Mormonism and Wikipedia/Golden plates/Introduction

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    An analysis of the Wikipedia article "Golden plates"

A FairMormon Analysis of Wikipedia: Mormonism and Wikipedia/Golden plates
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 Updated 9/21/2011

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From the Wikipedia article:
According to Latter Day Saint belief, the golden plates (also called the gold plates or in some 19th century literature, the golden Bible)

Wikipedia footnotes:
Use of the terms golden bible and gold Bible by both believers and non-believers dates from the late 1820s. See, for instance, Harris (1859) , p. 167 (use of the term gold Bible by Martin Harris in 1827); Smith (1853) , pp. 102, 109, 113, 145 (use of the term gold Bible in 1827–29 by believing Palmyra neighbors); Grandin (1829) (stating that by 1829 the plates were "generally known and spoken of as the 'Golden Bible'"). Use of these terms has been rare, especially by believers, since the 1830s.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
are the source from which Joseph Smith, Jr. translated the Book of Mormon, a sacred text of the faith. Some witnesses described the plates as weighing from 30 to 60 pounds,

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Anthon (1834) , p. 270; Vogel (2004) , p. 600n65; 601n96. Vogel estimates that solid gold plates of the same dimensions would weigh about 140 pounds.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
being golden or brassy in color, and being composed of thin metallic pages engraved on both sides and bound with one or more rings.


FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Smith said he found the plates on September 22, 1823 at a hill near his home in Manchester, New York after an angel directed him to a buried stone box. The angel at first prevented Smith from taking the plates because he had not followed the angel's instructions. In 1827, on his fourth annual attempt to retrieve the plates, Smith returned home with a heavy object wrapped in a frock, which he then put in a box. Though he allowed others to heft the box, he said that the angel had forbidden him to show the plates to anyone until they had been translated from their original "reformed Egyptian" language. Smith dictated a translation using a seer stone in the bottom of a hat, which he placed over his face to view the words written within the stone.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Although Smith's use of a single stone is well documented Wagoner (1982) , pp. 59–62, Smith said that his earliest translation used a set of stone spectacles called the Urim and Thummim, which he found with the plates Smith (Mulholland) , p. 5. Other than Smith himself, his mother was the sole known witness of the Urim and Thummim, which she said she had observed them when covered by a thin cloth Smith (1853) , p. 101.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Smith published the translation in 1830 as the Book of Mormon.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • None provided

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Smith eventually obtained testimonies from eleven men, known as the Book of Mormon witnesses, who said they had seen the plates.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Critics question whether one of these witnesses, Martin Harris, physically saw the plates. Although Harris continued to testify to the truth of the Book of Mormon even when he was estranged from the church, at least during the early years of the movement, he "seems to have repeatedly admitted the internal, subjective nature of his visionary experience." Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, 2: 255. The foreman in the Palmyra printing office that produced the first Book of Mormon said that Harris "used to practice a good deal of his characteristic jargon and 'seeing with the spiritual eye,' and the like." Pomeroy Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1867), 71 in EMD, 3: 122. John H. Gilbert, the typesetter for most of the book, said that he had asked Harris, "Martin, did you see those plates with your naked eyes?" According to Gilbert, Harris "looked down for an instant, raised his eyes up, and said, 'No, I saw them with a spiritual eye." John H. Gilbert, "Memorandum," 8 September 1892, in EMD, 2: 548. Two other Palmyra residents said that Harris told them that he had seen the plates with "the eye of faith" or "spiritual eyes." Martin Harris interviews with John A. Clark, 1827 & 1828 in EMD, 2: 270; Jesse Townsend to Phineas Stiles, 24 December 1833, in EMD, 3: 22. In 1838, Harris is said to have told an Ohio congregation that "he never saw the plates with his natural eyes, only in vision or imagination." Stephen Burnett to Lyman E. Johnson, 15 April 1838 in EMD, 2: 291. A neighbor of Harris in Kirtland, Ohio, said that Harris "never claimed to have seen [the plates] with his natural eyes, only spiritual vision." Reuben P. Harmon statement, c. 1885, in EMD, 2: 385.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
After the translation was complete, Smith said he returned the plates to their angelic guardian. Therefore, if the plates existed, they cannot now be examined. Latter Day Saints believe the account of the golden plates as a matter of faith, while critics often assert that either Smith manufactured the plates himself

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Vogel, 98: "His remark that a plate was not quite as thick as common tin may have been meant to divert attention from the possibility that they were actually made from some material otherwise readily available to him. Indeed, his prohibition against visual inspection seems contrived to the skeptic who might explain that the would-be prophet constructed a set of plates to be felt through a cloth."

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
or that the Book of Mormon witnesses based their testimony on visions rather than physical experience.


FAIR's analysis:


References

Wikipedia references for "Golden Plates"

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