We recently released an updated version of Whatever Happened to the Golden Plates?https://youtu.be/s0cglDYMz-w
Topic: Two sets of plates.
Traditional view: Joseph obtained the plates from the hill in New York and returned them to the messenger when he was finished with the translation.
New view: Moroni deposited only the abridged record in the stone box in the hill. Joseph took these plates to Harmony and translated them there. He and Oliver planned to re-translate the Book of Lehi (the lost 116 pages), but the Lord told him to translate the plates of Nephi instead (D&C 10). Except Joseph didn’t have the plates of Nephi. Those plates were still in the depository of Nephite records. Before he left Harmony, Joseph gave the abridged plates to a messenger (one of the three Nephites). The messenger returned the abridged plates to the repository, picked up the plates of Nephi, and took those plates to Fayette, where Joseph translated them.
We have also posted short video explanations of some of my other books. All are available wherever LDS books are sold.
Topic: Joseph as an actual translator.
Traditional view: Joseph translated the engravings by the gift and power of God and by means of the Urim and Thummim. Alternative view: Joseph read words that appeared on a stone in the hat (SITH), and the words were provided by a supernatural translator because Joseph didn’t even use the plates. Alternative view: Joseph was a conman who composed or copied the texts he produced.
New view: Joseph’s claim that he translated the characters (engravings) on the plates is consistent with the language he dictated and the evidence from witnesses and the Original Manuscript. Whatever the witnesses who described the stone-in-the-hat (SITH) were witnessing, it could not have been the translation because Joseph explained that he could not display the plates or Urim and Thummim that he used to translate. Evidence indicates Joseph conducted one or more demonstrations with SITH, just as he later did when people asked for revelations through the stone. Later, witnesses related SITH to refute the Spalding theory.
youtube explanation: https://youtu.be/80DpjOEkrqI
Topic: The New York Cumorah.
Traditional view: Moroni identified the hill as Cumorah the first night he met Joseph, and Joseph and Oliver reaffirmed that setting. Alternative view: Joseph and Oliver merely speculated about Cumorah, and/or early Church members created a false tradition about Cumorah that Joseph and Oliver adopted. Alternative view: Because the text is fiction, no Cumorah exists in the real world.
New view: Mormonism Unvailed claimed the Book of Mormon was fiction, taken from a novel by Solomon Spalding. In response, Joseph and Oliver affirmed it was a fact that the hill in New York was the same hill Mormon described in Mormon 6:6 (Letter VII). This reality has important implications for interpreting the text. Also discussed in Moroni’s America and Letter VII: Oliver and Joseph explain the Hill Cumorah.
youtube explanation: https://youtu.be/_Tx0vcJeIoE
Topic: Joseph as a young religious seeker.
Traditional view: Joseph was an uneducated, barely literate prophet uniquely capable of receiving revelation from God, including the text of the Book of Mormon. Alternative view: Joseph was a gifted religious genius whose “inspired eclecticism” who drew on contemporary sources to channel inspiration. Alternative view: Joseph was a charismatic conman whether pious or not.
New view: Joseph became a religious seeker when he survived life-threatening leg surgery. During his years of convalescence and after his family moved to Palmyra, he acquired “an intimate acquaintance with those of different denominations” by reading Christian literature, including the works of Jonathan Edwards. Most of the non-biblical language in the Book of Mormon and early revelations draws from Jonathan Edwards. He translated the text using his own lexicon as any translator would do, albeit inspired in his choice of words and phrasing.
Topic: Setting of Book of Mormon events.
Traditional view: The Book of Mormon events in the New World covered the entire Western Hemisphere, with Panama as the narrow neck separating the "land northward" from the "land southward" and the hill Cumorah in western New York. Alternative view: The events took place within a limited area of Mesoamerica with the hill Cumorah in southern Mexico, meaning that Joseph and Oliver misled everyone about the New York Cumorah.
New view: Joseph and Oliver were correct about the New York Cumorah and the text of the Book of Mormon describes a North American setting that is consistent with extrinsic evidence from archaeology, anthropology, geology and geography. Understanding this setting helps readers better understand the teachings of the prophets about the text and its relevance today.