Book of Mormon/Witnesses

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    Book of Mormon witnesses

This page is a summary or index. More detailed information on this topic is available on the sub-pages below.

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Book of Mormon
Witnesses
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Overview:


Three Witnesses:


View of the plates:


Eight Witnesses:


Other Witnesses:

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This evidence [the three and eight witnesses] he can pass over in silence, while, at the same time, he can take newspaper statements, containing a forged letter with an old woman’s name signed to it, and publish it for a POSITIVE FACT, which he supposes will have great weight with the honest....

—Parley P. Pratt, Plain Facts (Manchester: W. R. Thomas, 1840), 2. off-site Full title

Summary

The world was not left with Joseph Smith's testimony alone. The Book of Mormon provided multiple official and unofficial witnesses who corroborated aspects of Joseph's account.Critics have long tried to dismiss or destroy the witnesses' witness. This page links to subpages which discuss various attacks in detail.

TOPICS


Witnesses to the Book of Mormon

The world was not left with Joseph Smith's testimony alone. The Book of Mormon provided multiple official and unofficial witnesses who corroborated aspects of Joseph's account. Critics have long tried to dismiss or destroy the witnesses' witness. This page links to subpages which discuss various attacks in detail. (Click here for full article)

  • 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: It is claimed 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: Some 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." Some argue 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. Some 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: Some 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: It is claimed 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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  • 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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  • Statements
    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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Further reading and additional sources responding to these claims

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