Book of Mormon: Gold Plates of the Book of Mormon

(Official church portrayal of Joseph Smith digging for the gold plates from a 2020 video)

In our last section, we looked at Joseph Smith’s involvement in treasure digging because as we get into the Book of Mormon itself, we can see how treasure digging directly influenced the Book of Mormon from the account of the gold plates through the text itself.
 

Treasure Digging and the Gold Plates – A Timeline
 

Before we get to the translation of the Book of Mormon, it’s important to look at how the gold plates were claimed to be received by Joseph Smith. This is important because as we covered in our last section on treasure digging, the history is much different than the narrative we are taught as members.

According to the church, Joseph Smith’s First Vision happens in 1820 which is followed by the visit from the Angel Moroni in 1823. From there we are told that Joseph Smith makes a yearly visit to the Hill Cumorah to get the gold plates, finally receiving them in 1827. According to Joseph Smith’s 1838 history:

 

“Accordingly, as I had been commanded, I went at the end of each year, and at each time I found the same messenger there, and received instruction and intelligence from him at each of our interviews, respecting what the Lord was going to do, and how and in what manner his kingdom was to be conducted in the last days.” (Joseph Smith History)
 

The timeline of the church’s narrative has some problems, and I want to briefly cover them here. First, there is no contemporary account of the First Vision being told by Joseph Smith before 1832. We cover this in our First Vision Overview, which is important because the church needs the First Vision to occur before 1823 to fit with Joseph Smith’s account of Moroni’s visit, but the historical record tells us if it happened in any manner, it couldn’t have been before 1824.

Second, Joseph Smith’s visits to retrieve the plates were always on the autumnal equinox, which is a very important day in magical practices such as treasure digging. This is incredibly important because in magic and occult practices, this is the time of the year when the ‘veil is lifted:’

 

“Mabon [Autumnal Equinox] is a useful time for practicing protection magic as well as prosperity magic. (According to pagan beliefs, the veil between the spiritual and mortal worlds is particularly thin around the autumnal equinox.) Any form of divination you partake in will be particularly revealing now, and meditating on the balance between light and dark and this space of equilibrium is also customary.” (Vice)


As we covered in the last section, Joseph Smith was heavily involved in treasure digging and had begun these digs around 1822 according to Joseph Smith historian Dan Vogel’s timeline. This means that about a year into Joseph Smith’s treasure digging career, he began telling the story of the gold plates.

This also makes sense given not just the autumnal equinox timing, but that Joseph Smith claimed to be visited by the guardian of the treasure, which was originally identified as an angel but was later retrofitted to Nephi and then Moroni. Furthermore, in Joseph Smith’s 1838 history he notes that the original story included three visits on the same night, which is another magical/occult belief that we mentioned in the last section – the power of three.

The 1823 Attempt


Joseph Smith first went on September 22, 1823, the autumnal equinox, to retrieve the plates. According to his history, Joseph Smith claims he dug the hole where he was shown in a vision the plates would be and stated the following:


“Having removed the earth, I obtained a lever, which I got fixed under the edge of the stone, and with a little exertion raised it up. I looked in, and there indeed did I behold the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate, as stated by the messenger. The box in which they lay was formed by laying stones together in some kind of cement. In the bottom of the box were laid two stones crossways of the box, and on these stones lay the plates and the other things with them.


I made an attempt to take them out, but was forbidden by the messenger, and was again informed that the time for bringing them forth had not yet arrived, neither would it, until four years from that time; but he told me that I should come to that place precisely in one year from that time, and that he would there meet with me, and that I should continue to do so until the time should come for obtaining the plates.” (Joseph Smith History)


Keep in mind that Joseph Smith is writing his history in 1838 precisely to fight off the stories about his treasure digging that are swirling around, and in many instances do match the historical record. As we stated in our last section, the Urim and Thummim is a retrofitted term to the Book of Mormon as they were originally called spectacles or Nephite Interpreters.

Furthermore, this is being written by Joseph Smith knowing the outcome of his story and the timeline is problematic as Joseph Smith did visit in 1824, but appears to give up the story until he picks it back up after his 1826 treasure digging trial. Joseph Smith's history also neglects to mention that the angel/guardian spirit told Joseph Smith to return a year later with the ‘right person’ who would be his oldest brother, Alvin, which we will see below.

For this 1823 attempt, we do have some other sources who describe what Joseph Smith had told them of this dig. Oliver Cowdery wrote in his 1835 letters to W.W. Phelps, which are very interesting as it makes clear that the hill the plates came from is believed to clearly be the same Hill Cumorah as in the Book of Mormon, but also gives a description of the 1823 attempt to retrieve the plates.
 

“On attempting to take possession of the records [gold pates] a shock was produced upon his system, by an invisible power, which deprived him in a measure, of his natural strength. He desisted for an instant, and then made another attempt, but was more sensibly shocked than before. What was the occasion of this he knew not—there was the pure unsulied record, as had been described—he had heard of the power, of enchantment, and a thousand like stories, which held the hidden treasures of the earth, and sup[p]osed that physical exertion and personal strength was only necessary to enable him to yet obtain the object of his wish. He therefore made the third attempt with an increased exertion, when his strength failed him more than at either of the former times, and without premeditation he exclaimed, “why can I not obtained this book?” [“]because you have not kept the commandments of the Lord”, answered a voice, within a seeming short distance. He looked, and to his astonishment, there stood the angel who had previously given him the directions concerning this matter.” (Oliver Cowdery Letter to W.W. Phelps)


Again, we see all of the elements of treasure digging in this account: The treasure is taken back into the ground by the guardian spirit (referred to as an angel here, but not named), three attempts made to retrieve it (magical power of three), and a supernatural force prevented him from obtaining the treasure.

According to Joseph Knight, a faithful member of the church, once Joseph Smith was refused the gold plates, the Angel Moroni (guardian spirit) told Joseph Smith to come back on the next autumnal equinox and to bring his oldest brother, Alvin. From Joseph Knight:

 

"He [Joseph] exclaimed “why Cant I stur this Book?” And he was answered, “you have not Done rite; you should have took the Book and a gone right away. You cant have it now.” Joseph says, “when can I have it?” The answer was the 22nt Day of September next if you Bring the right person with you. Joseph says,” who is the right Person?” The answer was “your oldest Brother.”" (Joseph Knight, Reminiscences)
 

The 1824 Attempt


Just a few months after being told to bring his oldest brother Alvin in 1824 to retrieve the plates, Alvin passed away. According to Lucy Mack Smith, Alvin told Joseph to “do everything that lies in your power to obtain the Record. Be faithful in receiving instruction, and in keeping every commandment that is given you.” (Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith, P. 87)


Joseph Smith went to the Hill Cumorah on the 1824 autumnal equinox (September 22) and failed again to get the plates as he did not bring Alvin as he had passed away the previous November. This is problematic since one would think an angel of the Lord would know Alvin was going to pass before the next autumnal equinox, but what is particularly interesting is that five days later, Joseph Smith Sr. posted a public notice in the Wayne Sentinel regarding Alvin’s body being removed from the grave.

The notice states that rumors had been in circulation that Alvin Smith’s body had been dug up and “dissected,” and Joseph Smith Sr. and some of his neighbors went and dug up the grave to prove that the body was still there.

Historian Dan Vogel discussed this public notice and suggested that “Joseph Sr.’s explanation for disinterring Alvin’s body is questionable because one should have been able to determine if the grave had been disturbed without exhuming the body. It seems probable, therefore, that Joseph Sr. himself may have been the source of the rumor, that the story was a ruse to exhume Alvin’s body for its use in attempting to get the gold plates.” (Dan Vogel, The Making of a Prophet, p. 57)

There is no reason to doubt that Joseph Smith Sr. believed that Joseph Smith Jr. held the power to see buried treasure, and while it might seem insane today to think that he would exhume Alvin to retrieve the plates, if you live in a magical worldview where you believe your son that bringing Alvin was the requirement of the guardian spirit, you might just do it.

As Dan Vogel states, if Alvin’s grave had been recently exhumed, you would be able to tell without digging all the way to the body. While this story is of course circumstantial, Joseph Smith Sr.’s public notice gives clues as to what was happening with regards to the gold plates story in 1823-1824.
 

The Book of Mormon Spectacles


While Joseph Smith’s history claims that he visited the Hill Cumorah every year, there is no contemporary record that Joseph Smith visited the hill in 1825. During this time, Joseph Smith was heavily engaged in treasure digging, and according to historian Dan Vogel seemed to give it up the story of the gold plates after the 1824 attempt failed. (Dan Vogel, Mormon Stories)

Following the 1826 trial that we covered in the last section, Joseph Smith would more clearly understand the risk that treasure digging put him in given that it was illegal, and his father told him at the trial that he needed to use his power as God intended.

After that trial, Joseph Smith appeared to again focus on the gold plates and, along with the gold plates, Joseph Smith claimed to also receive two stones set in a bow similar to modern spectacles were . According to his mother, Lucy Mack Smith, this was the account after he claimed to retrieve the plates:
 

“Said he (Joseph) I have got the key I knew not what he meant but took the article in my hands and upon after examing it <*> <(*with no covering but a silk handkerchief)> <found> that it consisted of 2 smooth <3 cornered diamonds set in glass and the glass was set in silver bows> [p. [7], bk. 5] stones con[n]ected with each other in the same way that old fashioned spectacles are made.” (Lucy Mack Smith History)


What is so fascinating about the spectacles is that they appear to have originated after he took fellow treasure digger Samuel Lawrence with him to the Hill Cumorah to ‘view’ the plates through the seer stone. This appears to have happened in either 1825 or 1826, as some speculate that Joseph Smith thought Lawrence might be the “right person” that he claimed Moroni required, as Lawrence was another ‘seer’ that was known in the area. Once they were at the Hill Cumorah, Willard Chase gives this account:
 

“[Lawrence asked] if he [Joseph] had ever discovered anything with the plates of gold; he said no; he then asked him to look in his stone, to see if there was anything with them. He looked, and said there was nothing; he told him to look again, and see if there was not a large pair of specks with the plates; he looked and soon saw a pair of spectacles, the same with which Joseph says he translated the Book of Mormon.” (Testimony of Willard Chase, Manchester, N.Y., 1833)


While a single account from a source that is not necessarily friendly to Joseph Smith should be taken with a grain of salt, this account is corroborated by an account from Joseph Knight Sr. who confirmed that Lawrence “had Bin [been] to the hill and knew about the things in the hill and he was trying to obtain them.” (Jessee, “Joseph Knight’s Recollection,” 32) The Knight family is one of the founding families of Mormonism, and an account that should be taken seriously, especially given that it corroborates what would be considered a ‘negative’ source by church apologists.

To be clear, the spectacles story was a product of Joseph Smith’s treasure digging, as he was cornered into accepting that there were a “large pair of specks” with the plates once Lawrence called his bluff. With treasure digging being a confidence game, Joseph Smith’s hand was forced by Lawrence as treasure diggers always sought to display that they were the 'better' seer.

From this point the spectacles were adopted into the story by Joseph Smith, as Samuel Lawrence was another treasure digger who had credibility among those who believed in magic treasures such as the gold plates. This also explains why Joseph Smith never used the spectacles that would later be referred to as the Nephite Interpreters or the Urim and Thummim – they were an object Joseph Smith was forced to create after taking Samuel Lawrence to the Hill Cumorah, but one that Joseph Smith never wanted to implement in the translation story.
 

The 1827 Retrieval of the Gold Plates


According to Joseph Knight Sr., after being told during his failed 1826 attempt that he needed to bring the “right person” to retrieve the plates, Joseph Smith “looked in his glass [seer/peep stone] and found it was Emma Hale, Daughter of old Mr Hail of Pensylvany, a girl that he had seen Before, for he had Bin Down there Before with me.” (Knight, Reminiscences, 2.)

Joseph Smith married Emma Hale a few months later on January 18, 1827 after eloping to escape her father, Isaac Hale, who did not approve of Joseph Smith’s treasure digging. The following September, Joseph Smith would claim to retrieve the gold plates from the Hill Cumorah.

The 1827 attempt to retrieve the plates used all of the same elements of treasure digging as the first two, including a reliance on the color black and retrieving the plates at the most powerful time in magic – 2 am on the autumnal equinox:
 

“He borrowed Joseph Knight’s black horse and a carriage. He acquired black clothes, and there exists a receipt for the purchase of “lamp black” (paint) from the Palmyra store four days prior. Several friends and neighbors corroborated the requirement for total blackness during this critical visit to the hill, and his mother mentioned it in her Biographical Sketches.

Joseph’s sister stated that he was to appear at two o’clock—the powerful hour of Saturday morning over which his ruling planet Jupiter presided. Oliver Cowdery’s first published history of Smith used the terms “necromancy” and “enchantment” to describe this event.” (Folk Magic / Treasure Digging, Mormon Stories)


In addition to Joseph Smith’s trek to Hill Cumorah, he instructed his father to watch Samuel Lawrence, because Joseph Smith had worked with Samuel Lawrence to “see” the plates and they knew the night of the autumnal equinox is when Joseph Smith would go again to try and retrieve the plates. As the church’s “Saints” book states:
 

“Local treasure seekers also knew it was time for Joseph to get the record. Lately one of them, a man named Samuel Lawrence, had been roaming the hill, searching for the plates. Worried that Samuel would cause trouble, Joseph sent his father to Samuel’s house on the evening of September 21 to keep an eye on him and confront him if it looked like he was going to the hill.” (Saints: The Standard of Truth)


The reason that treasure seekers were looking for the plates was because Joseph Smith’s claim was publicized through his work with Lawrence, and Lawrence knew from his trip with Joseph Smith where the plates were supposedly located within the hill. Again, it was normal within the treasure digging community to believe that buried treasure could be seen through peep/seer stones even as most others knew that the treasure was never found and could not just slip further into the ground.

While Joseph Smith claimed to need the “right person” to retrieve the plates, Emma Smith was made to stay near the carriage with her back to the digging. This of course makes Joseph Smith needing to bring the “right person” if they were then instructed to stay away with their back towards the dig seem both unnecessary and suspicious, and is important when weighing the credibility of these plates being an ancient record.

 

According to D. Michael Quinn:

 

"Emma’s cousins reported that she ‘stood with her back toward him, while he dug up the box.’ Martin Harris said that ‘while he was obtaining the plates, she kneeled down and prayed.’ Harris added that Joseph ‘then took the plates and hid them in an old black oak tree top which was hollow.’ This is another use of the color black, as…was required by Moroni." (Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, p.168)


The Saints book also confirms that Joseph did not bring the plates back on the carriage with Emma but instead said he put them in a “hollow log where they would be safe until he obtained a lockbox." (Saints: The Standard of Truth)

Again, there’s no reason why Joseph Smith would leave the plates in a hollow log near Hill Cumorah simply because there was no lockbox. The most logical solution would be to bring them back and hide them locally if you had the plates. Some prominent non-LDS historians such as Dan Vogel and John Hamer theorize that Joseph Smith had not finished creating the “prop” set of plates he would keep wrapped in cloth yet, but because the autumnal equinox was such an important date in magic, he had to claim the retrieval on that date.

Upon returning home, Joseph Smith let his mother feel the “large pair of spectacles” through a cloth, which again was an item that Joseph Smith was forced to include because of Samuel Lawrence seeing it through *his* (Samuel's) stone in the Hill Cumorah. Again, we have varying accounts of what the spectacles felt like, but they were not allowed to be seen by anyone except Joseph Smith, who never actually used them during the translation as we will show.

Soon after, Joseph Smith Sr. heard of a plot to find the plates and told Emma that people were looking for them. Emma then rode a horse to Joseph Smith to tell him. According to Lucy Mack Smith, the following happened as Emma arrived to tell Joseph:
 

“Joseph kept the urim and thumim constantly about his person an[d] he could by this means ascertain at any moment whether <if> the plates were in danger or having just looked into them before Emma got there he perceived her coming and came up out of the well and met her. When she informed him of the situ what had occurred he told her that the record was perfectly safe for the pre[s]ent.” (Lucy Mack Smith History)


Again, I want to be clear that when Lucy Mack Smith uses “Urim and Thummim” that the term was retrofitted back into the story, and that Joseph Smith would have looked into the same seer/peep stone he used for treasure digging to view the plates. This is very important because it shows that Joseph Smith was using the same treasure digging methods here to comfort Emma by looking into the stone, and that he was not afraid of anyone locating the plates near the hill. This is again something that historians point to as evidence that Joseph Smith had not finished his “prop” set yet, which is why he was not afraid of them being found or uncovered.

According to Joseph Smith’s story, he then went to the hill alone to recover the plates from the hollow log and wrapped them in a shirt. As the legend goes, Joseph Smith was then chased by other treasure diggers and fought them off as he carried a set of plates that would have been in the 40-60 pound range. From the January 2001 Ensign:
 

“As he was jumping over a log, a man sprang up from behind and gave him a heavy blow with a gun. Joseph turned around and knocked him to the ground, and then ran at the top of his speed. About half a mile further, he was attacked again in precisely the same way. He soon brought this one down also and ran on again, but before he got home, he was accosted the third time with a severe stroke with a gun." Joseph struck this third and final attacker with such force that he dislocated his own thumb. He continued running, "being closely pursued until he came near his father's house," at which time his assailants, "for fear of being detected," broke off the chase.” (Andrew H. Hedges, Ensign, January 2001)

This reads like a very unrealistic action movie where the character is running through a building, fighting off people trying to take him down like John Wick, but the story makes no sense. First, these treasure diggers all knew Joseph Smith would attempt to get the plates on the autumnal equinox, but none attacked or surprised him when there was a witness (Emma) to back up his story. Second, we are to believe that Joseph Smith (who had a slight limp after a childhood leg surgery) is truly running with a 40-60 pound block of plates (possibly heavier) for three miles while also jumping over logs and physically outrunning three (magical power of three) people with guns.

Of course anything is possible, but if you look at this story with the same critical thinking you would apply to any other seemingly farfetched story you see or hear, you can see the problems above. Finally, the only injury after these attacks with guns that Joseph Smith specifically refers to is a dislocated thumb, which is very interesting.

As we’ve noted, Dan Vogel has written extensively on the gold plates and believes that Joseph Smith was finishing the plates on this day and likely dislocated his thumb trying to finish the ‘D rings’ that bound the sheets. That would be the final part of producing a set of metal sheets that are bound with the rings, and would certainly be very difficult on the thumb as you’re attempting to bend the rings into shape.

In this scenario, Joseph Smith needs a cover story for the dislocated thumb that occurred while he was finishing his prop set of gold plates, so he rushes home with the story of being attacked three times by treasure seekers to account for both the injury to his thumb and the plates finally making their way back.

That is of course speculation, but it fits better within the timeline and circumstances of the story than Joseph Smith outrunning three assailants with guns for three miles while carrying a 40-60 pound set of plates, all with a slight limp from a childhood surgery.

Once Joseph Smith returned home, he was out of breath and told the story of being chased, which of course no one can verify as this did not happen when he took Emma on the autumnal equinox. When Joseph arrived home, he would not show anyone the plates unless they were wrapped up, which again fits with a prop set of plates being made to give credibility to Joseph Smith’s abilities in the same way that the seer/peep stone did while treasure digging. There is no reason that the gold plates could not be seen by other people unless they couldn't pass a visual inspection by others - it makes no logical sense otherwise.

Following the retrieval of the plates, Joseph Smith would soon begin the production of the Book of Mormon, and in our next section we will cover the translation process.

Historicity of Records on Metal Plates

In the church's recent "Now You Know" video about the gold plates, the video quickly drops this line in before transitioning to their next section: "The plates were similar to other ancient metal records that have been discovered by archaeologists in recent years."

This is something apologists like to cite in order to give the Book of Mormon credibility, but there is no finding that bolsters the Book of Mormon's case in any reasonable way when it comes to records on metal plates. The ancient metal "records" cited by church apologists are typically one sheet of metal and will have just a few sentences worth of material on them. Any evidence that there are long form records on ancient metal plates is simply non-existent, and the church knows this or you would see this proof in every Ensign. I don't know how else to say it - the church is being intentionally misleading when they added this line to a video released by the church in 2020 to add credibility when they know full well that this is simply not an accurate statement.

A very common example of ancient writing on metal plates is the Pyrgi Tablets (shown above). You can read about them on Wikipedia, and take a look at how little text is on those three plates. If anything, the Pyrgi Tablets show how implausible the Book of Mormon is when you take a step back and think of the implications. And not only that, but these plates have been seen by people who are not close to Joseph Smith and in a language that has a historical basis. In other words, the apologetics to show that there was ancient writing on metal opens up more problems for the plausibility of the Book of Mormon, which is why the church just casually dropped that line in their video before you actually take a look at their claims.

What complicates the problem for the Book of Mormon is the math of the plates. The unsealed portion that made up the plates used for translation probably consisted of 12 plates. The first edition is about 590 pages, this means that a single plate corresponds to about 50 pages of English text. Furthermore, each plate corresponds to 22K words in English. The logic of Joseph's time was that the characters were dense and a single character represented a complex idea in English which could correspond to 20-30 words. In spite of this, it is hard to imagine that there were 1K characters on each plate. Moreover, this would require complex non-repeating characters. The characters which we have preserved do not meet this requirement.

The "unsealed portion" of the gold plates, that we are told comprise the Book of Mormon today, consisted of 12 plates. The first edition of the Book of Mormon is 590 pages, which means that every gold plate accounts for about 50 pages of text in English, which then is about 22,000 words in English per plate.

As we detail more in our Book of Abraham interview, a common belief in Joseph Smith's time was that each Egyptian character contained a wealth of information that would translate to full sentences or even paragraphs, which is in line with the idea that "Reformed Egyptian" from the gold plates could hold vast amounts of history with a single character.

However, the predominent belief in Joseph Smith's milieu was incorrect, as the Egyptian language is a phonetic one. As we detail in the Book of Abraham overview, Joseph Smith translates two symbols that actually translate to the word "lake" into 4 verses in the Book of Abraham totaling 131 words.

Despite the church's claim, there is simply no comparable use of metal records in ancient times. The Pyrgi tablets mentioned above, which have often been cited by church apologists of proof of engraved records on plates, only contain about 200 words on the three plates/tables. If you look at the images above, you can see that the tablets/plates are packed with characters. Now understand that those three plates would need to have about 66,000 words for the gold plates of the Book of Mormon.

The idea of gold plates had been discussed around Joseph Smith's area and time. We will cover the "Mound Builders Myth" more in a future section, but the belief during Joseph Smith's time was that the 'mounds' of bodies were from an ancient, civilized race that had been exterminated by the Indians.

In an 1823 discourse to the New York Literary and Philosohpical Society of New York, former New York Governor Dewitt Clinton pointed out that the story of the "Moundbuilders" would be forever lost unless a record engraved on stone or metal could be found in the mounds. (John Hamer, Mormon Stories)

That's not to say that Joseph Smith knew about this comment, but just to note that the idea of gold plates was not unheard of in his milieu. The real problem, however, is that there is simply no evidence that metal plates were used to document history and the Book of Mormon carries the 19th century assumption that each Egyptian character contains sentences or more of text, which leaves a lot of problems both historically and logically for the story of the gold plates.

Conclusion


In this section I have presented the story mostly from the church’s own history including the Saints book, Lucy Mack Smith, Joseph Knight Sr, and Joseph Smith’s own history. I’m not sure that there are too many apologetics for what I’ve stated because the entire story of the gold plates is based on accounts written much later than the events themselves, and I am well aware that there is a lot of speculation within these various accounts.

For me, the most important aspect of the gold plates story that I’ve learned is how heavily treasure digging and magical/occult practices impacted the entire story from the claimed visitation of the guardian spirit (called an angel, then Nephi, and finally Moroni), the visits on the autumnal equinox, and the retrieval using the seer/peep stone to locate and see the plates.

As I stated in the last section, treasure digging is so interwoven in both Joseph Smith’s and the church’s history that is cannot be shrugged off as just a blip in Joseph’s life, and treasure digging's influence will continue in our next section on the Book of Mormon’s translation process.

As I commented in our treasure digging section, in order to believe that Joseph Smith was able to see things in his seer/peep stone, you have to believe there is real buried treasure in the ground that is protected by guardian spirits and that it can slip deeper into the ground if the magical/occult rituals are not properly done. That is important because if you do not believe that (and the evidence is absolutely clear this does not happen), then Joseph Smith was making up these stories to defraud people of their money.

By that same logic, for the gold plates story to work, you have to believe that Joseph Smith could never find the promised treasure in his 20+ digs with a digging company/team yet was able to find and retrieve treasure (in the form of gold plates) in the one time he did the dig alone. On top of that, you have to believe that Joseph Smith, with a slight limp from a serious childhood leg surgery, was able to run three miles while jumping over downed trees and fending off three attackers with guns in the process.

And then on top of all of that, you then have to believe that God preserved these gold plates for thousands of years so that Joseph Smith could go through all of this work and treasure digging techniques to retrieve them, only to not use the gold plates or spectacles when translating the Book of Mormon. And that will bring us to our next section: the translation of the Book of Mormon.

In the next section we will detail Joseph Smith’s translation of the Book of Mormon, looking at the narrative the church has taught against what the various accounts tell us about the production of the Book of Mormon.

Next section: Book of Mormon Translation

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