FAIR Issues 29: Some Mormons may not understand Joseph’s translation process

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In reviewing the history of the Book of Mormon translation, some members may be troubled that the process doesn’t match their conceptions of how they thought the process worked. For members who were unaware of the seer stone in the hat, at least two questions or concerns may arise: 1) Is it strange that Joseph used a stone in a hat? 2) Why have we have always been told that Joseph used the Urim and Thummim? 3) Why isn’t the seer stone used today? Mike Ash addresses these questions in this episode.

The full text of this article can be found at Deseret News online.

Brother Ash is author of the book Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt, as well as the book, of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph Smith. Both books are available for purchase online through the FAIR Bookstore.

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5 thoughts on “FAIR Issues 29: Some Mormons may not understand Joseph’s translation process

  1. Fred Barrett

    If anyone has a problem with the translation of the Book of Mormon they need to read; Revelation 2:17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, AND WILL GIVE HIM A WHITE STONE, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

    A continuing study of the scriptures would in fact cement anyones testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ as it has been restored to the earth in these last days along with the holy priesthood after the order of the Son of God and His church even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which is the kingdom of God on earth.

  2. Richard Winmill

    Let’s.See… I have an iPad, and iPhone. I can get pretty much anything translated through Google translate and find my way with Google maps and a GPS. What so remarkable about a seer stone or urim and thuminn or Liahona? Just one difference. My iPad and iPhone only connect to an eath bound world wide web.

  3. Jeremy

    One question that arises is why the Church doesn’t explicitly teach about how the Book of Mormon was actually translated in Primary/Sunday School. The actually method of translation isn’t portrayed or described in lesson manuals. Is it no wonder that some Church members feel that the church isn’t being entirely honest about its history?

  4. Mike Parker


    Your question is answered here:


    FWIW, on the 5th Sunday of October 2011 I taught the lesson in the third hour to adult men and women in my ward. I reviewed the translation process of the Book of Mormon, including the use of a seer stone and a hat. I even had a PowerPoint presentation with images of how this could have been accomplished.

    So count me as one of those who are trying to set things straight.

  5. Shash Nahalin

    Jeremy, I like Maxwell’s response in the link cited by Mike: “Elder Neal A. Maxwell went so far as to use Joseph’s hat as a parable; this is hardly the act of someone trying to “hide the truth”:

    Jacob censured the “stiffnecked” Jews for “looking beyond the mark” (Jacob 4:14). We are looking beyond the mark today, for example, if we are more interested in the physical dimensions of the cross than in what Jesus achieved thereon; or when we neglect Alma’s words on faith because we are too fascinated by the light-shielding hat reportedly used by Joseph Smith during some of the translating of the Book of Mormon. To neglect substance while focusing on process is another form of unsubmissively looking beyond the mark.”
    Ultimately,the physical possession of the Golden plates by Joseph, how ever brief, may have been a necessary tangible witness to those who worked on the the translation.

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