Faith and Reason 6: Artifacts Retrieved from Moroni’s Stone Box

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From the book: Of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph Smith 

by Michael R. Ash

Before Joseph Smith showed the plates to the Book of Mormon witnesses, other family members were able to heft and feel the plates, although they were not able to see them. Witnesses estimated that they weighed about sixty pounds, and were fastened together by rings running through the back. They also said that they could feel and raise the individual leaves.

It is nearly beyond dispute that Joseph had some sort of metal plates in his possession. Logically, it makes more sense that Joseph had metal plates than it is to believe that all those who handled the plates were liars or deluded. After all, eleven other witnesses actually saw the uncovered golden plates. But what if the plates were forged from tin or lead –or some other lesser metal and painted to look like gold?

Martin Harris hefted the box with the plates inside and confirmed that there was something heavy and dense within the box. It was either gold or lead and, he added, “I knew that Joseph had not credit enough to buy so much lead”. The Smith’s were too poor to even afford that much tin. Even if Joseph had the money, someone would have had to purchase, fashion, paint, and even engrave the tin plates –without ever being noticed.

Michael R. Ash is the author of: Of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting The Prophet Joseph Smith. He is the owner and operator of and is on the management team for FairMormon. He has been published in Sunstone, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, the Maxwell Institute’s FARMS Review, and is the author of Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt. He and his wife live in Ogden, Utah, and have three daughters.

Julianne Dehlin Hatton  is a broadcast journalist living in Louisville, Kentucky. She has worked as a News Director at an NPR affiliate, Radio and Television Host, and Airborne Traffic Reporter. She graduated with an MSSc from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in 2008. Julianne and her husband Thomas are the parents of four children.

Music for Faith and Reason is provided by Arthur Hatton.

One thought on “Faith and Reason 6: Artifacts Retrieved from Moroni’s Stone Box

  1. ach1959

    There were other objects found within the stone box besides the plates…the breast plate of Laban, his sword, the interpreters. Church history only answers where the plates are…they were taken back by the angel Moroni, but nowhere is there any mention as to what became of the interpreters, breastplate or sword.
    This brings me to my next point. While serving a mission in western U.S. I had the privilege of eating witha Bishop and his family. His father was an Apostle(deceased now). The Bishop related the story of when he was a young boy, he accompanied his father, the Apostle, to the church building. Where I can’t remember, but he recalled seeing objects, interesting objects. As he grew up, he realized what he saw, the breast plate, and sword of Laban. Now, some 25 years later, my nephew worked security at the church office building and was telling us about many artifacts the church has in its possession. I jokingly said,” Did you see the sword of Laban?” He immediately replied,”How did you know about that?” He essentially confirmed without confirming the existence of said items.
    Now I know my story may be chocked up to Mormon Folklore, but what did happen to said items if the church does not have them?

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