A Seer Stone and a Hat - "Translating" the Book of Mormon

Uploaded by aaronshaf2006 on 13.03.2007

How were the plates translated?
OK, Joseph Smith now has these heavy plates at home
And now he's going to translate them into English
That's necessary because the plates are not written in English
That would make sense
But what were they written in?
They were written in a language called Reformed Egyptian
What is Reformed Egyptian?
I have no idea.
There's no such language.
And you ask any qualified Egyptologist
about Reformed Egyptian, they'll probably look at you crosseyed
because it's only in the imagination of Joseph Smith
Anyway, according to Joseph Smith's story,
in Joseph Smith's history, section 1 verse 35,
It says, that also, there were two stones in silver bows
and these stones, fastened to a breastplate
constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim
deposited wtih the plates
Now, I want you to imagine in you mind's eye
what's going on here.
He's dug up these plates
He's gone to the place where the angel told him to go
He's digging down, he finds these plates
and buried with them are is what he calls the Urim and Thummim
They are stones fastened to a breastplate
And it says in the possession and use of these stones
were what constituted seers in ancient or former times
and that God had prepared them for the purpose
translating the book.
The purpose of these stones being buried
with the plates was so that Joseph Smith
could translate the Reformed Egyptian
into the English language by looking through these stones
I want you to notice the picture here,
taken from the Ensign magazine, February 2001
Notice what Joseph Smith is doing
He's leaning over the Gold Plates
He has his hand, his right hand on top of the plates
as if he's running his finger across the lines
and he's supposedly reading off the Reformed Egyptian
to his scribe, who of course you do not see in this picture
Do you see the Urim and Thummim fastened to his face at all?
You never will.
I have never, in all my thirty-plus years of
studying this religion,
I have never seen a picture put out by the
Mormon Church where it shows Joseph Smith
looking through these spectales
translating the Book of Mormon
It's always like this, which is not historically accurate
If we're going to believe what Joseph Smith said
Here is a case where the Mormon Church has to
revise its own history in order to make it
even somewhat believable.
But that's not what the way Joseph Smith said it happened
It's not the way his scribes said it happened
In fact it didn't even happen at all like this
And this might surprise you
How did Joseph Smith translate the
Reformed Egyptian into English, into
our modern edition of the Book of Mormon?
Well this is what David Whitmer said.
David Whitmer's name is found in every edition
of the Book of Mormon
He is one of the Three Witnesses
to the authenticity of the book
And David Whitmer tells us how Joseph Smith
performed this feat
He said, according to an "Address to All Believers in Christ"
that "Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat..."
Now first of all, what in the world
is a seer stone?
Anybody here know what a seer stone is,
besides Randy, Carol, and Aaron, anyone?
Anybody else know?
You don't know what a seer stone is?
OK. Well, here is what a seer stone is.
According to BH Roberts, Brigham H. Roberts
who was a Church Seventy,
and also a Church historian
in the early years
around the late nineteenth, early twentieth century
BH Roberts said in his Comprehensive History of the Church
volume 1, page 29
that the seer stone was a chocolate-colored
brown-colored, somewhat egg-shaped stone
which the Prophet found while digging a well in company
with his brother Hyrum
That's what he's using
And here's how it happened, according to
David Whitmer
Joseph Smith would put the seer stone
into a hat, he puts this cholcate-colored
I always want to say "covered",
it's "colored", it's not "covered"
chocolate-colored, egg-shaped stone
into a hat, he draws the hat
closely around his face to exclude the light
and in the darkness the spiritual light
would shine. A piece of something resembling
parchment would appear, 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 principle scribe
and that's true, there were other scribes, but
Oliver Cowdery was the principle scribe
He's actually related to Joseph Smith
He was his cousin
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
Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift
and power of God, and not by any power of man."
Now let's go back and review this
because this is very important
Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat
and put his face in the hat,
drawing it closely around his face to exclude
the light
How big were those gold plates again?
Six by what?
What were the measurements?
You got your notes there?
Six by eight by six?
Can plates six by eight by six fit into
a normal hat?
No. They're not in the hat.
Smith's not looking at the plates.
He's looking at a rock.
He's looking at a rock.
He's not looking at the plates
This is really crucial.
Why did he need to dig them out of
the ground if he's not even looking at them
when he's doing this so-called translation?
He's looking at a magic rock, folks.
Any flags going up here? He's looking at a magic rock
that he found while digging a well
with his brother Hyrum
and he puts a rock in a hat
and he holds the hat up to his face
First of all, there's no way he can hold it
up to his face with those plates in it
That's for sure.
OK. But he's looking at this rock.
Now, there is a Mormon historian who I was listening to
at a Sunstone conference several years ago
And there were two historians.
And they firmly believed this story.
And they were telling about how Joseph Smith
translated the plates.
And so they got through with this elaborate
description, very similar to what I just read you
And when they opened up for questions and answers,
I was sitting in the back, I raised my hand
And they called on me, and
I said, "I have a question"
"You talk about Joseph Smith putting the stone
in a hat. How deep was that hat?"
And he looked at me kind of funny, and
there was this nervous chuckle in the crowd
And I said, "No, I'm serious. How deep was the hat?"
Because most pictures of hats back in those days,
they were not very deep.
"As so the reason I'm asking this, is because
if Joseph Smith had an egg-shaped stone,
Let's assume just, you know, conservatively that the stone
was probably an inch and a half thick
You put that in a hat that's about, let's say
three, four and a half inches deep
you've got something this far away from your eye
How could Smith focus?
On something that close to his eye?
And remember, the story goes, that he was doing this
for like hours at a time
Reading off the translation, you know
and they would go onto the next set of characters
Well one of these historians gave a very
interesting answer.
He said, well, you have to understand that
Joseph Smith was not looking at the stone,
he was looking through the stone
Now I didn't know this at the time
but I learned this since
that's a, and I could be wrong
on this, I'm getting this from
another person who claimed to know about this
but that's called scrying
where you kind of look through things
and you see things mysteriously
It's really folk magic, folks
That's what really this is
It's folk magic
And some would say that's occultism
That might be a little bit of a stretch the way
the word occult is understood in our
culture today, but it certainly is folk magic
And that's not surprising because Joseph Smith
was very immersed in folk magic
and so what his family
There's no doubt about that
and even honest Mormon historians will admit
to this. This is the kind of character we are dealing
with here. But another point that I want
to bring out. When we look at David Whitmer's
explanation of how it was translated
where he says, "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
Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by gift
and power of God, and nto by any power of man.
If that's really how it happened, why do we
have so many editions of the Book of Mormon
where the corrections are made?
There is no margin for error if that's really how it happened
Remember, it would not go on to the next set of characters
until it was read back correctly
So why does the Mormon Church feel it necessary
to make corrections to this book
that was supposedly translated by the gift and power
of God?
There is handwritten printer's copy
from what I understand,
that was given to the printer
in Palmyra, New York.
And you can see also by looking
at this handwritten account, that changes
have been made to the handwritten account
some of them actually are carroted above the the line
and written in another person's handwriting
So someone has been doctoring the these things up.
So there is some real problems, like I say, only
in a court in California would this ever
get past people.