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Translation Instruments

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Much can be known about the coming forth of the English text of the Book of Mormon through a careful study of statements made by Joseph Smith, his scribes, and others closely associated with the translation of the Book of Mormon.

The resulting English transcription, known as the Book of Lehi and referred to by Joseph Smith as written on pages, was subsequently lost or stolen. As a result, Joseph Smith was rebuked by the Lord and lost the ability to translate for a short time. For example, it includes errors that suggest the scribe heard words incorrectly rather than misread words copied from another manuscript.

To assist in the publication of the book, Oliver Cowdery made a handwritten copy of the original manuscript. Because Joseph Smith did not call for punctuation, such as periods, commas, or question marks as he dictated, such marks are not in the original manuscript. The typesetter later inserted punctuation marks when he prepared the text for the printer. For this monumental task, God prepared additional, practical help in the form of physical instruments. Joseph Smith and his scribes wrote of two instruments used in translating the Book of Mormon.

According to witnesses of the translation, when Joseph looked into the instruments, the words of scripture appeared in English. Although commentators differ on the nature of the instrument, several ancient sources state that the instrument involved stones that lit up or were divinely illumined.

Joseph Smith and others, however, seem to have understood the term more as a descriptive category of instruments for obtaining divine revelations and less as the name of a specific instrument. Some accounts indicate that Joseph studied the characters on the plates.

According to these accounts, Joseph placed either the interpreters or the seer stone in a hat, pressed his face into the hat to block out extraneous light, and read aloud the English words that appeared on the instrument. I am satisfied that no man could have dictated the writing of the manuscripts unless he was inspired; for, when acting as his scribe, your father would dictate to me for hour after hour; and when returning after meals, or after interruptions, he would at once begin where he had left off, without either seeing the manuscript or having any portion of it read to him.

Harris later related that as Joseph used the seer stone to translate, sentences appeared. That by looking through these, he was able to read in English, the reformed Egyptian characters, which were engraved on the plates.

The angel who brought news of an ancient record on metal plates buried in a hillside and the divine instruments prepared especially for Joseph Smith to translate were all part of what Joseph and his scribes viewed as the miracle of translation. The truth of the Book of Mormon and its divine source can be known today. Joseph Smith Histories, —, vol.

See also Joseph Smith—History 1: See also 1 Nephi 1: Joseph Smith History, —ca. Joseph Smith History, ca. Most of the manuscript disintegrated or became otherwise unreadable due to water damage between and , as a result of being placed in the cornerstone of the Nauvoo House in Nauvoo, Illinois.

Typographical Facsimile of the Extant Text, ed. Royal Skousen Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, It was used to set the type for most of the printing in Palmyra. For example, when Joseph translated the text that is now in 1 Nephi The Earliest Text, ed. Royal Skousen [New Haven: Yale University Press, ], xv—xix. Largey Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, , —25; John A. Sorenson and Melvin J. Parry and others, eds.

Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, , — You are about to access: The linked site has its own terms of use, privacy policies, and security practices that differ from those on our website. By referring or linking you to this website, we do not endorse or guarantee the content, products, or services offered.

Ricks and others, eds. Some grammatical constructions that sound odd to English speakers were edited out of later editions of the Book of Mormon by Joseph Smith or others in order to render the translation into more standard current English.

Deseret Book, , 44— The other one-sixth was typeset from the original manuscript. The Earliest Text, xxx.



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Total 1 comments.
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