Book of Mormon/Witnesses/Other Book of Mormon witnesses

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PERSPECTIVES MEDIA QUESTIONS RESOURCES 2014 CONFERENCE

    Are there any other witnesses to the Book of Mormon plates?

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Overview:


Three Witnesses:


View of the plates:


Eight Witnesses:


Other Witnesses:

  • Other witnesses
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Questions


Are there any other witnesses to the Book of Mormon plates besides the Three and Eight witnesses?

Answer


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).

Detailed Analysis

Emma Smith

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.[1]

Also:

Q: "Do you believe that your husband, Joseph Smith died true to his profession?"
A: "I believe he was everything he professed to be."[2]

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.[3]

Mary Whitmer

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.

The Interpreter Foundation responds to these questions

Royal Skousen,"Another Account of Mary Whitmer’s Viewing of the Golden Plates", Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture, 10:35-44 (2014)


The most interesting aspect of this story is that Mary Whitmer’s difficulty with the household situation was more than just being tired from all the extra work. She was irritated by Joseph and Oliver’s indifference to all the work she was doing, with their not helping out and instead skipping rocks for relaxation, so “she was about to order them out of her home.” Thus Moroni’s intervention was perhaps more purposeful than we might have previously thought. Undoubtedly, many others exerted much effort on behalf of providing help to Joseph and Oliver (such as Emma Smith had just done in Harmony, Pennsylvania, for the previous three months). Here, however, Moroni needed to deal with a more difficult situation, one that could have forced Joseph to find another place – and a secure one – to do the translating. Moroni (and the Lord) weren’t in the habit of just showing the plates to people to encourage them to act as a support team for the work of the translation.

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Notes

  1. [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.
  2. Interview by Parley P. Pratt, Jr. recorded by Nels Madsen, 27 November 1931, LDS Archives; cited by Mormon Enigma, 2nd ed., 297–298.
  3. Lucy Mack Smith, Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and His Progenitors for Many Generations (Liverpool, S.W. Richards, 1853), 101.


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