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Joseph Smith: Translating the Book of Mormon

On September 21, 1823 Joseph Smith was praying when a light began to fill his room. A person appeared in the light and began to speak to Joseph. Joseph recorded this experience, “He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people. He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this 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. After telling me these things, he commenced quoting the prophecies of the Old Testament.” After this Joseph was shown the place where the plates were hidden, which was a hill not far from Joseph’s home.

After this night, every September for four years Joseph Smith was instructed to go to the Hill Cumorah to be taught by Moroni. Finally in September of 1827, Moroni gave the plates to Joseph to be translated. Emma, Joseph Smith’s wife, worked for a time as scribe during translation. Numerous attempts were made to steal the plates from Joseph, and the attacks became so vicious that Emma and Joseph went to stay with her family in Harmony, Pennsylvania. Martin Harris, a good friend of the Smith, family followed them to Harmony and acted as scribe for Joseph.

Just a short time later, “Martin asked Joseph if he could take 116 pages of translated material home to show his family members to prove to them the validity of the work they were doing. Joseph asked the Lord for permission, but the Lord’s answer was no. Martin pleaded for Joseph to ask again, which Joseph reluctantly did two more times and finally received permission. Martin made a covenant to show the manuscript only to certain people, but he broke his promise, and the pages of manuscript were stolen. This loss caused Joseph inconsolable grief, for he thought that all his efforts to serve the Lord had been lost. He cried, ‘What shall I do? I have sinned—it is I who tempted the wrath of God. I should have been satisfied with the first answer which I received from the Lord.’

Joseph sincerely repented, and after a brief period when the plates and the Urim and Thummim were taken away, the Lord forgave him and he began translating once again. The Lord instructed him not to retranslate the lost material, which contained a secular history. Instead, Joseph was to translate other plates prepared by the prophet Nephi that covered the same period of time but contained greater prophecies of Christ and other sacred writings. The Lord had foreseen the loss of the 116 pages and inspired Nephi to prepare this second history” (see Our Heritage).

In April of 1829 Oliver Cowdery began working as scribe for Joseph Smith during the translation of the Book of Mormon. Of this time Oliver Cowdery wrote, 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 with the Urim and Thummim, or, as the Nephites would have said, ‘Interpreters,’ the history or record called ‘The Book of Mormon.’”

Persecutions began again to vicious and numerous so Joseph moved to Fayette, New York and stayed in the home of the Whittmer family. Translation continued until it was completed in July 1829. The gold plates and Urim and Thummim were then returned to the angel Moroni.

Other Links:

Joseph Smith - Home  
Joseph Smith, Jr. - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia  
The Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith - American Prophet

Joseph Smith Daguerreotype  
Fulfilled Prophecies of Joseph Smith  
JS-H 1  
Joseph Smith  
BBC - Religion & Ethics - The Story of Joseph Smith  
Joseph Smith: Biography and Much More From Answers.com  
Joseph Smith - Lightplanet  

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