Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Joseph translated with instruments he got at the same time he did the plates

On the question of how the Book of Mormon was produced, a useful item shows up in the June 1, 1881, issue of the Saints' Herald. The newspaper reported the efforts of William H. Kelley to interview people who lived in Palmyra. Kelley interviewed John H. Gilbert, who set the type for the Book of Mormon. 

From page 165 of the 1881 Saints' Herald.

"I would know that manuscript today if I should see it. The most of it was in Oliver Cowdery's handwriting. Some in Joseph's wife's; a small part though. Hyrum Smith always brought the manuscript to the office; he would have it under his coat, and all buttoned up as carefully as though it was so much gold. He said at the time it was translated from plates by the power of God, and they were very particular about it. We had a great deal of trouble with it. It was not punctuated at all. They did not know anything about punctuation, and we had to do that ourselves."

Well, did you change any part of it when you were setting the type?

"No, sir; we never changed it at all."

Why did you not change it and correct it?

"Because they would not allow us to; they were very particular about that. We never changed it in the least. Oh, well; there might have been one or two words that I changed the spelling of; I believe I did change the spelling of one, and perhaps two, but no more."*

Did you set all of the type, or did some one help you?

"I did the whole of it myself, and helped to read the proof, too; there was no one who worked at that but myself. Did you ever see one of the first copies? I have one here that was never bound. Mr. Grandin, the printer, gave it to me. If you ever saw a Book of Mormon you will see that they changed it afterwards."

They did! Well, let us see your copy; that is a good point,. How is it changed now?

"I will show you," (bringing out his copy). "Here on the title page it says," (reading) "'Joseph Smith, Jr., author and proprietor.' Afterwards, in getting out other editions they left that out, and only claimed that Joseph Smith translated it."

Well, did they claim anything else than that he was the translator when they brought the manuscript to you?

"Oh, no; they claimed that he was translating it by means of some instruments he got at the same time he did the plates, and the Lord helped him."

Gilbert remembered that Joseph translated with the instrument that came with the plates. This was not the seer stone that Joseph found in a well years earlier.


*Gilbert later disputed some elements of this published interview. For example, he said he specifically changed the spelling of "travail" twice (in Mosiah). But he did not dispute what he said about the translation with the instruments that came with the plates.

Those who have read my book A Man that Can Translate might be interested in what Gilbert said about the Spalding theory.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Called by the ancients "Cumorah"

There are still members of the M2C citation cartel who insist Joseph adopted a false narrative about the New York Cumorah that was started by unknown early Church members. We'll discuss that more soon.

In the meantime, though, we should take another look at how Joseph first learned the name Cumorah.

Readers here know that, according to his mother, Joseph referred to the hill where he found the plates as "Cumorah" in early 1827. This was before he obtained the plates and before he translated anything. He could only have learned that name from Moroni.

We've seen that Parley P. Pratt said the "ancients" called the hill Cumorah.

Here is how David Whitmer explained it in his 1881 interview with the Kansas City Journal.

“Did Joseph Smith ever relate to you the circumstances of his finding the plates?”

“Yes, he told me that he first found the plates in the year 1823; that during the fall of 1823 he had a vision, an angel appearing to him three times in one night and telling him that there was a record of an ancient people deposited in a hill near his father’s house, called by the ancients `Cumorah,’ situated in the township of Manchester, Ontario County, N. Y. The angel pointed out the exact spot, and, sometime after, he went and found the records or plates deposited in a stone box in the hill, just as had been described to him by the angel. It was some little time, however, before the angel would allow Smith to remove the plates from their place of deposit.”  

This is yet another specific historical reference that our M2C friends will have to insist was wrong. That list keeps getting longer...

Thursday, October 1, 2020

David Whitmer, the angel, the messenger, and two departments in Cumorah

The first time Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith (JFS) visited the Hill Cumorah near Palmyra, New York, was in September 1878. Orson was 68 years old and had testified about the Hill Cumorah many times but had never had the opportunity to see the hill or visit historic sites in the area.

At the time, Orson was Church Historian. President John Taylor had sent him and JFS on a fact-finding mission to sites of early Church history. An overview of their trip is here:

The two men were traveling together from Utah to New York City. They sent reports of their trip to the Deseret News that were published as installments. The report of their visit to Cumorah is here:

In the following installment, they discuss their interview with David Whitmer on 7–8 September 1878. This is the interview in which David Whitmer describes the angel who showed them the plates, surrounded by glorious light. Later, he describes the divine messenger, a heavy-set old man in a brown wool suit, who was taking the abridged plates to Palmyra. These were unmistakably different individuals.

David explains it was this same messenger who showed plates to his mother, Mary Whitmer. (She said he called himself "Brother Nephi.") These were the plates Joseph translated in Fayette, which means they were the original plates of Nephi (the so-called "small plates." 

Notice that David saw both the angel and the messenger and never said or implied they were the same person.*


Orson Pratt died on October 3, 1881 at the age of 70 (he was born September 19, 1811, in Hartford, New York.) He was the last member of the original Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to die. 

The next year, The Contributor posthumously published an article written by Orson about the Hill Cumorah. You can read it here:

This is a reprint of an article Orson published in the Millennial Star in 1866.

In this article, Orson explains there were two departments in the hill of Cumorah.

The Hill Cumorah is situated in western New York between the villages of Palmyra and Canandaigua about four miles from the former. It is celebrated as the ancient depository of the sacred gold plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated. Cumorah was the name by which the hill was designated in the days of the Prophet Moroni who deposited the plates about four hundred and twenty years after the birth of Christ.

The prophet Mormon, the father of Moroni, had been entrusted with all the sacred records of his forefathers engraved on metallic plates. New plates were made by Mormon on which he wrote, from the more ancient books, an abridged history of the nation, incorporating therewith many revelations, prophecies, the Gospel, &c. 

These new plates were given to Moroni to finish the history. And all the ancient plates Mormon deposited in Cumorah, about three hundred and eighty-four years after Christ. When Moroni, about thirty-six years after, made the deposit of the book entrusted book entrusted to him, he was, without doubt inspired to select a department of the hill separate from the great sacred depository of the numerous volumes hid up by his father. 

The particular place in the hill, where Moroni secreted the book, was revealed, by the angel, to the Prophet Joseph Smith, to whom the volume was delivered in September, A.D. 1827. But the grand repository of all the numerous records of the ancient nations of the western continent, was located in another department of the hill, and its contents under the charge of holy angels, until the day should come for them to be transferred to the sacred temple of  Zion.


*Even though David said the published Testimony of the Three Witnesses "is strictly and absolutely true," we have some current LDS scholars who, because of M2C, teach that the angel and the old man were the same person: Moroni. 

Yes, they are teaching their students (and the world) that resurrected beings have the ability to shape shift.

Accordingly, I offer the revised Testimony of the Three Witnesses:

Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken. And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an aged man, about 5'10", with a long white beard, around 70 years old and wearing a wool suit, brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true. And it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.

Oliver Cowdery

David Whitmer

Martin Harris

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Moroni and Nephi

From time to time, the ongoing confusion over Moroni and Nephi arises. This is a brief explanatory note.

When originally published in the Times and Seasons in 1842, Joseph Smith's history said that it was Nephi who first appeared to him in 1823 to tell him about the plates.

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 Nephi. 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.

Church historians later edited the history so that it now reads Moroni.

33. 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.

This detail has led critics to claim that Joseph couldn't get his story straight.

I see it differently.

There's no doubt the 1842 publication in the Times and Seasons was an error. Joseph had identified the messenger as Moroni in the Elders' Journal in 1838. Oliver Cowdery had done the same in 1835.

How can we account for such an obvious error in the 1842 Times and Seasons?

First, the publication of the error is evidence that Joseph Smith, who was the named editor of the newspaper at the time, was merely the nominal editor (i.e., in name only). He didn't review the paper closely, or at all, prior to publication.

Second, the history published in the 1842 Times and Seasons was not written by, and probably not dictated by, Joseph Smith. Instead, it was compiled by his scribes beginning in 1838. 

Of course, this raises the question, why would the scribes think it was Nephi who first visited Joseph and not Moroni?

The answer could be that they knew Joseph had multiple encounters with both Moroni and Nephi.

Brigham Young explained in a letter to his son that "There is really no discrepancy in the history about these names. It was Moroni who delivered the sacred records and Urim and Thummim to Joseph, but Nephi also visited him."

Those who have read the Saints book, volume 1, will remember the account of a divine messenger showing Mary Whitmer the plates in Fayette, NY. The book claims the messenger was Moroni. This is a revisionist historical narrative, designed to accommodate M2C by deflecting attention from David Whitmer's testimony that this same messenger took the Harmony plates (the abridged plates) to Cumorah before bringing the unabridged plates of Nephi to Fayette.

The claim that the messenger was Moroni also contradicts what Mary Whitmer herself reportedly said; i.e., that the messenger identified himself as Brother Nephi.

By changing the historical narrative to omit Nephi and insert Moroni into the account of the messenger who took the Harmony plates to Cumorah and showed the plates of Nephi to Mary Whitmer, our Church historians have compounded the confusion that long existed over the claim in the 1842 Times and Seasons that it was Nephi who first appeared to Joseph Smith.

As usual in questions about Church history, we are better off accepting the statements of those involved than the revisionist history of our modern historians.


Wednesday, July 29, 2020

1829 account of Hill Cumorah

This post relates the second-oldest account of the New York Cumorah that I'm aware of. It's a recollection of a statement by Martin Harris in 1829 as the Book of Mormon was being printed in Palmyra, NY.

The oldest account was from Lucy Mack Smith, who remembered Joseph referring to Cumorah in early 1827 when he was late coming home from Manchester.

Currently in the United States there is a controversy about federal officers in cities such as Portland, Oregon, who are protecting federal property. This is reminiscent of the challenges faced by Stephen S. Harding, the fourth territorial Governor of Utah.

In 1862, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln appointed Harding as Governor of the Utah Territory.  Harding had conflicts with Brigham Young and was unable to enforce federal law. In 1863, President Lincoln appointed Harding as Chief Justice of the Colorado Territory's Supreme Court.

Harding was born in Palmyra, NY, on February 24, 1808. His family moved to Indiana in 1820, but he remembered Joseph Smith, Jr., from seeing him fishing often.

In 1829, Harding returned to Palmyra to visit friends, including Pomeroy Tucker. While visiting the printing shop, he met Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, Joseph Smith, and Joseph's father. When he expressed interest in the Book of Mormon that was being prepared for printing, he was invited to spend the night at the Smith home. Oliver Cowdery read from the manuscript.

Harding left to visit his brother, but two weeks later he ran in to Martin Harris again in Palmyra. Here's the account Harding wrote in a published letter.

"About two weeks after this I met Martin Harris. He was glad to see me; inquired how I felt since my dream. He told me that since he saw me at Mr. Smith's he had seen fearful signs in the heavens. That he was standing alone one night, and saw a fiery sword let down out of heaven, and pointing to the east, west, north, and south, then to the hill of Cumorah, where the plates of Nephi were found."

Harding wrote this letter in 1882, but he relates several details that attest to his solid memory. Of course, this is not proof that the hill in New York is the same as the Cumorah of Mormon 6:6, but it does show that at least Martin Harris believed it was, even before the Book of Mormon was printed.

That Harris would refer to Cumorah this way is another corroboration of other accounts that Joseph Smith's contemporaries understood that the hill where Joseph found the plates was the Cumorah of the Book of Mormon.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The Hill Cumorah in western New York is still the Hill Cumorah

The Hill Cumorah is one of the Church history sites that didn't get a name change, which makes it all the more bizarre that the Hill Cumorah has been de-correlated everywhere else, such as in Saints, volume 1.

The following is a list of names of historic sites that did not change:
  • Beehive House
  • Far West Temple Site
  • Hill Cumorah
  • Historic Kirtland
  • Historic Nauvoo
  • Independence Visitors’ Center
  • Kanesville Tabernacle
  • Priesthood Restoration Site
  • St. George Tabernacle

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Glad tidings from Cumorah

Let's consider D&C 128:20.

And again, what do we hear? Glad tidings from Cumorah! Moroni, an angel from heaven, declaring the fulfilment of the prophets—the book to be revealed. 

D&C 128 in the Times and Seasons
D&C 128:20 is a letter Joseph wrote to the Saints on September 6, 1842. He sent it to the Times and Seasons, which published the letter in the October 1, 1842, issue of the newspaper.

(BTW, this is another indication that Joseph was not editing the paper. The same Oct 1 issue contains the infamous (and ridiculous) anonymous editorial titled "Zarahemla" that the M2C promoters claim Joseph wrote or "edited" somehow.)

You can see a copy of the original publication at this link:

Click on the "expand" button at the upper right of the document and then scroll down to the end of page 935 to see the reference to Cumorah.

When you read this, put yourself in the place of the Saints to whom Joseph wrote the letter. In September 1842, you're probably living in Nauvoo or England. You read the Times and Seasons regularly. The year before, in the same newspaper, you read yet another republication of Oliver Cowdery's Letter VII, which Oliver wrote in 1835 with the assistance of Joseph Smith. Joseph asked his brother Don Carlos to republish it in the Times and Seasons. Here's what you read:

You are acquainted with the mail road from Palmyra, Wayne Co. to Canandaigua, Ontario Co. N. Y. and also, as you pass from the former to the latter place, before arriving at the little village of Manchester, say from three to four, or about four miles from Palmyra, you pass a large hill on the east side of the road. Why I say large, is, because it is as large perhaps, as any in that country.... 

At about one mile west rises another ridge of less height, running parallel with the former, leaving a beautiful vale between. The soil is of the first quality for the country, and under a state of cultivation, which gives a prospect at once imposing, when one reflects on the fact, that here, between these hills, the entire power and national strength of both the Jaredites and Nephites were destroyed.

By turning to the 529th and 530th pages of the book of Mormon you will read Mormon's account of the last great struggle of his people, as they were encamped round this hill Cumorah. (It is printed Camorah, which is an error.) In this valley fell the remaining strength and pride of a once powerful people, the Nephites-once so highly favored of the Lord, but at that time in darkness, doomed to suffer extermination by the hand of their barbarous and uncivilized brethren. From the top of this hill, Mormon, with a few others, after the battle, gazed with horror upon the mangled remains of those who, the day before, were filled with anxiety, hope, or doubt.... 

This hill, by the Jaredites, was called Ramah: by it, or around it, pitched the famous army of Coriantumr their tents. Coriantumr was the last king of the Jaredites. The opposing army were to the west, and in this same valley, and near by, from day to day, did that mighty race spill their blood, in wrath, contending, as it were, brother against brother, and father, against son. In this same spot, in full view from the top of this same hill, one may gaze with astonishment upon the ground which was twice covered with the dead and dying of our fellowmen.

You can see a copy of this issue of the Times and Seasons here:
Letter VII in the Times and Seasons

Click on the "expand" button at the upper right of the document and then scroll down to the end of page 378 to read about Cumorah. Continue on page 379 and 380.

Every Church member who read Joseph's 1842 letter understood this context.

Despite this straightforward declaration in D&C 128:20 and its context, there are some LDS scholars who keep trying to persuade the modern Saints that Joseph didn't know what he was talking about.

These are the scholars who promote M2C (the Mesoamerican/Two Cumorahs theory).

They say Oliver didn't know what he was talking about.

They say that all of Joseph's contemporaries and successors were misled by the incorrect speculations from Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.

Consequently, if you believe M2C, then you also believe that Joseph and Oliver were ignorant speculators who misled the Church about Cumorah. 

And that's fine with me. People can believe whatever they want.

I object only when these M2C intellectuals prevent ordinary members of the Church from making informed decisions.

One of my favorite rationalizations about  D&C 128:20 comes from Book of Mormon Central (America) in no-wise #489.

Look at how they try to persuade the Saints to question Joseph Smith's credibility and reliability, solely to defend and promote M2C.

Original in blue, my comments in red.

As far as can be determined, the Prophet Joseph Smith himself only associated the hill in New York with the Cumorah in the Book of Mormon towards the end of his life. 
Notice the clever rhetoric "as far as can be determined." Informed Church members can easily "determine" from historical sources that Joseph first identified the hill as Cumorah in 1827 before he even got the plates. They know that in 1831, missionaries were explaining that Moroni himself called the hill Cumorah. But if you have only been taught M2C, you don't know these things. 
In an 1842 epistle the Prophet spoke of hearing “Glad tidings from Cumorah! Moroni, an angel from heaven, declaring the fulfilment of the prophets—the book to be revealed” (Doctrine and Covenants 128:20).7 Before then, Joseph left the name of the New York hill where Moroni gave him the plates unnamed in his accounts of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.8 
This is a red herring fallacy because the name Cumorah meant nothing to nonmembers who were the intended audience for these references. 
For members, Joseph and Oliver had explicitly identified the hill as Cumorah in Letter VII, which was republished in every Church magazine during Joseph's lifetime. It was sung in a popular hymn.
1. The 1832 history doesn't even mention a hill, so there was no point in naming it.
2. The 1838 history was intended for the general public. "I have been induced to write this history so as to disabuse the publick mind, and put all enquirers after truth into possession of the facts as they have transpired in relation both to myself and the Church as far as I have such facts in possession." James Mulholland added a description of the hill because, as he explained "I mentioned to President Smith that I considered it necessary that an explanation of <​the location of​> the place where the box was deposited would be required in order that the history be satisfactory." Once again, the name Cumorah was irrelevant as a matter of Church history and would not be understood by nonmembers anyway.
3. The Elders' Journal answered questions posed by nonmembers to whom the name Cumorah would be meaningless.
Whether the Prophet arrived at this conclusion about the location of Cumorah by revelation, by conforming to usage that had become common among the early members of the Church about Book of Mormon geography, or in some other way is historically unknown.9
The M2C claim that Joseph Smith adopted a false tradition when he wrote D&C 128 and that his successors canonized his false speculations is audacious sophistry. 
It is inexcusable, really.
The alternative M2C "requirement" that Joseph had to learn the "location of Cumorah" by revelation is equally audacious. Informed Latter-day Saints know that Joseph and Oliver actually visited the repository of Nephite records (Mormon 6:6) inside the hill Cumorah in New York. They know that Joseph learned the name of the hill before he even got the plates. And, of course, they have read and understood Letter VII, just as all of Joseph's contemporaries did.
If you want to see a perfect illustration of the M2C citation cartel, read footnote 9. It's a series of articles from FARMS and its successor, the Interpreter, both published by M2C advocates who repudiate the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah. Here's the link:
In the decades after Joseph Smith’s death, other prominent early Latter-day Saints, including Lucy Mack Smith,10 Parley P. Pratt,11 and David Whitmer,12 recounted earlier incidents in which the New York hill was identified as Cumorah by the angel Moroni and by Joseph Smith. 
Let's look at each of these.

1. Lucy Mack Smith began her history a few months after Joseph and Hyrum were murdered (not "in the decades after"). She explained why:

"People are often enquiring of me the particulars of Joseph’s getting the plates seeing the angels at first and many other thing which Joseph never wrote or published I have told over many things pertaining to these matters to different persons to gratify their curiosity indeed have almost destroyed my lungs giving these recitals to those who felt anxious to hear them I have now concluded to write down every particular as far as possible and if those who wish to read them will help me a little they can have it all in one piece to read at their leasure—"

Lucy specifically recounted things "Joseph never wrote or published," yet these M2C scholars want us to disbelieve Lucy's account because Joseph never wrote or published what she recounted! 

Their objection is the entire reason why Lucy gave us her history. Lucy not only explained that Joseph knew the name Cumorah before he got the plates, but she actually quoted what Joseph said.

Although she began dictating her history in the fall of 1844, she pointed out that she had been reciting this history for some time before then.

Yet these M2C scholars frame her account as unreliable because it came "decades" later.

2. Parley P. Pratt's autobiography includes this quotation of what missionaries taught in 1831: "This Book, which contained these things, was hid in the earth by Moroni, in a hill called by him, Cumorah, which hill is now in the State of New York, near the village of Palmyra, in Ontario county." 

That's pretty specific; in fact, it's as specific as words can be, and it corroborates Lucy's quotation of what Joseph said. But our M2C scholars, in their effort to cast doubt and confusion, frame this as a "late" recollection by citing the date of publication in 1874.
Actually, Parley began writing his autobiography in 1854. 

More significantly, the 1839 hymnal includes Pratt's hymn "An Angel from on High" which includes these lyrics.

An angel from on high
The long, long silence broke;
Descending from the sky,
These gracious words he spoke:
Lo! in Cumorah's lonely hill
A sacred record lies concealed.
Lo! in Cumorah's lonely hill
A sacred record lies concealed.

Rather than Parley's teaching arising "in the decades after Joseph's death," Parley taught that Moroni referred to the "hill in New York" as Cumorah as early as 1839, and this was sung by the Saints during Joseph's lifetime. 

3. David Whitmer. Footnote 12 refers to David's 1878 account of meeting the divine messenger who was taking the Harmony plates to Cumorah. David repeated this account to others; Zina Young heard about it before 1878, probably in 1832, as we've discussed before.

The logical fallacy of the "late recollection" argument is that in David's case, it was precisely because this was the first time he heard the word "Cumorah" that he remembered the event. When he heard the messenger refer to Cumorah, David had not read the Book of Mormon; it hadn't even been completely translated yet. This is the type of detail that makes David's recollection more credible, not less.
Since these statements are somewhat late recollections, coming after the identity of Cumorah as a hill near Palmyra, New York, had become widespread, they should be used cautiously.13

As we've seen, these are not "late recollections." And how do they think "the identity of Cumorah... had become widespread" if not from the repeated republication of Letter VII and the singing of Parley's hymn, all with the approval of Joseph Smith? 

Our M2C intellectuals, their employees and followers, often use the phrase "used cautiously" as a euphemism for "repudiated." 

They know members of the Church are reluctant to outright repudiate the teachings of the prophets. Because M2C explicitly repudiates the teachings of the prophets, they frame the issue as "using cautiously" those teachings. 

Notice, they never encourage Church members to use their own M2C teachings "cautiously."

The identify of the New York Cumorah has been well established by the prophets and apostles. Because of the influence of certain M2C intellectuals, however, most members of the Church have been persuaded to repudiate the teachings of the prophets in favor of an imaginary "Cumorah" somewhere in southern Mexico.

As long as Church members continue to value the teachings of the scholars over the teachings of the prophets, we can hardly expect the Lord to reveal more about the historicity of the Book of Mormon.

Instead of starting with the known pin in the map of the New York Cumorah, our scholars have led Church members on an adventure into confusion and ignorance.

10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.
(Alma 12:10)

Thursday, March 26, 2020

March 26, 1830 and 2020

This is a great day to think about the Book of Mormon. It's an anniversary, of sorts.

On March 26, 1830, the Wayne Sentinel (a newspaper in Palmyra, NY), published an announcement.

It was the full text of the Title Page of the Book of Mormon, followed by this:

BY JOSEPH SMITH JUNIOR, Author and Proprietor.

(Joseph had to label himself as author for copyright reasons.)

The announcement continued with this:

The above work, containing about 600 pages, large Duodecimo, is now for sale, wholesale and retail, at the Palmyra Bookstore, by
                           HOWARD & GRANDIN.
     PALMYRA, March 26, 1830.

You can see a copy of the original newspaper on the BYU Library web page here:


I've always liked the 1830 edition because it is easy to read. Years ago when I taught in the MTC (then the LTM) I used to give each missionary a copy of their favorite Book of Mormon verse from the 1830 edition. Most of them had never seen what the 1830 edition looked like.

If you don't have a physical copy of the 1830 edition (replica or original), you can read it on several web pages, including the Joseph Smith Papers. Here is a link for 4 early editions.

If you're using Wordcruncher, as I strongly recommend, you can purchase the 1830 edition edited by Royal Skousen, which I also strongly recommend. Here's the link:

The other scripture study tool I recommend is Scripture Notes.


If you don't have a physical copy of the 1830 edition, the replica I like best is here:

In 1879, the Church published an edition of the Book of Mormon with the chapters and verses we're familiar with today. Orson Pratt divided the text this way. For example, he divided the Isaiah chapters so they would exactly resemble the KJV chapters.

The RLDS Church also divided the text into verses, but they retained the original chapters. These chapters were pretty long in some cases, so the RLDS editions have many verses. Some chapters have over 200 verses.

For example, the LDS edition starts the Isaiah chapters in 2 Nephi with Chapter 12 (equivalent to Isaiah 2). Chapter 13 corresponds to Isaiah 3, and so on.

In the 1830 edition (and the current RLDS/CoC editions), the Isaiah material begins after Jacob's introduction in 2 Nephi Chapter VIII. Chapter VIII continues all the way through the LDS chapter 16.

Here is a table to convert 1830/RLDS chapter to 1879 and later LDS editions:

There are lots of ways to study the Book of Mormon. 

The main point, of course, is to use the Book of Mormon to bring you closer to Jesus Christ. Never lose sight of that.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Oliver Cowdery biography

For those interested in biographical information about Oliver Cowdery, here are two helpful resources.

A biographical overview:

A book of essays about Oliver's life and work: