Book of Mormon/Witnesses/Hypnotism
Did Joseph hypnotize the Book of Mormon witnesses?
| Book of Mormon|
View of the plates:
It is claimed that the Book of Mormon witnesses may have been sincere in their testimony, but were actually the victims of 'hallucination' or 'hypnosis' induced in them by Joseph Smith.
To see citations to the critical sources for these claims, click here
The Three Witnesses had the opportunity to qualify their testimony, but all of them insisted that their vision was literal and unmistakable. In addition, they each verified the literalness of the event by stating that their physical ears heard a heavenly voice. Critics twist the historical record in their effort to eliminate the troublesome witnesses but their testimonies cannot be convincingly dismissed.
DETAILED QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
(Note: All emphasis in the following quotes have been added.)
David Whitmer—like the other witnesses—had been charged with being deluded into thinking he had seen an angel and the plates. Joseph Smith III remembered when David was such accused, and said:
- "How well and distinctly I remember the manner in which Elder Whitmer arose and drew himself up to his full height—a little over six feet—and said, in solemn and impressive tones: 'No sir! I was not under any hallucination, nor was I deceived! I saw with these eyes, and I heard with these ears! I know whereof I speak!'."
Martin Harris used the same qualifying statements to describe his experience in 1829:
- "In introducing us, Mr. Godfrey said, 'Brother Harris, I have brought these young men to hear your statement as to whether or not you believe the Book of Mormon to be true.' His face was turned to the wall. He turned and faced us and said, 'Now I don't believe, but I know it to be true, for with these eyes I saw the angel and with these ears (pointing to them) I heard him say it was a true and correct record of an ancient people that dwelt upon this the American continent'."
Oliver Cowdery was asked, “Was your testimony based on a dream, was it the imagination of your mind, was it an illusion”? He responded with the exact same qualifying statements as the other two Witnesses:
- "My eyes saw, my ears heard, and my understanding was touched, and I know that whereof I testified is true. It was no dream, no vain imagination of the mind—it was real."
- [note] Joseph Smith III visited David Whitmer in 1884, along with a committee from the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and several onlookers. According to Joseph III's memoirs, one of the non-believers there was a military officer, who suggested the possibility that Whitmer "had been mistaken and had simply been moved upon by some mental disturbance or hallucination, which had deceived him into thinking he saw" the angel and the plates. Joseph III's recollection of Whitmer's response is quoted above. See Memoirs of Joseph Smith III, cited in Mary Audentia Smith Anderson, Joseph Smith III and the Restoration (Independence, MO: 1952), pp. 311-12. Cited in Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), 88. ISBN 0877478465.
- [note] Alma L. Jensen, attested statement, Dayton, Ohio, 1 June 1936, L. Tom Perry Special Collections Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.
- [note] Jacob F. Gates, "Testimony of Jacob Gates," Improvement Era no. 15 (March 1912), 418–419.
FairMormon Answers articles
- A FairMormon Analysis of Wikipedia article "Three Witnesses"—
Brief Summary: Wikipedia's treatment of the Three Witnesses is controlled by a Protestant editor, and is crafted to discredit the Witnesses by emphasizing the negative and diminishing the positive. (Click here for full article)
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- What was the character of the witnesses?—
Brief Summary: Critics charge that the witnesses cannot be trusted, or are unreliable, because they were unstable personalities, prone to enthusiasm and exaggeration. Evidence amply demonstrates that the formal witnesses of the Book of Mormon were men of good character and reputation, and were recognized as such by contemporary non-Mormons. (Click here for full article)
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- Description of the plates and stone box in which they were found.—
Brief Summary: A collection of all statements regarding the physical appearance, dimensions, and character of the plates and other items associated with them. (Click here for full article)
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- Description of translation method and circumstances—
Brief Summary: Friendly and unfriendly accounts of those who witnessed and heard about the translation of the Book of Mormon (Click here for full article)
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- Did the Book of Mormon witnesses ever recant?—
Brief Summary: Critics have tried to argue that some or all of the Witnesses recanted concerning their testimony. They were all faithful to their testimonies to the end of their lives, even though many of them had personal disagreements with Joseph Smith that caused them to leave the Church. (Click here for full article)
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- Did Joseph hypnotize the Book of Mormon witnesses?—
Brief Summary: Some grant that the Book of Mormon witnesses may have been sincere in their testimony, but claim that they were actually the victims of 'hallucination' or 'hypnosis' induced in them by Joseph Smith. The accusation that Joseph Smith was somehow able to hypnotize the witnesses—not individually, but en mass—is simply too preposterous to be true. This accusation vastly overstates the nature of hypnotism and the abilities of those able to practice it. (Click here for full article)
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- Did God tell David Whitmer to leave the Church?—
Brief Summary: David Whitmer, one of the Book of Mormon's Three Witnesses, said "If you believe my testimony to the Book of Mormon; if you believe that God spake to us three witnesses by his own voice, then I tell you that in June, 1838, God spake to me again by his own voice from the heavens, and told me to "separate myself from among the Latter Day Saints, for as they sought to do unto me, should it be done unto them." Critics argues that if members accept Whitmer's witness of the Book of Mormon, then they must also accept that God wanted David to repudiate the Church as false. Critics distort the historical record to make it appear that David Whitmer left the Church because he was told to, when it fact he was excommunicated prior to claiming any revelation to do so. The command to leave, if it was a true revelation, involved David's physical safety and not his membership in the Church, which he had already renounced. (Click here for full article)
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- Eight witnesses—
Brief Summary: Critics have tried to argue that the Eight witnesses only claimed a 'spiritual' or 'visionary' view of the plates, not a literal, physical one. The witnesses left concrete statements regarding the physical nature of the plates. There were others besides the eleven who saw and felt the plates, and testified that they were real. (Click here for full article)
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- "Eye of Faith" and "Spiritual Eye" statements by Martin Harris—
Brief Summary: Martin Harris frequently told people that he did not see the golden plates and the angel with his natural eyes but rather with “spiritual eyes” or the “eye of faith.” (Click here for full article)
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- Other Book of Mormon witnesses—
Brief Summary: Are there any other witnesses to the Book of Mormon plates besides the Three and Eight witnesses? (Click here for full article)
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- Strangite parallels—
Brief Summary: James Strang's break-off sect produced eyewitnesses of buried records. Does this indicate that Joseph's ability to do so is neither surprising nor persuasive? The Strangite witnesses were not all faithful, and some recanted and described the nature of the fraud perpetuated by Strang. (Click here for full article)
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- Were the experiences of the witnesses spiritual or literal?—
Brief Summary: Some critics suggest that the witnesses’ encounter with the angel and the plates took place solely in their minds. They claim that witnesses saw the angel in a “vision” and equate “vision” with imagination. (Click here for full article)
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- Only handled when covered by a tow frock?—
Brief Summary: A frequent claim is that a Book of Mormon witnesses said that he only handled the plates while they were covered in a "tow frock." However, this report is from William Smith, one of Joseph's brothers who was not a Book of Mormon witness. In fact, William insisted in the same statement that he was convinced Joseph was not lying about the plates. William also dismissed the Spalding hypothesis as nonsense. (Click here for full article)
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- Only handled when covered by a tow frock?—
- Was it true the viewing the gold plates would result in death?—
Brief Summary: Did Joseph Smith state that the penalty for viewing the gold plates was death? Was this just a way for Joseph to hide the fact that the plates didn't actually exist? (Click here for full article)
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- Oliver Cowdery joined the Methodists after leaving the Church—
Brief Summary: Why did Oliver Cowdery join the Methodists if all other churches had been "condemned of God"? (Click here for full article)
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- All were "interested" since they followed Joseph Smith—
Brief Summary: It is claimed that because the witnesses are "interested"—i.e., they were members of the Church and believers in Joseph's mission—that they are therefore not reliable, since they cannot be "neutral" or "disinterested." (Click here for full article)
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Brief Summary: This page collects statements from the witnesses to the Book of Mormon plates in one convenient location. The same statements are often quoted elsewhere in the wiki under specific articles. (Click here for full article)
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FairMormon web site
|Book of Mormon witnesses FairMormon articles on-line|
- Richard Lloyd Anderson, "Explaining Away the Book of Mormon Witnesses," paper given at the 2004 FAIR Conference FairMormon link (Key source)
- Scott Gordon, "The Testimony of Eight" FairMormon link
|Explaining Away the Book of Mormon Witnesses, Richard Lloyd Anderson , 2004 FAIR Conference|
|Book of Mormon witnesses on-line articles|
- Richard Lloyd Anderson, "Book of Mormon Witnesses," farms.byu.edu off-site (Key source)
- Richard Lloyd Anderson, "Attempts to Redefine the Experience of the Eight Witnesses," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 14/1 (2005): 18–31. off-site wiki
- Kenneth W. Godfrey, "David Whitmer and the Shaping of Latter-day Saint History," in The Disciple As Witness: Essays on Latter-Day Saint History and Doctrine in Honor of Richard Lloyd Anderson, edited by Richard Lloyd Anderson, Stephen D. Ricks, Donald W. Parry, and Andrew H. Hedges, (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2000),223–256. ISBN 0934893454. ISBN 978-0934893459. off-site direct off-site
- Kirk B. Henrichsen, "How Witnesses Described the "Gold Plates"," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 10/1 (2001): 16–21. off-site wiki
- Jeff Lindsay, "Circumstantial Evidence and the Witnesses of the Book of Mormon: Can They Be Ignored Any Longer?", jefflindsay.com off-site
- Matthew Roper, "Comments on the Book of Mormon Witnesses: A Response to Jerald and Sandra Tanner," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2/2 (1993): 164–193. off-site wiki
|Book of Mormon witnesses printed materials|
- Richard Lloyd Anderson, "The Credibility of the Book of Mormon Translators," in Book of Mormon Authorship: New Light on Ancient Origins, edited by Noel B. Reynolds and Charles D. Tate (eds.), (Provo, Utah : Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University ; Salt Lake City, Utah : Distributed by Bookcraft, 1996 ),Chapter 9, 213–232. ISBN 0884944697 GospeLink (requires subscrip.) GL direct link
- Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), 1. ISBN 0877478465. (Key source)
- Richard L. Anderson, "Personal Writings of the Book of Mormon Witnesses," in Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited: The Evidence for Ancient Origins, edited by Noel B. Reynolds, (Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1997), Chapter 3. ISBN 093489325X ISBN 0934893187 ISBN 0884944697. off-site GL direct link GL direct link
- Milton V. Backman, Jr., Eyewitness Accounts of the Restoration (Orem, Utah: Grandin Book, 1983).
- Matthew B. Brown, Plates of Gold: The Book of Mormon Comes Forth (American Fork UT: Covenant, ---), ---.
- John W. Welch and Larry E. Morris, editors, Oliver Cowdery: Scribe, Elder, Witness (Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, 2006). ISBN 9780842526616.