Quantcast

Comments about ‘FAIR: Joseph Smith didn't act in prophet's role during translation of Kinderhook plates’

Return to article »

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 9 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

Comments
  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Most recommended
tweedmeister
Yakima, WA

This is a thoughtful comment, and I do not mean it in any negative or snarky way. I do hope you will not weed this one out. But the message of the LDS Church is always to "follow the prophet." This would imply that even when the prophet is wrong, people are to believe him and do what he says. Latter-day Saints have also been admonished to follow the leaders "even when they are wrong." The fact is, whether any aspect of teachings is wrong or right, it is always "right" at least in a de facto sense. Latter-day Saints are also led to believe that "the Gospel is perfect, even if the members are not," i.e., blame the people, not the teachings or the leaders. But the Gospel IS people. When prophets speak, they speak. It is taught as truth and must be thus accepted. If Joseph Smith began translation of the sideways Chinese characters and began writing text from them, he was, by definition, acting as prophet and we must, by commandment, believe him. Who is to say that he or any leader was "speaking as a man?"

Mint Julip
KAYSVILLE, UT

I have been told by many believing Mormons that they know the church is true because Joseph Smith, with only three years of schooling and wasn't capable of writing the BOM without the assistance of God.

If we are to believe that logic, are we also to believe that someone with three years of education is capable of translating Egyptian, as a hobby?

I have a Bachelor's degree and am not qualified to translate any foreign languages.

full disclosure
Providence, UT

We are hearing this reasoning (speaking as a man as opposed to speaking as a prophet) quite often in the church these days as evidences are brought forth that simply prove statements to be untrue by Church leaders,in this case Joseph Smith. I will admit it's a brilliant defense or out. I do wonder however if Farms or Fair since not operated by the church, if this is the official stand of the First Presidency? Does the First Presidency endorse whats being said?
If apologists are speaking for the church then I really wish when the brethren speak that they would begin by clarifying who their speaking for.

Mint Julip
KAYSVILLE, UT

@full disclosure:

I have often wondered the same thing. As you point out, Farms and Fair are not affiliated with the church. So, maybe this is just more speculation? If that is the case, it is incredibly ironic since I have been reading many articles on the DN board about misunderstandings regarding Mormonism and the need for clarification among the press and public. The abundance of misunderstandings come from speculation, justification and rationalization regarding issues difficult to understand.

It seems that when it comes to the most troubling issues, if any of us lack wisdom, we can ask Fair and Farms, historians, members, ex-members and God if we believe in him. But, if we ask our church leaders, we will most likely get the answer that we can't know all things in this life. That's what my Stake President told me.

Mormoncowboy
Provo, Ut

KC Mormon:

You may just as well dismiss the vast majority of what constitutes Joseph Smith History on account that most of our information comes from scribes. You can dismiss a good amount of the Doctrine & Covenants, the JST of the Bible, and about the entire Book of Mormon on those grounds as well. It does seem that Joseph Smith was interested. Whether his interest was spiritual or merely academic is at this point only conjecture. The Kinderhook plates wouldn't be so troubling if not for two reasons:

1) We have this precedent regarding the lost 116 pages from the Book of Mormon, where Joseph Smith was allegedly protected against just this kind of fraud. Or so the story goes. Yet, here we don't have any reason to believe but that Joseph thought the Kinderhook plates legitimate.

2) His documented musing's go much further than historical hypotheses. He knew the lineage of the fictional man and details regarding his life. "He recieved his inheritance...". This language smack of prophecy, not educated guessing.

We can also note the similarity between this story and another absurd corallary from much earlier, when the zions camp group discovered the remains of "Zelph".

KC Mormon
Edgerton, KS

Mormoncowboy
Something written by a scribe as Joseph spoke can be considered first hand just like a court reporter. It is Josephs own words however we do not have that for these plates what we have are people writing in their own journals what they heard someone say Joseph said about the plates. I also find it interesting that the men who made the plates did not try to sell them to the Church and did not come out with them as a hoax until many years later after trying to sell them to the government. This tells me two thing: first they were not made to show Joseph was a fraud (had that been the case they would have said it was a hoax right away) and second that Joseph likely did not show much interest in them after a day or so (had they hoax been announced while Joseph was alive he very easily could have defended himself).

Mormoncowboy
Provo, Ut

KC Mormon:

You don't seem to have read the article. The anonymous "someone" whose records we are referring to is William Clayton, Joseph's chief scribe. Apologists have been working hard since the 1980's to infer that Clayton imposed his own view of things and recorded them as Joseph Smith's words. That is quite an indictment against Clayton, and much of the documentary history of the Church. On that grounds little if anything about Mormon history should be trusted. It seems very unlikely that such an thing would have happened. Let's ask a few simple questions:

1) Did Joseph Smith ever examine the Kinderhook plates?

Yes, briefly, but yes.

2) Was Clayton ever in proximity to Joseph Smith around this time, to where we could have reasonable confidence that the account recorded by Clayton represents the idea's of Joseph Smith?

Yes, as per the article they shared supper around this time and exchanged thoughts on the matter. There was even some discussion with Parley P. Pratt on the matter of the circumstances in which the plates were found.

In short, anything is possible, but the evidence points to Joseph Smith Prophecying in such a way that legitimizes the Kinderhook plates.

KC Mormon
Edgerton, KS

You clearly do not understand how the the history of the Church was written. B H Roberts took peoples personal journals and in the common literary standard of his time took items out of third person and placed them in the first person. So while Clayton did work as a scribe for Joseph only things written as a scribe are first hand accounts. That would be Joseph speaks and the scribe as directed writes them down. Now if a person who worked as a scribe later goes and writes in his person journal (as is the case here) something he believes or a rumor he has heard that is not a first hand account. That is in fact at best second hand. A close reading of Clayton's journal would not suggest that he was acting as scribe but either giving his opinion or reporting rumor. Take for example your point of Zelph if you look at the different accounts you see that while on the surface they are similar underneath they are very different, From his height number of bones how he was found. it comes down to all we can say is Joseph named him Zelph.

Mormoncowboy
Provo, Ut

The fairwiki article now references Bradley's presentation. Bradley conjectures based on a single character contained on the Kinderhook plates that Joseph Smith was trying to translate based on non-revelatory means. He includes Clayton's unadulterated journal entry on the matter:

"I have seen 6 brass plates which were found in Adams County by some persons who were digging in a mound. They found a skeleton about 6 feet from the surface of the earth which was 9 foot high. [At this point there is a tracing of a plate in the journal.] The plates were on the breast of the skeleton. This diagram shows the size of the plates being drawn on the edge of one of them. They are covered with ancient characters of language containing from 30 to 40 on each side of the plates. Prest J. has translated a portion and says they contain the history of the person with whom they were found and he was a descendant of Ham through the loins of Pharoah king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the ruler of heaven and earth."

He also notes that Clayton shared supper with Joseph that evening.

KC Mormon
Edgerton, KS

Mormoncowboy
I will again point out that it is not clear that Joseph said personally to him what he reports or was it rumor going around the area. Again look at the many stories of Zelph. Each of the men were present when Joseph gave his name yet the details very widely. The fact Joseph ate with Clayton does not tell us what Joseph told Clayton. What we do know is that Joseph needed no aids to translate after the Book of Mormon yet he asked for aids looking at these plates. It is very possible that Joseph was asked are you working on the plates Joseph said yes I will let you know what I find on them. Then Clayton reports in his journal the rumor that he had heard. This unfortunately has been common from before April 6 1830 and is still done today.

Mormoncowboy
Provo, Ut

Of course we cannot go back in time and witness the interaction, however that position goes both ways. What we do have however is credible evidence from a person who was in close proximity to Joseph Smith in both time and space, whose job it was to record the day to day goings on of Joseph Smith's life, stating:

"...Prest J. has translated a portion and says they contain the history of the person with whom they were found and he was a descendant of Ham through the loins of Pharoah king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the ruler of heaven and earth."

Of course you want to doubt this, but you are doing so on a hope that Joseph Smith didn't prophesy. The evidence unfortunately leans to the liklihood that he did. Afterall, the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar was itself an instrument that was derived from the egyptian papyri. In any regard, for the sake of argument I am willing to acknowledge that there is some weakness in the account recorded by Clayton. That is, it is not completely "bullet-proof". Still the weight of evidence heavily favors the notion that JS did prophesy.

SamBaUSA
Sandy, UT

Boy, these mental gymnastics are exhausting aren't they? This one is particularly acrobatic. Look up Occam's Razor and enjoy some well earned rest.

to comment

DeseretNews.com encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.
About comments