long ago ideas

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago." - Friedrich Nietzsche. Long ago, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery conquered false claims that the Book of Mormon was fiction or that it came through a stone in a hat. But these old claims have resurfaced in recent years. To conquer them again, we have to return to what Joseph and Oliver taught.

Friday, December 29, 2023

2023 Year-end review: looking at 2024

As we look ahead to 2024, we can see several trends from 2023 that suggest ongoing expansion of the Restoration. Here are four that I'm interested in.

1. Temple, BYU Pathway, and Self-reliance. Three elements of establishing Zion are progressing faster than most people anticipated. The Church's self-reliance program is teaching Latter-day Saints to become self sufficient not only financially, physically, and spiritually, but also intellectually. The course on Emotional Resilience includes a section on identifying and handling "thinking errors" that, if widely implemented, would make the Latter-day Saints the most clear-thinking, incisive, and confident people anywhere. BYU Pathway Worldwide offers solid university education to people everywhere, an incalculable blessing for millions of people. And the ever-increasing availability of temple around the world is enhancing spiritual strength and durability.

I discuss these and related topics at howtozion.com.  

2. No more contention. I started the blog "nomorecontention" (from Mosiah 1:1) to focus on the pursuit of clarity, charity, and understanding. Those three principles eliminate the sources of contention and enable people, regardless of their differences, to communicate in a productive manner for the benefit of everyone. Clarity eliminates misunderstandings based on obfuscation, word-thinking, censorship, etc. Some people resist clarity, but that becomes apparent when we focus on clarity and comparison. Charity involves giving people the benefit of the doubt and assuming they act in good faith. It exposes anyone who does not act in good faith, such as those who make ad hominem arguments. Understanding replaces the fundamental source of contention, which is the urge to seek conformity and compliance. Insecurity and lack of confidence lead people to seek validation through the opinions of others instead of the soundness of their own conclusions and beliefs. Confident people are interested in understanding what others think and why they think it. Clarity, charity and understanding, implemented through the FAITH model, will continue to improve conversations and relationships among everyone interested in the Restoration.

I discuss no more contention at nomorecontention.com. 

3. Gospel Topics Essays. The Gospel Topics Essays on Book of Mormon Translation and Geography have always been odd excursions into biased manipulation of historical sources combined with argumentative rhetoric, all in the service of SITH and M2C. They studiously avoid the clear, direct and unmistakable statements by Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on these topics, along with the corroborating statements by their successors in Church leadership and the corroborating extrinsic evidence. Rather than educate readers, the essays are dogmatic accommodations of the SITH and M2C agendas of influential intellectuals. But in late 2023, the Church announced a new approach to answering Gospel questions that make the essays obsolete. We can anticipate a revised set of essays that follow the principles outlined in the new guidelines, as discussed here:


4. General Prosperity. I'm naturally optimistic so I'm fascinated to see how world conditions continue to improve. Despite the inevitable conflicts, crime, and controversies, technology, communications, and idealism continue to improve living conditions for people everywhere. This is all setting the table for the continued expansion and development of the Restoration, as I discussed in the book The Rational Restoration and various blogs and podcasts.

All in all, the year 2024 should be awesome!

Thursday, December 28, 2023

2023 Year-end review: critics

2023 was the 10th anniversary of the Faith Crisis study and the ensuing Gospel Topics Essays that have promoted SITH (the stone-in-the-hat narrative) and have given critics plenty of material.

Former and non-LDS critics. In my book The Rational Restoration I included a section on apologetics. 

There is a lively ongoing series of debates and podcasts about topics related to the Restoration, with perspectives varying widely. People are easily confused by the back-and-forth because most parties avoid the simple principles of clarity, charity and understanding. 

I like to think everyone is trying to make the world a better place, and I hope that will lead more people to seek clarity, charity, and understanding.

But we also must deal with the real world.

I assume people are acting in good faith (charity), but in my view, much of the debate is driven by economics and academic pride. People make money doing popular podcasts. The so-called "Grievance Grifters" elicit disgruntled members, former members, and former critics to come on the podcasts and tell their stories. The more sensational the stories (and the titles), the more money the podcasters can make.

The stories typically follow a standard format. Someone is disturbed by reading a version of Church history that contradicts what they have believed, or someone was mistreated by another Church member(s). The grievance grows into an interesting narrative that becomes the topic for a podcast.

Mistreatment is endemic in human society, of course. Wherever I've traveled in the world, I've observed grievance grifters that profit from the misfortunes of others, whether religious, political, interpersonal, familial, socio-economic, or otherwise. None of this is new or unusual. I think the Church offers an exemplary program and setting to alleviate the incidence and impact of mistreatment, but human nature being what it is, problems persist. So there is plenty of material for the grievance grifters.

With regard to Church history problems, the sources and solutions are more easily defined.

In the book I discussed the background of the Faith Crisis study and the Gospel Topics Essays. Essentially, the Faith Crisis study, spearheaded by John Dehlin, claimed there was a "gap" between traditional Church teachings about history and the "actual" history. A principal "gap" was between the narrative that Joseph translated the plates by means of the Urim and Thummim that came with the plates (as he always said) and the narrative from others that he actually put a stone in a hat and read the words which appeared on the stone.

Anyone can read the faith crisis study here:


It was a clever play. Dehlin produced the study, then certain LDS scholars wrote the Gospel Topics Essay on translation which doesn't even quote what Joseph and Oliver said but instead gives credence to their detractors, and then Dehlin and other non-LDS critics use the Gospel Topics Essay to create doubt and undermine faith, using the tactics they learned from the Faith Crisis study.

As if that's not bad enough, even faithful LDS quote the Gospel Topics Essays as if they supersede the scriptures, the teachings of the prophets, and authentic historical documents.

Which leads to the second category.

LDS critics. 

The reframe that I propose reinterprets all the historical sources to support and corroborate what Joseph and Oliver always said. IOW, I propose that Joseph used the Urim and Thummim that came with the plates to translate the engravings. Not only did he (and Oliver) always declare that, but this is the most parsimonious explanation for the Book of Mormon. Plus. Joseph as actual translator explains the so-called anachronisms and other "problems" that critics such as the CES Letter rely upon.

The problem: my reframe contradicts the teachings of certain LDS scholars, particularly those involved with the Gospel Topics Essays and their peers.

Consequently, some of them have apparently become offended because I criticized their work in the process of offering the faith-affirming reframes.

I'm happy to engage anyone on any topic because I value clarity, charity and understanding. I don't refuse to talk with people. I don't refuse to meet people. I personally like the LDS scholars and intellectuals I've met, as well as the critics. It is interesting to learn how and why people think the way they do.

I'm told that my training and experience as a lawyer has conferred an element of detachment that makes it easy for me to separate ideas from personal life. I'm happy to change my mind in the face of a better argument and/or new information and I don't feel threatened by disagreement. However, apparently that's not the case for others.

Academics and intellectuals apparently are notorious for "owning" their own research and conclusions, to the point they feel personally threatened if their ideas are challenged or rejected.

I'm hoping that in 2024 and moving forward, everyone, including critics and faithful LDS, will incorporate the principles of clarity, charity and understanding to achieve the "no more contention" described in Mosiah 1:1.

And here: www.nomorecontention.com

But because this is a retrospective on 2023, we need to document a bizarre development during the year.


One unique aspect of the Restoration is the concept of vicarious ordinances for those who have died.

One of my critics applied this principle to apologetics by getting offended on behalf of other scholars. He was vicariously offended. 

He used the pseudonym of Peter Pan and wrote what is apparently an extensive blog criticizing my work. People told me about it, so I read a post a few years ago and thought it was so ridiculous and juvenile it wasn't worth the time to respond. 

People also related their suspicions about the identity of Peter Pan but I didn't care because the pseudonym seemed apt to me: a boy who refused to grow up writes a goofy blog. I figured the whole thing would blow away.

But one prominent LDS scholar promoted the blog. Then, in 2023, the identity of Peter Pan was exposed. I offered to take him to lunch to get to know one another, but he refused, apparently because he was offended by something. A grown-up man wouldn't have refused, so I figured he was living up to the pseudonym.

I asked AI about grown men wearing a Peter Pan suit and got this:

It turned out that the situation was even more absurd than this image.

The individual and his friends had created yet another false identity, this time a fictious Black Latter-day Saint commentator. It's a complicated story that was the subject of a podcast or two, so I blogged about the whole thing here:


There were also reports that the person who created "Peter Pan" had entered a pawn shop seeking one of the prominent non-LDS critics.

I asked AI about it and got this:

I won't venture to discuss the psychology behind all of this, but here are some of the graphics from the podcast that explain the situation.

Prominent LDS apologists in the citation cartel
who promoted the "Peter Pan" charade
(click to enlarge)

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

2023 Year end review: narratives

2023 saw important developments regarding narratives in Church history, including books, articles, conferences, and innumerable podcasts, conversations, and other exchanges of ideas.


Richard Bushman published his important book, Joseph Smith's Gold Plates: A Cultural History

Bushman is the single best scholar of Church history today (IMO). He is open-minded, careful, thoughtful, and knowledgeable. If more LDS scholars adopted his approach to history, we'd all be much better off.

This book is the best overview of the cultural history about the gold plates.

In the book, Bushman referred to several of my books. He described the two separate sets of plates scenario, whereby Joseph translated the abridged plates from Moroni's stone box in Harmony and Nephi's original plates from the repository in Fayette (Whatever Happened to the Golden Plates?). He discussed the connections with Jonathan Edwards (Infinite Goodness: Joseph Smith, Jonathan Edwards, and the Book of Mormon). He explained the view that perhaps Joseph and Oliver were correct all along when they said Joseph translated with the Urim and Thummim that came with the plates (A Man that Can Translate and By Means of the Urim and Thummim.)

For many readers, this was the first time they have heard of these concepts. Bushman's book is not only a significant contribution in its own right, but by bringing these alternative, faithful narratives to the attention of the Latter-day Saints and others interested in the Restoration, Bushman has breathed new life into an appreciation for Joseph and Oliver that contradicts the prevailing narratives of SITH and M2C.


Another important book published this year is By Means of the Urim and Thummim: Restoring Translation to the Restoration, which I wrote with my co-author, James Lucas. 

In this book we built on the material in A Man that Can Translate to assess the various accounts of the translation and to propose a new model of the translation that incorporates the known historical evidence. 

For example, we discussed how Joseph Smith III, who interviewed his mother Emma for her "Last Testimony," did not even mention that "Last Testimony" in his subsequent analysis of the translation process. JSIII concluded that, contrary to Davie Whitmer's numerous statements promoting SITH, Joseph used the Urim and Thummim as the sole, or at least primary, instrument for the translation. 

It is significant that JSIII, who conducted the interview that produced the "Last Testimony" and published it after his mother's death, apparently gave it little credibility regarding the method of translation. This is a sharp contrast to the way modern LDS scholars and critics, including the Saints book, the Gospel Topics Essays, and John Dehlin's Mormon Stories, accept the "Last Testimony" as a credible, reliable refutation of what Joseph and Oliver always said.


My book The Rational Restoration: Reframes in the Pursuit of Clarity, Charity and Understanding offers dozens of reframes of well-known historical evidence to propose that the Restoration is rational. 

Although the book covers the topics of SITH and M2C, it extends far beyond those. 

The pursuit of clarity, charity and understanding is designed to promote "no more contention" among scholars, critics, and others who express opinions and interpretations about the Restoration. The pursuit of clarity asks everyone to distinguish Facts from Assumptions, Inferences, and Theories so ancestry of the disparate Hypotheses can be readily understood. (This is the FAITH model.) The pursuit of charity assumes everyone acts in good faith and eliminates ad hominem arguments. The pursuit of understanding transforms the compulsion for conformity, conversion and persuasion, which is the heart of contention, into a confident, generous and sincere desire to understand how others think and live.

For example, it does not seem rational to accept what Joseph and Oliver clearly taught through their published statements about every topic except for the origin and setting of the Book of Mormon. When scholars and critics reject what they taught on the ground that those teachings contradict the private theories of the scholars and critics (such as SITH and M2C), they adopt an irrational approach to the Restoration.


Among significant blog posts, articles, presentations, podcasts, and conversations are these.

The Jonathan Hadley narrative. In August 1829, Hadley published the first known article that mentions the translation. Some scholars have claimed that Hadley heard the SITH account directly from Joseph Smith, but Hadley himself never said he met Joseph and instead he dealt only with Martin Harris. Hadley explained he was strongly opposed to the Book of Mormon, which contradicts the fictional narrative promoted in books by certain LDS scholars.


Clarity about M2C. In 2023 a couple of prominent M2C scholars gave interviews about the origins of M2C that reaffirmed what we've been saying on this blog for years. Basically, M2C originated with a focus on Central America in anonymous articles published in the 1842 Times and Seasons. Then, relying on the assumption (not fact) that Book of Mormon events took place in Central America, an RLDS scholars named L.E. Hills published a map showing Cumorah in southern Mexico. Eventually LDS scholars adopted this approach and developed a narrative about Mesoamerica that confirms their bias. It's a fascinating history, discussed here:


Joseph as a translator. The origin of the Book of Mormon continues to generate conversation and debate. At one extreme, people characterize Joseph as an ignorant, illiterate farm boy plucked out of oblivion and transformed into a prophet by miraculous intervention. At the other extreme, people characterize Joseph as a manipulative, clever, treasure-seeking scoundrel who composed the Book of Mormon and created a church to seek power and wealth. Both sides cite historical evidence to support their positions. In my view, an alternative narrative is both more plausible and better attested. This is the view that God prepared Joseph Smith from a young age to become a translator and prophet. The life-threatening leg surgery at a young age led Joseph to become a religious seeker and his disability enabled him to acquire an "intimate acquaintance" with those of different denominations. Among these was Jonathan Edwards, whose language and concepts permeate the Book of Mormon, second only to the influence of the King James Bible. In 2023 I expanded on the Infinite Goodness book by publishing on Kindle the expanded Nonbiblical Intertextual Database, a living document that continues to grow.


A list of podcasts is available here:



In addition to the various sites linked to above, we've added numerous posts to these sites:





In December, the Church announced the Church announced a new resource called "Topics and Questions" which replaces "Gospel Topics." 


This is a significant improvement. Hopefully the concept and methodology will eventually permeate all Gospel instruction and study throughout the Church.

To live up to the new approach, the Gospel Topics Essays will need to be revised substantially. We hope to see this take place during 2024.


There were many more positive developments in 2023 that we could discuss here, including the expansion of temple and missionary work, the growth of Pathway and other educational and self-reliance programs, increasing interaction with other faith communities, and even less contention among Latter-day Saints. 

Everything is awesome.


We'll discuss critics tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

2023 Year-end review: Joseph Smith Papers

We'll review 2024 in the next four days.

Tuesday: Joseph Smith Papers

Wednesday: Translation and other developments

Thursday: Critics

Friday: The Rational Restoration and looking forward


The Joseph Smith Papers project concluded this year with a conference in September that I attended. President Oaks announced a new biography of Joseph Smith will be written. The proceedings are available here:


A nice overview of the project was published in the Deseret News here:


The Joseph Smith Papers are an essential resource for anyone interested in Church history. The documentation is impeccable and comprehensive. I encourage everyone to become familiar with the Joseph Smith Papers website.

Most of the editorial commentary is outstanding. The notes provide useful, relevant historical background for the original documents and show relationships among documents and sources that aid in interpretation and understanding.

But, as I've noted before, there is an unfortunate and undisclosed editorial bias throughout the papers. In the pursuit of clarity, charity and understanding, I discussed that bias with respect to Volume 5 of Revelations and Translations in a paper I posted on academia.org. 


While I hope that the errors produced by the bias will eventually be corrected, to date it has not been. Recently I updated that paper. I'm posting the update below for convenience.


Agenda-driven editorial content in the Joseph Smith Papers

Review of The Joseph Smith Papers, Revelations and Translations, Volume 5: Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon, eds. Royal Skousen and Robin Scott Jensen (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2021), 755 pages.


Abstract: This volume is a monumental achievement. The eagerly awaited publication of high-resolution images of the extant pages of the Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon, with detailed transcripts, enables students of the Book of Mormon to explore the earliest text for themselves. The volume editors, Royal Skousen and Robin Scott Jensen, also edited the equally impressive Volume 3, parts 1 and 2, which contained the Printer’s Manuscript. The bulk of Volume 5 consists of the documents and transcripts, which speak for themselves. Appendixes (226 pages) provide additional images and information. All of this is excellent. The 16-page Volume 5 Introduction provides historical context about the discovery, translation, and usage of the material. However, the editorial content in several instances impedes an objective analysis because the editors have manipulated the historical record to reflect their own editorial positions on controversial topics, specifically the manner of translation and the historicity of the narrative of the Book of Mormon. A future addendum, or perhaps revisions in the digital version of this volume, could alleviate these problems by providing a more comprehensive and accurate historical context for understanding the Original Manuscript.  


Students of the Book of Mormon have long anticipated Volume 5 of Revelations and Translations, the Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon. The volume expertly fulfills its principal objective, as set out on the website:

“The Joseph Smith Papers Project is an effort to gather together all extant Joseph Smith documents and to publish complete and accurate transcripts of those documents with both textual and contextual annotation.”[1]

The transcripts of the outstanding facsimile reproductions of the extant pages of the Original Manuscript are clear and easy to follow. The captions at the upper right of each page enable readers to rapidly locate the passages according to the current LDS versification, but oddly do not indicate the page number in the 1830 edition. Adding the RLDS (CofC) versification would have been helpful for students from that tradition.  

As expected, the Volume contains an introduction and footnotes, pursuant to the policy set forth in the Joseph Smith Papers website

“The print volumes include rich annotation, including series and volume introductions, a full source note and historical introduction for each document, and textual and contextual footnotes.”[2]

Such annotation is appropriate because the historical context for these documents is somewhat complex and obscure to modern readers. As a publication of the Church Historian’s Press, readers understandably assume that the editorial content will present, or at least accommodate, faithful Church narratives.

But there are multiple faithful Church narratives. Favoring one over another does a disservice to readers, particularly where alternative faithful narratives are suppressed by manipulating the historical record.

This volume, like several other volumes of the Joseph Smith Papers, is impaired by unstated but obvious editorial agendas. One would expect a review process to compensate for editorial bias, but that has not been the case, perhaps because the reviewers share the same agendas.

The volume editors, Royal Skousen and Robin Scott Jensen, also edited Volume 3, parts 1 and 2, which contained the Printer’s Manuscript.

Royal Skousen has been widely recognized as the preeminent scholar of the text of the Book of Mormon. For decades he has studied the text in both the Original and Printer’s Manuscripts, offering numerous insights. His factual research and presentations are exemplary. However, he has presented controversial opinions and theories based on his subjective interpretations of the facts. While everyone is entitled to an opinion, promoting one’s opinion by manipulating historical sources is unworthy of scholarly work such as the Joseph Smith Papers—especially when the bias is not presented for readers’ consideration.   

Skousen’s views as they affect Volume 5 impact two separate topics: Book of Mormon historicity and the source of the words Joseph Smith dictated.

Skousen has separately written a comprehensive scholarly series titled The History of the Text of the Book of Mormon, including several parts, published by BYU Studies and the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS).[3]

FARMS and BYU Studies have long promoted the “limited geography” Mesoamerican/Two-Cumorahs (M2C) theory of Book of Mormon geography. As of this writing (January 2022), BYU Studies still features study aids that promote M2C, including “Ten Essential Features of Book of Mormon Geography”[4] that present Mesoamerica as the only possible setting, and maps showing Cumorah in southern Mexico[5] and Book of Mormon sites in Mesoamerica.[6]

John (Jack) Welch, one of the founders of FARMS, was the Editor-in-Chief of BYU Studies from 1991 to 2018. In 2016 he co-founded Book of Mormon Central (BMC), which heavily promotes M2C.

One manifestation of the BMC agenda is its adoption of the FARMS Logo. The logo depicts the four languages of the scriptures: Hebrew for the Old Testament, Greek for the New Testament, Egyptian for the Book of Abraham, and Mayan for the Book of Mormon.

The FARMS logo is printed on the title page of each volume of Skousen’s History of the Text of the Book of Mormon.

FARMS publications, like BMC publications, promote M2C to the exclusion of other possible settings for the Book of Mormon—particularly settings that incorporate the New York Cumorah as described in Church history documents. As will become apparent in this paper, the editors of Volume 5 resorted to unusual editorial methodology to accommodate M2C in the face of historical documents that establish the New York Cumorah.

Regarding the second topic—the source of the words Joseph dictated—Skousen has explained that, in his opinion, Joseph Smith did not translate the plates. For example, in Volume XX, he wrote, “

More recently, Skousen has explained that he not only rejects the claim that Joseph used the Urim and Thummim to produce the text we have today, but he believes Joseph and Oliver intentionally misled the world about the translation.

“Joseph Smith’s claim that he used the Urim and Thummim is only partially true; and Oliver Cowdery’s statements that Joseph used the original instrument while he, Oliver, was the scribe appear to be intentionally misleading.”[7]

At a minimum, the editors of Volume 5 should alert readers to their biases in favor of M2C and SITH. Ideally, they would do so while acknowledging alternative interpretations of the same historical facts, including interpretations that corroborate what Joseph and Oliver claimed.

These editorial biases are not limited to Volume 5. Examples can be found in the editorial annotations, notes and commentary throughout the Joseph Smith Papers, both in the printed versions and the online material.

Unless and until the editors of the Joseph Smith Papers address this pervasive problem of editorial bias, readers will continue to be deprived of the full range of information they need to make their own informed decisions.

The rest of this paper gives examples of the editorial bias in Volume 5, citing original material in bold typeface, followed by analysis.




Analysis as of December 27, 2021. Original in blue, my comments in purple

Page xi

In the earliest hours of 22 September 1827, Joseph Smith left his parents' home in Manchester, New York, with his wife Emma and traveled a few miles to a nearby hill.[8]

You can see the cited page in Lucy's History here: https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/lucy-mack-smith-history-1845/112.


The earlier version of Lucy's history is here: https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/lucy-mack-smith-history-1844-1845/60.


The passage says nothing about where Joseph and Emma went that night, let alone that they "traveled a few miles to a nearby hill." An accurate footnote would be placed after "Emma" in this sentence. Instead, the editors misleadingly put it after "nearby hill."


Why would careful editors commit such an obvious error? Perhaps the answer has to do with where we get the information about the "nearby hill" this sentence refers to.


The phrase "nearby hill" appears nowhere in Lucy's histories, but she did explain that (i) the hill was 3 miles from their home and (ii) between their home and Manchester. Her explanation supports the idea that the "hill" was "nearby," but the JSP editors never quote or cite these passages because in both of them, Lucy explicitly identified the hill as Cumorah.


The JSP editors have collaborated with the M2C scholars to accommodate M2C by employing terminology that is not in the historical record and avoiding quotations of (or even citations to) the actual record.


Lucy described the proximity of the hill in the passage that the M2C scholars refuse to quote or cite, but we can all read it right in Lucy's own history when she related what Moroni told Joseph during his first visit:


the record is on a side hill on the Hill of Cumorah 3 miles from this place remove the Grass and moss and you will find a large flat stone pry that up and you will find the record under it laying on 4 pillars <of cement> then the angel left him




We see from Lucy's account that Cumorah was only 3 miles from the Smith home, which can reasonably be described as "nearby." But others might think "nearby" connotes a distance much less than 3 miles. Why use the ambiguous term "nearby" when we have an actual historical account of the distance? And why not cite Lucy's specific statement instead of citing a passage that doesn't even mention the hill?


If you go to that link, you'll see that the JSP editors have lined this passage out of the transcript, even though we can all see it is not lined out on the original manuscript. An accurate transcript could show the blue marks that the editors apparently assumed were equivalent to a line-out. Instead, they imposed their editorial line-out.


Another passage from Lucy about the "hill" shows its proximity to the home, but the JSP editors never quote or cite this one, either.


Lucy related that one day in early 1827, Joseph went to Manchester on an errand. He was late coming home. He explained that he had received a severe chastisement. His father became angry and wanted to know which of the neighbors was involved. Joseph replied (and Lucy put this in quotations):


“Stop, father, Stop.” said Joseph, “it was the angel of the Lord— as I passed by the hill of Cumorah, where the plates are, the angel of the Lord met me and said, that I had not been engaged enough in the work of the Lord; that the time had come for the record to <be> brought forth...




We see from Lucy's account that Joseph and his family already knew the name of the hill before he even translated the plates, and that the hill was located between Manchester and the family home. This account corroborates what Moroni told Joseph; i.e., that the hill Cumorah was 3 miles from the Smith home.


The JSP editors should not omit these informative, relevant and authentic historical accounts, particularly when they do so to present their own theories as fact.


He later recounted that while at the hill, he unearthed a set of “plates of gold," whose existence had been revealed to him four years earlier by an angel.

If you search the Joseph Smith Papers for the phrase "plates of gold," you get 12 results.




Not one of these mentions a hill:


He told me also of a sacred record which was written on plates of gold. I saw in the vision the place where they were deposited.


After being warned several times, he went to the spot and found the record engraved on leaves or plates of gold fastened together by rings passing through one edge of all the leaves


he revealed unto me that in the Town of Manchester Ontario County N. Y. there was plates of gold upon which there was engravings which was engraven by Maroni his fathers the servants of the living God


he told me of a sacred record which was written on plates of gold, I saw in the vision the place where they were deposited, he said the indians, were the literal descendants of Abraham


He told me also of a sacred record which was written on plates of gold. I saw in the vision the place where they were deposited. He said to me the Indians were the literal decendants of Abraham.


To learn the plates were deposited in a hill, we have to go to Lucy Mack Smith, but the JSP editors won't tell readers that because in those statements Lucy explained the hill was called Cumorah by Moroni himself. Instead, they refer to the hill and quote "plates of gold" as if the same source provided both elements.


To be sure, Lucy's 1845 history includes an insertion from the 1842 Times and Seasons that refers to a hill of considerable size "Convenient to the village of Manchester..." But "convenient" does not mean "nearby." We rely on Lucy's accounts, as well as Letter VII, to learn that the hill was actually nearby. But the JSP editors won't explain their sources to their readers.


Readers should also know that the 1842 Times and Seasons account was composed by Joseph's scribes several years after Letter VII had already established that the Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 is the same hill where Joseph found the plates. Letter VII was republished in the 1841 Times and Seasons as well so that readers of the 1842 Times and Seasons already knew the hill that was "convenient to the village of Manchester" was named Cumorah anciently.


Because of this misdirection by the JSP editors, even "engaged learners" who read this volume 5 of the Joseph Smith Papers are kept in the dark about all of this actual history.


During his first encounter with the angel, Smith saw in a vision the location of the plates and was told that they contained an ancient record that God intended to bring forth to the world.

Here again, the editors omit Lucy’s explanation that Moroni told Joseph the name of the hill during this first encounter.

When Smith attempted to acquire the plates after the angel's first visit, the angel informed him that he must wait to receive them and should return to the same spot annually for further instruction. Finally, in 1827, Joseph Smith was allowed to take possession of the plates.[9] Within two and a half years of obtaining them, he had produced a manuscript and published the Book of Mormon, an account of ancient inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere.

This is revisionist history that should have no place in a historical volume. If the editors insist on editorializing instead of presenting accurate history, they should clearly explain what (and why) they are doing.


The term "Western Hemisphere" is a modern construct. It has been applied to Church history to obfuscate the actual accounts and to accommodate the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory.


If you search the Joseph Smith Papers for the term "western hemisphere," you'll see that there are zero historical documents related to the Book of Mormon that use this term.




Instead, we find the JSP editors using the term to editorialize in their commentary:


Moroni, Smith was to learn, was the last in a long line of prophets in the Western Hemisphere who had written their story, just as the prophets in Palestine had written the Bible.


In his description of the Book of Mormon, Orson Pratt superimposed his understanding of Book of Mormon geography onto the Western Hemisphere by placing the Nephites in South America and the Jaredites in North America.


The actual history, which the JSP editors never quote or cite out of deference to M2C, is far more specific:


I was also informed concerning the aboriginal inhabitants of this country, and shown who they were, and from whence they came... The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country.




See also https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/latter-day-saints-1844/3


He then proceeded and gave a general account of the promises made to the fathers, and also gave a history of the aborigenes of this country, and said they were literal descendants of Abraham.... He said this history was written and deposited not far from that place, and that it was our brother’s privilege, if obedient to the commandments of the Lord, to obtain and translate the same by the means of the Urim and Thummim, which were deposited for that purpose with the record.




Using the term “Western Hemisphere” as if it was a historical term discredits the credibility of the editorial content throughout the Joseph Smith Papers.


A little over a decade after the publication of the Book of Mormon, the manuscript was deposited in the cornerstone of a boardinghouse then being built in Nauvoo, Illinois. When the manuscript was retrieved several decades later, it had sustained significant damage from water seepage.[10] What was left of the manuscript was parceled out to various individuals in the final decades of the nineteenth century.

This volume of The Joseph Smith Papers features what remains of the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon dictated by Joseph Smith. Of the nearly 500 pages that were placed in the Nauvoo House cornerstone, portions of 232 pages survive, amounting to roughly 28 percent of the text. Some of what remains is badly faded, obscured, or otherwise damaged. This volume presents photographic and typographic facsimiles of each Book of Mormon fragment that can be identified and placed among the other leaves or fragments. This presentation allows researchers unprecedented access to the earliest text of the Book of Mormon.[11] The transcripts and annotation in this volume rely upon years of earlier work by volume editor Royal Skousen as part of the Book of Mormon Critical Text Project.[12] This volume adds to



Page xii


that work by presenting high-resolution photographs of every page or identifiable fragment of the manuscript.[13] The statement of editorial method on page xxvii herein provides a description of the differences between the transcription approach used in this volume and the approach followed in Skousen's earlier work.

Joseph Smith and his contemporaries often spoke of his work dictating the Book of Mormon text from the plates as a divine or miraculous “translation.”

The use of scare quotes here tells readers not to read the term literally or in its ordinary sense. The editors share an opinion that Joseph didn’t translate the plates in any normal sense of the word.

Smith and his supporters testified that his ability to translate was a gift from God, which allowed him to dictate in English the text of an ancient history written in a forgotten language, even though he had no scholarly training.[14]

When mentioning the translation process, Joseph Smith stated on several occasions that he had translated the Book of Mormon “by the gift and power of God."[15]

While technically accurate, the quoted phrase omits Joseph’s references to the Urim and Thummim such as “Through the medium of the Urim and Thummim I translated the record by the gift and power of God.” and “being translated by the gift and power of God by the use of the Urim and Thummim.”

The editors don’t explain why they omit the Urim and Thummim when the mention the translation process, but we can infer one reason is the widespread belief among LDS scholars that Joseph did not use the Urim and Thummim. One of the editors of this volume, Royal Skousen, has declared that, in his opinion, “Joseph Smith’s claim that he used the Urim and Thummim is only partially true; and Oliver Cowdery’s statements that Joseph used the original instrument while he, Oliver, was the scribe appear to be intentionally misleading.”

Skousen’s bias permeates the editorial content of this volume of the Joseph Smith Papers.


If anyone directly involved in the translation described it in a contemporaneous diary, letter, or other record, that documentation has not been discovered. Though in this same period Joseph Smith dictated revelations that addressed the translation process, he presented those texts as containing the thoughts and words of God on the Book of Mormon translation, rather than his own.[16] Smith himself never gave a detailed account of the translation, [this is the logical fallacy that the absence of any record of a detailed account means Joseph never gave such an account] and all the available historical sources describing the process are imperfect [no historical source can be perfect]—some are later recollections of those who participated in or observed the process, others are rumors that were reported shortly after the translation, and still others are secondhand accounts, preserved either in documents from the time period or in later reminiscences.

[Even people claiming to be eyewitnesses did not distinguish between what they actually saw, what they assumed they saw, what they inferred, and what they heard from others.]

Such sources are incomplete in part because Smith was assisted by at least seven scribes, meaning that he himself was the only person present for the entire translation.[17] Because elements of the process—including the use of an instrument, the location of translation work, and the scribe assisting Smith—evidently changed over time, a witness who observed the translation only at a certain point in the process would be unable to describe what the process looked like at other stages. Nevertheless, the contours of Joseph Smith’s translation process can be discerned by studying the accounts of Smith and his associates and by comparing their assertions against one another's and against the evidence in the original manuscript itself.

[We need to also consider the context and other factors that may have motivated the witness testimony.]

p. xiii


Translation Begins

Joseph Smith's mother, Lucy Mack Smith, recorded that her son acquired the plates in the early morning of 22 September 1827.[18] Joseph Knight, a friend and early supporter, reported that Joseph Smith spoke that same morning of plates “writen in Caracters" and of his desire that they be translated. Knight also remembered the troubles that arose after Smith obtained the plates: "He (Smith) was Commanded not to let no one see those things [the plates].... But many insisted and oferd money and Property to see them [.] But for keeping them from the Peopel they persecuted and abused them (the Smith family) and they ware obliged to hide them."[19] Many people in rural New York in Joseph Smith's time believed they could exercise supernatural power—to find buried treasure, for instance through the use of seer stones or divining rods or through prescribed rituals.[20] Joseph Smith spent time in his youth digging for treasure with neighbors and friends, and many of his former treasure-digging associates felt they had a claim to the plates.[21]


[Notice the changed editorial treatment that reflects editorial bias. In this paragraph, Lucy “recorded” and Knight “reported” and “remembered,” but the last two sentences are reported as fact. An accurate, unbiased narrative would observe that some sources reported that Joseph dug for treasure.


Neighbors in Manchester and nearby Palmyra, New York, made “the most strenious exertions" to steal the plates from Joseph Smith.[22]

[Throughout this introduction and the Joseph Smith Papers themselves, the editors accept Lucy Mack Smith’s account as accurate and factual except whenever Lucy’s account contradicts the editors’ opinions and theories. The Cumorah example is notorious, but there are other examples as well.]

If Smith tried to translate the plates in Manchester during the final months of 1827, that activity is lost to history. According to family and friends, his main focus at that time was protecting and hiding the plates from those who sought to steal them.[23] Eventually, the disruptions proved too great to bear; in late 1827, he and Emma moved about 150 miles southeast to live near her family in Harmony Township, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, where he could focus on translating the ancient record.[24]

Once in Harmony, Joseph Smith began studying the plates closely. He recalled in 1832 that his Palmyra neighbor Martin Harris arrived in Harmony and said that God "had shown him that he must go to new York City with some of the characters” from the plates. Smith and Harris “proceeded to coppy some of them and he [Harris) took his Journy to the Eastern Cittys.”[25]

Smith recalled years later that when he arrived in Harmony, he “copyed a considerable number” of characters, along with translations of some of the characters, and Harris then arrived and took them to New York City.[26]

[This sentence is out of order chronologically and again omits the key role of the Urim and Thummim. In his history, Joseph was not vague about the details of timing and his use of the Urim and Thummim. “immediately after my arrival there [in Pennsylvania] I commenced copying the characters off the plates. I copied a considerable number of them, and by means of the Urim and Thummim I translated some of them, which I did between the time I arrived at the house of my wife’s father, in the month of December, and the February following.” (Joseph Smith—History 1:62)

While in New York City, Harris visited scholars who were skilled with languages. He



p. xiv


met with Samuel Mitchill, a linguist who had studied several Native American languages, and Mitchill referred him to Charles Anthon, a specialist in Latin and Greek.[27]

Anthon and Harris gave differing accounts of their encounter. Harris recalled that Anthon told him that the “translation was correct," affirmed that the characters weretrue characters,” and supplied a written certificate attesting to that. But when Harris told Anthon about the characters' origin, Anthon retrieved the note he had just written and tore it up, “saying that there was no such thing now as ministring of angels.”[28] Anthon's accounts [more accurately, “accounts attributed to Anthon” because these are republications of Anthon’s work, not letters in Anthon’s handwriting], however, suggest that he questioned the document and its origin story from the beginning and feared Smith was defrauding Harris of his money.[29] Harris left New York empty-handed, having obtained neither an independent translation of the characters nor written confirmation of their authenticity. Nevertheless, Harris returned to Harmony with conviction that the work was divinely inspired, and he left behind his own family and farm in New York for a time in order to assist Smith in the translation effort.[30]

Translation in Harmony

After Harris returned to Harmony in April 1828, Joseph Smith began translating in earnest. He apparently spent about two months dictating a sizable portion of text.[31] Emma Smith, Martin Harris, and Reuben Hale acted as scribes for this earliest portion of the manuscript.[32] One source states that Harris wrote this portion, while Emma Smith recalled that she wrote "a part of it.”[33] Because this portion of the manuscript was later lost, it is impossible to determine how much each scribe assisted.

Emma Smith and Martin Harris both stated that Joseph Smith used an object or instrument to assist in translation: he would place the instrument into a hat and, burying his face in the hat, would peer into the instrument.[34]

[The two citations here differ substantially, such that combining them is misleading. They were 50 years apart. Emma’s purported “Last Testimony” was published after her death, lacked her acknowledgment, supported the positions of her son who produced it, and was strongly repudiated with respect to the polygamy portions, to the point that witnesses in Salt Lake suggested Emma didn’t say what the testimony claims. The “Golden Bible” citation is a brief newspaper summary that appears to amalgamate rumors, possibly including what Martin said, but postdates the translation in Fayette for which Martin was not a scribe.] 

One of the instruments Smith used was apparently a set of two stones, at times called “spectacles" in early sources, that he said were recovered from the hill along with the plates.[35] These spectacles were thought to be the “interpreters” that the Book of Mormon text says would be preserved


p. xv.


with the plates.[36]

[The term “apparently” here casts doubt on the explicit statements by Joseph and Oliver that he translated by means of the Urim and Thummim. Use of the passive voice (“thought to be”) suggests this was merely a tradition instead of the express teaching of Joseph and Oliver. The citations to Alma are misleading because in the Original Manuscript and 1830 editions, Alma referred to directors, not interpreters. That wording was changed in later editions.] 

Decades later, Harris [reportedly] described these objects: "Two stones set in a bow of silver were about two inches in diameter, perfectly round. ... The stones were white, like polished marble, with a few gray streaks.”[37] Joseph Smith himself described the instrument as consisting of "two transparent stones.”[38] [The note cites the Wentworth letter in which Joseph referred to the instrument as the Urim and Thummim.]

Lucy Mack Smith, who remembered seeing the spectacles before her son's move to Harmony, gave a description of the instrument that is similar to Harris's: "2 smooth 3 cornered diamonds set in glass and the glass was set in silver bows conected with each other in the same way that old fashioned spectacles are made.”[39]

In the course of the translation, Smith also used a seer stone that was in his possession before he obtained the plates. [Here is an example of stating an opinion as fact instead of accurately reporting what witnesses said and letting readers decide for themselves.]

Both the spectacles and the seer stone were at times called interpreters, and the biblical term Urim and Thummim was later used to refer to both instruments as well.[40]

[This is another example of stating an opinion as fact instead of accurately reporting what witnesses said and letting readers decide for themselves. This one is especially egregious because it is based not on contemporary historical accounts but on later speculation by modern scholars, such as the cited paper by Mark Ashurst-McGee who is the Senior Research and Review Editor of the Joseph Smith Papers (an example of the citation cartel). The note cites Oliver Cowdery’s Letter 1, in which he explicitly connects the Urim and Thummim to the Nephite interpreters. The note doesn’t cite Joseph Smith’s explicit statement that Moroni identified the interpreters that accompanied the plates as Urim and Thummim. This issue deserves more discussion, but it is inexcusable for these scholars to present their own theories as fact.]


Before Joseph Smith switched to using primarily the seer stone for translation, Martin Harris recalled that Smith often used the stone instead of the spectacles “for convenience.”

[It’s difficult to tell whether this sentence was merely written poorly or is intentionally misleading. The Martin Harris recollection came decades after Joseph died, not before Joseph “switched” to the seer stone. And the claim that Joseph “switched” to the seer stone is thinking past the sale. Emma claimed Joseph used the Urim and Thummim to translate the 116 pages, directly contradicting the Harris recollection. Joseph and Oliver always said Joseph translated by means of the Urim and Thummim, meaning that whatever Joseph did with the seer stone, it was not translating. Yet the authors here glide right over these problems by presenting their theories as fact.]

Harris also remembered that only the specific stone Smith used would work for translating.

[That’s not what Harris said, even if his account recorded over 50 years after the fact is credible and reliable. Harris himself is quoted as saying Joseph used the Urim and Thummim behind a blanket and that he never dared look to see what Joseph used. Joseph always said he used the Urim and Thummim, not the “specific stone” the editors refer to here.]

An interviewer later recorded Harris's account of a time when he tested Smith by replacing the instrument Smith ordinarily used with a similar-looking stone. During a break in the translation work, Harris “found a stone very much resembling the one used for translating, and on resuming their labor of translation, Martin put in place the stone that he had found.” When they resumed translating, Smith was silent for some time and then exclaimed, “Martin! What is the matter? All is as dark as Egypt.” Harris confessed to switching the stones and explained that "he had done so ... to stop the mouths of fools, who had told him that the Prophet had learned those sentences and was merely repeating them.”[41]

[There are several problems with this account that I have discussed previously. It’s astonishing that the editors would quote this account in full without once (so far) quoting what Joseph and Oliver said about the translation.]

Some accounts discuss the mechanics of this earliest translation work. Emma Smith told her son Joseph Smith III later in her life, “I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table close by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us.”

[This is the same “Testimony” attributed to Emma that she never authenticated, that was recorded shortly before she died, and that JSIII published after her death and 50 years after the events. JSIII had begun the interview by specifically seeking to refute the Spalding theory. Emma’s comments, even if authentic, explicitly refuted the Spalding theory.]

She continued, “When acting as his scribe, your father would dictate to me hour after hour; and when returning after meals, or after interruptions, he would at once begin where he had left off, without either seeing the manuscript or having any portion of it read to him.”[42]

[JSIII failed to ask obvious follow-up questions to test reliability and credibility, such as “Which parts of the Book of Mormon did you write?” and “When and where did you write?” Her statement here is consistent with Joseph translating the plates; i.e., he could end a session at the bottom of a plate and resume at the top of the next plate.]

In another interview, she added more details: “When he came to proper names he could not pronounce, or long words, he spelled them out, and while I was writing


p. xvi.

them, if I made any mistake in spelling, he would stop me and correct my spelling though it was impossible for him to see how I was writing them down at the time.”

[Note 36 below explains that there are misspelled words throughout the manuscript. While none of the extant Original Manuscript is in Emma’s handwriting, claims that Joseph corrected spelling before the translation could continue are disproven by the manuscript, even if Joseph did spell out some names.]

A particular memory remained with Emma throughout her life: “One time while he was translating he stopped suddenly, pale as a sheet, and said, 'Emma, did Jerusalem have walls around it?' When I answered 'Yes', he replied, 'Oh! I was afraid I had been deceived.""[43]

An 1881 article based on Martin Harris's reminiscences recounted what he had observed and inferred of the translation process: “By aid of the seer stone, sentences would appear and were read by the Prophet and written by Martin, and when finished he would say, “Written,” and if correctly written, that sentence would disappear and another appear in its place, but if not written correctly it remained until corrected, so that the translation was just as it was engraven on the plates, precisely in the language then used.”[44]

[Here again, we don’t have the 116 pages, but the extant Original Manuscript contains numerous errors. Plus, Joseph made thousands of editorial changes in subsequent editions. No one thought to ask Harris obvious follow-up questions, such as asking for specific examples from the text or time and place of these events.]

Both Harris and Emma Smith testified the translation was given to Joseph Smith by divine means.

Several accounts from other observers suggest that a partition separated Smith from his scribes during an early phase of the translation process but that later they worked with nothing separating them. Sallie McKune, a neighbor to the Hale and Smith families in Harmony, recalled “nails used for hooks to hang blankets on during the translation of the golden bible.”[45]

[The entire premise of the 1834 book Mormonism Unvailed was that Joseph dictated from behind a screen, curtain, blanket—a “vail” of some sort. The existence of the screen was widely known; that’s why the Spalding theory prevailed. The book also ridiculed the idea of the stone-in-the-hat and, separately, the Urim and Thummim, to the extent that those methods did not require Joseph to use the plates. If Joseph didn’t use the plates at all, the book pointed out, then the testimony of the witnesses of the plates was irrelevant.]

Sources that relate Harris's experiences also mention a sheet dividing the translator from the scribe. “Harris declares," reported one local newspaper, “that when he acted as amanuenses, and wrote the translation, as Smith dictated, such was his fear of the Divine displeasure, that a screen (sheet) was suspended between the prophet and himself."[46] It is possible that these accounts refer to the time Smith spent copying characters from the plates before the actual translation began.

[Anything is possible, but the quoted statement referred to Harris as scribe. Besides, Joseph said he copied and translated the characters before Harris arrived in Harmony.]

He took care that no one else saw the plates, as he said the angel commanded.[47]

[Instead of citing Joseph’s own teachings, note 40 cites the book by MacKay and Dirkmaat that sets out some of the scholarly theories this Introduction repeats.]

Accounts from Emma Smith either do not mention or specifically refute the presence of a sheet or other barrier between translator and scribe.[48] [Emma was refuting the Spalding theory, as was David Whitmer.] While Joseph Smith appears to have ceased separating himself from his scribes at some point in the process, there are no accounts that report the plates being visible to the scribe during translation; indeed, one account states that the plates themselves were wrapped in a cloth when there was no barrier present.[49]

[The way this is written, the reader might conclude there were several accounts relating different details, but the authors keep citing Emma’s problematic “Last Testimony.”]

Shortly before Emma Smith was to give birth to her first child, Harris felt driven to prove to his family the legitimacy of the translation. He convinced Joseph Smith to allow him to return to Palmyra with the pages of translated English text to show to his wife, parents, brother, and sister-in-law.[50] Smith was initially reluctant to let Harris


p. xvii.


take the manuscript. Harris asked Smith several times to take his request to God in prayer, and finally Harris was given permission. On 15 June 1828, shortly after Harris departed with the manuscript, Emma Smith delivered a baby who either was stillborn or died shortly after birth, and the labor left her near death. Over the next three weeks, as the Smiths grieved the loss of their child and Emma slowly began to recover, Joseph Smith grew increasingly concerned that he had not heard from Harris. Once her condition started to stabilize, Emma encouraged her husband to travel to Manchester to determine what had become of the manuscript.[51] In Manchester, Joseph Smith discovered that the fruit of their collective efforts—the single copy of the manuscript—had been stolen during Harris's stay in Palmyra.[52] Neither the circumstances of the loss nor the ultimate fate of the manuscript is known.

Lucy Mack Smith, who was still living in Manchester when the loss occurred, recalled in her 1845 history that her son returned to Harmony almost immediately after learning the manuscript had been lost: “We parted with heavy hearts; for it now appeared that all which we had so fondly anticipated, and which had been the source of so much secret gratification was in a moment fled, and fled forever.” She further stated, “I well remember that day of darkness, both within and without: to us at least the heavens seemed clothed with blackness, and the earth shrouded with gloom.”[53]

Following the loss of the manuscript in the summer of 1828, Joseph Smith recalled, “The Plates was taken from me by the power of God and I was not able to obtain them for a season.”[54] He also recalled that the interpreters he had unearthed with the plates were taken from him at this time.[55] It was apparent to Smith's family and friends that his ability to translate was tied not just to his obedience but also to his possession of the plates and the interpreters.[56]

[This explains why Joseph and Oliver always said he translated the plates with the Urim and Thummim, the name by which Moroni identified the interpreters.]

The period following the loss of the manuscript was a time of mourning the lost text but also, as Smith reported later, a time of repentance and divine forgiveness. He stated that shortly after the manuscript was lost, an angel, whom he identified in later records as Moroni, came to him, temporarily returning the interpreters so that he could seek divine guidance by revelation.[57] The resulting communication told Smith that while he was “chosen to do the work of the Lord,” it was possible that he could fall. His responsibility was to “repent of that which thou hast done & he (God) will only cause thee to be afflicted for a season & thou art still chosen & will again be called to the work.”[58] The angel then took the interpreters back, according to Smith's


p. xviii


account, and later returned both the interpreters and the plates after a period humility and affliction of Soul.”[59]

Lucy Mack Smith did not learn that her son had received the plates again until she and her husband, Joseph Smith Sr., visited Harmony in early September 1828.[60] [This interpretation of events contradicts what Lucy dictated, as shown in note 53.] Immediately upon seeing her son, she sensed his easy and relaxed manner, which she interpreted to mean that “something agreeable" had occurred. Indeed, Smith told his mother that he had been “humble and penitent” and had received the ability and opportunity to translate again. Lucy Mack Smith recorded that it was with delight that her son stated he had “commenced translating,” with Emma's assistance.[61]

During the latter part of 1828, however. Smith's financial obligations and duty to provide for his family prevented him from doing much translating.[62] A friend and believer stated that Smith “could not translate But little Being poor and nobody to write for him But his wife and she Could not do much and take Care of her house.”[63] Winter 1828–1829 appears to have passed with less translation than Smith had hoped for. According to several entries in an account book belonging to Emma Smith's brother David Hale, Joseph Smith spent several days in fall 1828 and winter 1828–1829 laboring to pay off debts.[64]

Still, Joseph Smith expected that a way would be opened for him to translate the plates. Lucy Mack Smith recorded that when the angel returned the plates to Smith, he also promised “that the Lord would send [him) a scribe.”[65] Smith may have looked for fulfillment of that promise in the arrival of his father and brother Samuel Smith in early 1829. The Smith men came from Manchester to Harmony by way of the Colesville, New York, home of believers Joseph Knight Sr. and Polly Peck Knight. Joseph Knight Sr. recalled accompanying Joseph Smith Sr. and Samuel to Harmony in January and giving Joseph Smith "a little money to Buoy [buy) paper to translate.”[66] Samuel remained in Harmony, apparently serving as a scribe for the translation.[67] Knight returned to Harmony in March and spoke with Smith "about his translating and some revelations he had Received.”[68] Perhaps one of the revelations he referred to was the one instructing Smith that “when thou hast translated a few more pages ... then shalt thou stop for a season even untill I command thee again.”[69]

It is impossible to tell from what remains of the manuscript how much was translated during the fall of 1828 and the ensuing winter. Textual evidence suggests that


p. xix


when work resumed after the loss of the initial portion of the manuscript, Joseph Smith and scribes Emma and Samuel Smith began in the book of Mosiah, roughly a third of the way into what was later published as the Book of Mormon.[70] Unfortunately, the original manuscript for the book of Mosiah is no longer extant, making it impossible to determine who was serving as scribe when work resumed.

[There is evidence in the Printer’s Manuscript indicating that when Oliver copied Mosiah, he was copying someone else’s handwriting, presumably Emma’s. For example, he copied “Helaman” instead of “Helam” and had to correct his error by crossing off the last two letters.]

By the next point in the surviving manuscript—the tenth chapter of the book of Alma, which immediately follows Mosiah—the text is in the handwriting of an individual whom Joseph Smith would meet in early April 1829: Oliver Cowdery.

Translating with Oliver Cowdery in Harmony

In the fall of 1828, a young schoolteacher named Lyman Cowdery was appointed to fill a teaching position in the Palmyra area. Upon finding that other responsibilities prevented him from fulfilling the appointment, he asked the school board if his brother Oliver could take his place. The board agreed, and Oliver Cowdery began teaching sometime in October 1828, taking lodging for a time with the Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith family.[71] Cowdery soon heard rumors of gold plates. When he asked Palmyra residents how they knew that the plates existed, they stated that they had seen the place where the plates were unearthed.[72] Cowdery took advantage of his access to the Smith family and asked them to explain.

Given the antagonism of their neighbors, Lucy Mack Smith and her husband were reluctant to share their son's experiences with their new acquaintance. According to Lucy Mack Smith's reminiscence, Cowdery eventually gained the trust of the Smiths, who explained to him “the facts which related to the plates.”[73] What Cowdery heard so resonated with him that he told Joseph Smith Sr. “that he had been in a deep study upon the subject all day, and that it was impressed upon his mind, that he should yet have the privilege of writing for Joseph.”[74] Cowdery stated that this feeling was "working in [his] very bones.” Cowdery told Lucy Mack Smith and her husband, “There is a work for me to do in this thing and I am determined if there is to attend to it.”[75]

Cowdery journeyed to Harmony beginning in late March 1829, arriving there on Sunday, 5 April 1829. Though Cowdery and Joseph Smith had never met, Cowdery explained to Smith his interest in the plates and was quickly taken into Smith's confidence—on 6 April, he helped Smith with the paperwork to complete the purchase of a home, and on 7 April, he began assisting with the translation of the Book of Mormon.[76]

In an 1834 letter to church leader William W. Phelps, Cowdery recalled his experience with the translating process: "These were days never to be forgotten—to sit under the sound of a voice dictated by the inspiration of heaven, awakened the utmost gratitude of this bosom!” Besides affirming that the translation was done under divine




p. xx


influence, Cowdery added a brief description of the process: “Day after day I continued, uninterrupted, to write from his mouth, as he translated, with the Urim and Thummim, or, as the Nephites whould have said, 'Interpreters,' the history, or record, called ‘The book of Mormon.’”[77]

Sometime in April, at a time when Smith and Cowdery were working “with little cessation,” Cowdery “became exceedingly anxious to have the power to translate bestowed upon him.”[78] He believed that such a power was acquired not through study but through the bestowal of a gift from God.

[This mind-reading about Cowdery’s belief fits the editors’ theory of translation but historical documentation supports alternative interpretations.]

In response to Cowdery's desire, Smith dictated a revelation that promised Cowdery that he could “translate all those ancient Records which have been hid up which are Sacred.”[79] Smith dictated another revelation in April that explained to Cowdery that translation was not what he had first supposed. “Behold I say unto you, my son, that, because you did not translate according to that which you desired of me, and did commence again to write for my servant Joseph, even so I would that you should continue until you have finished this record.” The revelation informed Cowdery that God removed the gift of translation from Cowdery because "you did not continue as you commenced," or he supposed that God “would give it unto you, when you took no thought, save it was to ask me.” The revelation continued, “You must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right, I will cause that your bosom shall burn."[80]

The days of Smith and Cowdery working in Harmony with few interruptions were productive but short-lived. Cowdery remembered that after about five weeks, Smith had completed the books of Mosiah, Alma, and Helaman, plus some of 3 Nephi.[81]

[Mosiah had likely been finished before Oliver arrived, which indicates that the translation took longer than most estimates suggest.]

The productivity would not last. Lucy Mack Smith stated later that “evil designing people were seeking to take away Joseph's life in order to prevent the work of God from going forth among the world.”[82]

[This is another case of deliberate misinformation. The editors want readers to believe that Oliver wrote a letter to David because of the evil designing people, but Lucy explained otherwise. She said Joseph was commanded through the Urim and Thummim to contact David. Notice what she says about how Joseph looked on the plates after applying the Urim and Thummim to his eyes.

Referring to the Lucy Harris lawsuit in Palmyra, Lucy Mack Smith wrote,

In the mean time Joseph was 150 miles distant and knew naught of the matter e[x]cept an intimation that was given through the urim and thumim for as he one morning applied the<mlatter to his eyes to look upon the record instead of the words of the book being given him he was commanded to write a letter to one David Whitmore [Whitmer] this man Joseph had never seen but he was instructed to say him that he must come with his team immediately in order to convey Joseph and his family <Oliver [Cowdery]> back to his house which was 135 miles that they might remain with him there untill the translation should be completed for that an evil designing people were seeking to take away Joseph’s life in order to prevent the work of God from going forth among the world.


This statement is especially important because Joseph and Oliver were near the end of the translation of the abridged plates. Joseph was not looking at a stone in a hat; he was applying the Urim and Thummim to his eyes and looking on the record, meaning the plates.

People can argue that Lucy Mack Smith merely assumed this is what happened, but the details could only have originated with Joseph (or Oliver). Readers can decide for themselves why the Joseph Smith Papers editors don’t quote or cite this specific usage of the Urim and Thummim, which contradicts their stone-in-the-hat narrative.


Cowdery, who had previously written to his friend David Whitmer regarding his involvement in the work, wrote again, this time asking Whitmer for a place where he and Smith could translate. Whitmer arrived in Harmony shortly after he received the letter and offered to allow Smith and Cowdery to translate in his parents' home, free of charge. Leaving Emma Smith, who would join them at some later time, the three men journeyed about one hundred miles north to Fayette, New York, arriving about 1 June 1829.[83]

[The editors omitted another important sequence here. Before leaving Harmony, Joseph gave the abridged plates to an angel, as Lucy Mack Smith reported here:


On the road to Fayette, Joseph, Oliver and David encountered the angel, or messenger. David asked if he’d like a ride to Fayette, but the messenger declined, saying he was going to Cumorah. David remembered that this was the first time he heard the word “Cumorah” and he asked Joseph about it. Joseph explained that the messenger had the plates and that he was one of the Nephites.

This sequence explains the enigma of D&C 10. There, the Lord instructed Joseph and Oliver to not retranslate the first part of the plates that had been lost (the Book of Lehi that was in the 116 pages), but instead Joseph would have to “translate the engravings on the plates of Nephi.” We can tell from Moroni’s Title Page that the abridged plates did not include the plates of Nephi because no original plates are mentioned in the Title Page. The revelation raises the question, how did Joseph get the plates of Nephi?

Because the messenger who had the abridged plates said he was taking them to Cumorah, we can infer that the messenger would leave those plates in the repository and pick up the plates of Nephi, which he then brought to Fayette. That’s why Joseph translated the plates of Nephi in Fayette.

The sequence informs us that Joseph was actually translating the engravings on the plates, so he needed the correct plates to translate. If he was merely reading words that appeared on a stone, without referring to the plates, it wouldn’t have mattered which plates he had.  

Translating in Fayette

The Whitmers welcomed Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. David Whitmer remembered that Emma Smith arrived in Fayette “a short time after Joseph and Oliver came.”[84]

[This explains why Emma’s writing is not found in 1 Nephi. David said she was a scribe, though, which suggests she wrote part of 2 Nephi through Words of Mormon.]

The Whitmers' early belief and support were important to Joseph Smith, and they provided connections to neighbors who were “friendly, and disposed to enquire in


p. xxi


to the truth of these strange matters, which now began to be noised abroad.” In fact, Smith recalled that many opened their houses to us, in order that we might have an opportunity of meeting with their friends for the purpose of instruction, and explanation.”[85]

At least two additional scribes, David Whitmer's older brothers Christian and John, assisted Joseph Smith with translation in Fayette.[86] Because so many leaves of the manuscript have been lost or severely damaged, it is unclear where Smith and Cowdery were in their translation work at the time they moved to Fayette.

[This is another reason why the encounter with the messenger going to Cumorah is important. D&C 10 tells Joseph not to retranslate the first part of the abridged plates, a commandment that made sense if Joseph and Oliver we considering such a project after finishing with the abridged plates. The messenger who had the abridged plates went to Cumorah.]

Analysis of the original manuscript suggests that after completing the translation through the book of Moroni, Smith returned to the beginning of the story, translating what are now the books of 1 Nephi through the Words of Mormon. The portion of the manuscript now called 1 Nephi includes the first text with handwriting from any Whitmer scribe. [Thus, this part was dictated in Fayette.]

Hosting the Book of Mormon translation efforts proved challenging to the Whitmers. Supporting two or three additional individuals was not without expense and added to the domestic burdens of the matriarch, Mary Musselman Whitmer. Her grandson John C. Whitmer said that she once encountered a stranger while doing her chores. This man, who she later concluded was an angel, “explain[ed] to her the nature of the work which was going on in her house," whereupon “she was filled with unexpressible joy and satisfaction."[87]

[The note cites the Historical Record, a compilation by Andrew Jenson. Jenson visited the grandson, John C. Whitmer, and provided Whitmer’s statement in quotation marks, but Jenson also inserted his editorial comments in parenthesis. Whitmer explained that his grandmother was shown the plates “by an holy angel, whom she always called Brother Nephi.” Jenson, however, concluded this was an error. He inserted his own comment in parentheses. “(She undoubtedly refers to Moroni, the angel who had the plates in charge.)”

Jenson’s bizarre insertion, unsupported by any other evidence, directly contradicts what David Whitmer said, as well as what David reported that Joseph said. David explained that he had face-to-face conversation with both the messenger on the road to Fayette and the angel who showed the plates to him, Oliver Cowdery, and Joseph Smith (presumably Moroni). David knew they were different people. He also said the messenger his mother saw was, based on her description, the same one he met on the road to Fayette, which makes sense. See the Joseph F. Smith reference in the note.

David also reported that Joseph said the messenger was “one of the Nephites” which is consistent with what Mary Whitmer called him, as John C. Whitmer said. Andrew Jenson simply made up his Moroni story, yet that’s what our historians have gone with, putting it in the Saints book and other publications. There is no principle of historical analysis that would justify such a preference for the speculation of an author nearly 60 years after the fact which contradicts the statements of eyewitnesses, but that’s what they have done. The only justification for such an approach is to delegitimize the evidence about the New York Cumorah.]

David recalled that his mother told him the words of the angel served as recompense for her sacrifices: "You have been very faithful and diligent in your labors, but you are tried because of the increase of your toil,” she was told. “It is propper therefore that you should receive a witness that your faith may be strengthened.”[88] The messenger then showed her the gold plates containing the text of the Book of Mormon.[89]

[This poorly written sentence is an editorial modification of the historical accounts. The “text of the Book of Mormon” is what Joseph dictated in English; the plates contained engravings, as the witnesses made clear. John C. Whitmer said “I have heard my grandmother say on several occasions that she was shown the plates of the Book of Mormon by an holy angel…. This strange person turned the leaves of the book of plates over, leaf after leaf, and also showed her the engravings on them.” That description fits whether she saw the abridged plates or the plates of Nephi.]

The work of translation at Fayette was observed by several members of the Whitmer family. Elizabeth Whitmer, who was present in the family home and was later married to Oliver Cowdery, recalled that she was familiar with the manner of Joseph Smith's translating the book of Mormon. ... I often sat by and saw and heard them translate and write for hours together. Joseph never had a curtain drawn between him and his scribe while he was translating. He would place the director in his hat, and then place his face in his hat, so as to exclude the light," and then read the words “as they appeared before him.”[90]

[Elizabeth was 14 years old when Joseph and Oliver were translating in the Whitmer home. It’s misleading to say Elizabeth recalled as though she wrote this statement. The only source of this statement from Elizabeth is William E. McLellin’s copy of an alleged affidavit that Elizabeth gave. By 1870, McLellin had spent decades opposing Joseph Smith’s role as a prophet, but at the same time he sought to establish the divinity of the Book of Mormon. He said he did not believe Joseph ever had the Urim and Thummim, and Elizabeth’s statement corroborates his claim (while contradicting what Joseph and Oliver always said). Although Elizabeth died in 1892, there are no records that she ever authenticated the McLellin copy or made another similar statement.

Assuming McLellin copied Elizabeth’s statement accurately, we turn to its credibility and reliability. We just read how the messenger showed the plates to her mother, Mary, because she was overburdened with so much extra work. Is it credible that Mary’s fourteen-year-old daughter nevertheless “often” had “hours” to spend sitting and watching Joseph and Oliver translate? It seems unlikely. More likely, she was one of those sitting around the table during the demonstration that David reported.

Certainly Elizabeth could not see whatever Joseph saw in the hat; at least for that detail, she necessarily repeated hearsay or inference as fact.

It’s also interesting that she refers to a “director” in the hat, apparently an allusion to the passage in Alma, using a term other witnesses did not use.

David Whitmer, who was frequently interviewed later in his life, was fairly consistent in his description of the translation as he observed it: “Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat,” Whitmer wrote, “and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the


p. xxii


spiritual light would shine.”[91] What Smith saw in the stone, of course, was not obseryable by Whitmer, but Smith may have explained the process to him.[92] “A piece of something resembling parchment would appear,” Whitmer continued, “and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear.”[93] Like other believers, Whitmer understood this process as divine, concluding, “Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man.”[94]

As work on the original Book of Mormon manuscript neared completion, Smith began preparing for the book's publication. On 11 June 1829 he secured a copyright for the work, and by the end of that month, the title page was published in a Palmyra newspaper, the Wayne Sentinel.[95] Also in June, three men—Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer-testified that they were shown the plates by an angel of the Lord and that they heard the voice of God declare that the Book of Mormon had been translated by divine power.[96] At about the same time, eight individuals—three Smith men and four Whitmer men, plus Hiram Page (the husband of Catherine Whitmer)—testified that Smith had shown them the plates. He allowed them to handle the plates and examine the engraved characters.[97] Formal statements that recorded the experiences and bore the names of all eleven men were published with the Book of Mormon.[98] These shared experiences, along with more private experiences such as those of Mary Whitmer, gave new believers confidence that the plates were genuine and the translation was of God.

About a month after Smith and Cowdery moved from Harmony to Fayette, they completed the translation. A month later, in early August 1829, Smith asked Cowdery to begin making a complete copy of the Book of Mormon text.[99] It was mostly from


p. xxiii


this second manuscript—often called the printer's manuscript—that printers set type for the published Book of Mormon in late 1829 and early 1830.[100]

Use and Legacy of the Manuscript

The creation of the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon ushered in important changes for early believers in Joseph Smith's religious message and became an important symbol for those who would join the church. The manuscript is a crucial source for scholars and others interested in better understanding the translation, publication process, and text of the Book of Mormon.

Before the Book of Mormon was translated, Joseph Smith and those who believed in the accounts of his religious experiences interacted mainly through informal conversations. Their small gatherings may have begun with spoken stories of heavenly messengers, supernatural visions, and buried plates. But the written text gave new power to the young religious movement. The written text allowed the network of believers to grow as more people became familiar with the Book of Mormon text through copied excerpts or private readings. The Book of Mormon translation not only created a text on which the body of early believers could rely—it also shaped the record keeping of the nascent church.[101]

Even before the Book of Mormon was completely translated, the original manuscript was used in early proselytizing efforts. David Whitmer recalled that Oliver Cowdery wrote several letters to him while translation was underway in Harmony. The first apparently included Cowdery’s witness of the truth of Smith’s stories and informed Whitmer that Cowdery planned to act as scribe for Smith. In the second letter, Cowdery gave Whitmer "a few lines of what they had translated.” Whitmer showed the letters to his family, who all became convinced that the work was divinely inspired.[102] One report stated that Joseph Smith visited George Crane, “a Quaker of intelligence, property, and high repectability,” and showed him “several foolscap quires of these so-called translations, for his perusal and opinion.”[103] Around the same time, a man named Solomon Chamberlin heard rumors of the Book of Mormon and sought out the Smith home in Manchester, New York. Chamberlin remained for two days with the Smith family, who instructed him “in the manuscripts of the Book of Mormon.”[104] In these encounters, the Book of Mormon manuscript served as evidence of Joseph Smith's divine calling well before the printed book could be shared by missionary-minded followers.

As the translation neared completion, Smith dictated a revelation in which God told Cowdery, “I have manifested unto you, by my Spirit in many instances, that the


p. xxiv


things which you have written are true: Wherefore you know that they are true; and if you know that they are true, behold I give unto you a commandment, that you rely upon the things which are written; for in them are all things written for in them are all things written, concerning my church, my gospel, and my rock.”[105] The revelation implied not only that the Book of Mormon contains divine wisdom but also that the book would serve as a foundation for the church, which had yet to be organized. When Lucy Mack Smith received word that the translation was complete, she, her husband, and Martin Harris traveled to the Whitmer home. Once gathered, they spent the evening “in reading the manuscript.” She later recalled that they “were greatly rejoiced for it then appeared to us who did not realize the magnitude of the work which could hardly be said at that time to have begining; as though the greatest difficulty was then surmounted.” [106] For early supporters of Joseph Smith, the original manuscript was recognized as the culmination of years of collective effort. But the manuscript of the Book of Mormon also pointed to the future, when the growing faith community would depend not only on a seer who saw visions and a prophet who spoke the will of God but also on a revelator who recorded scripture for the direction and use of a growing church.

Latter-day Saints continued to venerate the manuscript itself long after the text of that manuscript was available in print. A reminiscent account described the day in 1841 when Joseph Smith placed it in the Nauvoo House cornerstone, saying that Smith “came up with the manuscript of the Book of Mormon and said that he wanted to put that in the cornerstone), as he had had trouble enough with it.”[107] Ebenezer Robinson, who observed the cornerstone ceremony, was struck “with amasement” by Smith's comment about the manuscript because Robinson “looked upon it as a sacred treasure.”[108] The original manuscript of the Book of Mormon may have reminded Smith of the persecution that had hounded him much of his life, but for Robinson and others like him, the manuscript represented faith in the prophet who translated it.[109]

Over forty years after the original manuscript was placed in the cornerstone, Lewis Bidamon, Emma Smith's second husband, retrieved it. Unfortunately, the care that had been taken to make the cornerstone watertight proved insufficient. Ebenezer Robinson reported that Joseph Smith III told him, “Major Bidamon had taken down the wall and opened the stone, and found the manuscript ruined. It had gathered moisture, and much of it had become a mass of pulp, and only small portions of it were legible.”[110] As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Utah passed through the Midwest, they visited Nauvoo and often acquired portions of the manuscript from Bidamon. Pieces of the manuscript survived through the efforts of these individuals and some of their descendants, who preserved various pages and fragments.[111]

The original manuscript of the Book of Mormon is the only surviving firsthand, contemporaneous testament to events of the translation. The manuscript offers invaluable


p. xxv


evidence that can be compared with secondhand accounts and later reminiscences or suppositions about the translation process. For instance, several individuals recalled Smith correcting the spelling of the scribes during the dictation process.[112] David Whitmer, who observed the translation process in his home, stated that Smith was able to discern mistakes scribes made while taking dictation.[113]

[David Whitmer clarified that he was not present for most of the translation, which took place upstairs. He described a session downstairs when family members surrounded the table as Joseph dictated with his face in the hat.]

Certainly some spelling was corrected at the time of dictation; for instance, in the book of Alma, “Zenock" was changed to “Zenoch” by Oliver Cowdery.[114] But analysis of the manuscript itself suggests that such corrections were rare; moreover, not all errors and inconsistencies were corrected. For instance, the name “Amalickiah” in the book of Alma was not consistently spelled the same way.[115] As another example of the value of the original manuscript, lengthy quotations from the Bible in the Book of Mormon text raise the question of whether Joseph Smith's scribes copied some passages directly from the Bible. Close study of the manuscript indicates that the Bible passages that appear in the extant pages were dictated, not copied.[116]

The manuscript also confirms or supports numerous details from accounts of the translation. Textual evidence in the manuscript shows that Cowdery acted as scribe for the majority of the extant manuscript, which matches his own description of the process.[117]

[The note quotes part of Cowdery’s message when he rejoined the Church in 1848, but omits his declaration that Joseph translated the Book of Mormon “by the means of the Urim and Thummim, or, as it is called by that book, ‘holy Interpreters.’ I beheld with my eyes and handled with my hands the gold plates from which it was translated. I also saw with my eyes and handled with my hands the ‘holy interpreters.’” https://history.churchofjesuschrist.org/content/joseph-smith-translates-the-gold-plates?lang=eng.

Cowdery’s testimony on this occasion is particularly relevant to the translation because while he was making this declaration, he still possessed the brown seer stone mentioned by Emma, David and Martin. Cowdery did not display it or refer to it.]  

David Whitmer recalled years later that his brother John served as scribe for Joseph Smith as well, and John Whitmer's handwriting does in fact appear in what is now the book of 1 Nephi.[118] Joseph Knight, an early believer in Joseph Smith's message, recorded that he supplied lined paper for the translation effort.[119] The surviving portions of the manuscript reveal several different types of lined paper, which supports the idea that Smith was procuring paper in the midst of the translation process. Such correctives and confirmations of reminiscent accounts and scholarly theories illustrate the primacy of the original manuscript in establishing the history of the Book of Mormon translation.

Finally, the original manuscript offers a crucial data point in understanding the evolution of the Book of Mormon text. It is impossible to know how carefully the scribes captured the words of the Book of Mormon first spoken by Joseph Smith. Having access to the extant portions of the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon, however, allows readers the chance to assess the accuracy of the textual transmission through all subsequent editions. Even though the majority of the original manuscript is no longer extant, comparison of the extant text with the printer's manuscript shows the care with which the copyists did their work. And while some scribal errors were introduced to the printer's manuscript, the text shows virtually no signs of editing between the


p. xxvi


initial dictation of the original manuscript and the printing of the 1830 edition[120] except for spelling corrections, minor word changes, and the introduction of punctuation and capitalization. The majority of the 1830 edition was typeset from the printer's, so the printed text was already one step removed from the original manuscript. This distance was only increased when the second edition (1837) was set from the 1830 edition, with some consultation of the printer's manuscript but no known reference to the original manuscript.[121] As more editions were printed—particularly after the original manuscript was deposited into the Nauvoo House cornerstone and became unavailable to those publishing later editions of the text—a number of small, unintended errors made their way into the Book of Mormon text.[122] In spite of these errors, the text has remained remarkably stable up to the present day.

The same autumn that Joseph Smith placed the manuscript into the cornerstone of the Nauvoo House, he said that “the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any Book on earth & the keystone of our religion & a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than any other Book.”[123]

[This quotation from Wilford Woodruff’s journal appears to be Woodruff’s own summary of Joseph’s teachings that day, not a direct quotation of Joseph’s words. Woodruff often used quotation marks in his journal to designate direct quotations, but he did not do so in this case.]

The original manuscript of the Book of Mormon offered a touchstone to a nascent faith community, and what remains of the manuscript continues to provide an irreplaceable witness to Joseph Smith's most consequential work of translation.
















[8] Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 105.

[9] JS History, ca. Summer 1832, 4-5, in JSP, HI:14-15; JS History, vol. A-1, 4-8, in JSP, H1:220-222, 226, 232 234, 236 (Draft 2).

[10] See Ebenezer Robinson, “Items of Personal History of the Editor," Return, Aug. 1890, 314-316.

[11] The original locations of some small fragments containing inscribed characters have not been identified; such fragments are not included in this volume but may be viewed at josephsmithpapers.org.

[12] Much of this earlier work has been published as Royal Skousen, ed., The Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon: Typographical Facsimile of the Extant Text (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, Brigham Young University, 2001); Royal Skousen, Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon. 60 (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, Brigham Young University, 2004-2009); and Royal Skousen, ed., The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 20, the publication of Skousen's transcript in 2001 and the publication of this volume, Skousen made a number of corrections to the transcript. A list of those corrections can be found in Appendix 3: Transcript Updates since 2001, p. 741 herein.

[13] For more information on the photographs in this volume, see “Note on Photographic Facsimiles," p. xxxiii herein.

[14] Revelation, July 1828, in JSP, DI:8 [D&C 3]; Preface to Book of Mormon, ca. Aug. 1829, in JSP, D1:93; Testimony of Three Witnesses, in Book of Mormon, Printer's Manuscript, ca, Aug. 1829-ca. Jan. 1830, in JSP, R3, Part 2, p. 407; Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 538 [Mormon 9:32–34).

[15] JS, Journal, 9–11 Nov. 1835, in JSP, J1:89. Joseph Smith consistently described the translation this way throughout his life.

[Joseph consistently referred to the Urim and Thummim as well. Even in this citation, Joseph said “the Urim and Thumim, was hid up with the record, and that God would give me power to translate it, with the assistance of this instrument.” https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/journal-1835-1836/26  

Three individuals who acted as witnesses to the plates described Smith's work similarly. (See, for example, Preface to Book of Mormon, ca. Aug. 1829, in JSP, D1:93; JS, Kirtland, OH, to Noah C. Saxton, Rochester, NY, 4 Jan. 1833, in JSP, D2:354; JS, “Church History,” Times and Seasons, 1 Mar. 1842, 3:707, in JSP, H1:495; [This is the Wentworth letter, quoted above with Joseph specifically referring to the Urim and Thummim] and Testimony of Three Witnesses, in Book of Mormon, Printer's Manuscript, ca, Aug. 1829-ca. Jan. 1830, in JSP, R3, Part 2, p. 407.)

[16] See, for example, Revelation, July 1828, in JSP, D1:6-9 (D&C 3]; and Revelation, Apr, 1829-D, in JSP, D1:48–50 [D&C 9). [D&C 10 addresses the translation process by telling Joseph “you shall translate the engravings which are on the plates of Nephi,” a direct declaration that he was translating the engravings. Joseph also claimed he copied and translated the characters from the plates.]

[17] JS History, vol. A-1, 9, 13-15, 22, in JSP, HT:244, 276-284, 308 (Draft 2); Joseph Smith III, "Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” Saints' Herald, 1 Oct. 1879, 289; JS History, ca. Summer 1832, [6], in JSP, H1:16; Oliver Cowdery, Norton, OH, to William W. Phelps, 7 Sept. 1834, Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1834, 1:14; James H. Hart, “About the Book of Mormon,” Deseret Evening News (Salt Lake City), 25 Mar. 1884, [2].

[18] Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 105–107.

[19] Knight, Reminiscences, 3.

[20] JS History, vol. A-1, 7, in JSP, H1:234-236 (Draft 2); C. M., “The Original Prophet," 229; W. D. Purple, Reminiscence, 28 Apr. 1877, in “Joseph Smith, the Originator of Mormonism," Chenango Union (Norwich, NY), 2 May 1877, [3]; see also Walker, “Persisting Idea of American Treasure Hunting," 429-459; Ashurst-McGee, “Pathway to Prophethood," 74-78, 194; and Taylor, “Rediscovering the Context of Joseph Smith's Treasure Seeking," 18–28.

[21] See “Printer's Manuscript of the Book of Mormon," in JSP, R3, Part 1, pp. xv-xvi; Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, 48-52, 61; and Ashurst-McGee, “Moroni: Angel or Treasure Guardian?" 44.

[22] JS History, vol. A-1, 8, in JSP, H1:238 (Draft 2).

[23] See, for example, Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 5, [8]–[10]; and Knight, Reminiscences, 3.

[24] JS History, vol. A-1, 8-9, in JSP, H1:238, 240 (Draft 2).

[25] JS History, ca. Summer 1832, 5, in JSP, HI:15

[26] JS History, vol. A-1, 9, in SP, Hr:240 (Draft 2). Some individuals who interacted with Harris in New York City made no mention of an English translation accompanying the copied characters that Harris showed to scholars. (Charles Anthon, New York City, NY, to Eber D. Howe, Painesville, OH, 17 Feb. 1834, in Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 270-272; Charles Anthon, New York City, NY, to Thomas Winthrop Coit, New Rochelle. NY 2 Apr 1841, in Clark, Gleanings by the Way, 233; Turner, History of the Pioneer Settlement of Phelps and Gorham's Purchase and Morris' Reserve, 215; “Golden Bible," Gem, of Literature and Science (Rochester, NY]. 5 Sept. 1829, 70)


[27] Charles Anthon, New York City, NY, to Eber D. Howe, Painesville, OH, 17 Feb. 1834, in Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 270; Charles Anthon, New York City, NY, to Thomas Winthrop Coit, New Rochelle, NY, 3 Apr. 1841, in Clark, Gleanings by the Way, 233; MacKay, “Git Them Translated," 95-98. Smith's later history implies that Harris first visited Anthon and then Mitchill. (JS History, vol. A-1, 9, in JSP, H1:240, 244 (Draft 2].)

[28] JS History, vol. A-1, 9, in JSP, H1:240, 244 (Draft 2).

[29] Charles Anthon, New York City, NY, to Eber D. Howe, Painesville, OH, 17 Feb. 1834, in Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 270-272; Charles Anthon, New York City, NY, to Thomas Winthrop Coit, New Rochelle, NY, 3 Apr. 1841, in Clark, Gleanings by the Way, 233,238; Charles Anthon, New York City, NY, to “Rev. and Deor Sir," 12 Aug. 1844, in “A Fact in the Mormon Imposture," New-York Observer (New York City), 3 May 1845, [1].

[30] “Golden Bible, Gem, of Literature and Science (Rochester, NY), Sept. 1829, 70; [John A. Clark), “Gleanings by the Way. No. VI.” Episcopal Recorder, 5 Sept. 1840, 94; JS History, vol. A-1, 9, in JSP, H1:244 (Draft 2).

[31] JS History, vol. A-1, 9, in JSP, H1:244 (Draft 2).

[32] Joseph Smith III, “Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” Saints' Herald, 1 Oct. 1879, 289–290; JS History, vol. A-1, 9, in JSP, H1:244 (Draft 2); Hiel Lewis, "Prophet Smith's Family Relations," Salt Lake Daily Tribune, 17 Oct. 1879, (2).

[33] “A Witness to the Book of Mormon,” Daily Iowa State Register (Des Moines), 28 Aug. 1870, [4]; Briggs, “Visit to Nauvoo in 1856,” 454; Joseph Smith III, “Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” Saints' Herald, 1 Oct. 1879, 289–290. Emma Smith later recounted that while she acted as scribe, Joseph Smith questioned the existence of a wall around Jerusalem. Because the only extant portion of the Book of Mormon text that mentions a wall around Jerusalem (I Nephi 4:4) is in the handwriting of Oliver Cowdery, it seems clear that Emma acted as scribe for at least some of the lost portion of the manuscript. (Briggs, “A Visit to Nauvoo in 1856,” 454.)

[34] Joseph Smith III, “Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” Saints' Herald, 1 Oct. 1879, 289; "Golden Bible," Gem, of Literature and Science (Rochester, NY), 5 Sept. 1829, 70.

[35] JS History, ca. Summer 1832, 5, in JSP, H1:15; JS History, vol. A-1, 7, in JSP, H1:232 (Draft 2).

[36] Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 217, 328, 546 [Mosiah 28:20; Alma 37:21-24; Ether 4:5).

[37] “Mormonism—No. II,” Tiffany's Monthly, Aug. 1859, 165-166; see also [John A. Clark], “Gleanings by the Way. No. VI.” Episcopal Recorder, 5 Sept. 1840, 94.

[38] JS, “Church History,” Times and Seasons, 1 Mar. 1842, 3:707, in JSP, H1:495.

[39] Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844-1845, bk. 5, [7]-[8].

[40] See “Printer's Manuscript of the Book of Mormon," in JSP, R3, Part 1, pp. xviii-xix; Oliver Cowdery, Norton, OH, to William W. Phelps, 7 Sept. 1834, Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1834, 1:14; “Mormonism," Kansas City (MO) Daily Journal, 5 June 1881, [1]; and Woodruff, Journal, 27 Dec. 1841. The earliest [known] recorded use of the biblical term Urim and Thummim to describe the instrument Joseph Smith used for translation dates from 1832. (“Questions Proposed to the Mormonite Preachers and Their Answers Obtained before the Whole Assembly at Julien Hall, Sunday Evening, August 5, 1832," Boston Investigator, 10 Aug. 1832, [2]; see also Exodus 28:30; Leviticus 8:8; Numbers 27:21; Deuteronomy 33:8; 1 Samuel 28:6; (William W. Phelps), “The Book of Mormon," The Evening and the Morning Star, Jan. 1833, [2]; Van Dam, The Urim and Thummim; and Ashurst-McGee, “Pathway to Prophethood," 312–316, 325.)


[41] Edward Stevenson, “One of the Three Witnesses," Deseret Evening News (Salt Lake City), 13 Dec. 1881, (4): Emma Smith Bidamon, Nauvoo, IL, to Mrs. Pilgrim, 27 Mar. 1870, in John Clark, “Translation of Nephite Records,” Return, 15 July 1895, 2; see also David Whitmer, Interview, Chicago Inter-Ocean, 17 Oct. 1886, quoted in “David Whitmer Reviewed,” Saints' Herald, 13 Nov. 1886, 707.

[42] Joseph Smith III, “Last Testimony of Sister Emma," Saints' Herald, 1 Oct. 1870.

[43] Briggs, "A Visit to Nauvoo in 1856,” 454. Though the original manuscript contains some spelling corrections, there are also many misspelled words throughout the manuscript.

[44] Edward Stevenson, “One of the Three Witnesses," Deseret Evening News (Salt Lake City), 13 Dec. 1881, [4].

[45] “The Early Mormons,” Broome Republican (Binghamton, NY), 28 July 1880, [1].

[46] “Gold Bible, No. 6,” Reflector (Palmyra, NY), 19 Mar. 1831, 126, italics in original; see also Charles Anthon, New York City, NY, to Thomas Winthrop Coit, New Rochelle, NY, 3 Apr. 1841, in Clark, Gleanings by the Way, 233.

[47] MacKay and Dirkmaat, From Darkness unto Light, 91.

[48] Emma Smith recorded that she took dictation from her husband, "hour after hour with nothing between us.” David Whitmer, who observed the translation in Fayette, New York, stated that a curtain provided privacy from visitors but that it did not separate Smith from the scribe. (Joseph Smith III, “Last Testimony of Sister Emma," Saints' Herald, 1 Oct. 1879, 289, italics added; “The Book of Mormon," Chicago Daily Tribune, 17 Dec. 1885, 3; see also Emma Smith Bidamon, Nauvoo, IL, to Mrs. Pilgrim, 27 Mar. 1870, in John Clark, “Translation of Nephite Records,” Return, 15 July 1895, 2; and Briggs, “Visit to Nauvoo in 1856, 454.)

[49] Joseph Smith III, “Last Testimony of Sister Emma." Saints' Herald, 1 Oct. 1879, 290.

[50] JS History, vol. A-1, 9, in JSP, H1:244 (Draft 2).

[51] Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844-1845, bk. 7, [1] – [2]; Lucy Mack Smith History, 1845, 126-127; JS History, 1834–1836, 9, in JSP, H1:28.

[52] Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844-1845, bk. 7, [s]-[8). Martin Harris and several others believed that his wife, Lucy Harris Harris, had stolen the manuscript, but their accounts differ as to whether she burned it or gave it to others. (See, for example, Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 22; (John A. Clark], 31 Aug. 1840, "Gleanings by the Way. No. VII,” Episcopal Recorder, 12 Sept. 1840, 98; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 134; (James H. Reeves), "Old Newspapers—No. 24," Palmyra (NY) Courier, 24 May 1872, 3; and “W. R. Hine's Statement.” Nabed Truths about Mormonism (Oakland, CA], Jan. 1888, 2.)

[53] Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 132, 134.

[54] JS History, ca. Summer 1832, [6], in JSP, H1:16.

[55] JS History, vol. A-1, 10, in JSP, H1:246 (Draft 2).

[56] Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844-1845, bk. 7, [9]-[11].

[57] JS History, vol. A-1, 10, in JSP, H1:246 (Draft 2).

[58] Revelation, July 1828, in JSP, D1:8 [D&C 3:9-10).

[59] JS History, ca. Summer 1832, [6], in JSP, H1:16. Smith's later history states that he received the plates and interpreters again a few days” after dictating the revelation in July 1828. (JS History, vol. A-1, II, in JSP, H1:252 (Draft 2).)

[60] Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 135; see also Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844-1845, bk. 7, [8]. Lucy Mack Smith later remembered that her son was to receive the plates "again on the 22 of september," but records indicate he likely received them before that time. Lucy recalled her son having the plates in his possession when she and her husband visited Harmony in September 1828, and they had already returned to Palmyra by 11 September, when one of their children was treated by a local doctor there. (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844-1845, bk. 7, [9]; Gain C. Robinson, Account Book, microfilm copy, CHL.) [The alternative interpretation is that their child was treated before they want to Harmony. In her history, Lucy said she and her husband visited Joseph after the 22 of September because he told her about obtaining them on the 22 when they visited. https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/lucy-mack-smith-history-1844-1845/89.]

[61] Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 135–136, 138. [See also https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/lucy-mack-smith-history-1844-1845/91.]

[62] JS History, vol. A-I, II, in JSP, H1:266 (Draft 2). In mid-August 1828, Smith purchased a penknife and a pocketbook on credit. It is possible that these purchases indicated Smith was preparing for some writing. (Staker and Jensen, “David Hale's Store Ledger," 100, 101.)

[63] Knight, Reminiscences, 5.

[64] Staker and Jensen, “David Hale's Store Ledger," 101–105.

[65] Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 138.

[66] Knight, Reminiscences, 5.

[67] JS History, ca. Summer 1832, (6), in JSP, HI:16; Staker and Jensen, “David Hale's Store Ledger, 105.

[68] Knight, Reminiscences, 5.

[69] Revelation, Mar. 1829, in JSP, D1:18 (D&C 5:30).

[70] As published, the Book of Mormon begins with the books of 1 Nephi through the Words of Mormon and then proceeds from the book of Mosiah through the end of the volume. But it is clear that 1 Nephi was not translated first because part of 1 Nephi is in the handwriting of John Whitmer, who could not have served as scribe until late May or June 1829.

[71] Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844-1845, bk. 7, [12].

[72] James H. Hart, “About the Book of Mormon," Deseret Evening News (Salt Lake City), 25 Mar. 1884, [2].

[73] Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844-1845, bk. 7, [12].

[74] Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 141.

[75] Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844-1845, bk. 8, [1].

[76] Oliver Cowdery, Norton, OH, to William W. Phelps, 7 Sept. 1834, Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1834, 1:14: Agreement with Isaac Hale. 6 Apr. 1829, in JSP, D1:28–34; JS History, vol. A-I, 13, in JSP, H1:276 (Draft 2).


[77] Oliver Cowdery, Norton, OH, to William W. Phelps, 7 Sept. 1834, Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1834, 1:14, italics in original.

[78] JS History, vol. A-1, 15, 16, in JSP, H1:284, 286 (Draft 2).

[79] Revelation, Apr. 1829-B, in JSP, DI:46 [D&C 8:11].

[80] Revelation, Apr. 1829-D, in JSP, D1:49, 50 [D&C 9:1, 7–8).

[81] Oliver Cowdery, Norton, OH, to William W. Phelps, 7 Sept. 1834, Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1834, 1:15; JS History, vol. A-1, 17-18, in JSP, H1:292–296 (Draft 2).

[82] Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844-1845, bk, 8, [8].

[83] “Mormonism," Kansas City (MO) Daily Journal, 5 June 1881, [1]; JS History, ca. June-Oct. 1839, [3], in JSP, H1:306 (Draft 1); Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844-1845, bk. 8, [8], [10]; James H. Hart, "About the Book of Mormon,” Deseret Evening News (Salt Lake City), 25 Mar, 1884, [2].

[84] James H. Hart, “About the Book of Mormon,” Deseret Evening News (Salt Lake City), 25 Mar. 1884, [2].

[85] JS History, ca. June-Oct. 1839, [4], in JSP, H1:312 (Draft 1).

[86] JS History, vol. A-1, 22, in JSP, H1:308 (Draft 2); James H. Hart, “About the Book of Mormon,” Deseret Evening News (Salt Lake City), 25 Mar. 1884, [2].

[87] John C. Whitmer, Statement, in [Andrew Jenson], “The Eight Witnesses," Historical Record, Oct. 1888, 621. [See https://archive.org/details/historicalrecord01jens/page/620/mode/2up.]

[88] Joseph F. Smith, New York City, NY, to John Taylor et al., [Salt Lake City, Utah Territory), 17 Sept. 1878. draft, Joseph F. Smith, Papers, CHL; Stevenson, Diary, 23 Dec. 1877; 9 Feb. 1886; 2 Jan. 1887. [See http://jared.pratt-family.org/report-of-elders-orson-pratt-and-joseph-f-smith.html.]

[89] John C. Whitmer, Statement, in [Andrew Jenson], “The Eight Witnesses," Historical Record, Oct. 1888, 621; Joseph F. Smith, New York City, NY, to John Taylor et al., [Salt Lake City, Utah Territory] 17 Joseph F. Smith, Papers, CHL; Stevenson, Diary, 23 Dec. 1877; 9 Feb. 1886; 2 Jan. 1887.

[90] Elizabeth Whitmer Cowdery, Statement, is Feb. 1870, in William McLellin, Independence, MO, to "My Dear Friends.” Feb. 1870, CCLA. The last part of this statement is cut off because a portion of the page written is missing. Only the top half of the next line is visible. There is no evidence that a curtain was in use to separate Smith from his scribe during the later portion of the translation. [There is circumstantial evidence both from Joseph’s emphasis that he couldn’t allow anyone to see the plates or Urim and Thummim, and from the denials by his supporters (which wouldn’t have been necessary if there had never been a curtain).]

[91] Whitmer, Address to All Believers in Christ, 12. 

[92] J. L. Traughber Jr., “Testimony of David Whitmer,” Saints' Herald, 15 Nov. 1879, 341.

[93] Whitmer, Address to All Believers in Christ, 12; see also “Mormonism,” Kansas City (MO) Daily Journal, 5 June 1881, [1]; and James H. Hart, “About the Book of Mormon,” Deseret Evening News (Salt Lake City), 25 Mar. 1884, [2]. Whitmer is the only witness who mentions a parchment and one of the few witnesses or early associates of Joseph Smith who gave a detailed description of what Smith saw in the seer stone. Martin Harris was reported to have said that "by aid of the seer stone, sentences would appear and were read by the Prophet.” (Edward Stevenson, “One of the Three Witnesses,” Deseret Evening News (Salt Lake City], 13 Dec. 1881, [4].)

[94] Whitmer, Address to All Believers in Christ, 12.

[95] Copyright for Book of Mormon, 11 June 1829, in JSP, D1:76–81; News Item, Wayne Sentinel (Palmyra, NY), 26 June 1829, [3].

[96] Testimony of Three Witnesses, in Book of Mormon, Printer's Manuscript, ca. Aug. 1829-ca. Jan. 1830, in JSP, R3, Part 2, p. 407; Appendix 4: Testimony of Three Witnesses, Late June 1829, in JSP, D1:378-384.

[97] Testimony of Eight Witnesses, in Book of Mormon, Printer's Manuscript, ca, Aug. 1829-ca. Jan. 1830, in JSP, R3, Part 2, p. 409; Appendix 5: Testimony of Eight Witnesses, Late June 1829, in JSP, D1:385-387.

[98] Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., [589], [190]. David Whitmer recalled that he, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris signed the statement recording their experience. The statements of the Three Witnesses and the Eight Witnesses as found in the printer's manuscript contain signatures copied by Cowdery. (Joseph F. Smith, New York City, NY, to John Taylor et al., [Salt Lake City, Utah Territory], 17 Sept. 1878, draft, Joseph F. Smith, Papers, CHL; Testimony of Three Witnesses, in Book of Mormon, Printer's Manuscript, ca. Aug. 1829-ca. Jan. 1830, in JSP, R3, Part 2, pp. 406-408; Testimony of Eight Witnesses, in Book of Mormon, Printer's Manuscript, ca. Aug. 1829-ca. Jan. 1830, in JSP, R3, Part 2, pp. 408-409.)

[99] See “Printer's Manuscript of the Book of Mormon," in JSP, R3, Part 1, p. xxvi; “Mormonism,” Kansas City (MO) Daily Journal, 5 June 1881, [1]; and Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 158.

[100] Textual evidence indicates that the original manuscript was used to set type for the portion of the book from chapter 13 of Helaman through chapter 9 of Mormon. (Skousen, "Why Was One Sixth of the 1830 Book of Mormon Set from the Original Manuscript?," 93–103.)

[101] For example, around the time the translation of the Book of Mormon was complete, Joseph Smith dictated a revelation that instructed Oliver Cowdery to "rely upon the things which are written." In response to that directive, Cowdery created the "Articles of the Church of Christ." This document, which quotes extensively from the recently finished Book of Mormon, instructed believers on ways to "build up the church.” (Revelation, June 1829-B, in ISP. D1:70-71 (D&C 18:3-5); “Articles of the Church of Christ,” June 1829, in JSP, D1:368-377.)

[102] “Mormonism,” Kansas City (MO) Daily Journal, 5 June 1881, [1].

[103] Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism, 37; see also Stephen S. Harding Mila Gregg, Feb. 1882, in Gregg, Prophet of Palmyra, 40.

[104] Chamberlin, Autobiography, 8–10. Chamberlin eventually collected the first sixty-four pages that had been printed, or the first four gatherings, and “preached all that [he] knew concerning Mormonism.”

[105] Revelation, June 1829-B, in JSP, D1:70 (D&C 18:2-4).

[106] Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844-1845, bk. 8, [10].

[107] Foote, Autobiography, 2 Oct. 1841; see also JSP, J2:19-20; and Ebenezer Robinson, "Items of Personal History of the Editor," Return, Aug. 1890, 315.

[108] Ebenezer Robinson, "Items of Personal History of the Editor," Return, Aug. 1890, 315.

[109] See also, for example, Sarah M. Kimball, Salt Lake City, Utah Territory, to George Reynolds, [Salt Lake City, Utah Territory], 19 July 1884, in George Reynolds, “History of the Book of Mormon," Contributor, July 1884, 5:366.

[110] Ebenezer Robinson, "Items of Personal History of the Editor," Return, Aug. 1890, 316.

[111] See Source Note to Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon, ca. 12 Apr. 1828–ca. 1 July 1829, p. 5 herein.

[112] James H. Hart, “About the Book of Mormon,” Deseret Evening News (Salt Lake City), 25 Mar, 1884, [2]; Briggs, “A Visit to Nauvoo in 1856,” 454.

[113] “Mormonism," Kansas City (MO) Daily Journal, 5 June 1881, [1].

[114] See p. 287 herein.

[115] Skousen, "Translating and Printing the Book of Mormon," 91. The first two instances were spelled "Amelechiah”, and Cowdery corrected the next two instances to read “Amalickiah"; thereafter, the spelling varied.

[116] Skousen, "Textual Variants in the Isaiah Quotations in the Book of Mormon," 377-378.

[117] Cowdery relayed to a gathering of Latter-day Saints in 1848 his role in the Book of Mormon. “I wrote with my own pen the intire book of Mormon (save a few pages) as it fell from the lips of the prophet.” (Miller, Journal, 21 Oct. 1848.)

[118] P. Wilhelm Poulson, “Interview with David Whitmer,” Deseret Evening News (Salt Lake City), 16 Aug. 1878, [2].

[119] Knight, Reminiscences, 5, 6.

[120] Cowdery made roughly three mistakes per manuscript page while copying text from the original manuscript to the printer's manuscript. (Skousen, "Oliver Cowdery as Book of Mormon Scribe," 54-56.)

[121] See Source Note and Historical Introduction to Printer's Manuscript of the Book of Mormon, ca. Aug. 1829-ca. Jan. 1830, in JSP, R3, Part 1, pp. 4-5, 10-11.

[122] Skousen, "Why Was One Sixth of the 1830 Book of Mormon Set from the Original Manuscript?," 93–103. Because more of the printer's manuscript survives, the volume of The Joseph Smith Papers that presents that manuscript traces the significant differences between the manuscripts and the Joseph Smith-era printed editions of the Book of Mormon. (See JSP, R3, Parts 1 and 2; for a more complete presentation of the differences, see Skousen, Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon.)

[123] Woodruff, Journal, 28 Nov. 1841.