Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Edward Stevenson's visit to Cumorah, September 28, 1888

Edward Stevenson (1820-1897), accompanied by Andrew Jensen and Joseph S. Black, toured Church history sites in 1888. 

On September 28, they ascended the hill Cumorah in New York and reported the experience in an article in the Deseret News.

Sitting on the hill Cumorah, Stevenson wrote that "it was here, more than twenty-four centuries ago that the descendants of Jared and his brother fought their last exterminating battle... It was also in this land that Mormon in his old age and his son Moroni led their Nephite armies against their brethren the Lamanites... This took place more than fourteen hundred years ago, but looking over this hilly country today... our imagination can easily conceive how the exile Moroni... emerged from his hiding place and deposited the sacred treasure in this hill..."

Stevenson knew Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris. His bio explains,

He said of Oliver Cowdery: "I have often heard him bear a faithful testimony to the restoration of the gospel by the visitation of an angel, in whose presence he stood in company with the Prophet Joseph Smith and David Whitmer. He testified that he beheld the plates, the leaves being turned over by the angel, whose voice he heard, and that they were commanded as witnesses to bear a faithful testimony to the world of the vision that they were favored to behold, and that the translation from the plates of the Book of Mormon was accepted of the Lord, and that it would go forth to the world, and that no power on the earth should stop its progress."

Elder Stevenson said of David Whitmer, in 1886, after recounting previous testimonies he had listened to from him: 'David Whitmer is now just past eighty-one years of age. In this his last testimony he said to me: 'As sure as the sun shines and I live, just so sure did the angel appear to me and Joseph Smith, and I heard his voice, and did see the angel standing before us, and on a table were the plates, the sword of Laban and the ball or compass.'"

Concerning Martin Harris, Elder Stevenson wrote: "In the year 1869, I was appointed on a mission to the United States. Having visited several of the Eastern States, I called at Kirtland, Ohio, to see the first Temple that was built by our people in this generation. While there I met Martin Harris, soon after coming out of the Temple. He took from under his arm a copy of the Book of Mormon, the first edition, I believe, and bore a faithful testimony just the same as I heard him bear thirty-six years previous.

Aug. 19, 1870, in company with Martin Harris, I left Kirtland for Utah, and on the 21st he was with me in Chicago, and at the American Hotel bore testimony to a large number of people of the visitation of an angel, etc."

Stevenson clipped the article and put it in his scrapbook, which you can see here:

1888 article (click to enlarge):

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Moroni/Cumorah Day - September 21

A week from today (September 21) is what has come to be known as Moroni Day or Cumorah Day. 

It was on September 21, 1823, that Moroni first visited Joseph Smith. The most detailed account of the visit, by far, is found in Joseph Smith's own history, where his scribes copied the account written by Oliver Cowdery with Joseph's assistance. 

Many Latter-day Saints are unfamiliar with this account, but you can read it here, right in the Joseph Smith Papers:


You might wonder why this account is so little known today. The answer is obvious: many LDS scholars avoid the account because in it, Oliver and Joseph refuted both SITH and M2C.* 

Book of Mormon Central, in particular, never discusses this account, except when they refer to it to cast doubt on what Joseph and Oliver taught so they can promote their M2C and SITH theories.

The account begins this way:

On the evening of the 21st of September, 1823, previous to retiring to rest, our brother’s mind was unusually wrought up on the subject which had so long agitated his mind—his heart was drawn out in fervent prayer, and his whole soul was so lost to every thing of a temporal nature, that earth, to him, had lost its charms, and all he desired was to be prepared in heart to commune with some kind messenger who could communicate to him the desired information of his acceptance with God.

Some highlights:

It is no easy task to describe the appearance of a messenger from the skies—indeed, I doubt their being an individual clothed with perishable clay, who is capable to do this work.

Oliver wrote from personal experience, having met John the Baptist, Peter, James and John, and Moroni himself.

But it may be well to relate the particulars as far as given[.] The stature of this personage was a little above the common size of men in this age; his garment was perfectly white, and had the appearance of being without seam.

Notice how this description contrasts with that of the messenger who took the abridged plates from Harmony to Cumorah before bringing the plates of Nephi to Fayette.


He then proceeded and gave a general account of the promises made to the fathers, and also gave a history of the aborigenes of this country, and said they were literal descendants of Abraham. He represented them as once being an enlightned and intelligent people, possessing a correct knowledge of the gospel, and the plan of restoration and redemption. 

The M2Cers reject the plain and obvious meaning of this paragraph. Instead, they insist that either 

(i) Moroni (or Joseph Smith, or Oliver Cowdery) were wrong about this because the text is actually a history of the Mayans, or 

(ii) the term "this country" refers to Mesoamerica.

But that's not all. Look at what else Moroni told Joseph Smith.

He said this history was written and deposited not far from that place, 

When Moroni said the history was "written and deposited not far from that place," the place to which he referred was Joseph Smith's house near Palmyra, where their interview occurred. 

Mormon abridging the record
Obviously, if the history was written and deposited "not far from that place," and we know it was deposited in the hill Cumorah which was less than three miles "from that place," we can be sure that Mormon and Moroni wrote that history at Cumorah. 

That makes sense because it was the location of the depository of Nephite records. (Mormon 6:6).

Just as obviously, the record could not have been written in Mesoamerica. This is another reason why Book of Mormon Central doesn't tell people about this important account. 

The sentence continues:

and that it was our brother’s privilege, if obedient to the commandments of the Lord, to obtain and translate the same by the means of the Urim and Thummim, which were deposited for that purpose with the record.

Notice that Moroni told Joseph he would translate the record "by the means of the Urim and Thummim." He didn't say Joseph would translate by reading words off the stone in the hat (SITH).

Later, Joseph reiterated this point when he wrote, "I obtained them and the Urim and Thummim with them, by the means of which I translated the plates and thus came the Book of Mormon." 

(Elders’ Journal I.3:43 ¶1)

The scriptures use the term as well.

1 Now, behold, I say unto you, that because you delivered up those writings which you had power given unto you to translate by the means of the Urim and Thummim, into the hands of a wicked man, you have lost them.
(Doctrine and Covenants 10:1)

immediately after my arrival there I commenced copying the characters off the plates. I copied a considerable number of them, and by means of the Urim and Thummim I translated some of them,
(Joseph Smith—History 1:62)

Maybe this time around, on Moroni/Cumorah day all Latter-day Saints will revisit this important account of Moroni's visit.


*See explanation of acronyms here:

Friday, September 9, 2022

Church History Department recruiting

The Church History Department is having a career day on October 6, 2022. 

They are all great people who do a phenomenal job researching, compiling, and presenting Church history in all its facets. I encourage anyone interested to sign up and seriously consider employment there.

The sign-up link is here: 

You can see the announcement on Twitter here:


This time around, I hope they hire some people who offer different perspectives, particularly people who will emphasize the credibility and reliability of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. Unfortunately, the editorial content so far has been driven by seeking to accommodate modern theories about the translation of the Book of Mormon and Book of Mormon geography/historicity.

For an example of what I'm referring to, see my short paper here:]


My Twitter feed gave me this ironic juxtaposition (click to enlarge, look at the bottom):