How Did Joseph Smith “Translate” the Book of Mormon?

Seer stoneIn the recent PBS special, The Mormons, Daniel Peterson publicly and explicitly admitted that “most of the translation [of the Book of Mormon] was done using something called a seer stone.” Since many Mormons have labeled claims like these “anti-Mormon“, Peterson’s statement is significant because he is a professor at BYU and is considered the foremost apologist of Mormonism today. While one has been able to find such candid admissions buried in some FARMS/FAIR material, depictions of Joseph Smith’s translation of the Book of Mormon in church-published literature have led nearly all Mormons to believe that Joseph Smith simply translated with the golden plates right in front of him. But Peterson knows better:

“We know that Joseph didn’t translate the way that a scholar would translate. He didn’t know Egyptian. There were a couple of means that were prepared for this. One was he used an instrument that was found with the plates that was called the Urim and Thummim. This is a kind of a divinatory device that goes back into Old Testament times. Actually most of the translation was done using something called a seer stone. He would put the stone in the bottom of a hat, presumably to exclude surrounding light. And then he would put his face into the hat. It’s a kind of a strange image for us.”

MRM has a relevant video available entitled, “How Did Joseph Smith ‘Translate’ the Book of Mormon?“. We encourage you to share it with your friends!

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34 Responses to How Did Joseph Smith “Translate” the Book of Mormon?

  1. Austin says:

    I was surprised by Daniel Peterson’s statement, and glad such information was presented by a BYU professor. PBS’ Mormons was quite interesting. Anyhow that is a great lil’ video.

  2. rick b says:

    Great Video, I really look forward to see how the LDS answer these tough Questions.

    But as we have seen in the past and I expect to see again, We will not see any replys by the LDS or they will reply but not give good answers. Rick B

  3. Neal says:

    a good answer being an answer you agree with?

  4. Neal, was or was this not at least the primary way Joseph Smith supposedly translated the Book of Mormon?

    What do you think of Ensign’s misleading portrayals?

    Are you willing to concede the mistake?

  5. David says:

    Given the “divine” origins of the Book of Mormon, what is the excuse for the constantly evolving text that is the BoM? Why did the text change during Joseph’s lifetime and after? If God got it right when Joseph used the Urim & Thummim, then why the need to revise? I have heard excuses about Joseph having a 5th grade education, printer’s errors, etc. but this issue has yet to be seriously dealt with.

  6. Jeff says:

    Good point Aaron. However Neal, I’m glad you came to this website and started to read these articles. It’s always good to know the history of a group/church/organization before you dedicate your life and salvation to it.

    I’m struggling with my wife on that part. She was born and raised into the LDS church and she refuses to listen to anything that questions her religion. Which is sad. It would turn her world upside down, but it will hurt more to live a lie your whole life. Not only that, but dragging other people down with you.

  7. rick b says:

    Neal said:
    a good answer being an answer you agree with?

    Neal How about you answer the questions, even if you think I will disagree.

    Like how come their is zero evidence of reformed Egyptian.

    How about answers to the Questions Bill brings up.

    Here is a honest question, How can you or any other LDS claim to have the true Church and the truth, yet you guys avoid answering honest questions.

    By avoiding them I mean this, Take this topic for example, No LDS has tried to answer these question, but yet LDS reply to questions like, Mitt Romney runs for president.

    You guys avoid hard questions like the plague, dont even try saying you dont, because I can post lots of topics with times and dates showing Non-LDS asking LDS questions on this board that are still waiting replies. And the LDS are still here replying to other newer topics. So LDS do avoid hard questions.

    At the very least, you could be honest and simply say, I really dont know what to tell you. Instead you guys avoid them. Take Inhim, for example, I asked him some good honest questions, his reply to me was, I dont want to answer you.

    I believe it’s more a matter of, he cannot answer me, not he does not want to. But he makes excuses and says, He got into it with me on my blog and I did not listen so why bother.

    I say, at least answer them for the benefit of others who are reading, but not replying. If I were a Mormon, I would be embarrassed by how you guys dodge and avoid questions. Rick b

  8. Eric the Red says:

    One of the special benefits I have gleaned from this website is an exposure to a broad range of information concerning Mormonism. Thanks to all involved for the stimulating articles. I was surprised by the following statement “church-published literature [has] led nearly all Mormons to believe that Joseph Smith simply translated with the golden plates right in front of him.” Since my knowledge of Joseph Smith’s translation methods came from earlier Mormon sources, I assumed that it was generally acknowledge by Mormons that his method of translation was a seer stone.

    I was disappointed, Neal, by your comment, “A good answer being an answer you agree with?” This does not shed any light on a very pertinent inquiry by in an earlier comment from Rick. What would be helpful is a simple statement of your belief of how Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon and your documentation from Mormon sources to support it. I’m not throwing down a gauntlet here. Just trying to encourage helpful discussion. Also, I am interested to know why an LDS would consider it “[filtered profanity or slur]” to believe that JS translated the Book of Mormon with a seer stone.

  9. rick b says:

    Eric the red said to neal :What would be helpful is a simple statement of your belief of how Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon

    Eric, please dont get your hopes up, My experince has shown me on this blog, as I sometimes point out, to help keep the LDS honest, they tend to avoid hard questions. But give excuses as to why. Rick b

  10. Elder Joseph says:

    If most of the Book Of Mormon was done with his head in the hat and ‘peep’ stone .

    If Oliver Cowdery did most of the scribe work then this statement in the Joseph Smith History is a lie about the Urim and Thummim and instead Oliver really saw Joseph with his head in the hat .Yet the church likes to print this version with its choice of words.

    Quote:

    Oliver Cowdery describes these events thus: “These were days never to be forgotten–to sit under the sound of a voice dictated by the inspiration of heaven, awakened the utmost gratitude of this bosom! Day after day I continued, uninterrupted, to write from his mouth, as he translated with the URIM AND THUMMIM, or, as the Nephites would have said, `Interpreters,’ the history or record called `The Book of Mormon.’

  11. john f. says:

    It was not surprising that Daniel Peterson discussed the seer-stone in the translation of the Book of Mormon. The Church makes no secret of the fact that this was one of the methods Joseph Smith used for translation and by which most of the Book of Mormon was translated. For example, an Apostle of the Church published an article expressly highlighting the seer-stone-in-the-hat translation technique in the Church’s main periodical publication, the Ensign in 1993: Russell M. Nelson, “A Treasured Testament,” Ensign, Jul 1993, 61.

  12. john f. says:

    In the interest of convenience, the 1993 Ensign article by Russell M. Nelson, an Apostle of the Church, relates the following with regard to the seer-stone in the hat:

    The details of this miraculous method of translation are still not fully known. Yet we do have a few precious insights. David Whitmer wrote:

    “Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man.” (David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ, Richmond, Mo.: n.p., 1887, p. 12.)

    There is nothing more mainstream in the Church than the Ensign.

  13. John C. says:

    As John F. has pointed out, the LDS church has done a truly crap job of keeping this horrible secret secret, what with all the open publishing and so forth. Man, we suck at conspiracy!

  14. Arthur Sido says:

    John F and John C,

    “It was not surprising that Daniel Peterson discussed the seer-stone in the translation of the Book of Mormon. The Church makes no secret of the fact that this was one of the methods Joseph Smith used for translation and by which most of the Book of Mormon was translated.”

    Do the missionaries describe the translation of the Book of Mormon using the seer stones in a hat when witnessing? I still have the missionary discussion brochures, and I am pretty sure that the story they tell is different. If you go to the LDS website here: http://www.lds.org/churchhistory/history
    you will notice that the picture shows young Joseph perched at a table apparently reading the golden plates, with nary a seer stone or hat in sight. Even that doesn’t seem to jive with the “official history” in the mormon Scriptures. For example, the JS History says:

    JS-H 1:35 Also, that there were two stones in silver bows—and these stones, fastened to a breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim—deposited with the plates; and the possession and use of these stones were what constituted “seers” in ancient or former times; and that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating the book.
    JS-H 1:62 By this timely aid was I enabled to reach the place of my destination in Pennsylvania; and immediately after my arrival there I commenced copying the characters off the plates. I copied a considerable number of them, and by means of the Urim and Thummim I translated some of them

    I daresay that most rank and file mormons would react as mentioned above, and be aghast at the idea of the Book of Mormon being the product of Joseph Smith reading words that appeared in a hat, as would investigators which is why it doesn’t come up in the missionary discussions. The first I heard of the seer stones in the hat ploy was AFTER I had left mormonism.

  15. John C. says:

    I admit that I didn’t learn of seer stones in Primary (although I have heard John F. make that claim). When I did learn of them, I shrugged and moved on. If I believe that the translation was miraculous and I believe that later “translations” were based solely on inspiration, what do the hat and stone matter?

    I too remember the old discussions. They simply say Joseph translating the plates. Which he did. So there isn’t any dishonesty there (unless, of course, you don’t believe that he did so). I am sorry that you found Mormonism wanting, Arthur. I hope you have peace and grace in your new set of beliefs.

  16. D says:

    Although I’m not a Mormon, I have a question. If you read the Bible you will find odd items and beliefs. Non-believers are chastized because they don’t see things you way. Now why is this any different from your argument regarding the Mormon story? It seems quite simple to me either you believe or you don’t. This goes for both the Bible or the Book of Mormon.

    Personally I find Television Christians to be Religious want-to-be’s, but too lasy to actually worship. The Television Preachers are often scam artists out for a quick buck and discover that it’s a Cash Cow to prey on these people.

    I’ve found Mormons to be very engaged in their worship and anything but lazy. I find some of their beliefs to be a bit odd, but that’s why I’m not a Mormon. While I don’t know who I’ll be voting for yet, I will not exclude Mitt Romney because of his religion. I will vote for whom ever based on their political ideas and vision for the future.

  17. D,

    Most every Christian I know agrees that most tele-evangelists are ostentatious false teachers and wolves in sheep’s clothing. Specifically we’re concerned about the preachers who teach “health, wealth, and prosperity” gospel. They’re the ones usually out for a buck.

    Also, it might be helpful to make a clarification: Christians aren’t simply making that claim that people shouldn’t vote for Romney because of the weirdness of his religion. Some people are concerned about how his worldview might effect his epistemology (i.e. it’s true because it feels good) and public policy. Others are concerned that voting for Romney might give Mormonism public legitimacy as a Christian religion. Others are concerned that Romney, like his church, equivocate about their beliefs and cause confusion over what Mormonism teaches.

    Of my Christian friends there is quite a diversity of what people think about it all. If anything I think we should have an intelligent discussion about it and allow people to come to their own informed, genuine conclusions without calling them bigots or prejudiced or violators of the principles of the Constitution.

    Grace and peace,

    Aaron

  18. D says:

    I’m more worried about a persons’ actual actions and not the potential actions that some people think that a specific person might take. This does require some thought, but I don’t feel that Mitt Romney has done anything at this point that would eliminate him in my eyes for the office of the Presidency.

  19. John C. says:

    “I think we should have an intelligent discussion about it and allow people to come to their own informed, genuine conclusions without calling them bigots or prejudiced or violators of the principles of the Constitution.”

    From you, Aaron, this is rich. I don’t think you really understand LDS epistemology.

  20. Arthur Sido says:

    John C.,

    “I am sorry that you found Mormonism wanting, Arthur. I hope you have peace and grace in your new set of beliefs.”

    Actually, I was very comfortable and at peace in mormonism, the picture of an active member, temple recommend carrying, clerk in the Bishopric, went out EVERY week with the elders, and had them for dinner at least as often. I never touched any “anti-“ mormon material. We were weeks away from baptizing our oldest daughter. We were comfortable and happy and content…

    Until the day that God made me discontented with where I was. Mormonism is very comfortable for a lot of people, but Christianity is not about comfort. It is a faith born on a bloody cross, with a bruised and bleeding savior and a glorious, empty tomb. That is not “a new set of beliefs”. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, two thousand years old and as true and complete today as it was in the first century.

  21. Geoff J says:

    Actually, I was very comfortable and at peace in mormonism… but Christianity is not about comfort

    Well… err… congratulations on becoming so uncomfortable in your new set of beliefs then…(?)

    (Normally, saying “I hope you have peace and grace in your new set of beliefs” to someone doesn’t get rebutted is all so I figured you wanted to hear something else.)

  22. Interested says:

    Throwing barbs…please stay civil. This should be an intellectual discussion. I’m here to learn about both, mormonism and Christianity but you all are getting down and dirty. The topic is about how the BoM was translated, can we get back to that?

  23. John C. says:

    Interested, I apologize. Aaron gets under my skin more quickly than the other people here. Aaron, I apologize about the looks thing. You and I are probably at least equally attractive.

    Arthur,
    I think I understand a little of your experience. God too tells me to do things that get me out of my comfort zone. They just happen to be Mormon things (well and losing weight). I also feel like I am compelled by God to believe what I believe.

  24. john f. says:

    Interested, the Book of Lehi was primarily or at least substantially translated with Joseph Smith using the ancient Urim and Thummim set of stones and breastplate, with Joseph sitting behind a curtain dictating to a scribe on the other side of the curtain, as often depicted in Church artwork. The curtain was to keep the scribe from seeing the Golden Plates during the translation process. The Book of Lehi comprised the material that was stolen from or was lost by Martin Harris when he took the 116 pages to show his wife.

    It is unclear whether Joseph Smith ever actually read straight from the plates to a scribe on the other side of the curtain as has been depicted in a few drawings and paintings created by Mormons. Some of these paintings have even found their way into the resources stored in chapel libraries as teaching aids for Primary children. To infer from that that the Church is teaching that Joseph Smith translated by reading the plates directly without the aid of either the U&T or the seer stone would be fallacious.

    When Joseph Smith resumed translation after losing the Book of Lehi, the sources seem to indicate that he primarily — some say exclusively — used the seer-stone-in-the-hat method of translation. Objectively speaking, this method should not be viewed as any more fantastic than using the Old Testament U&T in the same manner. Latter-day Saints believe that a seer can receive revelation in many different ways, as did the seers of the Bible and Book of Mormon.

    Joseph’s wife Emma periodically served as scribe and described the seer-stone-in-the-hat method, as did David Whitmer. Joseph Smith would dictate for hours on end without breaking with his face in the hat (to block out the light) looking at the seer stone. He had no manuscript present and did not remove his face from the hat to look elsewhere or to turn pages, and yet he dictated for hours on end without stopping.

  25. DJ says:

    Hi. I am new to this site. I was raised Mormon and have only recently discovered the “stone in the hat” method of “translation”. I was never taught this growing up in the Mormon Church. When I served a mission, I used the same picture shown in above video – Joseph Smith sitting and reading the plates as if he were reading a book in a language he understood. In the past few years, doubts have crept into my mind and I have started to research Mormon history outside of what is taught in the Mormon Church.

    I would like to answer Eric the Red’s question from June 16th “I am interested to know why an LDS would consider it “[filtered profanity or slur]” to believe that JS translated the Book of Mormon with a seer stone”. This answer is from my personal feelings upon the subject. I was taught my whole life that the BOM was translated by the gift and power of God. Coupled with these teachings were numerous paintings depicting JS reading the gold plates. Now I find out that the gold plates were not even in the house when the translation was taking place. JS was looking into a stone in a hat – the same method he used to search for treasure prior to his marriage to Emma. As stated in the video above, that is just superstitious folk magic. I used to believe that JS was the great prophet of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Looking into a seer stone (found while digging a well) to translate the ancient extinct language inscribed on metallic plates (the plates being hidden away during the translation) has the feel of a fairy tale akin to Washington Irving’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow or Rip van Winkle. It is difficult for me to reconcile my former beliefs with the present facts. So in my eyes JS has gone from prophet to superstitious mystic. I do not think it is “[filtered profanity or slur]” to believe that JS translated the Book of Mormon with a seer stone if one believes the use of seer stones is ordained of God. I do not believe it.

  26. john f. says:

    When Joseph Smith resumed translation after losing the Book of Lehi, the sources seem to indicate that he primarily — some say exclusively — used the seer-stone-in-the-hat method of translation. Objectively speaking, this method should not be viewed as any more fantastic than using the Old Testament U&T in the same manner. Latter-day Saints believe that a seer can receive revelation in many different ways, as did the seers of the Bible and Book of Mormon.

  27. John F. I’m not aware of any real translation done by divinization or seer stones in the Old Testament. The parallel seems to be a stretch, as the OT example is that of merely receiving a yes or no answer from God. Also, I think you’re overlooking the fact that Joseph Smith used these same seer stones in his folk magic and unsuccessful money digging, and that it contributes to the whole “fishiness” of the ordeal (especially when seen together with the wavering testimonies of the three).

    If anything, it seems quite embarrassing to the Mormon Church. When is the last time you saw this supposed translation method depicted in a church publication? Why are so many life-long Mormons dumbfounded when they are challenged with this kind of information? Many Mormons simply deny it to me in a sort of bewilderment. Why? For one thing, their church isn’t forthright about it.

  28. john f. says:

    In 1993 an article by Elder Nelson appeared in the Ensign about the seer-stone method.

    Seers in the Old Testament did much more than get yes/no answers from God. Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and others had extensive visions and revelations and recorded them. Numerous other Old Testament prophets heard the voice God speaking to them and recorded the message.

  29. john f., I’m aware of the passing mention in the Ensign, but that’s all it was, a passing mention. The fact that such a passing admission is so significant sure says a lot. It’s rare for church leaders to be up front about this sort of thing. Daniel Peterson admits that “most” of the BofM translation was done using a seer stone. Have you ever seen this visually depicted in a church publication? You never answered my other questions:

    Why are so many life-long Mormons dumbfounded when they are challenged with this kind of information? Many Mormons simply deny it to me in a sort of bewilderment. Why?

    Also, you’re missing a big point. Your church tries to alleviate concerns over Smith’s use of folk magic (which he elsewhere used unsuccessfully to find buried treasure) by drawing a parallel that just doesn’t work: no one in the Old Testament ever used such a thing as a seer stone to translate text. Of course OT prophets “had extensive visions and revelations and recorded them”, but that’s a red herring.

    All things considered, it’s clear, especially to outsiders, that Smith was just using methods he already had used to con other people. I’m reminded of the story of Emma returning to her home to pick up furniture after having eloped with Joseph. Emma’s father wept and begged Joseph to give the dishonorable money digging practicing up. He understood what Emma was getting herself into.

  30. Jeff says:

    Here’s my point of view… I’ve been going to my wifes ward (she and her family are LDS) for 3 straight years. All 3 hours.. I’ve been more faithful to going to church than half of my mormon friends. Why? Because I want to learn and get more information so I can make a sincere, but also educated decision upon my choice of faith. On my choice of which God and which Doctrine to follow (that of the Bible, or that of the Book of Mormon). It is at this time, that after 3 years, I’m just hearing the same things OVER and OVER again. Sorry if this might be offensive, but it is the “gussy’d-up” version of everything. The translation of the Book of Mormon has been one of them. It’s funny to me that when the LDS I know are confronted about these “left-out” versions of the stories, they do one or two things, and understandably so because they dont want to feel they lived a lie their entire life. They tell me 1) Thats not REALLY how it happened, your interpreting it wrong. or 2) Yeah, thats what happened, so what?.. Usually when they use option 2, it dumbfounds me because its usually upon something so ridiculous that makes no sense and/or has no evidence for explaining it. I do however appreciate the second way of replying to me because it’s not evasive. It’s saying “Even though its completely ridiculous, I accept that that is the history of my church and what its been founded on”..

    I havent yet accepted the LDS faith because to me its like a boat with many holes. You can argue all you want that a hole doesnt exist or is of no worry (like translating looking at a stone in a hat), but the problem is another hole arises. The LDS that are confronted with things are constantly grabbing their buckets to shovel the water out of the boat.. Even if there is 1 hole, their arms will get tired and the boat will sink.

    All I’m asking for is a good explanation that I can accept. Not the constant dodging or neglect of facts that has done nothing more than condemn my only chanceofjoining.

  31. John C. says:

    Jeff and Aaron,
    Joseph Smith did what he did in the medium of his culture. Initially, that is, although he eventually moved beyond it. I didn’t find out about the hat until just a couple of years ago, but I was of the shrug mindset. To my mind, it isn’t any more fantastic a claim than anything thing else Joseph claimed. Since I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God and since I already knew that the method of its translation wasn’t like anything I understood, it didn’t phase me. As has been noted, God speaks to people in miraculous ways; calling one method miraculous and another heretical is expressing taste moreso than stating objective truth. The OT prophets received their prophecy via revelation: it caused them to wear yokes, eat poop, marry prostitutes, and a host of unusual things. I don’t see the hat method as being fundamentally different. I think the problem you are having is one of context (you don’t believe new scripture is possible after the closing of the Bible). If there was a Bible story about translating from a hat, you wouldn’t question it. You’d just question it in the 19th century.

    Regarding Joseph’s peeping skills, the jury is still out. At least two respectable members of the community vouched for them 😉 In any case, I don’t think ill of Joseph, so I am just as highly unlikely to agree with your interpretation of events as you are to agree with mine.

    One things I’ve noticed on this site is that many of the commenters and almost all the permas seem to believe that Mormons lie all the time. I find that attitude unhelpful to dialogue (if that is what you all are after), but I promise to be truthful in my participation.

  32. Jeff says:

    Well with that reasoning of just shrugging to the use of a “seer stone” we might as well just shrug to the use of voodoo and all matters of witchcraft. The only difference is one claims to be of God and the other doesnt even bother with that claim. Even though using seer stones is/was common folklore magic.

    Personally, I raise an eyebrow because of the connection between “common folklore magic” used to translate the Book of Mormon and “Masonic signs/tokens/rituals” performed in the Temples.

    Heres the point that I think should be made. And of course it is only of my own personal opinion, but here it is.

    To me, Mormonism is a boat with holes (as I stated before), and the translation of the Book of Mormon is one of those holes. Anyone outside of the boat, taking an honest look at the history of its church and of its prophets would see the holes. The people inside the boat, for the most part, truly believe that the boat will get them where they want to go. They send out people to get more people to accompany them in their journey and when asked about the boats mission, the seamen tell them “Oh, this boat is what God made, it was lost some time ago, but we found it, and it’s going to take us back to our heavenly father” (telling people only the surface of it and the beautiful vision). Unfortunately, I believe many become so infatuated with its promises that people neglect to inspect the boat for holes. For instance, a co-worker of mine who is Mormon asked “Dont you want to spend time and eternity with your family?”. That clearly implys my current beliefs will separate me from my family. It’s like the boat people asking “Dont you want to go to heaven?, this is the “one and only true” boat that will get you there”. Now, my point is that once your inside the boat for a while, and you see that its floated for a while, you start to believe. And when a hole pops up, you DONT want to deny your belief. Instead, you choose to go down with the boat.

  33. John C. says:

    Jeff,
    I don’t think that it is immediately comparable to witchcraft because those, after all, are talking about something other than the Christian God. I am a big believer in God speaking to us in a manner and by a means we understand and folk magic beliefs and Masonry provided those for Joseph Smith.

    I am curious. If you believe that we are a sinking ship (since we aren’t going to abandon the Book of Mormon any time soon), why are you still even remotely interested in the Church? I don’t ask this in a love it or leave it manner; I am just curious. As for me, my testimony of the thing comes from what is inside it and what God has told me about it, not from an extensive investigation of the history of its translation. I suppose that we all choose our axia, the premises that we accept as givens and from which we build our arguments. One of mine is that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and, therefore, I am willing to accommodate some interesting items regarding its writing. Many of the people around here believe that the Bible as we have it is the complete and only word of God and use it as an axiom. That this site exists at all is a testament to how our axia affect our thought.

  34. John C., the problem isn’t with weirdness per se, but rather with, all things considered, something that seems questionable and less than believable (consider, for example, that after all the trouble in supposedly retrieving the plates he wouldn’t even need them for translation). Then add the fact that Smith went to court for “glass looking” (something he was most definitely doing whether or not he was actually convicted and punished). Then add the fact that the LDS Church won’t be forthright and public about the main translation method in their own material.

    And no, despite how hard he tried, there is simply no evidence–nada–that Smith was ever successful in finding buried treasure using his seer stones. Charismatic as he was, people did pay him to find treasure. But he never succeeded. And now you have Mormon scholars like Richard L. Bushman saying that this was God’s way of honing and preparing Joseph’s confidence and prophetic skills.

    To a normal outsider it smells pretty fishy. Even rotten.

    Feel free to shoot us an e-mail next time you see the Ensign pictorially depict Smith behind a white curtain with his head in a hat looking through a seer stone. Who knows, maybe then I’ll have grandchildren? For now I’ll have to enjoy these pictures:

    http://www.lds.org/ch/images/history_of_church.jpg

    http://library.lds.org/nxt/gateway.dll/Curriculum/img/img03237.jpg

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