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, June 19, 2020

The Lost 116 Pages - Part 2

Don Bradley's exceptional book, The Lost 116 Pages, reconstructs the lost manuscript through a combination of obscure original sources, comparisons to biblical accounts, and insightful interpretation of the text of the Book of Mormon. 

In upcoming posts I'll be referring to specific page numbers, so I encourage people to get a copy of the book. 

The three sources I mention here are obscure for many Church members, although many readers of this blog will be familiar with these because I've referred to them in my books and presentations. 

One of the sources is the Francis Lapham interview of Joseph Smith Sr. It was published in 1870. The opening line is not a strong indicator of reliability: "I think it was in the year 1830..." If Lapham couldn't even remember for sure when he met Joseph Sr., we have to wonder how much of his report was an accurate account of what Joseph Sr. said, and how much is attributable to other things Lapham heard or read in the intervening 40 years. As you'll see if you read the interview, Lapham made some obvious errors, but there are also some intriguing details.

It's not clear why Joseph's father would have known the contents of the lost manuscript unless Martin Harris showed it to him before it was lost. Maybe Joseph Sr. heard Joseph or Martin talking about the contents of the 116 pages. Or many Joseph related some of these details as part of the accounts he would share with his family well before he translated the plates.

The fun begins when we try to sort out what's accurate and what's not, and what the implications are.

Here's one source for the interview:


Another source is the Gladden Bishop pamphlet based on his conversations with Martin Harris. You can read that here:


The third source is Katherine Smith Salisbury's account of Joseph's early experiences. This was published in the Kansas City Times on April 11, 1895. 

Katherine was Joseph's sister. She offers some important details. For example, she says that when Moroni first visited Joseph, he told Joseph "where the golden record was to be found in the hill of Cumorah." 

[The published account says "Conoran," apparently because the reporter was unfamiliar with the name "Cumorah" and didn't spell it correctly.] 

That statement corroborates Lucy Mack Smith's account that Joseph knew the name of the hill before he even got the plates and Parley P. Pratt's account that it was Moroni who anciently called the hill Cumorah. It won't matter to our M2C friends because they claim all these close associates of Joseph Smith were merely repeating (or creating) a false narrative, since the "real" Cumorah, they claim, is in southern Mexico. 

You can read Katherine's interview in this excellent article by Kyle Walker:

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