Mr. Stoddard, how can you not know how Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon? He used the urum and thumum (I don't think that's the right spelling) to translate the writings of the prophets that were on the gold plates.
I have long marveled at many aspects of the Book of Mormon. Mark does a great job of capturing things I’ve been thinking about through many many readings of the Book of Mormon over my lifetime. I’ve been spending a lot of time with my Sunday School students on many of these aspects. BUT, as marvelous as these things are, I always end my lessons with the idea that none of this really matters UNLESS we actually take up Moroni’s promise. If we do that, and persevere until we have our answer, all of this and much more will become so much more meaningful than we can comprehend prior to doing that. Great job Mark!
Something more subtle, even. I know the difficulties of learning foreign languages. Whoever rendered the Book of Mormon into English was not a native speaker. That's obvious from the awkward phraseology, which sounds like something rendered literally out of another language. He, (we assume it was "he,") had no feel for the flow of vernacular English. I studied BOM politics and militaria, and the translator didn't have a technical vocabulary for those topics, so he rendered them literally, which is why we don't recognize them when we read it. The translator probably had an excellent grasp of English grammar and vocabulary, probably spoke it very poorly, and had no grasp of English social and political institutions. What this tells us is that the Lord even delegated the translation of the Book of Mormon, possibly to Moroni.
"Okay, you wrote it in Hebrew, now I want you to write it in English."
"I don't speak English."
"So learn it."
It reminds me a lot of my efforts to learn Spanish, with a dictionary, a grammar book and a Spanish novel. After several months I could read it fairly well, but not speak it.
I enjoy reading the Book of Mormon, have read it several times. Joseph Smith translated the Book under the power and instructions of our Heavenly Father and his Son. It don't bother me to know if Joseph wore a hat or had a Curtin up in between himself and his scribe. What I am thankful for is the Truth that has come forth because of this translation. We know by reading the Book that their were several authors involved. Each had his own style of writing, I believe each had heavenly intervention when writing their thoughts, their writings become the Book we love and respect today. Remember that in all things there is only ONE TRUTH. These pictures that have been published to create an image in your mind as to how the incident went about are just the images of one persons idea of how it looked. You can sit and make up your own image of how it may have looked and be just as close to the truth as anyone that has published drawings. Unless you were there during the Journey with Lehi and his Family, or was there during the translation of the Book Of Mormon I wouldn't get too Nip Picking.
Reason 8. (At least)
Of all the literature written over thousands of years, none have captured the purpose, intent and result that the Book of Mormon has, namely, the creation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Can you imagine any book or group of books for that matter that could inspire a religion of such depth (think "The Three Pillars of God's Plan?) To paraphrase Brother Nibley, "Time Vindicates Truth."
There is a reason the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. The voices of the world are loud and seek to destroy faith. There are questions in church history and the challenges surrounding our brothers and sisters who are dealing with same sex attraction and where they can find peace and happiness in the gospel. I have seen far too many formerly faithful members leave the church they once loved. But as Elder Ballard said, "To whom will you go?" My testimony of the gospel, and more importantly of our Savior Jesus Christ, is founded upon the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon. There are too many witnesses of its truthfulness to deny it's authenticity, first and foremost the Holy Ghost. Thank you to the many scholars who provide added evidences of its truthfulness.
I read the Book of Mormon daily, usually finishing it once or twice a year. I always learn more and am frequently aware that Joseph Smith could not have invented all that is embodied in that book. It is amazing, and the spirit reminds me of his calling as a seer, which leads me to also trust his other words, decisions, and obedience to the Lord. The spirit of that book is alive and well all over the world!
Herm Olsen asked a good question.
I have what might be some answers:
1. All of the pictures we have of some pivotal events in early Church history (First Vision, Moroni's visit, translation, etc.) are artists' conceptions, made well after the events.
2. I understand that Joseph used a number of methods to translate.
Herm, the hat viewing has received way more attention than needed. It was simply to shade the stone. The curtain was also used as well as nothing at all, once Joseph moved beyond needing a physical item to aid in "seeing". It is the gift and power of God, not magic hats, stones, curtains or anything else that allowed Joseph to "see" what was written/revealed. By the end he didn't even need to be in the same room. He is an amazing "seer" and prophet of God.
I would recommend also Hugh Nibley's articles on how Joseph Smith could not have known nor had access to ancient history and culture that is evident throughout the Book of Mormon and only covered in the last 100 years.
Ensign article, but there is more on BYU's site:
Why do paintings and photos show a curtain between Joseph and the scribe? And no hat into which he peered? Good article, but correct the photo.
Great article cousin Mark. I would only add one thing. Having enough faith to pray to God does set us believers apart. And when we receive an answer from God the criticism of the world seems silly. Although some become embarrassed by the taunts of those in the great and spacious building. It is nice to read another reason why we should stand firm.
Then can we not say; Every word in the Book of Mormon were given to Joseph by Jesus Christ, through the Spirit. That the Lord wanted the words, He gave Joseph, to be exactly what he wanted us to read and ponder. At that time Joseph could not read nor understand the writing on the plates. Thus every latter-day prophet have asked us to read and ponder the book because they knew they were directly from God. Then we would know precisely what we needed to know. The Lord spoke to us in these the latter days the words we needed to know and understand to return home.
I'm so impressed with this article that I want to go back and read all the articles Mark has written.
I'm not a scholar, more like Joseph Smith, with minimal reading under my belt. However I can tell this writer is significantly in love with the Book of Mormon to study and understand why this work is marvelous and credulous and want to share these facts with the reader. I appreciate the Book if Mormon but more so now, and am inspired to more careful look at the characters and writing styles as well as unique phrases therin.
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