon? I would concede far enough to say I dont think he did make it all up, but more on that in my next article.