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.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

SITH to the Max!

Scripture Central is promoting SITH (the stone-in-the-hat narrative) to the max for 2024.

Their YouTube channel offers a series on "Book of Mormon Translation" featuring this ridiculously inappropriate artwork.

Here's the link:


We recognize there is a lot of good material in this presentation. For example, they mention Oliver Cowdery's eight essays on Church history from 1834-5.

Let me read a little bit of Oliver Cowdery. So he wrote a letter in 1835 to W. W. Phelps explaining a lot of the history of what happened—actually a few letters, and these letters are gold. They’re priceless. Because Oliver Cowdery was very involved with the translation of the Book of Mormon. He spent a lot of time with Joseph Smith in that 1829 year, in 1830, before his mission to the Lamanites, in the end of 1830.

Unfortunately, they forgot that in those same letters (Letter I), Oliver declared that "Day after day I continued, uninterrupted, to write from his mouth, as he translated with the Urim and Thummim, or, as the Nephites would have said, ‘Interpreters,’ the history or record called ‘The Book of Mormon.’"

(Joseph Smith—History, Note, 1)

Perhaps in future episodes they will acknowledge what Joseph and Oliver had to say about the translation.

In the meantime, this artwork is ridiculously inappropriate in a purportedly scholarly presentation because neither Joseph nor Oliver ever said or implied that Joseph produced the Book of Mormon by looking at a stone in a hat. No one claimed to observe the scene depicted in this image. It's purely a figment of the artist's imagination.

And it frames Joseph and Oliver as liars (or, as some SITH scholars euphemistically describe it, Joseph and Oliver merely "misled" everyone.)

Not that there's anything wrong with artistic license, which is invaluable. We welcome multiple working hypotheses. People can believe whatever they want.

And, to be sure, some people said Joseph used SITH to produce the Book of Mormon, but as we've discussed, the SITH sayers' statements have serious evidentiary problems. But even if people want to believe the SITH sayers instead of Joseph and Oliver, none of the SITH sayers were present when Joseph and Oliver were working in the upstairs room at the Whitmer home.

We'll discuss all of this in more detail next week when we discuss the "Book of Mormon Translation" Gospel Topics Essay in light of the newly articulated principles on the Topics and Questions page (such as Consult Reliable Sources).


In the meantime, you can read the transcript here:


Unfortunately, that page also uses the ridiculous SITH image...


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