Park's depiction of the translation of the Book of Mormon
is more accurate than most Mormons realize. It shows Joseph
Smith putting two seer stones into a hat, then burying his
face in the hat and dictating words to Martin Harris.
Church Apostle Russell M. Nelson explained the real translation
details of this miraculous method of translation are still
not fully known. Yet we do have a few precious insights.
[Oliver Cowdery's brother-in-law] David Whitmer wrote:”
‘Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into
a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely
around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness
the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something
resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared
the writing. One character at a time would appear, and
under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph
would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was
his principal scribe, and when it was written down and
repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then
it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation
would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated
by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of
man." (David Whitmer, An
Address to All Believers in Christ, 1887, p. 12.)
Elder Russell M. Nelson, A Treasured Testament, Ensign,
July 1993, 61
Smith's first wife (of
over 30 wives he had), Emma, was an eye-witness to Joseph
Smith's use of a seer stone during the transcribing of the
Book of Mormon. She testified to her son:
writing for your father I frequently wrote day after day,
often sitting at the table close by him, he sitting
with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it,
and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us."
History of the RLDS Church, 8 vols, "Last Testimony
of Sister Emma," 3:356.
according to Special Book of Mormon Witness David Whitmer
and other eye-witnesses, Joseph Smith used a seer stone
to translate the Book of Mormon.
This fact is also corroborated by Martin Harris himself,
who acted as Joseph Smith’s scribe as depicted in
the South Park Episode. Martin Harris testified to Elder
Edward Stevenson how he helped Joseph Smith dictate the
Book of Mormon. Elder Stevenson wrote:
Harris related an incident that occured during the time
that he wrote that portion of the translation of the Book
of Mormon which he was favored to write direct from the
mouth of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He said that
the Prophet possessed a seer stone, by which he was enabled
to translate as well as from the Urim and Thummim, and
for convenience he then used the seer stone, Martin explained
the translation as follows: By aid of the seer stone,
sentences would appear and were read by the Prophet and
written by Martin and when finished he would
say "Written," and if correctly written that
sentence would disappear and another appear in its place,
but if not written correctly it remained until corrected,
so that the translation was just as it was engraven on
the plates, precisely in the language then used."
- Deseret News, “One of the Three Witnesses,"
30 November 1881.
Joseph Smith used his rock-in-the-hat method of dictation,
not the Urim and Thummim which some mistakenly think today.
As a sidenote, Joseph Smith continued to
use his brown seer stone after his Book of Mormon dictation
work. He used the same seer stone to "translate"
the Book of Abraham. And several of the early revelations
recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants also came through
this seer stone medium.
given through the seer stone at the Whitmer home in Fayette,
New York, during 1829 include not only LDS Doctrine and
Covenants sections 14 through 17, but also section 18. The
headnote references, which were not added until the 1921
edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, list sections 14-17
as having been given through "Urim and Thummim,"
but David Whitmer testified that these Revelations as having
come through the same brown seer stone Smith used to translate
the Book of Mormon.
- David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in the
Book of Mormon (Richmond, MO: n.p., 1887), p. 3. Also All
Believers in Christ, p. 30.
on the Urim and Thummim and the Book of Mormon
Testimonies of the Book of Mormon Translation Process
Seer Stone Gets the Book of Abraham Wrong
- The Lost 116 Pages >>
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