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"Joseph Smith'S Reported Translation From The Kinderhook Plates" - Don Bradley


DonBradley

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Dear Friends,

I thought it may be of interest to many here to know that at this August's FAIR conference I'll be presenting a paper tentatively titled "Joseph Smith's Reported Translation from the Kinderhook Plates: Solving a Historical Mystery."

I'm saving the crux of the paper for the conference, but I've presented it to Craig Foster, of the FAIR board, and recently to the staff of the Joseph Smith Papers, where I've been interning since the first of the year, and gotten "wows."

Though I'll be accused of overstating by some (who haven't yet seen my evidence), I'll say this much: the critical argument based on reports of Joseph Smith translating from the Kinderhook plates will, at this year's FAIR conference, be vaporized--annihilated. Those who've seen the presentation have said it's a tour de force that will settle, once and for all, the Kinderhook plates question. And the evidence is clear and definitive enough that no honest person who sees it laid out will be able to deny the conclusions presented or again apply to this incident the longstanding critical argument, "Only a bogus a prophet translates bogus plates."

My personal journey has been a long and winding one. And I can't tell you all how thankful I am to have come to the good, good place I've arrived at in my life and faith, and to be able to contribute to understanding the Restoration's history. Until quite recently I'd never have even dreamed I'd be presenting at FAIR, much less being able to present there the results of an investigation that's both so fun and so definitively reinforces faith.

Having been once, and for some time, on the side of coming onto the boards to critique reasons to believe and to offer the reasons I then thought I had to not believe, I have been amazed at how fully I've been accepted as I've returned to my faith and to the church. The outpouring of welcomes when I announced my return here last summer overwhelmed me, and the continuing welcome, and the treatment I've received in my wards, at the Church History Library, among new friends, and everywhere, as a fellow saint--as if the past were simply washed away--moves me beyond what I can express. Thank you, all, for a second chance.

Don

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I'm curious, Don, where have the critics claimed the translation was this whole time? I'm aware of a journal entry (or something like it) that went along the lines of "Translated those crazy Kinderhook plates today!" that critics point to as evidence that Joseph Smith produced a translation, but has anyone ever found that translation?

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I'm curious, Don, where have the critics claimed the translation was this whole time? I'm aware of a journal entry (or something like it) that went along the lines of "Translated those crazy Kinderhook plates today!" that critics point to as evidence that Joseph Smith produced a translation, but has anyone ever found that translation?

The William Clayton journal entry is the big evidence. Clayton says Joseph translated and that he gave certain content he'd gotten off of the plates. Parley P. Pratt, writing to a cousin six days later, says a bit that overlaps with the Clayton entry (i.e., that the man the Kinderhook plates were about had Ham as his ancestor), though he doesn't say this came from Joseph. Beyond those documents, I'm not aware of any that give contents of what Joseph is supposed to have translated.

Don

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I have been amazed at how fully I've been accepted as I've returned to my faith and to the church. The outpouring of welcomes when I announced my return here last summer overwhelmed me, and the continuing welcome, and the treatment I've received in my wards, at the Church History Library, among new friends, and everywhere, as a fellow saint--as if the past were simply washed away--moves me beyond what I can express.

In the words of the Prophet, 'For friends at first are friends again at last.'

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I'll be very interested to see what you've done. For me, one of the chief pleasures and rewards of activity and persistence in my LDS life is the periodic arrival of extraordinary and unexpected insights. I've gone through so many in my 57 years on this planet, that I've come to expect pleasant surprises now and then.

Kevin Christensen

Pittsburgh, PA

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Dear Friends,

I thought it may be of interest to many here to know that at this August's FAIR conference I'll be presenting a paper tentatively titled "Joseph Smith's Reported Translation from the Kinderhook Plates: Solving a Historical Mystery."

I'm saving the crux of the paper for the conference, but I've presented it to Craig Foster, of the FAIR board, and recently to the staff of the Joseph Smith Papers, where I've been interning since the first of the year, and gotten "wows."

Though I'll be accused of overstating by some (who haven't yet seen my evidence), I'll say this much: the critical argument based on reports of Joseph Smith translating from the Kinderhook plates will, at this year's FAIR conference, be vaporized--annihilated. Those who've seen the presentation have said it's a tour de force that will settle, once and for all, the Kinderhook plates question. And the evidence is clear and definitive enough that no honest person who sees it laid out will be able to deny the conclusions presented or again apply to this incident the longstanding critical argument, "Only a bogus a prophet translates bogus plates."

My personal journey has been a long and winding one. And I can't tell you all how thankful I am to have come to the good, good place I've arrived at in my life and faith, and to be able to contribute to understanding the Restoration's history. Until quite recently I'd never have even dreamed I'd be presenting at FAIR, much less being able to present there the results of an investigation that's both so fun and so definitively reinforces faith.

Having been once, and for some time, on the side of coming onto the boards to critique reasons to believe and to offer the reasons I then thought I had to not believe, I have been amazed at how fully I've been accepted as I've returned to my faith and to the church. The outpouring of welcomes when I announced my return here last summer overwhelmed me, and the continuing welcome, and the treatment I've received in my wards, at the Church History Library, among new friends, and everywhere, as a fellow saint--as if the past were simply washed away--moves me beyond what I can express. Thank you, all, for a second chance.

Don

Kinderhook was only one of several straws that broke the back of my faith, I'll look forward to your presentation which I'll assume will be available online at some time in the future.

Of more interest to me is your personal journey. From your post I'm guessing that you went through a crisis of faith but have been able to put "humpty" together again. I would love to read this personal story if available.

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Kinderhook was only one of several straws that broke the back of my faith, I'll look forward to your presentation which I'll assume will be available online at some time in the future.

Of more

I personally find this interesting. Of course we will have to wait to see what Don has prepared. But I am curious, what you think the stongest points are for the kinderhool plates. I personally think the evidence is very strong that JS really had no association with teh KHP in terms of translation.

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I personally find this interesting. Of course we will have to wait to see what Don has prepared. But I am curious, what you think the stongest points are for the kinderhool plates. I personally think the evidence is very strong that JS really had no association with teh KHP in terms of translation.

FWIW, The Kinderhook Plates were long discussed in these past threads:

Kinderhook and Critics

Kinderhooked?

The discussions make more sense if you know something about the plates.

If any new data or perspective can be brought to bear on the subject, I look forward to it.

To answer Mola's question, the tough point to get around is William Clayton's statement:

I have seen 6 brass plates which were found in Adams County ... President Joseph has translated a portion and says they contain the history of the person with whom they were found & he was a descendant of Ham through the loins of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the ruler of heaven & earth

An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton, ed. George D. Smith, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, 1991, p. 100;

The key question is why did William Clayton write this in his journal? The most logical answer would be that he was accurately telling the story of what happened. Joseph Smith looked at the plates and instead of discerning their fraudulent nature, he identified them as containing a history of Ham.

Hopefully Don has found some new data or perspectives that help us understand Clayton's claim in a more faith-promoting context.

But, since the antidote to lost faith is imagination, I offer this theory in advance of Don's presentation for those who are disturbed by Clayton's claim:

The Cinepro Faith Promoting Theory of the Kinderhook Plates

In 1843, God desired to restore the writings of Ham, to be paired with the yet to be canonized "Book of Abraham". In order to bring this about, he inspired three men with the idea to forge ancient metal plates. In the process of their forgery, the men were inspired to inscribe actual ancient writings conveying the text of the actual "Book of Ham" (the only existing version of which is buried in desert sands and previous attempts by the Lord to have them "discovered" and brought to Joseph Smith having failed).

Thus, upon inspection of the assumed "forgery", Joseph was able to accurately identify the writings as those of Ham. The forgers, totally unaware of the inspired nature of their writings, were none the wiser and thus by the weak things of the world was another great thing brought to pass.

Faith preserved.

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The key question is why did William Clayton write this in his journal? The most logical answer would be that he was accurately telling the story of what happened. Joseph Smith looked at the plates and instead of discerning their fraudulent nature, he identified them as containing a history of Ham.

William Clayton was oblivious to Joseph's keen sarcastic wit. Clayton brought the plates to Joseph, and the following exchange ensued:

Clatyon: Look at these ancient plates Joseph. What do you s'pose they are?

Joseph: They smell.

Clayton: No, seriously, they were just uncovered in a grave up north, near Kinderhook.

Joseph: Yes, really, they smell. Or maybe Emma is just fryin' up some bacon.

Clayton: Get serious Joseph. Enquiring minds want to know. What do the plates say.

Joseph: It's the story of ham, ya know, it's history and all.

Clayton: The history of Ham?

Joseph: No, ham.

Clayton: That's what I said, Ham.

Joseph: No, you said Ham, I said ham.

Clayton: I'm confused.

Joseph: That's whay I love you so much. Why don't you go finish updating the journal . . . and grab a slice of bacon on your way out.

[Neither copyrighted,nor trademarked. Feel free to plagiarize.]

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Dear Friends,

I thought it may be of interest to many here to know that at this August's FAIR conference I'll be presenting a paper tentatively titled "Joseph Smith's Reported Translation from the Kinderhook Plates: Solving a Historical Mystery."

I'm saving the crux of the paper for the conference, but I've presented it to Craig Foster, of the FAIR board, and recently to the staff of the Joseph Smith Papers, where I've been interning since the first of the year, and gotten "wows."

Though I'll be accused of overstating by some (who haven't yet seen my evidence), I'll say this much: the critical argument based on reports of Joseph Smith translating from the Kinderhook plates will, at this year's FAIR conference, be vaporized--annihilated. Those who've seen the presentation have said it's a tour de force that will settle, once and for all, the Kinderhook plates question. And the evidence is clear and definitive enough that no honest person who sees it laid out will be able to deny the conclusions presented or again apply to this incident the longstanding critical argument, "Only a bogus a prophet translates bogus plates."

My personal journey has been a long and winding one. And I can't tell you all how thankful I am to have come to the good, good place I've arrived at in my life and faith, and to be able to contribute to understanding the Restoration's history. Until quite recently I'd never have even dreamed I'd be presenting at FAIR, much less being able to present there the results of an investigation that's both so fun and so definitively reinforces faith.

Having been once, and for some time, on the side of coming onto the boards to critique reasons to believe and to offer the reasons I then thought I had to not believe, I have been amazed at how fully I've been accepted as I've returned to my faith and to the church. The outpouring of welcomes when I announced my return here last summer overwhelmed me, and the continuing welcome, and the treatment I've received in my wards, at the Church History Library, among new friends, and everywhere, as a fellow saint--as if the past were simply washed away--moves me beyond what I can express. Thank you, all, for a second chance.

Don

I find it enlightening that in your case (now that you have returned to the fold) most here will see your "crisis of faith" as one growing out of your integrity for the respect of truth. Interesting because a certain number here seem to believe that no such principle exists and that your only reason for criticizing the church in the first place would have grown out of your desire to commit sin (if you weren't already involved in some sort of deep wickedness) or lead a more liberal lifestyle.

I'm glad you are able to put those misguided creatures to shame........

Sorry for the derail.

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Having been once, and for some time, on the side of coming onto the boards to critique reasons to believe and to offer the reasons I then thought I had to not believe, I have been amazed at how fully I've been accepted as I've returned to my faith and to the church. The outpouring of welcomes when I announced my return here last summer overwhelmed me, and the continuing welcome, and the treatment I've received in my wards, at the Church History Library, among new friends, and everywhere, as a fellow saint--as if the past were simply washed away--moves me beyond what I can express. Thank you, all, for a second chance.

Don

You've never been anything but a gentleman no matter what your position that I can remember so you deserve nothing but good in my opinion.
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I thought it may be of interest to many here to know that at this August's FAIR conference I'll be presenting a paper tentatively titled "Joseph Smith's Reported Translation from the Kinderhook Plates: Solving a Historical Mystery."

I'm looking forward to your presentation Don.

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Unnecessary.

Just to be clear, I didn't mean "imagination" as in "making stuff up out of thin air". I meant it as "thinking creatively to see things in a new way".

For example, my theory of the Kinderhook Plates sprang from my imagination, but it is fully supported by the data; it isn't something I "made up" but instead it is a creative way of reinterpreting something that might not be faith promoting to make it more aligned with a faithful view of Church history.

Granted, my theory can be easily dismissed because of the tenuous nature and timing of Joseph's involvement with the plates. But had he actually produced a "Book of Ham" from the plates (with the subsequent canonization of said book), I can guarantee you my theory would be very popular and have it's own entry on the FairWiki.

Anytime someone thinks of a new explanation or theory, it's a good use of imagination, and the best apologetic arguments can start out this way. Obviously, the worst ones too.

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Personally, I think the Kinderhook plates are no smoking gun by far. Are there serious critics who do? All we really have is Clayton's single, isolated statement (the Pratt reference was new to me, must pray about that tonight). Not enough for me to draw conclusions. How anyone can get into a crisis of faith over that is beyond me. That said, there is one mystery surrounding the Kinderhook plates that I haven't been able to clear up yet:

Is it Kinderhook as in blind, or as in wind?

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Personally, I think the Kinderhook plates are no smoking gun by far. Are there serious critics who do? All we really have is Clayton's single, isolated statement (the Pratt reference was new to me, must pray about that tonight). Not enough for me to draw conclusions. How anyone can get into a crisis of faith over that is beyond me. That said, there is one mystery surrounding the Kinderhook plates that I haven't been able to clear up yet:

Is it Kinderhook as in blind, or as in wind?

I've always pronounced it as in "wind", not that my opinion matters one whit of worth of Kinderhook criticism.

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