In 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!