Hey guys, so today, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that Joseph Smith translated the ancient Book of Mormon plates by the gift and power of God through the aid of the Nephite “interpreters” and at least one of Joseph’s own personal seer stones. Sources indicate that Joseph would place the stone or stones in a hat, bring his face close to the hat to block out ambient light, look at the stone or stones and dictate to his scribe. The single seer stone in a hat method of translation is pretty well-known today, but frankly, that hasn’t always been the case. And there are some people who are upset about that and feel like past church leaders have been intentionally hiding this embarrassing truth from members. So, let’s look at the history. I’ll give you my take on this, and you can come to your own conclusions.
There are lots of early friendly references to the Book of Mormon being translated through the Nephite interpreters, which came to be referred to as the Urim and Thummim. References to the seer stone in a hat method first show up in antagonistic sources, such as E. D. Howe’s 1834 book, “Mormonism Unveiled.” It’s not really until the 1870s and 80s that we get pro-seer stone statements from individuals who were close to Joseph during the translation and who actually believed in the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. People like David Whitmer, Martin Harris, Emma Smith, and others. I encourage you to pause and read some of those accounts.
As these sources start popping up, we start to see Latter-day Saint scholars and leaders talking more about this translation method. George Q. Cannon agrees with it in his 1888 biography of Joseph Smith. By 1899 it seems that even President Lorenzo Snow was showing off Joseph’s seer stone. Scholar B. H. Roberts was an early advocate for the seer stone method, though in 1903, he called attention to the challenge of interpreting some of the evidence:
To read the rest of the article: Saints Unscripted