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Zone Conference: Translation of the Book of Mormon Notes

Zone Conference: Translation of the Book of Mormon Notes

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Published by austinarchibald
Presented at Zone Conference. These notes accompany the presentation: http://www.scribd.com/doc/39034150/Zone-Conference-Translation-of-the-Book-of-Mormon
Presented at Zone Conference. These notes accompany the presentation: http://www.scribd.com/doc/39034150/Zone-Conference-Translation-of-the-Book-of-Mormon

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Published by: austinarchibald on Oct 10, 2010
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Concealed Truth
Oct. 25, 1831 Conference minutes: “Brother Hyrum Smith said, ‘That he thought best that the information of the comingforth of the Book of Mormon be related by Joseph Himself, to the elders present, that all might know for themselves.’Brother Joseph Smith, Jr., said, ‘That it was not intended to tell the world all the particulars of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon,’ and also said, ‘that it was not expedient for him to relate these things, etc.’”
Martin Harris’ Test of the Prophet:
“Martin said that after continued translation they would become weary and would go down to the river and exercise inthrowing stones out on the river, etc. While so doing on one occasion. Martin found a stone very much resembling the oneused for translating, and on resuming their labors of translation Martin put in place [of the Seer Stone] the stone that he hadfound. He said that the prophet remained silent unusually and intently gazing in darkness, no trace of the usual sentenceappearing. Much surprised, Joseph exclaimed: 'Martin! what is the matter? all is as dark as Egypt.' Martin's countenance betrayed him, and the prophet asked Martin why he had done so. Martin said, to stop the mouths of fools, who had told himthat the prophet had learned those sentences and was merely repeating them.”
 Problem With Accounts of Translation
Care very little of what these men say on the subject. Care for what the LORD has said on the subject. Where did these people obtain such knowledge? From Joseph, for they claim no revelation on the subject. And this knowledge was notannounced until the later years of their life. Plus the factor of apostasy.
Plates Present or Absent?
Sometimes present, sometimes absent? PURPOSE OF PLATES?
Evidence (11 Witnesses & Joseph himself); Help Joseph concentrate, learn language; Test Joseph
Suppose Joseph had never received the Nephite plates, and had been called to just give the worldthe translation of the record. He could have done this! In fact, he did it with the manuscript John the Beloved wroteanciently and hid away--Joseph translated the document, which is now our 
 D&C 7 
. As far as Church History is concerned,Joseph never actually received or touched John's ancient manuscript--rather, he saw the characters of John's text in theUrim and Thummim--as he did when he translated the Nephite characters--and provided a translation without ever havingJohn's original manuscript!Writings of Abraham - Papyri IssueMartin Harris’s description of interchangeable use of a seer stone with the interpreters, or Urim and Thummim, refers onlyto the portion of translation he was witness to—the initial 116 pages. The second point of agreement is even moreconsistent: The plates could not have been used directly in the translation process. The Prophet, his face in a hat to excludeexterior light, would have been unable to view the plates directly even if they had been present during transcription.
Seer Stone History
Willard Chase, a neighbor of the Smiths in Palmyra, New York , relates how the stone was discovered onhis property.“In the year 1822, I was engaged in digging a well. I employed Alvin and Joseph Smith to assist me.... After digging abouttwenty feet below the surface of the earth, we discovered a singularly appearing stone, which excited my curiosity. I brought it to the top of the well, and as we were examining it, Joseph put it into his hat, and then his face into the top of hishat.... The next morning he came to me, and wished to obtain the stone, alleging that he could see in it; but I told him I didnot wish to part with it on account of its being a curiosity, but I would lend it.”
“I was at the house of his father in Manchester, two miles south of Palmyra village, and was picking my teethwith a pin while sitting on the bars. The pin caught in my teeth and dropped from my fingers into shavings and straw. I jumped from the bars and looked for it. Joseph and Northrop Sweet also did the same. We could not find it. I then took Joseph on surprise, and said to him--I said, “Take your stone.” I had never seen it, and did not know that he had it with him.He had it in his pocket. He took it and placed it in his hat--the old white hat--and placed his face in his hat. I watched himclosely to see that h e did not look to one side; he reached out his hand beyond me on the right, and moved a little stick an dthere I saw the pin, which he picked u p and gave to me. I know he did not look out of the hat until after he had picked upthe pin.” – Martin Harris
Confirmed by Martin Harris, Joseph Smith Sr., and Brigham Young: “President Youngexhibited the ‘seer’s stone’ with which the Prophet Joseph discovered the plates of the Book of Mormon.”
An interesting account related by Joseph Knight, Sr., suggests that Emma Smith’s involvement inthe recovery of the plates on 22 September 1827 was shown in vision through the Chase Seer Stone: “Joseph says when canI have it [the Nephite Record] the answer was the 22nt Day of September next f f you bring the right person with youJoseph says who is the right person the answer is your oldest Brother But before September Came his oldest Brother Died[Alvin died 19 November 1823] then he was disappointed and did not [k]now what to do but when the 22nt day of September came he went to the place and the personage appeared and told him he could not have it now But the 22nt day of September next he might have the Book if he brot with him the right person Joseph says who is the right person the answer was you w ill know then he look ed in his glass and found it w as Emma Hale daughter of old Mr. Hale of Pennsylvny ,”
Patriarch Zebedee Coltrin, an early acquaintance of Joseph Smith, related in an 1880 high priests’ meeting in Spanish Fork, Utah, that he had once asked Joseph what he had done with the Urim and Thummim andthat “Joseph said he had no further need of it and he had given it to the angel Moroni. He had the Melchizedek Priesthood,and with that Priesthood he had the key to all knowledge and intelligence.”
Urim and Thummim Doctrine
 Look INTO / Every man entitled to seer stone
Brigham Young was shown the Urim and Thummim with the Twelve by Joseph Smith, and Joseph explained its operationto them:I met with the Twelve at brother Joseph's. He conversed with us in a familiar manner . . . and explained to us the Urim andThummim. . . . He said that every man who lived on the earth was entitled to a seer stone, and should have one, but they arekept from them in consequence of their wickedness, and most of those who do find one make an evil use of it;
he showed us his seer stone
(Millennial Star 
 , 26:118-9; underlining added; see also 40:787.)
 Subsequently, President Young explained how the Urim and Thummim (or a seer stone) operated:The breastplate of Aaron that you read of in the Scriptures was a Urim and Thummim, fixed in bows similar to the oneJoseph Smith found. Aaron wore this Urim and Thummim on his breast, [it was attached by the rod,] and looked into it likelooking on a mirror, and the information he needed was there obtained. This earth, when it becomes purified and sanctified,or celestialized, will become like a sea of glass; and a person, by looking into it, can know things past, present, and tocome; though none but celestialized beings can enjoy this privilege. They will look into the earth, and the things they desireto know will be exhibited to them, the same as the face is seen by looking into a mirror.
Urim & Thummim ~ Science
“…it cannot be more difficult to believe that God's will may appear through the agencyof special ‘stones in silver bows,’ than to concede that invisible ether waves, become luminous when they fall upon a pieceof uranium glass.” – John A. Widstoe
According to the Lord
BRM: D+C is probably the only reliable account of how the translation process worked.D+C 8:2-3: How Oliver could have translated; D+C 9:8: Why it failed for Oliver.
Joseph Prepared an Egyptian Alphabet and arranged an Egyptian Grammar. WHY? HE HAD TOBEND ALL THE ENERGIES OF HIS INTELLECTUAL POWERS TO OBTAIN A TRANSLATION.
Translation Not A Mechanical Process
: “
At times when Brother Joseph would attempt to translate he would look intothe hat in which the stone was placed, he found he was spiritually blind and could not translate. He told us that his minddwelt too much on earthly things, and various causes would make him incapable of proceeding with the translation. Whenin this condition he would go out and pray, and when he became sufficiently humble before God, he could then proceedwith the translation. Now we see how very strict the Lord is, and how he requires the heart of man to be just right in hissight before he can receive revelation from him.”
: “
He was a religious and straightforward man. He had to be; for he was illiterate and hecould do nothing of himself. He had to trust in God. He could not translate unless he was humble and possessed the right
feelings towards everyone. To illustrate so you can see. One morning when he was getting ready to continue the translation,something went wrong about the house and he was put out about it. Something that Emma, his wife, had done. Oliver and Iwent up stairs and Joseph came up soon after to continue the translation, but he could not do anything. He could nottranslate a single syllable. He went down stairs, out into the orchard, and made supplication to the Lord; was gone about anhour—came back to the house, asked Emma's forgiveness and then came up stairs where we were and then the translationwent on all right. He could do nothing save he was humble and faithful.”
Principles of Revelation
God – Constant; Man – Variable2 Cor 3:17:
Everyone’s testimony is different than another Human
Variable; GOD
 Resulting testimony will always vary when there’s that variable
“…human souls are of varied capacity with respect to the higher powers. But as the medium is purified, as obstructions areremoved, so resistance to the energy decreases, and the forces manifest themselves with greater intensity. By analogous processes of purification our spirits may be made more susceptible to the forces of life, which are emanations from theHoly Spirit.” – James E. Talmage
The more you comply with the Law of Revelation (the more you fulfil the prerequisites), the higher degree of clarity and power the revelation will come. FACTORS 
language and phraseology of the Prophet, Nephite facts and ideas, Prophet’s life and experience, SPIRIT of the LORD upon him, Visitations from Nephite Prophets (the latter two enhancing him beyond his natural ability)
Variety and Fallibility of Prophets and Scripture
“Although the visions which the prophet beheld and the predictions of the future which he announced were whollyannounced by the divine Spirit, yet the form of the communication, the imagery in which it is clothed, the illustrations bywhich it is cleared up and impressed, the symbols employed to bring it more graphically before the mind—in short, all thatmay be considered as its garb and dress, depends upon the education, habits, association, feelings and the whole mental,intellectual and spiritual character of the prophet. Hence the style of some is purer, more sententious, more ornate, or moresublime than others.”
 IOW: It is against the laws of God for revelation to be a puppet affair. Its form, imagery, illustrations, symbolsdepend on the education, habits, association, feelings, and the whole mental, intellectual and spiritual character. Just because a prophet is under inspiration of the Spirit doesn’t mean the grammar and phrases will b perfect as if God ad  spoken it himself – even the most inspired prophets will misuse the English Langage. [see Acts 4:13]
 Joseph used every power of his mind and interpretation would be reflected in the instrument. Interpretation was a reflex from the Prophet’s mind.
“There can be no doubt either but what the interpretation thus obtained was expressed in such language as the prophetcould command, in such phraseology as he was master of and common to the time and locality where he lived; modified, of course, by the application of that phraseology to facts and ideas in the Nephite Scriptures he was translating—ideas new tohim in many respects, and above the ordinary level of the prophet's thinking; and also the phraseology was superior to thathe ordinarily used, because of the inspiration of God that was upon him.” – B.H. Roberts“The Prophet saw the Nephite characters in the Urim and Thummim; through strenuous mental effort, theexercise of faithand the operation of the inspiration of God upon his mind, he obtained the thought represented by the Nephite characters,understood them in the Nephite characters, understood them in the Nephite language, and then expressed theunderstanding, the thought, in such language as he was master of; which language, as his mind by mentalprocessesarranged it, was reflected and held to his vision in Urim and Thummim until written by his amanuensis. That leaves all thefactors involved in the work of translation in their true relation: The Urim and Thummim an
to the Prophet in the work,yet not necessarily, and contrary to human experience and knowledge revealed of God, endowed with intellectual power;the mind of the Prophet, touched through his faith by the inspiration of God, the chief factor; the testimony of Messrs.Harris and Whitmer that both Nephite characters and the English translation appeared in the Urim and Thummim,undisturbed and unimpaired.” – B.H. Roberts
 IOW: The intpretation, after being wrought out in the Prophet’s mind, was reflected into the Urim and Thummimand held visible there until written. The English translation was a reflex from the Prophet’s mind. (Urim and Thummimreflects thoughts.)

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Robert F. Smith added this note
Austin, I greatly enjoyed your "Zone Conference" presentation and notes, even though you vastly overestimated the weight of the plates (see my "the 'Golden' Plates," FARMS Update Oct 1984, available in Welch, ed., Reexploring the Book of Mormon, pp. 275ff online at mi.byu.edu). See especially my piece at Translation of Languages
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