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.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

More on the Joseph Smith Papers and the Interpreter

I finally took the time to write another response to the Interpreter reviews of my books A Man that Can Translate and Infinite Goodness.

For those interested, I posted it today, here:


I also did a podcast interview on the topic. I'll post that link when it goes live later this week.


One of the points discussed is what Joseph meant when he published this in the Elders' Journal of July 1838:

"I obtained them [the plates], and the Urim and Thummim with them; by the means of which, I translated the plates; and thus came the book of Mormon."

Pause and think. Would you agree that most readers find this a clear, concise, unambiguous explanation? 

To use Joseph's expression "or in other words," the sentence explains that Joseph translated the plates by means of the Urim and Thummim that he obtained with the plates.

Seems clear, doesn't it?

But no, if that's how you understand Joseph's simple declaration, you have it wrong, according to some of our leading LDS scholars and the critics who agree with them, as discussed below.


You can see Joseph's statement in context in the Joseph Smith Papers here:


You can also find it here, where the editors isolated the section and added "notes."


The "notes" are awesome. The editors of the Joseph Smith Papers know these notes are false because there is an 1832 reference to Orson Hyde referring to the Urim and Thummim, but the editors are promoting the SITH narrative so they won't change these notes.

(click to enlarge)


According to our leading LDS scholars, joined by critics such as John Dehlin, RFM, the CES Letter, etc., Joseph did not mean what he wrote.

Naturally, because of their credentials, they are entitled to "interpret" what Joseph actually meant and then impose their interpretation on the rest of us. 

This table shows how it works. 

Joseph Smith, Elders’ Journal, July 1838

The “real meaning” of Joseph’s statement, according to the Interpreter, FairLDS, CES Letter, Mormon Stories, Book of Mormon Central, Meridian Magazine, RFM, LDS Discussions, the Joseph Smith Papers editors, etc.

"I obtained them [the plates], and the Urim and Thummim with them; by the means of which, I translated the plates; and thus came the book of Mormon."

"I obtained them [the plates], and the Urim and Thummim with them; but I didn’t use the Urim and Thummim or the plates. Instead, I took a stone I found in a well years earlier, put it in a hat, and then read words that appeared on the stone; and thus came the book of Mormon."

IOW, these scholars and critics agree that Joseph's statement here actually means that Joseph used multiple instruments to "translate" the Book of Mormon, including the seer stone that he did not obtain with the plates. Actually, that's too generous. These same groups further claim that Joseph didn't really translate the plates after all, at least not in any ordinary sense of the term "translate," but merely read words that appeared on the seer stone.

Kraus and his collaborators are merely the latest to make this claim in his review of my books.

It's bad enough that the "Interpreter" asserts authority to interpret the scriptures and Church history and doctrine for the rest of us, citing their status as the credentialed class for their authority.

But insisting that we believe them instead of our own eyes is laughable.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you. This information is so important. I believe what Joseph Smith said. I would have loved to hear him speak in person. Out of all the generations upon the earth, we have so much knowledge and information.