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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 have been recorded for all mankind.

Introduction

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)

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).

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."

The Three Witnesses

Gravestone for David Whitmer in Richmond MO.

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. [1]

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.


The Three Witnesses

Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken. And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true. And it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.

See the biographical links above for the life story of each of these gentlemen.

Clarkston Pageant

Clarkston Pageant

Every summer the community of Clarkston, Utah sponsors The Clarkston Martin Harris Pageant: The Man Who Knew which tells of the life and testimony of Martin Harris, one of the three witnesses to the origin of the Book of Mormon. The events that took place in 1829 near Palmyra, New York are presented.

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.[1]

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.

The Eight Witnesses were all members of the Whitmer or Smith families. Noting the familiar relationship among the witnesses, satirist Mark Twain wrote, "I could not feel more satisfied and at rest if the entire Whitmer family had testified."[2]

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. Young William Smith once helped his brother Joseph carry the plates wrapped in a work frock.
  2. Joseph's wife Emma Smith felt the pliable plates as she dusted around the cloth-covered record on her husband's translating table.
  3. Lucy Mack Smith - After Joseph had obtained the plates, 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.

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
  2. Lucy Harris (1792-1836) - wife of Martin 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.
Four Women
  1. Parley P Pratt Story - LDS Ensign - April 2007.
  2. I Will Not Burn That Book -Story of Vincenzo di Francesca - Early 1900 Italy - LDS Ensign - Jan 1988
  3. Testimonies of the Book of Mormon - LDS Ensign Magazine Jan 2004 - statements by leaders of the LDS Church
  4. A Testimony of the Book of Mormon (video/text) - Russell M Nelson - Oct 1999 General Conference of the Church

Witnesses of the Translation

Another powerful set of witnesses are all those that wrote about the translation process for the two years the gold plates were in the possession of Joseph Smith.

Most of these accounts are found in the JosephSmithPapers.org

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:

  1. Joseph Smith - Chapter 4: The Book of Mormon: Keystone of Our Religion
  2. Joseph Fielding Smith - Chapter 9: Witnesses of the Book of Mormon
  3. A Witness and a Warning - (video/text) 1979 Oct General Conference Testimony by Ezra Taft Benson, 13th President of the LDS Church

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. 1.0 1.1 Anderson, Gale Yancey (Spring 2012), "Eleven Witnesses Behold the Plates", Journal of Mormon History 38 (2) 
  2. https://books.google.com/books?id=y589pE4d9FcC&pg=PA113


TOC Intro 1 Nephi 2 Nephi Jacob Enos Jarom Omni Words of Mormon Mosiah Alma Helaman 3 Nephi 4 Nephi Mormon Ether Moroni
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