Book of Mormon/Witnesses/Other Book of Mormon witnesses
| Book of Mormon|
View of the plates:
|FAIR Wiki Topical Guide|
|FAIR web site|
|FARMS web site|
This page is based on an answer to a question submitted to the FAIR web site, or a frequently asked question.
This article is a draft. FAIRwiki editors are currently editing it. We welcome your suggestions on improving the content.
Yes. Emma Smith and Mary Musselman Whitmer also reported experiences with the plates. Lucy Mack Smith (Joseph's mother) saw the Nephite interpreters (urim and thummim).
Said Emma Smith in later interviews:
- Q.-Are you sure that he had the plates at the time you were writing for him?
- A.-The plates often lay on the table without any attempt at concealment, wrapped in a small linen tablecloth, which I had given him to fold them in. I once felt of the plates, as they thus lay on the table, tracing their outline and shape. They seemed to be pliable like thick paper, and would rustle with a metallic sound when the edges were moved by the thumb, as one does sometimes thumb the edges of a book....
- "Q-Could not [Joseph Smith] have dictated the Book of Mormon to you, Oliver Cowdery, and the others who wrote for him, after having first written it, or having first read it out of some book?
- "A.-Joseph Smith could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well-worded letter; let alone dictating a book like the Book of Mormon. And, though I was an active participant in the scenes that transpired, and was present during the translation of the plates, and had cognizance of things as they transpired, it is marvelous to me, 'a marvel and a wonder,' as much so as to anyone else.
- "Q.-I should suppose that you would have uncovered the plates and examined them?
- "A.-I did not attempt to handle the plates, other than I have told you, nor uncover them to look at them. I was satisfied that it was the work of God, and therefore did not feel it to be necessary to do so.
- "Major Bidamon here suggested: Did Mr. Smith forbid your examining the plates?
- "A.-I do not think he did. I knew that he had them, and was not specially curious about them. I moved them from place to place on the table, as it was necessary in doing my work.
- Q: "Do you believe that your husband, Joseph Smith died true to his profession?"
- A: "I believe he was everything he professed to be."
Lucy Mack Smith
- I trembled so with fear, lest all might be lost in consequence of some failure in keeping the commandments of God, that I was under the necessity of leaving the room in order to conceal my feelings. Joseph saw this, and said, "Do not be uneasy mother, all is right—see here, I have got a key."
- I knew not what he meant, but took the article of which he spoke into my hands, and, upon examination, found that it consisted of two smooth three-cornered diamonds set in glass, and the glasses were set in silver bows, which were connected with each other in much the same way as old fashioned spectacles. He took them again and left me, but said nothing respecting the Record. - Lucy Mack Smith, Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and His Progenitors for Many Generations (Liverpool, S.W. Richards, 1853), 101.
Mary Musselman Whitmer (August 27, 1778 - January 1856) was the wife of Peter Whitmer, Sr. Through her son David Whitmer, she and her family became acquainted with Joseph Smith, Jr. around 1828. In 1829, probably during June, she was caring for three boarders (Joseph Smith, Emma Hale Smith, and Oliver Cowdery) in addition to her large household while the Book of Mormon was being translated. She said she was often overloaded with work to the extent she felt it quite a burden. During this time, the male boarders and members of her household were speaking of being shown the Golden Plates. One evening when she went to milk the cows, she said that a stranger with a knapsack spoke to her, explained what was going on in her house, comforted her, then produced a bundle of plates from his knapsack, turned the leaves for her, showed her the engravings, exhorted her to faith in bearing her burden a little longer, then suddenly vanished with the plates. She always called the stranger Brother Nephi.
- [note] [Emma Smith interview], The Saints' Herald, vol. 26, pp. 289, 290 [1 Oct 1879]; cited in Joseph Smith, Heman Conoman Smith, and F. Henry Edwards, The History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Independence, Mo: Herald House, 1967), 3:353–358. off-site
- [note] Interview by Parley P. Pratt, Jr. recorded by Nels Madsen, 27 November 1931, LDS Archives; cited by Mormon Enigma, 2nd ed., 297–298.
FAIR wiki articles
- A FAIR Analysis of Wikipedia article "Three Witnesses"—
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. (Link)
- What was the character of the witnesses?—
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. (Link)
- Description of the plates and stone box in which they were found.—
A collection of all statements regarding the physical appearance, dimensions, and character of the plates and other items associated with them. (Link)
- Description of translation method and circumstances—
Friendly and unfriendly accounts of those who witnessed and heard about the translation of the Book of Mormon (Link)
- Did the Book of Mormon witnesses ever recant?—
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. (Link)
- Did Joseph hypnotize the Book of Mormon witnesses?—
Critics claim 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. 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. (Link)
- Did God tell David Whitmer to leave the Church?—
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. (Link)
- Eight witnesses—
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. (Link)
- "Eye of Faith" and "Spiritual Eye" statements by Martin Harris—
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.” (Link)
- Other Book of Mormon witnesses—
Are there any other witnesses to the Book of Mormon plates besides the Three and Eight witnesses? (Link) [needs work]
- Strangite parallels—
Critics claim that break-off sects like James Strang's produced eyewitnesses of buried records, so 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. (Link)
- Were the experiences of the witnesses spiritual or literal?—
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. (Link)
- Only handled when covered by a tow frock?—Some critics claim that the witnesses said they only handled the plates covered in a "tow frock." Critics do not reveal that this report is from William Smith, one of Joseph's brother who was not a Book of Mormon witness. They also fail to tell us that 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, but critics do not mention that either. (Link)
- Was it true the viewing the gold plates would result in death?—
Critics claim that Joseph Smith said that the penalty for viewing the gold plates was death, and that this was just a way for Joseph to hide the fact that the plates didn't actually exist. (Link)
- Oliver Cowdery joined the Methodists after leaving the Church—
Why did Oliver Cowdery join the Methodists if all other churches had been "condemned of God"? (Link)
- All were "interested" since they followed Joseph Smith—
Critics claim that because the witnesses are "interested"—i.e., they were members of the Church and believers in Joseph's mission—they are therefore not reliable, since they cannot be "neutral" or "disinterested." (Link)
FAIR web site
|Book of Mormon witnesses FAIR articles on-line|
- FAIR Topical Guide: Book of Mormon Witnesses FAIR link
- FAIR Topical Guide: Testimonies of the Book of Mormon FAIR link
- Richard Lloyd Anderson, "Explaining Away the Book of Mormon Witnesses," paper given at the 2004 FAIR Conference FAIR link (Key source)
- Scott Gordon, "The Testimony of Eight" FAIR link
|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 PDF link 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 [No PDF link] 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 PDF link 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 GospeLink (requires subscrip.) 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.