Subject: Russell M. Nelson admits to seer stone in hat on LDS.ORG
Date: Sep 25 11:59 2003
Author: Non Sequitur

In response to kc's post "Gold plates translation picture and "LDS IQ test" in Church Magazine", let me point out the following link at the official LDS website:

If you take a look at this article which is "Adapted from an address given 25 June 1992 at a seminar for new mission presidents, Missionary Training Center, Provo, Utah" you'll find all sorts of "hidden" knowledge that Nelson felt comfortable sharing with the Mission Presidents:

"Many of you are experienced in the difficult task of translating written text from one language to another. I am intrigued, as you are, with the process Joseph Smith used to translate the Book of Mormon, which he said was done through “the gift and power of God.” (Book of Mormon, title page.) The Prophet learned the nature of that gift the night the angel Moroni first visited him. Moroni told him that “there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of [the American] continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants;

“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 1:34-35.)

The inscriptions on the plates were written in a Semitic language, using a modified Egyptian type of script. Some critics have scoffed at such a linguistic mix. May I tell you of Doctor Moses Maimonides, one of the greatest rabbis and Jewish philosophers of the Middle Ages. He died in A.D. 1204. He served as a court physician in Cairo and is one of the most famous figures in the early history of medicine. Hospitals are named after him today. In Cairo he read and pondered the words of earlier Muslim thinkers and wrote his philosophical books in Arabic using the Hebrew alphabet. This is but one of many instances from ancient and medieval periods in which the script of one language has been used to write in another language. (See Daniel C. Peterson, Abraham Divided; An LDS Perspective on the Middle East, Salt Lake City: Aspen Books, 1992, p. 205.) Indeed, history confirms that such a linguistic mix was not unusual at all.

I am intrigued that Joseph Smith—an unschooled young man in rural America—could have translated this Semitic language mix into the English language. That unlikely scenario relates to Isaiah’s remarkable prophecy:

“I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder.” (Isa. 29:14.)"

And then the admission:

"As Oliver Cowdery testified a few years later: “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 … the history or record called ‘The Book of Mormon.’ ” (JS—H 1:71.)

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.)"

Funny that this isn't discussed more in the church...

This is a great article to refer people to!

Non Sequitur

Subject: Nice strawman there, Nelson
Date: Sep 25 12:10
Author: Makurosu

The inscriptions on the plates were written in a Semitic language, using a modified Egyptian type of script. Some critics have scoffed at such a linguistic mix. May I tell you of Doctor Moses Maimonides, one of the greatest rabbis and Jewish philosophers of the Middle Ages...

What critic has scoffed at such a linguistic mix? I snicker about cureloms and cumoms, myself.

Subject: Have you or anyone else come across this claim before. It's a new one to me.
Date: Sep 25 12:35
Author: Marvelous
Mail Address:

How does one communicate effectively employing a foreign alphabet to another language. Unless the languages are very similar, and presumable Hebrew and Arabic is, I can't understand how this would be tenable.

Subject: Actually, that's the case with Chinese and Japanese
Date: Sep 25 14:01
Author: Tyson Dunn

Even though Japanese has borrowed from Chinese, the two are completely different languages in different language families. They are farther apart than just about any pair of European languages you could name--with the exceptions of Hungarian, Finnish, Basque, and a few others, almost all European languages belong to one family.

For the Japanese to adapt Chinese writing to fit their language, additional characters were created to stand in for extra syllables.

For instance, the verb "to hear" in Japanese is "kiku". When this is written in Japanese, the first syllable is written with an older version of the Chinese character for "to hear" (ling2), the second syllable "ku" is written with an syllabary character. When the verb is in one of its conjugated forms (e.g., "kikimasu", "kikimashita", "kitta", "kitte", etc.), the Chinese character is retained and the ending syllables are changed.

By comparison, Chinese verbs don't conjugate - number, tense, aspect, etc. don't affect the form of the verb.


Subject: David Witmer's description
Date: Sep 25 12:39
Author: Gemini

makes it all sound so, so...I don't know...silly. I am embarrassed, really, to admit I ever believed in the book of mormon or joseph smith being a prophet.


Subject: Also what the...
Date: Sep 25 13:55
Author: L. O. Him

hell is a breastplate? I've read the descriptions several times and tried to imagine what this Urim & Thummim thing looked like and I can't come up with anything.

Subject: Randy J. posted a picture from official LDS sources on his website
Date: Sep 25 14:05
Author: Joe

However, the picture makes it look like glasses, but JS described seer stones attached to the breastplate.

Subject: Re: Russell M. Nelson admits to seer stone in hat on LDS.ORG
Date: Sep 25 14:04
Author: kc

Wow! Non, you're so cool, thanks for that! Omg, that's great, a living apostle admitting to the hat trick. I can't wait to send links to the mormons in chat rooms who discount the hat trick. hehe

Subject: More information...
Date: Sep 25 17:53
Author: Randy J.

>I got a response from a TBM who admitted reading about the hat method. He/she then explained:

>"He did this when he was particularly confused about a certain passage, and wanted to exclude distractions while he pondered the meaning. Much like you or I would seek solitude if we were seeking for an answer to any of our problems."

That isn't why the eyewitnesses said Smith did the "face in the hat" thing. They stated that it was the very manner of "translation." Here again are some of the accounts from eyewitnesses. I suggest that you forward them to that Mormon so he can begin reversing his ignorance or his dishonesty.

"Now the way he translated was he put the urim and thummim into his hat and Darkned his Eyes than he would take a sentance and it would apper in Brite Roman Letters. Then he would tell the writer and he would write it. Then that
would go away the next sentance would Come and so on. But if it was not Spelt rite it would not go away till it was rite, so we see it was marvelous. Thus was the hol [whole] translated."---Joseph Knight's journal.

"In writing for your father I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table close by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us."
(History of the RLDS Church, 8 vols. (Independence, Missouri: Herald House,
1951), "Last Testimony of Sister Emma [Smith Bidamon]," 3:356.

"I, as well as all of my father's family, Smith's wife, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, were present during the translation. . . . He [Joseph Smith] did not use the plates in translation."
(David Whitmer, as published in the "Kansas City Journal," June 5, 1881, and reprinted in the RLDS "Journal of History", vol. 8, (1910), pp. 299-300.

In an 1885 interview, Zenas H. Gurley, then the editor of the RLDS Saints Herald, asked Whitmer if Joseph had used his "Peep stone" to do the translation. Whitmer replied:
"... he used a stone called a "Seers stone," the "Interpreters" having been taken away from him because of transgression. The "Interpreters" were taken from Joseph after he allowed Martin Harris to carry away the 116 pages of Ms [manuscript] of the Book of Mormon as a punishment, but he was allowed to go on and translate by use of a "Seers stone" which he had, and which he placed in a hat into which he buried his face, stating to me and others that the original character appeared upon parchment and under it the translation in English."

"Martin Harris related an incident that occurred during the time that he wrote that portion of the translation of the Book of Mormon which he was favored to write direct from the mouth of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He said that the
Prophet possessed a seer stone, by which he was enabled to translate as well as from the Urim and Thummim, and for convenience he then used the seer stone, Martin explained the translation as follows: By aid of the seer stone,
sentences would appear and were read by the Prophet and written by Martin and when finished he would say 'Written,' and if correctly written that sentence would disappear and another appear in its place, but if not written correctly
it remained until corrected, so that the translation was just as it was engraven on the plates, precisely in the language then used."
(Edward Stevenson, "One of the Three Witnesses," reprinted from Deseret News, 30 Nov. 1881 in Millennial Star, 44 (6 Feb. 1882): 86-87.)

In 1879, Michael Morse, Emma Smith's brother-in-law, stated: "When Joseph was translating the Book of Mormon [I] had occasion more than once to go into his immediate presence, and saw him engaged at his work of translation. The mode of procedure consisted in Joseph's placing the Seer Stone in the crown of a hat, then putting his face into the hat, so as to entirely cover his face, resting
his elbows upon his knees, and then dictating word after word, while the scribes Emma, John Whitmer, O. Cowdery, or some other wrote it down."
(W.W. Blair interview with Michael Morse, Saints Herald, vol. 26, no. 12 (June 15, 1879), pp. 190-91.)

Joseph Smith's brother William also testified to the "face in the hat" version: "The manner in which this was done was by looking into the Urim and Thummim, which was placed in a hat to exclude the light, (the plates lying near by
covered up), and reading off the translation, which appeared in the stone by the power of God" ("A New Witness for Christ in America," Francis W. Kirkham, 2:417.)

"The manner in which he pretended to read and interpret was the same manner as when he looked for the money-diggers, with the stone in his hat, while the book
of plates were at the same time hid in the woods."---Isaac Hale (Emma Smith's father's) affidavit, 1834.

LDS scholar Stephen Ricks concurred with these witnesses' "seer stone" version of the "translation":

"According to most accounts, the seer stone was used during all stages of the translation of the Book of Mormon, both before and after the loss of the first 116 manuscript pages. Edward Stevenson reported that Martin Harris (who served as Joseph's scribe between April and June of 1828) testified to him that "the Prophet possessed a seer stone, by which he was enabled to translate as well as from the Urim and Thummim, and for convenience he used the seer stone."
("The Translation and Publication of the Book of Mormon")

Subject: ...and Nelson's statement contradicts Joseph Fielding Smith.....
Date: Sep 25 18:17
Author: Randy J.

Apparently, Russell Nelson didn't think to consult Joseph Fielding Smith's "Doctrines of Salvation", volume III, pp. 225-6, before he opined that Whitmer's version of events was authentic. JF Smith wrote:

"While the statement has been made by some writers that the Prophet Joseph Smith used a 'seer stone' part of the time in his translating of the record, and information points to the fact that he did have in his possession such a stone, yet there is no authentic statement in the history of the Church which states that the use of such a stone was made in that translation. The information is all HEARSAY, and personally, I do not believe that this stone was used for this purpose."

My comments: Note Smith's qualifier "no authentic statement IN THE HISTORY OF THE CHURCH." What the deceitful Smith did not say is that shortly after Joseph Smith founded his church, he began working to eliminate all mention of his 1820's occultic "glass-looking" practice from his personal history, because he didn't want his new disciples to learn those facts about his past. And after Smith's 1844 murder, his followers such as Brigham Young and Willard Richards further "revised" Smith's history to eliminate as many references to folk-magic as possible.

And of course, contrary to JF Smith's assertion that the reports were "hearsay," many of those references came from the first-hand eyewitnesses to the "peepstone in the hat" version of "translation", such as David Whitmer, Emma Smith, Martin Harris, Joseph Knight, Michael Morse, and others.

So when Joseph Fielding Smith said that there were no such accounts in the "history of the church", he was, in a way, telling the truth: all such accounts were left out of the officially-published "History of the Church," because they

a)tied the Book of Mormon "translation" process directly back into Joseph Smith's 1822-26 "glass-looking" scam, and

b)contradicted Joseph Smith's later, concocted, "two stones in silver bows, fastened to a breastplate" version of events.

But it's nice to see at least one modern LDS leader like Nelson utterly demolish a 160-year-long line of Mormon apologetic assertions with just a few sentences in an article. :-)

Subject: Re: ...and Nelson's statement contradicts Joseph Fielding Smith.....
Date: Sep 25 18:59
Author: BaronHarkonnen

What of the reference in the Documentary History of the Church where Joseph's seer stone was blessed on the altar of the temple? (I believe it was the Manti temple).

Does anyone know where to find this?

Subject: Re: ...and Nelson's statement contradicts Joseph Fielding Smith.....
Date: Sep 25 20:08
Author: Randy J.

>What of the reference in the Documentary History of the Church where Joseph's seer stone was blessed on the altar of the temple? (I believe it was the Manti temple).

>Does anyone know where to find this?

"We have been taught since the days of the Prophet that the Urim and Thummim were returned with the plates to the angel. We have no record of the Prophet having the Urim and Thummim after the organization of the church. Statements of translations by the Urim and Thummim after that date are evidently ERRORS. The statement has been made that the Urim and Thummim was on the altar in the Manti Temple when that building was dedicated. The Urim and Thummim so spoken of, however, was the seer stone which was in the possession of the Prophet Joseph Smith in early days. This seer stone is now in the possession of the church."---"Doctrines of Salvation," vol. lll, Joseph Fielding Smith, p. 225.

Despite JF Smith's assertions, the historical evidence shows that the item which Joseph Smith called the "Urim and Thummim" was still in his possession as late as 1843, according to William Clayton's affidavit. And that means that the "seer stone" which the church still owns today is the same item that Joseph Smith called the "Urim and Thummim."


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