Mormonism and Wikipedia/Joseph Smith, Jr./1827 to 1830

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    An analysis of Wikipedia article "Joseph Smith"

A FairMormon Analysis of Wikipedia: "Joseph Smith"
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Every witness to Joseph Smith's translation of the Book of Mormon said that he looked at a stone in his hat. Arguing that Smith never said how he translated is arguing from silence. There is no evidence for anything else but the hat and just Mormon embarrassment at how silly this method must seem to most prospective converts today.....The burden of proof is on you. There are no accounts of Smith translating that indicate he used any other method but the hat. You can't argue from silence. Where are the references to any other method? Even the father of lies himself didn't spell one out.....Baloney. No other eyewitness said there was any other method. No scholarship argues for any other method. You're just pushing this POV because there's no reason to preserve golden plates for generations if Smith made no use of them. But according to all eyewitnesses that's exactly what happened. Embarrassing, isn't it?
—Editor "John Foxe," posting using his banned sockpuppet "Hi540," insisting that the stone-in-hat was the only Book of Mormon translation method ever documented, 23 October 2009 off-site
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Reviews of previous revisions of this section

Section review

Founding a church (1827–30)  Updated 9/3/2011

From the Wikipedia article:
In October 1827, Smith and his pregnant

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Remini (2002) , p. 55.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
wife moved from Palmyra to Harmony (now Oakland), Pennsylvania,

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Newell (Avery) , p. 2.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
aided by money from a comparatively prosperous neighbor Martin Harris.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 62–63; Walker (1986) , p. 35; Remini (2002) , p. 55 (Harris' money allowed Smith to pay his debts and thus allowed him to move without being arrested for evading his creditors); Smith (1853) , p. 113; Howe (1834) .

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Living near his disapproving in-laws,

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Remini (2002) , p. 56.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Smith transcribed some of the characters (what he called "reformed Egyptian") engraved on the plates and then dictated a translation to his wife.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 63; Remini (2002) , p. 56; Roberts (1902) , p. 19;Howe (1834) , pp. 270–71 (Smith sat behind a curtain and passed transcriptions to his wife or her brother).

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
For at least some of the earliest translation, Smith said he used "Urim and Thummim",

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Smith (Mulholland) , p. 9 (describing early translation with the Urim and Thummim from December 1827 to February 1828); Remini (2002) , p. 57 (noting that Emma Smith said that Smith started translating with the Urim and Thummim and then eventually used his dark seer stone exclusively); Bushman (2005) , p. 66; Quinn (1998) , pp. 169–70 (noting that, according to witnesses, Smith's early translation with the two-stone Urim and Thummim spectacles involved placing the spectacles in his hat, and that the spectacles were too large to actually wear). In one 1842 statement, Smith said that "[t]hrough the medium of the Urim and Thummim I translated the record by the gift, the power of God." Smith (1842) , p. 707. There is debate as to whether or not this statement is consistent with his known use of a seer stone other than the Urim and Thummim. Quinn (1998) , p. 175 argues that the term Urim and Thummim was a generic term early Mormons used to refer to all of Smith's seer stones. Persuitte (2000) , pp. 81–83 interprets Smith to say that he translated the entire Book of Mormon with the two stones found with the plates, which would be in flat contradiction with his documented use of the chocolate-colored seer stone.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
a pair of seer stones he said were buried with the golden plates.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Smith (Mulholland) , p. 4 (stating that deposited with the plates were "two stones in silver bows" and stating that "these stones fastened into a breastplate constituted what is called the Urim & Thummim...."); Smith (1842) , p. 707 (describing "a curious instrument which the ancients called 'Urim and Thummim,' which consisted of two transparent stones set in the rim of a bow fastened to a breastplate.").

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Later, however, he used the single chocolate-colored stone he had found in 1822 and used for treasure hunting.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Quinn (1998) , pp. 171–73 (witnesses said that Smith shifted from the Urim and Thummim to the single brown seer stone after the loss of the earliest 116 manuscript pages); Persuitte (2000) , pp. 81–82 (none of the existing Book of Mormon transcript was created using the Urim and Thummim); Remini (2002) , p. 57 (noting that Emma Smith said that after 1828, Smith used his dark seer stone exclusively).

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
As when divining the location of treasure,

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Quinn (1998) , p. 173 ("[T]he actual translation process was strikingly similar to the way Smith used the same stone for treasure-hunting."); Bushman (2005) (In using the divining power of stones, Smith blended the magic culture of his upbringing with inspired translation.).

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Smith said he saw the words of the translation while he gazed at the stone or stones in the bottom of his hat, excluding all light.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 71–72; Marquardt (Walters) , pp. 103–04; Van Wagoner (Walker) , pp. 52–53 (citing numerous witnesses of the translation process); Quinn (1998) , pp. 169–70, 173 (describing similar methods for both the two-stone Urim and Thummim and the chocolate seer stone).

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
The plates themselves were not directly consulted.

Wikipedia footnotes:
Van Wagoner (Walker) , p. 53 ("The plates could not have been used directly in the translation process."); Bushman (2005) , pp. 71–72 (Joseph did not pretend to look at the 'reformed Egyptian' words, the language on the plates, according to the book's own description. The plates lay covered on the table, while Joseph's head was in the hat looking at the seerstone...."); Marquardt (Walters) , pp. 103–04 ("When it came to translating the crucial plates, they were no more present in the room than was John the Beloved's ancient 'parchment', the words of which Joseph also dictated at the time.").

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Smith did this in full view of witnesses, but sometimes concealed the process by raising a curtain or dictating from another room.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Cole (1831) ; Howe (1834) , p. 14.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Smith may have considered giving up the translation because of opposition from his in-laws,

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Morgan (1986) , p. 280.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
but in February 1828, Martin Harris arrived to spur him on

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 63 (Harris had a vision that he was to assist with a "marvelous work"); Roberts (1902) , p. 19 (Harris arrived in Harmony in February 1828); Booth (1831) (Harris had to convince Smith to continue translating, saying, "I have not come down here for nothing, and we will go on with it").

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
by taking the characters and their translations to a few prominent scholars.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 63–64 (the plan to use a scholar to authenticate the characters was part of a vision received by Harris; author notes that Smith's mother said the plan to authenticate the characters was arranged between Smith and Harris before Harris left Palmyra); Remini (2002) , pp. 57–58 (noting that the plan arose from a vision of Martin Harris). According to Bushman (2005) , p. 64, these scholars probably included at least Luther Bradish in Albany, New York Lapham (1870) , Samuel L. Mitchill of New York City (Hadley (1829) ; Jessee (1976) , p. 3), and Charles Anthon of New York City Howe (1834) , pp. 269–272.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Harris claimed that one of the scholars he visited, Charles Anthon, initially authenticated the characters and their translation, then recanted upon hearing that Smith had received the plates from an angel.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 64–65; Remini (2002) , pp. 58–59.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Anthon denied this claim

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Howe (1834) , pp. 269–72 (Anthon's description of his meeting with Harris, claiming he tried to convince Harris that he was a victim of a fraud). But see Vogel (2004) , p. 115 (arguing that Anthon's initial assessment was likely more positive than he would later admit).

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
and Harris returned to Harmony in April 1828 motivated to act as Smith's scribe.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Roberts (1902) , p. 20.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Translation continued until mid-June 1828, until Harris began having doubts about the existence of the golden plates.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • These doubts were induced by his wife's deep skepticism. Bushman , p. 66.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Harris importuned Smith to let him take the existing 116 pages of manuscript to Palmyra to show a few family members.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Smith (1853) , pp. 117–18; Roberts (1902) , p. 20.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Harris then lost the manuscript—of which there was no copy—at about the same time as Smith's wife Emma gave birth to a stillborn son.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • During this dark period, Smith briefly attended his in-laws' Methodist church, but one of Emma's cousins "objected to the inclusion of a 'practicing necromancer' on the Methodist roll," and Smith voluntarily withdrew rather than face a disciplinary hearing. Bushman (2005) , pp. 69–70.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Smith said the angel had taken away the plates and he had lost his ability to translate

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Phelps (1833) (revelation dictated by Smith stating that his gift to translate was temporarily revoked); Smith (1832) , p. 5 (stating that the angel had taken away the plates and the Urim and Thummim).

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
until September 22, 1828, when they were restored.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Smith (1853) , p. 126.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Smith did not earnestly resume the translation again until April 1829, when he met Oliver Cowdery, a teacher and dowser,

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Hill (1977) , p. 86 (Cowdery had brought with him a "rod of nature," perhaps acquired while he was among his father's religious group in Vermont, who believed that certain rods had spiritual properties and could be used in divining."); Bushman (2005) , p. 73 ("Cowdery was open to belief in Joseph's powers because he had come to Harmony the possessor of a supernatural gift alluded to in a revelation..." and his family had apparently engaged in treasure seeking and other magical practices.)Quinn (1998) , pp. 35–36, 121.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
who now became Smith's scribe.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 74 (Smith and Cowdery began translating where the narrative left off after the lost 116 pages, now representing the Book of Mosiah. A revelation would later direct them not to re-translate the lost text, to ensure that the lost pages could not later be found and compared to the re-translation.).

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
They worked full time on the translation between April and early June 1829,

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 70–74.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
and then moved to Fayette, New York where they continued to work at the home of Cowdery's friend Peter Whitmer. When the translation spoke of an institutional church and a requirement for baptism, Smith and Cowdery baptized each other,

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Quinn (1994) , pp. 5–6, 38 (contrasting the 1829 view with the churchless Mormonism of 1828); Bushman (2005) , pp. 74–75.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
with written documents five years later stating that John the Baptist had appeared and ordained them to a priesthood.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Quinn (1994) , pp. 15–20 (noting that Mormon records and publications contain no mention of any angelic conferral of authority until 1834); Bushman (2005) , p. 75.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Translation was completed around July 1, 1829.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 78.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Knowing that potential converts to the planned church might find Smith's story of the plates incredible,

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 77 (Smith "began to seek converts the question of credibility had to be addressed again. Joseph knew his story was unbelievable.").

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Smith asked a group of eleven witnesses, including Martin Harris and male members of the Whitmer and Smith families, to sign a statement testifying that they had seen the golden plates, and in the case of the latter eight witnesses, had actually hefted the plates.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 77–79. There were two statements, one by a set of Three Witnesses and another by a set of Eight Witnesses. The two testimonies are undated, and the exact dates on which the Witnesses are said to have seen the plates is unknown.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
According to Smith, the angel Moroni took back the plates after Smith was finished using them.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Smith (Mulholland) , p. 8.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
The translation, known as the Book of Mormon, was published in Palmyra on March 26, 1830, by printer E. B. Grandin.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 82.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Martin Harris financed the publication by mortgaging his farm.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 80 (noting that Harris' marriage dissolved in part because his wife refused to be a party, and he eventually sold his farm to pay the bill.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Soon thereafter on April 6, 1830, Smith and his followers formally organized the Church of Christ,

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Scholars and eye-witnesses disagree whether the church was organized in Manchester, New York at the Smith log home, or in Fayette at the home of Peter Whitmer. Bushman (2005) , p. 109; Marquardt (2005) , pp. 223–23 (arguing that organization in Manchester is most consistent with eye-witness statements).

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
and small branches were established in Palmyra, Fayette, and Colesville, New York.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Phelps (1833) , p. 55 (noting that by July 1830, the church was "in Colesville, Fayette, and Manchester").

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
The Book of Mormon brought Smith regional notoriety,

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Brodie (1971) , pp. 80–82.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
but also strong opposition by those who remembered Smith's money-digging and his 1826 trial near Colesville.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 117(noting that area residents connected the discovery of the Book of Mormon with Smith's past career as a money digger);Brodie (1971) (discussing organized boycott of Book of Mormon by Palmyra residents, p. 80, and opposition by Colesville and Bainbridge residents who remembered the 1826 trial, p. 87).

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Soon after Smith reportedly performed an exorcism in Colesville,

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Brodie (1971) , p. 86 (describing the exorcism).

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
he was again tried as a disorderly person but was acquitted.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 116–17.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Even so, Smith and Cowdery had to flee Colesville to escape a gathering mob. Probably referring to this period of flight, Smith told years later of hearing the voices of Peter, James, and John who he said gave Smith and Cowdery an apostolic authority.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Quinn (1994) , pp. 24–26; Bushman (2005) , p. 118.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
When Oliver Cowdery and other church members attempted to exercise independent authority

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 120 ("Oliver Cowdery and the Whitmer family began to conceive of themselves as independent authorities with the right to correct Joseph and receive revelation.").

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
—as when Book of Mormon witness Hiram Page used his seer stone to locate the American New Jerusalem prophesied by the Book of Mormon

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Roberts (1902) , pp. 109–110.

FAIR's analysis:


Question: Why did Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer accept Hiram Page's seer stone revelations as authoritative?

The Lord used this incident as a way to teach Oliver the proper order of revelation in the Church

This event is discussed in the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual (2013):

In 1830, the Prophet Joseph Smith encountered a challenge because Church members did not understand the order of revelation in the Church. Hiram Page claimed to receive revelations for the Church through the medium of a special stone, and some Church members, including Oliver Cowdery, believed him. Shortly before a Church conference that was held on September 26, 1830, the Lord revealed truths that helped Oliver Cowdery and others understand the order of revelation in the Church.[1]

Oliver was actually directed by the Lord to correct Hiram Page in this matter. It was a "teaching moment" for Oliver:

11 And again, thou shalt take thy brother, Hiram Page, between him and thee alone, and tell him that those things which he hath written from that stone are not of me and that Satan deceiveth him;

12 For, behold, these things have not been appointed unto him, neither shall anything be appointed unto any of this church contrary to the church covenants.

13 For all things must be done in order, and by common consent in the church, by the prayer of faith.

14 And thou shalt assist to settle all these things, according to the covenants of the church, before thou shalt take thy journey among the Lamanites. (D&C 28:11-14).


From the Wikipedia article:
—Smith responded by establishing himself as the sole prophet.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 121; Phelps (1833) , p. 67 ("[N]o one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church, excepting my servant Joseph, for he receiveth them even as Moses.").

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Smith disputed Page's location for the New Jerusalem,

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Phelps (1833) , p. 68 ("[I]t is not revealed, and no man knoweth where the city shall be built.").

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
but dispatched Cowdery to lead a mission to Missouri to find its true location

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Phelps (1833) , p. 68 ("The New Jerusalem "shall be on the borders by the Lamanites."); Bushman (2005) , p. 122 (church members knew that "on the borders by the Lamanites" referred to Western Missouri, and Cowdery's mission in part was to "locate the place of the New Jerusalem along this frontier").

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
and to proselytize the Native Americans.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Phelps (1833) , pp. 67–68 (Cowdery "shall go unto the Lamanites and preach my gospel unto them".).

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Smith also dictated a lost "Book of Enoch," telling how the biblical Enoch had established a city of Zion of such civic goodness that God had taken it to heaven.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Brodie (1971) , p. 96 (noting that this was the third time Smith had revealed "lost books" since the Book of Mormon, the first being the "parchment of John" produced in 1829, and the second the Book of Moses dictated in June 1830.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
On their way to Missouri, Cowdery's party passed through the Kirtland, Ohio area and converted Sidney Rigdon and over a hundred members of his Disciples of Christ congregation,

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 124; Roberts (1902) , pp. 120–124.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
more than doubling the size of the church.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • F. Mark McKiernan, "The Conversion of Sidney Rigdon to Mormonism," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 5 (Summer 1970): 77. Parley Pratt said that the Mormon mission baptized 127 within two or three weeks "and this number soon increased to one thousand." McKiernan argues that "Rigdon's conversion and the missionary effort which followed transformed Mormonism from a New York-based sect with about a hundred members into one which was a major threat to Protestantism in the Western Reserve."

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
Rigdon visited New York and quickly became second in command of the church,

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Brodie (1971) , p. 96 ("When Rigdon read the Book of Enoch, the scholar in him fled and the evangelist stepped into the place of second in command of the millennial church.").

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
to the discomfort of Smith's earlier followers.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 123–24; Brodie (1971) , pp. 96–97.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
In the face of acute and growing opposition in New York, Smith announced that Kirtland was the "eastern boundary" of the New Jerusalem,

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Brodie (1971) , p. 97 (citing letter by Smith to Kirtland converts, quoted in Howe (1833) , p. 111). In 1834, Smith designated Kirtland as one of the "stakes" of Zion, referring to the tent–stakes metaphor of Isaiah 54:2.

FAIR's analysis:


From the Wikipedia article:
and that the Saints must gather there.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Phelps (1833) , pp. 79–80 ("And again, a commandment I give unto the church, that it is expedient in me that they should assemble together in the Ohio, until the time that my servant Oliver Cowdery shall return unto them."); Bushman (2005) , pp. 124–25; Brodie (1971) , p. 96 (noting that Rigdon had urged Smith to return with him to Ohio).

FAIR's analysis:


References

Wikipedia references for "Joseph Smith, Jr."
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