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Guest Just Curious

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Guest Just Curious

As far as the BoM goes, we know that at times the plates were not in use by Joseph during the translation process...is there any record of what chapters, verses etc were translated without the use of the plates?

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As far as the BoM goes, we know that at times the plates were not in use by Joseph during the translation process...is there any record of what chapters, verses etc were translated without the use of the plates?

Where did this thread come from? Since when did Joseph not use the plates in the translation process, proof please.

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I have some random musings on the subject of translation of the Book of Mormon. For the real story see Mark Ashurst-McGee USU Master's Thesis about Joseph Smith. What follows is a summary based on poor memory and some additional fool-ish analysis.

It can be shown that Joseph Smith had two seer stones and the Urim and Thummin which were each progressively more powerful. Part of the story goes that he looked in somebody else's seer stone to find his first seer stone. Then he went and dug it up on some lake shore. He then looked in this brownish stone to find the white stone that was personally attuned to him. He dug this stone up while digging for a well on his neighbor's property. This stone was more powerful and could see up to 25 feet underground.

Moroni shows Joseph where to find the Urim and Thummin through the white stone. Joseph also finds that he can obtain the plates if he brings the right person along which he sees through his stone is Emma. Later he receives the plates and the Urim and Thummin which is the most powerful seer stone of them all. He made some remark to the effect that the Urim and Thummin was tons better and that he could now see everything.

So far these events have trained Joseph to exercise faith and acquire seer skills. He then translates the Book of Mormon first with the Urim and Thummin. Then increasing in ability he was able to translate with a less powerful seer stone. Finally using the weakest stone in translation and no seer stone at all in later revelations increased his abilities to point that Joseph could receive revelation unaided.

The point of all this is to show one value of having the plates around when a translation could presumably have been produced without them. Since the other seer stones were possibly more limited in their effective range (in the same room), for Joseph Smith to use them and get the faith training he needed the plates had to be nearby. OK so admittedly this is pure conjecture.

But I think this goes along with the idea that the primary purpose for the plates was to inspire greater faith, whether it be for Joseph Smith, the Witnesses, or many of the loyal followers that believe even to this day. Perhaps it was also a means for tight control of the text.

Sorry for posting all that.

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I wasn't aware there were two seerstones...is that fact or conjecture?

First the person in question is joking, in case you didn't notice. Second, if I'm remembering correctly the Urim & Thummim had two "seer" stones, and then of course Joseph had the one he had found previously. And as far as I know he only used the one to translate in the hat.

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I have heard from LDS posters that I trust that the translation process continued unabated while the plates were hidden outside for fear of theft. Also, Joseph Smith revised the Book of Mormon in 1840, when the plates were long gone. In any event, he wasn't looking at the plates when he used the stone, so they may as well have been in Cleveland, as far as I can tell. I'm really too rushed to back up any of these assertions, but for the sake of academic integrity:

Proudfoot, Hezekiah. 2003. Random's Right About Everything. Salt Lake City- BYU Press

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As far as the BoM goes, we know that at times the plates were not in use by Joseph during the translation process...is there any record of what chapters, verses etc were translated without the use of the plates?

Where did this thread come from? Since when did Joseph not use the plates in the translation process, proof please.

For starters Elder Nelson Quoted David Whitmer

[quote name='Russell M. Nelson' date='

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I don't know if there is going to be a clear cut answer to this question. At least not something that well please everybody. I think I just follow the logic of Pres. Joseph Fielding Smith. Why would Joseph use something else if the Urim and Thummim was made for the purpose of translating the book of mormon.

We have been taught since the days of the Prophet that the Urim and Thummim were returned with the plates to the angel. We have no record of the Prophet having the Urim and Thummim after the organization of the Church. Statements of translations by the Urim and Thummim after that date are evidently errors. The statement has been made that the Urim and Thummim was on the altar in the Manti Temple when that building was dedicated. The Urim and Thummim so spoken of, however, was the seer stone which was in the possession of the Prophet Joseph Smith in early days. This seer stone is now in the possession of the Church.fn

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.fn 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.fn

(Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 3: 226.)

This isn't to say that he didn't use it, but I can't see very much if any. And I can't see their being any written account of which parts where used with the Urim and Thummin and which were used with the Seer stone. But then again this really doesn't matter does it?

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This isn't to say that he didn't use it, but I can't see very much if any.  And I can't see their being any written account of which parts where used with the Urim and Thummin and which were used with the Seer stone.  But then again this really doesn't matter does it?

To some it does matter because the use of "seer stones" can have occultic implications. There are some critics of the church who would point to Joseph Smith's treasure seeking days, where he used a "peep stone" to guide diggers to burried treasure, and say that proves an occultic/satanic source for the BoM.

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I wasn't aware there were two seerstones...is that fact or conjecture?

Fact. I think most of the thinking has been there was only one (see Bushman for example), but there is a lot of evidence that there was two. This evidence was presented by Ashurst-McGee, but I am not aware of any scholarly critique of his ideas.

I don't start conjecturing until the last two paragraphs. And yes I am serious, the thesis had an impact on the way I think about Joseph Smith and the translation process.

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Fall Festival in a few minutes, but here's some summary points:

The Urim and Thummin were the chief and likely only stones used in the translation process.

The Seer stone (there was only one) was used chiefly in aiding direct revelation. Several times it was through this stone that Joseph was warned of impending danger and also through this stone he received several revelations now found in the Doctrine and Covenants.

So one for translation, another for direct revelation. Although the Urim and Thummim could also do this, it was considered by Joseph far to unwieldy to be carrying around.

Much of the translation process at the beginning was more to do with schooling him in the language of the plates. He would place the glasses over his eyes and then focus on one of the characters (like reading, go figure). The characters would then be magnified and display in some manner a translation, then he would write (this is before the scribes) what the translation showed. Slowly, the balance shifted to the point where he would write what he thought the word was from his knowledge, and the Urim and Thummin would confirm it or not. Thus he was schooled in the language of the Nephites (or at least the Priestly Language Moroni would have known). So at times he translated quickly with minimal aid.

I am not sure about translation without the plates, but I have heard of it several times. The details themselves are a bit skethcy on that part more than any other though. However, considering the nature of the Seer stone and the Urim and Thummin, it would not surprise me. It would make sense that if the instruments could translate and show characters while inside the hat that it wouldn't much matter where the plates were.

The whole process continuasly evolved as he learned mroe and more from experience about the language, the spirit, the instruments, and the power of God. This is why we read of several different techniques, but they all built upon each other.

Madson wrote much about this subject. His lectures on the Prophet Joseph are very interesting.

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JUST CURIOUS: I wasn't aware there were two seerstones...is that fact or conjecture?

RA: Brigham Young explained in 1855 that Joseph had five stones, three of which he used throughout his entire religious life. Smith possessed these three stones until moving to Nauvoo in 1839, where he found two additional stones. He utilized at least two out of the first three during his money-digging years (c.1820 to 1827) and early Mormon years

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Tandy writes

The Urim and Thummin were the chief and likely only stones used in the translation process.

The Seer stone (there was only one) was used chiefly in aiding direct revelation.

I would be interested in finding out the evidence for this.

I will now present some evidence for what I wrote earlier, because I went and checked out:

A Pathway to Prophethood: Joseph Smith Junior as Rodsman, Villiage Seer, and Judeo-Christian Prophet by Mark Ashurst-McGee, Masters Thesis 2000, USU

This book is cited in the online introduction in Vogel's new book.

It can be shown that Joseph Smith had two seer stones and the Urim and Thummin which were each progressively more powerful.

"In 1966, Grant Palmer observed both stones at the same time. Twenty-five years later he remembered the white stone being smaller than the brown one"

sources: Palmer to Marquardt and Palmer to A-M in telephone interviews.

"LDS president Lorenzo Snow showed the white stone to Richard M. Robinson and told him it was 'the Seer Stone the Prophet Joseph used.'"

source: Robinson 1934

"Most historians hold that Joseph discovered his brown stone while digging a well on the Chase farm.[252] The stone found there was white and was Joseph's second stone. David Whitmer, who spoke frequently about the brown stone, but never the white one, observed Joseph using the brown stone while living with Whitmer family in 1829."

sources: [252] Quinn, Bushman, Vogel, an Alex Baugh; Whitmer "An Adress. . ."

notes: Joseph gave it to Oliver who gave it to Brigham.

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The brown stone

"President Young also said that the seer stone which Joseph first obtained he got from an Iron kettle 15 feet underground. He saw it while looking in another seers stone which a person had" --Wilford Woodruff journal

notes: The other person could be Sally Chase, Luman Walters, a Stafford, or S. Lawrence.

A-M "tentatively dates the first seer stone vision to 1819 or early 1820 and the actual disinterment to 1821 or early 1822."

"He said the stone was under the roots or shrub as large as his arn, situated a mile up a small stream that puts in on the South side of Lake Erie" - Purple 1877

Stowell testified it "could see things fifty feet beneath the surface of the earth." The brown stone could not be used to see into futurity or holy things (including JS Sr. holy shirt :P ). [saunders to Kelley]

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The white stone

-was found under the pretext of digging a well on the Chase property. Then there was an ongoing feud who it belonged too.

--was more powerful

"prisoner pretended to him that he could discern objects at a distance by holding this white stone to the sun or candle; that prisoner rather declined looking into a Hat at his dark colored stone as he said it hurt is eyes" --1826 court record

"about 1825, Hyrum borrowed the stone on behalf of the Smith family because 'they wanted to accomplish some business of importance, which could not very well be done without the aid of the stone.'" -- Willard Chase in Howe

A-M links the white stone to Rev 2:17 and this teaching: "with a white stone 'all things pertaining to an higher order of kingdoms even all kingdoms will be made known and a white stone is given. . . '" JS 1843

--enabled Joseph to find the Urim and Thummin and the location of the plates.

"Joseph . . . described the manner of his finding the plates. He found them by looking in the stone found in the well of Mason Chase. The family likewise told me the same thing." Martin Harris in Tiffany's 1859

notes: there is some debate whether or not the seer stone was involved when this account is compared to others. Additional support comes from Chase, Stout (from Brigham Young), and Purple.

--Joseph could have the plates if he brought the right person along according to Moroni.

"Then he looked in his glass and found it was Emma Hale." Joseph Knight

The Urim and Thummin

--The ultimate seer stones

"They are ten times Better then I expected. . .I can see anything; they are Marvelus."--JS to Knight immediately after Joseph gets the plates.

"he could see everything--past, present, and future." -- Lapham 1870

"I [Martin] never dared to look into them by placing them in the hat, because Moses said 'no man can see God and live,' and we could see anything we wished by looking into them; and I could not keep the desire to see God out of my mind." --Harris in Tiffany's

"[urim and Thummin] was to supersede the further use of the magic stone" --Pomeroy Tucker

Book of Mormon translation

--instruments used

"[Joseph] possessed a seer stone, by which he was able to translate as well as from the Urim and Thummin, and for convenience he then used the seer stone" Harris through Edward Stevenson

--for convenience?

" the instruments were much too large for Joseph and he could see through one at a time using sometimes one and sometimes the other. By putting his head in a hat or some dark object it was not necessary to close one eye while looking through the stone with the other. In that way sometimes when his eyes grew [tired] he releaved them of the strain."--William Smith to J.W. Peterson

The spectacles, according to Anthon were too large. A-M concludes "Joseph apparently disassembled the spectacles."

--evidence for using the white stone before the brown stone in translation

Joseph preferred the white stone.

Hyrum wouldn't return the white stone in 1830 "for Joseph made use of it in translating his Bible" --Chase in Howe

"Smith would put his face into a hat in which he had the white stone"-- 1830 account traced back to Martin Harris. A-M writes "Because Martin Harris served as Smith's scribe during the first phase of the Book of Mormon translation, Smith's use of the white stone should be dated to this period. Witnesses of Joseph's later translations in Harmony and at the Whitmer farm in Fayette reported Joseph's use of the brown seer stone"

Joseph uses the brown stone after Moroni returns it and the plates to him. The brown stone is the weakest and earlier it wasn't able to view holy things. Perhaps this is why Oliver is asked to help with the translation (and fails in the early D&C sections). But Joseph progression as a seer allows him to use this weaker stone.

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I seem to remember reading an article on this white/brown stone issue before that concluded the brown stone was the one always around and the white stone was something else. That said, I haven't done much research into mutliple stones myself, so perhaps that will be my next subject to study. That said, the other poitns remain valid.

And the arguments against the stones as mysticism doesn't quite hold up when we consider that revelationw as received to the effect that all "mysticism" type stones are from Lucifer and to destroy them immediately.

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