Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Friday, August 07, 2015

An Old Story Gets a New Face: The Seer Stone and the Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon

Photo of the long-discussed seer stone used by Joseph Smith.
What's interesting news for many Latter-day Saints is, for some of our critics, simply earth-shattering and hopely faith-shattering for benighted Mormons. "Mormon church releases photos of ‘seer stone’ used by founder Joseph Smith" is the headline at the Salt Lake Tribune.

From the various accounts of Joseph's translation process for the Book of Mormon that have been published for many years, it has long been clear that Joseph used a seemingly ordinary rock as a "seer stone" for at least a significant portion of the translation process. See, for example, the Church's prior statement in the LDS Topics area of LDS.org entitled "Book of Mormon Translation" and Richard Lloyd Anderson's 1977 Ensign article on the topic (the Tribune says 1974, a minor error), where the mechanics of the seer stone and the hat are mentioned. Elder Russell M. Nelson also discussed this in detail in his 1993 Ensign article, "A Treasured Testament," which I highly enjoyed. As I understand it, Joseph stared at the seer stone in the darkness provided by a hat and somehow was able to dictate words hour after hour to his scribes to provide the original text of the Book of Mormon.

Was there something miraculous--something even cooler than iPad technology, for example--about this stone or the two stones in the Urim and Thummim that came with the gold plates? Did he actually see something with his physical eyes, as David Whitmer thought, or did he otherwise see or sense something in his mind? Was the real purpose of the physical stone simply to help him concentrate and receive inspiration? We really don't know.

We don't know what was going on in Joseph's mind, but we can be pretty sure what wasn't going on in the hat: he wasn't staring in the dark at a paper manuscript written by Solomon Spaulding or some mysterious team of scholars capable of plausibly describing places and even names in the Arabian Peninsula, and also capable of crafting Hebraic poetry, Hebraic puns, and awkward, even laughable English phrases that are good Semitic phrases. Of course, if there had been a carefully crafted text in the first place, why go through the hassle of spending three months dictating the text word for word? Just hand the text to the printer, or at least hand the text to a scribe to make a copy for the printer. Why add a painful three-month delay that would introduce many typos and result in a dictated text devoid of much-needed punctuation, that surely would have already been present in a real but fraudulent source manuscript?

Multiple witnesses of the process also affirm that he did not even have a Bible present, though the dictated text closely follows the KJV (though with hundreds of mostly subtle differences). It's close enough to the KJV, including parts that seem to have flaws, that many LDS people have assumed he must have had the KJV text to use when the Book of Mormon quotes the Bible, but something else may have been going on. The dictated text seems to generally use the KJV when it is close enough to the theological purposes of the Book of Mormon, not giving us the miraculous update to a perfectly translated pristine Ur-text that we would readily convince scholars today.

While the nature of the translation process is puzzling, it is clear, however, that the text was actually dictated to scribes just as they and other witnesses maintained. The surviving portions of the original manuscript make it obvious that this was an orally dictated text. That's an important part of the story in the recent release from the Church, which highlights the significance of the original text, the printer's manuscript, and the massive project to provide the papers of Joseph Smith (see JosephSmithPapers.org) and the massive work of Royal Skousen giving us the Earliest Text manuscript for the Book of Mormon.

Understanding the origins of the Book of Mormon requires careful, detailed consideration of the Earliest Text, our best estimate of the words actually dictated by Joseph. It is there we find much that was laughable in Joseph's day which has become a little more respectable upon further examination.

Regarding that text, the LDS.org statement on the translation process say this:
The manuscript that Joseph Smith dictated to Oliver Cowdery and others is known today as the original manuscript, about 28 percent of which still survives. This manuscript corroborates Joseph Smith’s statements that the manuscript was written within a short time frame and that it was dictated from another language. For example, it includes errors that suggest the scribe heard words incorrectly rather than misread words copied from another manuscript. In addition, some grammatical constructions that are more characteristic of Near Eastern languages than English appear in the original manuscript, suggesting that the base language of the translation was not English.

Unlike most dictated drafts, the original manuscript was considered by Joseph Smith to be, in substance, a final product. To assist in the publication of the book, Oliver Cowdery made a handwritten copy of the original manuscript. This copy is known today as the printer’s manuscript. Because Joseph Smith did not call for punctuation, such as periods, commas, or question marks as he dictated, such marks are not in the original manuscript. The typesetter later inserted punctuation marks when he prepared the text for the printer. With the exceptions of punctuation, formatting, other elements of typesetting, and minor adjustments required to correct copying and scribal errors, the dictation copy became the text of the first printed edition of the book.
Elder Nelson's article on the the Book of Mormon goes on to discuss its Hebraisms and bad grammar in English that shows Semitic origins, and even cites the story of Sami Hanna, a neighbor and close friend of his, who was convinced of the ancient authenticity of the Book of Mormon's text after translating it into Arabic. (Brother Hanna gave a powerful fireside on his experience in my ward when I was a teenager that my mother still talks about to this day. Sadly, I skipped it. One of my regrets in life.)

Among the example of the laughable content in the original Book of Mormon, consider a section from a learned critic of the Book of Mormon, Martin T. Lamb, in his 1901 work, The Mormons and their Bible:

His first example is still with us in the current printing of the Book of Mormon, while the second example has long-since been corrected to more conventional English.

His objection to someone "being stabbed ... by a garb of secrecy" is readily resolved by considering the Hebrew origins of the text. John Tvedtnes explains:
In Helaman 9:6, we read that the Nephite judge had been “stabbed by his brother by a garb of secrecy.” Critics have contended that this makes no sense in English, since “garb” has the same meaning as “garment” or “clothing.” This idiom is the same as the English “under cloak of secrecy.”[iii] But what is most interesting is that the Hebrew word begged means both “garment” or “garb” (e.g., Genesis 39:12-13) and “treachery.”[iv] This is an obvious word-play in the Hebrew original of the Book of Mormon. As for the preposition “by,” in Hebrew its range of meaning includes “in,” (locative), “with” or “by means of” (instrumental).
This kind of thing is found on page after page of the Book of Mormon. Names, word usage, and grammar that is objectionable to learned critics turns out to be plausible or even to offer serious evidence for ancient authenticity far beyond the ability of Joseph Smith to fabricate.

But Lamb's second example is the really hilarious one from Alma 46:19 that he relishes at length. Joseph was such a clod that he didn't realize that once you "rend" a garment, you can't "wave the rent of the garment in the air" and you can't "write upon the rent." How utterly stupid, eh? No wonder it was later changed in 1906 to indicate that that Moroni waived "the rent part" of the garment. Funny thing, though, is that this expression reflects pretty accurate Hebrew. John Tvedtnes explains in BYU Studies, Vol. 11, No. 1 (Autumn 1970), p. 50 :
[In] the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, we read that "when Moroni had said these words, he went forth among the people, waving the rent of his garment in the air." (p. 351.) When the word "rent" is used as a noun in English, it may refer to a hole caused by rending, but not, to my knowledge, to a portion of rent cloth; the unlikely usage of "rent" in English as a noun no doubt contributed to the fact that, in subsequent editions of the Book of Mormon, it was changed to read "rent part" (Alma 46:19). But the Hebrews would, in this instance, use but one word, qera', "rent (part)," coming from qara', "he rent, tore," for nouns, in Hebrews, are derived from roots--as are Hebrews verbs--by the addition of certain vowel patterns that distinguish them from other parts of speech.
The original text has numerous such "flaws" which reflect its Semitic origins that "leaked" through the translation process, indicative of some level of "tight control" in the generation of the text that Joseph dictated. Understanding them helps us appreciate the nature of the dictated text.

But what of the awkward "had wrote" in Alma 46:19, which has since been corrected to "had written" to give it a more standard modern English form? Had wrote--isn't that just uneducated dialect? The issue is related to the very similar problem of "had smote" in the original text of the Book of Mormon that is discussed by Dr. Stanford Carmack in "A Look at Some “Nonstandard” Book of Mormon Grammar," Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 11 (2014): 209-262:
Next we consider I had smote. To many of us, smote seems to be a past-tense verb form defectively used in a pluperfect construction. The KJV doesn’t use smote in this way. From [Page 219]the perspective of that important biblical text, past-participial smote is a grammatical error; it seems like smitten should have been used in 1 Nephi 4:19 (and in Alma 17:39; 20:30; 26:29; 51:20; Ether 15:31). Indeed, in the latest LDS edition there is only standardized smitten in these contexts, a clear reflection of that view. But smote is specifically noted in the OED as functioning as a past participle for centuries in English, beginning in the 16th century. The OED contains about 10 examples of this usage. Here are two representative quotations from that dictionary, one with smote used in the passive voice,24 one with smote used in the active voice:
1597 Beard Theatre God’s Judgm. (1612) 309 He caused..the Citie of the Priests to be smote with the edge of the sword. 1658 Manton Exp. Jude verse 3. Wks. 1871 V. 98 The goose-quill hath smote antichrist under the fifth rib.25
As a result, we are justified in thinking that smote is the correctly translated word.
That conclusion is based on the thesis that Early Modern English is actually in the Book of Mormon as originally dictated, which I'll mention in a moment. First let me point out that a search of "had wrote" and "hath wrote" shows that this non-standard usage for our days also has deep roots in written English, suggesting that like its "hath smote" cousin, was not non-standard in the past. E.g., Shakespeare's 1608 King Lear has a "hath wrote." Other texts using it date to 1588, for example.  But why would we care about Early Modern English and think it has anything to do with the 19th century translation of the Book of Mormon?

In my opinion, a whole new level of rich data to explore has been opened up in Royal Skousen's careful work pointing to unusual elements in the dictated text that show numerous features of archaic English that actually cannot be obtained by simply imitating the King James Bible. Beyond the Hebraisms of the text, a controversial and somewhat shocking, even troubling discovery, something that should be much more interesting than the appearance of the seer stone, is the finding that much of the awkward grammar of the Book of Mormon, long thought to just reflect Joseph's poor education, is not so much bad modern English as it is good Early Modern English (EModE), often reflecting an era in the language slightly before the King James Bible.

This finding from Royal Skousen, who understands the original text of the Book of Mormon better than any other scholar today, coupled with heavy additional analysis from a linguist, Dr. Stanford Carmack, has been the subject of several posts here at Mormanity with some further analysis and exploration of my own. What it means and how it happened is the subject of ongoing speculation and debate, but it's something that demands attention for anyone interested in understanding how the translation took place and what it actually is. They suggest that their work buttresses the case that the dictated text had some level of tight control. It at least seems that something was going on that simply cannot be explained by Joseph fabricating the text himself or just making stuff up as he dictated hour after hour. That's part of the real story here and it's a story that is just getting started as we explore the data. Not sure where it will lead and if it will withstand more detailed investigation, but I look forward to learning more.

In any case, the stone is a blank slate for us, while the dictated text offers a treasure trove of information remaining to be dug out.


James Anglin said...

So 'begged' means both 'garment' and 'treachery', while some Hebrew preposition can mean 'in' as well as 'by'. And it's grammatical in Hebrew to omit 'part' in 'rent part'. Okay. This helps me understand how a native Hebrew speaker with weak English might produce those awkward Book of Mormon phrases.

But we're not talking, here, about unusual English that cleverly captures some important Hebrew nuance. We're talking about a flatly wrong English 'by' that should have been 'in', an omitted 'part', and an English idiom getting messed up for the sake of a Hebrew pun which tells nothing that isn't obvious in context anyway.

So why would God, who is presumably fluent in English, inspire Joseph Smith with such bad English translation? If the point was just to give some flavor of the original Hebrew, why not just inspire Smith to record a bit of the original Hebrew? Or leave us some of the plates? So the theory that these awkward phrases reveal a semitic source text seems to raise bigger questions than it answers. It doesn't seem to be consistent with the larger-scale Mormon theory that the Book of Mormon was produced by miraculous translation.

The alternative theory is that Smith just misspoke, and that it's a lot easier to invent Hebrew excuses for bad English than you might think it would be, because you're allowed to imagine any of the many different kinds of translation errors that are possible between such different languages. This theory is consistent with the larger-scale skeptical theory that the Book of Mormon was produced by competent but imperfect fraud.

Anonymous said...

Because Joseph was using the light of his own understanding. For example when he wrote about cureloms and cumoms.

Anonymous said...

It is earth shattering for members as well. Family members have been shaken by this thing. Two obscure references are hardly evidence that we should have known about it all along. Add youth and new converts to the mix, and you've got a seismic shift, like it or not.

Anonymous said...

Scrying, seer stones, talking animals, Prophets behaving badly, Apostles arguing with one another, Apostles not wanting to teach certain peoples, mysticism in early Judaism and early Christianity, spitting on people to heal them......all in the Bible. Atheists make good arguments for the Bible being nothing but fairy tales and myths, yet people believe.

Smith did not know about Hebrasims and chiasmus. If he had known then he might not have tried to make the text easier to read, because it was clumsy text for an English reader.
I took many levels of English classes at university and never was chiasmus taught. So if people in the 20th-21st century are not taught this, at university, then how did Smith know.
All theories are weak.

A critic alleges the plates were made from pure tin. Pure tin is powder. Ooops! Anyway, if Smith bought 60 pounds of tin, where did the money come from? Oh, right. He hypnotized everyone to do his bidding.

Why did people in Smith's day not ever mention Smith made tin plates. 60 pounds of tin is a lot of material. Someone would have talked.
Especially when E.D. Howe was going around the country side trying to get evidence to prove Smith a fraud.
Painting tin to look like gold metal would not have looked authentic for lack of quality of paint available. Plus the witnesses would have recognized if the plates were tin. Oh, right again. Smith hypnotized everyone so they would not have noticed the tin.

And it is just a coincidence that ancient metal plates (gold, copper, silver, alloys) with writings, some buried in stone boxes (stone boxes exactly like Smith described) have been discovered. Completely unknown in Smith's day.

How the heck did he come up with the idea then? I have never seen a logical, rational answer.

Anonymous said...

Ironic that you would point to the witnesses of the translation as a verification because, in this disclosure of the actual stone, we, once again, see the anonymous Ensign at the center,. Not prophets, seers and revelators. Nor do they even have a statement to make regarding this shattering piece of evidence. They are mute just when their special anointing might be of great use.

When does "faith" become willful delusion?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 1:24: consider for a moment that there were no plates. Maybe the witnesses, who admit to only seeing with "spiritual eyes" and who were all either related or financially invested in the success of the publishing of the book, maybe they were in on it. Maybe it was a scam. Maybe the rock in the hat was a faint. Maybe he was a charlatan and a huckster. The simplest answer is often the truth. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, and after nearly 200 year, the only extraordinary thing is that people are willing to swallow this stuff.
On a side note, Jeff, what happened to your supporters? So few people rally to your side on this blog anymore. Why do you keep this up?

Anonymous said...

It's this the same rock he used to find buried treasure? We're people not paying him for this service?
It's one thing to be a charlatan and then change your ways, I mean we're all sinners. But the fact he continued with his magic rock even to the point of saying it was a tool to receive messages from God makes one wonder

Anonymous said...

Anglin: It isn't Joseph Smith's translation. He read revealed words.

Garb is an interesting word with several old meanings. I don't think the contextual meaning has been clearly analyzed. It's possible that Tvedtnes and Bokovoy are wrong on this. These are the only times either garb or secrecy are found in the text. These could have old English meanings were not familiar with. This phrase could mean 'outward show of trust/confidence' or something else different from 'under cloak of secrecy'. The killer could have conned his brother in order to kill him.

smodged face, counterfeit haire, uncomely habit, and in her behaviour to put on such a garbe of folly as might rather breed loathing than any liking in his maiestie.

The Scots naturally, by long converse, affecting the French Vanity, drew on a Garb of Gallantry

this is a piece of spiritual pride of Lucifer’s own inscribing, an imperious majestick garb of impiety, a triumphant or processionary pomp, an affected stately gate in sin;

from Blasphemy, which was directly incumbent on you, you tell the Reader, with a great garb of Gravity, that I speak Blasphemy my self, Blasphemy against God and his Holy Word;

the greatest Censors of Pride, yet they were certainly most haughty, and under the very Garb of Humility there lurked an intolerable Arrogance.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:30 AM

The Ensign articles aren't anonymous, one was written by Richard Anderson and the other by Elder Nelson. I also don't find any of this scandalous but rather interesting because I have never seen the Seer Stone before. The fact that Joseph Smith used a seer stone isn't new. In fact, there was an Ensign article written about it in 1974 by Richard Anderson. Also, the translation process isn't anything new and has been known for a long time (ever since I can remember). Elder Nelson wrote an Ensign article in 1993. Isn't Elder Nelson part of the quorum of the twelve? Isn't he one of the people that you want to hear from?

So, I don't know what you find disturbing that requires statements from members of the twelve to address. Could you clarify what is upsetting?


everythingbeforeus said...

If everyone has known all along that Joseph Smith used the stone, and not the plates, why in official church movies is Smith shown with his finger on the plates, as if he is reading the words? I've had the brief opportunity to work with a church film crew once. And I also studied art for a time at BYU and heard lectures from faculty about working with the church's committee to change the font of the church back in the mid-90s. Nothing, and I mean nothing gets by the committees. The director of the film crew said the committee balked at a certain shot because a man had a moustache on his face! They had to digitally remove the moustache before proceeding. If you see something in a church movie, it is because they wanted it that way.

The church wanted the portrayal of the translation process to look the way it does in the movie. Why? When they knew all along that this was erroneous? Why not show the stone in the hat?

So, someone here, please explain why they would intentionally show a wrong portrayal of the translation process?

Kevin Woodward said...

From my various readings on the translation process it appears Joseph Smith had growth stages in using the interpreters (Urim and Thummim and/or seer stones). He just didn't stick to one style the whole way through. I would use the analogy of learning to ride a bike which starts with training wheels.

Basically the Urim and Thummim were the training wheels he started out with to do the translation. I've read he didn't like using the U&T due to the fact the "spectacles" were a little wider set than his own eyes, making it uncomfortable over long periods. He dictated over 270,000+ words in only 3 months (approx. 3,000-4000 words/day) and I gather it would be stressing on the eyes. Now the U&T were taken away with the plates when he lost the 116 pages and I don't know if I recall reading that he ever received the U&T back but at this point I think he continued on with a seer stone since the same principle of translation by revelation is at work here. It was less cumbersome than using the spectacles and hiding the ambient light in order to focus seems more practical in my opinion (though more inconvenient if he was using a manuscript in the hat. /sarcasm).

I think the devices were a "focus" if you will to achieve the state of mind to receive the revelation and don't think the devices themselves had any inherent spiritual power (maybe consecrated for the purpose?).

Later on training wheels are off and he just dictated the Book of Mormon since he was accustomed to the process and did not need a "focus" while the plates lay wrapped on a table nearby.

Now take into account in this 3 month period that Joseph was newly wed and going from home to home to finish the translation(since people were after the plates since it was found out he had them or could not support him long in the endeavor). These circumstances I would suspect could drive someone to get better at the translation process and lose the "training wheels".

Now the Church has to pick a simple way of portraying this translation process to children and new members. So they pick one of the ways of many (or even combine them) that he did it and that's a problem? I don't think so. And if people seek more info about it they can go find it or ask in church. My bishop would give me options to find info but would put the main responsibility on my shoulders which I really did appreciate since it drove me to really study things out on my own and not rely solely on other people's word.

I hope that gives a different perspective on the translation process and hope it was helpful.

Orbiting Kolob said...

But what of the awkward "had wrote" in Alma 46:19....

Jeff, I honestly don't understand why you're bringing this one up. By Joseph Smith's time, had wrote might not have been common, but it was obviously still in use in the printed matter of his time (and probably also in spoken discourse -- I found one example of its appearance in a transcript of a court deposition).

You yourself found an example of "hath wrote" in Shakespeare, whose works were among the most frequently read and performed in Smith's America. A quick search turns up several more instances in works published in the 1800s. Since the question is whether the phrase was part of Smith's (or Cowdery's or whomever's) linguistic environment, had wrote is a non-starter.

All it tells us is that the BoM uses a construction present in both 19th-C English and EModE.

So why would you even mention it? I don't get it. It seems to me that we've gone beyond the idea that "the BoM contains EModE that could not have been known to Smith," to "the BoM contains language still in occasional 19th-C use that has roots in EModE." But of course most of modern English has "roots in" EModE!

Everyone: Please note that many (all?) of the supposed EModE constructions now being touted by LDS apologists were not unique to EModE and wholly unavailable to Smith; they were also at least occasionally present in material published in Smith's time and place. This is why the apologists are so often forced to argue on the basis of the frequency of their use in the BoM rather than the mere fact of their use.

That is, in many cases, instead of getting arguments like this...

X could not have been known to Smith, yet it is used in the BoM; ergo Smith cannot be the author

...we get arguments like this:

X was occasionally used in Smith's time, yet the BoM uses it with a frequency that resembles EModE more closely than 19th-C English; ergo Smith cannot be the author.

I think this is a weaker kind of argument. Why? For one thing, the widely accepted secular hypothesis holds that Smith was trying to sound archaic. One good way of doing so would be to use a lot of phrases that were still present in his language but on their way to becoming archaic. To use such phrases in the BoM with the same frequency as they were used in ordinary 19th-C discourse would not do the job; to create an archaic sound, the author would have to use them with greater frequency.

In other words, the secular hypothesis actually predicts one of Carmack's results!

The divine translation does not predict such a result.

Let me repeat that: The divine translation does NOT predict such a result.

Here's the orthodox LDS hypothesis: With the divine assistance of an Urim and Thummim and a rock dug up from a well, Joseph Smith translated a Hebrew text, recorded in Reformed Egyptian by expatriate Jews in America between 600 BCE and 400 CE, into the English text recovered by Skousen.

Is there anything at all in this idea predicting that said text will contain an odd mixture of modern English, KJV English, EModE, and even a bit of of Middle English?


Secular Hypthesis 1, Orthodox Hypothesis 0.

Jeff, you do know that you can still be a good Mormon -- and a good husband and father and citizen -- without believing in the ancientness of the Book of Mormon, right? Accepting the reality of BoM origins here will not be the end of the world.

Anonymous said...

Orbiting, there's a lot of language in the text that wasn't in use in the 19c. Sorry to have to break that to you. "The more part of X" is one (23x). See Holinshed's Chronicles for some examples. The Book of Mormon also has "a more part of" once, which you can find in Fabyan's Chronicle and is rare, and the "the more parts of" twice (with the same obs. meaning of "more" = 'greater'), which was uncommon but can be found long ago.

Tight control hypothesis 1, Secular hypothesis 0.

Orbiting Kolob said...

Um, Anon 10:44, I just did a quick Google search that immediately turned up many books that use "the more part of X" and were published in the 19th century -- including an edition of Holinshed's Chronicles published in 1808.

Remember, it's not enough that a linguistic construction be obsolete by JS's time. In order to count as evidence for the authenticity of the BoM, it must have been both obsolete and unavailable to a 19th-century writer. "The more part of X" was obviously still circulating in printed matter in JS's time. (It might also, of course, have been part of a nonstandard local spoken dialect as well. That has not yet been ruled out.)

Touchdown recalled for a logical offside.

Anonymous said...

Zero evidence of dialectal maintenance. Google hits of "the more part of X" are mostly reprinted British legal language from the Elizabethan era. It was mainly a 1500s phrase, dying out in the 1600s. So JS was familiar with old British legal language? Or did he read Holinshed's Chronicles? The odds of either one are exceedingly low. This item is just one of many.

Anonymous said...

Do you see the rabbit hole you're going down? JS could have read Isaac Barrow's Treatise of the Pope's Supremacy and gotten the idea to use a lot of did. Or he might have studied Spenser's Faerie Queene. He could have studied Caxton's Golden Legend and learned how to construct the BoM's command and causative syntax. Add 'em to his library, and declare JS to be a master of old literature.

Mormography said...

Mormanity usually parrots his fellow iconoclast Daniel Peterson in expressing annoyance with harsher iconoclasts that scour a handful of references out of an abundance to skew the picture. Here Mormanity parrots FAIR by citing their exhaustive search of millions of references where in FAIR found only two that contradict the millions.

As 12:55 AM, August 08, 2015 Anonymous said “Two obscure references are hardly evidence that we should have known about it all along.”

Mormanity’s conversion of two little-known references into “it has long been clear” goes way too far. To say they are perverted definitions of “long” and “clear” is much too kind. “it has long been clear” is nothing more than a bold faced lie. The fact that this is the first announcement the Church is in possession of the stone and the first public viewing of it makes the lie self-evident.

If “it has long been clear” was true, that would mean that Mormanity taught his children that the gold plates existence were irrelevant to the Book of Mormon’s production. No one would believe Mormanity if you he tried to claim he taught his children all about this when they were little. Are we supposed to believe that Mormanity taught his children that what his children’s fellow Mormon classmates thought were sacred religious relics, may have been nothing more than a confidence trick to help a person concentrate?!?

The only difference between excommunicated iconoclast such as John Dehlin and iconoclast such as Mormanity is the willingness to engage in willful lying. Mormanity makes statements clearly, clearly indicating he is not a believer. Misery loves company?

Mormography said...

The Brother Jake (B Jake) has an excellent compilation of this topic and corresponding arguments Mormanity uses. When B Jake lines up all of Mormanity's arguments next to each other silliness becomes self-evident.

Mormography said...

Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3:225–26:

While the statement has been made by some writers that the Prophet Joseph Smith used a seer stone part of the time in his translating of the record, and information points to the fact that he did have in his possession such a stone, yet there is no authentic statement in the history of the Church which states that the use of such a stone was made in that translation. The information is all hearsay, and personally, I do not believe that this stone was used for this purpose. The reason I give for this conclusion is found in the statement of the Lord to the Brother of Jared as recorded in Ether 3:22–24. These stones, the Urim and Thummim which were given to the Brother of Jared, were preserved for this very purpose of translating the record, both of the Jaredites and the Nephites. Then again the Prophet was impressed by Moroni with the fact that these stones were given for that very purpose. It hardly seems reasonable to suppose that the Prophet would substitute something evidently inferior under these circumstances. It may have been so, but it is so easy for a story of this kind to be circulated due to the fact that the Prophet did possess a seer stone, which he may have used for some other purposes.