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Mighty Curelom

The lost 116 pages

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A quick summary: Martin Harris's wife was skeptical about Joseph's work, and wasn't too keen about Martin spending all his time and money on the project. After repeated requests by Harris to show his wife the fruits of his and Joseph's labor, Joseph finally relents. He gives Harris the entire narrative up to that point, a total of 116 pages, to show to Lucy Harris in the hope that she will come around. She doesn't. Some say she destroyed the manuscript; others say she hid it.

Joseph is devestated by the news. "All is lost! All is lost!" he cries when he hears what has happened. The translation work ceases.

Several months pass, and Joseph receives a revelation. He should not retranslate the same portion as before, but instead translate a different portion that turns out ot be a summary of the lost portion. If Joseph were to retranslate the original 116 pages, his enemies would alter the pages they stole to make it look like Joseph was a liar, and only pretending to translate.

This seems reasonable, right? Well, let's think about this for a moment. Let's say Joseph DID retranslate the original 116 pages. And let's say his enemies attempted to do what Joseph feared; that is, alter their copy to make it look like Smith was a fraud. But how would they do this? If they actually attempted to enact this scheme, their own copy would come under intense scrutiny. It would then be discovered that their copy was altered, since no alteration would be undetectable. Even if they rewrote the entire ms, they wouldn't be able to perfectly match Harris's handwriting.

The result would be that Joseph's enemies would be exposed as the fraud; not Joseph. Joseph would have been vindicated, and his translation powers proven definitively.

It's a shame Smith didn't take this opportunity to silence his critics.

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Well...are you a believing LDS or not? If you are:

http://scriptures.lds.org/dc/10

11 And behold, I say unto you, that because they have altered the words, they read contrary from that which you translated and caused to be written;

12 And, on this wise, the devil has sought to lay a cunning plan, that he may destroy this work;

13 For he hath put into their hearts to do this, that by lying they may say they have caught you in the words which you have pretended to translate.

14 Verily, I say unto you, that I will not suffer that Satan shall accomplish his evil design in this thing.

15 For behold, he has put it into their hearts to get thee to tempt the Lord thy God, in asking to translate it over again.

16 And then, behold, they say and think in their hearts—We will see if God has given him power to translate; if so, he will also give him power again;

17 And if God giveth him power again, or if he translates again, or, in other words, if he bringeth forth the same words, behold, we have the same with us, and we have altered them;

18 Therefore they will not agree, and we will say that he has lied in his words, and that he has no gift, and that he has no power;

...you need no other answer, because that is what would have happened.

Otherwise, I guess there's no way to tell. We don't know what the exact plans were.

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Your theory has occurred to me, as well.

But apparently Joseph's fear was that he would not reproduce the 116 pages word for word to everyone's satisfaction, and his enemies would then produce the original to show that he had failed, to show that he was not a prophet.

Probably Joseph's detractors would have trusted the alterers of the 116 pages over his own second effort...

Final note: The 116 pages must surely have been destroyed, else SOMEONE would have produced it, just for the curiosity value if nothing else.

(Of course, there have been many attempts to reproduce the 116 pages by various self-proclaimed prophets. Usually not very good.)

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Hi,

I doubt any persons involved in the conspiracy would voluntarily submit the original for study. The thing would have done damage. Nobody would have been able to study it. Who had the qualification to do such a study? Who would have paid for the study? What if a dishonest party in the press became party to the conspiracy? The only way their copy would come under scrutiny would have been if Joseph Smith had friends in the press with access to both manuscripts. If he had no friends in the press with access to the original then it's doubtful Joseph Smith right as he was to have won.

The Lords plan worked in scaring them off from their plan. Why would the Lord have to rely on untrustworthy persons to discredit the scheme?

Sincerely,

Dale

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Did that "SouthPark" episode of all about Mormons reair this week?:P

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Beowulf,

But apparently Joseph's fear was that he would not reproduce the 116 pages word for word to everyone's satisfaction, and his enemies would then produce the original to show that he had failed, to show that he was not a prophet.

Of course, that is not what the revelation says. It clearly puts the blame for any inconsistencies on JS

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As I originally heard it, the challenge was, if it was really from God, it should match word per word. Didn't God trust that people could see past a the forgery of an altered document? A full 116 pages would seem impossible to forge.

I am not trying to second guess God, just trying to understand his reasoning.

Since it never surfaced, did she destroy it?

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If it were a "loose" translation, Joseph's ability to redictate it word-for-word would be totally irrelevant.

So, perhaps the question is:

Why didn't Joseph take a minute to explain that he was using his own words, that the "test" these men had concocted was flawed, and then retranslat the same passages? Certainly, the believers would have taken Joseph's word for it, and Lucy and co. would have been back to square 1 (and the first of a long line of critics to find themselves playing whack-a-mole).

But instead, we have Moroni preparing an alternate set of plates (miraculously covering the exact material to be lost hundreds of years later), carting them thousands of miles to bury them, revealing them to Joseph, who is then pestered by Martin Harris at the exact moment they reach the spot where the "back up" record ends, to the point that the manuscript is lost and Joseph has to translate the alternate record because he decides not to tell everyone that he isn't doing a "tight" (or word-for-word) translation in the first place, so they fear the "altered" manuscript will be produced to prove what, ironically, modern LDS scholars argue for to explain other problematic areas of the Book of Mormon.

Occam's razor indeed.

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But apparently Joseph's fear was that he would not reproduce the 116 pages word for word to everyone's satisfaction, and his enemies would then produce the original to show that he had failed, to show that he was not a prophet.

When did JS state that he 'feared' being unable to retranslate the 116 pages???

I think, rather, that it clearly states that the Lord forbad him from doing so - it was not JS's decision.

Probably Joseph's detractors would have trusted the alterers of the 116 pages over his own second effort...

I agree.

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A quick summary: Martin Harris's wife was skeptical about Joseph's work, and wasn't too keen about Martin spending all his time and money on the project. After repeated requests by Harris to show his wife the fruits of his and Joseph's labor, Joseph finally relents. He gives Harris the entire narrative up to that point, a total of 116 pages, to show to Lucy Harris in the hope that she will come around. She doesn't. Some say she destroyed the manuscript; others say she hid it.

Joseph is devestated by the news. "All is lost! All is lost!" he cries when he hears what has happened. The translation work ceases.

Several months pass, and Joseph receives a revelation. He should not retranslate the same portion as before, but instead translate a different portion that turns out ot be a summary of the lost portion. If Joseph were to retranslate the original 116 pages, his enemies would alter the pages they stole to make it look like Joseph was a liar, and only pretending to translate.

This seems reasonable, right? Well, let's think about this for a moment. Let's say Joseph DID retranslate the original 116 pages. And let's say his enemies attempted to do what Joseph feared; that is, alter their copy to make it look like Smith was a fraud. But how would they do this? If they actually attempted to enact this scheme, their own copy would come under intense scrutiny. It would then be discovered that their copy was altered, since no alteration would be undetectable. Even if they rewrote the entire ms, they wouldn't be able to perfectly match Harris's handwriting.

The result would be that Joseph's enemies would be exposed as the fraud; not Joseph. Joseph would have been vindicated, and his translation powers proven definitively.

It's a shame Smith didn't take this opportunity to silence his critics.

In what way would the copy presented by Josephs enemies come under "intense scrutiny"? Take a look at the type of things that the early Church had to endure. Rapes, murders, mass lynchings, towns destroyed, robbings, etc. Did anyone ever really come under "intense scrutiny" for any of those actions?

Answer (drum roll please ... ) NO. It was just simply accepted as the matter of course for thsoe days. Look at what happened at Haun's Mill and other places. Look at the Extermination Order by Gov. Boggs (the last which was a law of the land for over 100 years after it was enacted - and only within the last two years or so was an official apology given from the Missouri Govenor).

In light of all of these events, do you really think that it is remotely possible that by the standards of that day, Joseph would have gotten a fair shake at trying to prove his claims? He was martyred for his beliefs, for goodness sake.

Try to be a little realistic in the scenarios.

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The Lords plan worked in scaring them off from their plan. Why would the Lord have to rely on untrustworthy persons to discredit the scheme?

If you would, please, expand on this for me. I'm not sure the point you are trying to get across with this statement.

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Of course, that is not what the revelation says. It clearly puts the blame for any inconsistencies on JS

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Since it never surfaced, did she destroy it?

:P

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But instead, we have Moroni preparing an alternate set of plates (miraculously covering the exact material to be lost hundreds of years later), carting them thousands of miles to bury them, revealing them to Joseph, who is then pestered by Martin Harris at the exact moment they reach the spot where the "back up" record ends, to the point that the manuscript is lost...

Cool how the Lord can see all time - past, present, and future - and has his servants act accordingly...

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I dunno....seems like Joseph could have silenced everyone in one easy blow - show 'em the plates. Done and done.

Actually...seems like that would have made pretty much every discussion on this board irrelevent.

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I dunno....seems like Joseph could have silenced everyone in one easy blow - show 'em the plates. Done and done.

Actually...seems like that would have made pretty much every discussion on this board irrelevent.

i agree.

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I dunno....seems like Joseph could have silenced everyone in one easy blow - show 'em the plates. Done and done.

Actually...seems like that would have made pretty much every discussion on this board irrelevent.

Nope, then the discussion would be how he faked it. cool.gif

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I dunno....seems like Joseph could have silenced everyone in one easy blow - show 'em the plates. Done and done.

Save for the fact that he was commanded not to...apparently, the Lord knows much more than we could ever hope to know in this life...

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I think the Lord could count the 116 pages as a loss as the plates of Nephi were still there and according to Pres. Joseph Fielding Smith better than what was on the 116 pages. So if we have the Plates of Nephi we don't need the 116 pages, it would be great but not necessary. Why give meat when milk will do?

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It would then be discovered that their copy was altered, since no alteration would be undetectable. Even if they rewrote the entire ms, they wouldn't be able to perfectly match Harris's handwriting.

The result would be that Joseph's enemies would be exposed as the fraud; not Joseph.

I don't be feel that would be so simple. Forensis Science was still embryonary at the beginning of the XIX century.

Keep in mind that the Spaulding Theory, took almost 60 years till becomes to be debunked. How long would take to prove that critics really adultered the text? Who knows? How many good people would buy that before hand and would not join the Church only for disregading the BOM?

Besides that, this episode is also a evidence that Joseph should have no other document from where he was just dictating to Martin Harris, Emma or Oliver Cowdery. If he had so, it would be very easy for him reproduced it all over again.

Can you figure out Joseph Smith dictating hour after hour, pages and pages of the Book of Mormon, directly from his prodigius mind, without editing, just correcting some mispelled Proper Names. And this is not like a romance, when the history just fly out with our imagination, but it breaks in some Zenos allegory, king Benjamim talk, II Nephi explanation of Isaiah, the Atonenment and the Fall, etc. And if we rely on the witnesses of the translation process, no Bible available, chapters and chapters of Isaiah only being quoted by heart.

Every time that I read this history and their witnesses, it really makes me astonished.

:P

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Save for the fact that he was commanded not to...apparently, the Lord knows much more than we could ever hope to know in this life...

I guess He wanted confusion.

This is where I find myself departing from your average Mormon. Sounds like an incredibly complicated system for revealing truth. What's the point? So that modern people can have faith? You all obviously want more than that or Nibleys books wouldn't sell like they do. There wouldn't be people combing Arabia looking for a place where they can say "this was possible!!".

My personal opinion - God would be more concerned that people see and know His truth FOR truth than He would be that someone go through a trial of faith before they will/can even know that it IS truth. Meaning - if the BoM truly contains the word of God, principals that will make man happy, ideas and truths that will bring people back to God - why make that book hard to believe in? Like I said, seems needlessly complicated if the goal is to teach your children truth.

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But apparently Joseph's fear was that he would not reproduce the 116 pages word for word to everyone's satisfaction, and his enemies would then produce the original to show that he had failed, to show that he was not a prophet.

This would tend to support the idea of a looser translation at least if there were multiple ways he could have said things. (add-on: I see cinepro mentioned this)

"behold, he has put it into their hearts to get thee to tempt the Lord thy God, in asking to translate it over again."
Why is it tempting the Lord to ask him to do something he's done already and will be do again? What's the big deal? The effort is pretty much the same whether or not it's the original plates or the second set. Perhaps it's that Joseph would be asking the Lord for something above and beyond the normal mode of translation if it had been loose, something that the Lord didn't do before and something that was not Joseph's gift--a perfect word for word recitation of Joseph's previous transmission/words.

BTW, I think if it had been fraud, he could have reproduced it word for word. What is the rationale for those who believe he was copying this from something? Must be that only Joseph is in on the fraud and he doesn't have total recall to fool the scribes even if he does have the manuscript hidden somewhere.

. If JS was translating in the best language that he could muster, or if he was expanding the ancient text to include his own inspired commentary on the nineteenth century, as Blake Ostler theorizes, then JS could hardly have reproduced the text exactly as it had read.
Why not? At least as far as concepts and understanding goes. He would have had the same skills and he had already received the inspired knowledge to expand the text. I doubt that grammar and specific common words and their placement would be identical.

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Save for the fact that he was commanded not to...apparently, the Lord knows much more than we could ever hope to know in this life...

I guess He wanted confusion.

This is where I find myself departing from your average Mormon. Sounds like an incredibly complicated system for revealing truth. What's the point? So that modern people can have faith? You all obviously want more than that or Nibleys books wouldn't sell like they do. There wouldn't be people combing Arabia looking for a place where they can say "this was possible!!".

My personal opinion - God would be more concerned that people see and know His truth FOR truth than He would be that someone go through a trial of faith before they will/can even know that it IS truth. Meaning - if the BoM truly contains the word of God, principals that will make man happy, ideas and truths that will bring people back to God - why make that book hard to believe in? Like I said, seems needlessly complicated if the goal is to teach your children truth.

What one calls confusion, another could call faith building. This could simply have required His children to search more diligently for the truth.

Personally, this is why I think that the Lord allows so many different translations of the Bible to exist. He wants us to search for the truth, and to constantly expand our knowledge.

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t2t2 - the history of the human race has been that it doesn't really matter what mortals see, by way of proofs or miracles, etc. they aren't going to believe unless they want to. What more could the children of Israel have seen? The 10 plagues, the capitulation of the pharaoh, the parting of the Red Sea, and then Moses is gone for a few days, and what happens?

"Gee, I would have believed the whole thing if I had seen the gold plates!" History shows you probably wouldn't unless you wanted to, and then you wouldn't have needed to see them.

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"Seeing is not believing, Believing is seeing." To quote the wonderful movie -The Santa Clause. (parts 1 and 2)

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