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Bom Translational Timeline:


cksalmon

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From William Smith on Mormonism:

In consequence of his vision, and his having

golden plates and refusing to show them, a great

persecution arose against the whole family, and

he was compelled to remove into Pennsylvania

with the plates, where he translated them by

means of the Urim and Thummim, (which he

obtained with the plates), and the power of God.

The manner in which this was done was by looking

into the Urim and Thummim, which was

placed in a hat to exclude the light, (the plates

lying near by covered up), and reading off the

translation, which appeared in the stone by the

power of God. He was engaged in this business

as he had opportunity for about two years and a

half. In the winter of 1829 and thirty, the Book of

Mormon, which is the translation of part of the

plates he obtained, was published. He then showed

the plates to my father and my brothers Hyrum

and Samuel, who were witnesses to the truth of

the book which was translated from them. I was

permitted to lift them as they laid in a pillow-case;

but not to see them, as it was contrary to the

commands he had received. They weighed about

sixty pounds according to the best of my judgment.

What's William on about here?

Context:

(1) William remained a firm adherent to BoM throughout his life (following his conversion).

(2) This statement is not critical, not "anti-Mormon"; it purports to be factual. It derives from the pen of a committed Restorationist (and brother of prophet Joseph Smith).

(3) William believed in the God-givenness of BoM.

(4) William states that Joseph Smith worked on the translation for 2.5 or so years prior to its publication.

(5) Not to put too fine a point on it, but again, William here is not criticizing BoM, but rather defending it.

William's account obviously doesn't square with the 60-day time period I've read from the e-pens of BoM apologists here and elsewhere (e.g., Charity on MDB).

There's a world of difference between two months and two-and-a-half years, between 60 days and 547 days.

What's he talking about here?

Assuming William is writing in good faith here (and I don't know a reason not to assume that), he suggests quite a lengthier translational timeline than apologists allow.

Citing his old age at the time of publication (1883) won't easily excuse the addition of 480-some days to his BoM translational timeline, I wouldn't think. What is the LDS apologetic response to this. I haven't come across it, if it exists.

CKS

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William's account obviously doesn't square with the 60-day time period I've read from the e-pens of BoM apologists here and elsewhere (e.g., Charity on MDB).

There's a world of difference between two months and two-and-a-half years, between 60 days and 547 days.

What's he talking about here?

According to Joseph's own account, he received the plates in September of 1827, and it was published about two and a half years later.

Based on his other responsibilities and activities, some scholars have guestimated that Joseph exerted the equivalent of about 60 full days within that time frame.

Based on that, both sides could be right about the amount of time it took (i) in calendar years and (ii) in actual equivalent effort.

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The whole article is available at the following website.

http://en.fairmormon.org/Book_of_Mormon_tr...tion_chronology

5 April 1829

Oliver arrives in Harmony to meet Joseph.[13] Soon after, he writes David Whitmer, saying that he is convinced that Joseph does have the plates. [14]

April 7 â?? end of June 1829

Joseph translates the Book of Mormon with Oliver as scribe[15]

Translation begins on the 7th of Aprilâ??two days after Oliver arrived. [16]

15 May 1829 â?? Oliver and Joseph receive the Aaronic priesthood; Oliver indicated that their asking about baptism was stimulated by translating 3 Nephi.[17]

11 June 1829: Joseph registers the copyright via the title page. [19]

The 60 days is not precise because Joseph didn't record anywhere when they finished.

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According to Joseph's own account, he received the plates in September of 1827, and it was published about two and a half years later.

Based on his other responsibilities and activities, some scholars have guestimated that Joseph exerted the equivalent of about 60 full days within that time frame.

Based on that, both sides could be right about the amount of time it took (i) in calendar years and (ii) in actual equivalent effort.

Who are those scholars, hagoth? I haven't, personally, seen scholars guestimate an actual 60-day time period for BoM translational activity within a larger 547-day possible time period. If they have done so, I have not noted them to have suggested that there was a period of 547 days during which Joseph might have translated BoM, but that, owing to other responsibilities, he actually only used 60 of those days. Who makes this claim?

Best.

CKS

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The whole article is available at the following website.

http://en.fairmormon.org/Book_of_Mormon_tr...tion_chronology

5 April 1829

Oliver arrives in Harmony to meet Joseph.[13] Soon after, he writes David Whitmer, saying that he is convinced that Joseph does have the plates. [14]

April 7 â?? end of June 1829

Joseph translates the Book of Mormon with Oliver as scribe[15]

Translation begins on the 7th of Aprilâ??two days after Oliver arrived. [16]

15 May 1829 â?? Oliver and Joseph receive the Aaronic priesthood; Oliver indicated that their asking about baptism was stimulated by translating 3 Nephi.[17]

11 June 1829: Joseph registers the copyright via the title page. [19]

The 60 days is not precise because Joseph didn't record anywhere when they finished.

No. In fact, the timeline you've adduced states clearly that JS obtained the plates 22 September 1827 ("Joseph receives the gold plates from Moroni"). This squares more readily with William Smith's 2.5 year timeline. Obviously, JS was translating before 1829, as he lost the 116 pages the year prior (in 1828).

CKS

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No offense, CK, but this is one of your weakest threads yet. Do a little research on the translation process of the Book of Mormon (heck, read that section in Rough Stone Rolling, check the footnotes, this is easy stuff to find, and I know you're extremely capable of doing so.)

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No offense, CK, but this is one of your weakest threads yet. Do a little research on the translation process of the Book of Mormon (heck, read that section in Rough Stone Rolling, check the footnotes, this is easy stuff to find, and I know you're extremely capable of doing so.)

No offense, LoaP, but it's not a critical thread. I'm endnoting William Smith on Mormonism, and I'm having trouble clarifying William's claim. (Which is why I specifically asked for LDS apologetic responses to that claim.)

Thanks, Lachoneus. That's helpful.

CKS

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CK, possession is not translation. And when you ask abouit the Book of Mormon, you can't include the 116 lost pages. What is now the Book of Mormon started with Oliver Cowdery as scribe.

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...

(4) William states that Joseph Smith worked on the translation for 2.5 or so years prior to its publication.

...

What's he talking about here?

...

Ever hear of the 116 pages? Historical resords show that Joseph Smith began translating immediately after receiving the plates, using himself as scribe and his wife as scribe, off and on as circumstances allowed. He had the plates a total time of about 2.5 years, just as William Smith stated. This, however, was very slow going, as Joseph Smith himself stated. Martin Harris then became scribe and things got going a bit faster.

Then, Harris lost the 116 pages. Joseph Smith did not translate again for quite some time. When he could do it again, it was very slow going until Oliver Cowdery came along. Then, things got going again and the translation began again in earnest after April 7, 1829. Historical documents show that the translation was done in late June or early July. However, even there they did not translate every day. They were off doing other things at times.

However, the portion of the Book of Mormon we now have was translated over a period encompassing roughly 60 or so days. As you should already know, the 116 pages (one manuscript I read once about a year ago looked like it said 216 pages!) were lost. However, this fact and that of William Smith does not change the fact that the portion of the Book of Mormon that we now have and that was published was translated over a period of roughly 60 or so days--just as scholars and LDS apologists alike have stated.

So, both the apologists and scholars, as well as William Smith were correct in what they said. It all depends upon the perspective of the writer. One was speaking of overall time in translation, delays and all; the other was speaking of the amount of time to bring forth the current text in the currrent manuscripts of the Book of Mormon, which was roughly about 60 days.

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As other's have been saying over and over again above the answer is simple.

And LDS "apologists/scholars" have known this all the while, and have never said otherwise.

You not paying attention to anything else other than the 60 day comment, is more your issue, not an LDS one.

1. He had possesion of plates more than 2 years. This has always been known.

2. He had to still "live life" during this entire time as well, so it's not like a person can just not work for 60 days. Plus, I don't think that any mortal can receive revelation to that degree all at once and still function.

3. ACTUAL "time" with the plates in some sort of translation activity is estimated at around 60 days.

This is why most say the Book of Mormon was translated in about 2 months, because it was.

It's the actual time invested in the project.

What's so difficult to understand here?

This is like a "newbie" duh question. Anyone that has spent any cursury time knowing Church history would know this. Who are the "experts" again? Anti's or LDS?

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After reading Rough Stone Rolling I was struck by the influence that Oliver Cowdrey had on Joseph Smith. I do not own a copy, so I can't quote it directly, but after reading it I came to see Oliver as a sort of muse for Joseph Smith.

As I remember, the book described the translation process with Emma and Martin Harris acting as scribes as laborious and slow. I think most people have experienced the difference of working with a person or team that together are capable of much more than the individuals could have produced seperately or in a different group where the parts didn't mesh quite as well. (synergy is an over-used phrase unfortunately, but when it truely happens it can seem magical.)

Whether this has any import on the divine origin of the product is another matter, but Bushman's book seems to clearly say that Oliver was critical to the speedy completion of the work.

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(4) William states that Joseph Smith worked on the translation for 2.5 or so years prior to its publication.

One could come to this conclusion had William said, "He was engaged in this business for about two years and a half."

Citing his old age at the time of publication (1883) won't easily excuse the addition of 480-some days to his BoM translational timeline, I wouldn't think. What is the LDS apologetic response to this. I haven't come across it, if it exists.

The response is simply to quote the whole passage:

"He was engaged in this business as he had opportunity for about two years and a half."

Bernard

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Thanks for the responses, folks.

Lachoneus: who is this Elden Watson fellow? Apparently, he has written for FARMS on occasion. I found this on the FARMS site:

Received an M.A. in physics from the University of Utah in 1968 and has been employed for thirty-two years in the electronics industry. He has recently retired from L-3 Communications in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Does anyone know how to contact him?

This is like a "newbie" duh question.

Apparently. And it's more than a bit embarrassing that I never connected the dots of the time line, but there it is.

Admittedly, I've gotten tunnel vision as I've been editing the William Smith book (he never mentions the lost 116 pages--only the process of translation, as Joseph had time, for 2.5 years) and my interest in Mormonism, heretofore, has been mostly theological rather than text-historical, but still.

Fortunately, I don't mind looking stupid from time to time.

All:

Does Skousen have a timeline available?

Here's the endnote as it currently stands:

While William mentions a translation period of two-and-a-half years, he omits finer, and clarifying, details of the translational time line. During the period of May through June in 1828, Joseph Smith was engaged in translating the book of Lehi. The resultant manuscript (116 pages by most estimations) was subsequently lost while in the possession of Martin Harris. Translation did not begin again in earnest until Tuesday, April 7, 1829, though some translation was accomplished during the months prior. See Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism: The History, Scripture, Doctrine, and Procedure of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 210-213 <http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm4/document.php?CISOROOT=/EoM&CISOPTR=4391&CISOSHOW=5552&REC=1> (5 January 2008); alternatively, see John W. Welch and Tim Rathbone, "The Translation of the Book of Mormon: Basic Historical Information" (FARMS paper, 1986) <http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/bookschapter.php?bookid=&chapid=449> (5 January 2008). See also, R. Vernon Ingleton, ed.,History of Joseph Smith by his Mother Lucy Mack Smith: the Unabridged Original Version, with a forward by Richard Lloyd Dewey (Arlington, Va.: Stratford Books, 2005), 187-200.

More germane references will be added as time permits.

Clarifying comments (with sources) welcome.

Best.

CKS

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In many ways it depends on what dates people want to use. Using Thursday June 25, 1829 as the day translation was completed. From when Joseph first saw the plates it was 5 years 9 months. From when Joseph first physically visited the plates it's 4 years 9 months or when he took possession of the plates it's 1 year 9 months. When he first translated from the plates HC 1:19 it's 1 year 7 months. When he started translation with Martin Harris it's 1 year 2 months

To say it was done in just 60 days is, IMO, very very misleading bordering on dishonest. The sixty day number is thrown out implying writing the book is a impossible task in that time frame for a uneducated farm boy. The test implies that there are actual plates and not an author and writing can't begin with out "the plates".

However a critic doesn't need to assume there are actual plates just some method of authorship. If someone starts telling stories about a magic book that they are going to be able to translate it's reasonable that he started working on the BOM the first time he told a story about it.

Phaedrus

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In many ways it depends on what dates people want to use. Using Thursday June 25, 1829 as the day translation was completed. From when Joseph first saw the plates it was 5 years 9 months. From when Joseph first physically visited the plates it's 4 years 9 months or when he took possession of the plates it's 1 year 9 months. When he first translated from the plates HC 1:19 it's 1 year 7 months. When he started translation with Martin Harris it's 1 year 2 months

To say it was done in just 60 days is, IMO, very very misleading bordering on dishonest. The sixty day number is thrown out implying writing the book is a impossible task in that time frame for a uneducated farm boy. The test implies that there are actual plates and not an author and writing can't begin with out "the plates".

However a critic doesn't need to assume there are actual plates just some method of authorship. If someone starts telling stories about a magic book that they are going to be able to translate it's reasonable that he started working on the BOM the first time he told a story about it.

Phaedrus

That's a good point and I quite agree. The matter is complicated by the fact that the plates were not physically used during the translation process.

In working on the William Smith pamphlet, however, I'm attempting to produce a non-polemical work, and so am less interested in debunking the translational time line than in presenting the "official" version of it.

Best.

CKS

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I've hoped that one day the 116 pages would show up somewhere, just like all that information about the Nauvoo Temple. Some guy finds it, realizes what it is and contacts the church. It was an immense help in rebuilding it.

Seeing that Joseph received the plates on September 22, 1827, there is no specific calandar of events as to how the translation process progressed, only that it began in April 1828. By that time Martin Harris had already taken the BoM characters to Professor Anthon. Sometime in the summer, Joseph received a revelation telling him: "Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength...." (D&C 10:4.) During the spring of 1828, the Book of Lehi was translated, which "contained Mormon's abridgement of the large plates of Nephi, which gave "an account of the reign of the kings" among the Nephites down to King Benjamin." (Hyrum Andrus, Doctrines of the Kingdom, p. 400)

There's some evidence from personal accounts that Joseph knew a great deal about the inhabitants of the Book of Mormon lands earlier on, and he may have been engaged in reading the volume (we don't know whether he was allowed to read the sealed portion or not). Whether he gained a knowledge of the BoM peoples by revelation or by reading their records, not a whole lot is known. Also, when Oliver Cowdery attempted to translate, there is no reference I know of concerning how he tried to do it, his proximity to the plates and so forth; just that he failed.

The copyright was secured shortly after the translation on June 11, 1829. Also during 1828, Joseph was receiving numerous revelations laying the foundation for the restoration of the Church on April 6, 1830. Given everything that was taking place, sixty days sounds about right. Given his hectic schedule in 1828, plus the fact that he was only 22 years old, it is a remarkable achievement.

faq_2.jpg

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Just one thing: The majority of the manuscripts are in Oliver Cowdery's handwriting. Oliver Cowdery came into the picture on April 7, 1829. The copyright was applied for on June 11, 1829. There were some interruptions even between those dates. Thus, what we have of the Book of Mormon was done in roughly 60 or so days. Period.

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To say it was done in just 60 days is, IMO, very very misleading bordering on dishonest. The sixty day number is thrown out implying writing the book is a impossible task in that time frame for a uneducated farm boy. The test implies that there are actual plates and not an author and writing can't begin with out "the plates".

Phaedrus

I did something vaguely similar to what Joseph did, in rewriting a book my sister-in-law had written some years before about my wife's family's experiences in eastern Germany at the end of WW2. From the time I started work on it until I had the second rewrite done, it was about a year and a half. During that time I worked on it two to three times per week, during the week, for about two to three hours at a time. I could say with full honesty that the book took me 1 1/2 years to rewrite, or, about 87 work days, if you define a workday as 8 hours of work.

So what do I tell someone about the work? That it took me a year and a half? Or it took me about 3 months? Either is accurate, but either can be misleading.

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I did something vaguely similar to what Joseph did, in rewriting a book my sister-in-law had written some years before about my wife's family's experiences in eastern Germany at the end of WW2. From the time I started work on it until I had the second rewrite done, it was about a year and a half. During that time I worked on it two to three times per week, during the week, for about two to three hours at a time. I could say with full honesty that the book took me 1 1/2 years to rewrite, or, about 87 work days, if you define a workday as 8 hours of work.

So what do I tell someone about the work? That it took me a year and a half? Or it took me about 3 months? Either is accurate, but either can be misleading.

Good call.

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In many ways it depends on what dates people want to use. Using Thursday June 25, 1829 as the day translation was completed. From when Joseph first saw the plates it was 5 years 9 months. From when Joseph first physically visited the plates it's 4 years 9 months or when he took possession of the plates it's 1 year 9 months. When he first translated from the plates HC 1:19 it's 1 year 7 months. When he started translation with Martin Harris it's 1 year 2 months

To say it was done in just 60 days is, IMO, very very misleading bordering on dishonest. The sixty day number is thrown out implying writing the book is a impossible task in that time frame for a uneducated farm boy. The test implies that there are actual plates and not an author and writing can't begin with out "the plates".

However a critic doesn't need to assume there are actual plates just some method of authorship. If someone starts telling stories about a magic book that they are going to be able to translate it's reasonable that he started working on the BOM the first time he told a story about it.

Phaedrus

Good post Phaedrus. As a strong believer in the BOM, but hating it when people "look beyond the mark," I really appreciate people like you that can shoot straight.

There's a world of difference between two months and two-and-a-half years, between 60 days and 547 days.

Sorry CKS, but I couldn't resist...2.5 years = 912.5 not 547 :P

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There's a world of difference between two months and two-and-a-half years, between 60 days and 547 days.

Speaking of fudging the numbers . . . 547 - 365 = 182 . . . which makes it roughly one-and-a-half years, not the amount bolded [by me] above.

USU "Let's be fair while we're being fair" 78

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