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Goldplates.jpg

Besides Joseph Smith himself, there were a number of others who witnessed the actual existence of the Golden Plates from which the record was made and also of the Angel Moroni who presented them. An important element to proving the divine authenticity of this scripture is the Testimony of Latter-day Witnesses. Their experiences with this book have been recorded for all mankind.

Introduction

The Book of Mormon is an additional set of sacred prophetic writings adopted by the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (as well as it many offshoots, collectively referred to as the Mormonism) as both Holy Scripture and Another Witness of the Divinity of Jesus Christ.

An important element to proving the divine authenticity of this scripture is The Testimony of Latter-day Witnesses. Their experiences with this book, the gold plates and the Angel Moroni have been recorded for all mankind.

Disclaimer: This article is not an official statement or publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Instead it could be considered a journal of study by those who seek to gather evidences supporting the claims of the church regarding this subject. Constructive criticism can be added to the "talk" page.

This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. (II Corinthians 13:1)

The Book of Mormon is a sacred text of the Latter Day Saint movement, which, according to Latter Day Saint theology, contains writings of ancient prophets who lived on the American continent from approximately 2200 BC to AD 421. It was first published in March 1830 by Joseph Smith as The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi. They recorded their prophecies, teachings, wisdoms and history upon golden plates and hid them in the ground.


Mormon-book.jpg

In 1823, the Mormon prophet and church founder Joseph Smith declared that an angel named Moroni revealed these plates and their hiding place to him. The angel declared that those who wrote this record were additional ancient prophets of Jesus Christ. The record itself is frequently referred to as "Another Witness of Jesus Christ" and is to support (not detract) from the testaments in the Holy Bible. This angel also gave him tools by which he could translate them. In 1827 he was able to take these golden plates to his home and begin the translation process, taking over 3 years, and eventually published to the world in 1830 as the Book of Mormon. At the same time he and his friends founded the church based on its teachings.

Since it's first publication in 1830, the Book of Mormon preface always included two significant witness statements, -the "Testimony of Three Witnesses" and the "Testimony of Eight Witnesses."

When Joseph Smith first obtained the gold plates, he was told to show them to no one. During the course of translation, he learned that of the need for special witnesses to affirm the truthfulness of this record. Consisting of men known for truthfulness and sobriety, who would come to know, by the power of God, "that these things are true" and that several besides himself would see the plates and testify to their existence (Ether 5:2-4; 2 Ne. 27:12-13; D&C 5:11-13).

Joseph Smith's Testimony

Joseph Smith Jr. (1805-1844)

Joseph Smiths History is the account recorded in 1838 by the Prophet Joseph himself and is cited by most Mormon sects (including the LDS Church) as the official record of events. In Mormonism this account is generally referred to as his "witness" to the Book of Mormon.

On the evening of the … twenty-first of September [1823] … I betook myself to prayer and supplication to Almighty God… While I was thus in the act of calling upon God, I discovered a light appearing in my room, which continued to increase until the room was lighter than at noonday, when immediately a personage appeared at my bedside, standing in the air, for his feet did not touch the floor…

"The Book of Mormon [is] the most correct of any book on earth," Joseph Smith stated, "and the keystone of our religion."

Law of Witnesses

The Book of Mormon is an additional set of sacred prophetic writings adopted by the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (as well as it many offshoots, collectively referred to as Mormonism) as both Holy Scripture and Another Witness of the Divinity of Jesus Christ.

An important element to proving the divine authenticity of this scripture is The Testimony of Latter-day Witnesses. Their experiences with this book have been recorded for all mankind.

This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. (II Corinthians 13:1)

In regard to the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, the Lord said that he would choose witnesses. There should be three special witnesses that should bear record to the world, and said he:

“And there is none other which shall view it, save it be a few according to the will of God, to bear testimony of his word unto the children of men; for the Lord God hath said that the words of the faithful should speak as if it were from the dead.

“Wherefore, the Lord God will proceed to bring forth the words of the book; and in the mouth of as many witnesses as seemeth him good will he establish his word; and wo be unto him that rejecteth the word of God!” (2 Ne. 27:13–14.)10

In regard to the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, the Lord said that he would choose witnesses. There should be three special witnesses that should bear record to the world, and said he:

“And there is none other which shall view it, save it be a few according to the will of God, to bear testimony of his word unto the children of men; for the Lord God hath said that the words of the faithful should speak as if it were from the dead. Wherefore, the Lord God will proceed to bring forth the words of the book; and in the mouth of as many witnesses as seemeth him good will he establish his word; and wo be unto him that rejecteth the word of God!” (2 Ne. 27:13–14 (The Book of Mormon))

Golden Plates Revealed

This work is attributed to ancient Jewish prophets that fled the destruction of Jerusalem in about 600 B.C. and came with their families to settle in the Americas. They recorded their prophecies, teachings, wisdoms and history upon golden plates and hid them in the ground.

Goldplates.jpg

In 1823, the Mormon prophet and church founder Joseph Smith declared that an angel named Moroni revealed these plates and their hiding place to him. The angel declared that those who wrote this record were additional ancient prophets of Jesus Christ. The record itself is frequently referred to as "Another Witness of Jesus Christ" and is to support (not detract) from the testaments in the Holy Bible. This angel also gave him tools by which he could translate them. In 1827 he was able to take these golden plates to his home and begin the translation process, taking over 3 years, and eventually published to the world in 1830 as the Book of Mormon. At the same time he and his friends founded the church based on its teachings.

Since it's first publication in 1830, the Book of Mormon preface always included two significant witness statements, -the "Testimony of Three Witnesses" and the "Testimony of Eight Witnesses."

When Joseph Smith first obtained the gold plates, he was told to show them to no one. During the course of translation, he learned that of the need for special witnesses to affirm the truthfulness of this record. Consisting of men known for truthfulness and sobriety, who would come to know, by the power of God, "that these things are true" and that several besides himself would see the plates and testify to their existence (Ether 5:2-4; 2 Ne. 27:12-13; D&C 5:11-13).


Three Witnesses

Gravestone of David Whitmer, Richmond Cemetery, Richmond MO. [1]

A revelation given to Joseph Smith (D&C 17) confirmed that Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris would be the Three Witnesses. They met together on 28 June 1829 in the woods near the Whitmer Farm outside Fayette, New York and began praying for this promised divine manifestation. [2]


The "Testimony of Three Witnesses" summarizes the supernatural event that followed, when an angel appeared and showed them the plates and engravings and they heard the Lord declare that the Book of Mormon was "translated by the gift and power of God." They said that the same divine voice "commanded us that we should bear record of it."

Though each of the Three Witnesses was eventually excommunicated from the Church (two later returned), none ever denied or retracted his published testimony. Each reaffirmed at every opportunity the veracity of his testimony and the reality of what he had seen and experienced. Of the perhaps 200 recorded interviews with the Three Witnesses, a significant percentage stress the spiritual intensity of the witnesses as they described the angel and the plates. By themselves, the Prophet's reputation and claims were vulnerable, but the testimony of additional reputable, solemn witnesses who shared a divine experience added credibility.

  1. Testimony of Oliver Cowdery - Contained as a supplement to the History of the Church. He was a witness to many other events of the translation besides the visit of the Angel Moroni.

Eight Witnesses

The Eight Witnesses, by Olinda Reynolds

This second group of witnesses met together outside the Joseph Smith home in Fayette, New York, on 02 July 1829, just four days after the experience of the Three Witnesses.[2]

Unlike the Three Witnesses, the Eight testified that they both saw and handled the plates. Another difference is that the Eight testified that they were shown the plates by Joseph Smith rather than by an angel as had the Three Witnesses.

In 1838, the living members of Whitmer family (Christian Whitmer and Peter Whitmer, Jr. died in 1835 and 1836, respectively) became estranged from Smith during a leadership struggle in Far West, Missouri. However, little evidence has been found that any of the Eight Witnesses ever denied their testimony as given here.

Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That Joseph Smith, Jun., the translator of this work, has shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship. And this we bear record with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shown unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our names unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen. And we lie not, God bearing witness of it.



Smith Family Witnesses

  1. William Smith (1811-1893) Younger brother who helped Joseph carry the plates wrapped in a work frock. [3]
  2. Emma Hale Smith (1804-1879) Joseph's wife Emma felt the pliable plates as she dusted around the cloth-covered record on her husband's translating table.[4]
  3. Lucy Mack Smith (1775-1856) - After Joseph had obtained the plates, his mother, Lucy and other family members saw their outline through the cloth that covered them and even handled them on occasion. In addition to the visual and audible witness, Lucy would help find hiding places for the plates and often defended the reality of the plates.[5]
  4. Katherine Smith Salisbury (1813-1900), younger sister of Joseph, told her grandchildren her experience of hefting the plates while wrapped in cloth. She described them as "very heavy".[6]
  5. Voices of the Restoration Journal of Lucy Mack Smith - The angel Moroni showed the gold plates to Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris in the woods near the Whitmer home in Fayette, New York. Joseph’s parents were visiting the Whitmers at the time. Lucy Mack Smith, Joseph’s mother, described the effect this miraculous experience had on the witnesses:


Other Witnesses

  1. Mary Musselman Whitmer (1778-1855) - wife of Peter Whitmer, Sr, one of the eight witnesses. (see wikipedia) - Sometimes referred to as the “12th witness” by historians because of the parallel experience to that of the canonized witnesses, Mary Whitmer is the only known woman to have physically seen the plates. [7][8]
  2. Lucy Harris (1792-1836) - wife of Martin Harris (yes, that Mrs. Harris!) - had a remarkable visitation affirming the truthfulness of the work, despite being quite antagonistic to the prophet and the probably cause for the lost 116 pages of the original manuscript.
  3. Josiah Stowell - The only witness to see the plates "by accident". The morning in 1827 when Joseph first brought the plates home, wrapped in a cloth frock, he set them on Josiah's knee when a corner of the package was exposed and Josiah could see the true contents. Later called into a court case, Josiah made a sworn statement to this incident.[9]
  4. Mrs. Martin Harris (Yes!  That Mrs. Martin Harris!) – According to Lucy Smith, one evening Mrs. Harris challenged Joseph and his story of the plates.  Mrs. Harris concluded the conversation by saying, “Joseph, I will tell you that if I can get a witness that you speak the truth, I will believe all you say on the matter and I shall want to do something about the translation—I mean to help you in any way.”  The next morning she related a dream in which Mornoi appeared to her during the previous night and rebuked her for challenging Joseph’s story of the plates.  He then showed her the plates saying, “Behold, here are the plates, look upon them and believe.”  She then described what the plates looked like, confirming the truth of her vision.  True to her word, Mrs. Martin Harris provided Joseph her inheritance of $28 to help with the work of translation.

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More Witness Accounts

  1. Harrison Burgess - Vision 1832
  2. Zera Pulsipher- Vision 1831
  3. Oliver Granger- former sheriff of Ontario County, 1830.
  4. I Will Not Burn That Book -Story of Vincenzo di Francesca - Early 1900 Italy - LDS Ensign - Jan 1988


Presidents of the LDS Church

Several of the past presidents of the LDS Church have taught extensively about the importance and sacred nature of the Book of Mormon:

Visitations of the Angel Moroni

Beside Joseph Smith, the Angel Moroni has appeared to 17 others. * Moroni Appeared to 17 Different People - LivingHeritageTours.com

Biblical Witness

Several passages in the Holy Bible appear to prophesy of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and its divine character:

The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying, Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these? Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. (Ezekiel 37:15-19)

I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. (St John 10:15-17)

And he ahumbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with bmanna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that cman doth not live by dbread only, but by every eword that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live. (Deuteronomy 8:3 / St Matthew 4:3-4)

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. (St James 1:5-6)

The Sealed Book Prophecy of Isaiah: Makes reference to the 1828 visit of Martin Harris to Professor Charles Anthon to authenticate the characters transcribed from the golden plates. (See Martin Harris History.)

And thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust...And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned. Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. (Isaiah 29:4,11-14)

Book of Mormon Challenge

Finally, there is the challenge recorded directly by the prophet Moroni in the very last chapter of the Book of Mormon for each and every reader to gain their own personal witness of the divinity of the book. Moroni 10:3-5

Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts. And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

See also

External links

References

  1. FindAGrave Memorial #12061.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Template:Citation
  3. Empirical Witnesses of the Gold Plates by Larry E. Morris, Dialogue Journal, p 61-62
  4. Empirical Witnesses of the Gold Plates by Larry E. Morris, Dialogue Journal, p 60-61
  5. Empirical Witnesses of the Gold Plates by Larry E. Morris, Dialogue Journal, p 62-63
  6. Empirical Witnesses of the Gold Plates by Larry E. Morris, Dialogue Journal, p 63
  7. The Whitmers: A Family that Nourished the Church - LDS Ensign Aug 1979.
  8. True to the Book of Mormon: The Whitmers - LDS Ensign Feb 1989.
  9. Empirical Witnesses of the Gold Plates by Larry E. Morris, Dialogue Journal, p 65
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