Richard Anderson taught that Joseph used a seer stone to translate plates in Ensign.

Sep 1977
Richard Lloyd Anderson

Richard Lloyd Anderson, "By the Gift and Power of God," Ensign (September 1977), accessed June 24, 2021

Richard Lloyd Anderson
General Public

The person who best reflects Martin Harris is probably Edward Stevenson, since he spent nearly two months with the Witness after going to Ohio to escort him back to Utah in 1870. On the means of translation Stevenson reported, “He said that the Prophet possessed a seer stone, by which he was enabled to translate as well as from the Urim and Thummim, and for convenience he then used the seer stone.”

After Martin Harris lost the part of the translation done in 1828, Oliver Cowdery became chief scribe for the entire Book of Mormon as it is now printed. Toward the end of this new work of 1829, David Whitmer on occasion watched and afterwards spoke of the seer stone . . . David Whitmer’s idea of translation is similar to Samuel Richards’s. Yet this view does not appear until 1875, nearly a half-century after Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery worked in David Whitmer’s home. His many statements on translation harmonize with his Address to All Believers In Christ, published in 1887 to supersede second-hand reports. There he gave his most detailed view of “the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated”:

“Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light. And in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe. And when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God and not by any power of man. The characters I speak of are the engravings on the golden plates from which the book was translated.”

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