John W. Welch reconstructs Book of Mormon translation timeline; places translation of Jacob between June 24–25, 1829.

Academic / Technical Report
John W. Welch

John W. Welch, "Timing the Translation of the Book of Mormon: 'Days [and Hours] Never to Be Forgotten'," BYU Studies Quarterly 57, no. 4 (2018): 11–50

BYU Studies
John W. Welch
Reading Public

This paper aims to stimulate specific thinking about the intense and complex events during which the Book of Mormon was translated in 1829. Encouraged initially by Elder Neal A. Maxwell, and building on my chapter in the second edition of Opening the Heavens, this article strives to be as precise as possible about the timing of the events and progress of the Book of Mormon translation during the months and days it took place. In 1834, Oliver Cowdery wrote, “These were days never to be forgotten—to sit under the sound of a voice dictated by the inspiration of heaven, awakened the utmost gratitude.” Looking closely at the documents and the dating of all that happened during the three months of April, May, and June 1829 can likewise awaken a greater sense of gratitude and respect for this extraordinary volume of scripture. After reviewing the previous scholarship on the timing of the translation, five dates will be examined that anchor the chronology of the three months principally involved. Questions such as “How long did it take to translate the Book of Mormon?” and “How much variation has there been in the estimates?” will then be addressed. While most estimates have been imprecise or cautiously conservative, all fall basically within much the same tight time range. Attention then will shift to a new and further question: “How many other time-consuming things were going on in Joseph Smith’s life during the three months of the translation?” Taking all that information into account, this study will then develop and propose allowable rates of speed for the translation in terms of “words per minute” and “hours per day.” All of this more detailed information will open up insights into the historical understanding and experiential comprehension of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.

[See also the charts on p. 49]

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