On this episode, we dive back into the world of Joseph Smith to find out how the Book of Mormon came to life. From persecution in Palmyra, to haraguing in Harmony, to flim-flamming in Fayette, Joe moves wherever he can find sanctuary to "translate" in peace. We've covered where the content in the BoM might have come from, but not how it actually came to life. The time period from Joe getting the plates in 1827, up to mid 1829, faces the white hot light of scrutiny in this mother lode of history, and textual analysis.
Outro music used with permission
Welcome to the 17th episode of the Naked Mormonism Podcast, my name is Bryce Blankenagel, and thank you for joining me.
Last historical episode was a bit of a doozy. We covered the View of the Hebrews authorship theory, which was completely separate from the Solomon Spalding authorship theory for the Book of Mormon. The View of the Hebrews was a book written in 1823 by Ethan Smith with a second edition print in 1825. The timeline of it's authorship, juxtaposed to Joe's story with the Book of Mormon being translated seemed to have a lot of coincidences.
This theory of authorship is espoused by most critical Mormon scholars today, as it is the most compelling, and evidence based theory of any that have been proposed. But the View of the Hebrews being a primary source material for the Book of Mormon, wasn't the only thing we covered last episode. There are almost 800 verifiable, anachronistic plagairisms directly from the old and new testaments. The names of the geography in the Book of Mormon directly reflect an early 19th century map of New England and the surrounding areas. This would have been the map that Joe had access to during one of his multiple brief stints in school while growing up. These were only a few sources listed, the possibilities go on for days.
The episode finished out with a list of dozens of possible source material books that were written anywhere from 150 years before Joe was born, up to just a couple years before Joe's BoM dropped. Based off the abundance of evidence for the source material for the BoM, we can easily ascertain that it was, by no means, an original book.
That being said, I don't think we have standing to claim that any one of these sources was the single primary source for the BoM. While Joe definitely took more material from some sources, than he did from others, there's really no way of telling all the materials he pulled from. I think Joe was one of the great information sythesizers of his day. He was capable of reading something, and retaining the information quite well, and then he expounded upon whatever it was that he learned. The BoM is merely the manifestation of what was going on inside Joe's mind at the time, and a reflection of his beliefs and world view.
Personally, I believe that 'Manuscript Found' by Solomon Spalding was the source that Joe pulled most of the form and structure of the BoM from, while the theology contained in the BoM probably came from View of the Hebrews and other books, or preachers, that were popular in the burned over district during the time leading up to authoring the Book of Mormon. That being said, there is one massive chink in the armor of the Spalding theory, that is the lack of tangible manuscript evidence. We don't have a copy of the source text, known as 'Manuscript Found', as it's believed to have been squirrelled away, or burned by Hingepin Sidney Rigdon. That's why the View of the Hebrews stands above the Spalding theory in most scholarly realms. There are thousands of copies of the View of the Hebrews in existence, and we can compare it apples to apples with the BoM, as opposed to indirect comparison with the Spalding Manuscript.
There are so many things to talk about when it comes to the authorship of the BoM. I can scarcely wrap my mind around everything that I want to talk about. I don't even understand a lot of the ins and outs of what lies inside that gold lettered, blue bound tome of fairy tales. That being said, there's way more actual history to get to, without focusing on the BoM itself. So, this is what we have to focus on. I'm not going to dive all the way in to the content of the BoM, because there is waaaay too much to talk about there, and it gets really dry. So what I'll do instead, is continue on with the history, and how the book was actually written, so we can advance the timeline of the actual people. Don't think that I'm ignoring everything that needs to be talked about when it comes to the BoM. There's enough there to fill dozens of hours of podcasting time. But, like I said, examining the BoM with that level of detail gets overbearing and dry really quickly.
So, what I've decided to do, is continue in the timeline itself, and revisit the BoM authorship, once we know more about Joe and the other people that were involved with the book. I'll probably end up doing the BoM analysis as separate, special edition episodes, just to keep with the main timeline of the people and history of the church. Maybe, if patronage gets to be enough, I'll release a short episode every other week talking about just the Book of Mormon, but we'll see.
Well, let's get into the actual history by talking about the Newlyweds, Joseph Smith, and Emma Hale Smith. The last time we were talking about these two, Joe had just pulled the 200+ lb. plates out of the ground and ran home with them under his arm. He encountered a few dudes that were bigger than him, two of which had guns, yet Joe was able to knock em the fuck out with a couple god-mode super power punches. Once Joe had the plates safely home in Palmyra, He and Emma experienced a ton of "persecution" from Joe's fellow treasure diggers that all reckoned Joe owed them a piece of the plates. The phrase "There's no honor among thieves" does seem to fit the situation quite well. Joe embraced the meaning of this phrase by "borrowing" $50 from Not-So-Smarty-Marty Harris, so He and Emma could move in with the Hale family in Harmony, Pennsylvania and escape the persistent inquisition of the local vegabonds.
When Joe and Emma moved in to the Hale residence, Isaac Hale, Emma's Dad, had a condition or two that needed to be met. So let's hear what he has to say.
This is from Isaac Hale's affidavit in Mormonism Unveiled by E. D. Howe 1834.
"Smith stated to me, that he had given up what he called "glass-looking," and that he expected to work hard for a living, and was willing to do so. He also made arrangements with my son Alva Hale, to go to Palmyra, and move his (Smith's) furniture &c. to this place. He then returned to Palmyra, and soon after, Alva, agreeable to the arrangement, went up and returned with Smith and his family.
Soon after this, I was informed they had brought a wonderful book of Plates down with them. I was shown a box in which it is said they were contained, which had, to all appearances, been used as a glass box of the common sized window-glass. I was allowed to feel the weight of the box, and they gave me to understand, that the book of plates was then in the box - into which, however, I was not allowed to look."
I've quoted this before, but there's a lot more to this affidavit, and we're really going to get into it for today's episode.
"I inquired of Joseph Smith Jr., who was to be the first who would be allowed to see the Book of Plates? He said it was a young child. After this, I became dissatisfied, and informed him that if there was any thing in my house of that description, which I could not be allowed to see, he must take it away; if he did not, I was determined to see it. After that, the Plates were said to be hid in the woods."
Real smooth move by Joe there. Isaac said that He wanted to see the plates, so Joe let him hold the box that the plates were supposedly in, but wouldn't let him sneak a peek. After that didn't satisfy Isaac, He told Joe that he wouldn't allow Joe to keep such a thing in his house, if Isaac couldn't see and examine the plates for himself. So what did Joe do? He supposedly hid them in the woods, and effectively the entire translation was done without the plates in the same room as Joe at any time.
Joe must have been a pretty shady guy from the Hale family perspective, but of course, Emma had her love tinted glasses on, and couldn't see Joe for what he really was. If only she would have taken a step back and looked at the situation objectively for a moment. If only she would have listened to her family when they talked about Joe. Apparently tensions were high in the Hale household with Joe living there. To help Illustrate this point, let's hear what Alva Hale, Emma's brother, had to say about the situation.
This is quoted from Alva Hale's affidavit, which was also in Mormonism Unveiled by E.D. Howe.
"Joseph Smith Jr., told him that his gift in seeing with a stone and hat, was a gift from God, but also states "That Smith told him at another time that this 'peeping' was all damned nonsense. He (Smith) was decieved himself but did not intend to deceive others; --that he intended to quit the business, (of peeping) and labor for his livelihood." That afterwards, Smith told him, "he should see the plates from which he translated the Book of Mormon," and accordingly at the time specified by Smith, He (Alva Hale) "called to see the plates, but Smith did not show them, but appeared angry." He further states, that he knows Joseph Smith Jr. To be an imposter, and a liar, and knows Martin Harris to be a liar likewise."
That was in Mormonism Unveiled as well, a few pages after Isaac Hale's testimony. Alva didn't like Joe anymore than any of the other Hales did, with the exception of Emma of course. Joe's presence seemed to anger most people in the family, so what turned out to be the best solution in Isaac's opinon? Kick Joe out. But, Emma wouldn't stay without Joe, so, an agreement was made. Emma and Joe would buy, and move in to the vacant home of Jesse Hale, who had recently moved to Illinois, which was on one corner of the Hale property. This allowed Isaac, and the rest of the Hales, to keep an eye on Emma while they got to know Joe a little better.
Once they moved into this house, Emma became the first unofficial scribe for Joe. I'm not sure exactly what happened directly after this, as it's easy to lose the truth in the muddled testimonies of the Hale family versus that of Joe. But what we do know is NSSM swooped in to become the first official scribe for Joe, soon after Emma called it quits. It may have been because Isaac didn't approve of Emma being the scribe for Joe's evil book, as he later described it. Or it may have been by persuasion from Marty himself for want of oversight. The catalyst for Marty's presence isn't very clear. But we do know that he showed up shortly after Emma and Joe moved into their new home, in order to finance and help with the translation.
Let's hear what happened next from more of Isaac's 1834 testimony.
"About this time, Martin Harris made his appearance upon the stage; and Smith began to interpret the characters or hieroglyphics which he said were engraven upon the plates, while Harris wrote down the interpretation. It was said, that Harris wrote down one hundred and sixteen pages, and lost them."
This is referring to the point in time when Marty took the 116 pages they had completed home to show his wife, Lucy Harris. We'll let Isaac advance us further into the storyline in a minute here, because he's doing such a good job of it. But for now, let's get the 116 page manuscript story out in the open to find out what really happened.
I'm taking this story directly from the LDS.org website article on the topic, as it seems to tell the story, as reported from a believing Mormon perspective, quite succinctly.
"From mid-April to mid-June 1828, the Prophet Joseph Smith was translating the gold plates while living in Harmony, Pennsylvania. A wealthy farmer and businessman named Martin Harris was acting as scribe while Joseph translated the Book of Mormon. Martin was 22 years older than Joseph and had given Joseph and Emma $50 (which was a substantial amount of money at that time) to relocate to Harmony, where Emma’s family lived, thus helping to support Joseph while he translated the plates. In February 1828, Joseph allowed Martin to take copies of characters from the plates to be authenticated by two professors in New York City (Dr. Mitchell and Charles Anthon). Lucy Harris, Martin’s wife, had become increasingly concerned about Martin’s interest and financial involvement in the translation of the plates. She and others began to pressure Martin for evidence of the plates’ existence. To satisfy their concerns, in mid-June Martin requested that Joseph allow him to take the 116 pages of manuscript they had completed to show as evidence."
Then it references Doctrine and Covenants 3:1–3 and relates a hypothetical for the readers of this article. Listen to how it's written, the article is titled, "Joseph Smith learns that the work of God cannot be frustrated". I'm not sure exactly what that means because if humans can 'frustrate' God, it's a rather petty God and probably isn't worthy of worship. But, that's beside the point.
"Think of situations when you might be tempted to listen to a friend rather than follow the counsel or commandments of Heavenly Father. For instance, you might be tempted to allow a friend to copy your homework or be tempted to watch an inappropriate movie or video on the Internet with your friends (I have never watched internet porn with a friend before... it gets waaaaay too awkward when you whip it out). Why is it sometimes difficult to resist friends when they ask you to do something you know is wrong?
By mid-June 1828, the Prophet Joseph Smith, with Martin Harris as scribe, had translated 116 pages of manuscript from the gold plates. Martin asked Joseph to allow him to take the manuscript to “read to his friends that [perhaps] he might convince them of the truth”. Joseph approached the Lord with Martin’s request but was told not to let the manuscript out of his possession. Martin convinced Joseph to ask again—which resulted in a second refusal from the Lord. Martin prevailed upon Joseph to ask once more and, on this third request, the Lord gave permission for Martin to take the manuscript if he agreed to show the manuscript only to his wife and a few select family members. (Wait, wasn't the premise of this article not listening to the temptations of your peers? It kind of sounds like God had nothing to do with granting permission, but Joe might have just been listening to his friend and caved. Besides, what bargaining chip did Joe have when it came to persuading Marty to continue with the work? Marty was the one with the money to finance the publication of the book....) However, Martin broke his oath and the manuscript was lost. Because Joseph had not accepted the Lord’s initial counsel but delivered “that which was sacred into the hands of a wicked man” (D&C 3:12), Moroni took the plates and the Urim and Thummim from the Prophet. However, Joseph was told that he could receive them again if he would be “humble and penitent".
Any never-mo's listening probably didn't pick up on it, but I sure felt it. That article was written in the same exact way that a bishop would chastize you for watching a rated R movie at a party. I don't know what it is, or how to explain or quantify it, but reading this article made my blood boil with recollections of bully pulpit chastening from every church leader that taught with these bullshit metaphors. Sorry for the digression, but I thought it was worth mentioning how mad this made me, without even knowing exactly why.
So let's talk about the article itself, what exactly happened here? Basically, NSSM's wife was incredulous about the reality of the plates, and the BoM as far as it had been translated. So, she demanded that Marty get the plates from Joe. She wasn't buying the bullshit and wanted to see some goddamn gold that this punk from Palmyra had supposedly found. Well, Marty asked for the plates and Joe obviously turned him down because Joe's set was way more make-shift and shitty than would pass any scrutinizing inspection from anybody. But, Marty was able to convince Joe to let the 116 page manuscript, which comprised the Book of Lehi, out of his hands for a couple of weeks so Marty could take it home, and show it to Lucy. Well, like we learned previously, She didn't buy it and probably hid them, or tossed them into the flames when Marty wasn't looking.
This caused the angel Moroni to be pissed and take away Joe's ability to translate the plates "for a season". But, along came Mr. Oliver Cowdery, heretofore, and henceforth reffered to as Cowdung Allover, or Ollie for short. As soon as Ollie came along, the angel Moroni magically granted Joe the ability to translate again, and boy oh boy did he. Ollie moved into the newlywed home with Emma and Joe and the authorship went apeshit-nutballs.
Let me pause for a second to cover the dates up to this point. I want to offer some perspective of the order of events.
Joe had reportedly received the plates on, or about September 21, 1827. He didn't actually take them home yet, he had just dug them out of the stone box in the ground, and supposedly hid them in a stump, or log or something. 10 days later, Emma told Joe that the plates might be in danger, because the treasure digging group had hired Samuel Lawrence to help them seek out the plates, while Joe was out of town. This was a big fuckin problem. If you remember, Samuel Lawrence was the guy who went with Joe to hill Cumorah a couple of years earlier, and persuaded Joe to say that he saw a pair of 'specks' (spectacles) buried in the stone box, along with the plates.
In reaction to Lawrence being the ringer to help the treasure diggers find the plates, Joe went back home to bring the plates to the Smith residence, safe and sound, without Samuel Lawrence, or any other money diggers harming him or the plates. He did this despite walking them 3 miles through the forest at night, and being attacked 3 times. Joe did actually get hurt a little bit.... he dislocated his thumb when he knocked out the last guy with the final super punch of DOOM!
The next few weeks were hell for the Smith family, especially the newlyweds. The treasure diggers never stopped trying to get ahold of the plates. They even hired Sally Chase with her vibrant green seer stone to help them find the box the plates were supposedly in, while they were stashed under the floorboard of the coopers shop on the Smith property. This persecution made Joe consent to moving in with the in-laws in November of 1827. NSSM gave Joe $50 to help Joe pay off some of his debts and move to Harmony, Pennsylvania.
Marty gave them a couple of months to settle in. They originally moved into the Hale household, but tensions were too high, as we found out from Isaac and Alva's testimonies, so Joe and Emma moved into Jesse's house, probably in January of 1828. In February Marty decided to swing by and discuss something with Joe that should have been Joe's downfall. Joe gave Marty the 'Caractors' manuscript, for Marty to take up to Columbia University to have NSSM's Super-Study-Smarty-Party-Pooper-Pal Charlie Anthon verify the writing as ancient.... something, fill in the blank I guess. We covered all the details of this interaction in episode 4 so I'm not going to re-hash it here. All that matters, is that Marty should have known at this point, that Joe was full of monkey-shit, but for some reason the red flags just didn't stop Marty in his blind greed.
During this time, NSSM was in New York learning that Joe was a fraud, Joe attempted to use Emma and her little brother as scribes for translating the book, but something didn't work out, because we don't have any writings from this period in time. It may have made up the first couple of chapters of the book of Lehi, but there's really no way of knowing what they wrote down, or why Joe couldn't continue to use them as scribes. It may have had something to do with Emma being 6 months pregnant, or it may have been intervention from Joe's father in law Isaac Hale, or all the members of the Hale family for that matter.
Enter NSSM once again. He had returned from his New York trip, reportedly satisfied with the authenticity of Joe's 'Caractors' manuscript. I say reportedly because we only have record of Marty's side of the meeting from the Joseph Smith History which is part of the Mormon canon. Whether or not Marty was satisfied with the how legit Joe was, didn't seem to effect Marty's motivations. What we can surmise, is He must not have been satisfied with their persistence in translating the book up to this point, so he basically moves in with them, and arduously translates day after day. They started this work in April, we aren't sure of the exact day here, but it's reported as April 12th, 1828.
Joe and Marty plug away and get the entire book of Lehi translated which comprised the 116 page manuscript. They finished June 14, 1828, meaning they translated anywhere from 1 and a half, to 2 pages per day. In comparison to progress with Emma and her brother, Joe and Marty were cookin!
This was when Marty begged to take the 116 pages to show his wife. After a lot of persistence, he got permission from Joe, or God or somebody, and lost them. Or they were stolen by Lucy Harris, or another family member, or some homeless guy... We just don't know for sure.
The next piece in the series of events gets a little muddy, so we're going to let Isaac Hale advance our narrative up until Ollie swoops in to save the day, by becoming the next scribe.
Still quoting from Mormonism Unveiled.
"Soon after this happened (losing the 116 pages), Martin Harris informed me that he must have a greater witness, and said that he had talked with Joseph about it - Joseph informed him that he could not, or durst not show him the plates, but that he (Joseph) would go into the woods where the Book of Plates was, and that after he came back, Harris should follow his track in the snow, and find the Book, and examine it for himself. Harris informed me afterwards, that he followed Smith's directions, and could not find the Plates, and was still dissatisfied."
Joe was notorious for these little tricks. He probably told Marty that if he had enough faith in the lord, he would be able to see the plates to satisfy his curiousity. This wasn't the only time something like this happened. The further we get along, we'll find out just how much Joe set things up so he couldn't be the one to fail. If somebody wasn't satisfied with Joe's claims, it was due to their lack of faith, and was therefore, their problem. Joe was a diabolical menace when it came to stuff like this. So obviously Marty wasn't deterred by the ridiculousness of this little stunt, because we're talking about it today. Let's find out what happened next.
"The next day after this happened, I went to the house where Joseph Smith Jr., lived, and where he and Harris were engaged in their translation of the Book. Each of them had a written piece of paper which they were comparing, and some of the words were "my servant seeketh a greater witness, but no greater witness can be given him." There was also something said about "three that were to see the thing" - meaning I supposed, the Book of Plates, and that "if the three did not go exactly according to orders, the thing would be taken from them." I enquired whose words they were, and was informed by Joseph or Emma, (I rather think it was the former) that they were the words of Jesus Christ. I told them then, that I considered the whole of it a delusion, and advised them to abandon it."
Alright, let's review who Joe had said could see the plates up to this point. According to Peter Ingersoll, when Joe first brought the plates home, the family supposedly asked to see them. Joe fed them the line of "You can see them but God will probably destroy you if you look at them" like some Indiana Jones, arc of the covenant shit. So everybody in the house got to lift the plates and feel how heavy they were but they were always wrapped in a jacket or a cloth. Before that however, Joe had said that on September 21, 1827 Emma would be the one to help him get the plates, effectively meaning she would be the first person to see the plates. But before that, Joe said that it would be his eldest brother Alvin who would help him get the plates out of the ground. Meaning that Alvin would have been the first person other than Joe to have seen the plates. But Alvin died in 1825, so Joe said that the person who would see the plates would be revealed to him at a later date. This person turned out to be Samuel Lawrence, who went with Joe to the top of Hill Cumorah and helped him see the specks, with the plates in the stone box. This would have made Lawrence the first person that got to see the plates other than Joe, and he was just a family friend, and fellow money digger, nobody really important. After all of this, Isaac asked to see the plates, and Joe said that the Lord told him the first person to see the plates would be a child. We can reasonably assume Joe was refferring to his own little squirt that was growing in Emma's tummy when this happened. But their highly deformed baby died a few hours after birth, so nobody was buying that line anymore. Next, Martin asked to see the plates, and Joe put him through this bullshit shenanigan of following Joe's footprints in the snow, into the woods to hopefully have God reveal the plates to him. When every single last one of these ploys failed to satisfy anybodys curiousity about the plates, Joe told everybody that God would reveal the plates to 3 witnesses, which ended up being a statement that Joe drafted up and had the three sign. We'll probably get into that next episode.
If we're trying to keep a prophetic scorecard for Joe here, He's got a big fuckin bagel on his side of the tallys. How many times did he have to pull this smoke and mirrors shit with these people, before they finally gave up on him? Does this sound like the workings of an almighty, all-knowing god, or just the actions of a habitual liar, with a megalomaniacal God complex?
Speaking of habitual lying, let's read the next thing in Isaac Hale's affidavit talking about Joe.
"The manner in which he pretended to read and interpret, was the same as when he looked for the money-diggers, with the stone in his hat, and his hat over his face, while the Book of Plates were at the same time in the woods!"
A person may wonder how Isaac knew the details of Joe's methods of money-digging. Remember, the Hale residence is where the whole treasure seeking crew stayed when they were hired by Bossman Josiah Stowell to look for the Spanish silver mine along the banks of the Susquehanna river. That was when Joe met Emma back in late 1825. Isaac must have hated Joe's lying face every time he saw it. And Isaac was one of multiple people that reported Joe translating the plates by looking at Precious in Mr. Hat, in the exact same way he spent most of his time looking for buried treasure, which method, he was arrested and went to trial for. He was so clearly a fraud, and we can see that by July 1828, before he even started composing the Book of Mormon with the help of Ollie, and everybody else. It doesn't even take opening up the BoM itself to realize how much of a flimflamming fuck Joe was.
Isaac is doing a great job of moving us along, so let's leave him to do his thing.
"After this, Martin Harris went away, and Oliver Cowd[e]ry came and wrote for Smith, while he interpreted as above described. This is the same Oliver Cowd[e]ry, whose name may be found in the Book of Mormon. Cowd[e]ry continued a[s] scribe for Smith until the Book of Mormon was completed as I supposed, and understood."
That brought us up to where Ollie came to live with Emma and Joe in their newly bought house. But, there were a couple of interesting things that happened in the interrum period from Jul 1828, to April 5th 1829 when Ollie showed up to help. There is one more paragraph to Isaac Hale's affidavit, and we'll finish it momentarily, but we have to cover that period that he glossed over right there.
After NSSM lost the pages, God supposedly became angry with him and Joe and directed the angel Moroni to take the plates, along with the Urim and Thummim translators away from Joe. I personally believe this was just a cop-out. Let me propose what I think happened. The common consensus is that Lucy Harris took the 116 page manuscript and burned it, or gave it to a friend to hold on to. While this does make sense, I think there's a possibility that Marty might have had a little more to do with it, than historically portrayed.
Think about it, wise business men try and vindicate the person they are about to go into business with, and let's face it, Marty might have been trying to do the same thing, and then blamed his bitch of a wife when things didn't turn out like he expected. What I mean is, Joe and Marty had just spent the last two months straight writing these 116 pages. Do you really think Marty would just let them out of his sight? Or do you think that he had a scenario in his mind of what a real prophet would have done. If Joe were a real prophet, translating from real plates, he would be able to recreate everything that they had just spent their time composing, word for word. But, if he was just liar, then his mortal memory would never have been up to the task of recreating the entire 116 page Book of Lehi. I personally believe that Lucy and NSSM Harris came up with the handy little scheme to authenticate Joe. I bet that if Joe had started translating again, and perfectly recreated, word-for-word, the first few chapters of the Book of Lehi, NSSM might have pulled the 116 pages out of bag, and told Joe, I just wanted to make sure that this book is indeed from God. I think that we sell Marty short if we consider his wife the only person responsible for this clever little ploy.
But, instead of gaining the verification that He was looking for, Marty got the run around from Joe every which way till sunday, and never ended up completely satisfied. So, what did Joe do? He cooked up a story about God being pissed about Marty losing the pages, and taking away Joe's toys "for a season". Joe was probably able to use his kid dying as an excuse to not work on the plates for a while, and Marty ended up going home to Manchester N.Y. Empty handed, with his pockets lighter than when he left for Harmony.
Not only that, but Marty was a prolific farmer in Manchester. Most farmers would say that the most important season of the year is spring time. If you don't keep to the schedule of getting your crops in the ground in spring, the entire season is fucked. Well, Marty had just spent all of April, May, and June scribing for Joe. The consequences of this are born out in Lucy Mack Smith's personal memior on page 132, wherein she claimed that two-thirds of NSSM's crop was lost. She said it was destroyed by a thick fog that seemed to signify God's wrath for losing the manuscript, but it could also be because Marty was completely neglecting his farm all spring long, because it was almost 300 miles away from Harmony, PA. He just wanted to hang out with Joe and chase the big bucks with Joe's new Jesus book.
But Marty's butt-fucking didn't stop with lost time and crops. Joe and Emma were living off Marty's dime the entire time he was there, which adds up after a while. Not only during Marty's stay at their house, but also during a lot of Ollie's stay with Joe and Emma. Marty financially backed every single thing that the team needed from 1827, all the way until he gave up on the translation in the summer of 1828. Joe bled Marty dry. But honestly, I have a hard time feeling bad for Marty. He may have been the victim here, but the red flags were all over the place, and at some point, we have to hold Marty responsible for being the unwitting fuckwit he really was.
To help illustrate this point, let's finish the last paragraph of Isaac's affidavit.
"Joseph Smith Jr. resided near me for some time after this, and I had a good opportunity of becoming acquainted with him, and somewhat acquainted with his associates, and I conscientiously believe from the facts I have detailed, and from many other circumstances, which I do not deem it necessary to relate, that the whole "Book of Mormon" (so called) is a silly fabrication of falsehood and wickedness, got up for speculation, and with a design to dupe the credulous and unwary - and in order that its fabricators might live upon the spoils of those who swallowed the deception."
Live upon the spoils of those who swallowed the deception...... Holy fuck, if only Isaac could see then, the church that little fucking book made today, 187 years after Joe and Marty teamed up. If we're keeping track of prophetic scorecards, so far, Isaac Hale just destroyed Joe's record in one paragraph.
One other thing that happened in the time before Ollie came along to be the second official scribe, was an occurence that seems so small and insignificant, that it scarcely bares repeating. But, the implications of it, once we take a step back, are that of total destruction of Joe's 1838 testimony of the first visit. Follow me down this rabbit hole for just a second, then we'll talk about Ollie scribing for Joe.
Joe was understandably depressed at this time in the summer of 1828. Marty had just "lost" the 116 pages they had worked soooo hard on the past 2 months. Joe was having a hard time coming up with more and more schemes to make Marty believe that he was for real, or at least to pacify Marty's concerns.
Isaac Hale, Joe's father in law, hated Joe and didn't want him anywhere near his daughter Emma, and the tension throughout the family must have been palpable with every interaction they had. Joe was in debt to his father in law for the house they were living in, but hated doing manual labor, which would have been the most sensible means to pay off the note. He had promised Isaac that he would quit the treasure digging business, which was the one thing that bound him to all of his friends back home. And then, to top all of these pressures off, his first son died a few hours after childbirth, spiraling the young newlywed family into a depression, which effectively ripped a Jesus sized hole in their souls that only a real church could fix.
So, Joe signed up for the United Methodist church in Harmony. This was the church that Emma had been attending with the entire Hale family for most of her growing up years. Pastors in that day served as the local psychiatrist, spiritual counsellor, and God conduit to help people repent for their sins, or find their way back to Jesus. They were the local wal-mart of fixes for the human condition. Joe, being the godfearing young man he was, probably reckoned that everything conspiring against him, was symptomatic of Satan taking over his life. Or maybe he was just falling away from God, and needed a little spiritual direction. So he joined this church.
Why the hell would we care if Joe joined a local Methodist church? I would like to take this opportunity to refer everybody to Joe's account of the first visitation contained in the JSH.
I'm going to begin reading a little ways into verse 17, and go to the middle of 20. Keep in mind, this was recorded happening in Spring of 1820 and was written by Joe himself.
"When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other--- This is my beloved son. Hear Him! 18) My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)--- and which I should join. 19) I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: "They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof." 20) He again FORBADE me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time."
At the age of 14, Joe supposedly went into the woods to ask god which church he should join, and JESUS HIMSELF IN PERSON, with GOD STANDING NEXT TO HIM "FORBAAAADE" Joe from joining any other church. Being the skeptic that I am, if God, and Jesus were to descend from the clouds over my head, I would listen to what they have to say. After the spell, I would probably try to find more of whatever it was that I was on, but if this happened for real, and then I was given some gold plates and a chestplate with some magic glasses, all by the power of god, I would do whatever the fuck those "Personages" told me to do. You would have to kill me before I denied what had happened, and disobeyed the wishes of these guys. But Joe, the prophet of the restoration of the true gospel of Jesus Christ, directly contradicted what Jesus supposedly told him in person. I have to admit, Joe is really good at shooting himself in the foot when it comes to revelations that contradict themselves, or reality in general. But, I guess I can't really blame him. He was going through a tough time, and probably needed a sense of community. Besides, that first visitation story wasn't recorded until 1838. How the hell would Joe be able to remember the couple of months that he went to a methodist church after his kid died, it wasn't a big deal. Or maybe he thought that nobody would ever look up his membership in any other churches in the area once he released this 1820 story.
Alright, that's the end of that rabbit hole, but I figured it was at least a slight contradiction of the recorded events, as opposed to what actually happened, and at most was evidence of another one of Joe's bold-faced lies. Plus, it's a good thing to talk to missionaries about. When they tell you that Joe was 14 years old and went into the woods to ask God about all the other religions, and Jesus said they were all abominations and their professors are wholly corrupt, ask them "if that's the case, why did Joe join the United Methodist church in Harmony, PA less than 2 years before he released the Book of Mormon? Doesn't this seem like a glaring contradiction to God's will? I thought Joe was the second most perfect man on the planet, second only to Jesus, but he directly contradicted Jesus' explicit direction." I would love to see how an apologist, or missionary would try to weasel their way out of that one.
Anyway, let's get back to the storyline and away from this rabbit-hole of counter-apologetics. In mid-late 1828 we have a few interesting things happen with other big players than just Joe. I'm going to go through these pretty quickly, so buckle in. In late Summer of 1828 we had Lorenzo Saunders reportedly sighting Sidney Rigdon at the Smith residence in Palmyra, N.Y. And in fall, our buddy Ollie Cowdung moved from VT to tutor Joseph Smith Sr. (Big Daddy Cheese) who was his 3rd cousin once removed, and Ollie customarily boarded with the Smith family during this time. Big Daddy Cheese reportedly told Ollie about the plates at this time stating that "A marvelous work is about to come forth". Ollie also initiated into Free Masonry at the end of 1828.
In February of 1829, Big Daddy Cheese visited Joe in Harmony, PA and had a revelation that "A marvelous work is about to come forth". All of the players were beginning to fall into place. D-Day David Whitmer and Ollie met in Palmyra, N.Y., and discussed the story of Joe and the gold plates. We can also presume that Sidney Rigdon went to visit his family in Pittsburgh, PA on his way back from Palmyra in late 1828, which would put him walking right past the Hale residence where Joe and Emma were living at the time. Rigdon went back to Mentor and converted Parley P. Pratt in early 1829 to Campbellite Baptist, and started preaching baptism by immersion for the remission of sins. One quick thing to mention that's waaay back in the storyline, is Sidney Rigdon mentioning to his fellow preachers Adamson Bentley, and Alexander Campbell that a golden bible will come forth. Bentley recalls it happening in 1827, and Campbell recalls it as 1826. It was probably in the winter of 1826, as Rigdon had moved from Pittsburgh, PA to Bainbridge, OH a little earlier that year.
Back to early 1829. After Big Daddy Cheese had visited his son Joe in Harmony in mid February, Joe received divine revelation in March that he should resume translating the plates, and that the lord would provide a scribe for this task. Magically, Ollie shows up in April of 1829. Let's read what Joe recalled on that morning of April 5, 1829
This is from the JSH verse 66.
"On the 5th day of April, 1829, Oliver Cowdery came to my house, until which time I had never seen him. He stated to me that having been teaching school in the neighborhood where my father resided, and my father being one of those who sent to the school, he went to board for a season at his house, and while there the family related to him the circumstances of my having received the plates, and accordingly he had come to make inquiries of me. 67) Two days after the arrival of Mr. Cowdery (being the 7th of April) I commenced to translate the Book of Mormon, and he began to write for me."
Do you guys want to know what I think? I personally believe that Joe was ready to throw in the towel after NSSM lost the transcript. Like we talked about earlier, Joe's life was in the shitter since mid 1828, and he didn't have any way of authoring the BoM without NSSM watching over as the scribe, and he knew he would be found out. Well, I think that Ollie, Hingepin Rigdon, D-Day David Whitmer, and Big Daddy Cheese wanted to convince Joe otherwise. I think that was the nature of Big Daddy Cheese's visit in February, to convince Joe that the Book was worth all the work that it would take. It was probably around this time that Hingepin Rigdon gave Joe the edited copy of Manuscript Found, presuming Rigdon had it, after he had editing it for production. After that, Ollie came along with all his book learnin's and his marked up copy of The View of the Hebrews. I think things were coming together as originally planned, and Joe's lack of motivation for translating was the final sticking point. But, for once, Joe listened to his dad about going through with something, and the gigantic task of the BoM authorship, officially began.
The church reports that the entire BoM was written in the 60 working day period from April 7th, to late June 1829. The reason I say 60 working days when this was obviously more than 60 calendar days, is because of some other things that happened that held up the crew. Like on May 15th when Joe and Ollie decided that they needed to baptize and ordain each other into the Aaronic priesthood. Or on May 25th when they baptized Samuel Smith, one of Joe's little brothers. I suppose I should have mentioned this earlier, but Sam Smith was good friends with Ollie at this time, and went with him to Harmony, PA, to meet Joe. I believe that he was living with Emma, Joe, and Ollie as well, given the timeline. Well, like I said, some things held them up a little bit, like lack of space inside the little home of Jesse Hale that Joe purchased from his father in law Isaac. So D-Day David Whitmer became the solution that everybody needed. Up to this point, it's assumed that Ollie and Joe were translating about 3 to 4 pages per day, which is hauling some serious ass, in comparison to how things were going with NSSM. Oh, by the way, Marty had been barred from ever helping with translating the BoM ever again because of his supposed transgressions. Well, the roughly $100 that he gave Joe and Emma to help with moving, and living expenses was drying up, especially with 4 people living under the one roof. In late May 1829, Joseph Knight Sr., a person we haven't heard from in a while, whose carriage Joe and Emma stole the night of September 21, 1827, to supposedly go get the plates, actually brought some supplies, and a little bit of change to the overcrowded house to help support them a little bit longer. Those supplies didn't last long.
Thankfully for everybody, D-Day David swooped in on, or about June 1, 1829 to move Joe, Emma, Ollie and Sam to the Whitmer household in Fayette, N.Y. Here, Joe would find sanctuary from his father in law trying to collect on the mortgage note that Joe signed, and they would all be able to live free of charge, without worrying about daily chores, or working for money.
Even better than not having to worry about the usual frustrations of being a productive member of society, Joe found a house full of willing scribes and servants that bought whatever he sold, no matter how crazy it was. Joe's luck was really starting to turn around by this point, and not a moment too soon. Once they moved in here, it's theorized that they were translating somewhere between 8 and 10 pages per day. There are over 500 pages in the current BoM and they were able to write it in about 60 days.
But, they didn't translate the book from beginning to end starting with 1 Nephi and ending with Moroni. They translated the second half up to the end, and then translated the first half up to where they had started. This might not make a lot of sense, so let me try to explain. First off, I need to cover what Mormon supposedly abridged from to create the golden plates where the entire Book of Mormon was supposedly translated from. But I'm going to list these chronologically, and reference where it's found in the Book of Mormon.
First off we have the Jaredites. The journey of the Jaredites is recounted in the Book of Ether, which is the second to last book in the BoM. Joe kind of pulled a reverse Tarentino and told the earliest story at the very end of the book. The Jaredites supposedly came across an ocean in submarines, which took almost a year (344 days), around 2500 B.C., supposedly before the tower of Babel fell, meaning their language wasn't corrupted. They wiped each other out and left the first set of plates that we're aware of. To be precise, they left 24 metal plates and a stone tablet, found by the Mulekites. They were found in the land Northward, supposedly among the ruins of the destroyed Jaredite civilization.
So that's the first set of plates that Mormon had to abridge into the Golden Plates. To get to the next set, we have to fast forward 1400 years to 600 B.C. Here, we come to the story of Lehi's family in pre-destruction Jerusalem. Lehi's family was directed to leave before Jerusalem was destroyed. They journeyed into the wilderness, but realized they forgot something. So, the family made camp. Lehi, Sariah, Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi were the names of all the family members, customarily, no daughters names were listed. Lehi sent these four boys back to Jerusalem to obtain the brass plates from the evil King Laban. These plates were said to hold the records of the family, which probably meant that they were a brass plate version of the Pentateuch, with some Isaiah in it for some reason. After a bunch of back and forth, Nephi, the youngest brother, finally obtained the plates by smiting off the head of the passed out drunk King Laban, and tricked Laban's servant, Zoram, to let him have the plates. So this is the second set of metal plates with religious inscriptions that we have brought over to the American continent. Not only did they supposedly exist in the possesion of Lehi's family, but Nephi also transcribed some of the content into the 1st and 2nd books of Nephi in the Book of Mormon. Those are the first two books. There's a good reason for this, but hang in with me for a minute because I'm trying to build a big case here.
So we have the 24 Jaredite plates, and the plates of brass, but how do we know about the exodus of Lehi's family in the first place? Well, that brings us to our third set of plates. What we read in the Book of Mormon, was taken from the gold plates which was Mormon's abridgement of all the relevant plates he could find. But, the entire record of Lehi's family, and the descendants are included in a set of plates called "the small plates". Don't let that name fool you, because according to the Book of Mormon, we are talking about hundreds, if not, thousands of these metal plates with inscriptions on them, that cover the birth and death of dozens of cities, thousands of people in warring tribes, and countless rulers in a system of theocratic judges spanning from 600 B.C., to 150 B.C. Remember, Mormon just abridged all the important parts into the Gold plates which is what Joe supposedly had. These small plates make up the first six books of the Book of Mormon. That's 1, 2 Nephi, Jacob, Enos, Jarom, and Omni.
Then, in between Omni, and Mosiah, we have a little book of one chapter with 18 verses in it called Words of Mormon. This book was supposedly written in 385 A.D., and describes who Mormon is, and the task he's been given. But, that's not the only thing it does. It uses a guy named King Benjamin to clean up the mess made by the time Omni comes along, and helps the book transition into the next book, called the book of Mosiah. The way Mormon does this, is he says he's going to start abridging from the large plates, whereas he's been pulling from the small plates before now. The large plates are the 4th set of plates referred to by this time, not including the Gold plates themselves.
The large plates contain the following books: Mosiah, Alma, Helaman, and 3rd and 4th Nephi. These supposedly make up the "Large Plates", and if you've read the Book of Mormon, you'll know why. Because Alma never fucking ends.... After 4th Nephi, there's a book called "The Book of Mormon" not to be confused with the Book of Mormon itself. This little Book of Mormon inside the Book of Mormon is Mormon's testimony of what is happening in a huge battle that's commencing between the Nephites and the Lamanites. Mormon dies in this battle, and hands off the Gold plates in their unfinished form to his son Moroni, so he can finish abridging all the records of the nation onto the Golden plates. This happened around 420 A.D..... that's right 420, look it up.
Moroni immediately jumps in to the Book of Ether, which is the record of the Jaredites that we talked about earlier. Somehow Moroni found these plates that were 2900 years old at this point, and was able to translate them from the uncorrupted gods language (reformed Egyptian), onto the surfaces of the Gold plates. The book of Ether is one of the smaller books in the Book of Mormon even though it covers the trials and tribulations of an entire ancient race of people on the American continent, complete with cities, and buildings and all.
After Moroni translates this book into the book of Ether on the Gold Plates, he adds in his own little tidbit book, called the book of Moroni, to finish off the entire Book of Mormon, and wrap things up into one nice little package. He also inserts his own little call to prayer, saying that if you read the Book of Mormon and pray that God will reveal the truthfulness to you, that you'll get a burning in your bosom, or some other vague emotive confirmation. That pretty much covers the chronology and the basic supposed source material for the Book of Mormon, and explains how it all came together into one set of Gold plates, by the hands of father and son, Mormon and Moroni.
So if we consider the timeline as a whole, why was it written so disjointed and weirdly. Why was the very beginning of the story shoehorned in as the second to last book? Why does Mormon pop in at the end of the small plates to help us transition into the large plates? What the fuck is going on?! None of it seems to make any sense.
Well, let's look at it more critically with some inferences of our own. Considering what we know about Joe's authorship timeline, first, Joe was translating the book of Lehi with NSSM as his scribe in Harmony. Once these were lost, or stolen, or hidden from Joe, or whatever happened to them, God took away Joe's ability to translate "for a season". Then, Joe was scared that somebody still had the 116 pages that Marty took, so he received divine revelation from God, with the perfect solution.
I'm going to read an excerpt from Doctrine and Covenants section 10, which was actually one of the earliest revelations from Joe that we have record of. I'll read vs 28-45 to bring in the context of Joe's mindset. Hopefully it will be as clear to you as it is to me, that Joe was in full defensive mode, trying to get Marty to believe that "He was too for realsies"(Childish voice)
"**28 **Verily, verily, I say unto you, wo be unto him that liethto deceive because he supposeth that another lieth to deceive, for such are not exempt from the justice of God.
**29 **Now, behold, they have altered these words, because Satan saith unto them: He hath deceived you—and thus heflattereth them away to do iniquity, to get thee to temptthe Lord thy God.
**30 **Behold, I say unto you, that you shall not translate again those words which have gone forth out of your hands;
**31 **For, behold, they shall not accomplish their evil designs in lying against those words. For, behold, if you should bring forth the same words they will say that you have lied and that you have pretended to translate, but that you have contradicted yourself.
**32 **And, behold, they will publish this, and Satan willharden the hearts of the people to stir them up to anger against you, that they will not believe my words.
**33 **Thus Satan thinketh to overpower your testimony in this generation, that the work may not come forth in this generation.
**34 **But behold, here is wisdom, and because I show unto you wisdom, and give you commandments concerning these things, what you shall do, show it not unto the world until you have accomplished the work of translation.
**35 **Marvel not that I said unto you: Here is wisdom, show it not unto the world—for I said, show it not unto the world, that you may be preserved.
**36 **Behold, I do not say that you shall not show it unto the righteous;
**37 **But as you cannot always judge the righteous, or as you cannot always tell the wicked from the righteous, therefore I say unto you, hold your peace until I shall see fit to make all things known unto the world concerning the matter.
**38 **And now, verily I say unto you, that an account of those things that you have written, which have gone out of your hands, is engraven upon the plates of Nephi;
**39 **Yea, and you remember it was said in those writings that a more particular account was given of these things upon the plates of Nephi.
**40 **And now, because the account which is engraven upon the plates of Nephi is more particular concerning the things which, in my wisdom, I would bring to the knowledge of the people in this account—
**41 **Therefore, you shall translate the engravings which are on the plates of Nephi, down even till you come to the reign of king Benjamin, or until you come to that which you have translated, which you have retained;
**42 **And behold, you shall publish it as the record of Nephi; and thus I will confound those who have altered my words.
**43 **I will not suffer that they shall destroy my work; yea, I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil.
**44 **Behold, they have only got a part, or an abridgment of the account of Nephi.
**45 **Behold, there are many things engraven upon theplates of Nephi which do throw greater views upon my gospel; therefore, it is wisdom in me that you shouldtranslate this first part of the engravings of Nephi, and send forth in this work."
Is it starting to make sense yet? Remember eariler when I detailed the books and talked about this little tiny book in between Omni and Mosiah called Words of Mormon. I said it seems to clean up the mess that is made by the time we get to Omni. What I mean by that is, in like 8 verses, King Benjamin wipes out thousands of Lamanites in multiple cities, effectively hitting the reset button on the Nephite, Lamanite dynamic. Well, in my opinion, this is because Joe remembered the basic storyline that he had talked about in the Book of Lehi, which was the 116 pages he translated with Marty, and he knew that he had to cover all the main points he'd talked about in that manuscript so far. But, because it was written from a different perspective, that of Lehi's son, Nephi, the details in between the larger events, could be totally different as they were written from a different person's perspective.
By doing things this way, Joe was able to cover his tracks, while still preserving the same basic storyline to an extent that NSSM would believe. Joe did something else, that was absolutely genius, to cover his tracks. He altered the order in which he authored things, to make them fit better with what had to be included in the beginning part of the book, leading up to King Benjamin. When Ollie came along, and they started working together, they began translating from Mosiah, and worked their way to the end of the book. After that, they went back and translated from the beginning, 1 Nephi, and worked their way up to Omni, which was the end of the small plates, and was also the end of the storyline that was included in the 116 pages that Marty supposedly lost. Coincidentally, Omni goes to page 143 in the current BoM, which would equal to right around 115 pages if it were written on foolscap paper, which the 116 page book of Lehi was. Isn't it odd how it just fits right in like that.
After Joe, Ollie, Samuel Smith, D-Day David Whitmer, John Whitmer, and Peter Whitmer were done writing everything up to Omni, Joe included the little hingepin book "Words of Mormon" to tie everything together, as best he could, anyway.
At the end of the book of Mormon, Moroni takes the completed Gold Plates to the hill Cumorah and buries them there. Fast forward about 1400 years, and this is the same Hill Cumorah that Joe supposedly dug the plates from in 1827, after being visited by the Angel Moroni frequently, starting in 1823. As the story goes, there was a massive battle on this hill. Millions of Native American Jews slaughter each other with swords, spears, and arrows. Most of them are equipped with leather or metal armor. Moroni is literally the last Nephite left that hasn't been slain or turned dark skinned due to iniquity, and is doomed to wander the wilderness, until God sees it fit to finish him off. His book basically ends by saying "alright, I'm just gunna go off in this corner and die now, so don't shed any tears for me", and the Book of Mormon is over.
That pretty much covers the authorship of the Book of Mormon and it explains why it's so disjointed and weird, and nonsensical. So let's take a minute to talk about the plates. I'm not talking about the Gold Plates, I mean the other ones.
The supposed oldest plates, are the 24 that the Jardites recorded on that were found by the Mulekites, and later abridged by Moroni into the book of Ether. They were supposedly written in god's language which is the reformed Egyptian that Joe loved and talked about so much.
Then we have the brass plates, which were a metallic copy of a significant portion of the Old Testament. They were probably written in ancient Hebrew, like most copies of the Old Testament were and included everything leading up to Jeremiah. We can infer this, because Isaiah is the book just before Jeremiah, and Nephi quotes extensively from Isaiah in 1st and 2nd Nephi, once he gets the brass plates from Laban. According to my KJV, Isaiah ends on page 941. I know that Ancient Hebrew doesn't contain any vowels, but it couldn't have been* that* much shorter than how many pages are in the current Bible. A quick google search brings up a metal weight calculator. If we are extreeeemely generous with the limitations of the calculation, the brass plates would have come in at just under 300 lbs. That's with 700 sheets of 5"X7" plates of low quality brass that are one mm thick. Nephi was pretty buff to carry those with him for miles from Jerusalem, to where his family was camped out in the wilderness. But, he probably didn't have anybody attacking him along the way, so he didn't have to waste any strength on super-powered knock out punches like Joe did.
Next we have the small plates, which were recorded on...... Ummm.... I don't know what kind of metal. It doesn't specify. Nobody knows what metal the Nephites used to record the history on the small plates. But there were probably thousands of them. They were the recordings of every Nephite historian that lived on the American continent from around 600 B.C., to 150 B.C. Everything was included, down to every time there was a battle, or a warring tribe took over a new area, or a judge changed position, or a prophet was called to preach repentance to the Nephites, or Lamanites, or Zoramites, or Amalekites, or any of the other ites. This would have been thousands of records, all abridged by Mormon into the Gold Plates, luckily for us.
Then we have the Large plates, which cover the destruction and overtaking of dozens of cities, both large, and small, by warring native tribes. Jesus appears on the American continent and preaches gobbledy gook nonsense about repentance and following him, all conveyed with waaaaay too many 'Verily's'. Just like the small plates, we don't have any record of what these plates were made out of, as it isn't specified anywhere. We can reasonably assume that they were the same material as the small plates were written on, but there's no way of knowing for sure. If we look at the current Book of Mormon, which is a translated version, of the abridged version of all these plates, and compare the small plates section, to the large plates section, just by sheer quantity of information, the large plates portion of the BoM is about 3 times the size of the small plates portion. So if there were hundreds or thousands of engraven plates of information for just the small plates, then there must have been a significant amount more source plates to comprise the large plates section of the book. This would reasonably mean tens of thousands of metal plates used as source material for the latter 5 books. These were presumably all written in ancient Hebrew, because the Native Americans are supposedly descended from the family of Lehi which fled Jerusalem in 600 B.C.
After all this, we get to the Gold plates. The most impractical and idiotic metal to try and use as a book. It's abridged from all these thousands and tens of thousands of plates that are supposedly hidden in some cave somewhere in North America. Mormon, and then Moroni carried these fucking things around the wilderness for years fleeing death from the evil, dark-skinned Lamanites. And somehow, Mormon was able to read all these records of plates, and compile them all into the Gold Plates, while still on the run. Not only that, but he would've had to translate everything from ancient Hebrew, to Reformed Egyptian, so Joe could read it all in one language and translate it into Elizabethan English in the mid 1800's. The only book that wouldn't have been translated from ancient Hebrew, was the book of Ether, because it was written by people who didn't have their language corrupted by the Tower of Babel falling. But that was included by Moroni, Mormon's son and it's like 15 chapters long, 6 if you are looking at the original 1830 print of the Book of Mormon.
The reason I seem to be talking about this so redundantly is so you, the listener, can really understand, and appreciate how ancient record keeping went in the Book of Mormon. Because it didn't happen like this ANYWHERE ELSE ON THE FUCKING PLANET. Nowhere have we found ancient plates of Brass, Steel, Bronze, Gold, Aluminum, Iron, or any other metal or alloy that's anything like what's in the Book of Mormon. NOWHERE! Only in Joes fairy tale, do we hear about ancient religious texts being carved into metal plates! Metal was way too rare and hard to make in the ancient world. The supposed brass plates that contained almost 85% of the old testament didn't even exist in the pre-Roman middle east. The earliest evidence we've found of brass plates containing any Jewish religious text was in India, from 1024 A.D. They were so crude and bulky that the 55 plates that were found weighed 216 lbs and had a mere 2500 lines of text on them. NOWHERE in all of history and archeaeology, do we find anything like what the Book of Mormon talks about. The way the Book of Mormon supposedly got to us is truly, by all means, impossible and completely, fucking ridiculous. Is this really THE MOST CORRECT BOOK THAT EVER EXISTED?! If the Mormon God is real, I'm gunna have a few questions when I die....
Just now, I only talked about the lack of existence of inscribed metal plates, as religious or historical texts. Now, let's talk about the Hill Cumorah itself. Remember how I said there was a massive final battle there with millions of people, with swords, and armor, and shields, and all kinds of metallic wartime furnishings. Well, those don't just deteriorate when buried in the ground for some 1600 years, nor do the bones of millions of slain soldiers. Why don't we just dig into the supposed Hill Cumorah a couple of feet to unearth countless piles of priceless ancient artifacts? If the LDS Church claims that the Book of Mormon is truly the most correct book on the planet, which they emphatically do, the archeaological evidence buried in that hill would instantly verify everything that the book claims. Why haven't we dug it up yet? Fuck it, give me a back hoe and a ground penetrating radar system for a week, and I'll damn sure find what we're looking for, and that's without a massive team of archeaologists. I'll even do the work pro-bono. I'll pay for the back hoe rental. I'll replace the dirt after I dig it up, provided I don't find anything with the digging. I'll even preserve the sod and lay it back down exactly how I found it when I start the digging. I'm dead goddamn serious about this offer. I will be happy to be the first person to dig into that hill, and verify the claims in the Book of Mormon. I'll even publicly apologize to the Mormon church presidency for anything fallacious I've said in this podcast with regards to the sheer lack of evidence.
Please don't think I'm joking when I say this. I'll take a week off work and pay for the plane ticket to do it. I'll cover all the expenses and the time just for the sake of pursuing knowledge. Let's make this shit happen!
Oh, wait..... we can't... in fact, nobody can even come near that hill with a fuckin teaspoon to try and excavate any evidence for, or against the Book of Mormon. The Mormon church owns it and has placed a massive granite monument, somewhere near where they think Joe, might have, maybe dug up the plates. And please don't think that this hill is miles wide and thousands of feet tall like a small mountain that's just called a hill. It's a dinky little mound of earth with a big white spire with a gold angel Moroni on top of it. It's barely big enough to ice-block or sled down. If you happened to lay on your side and roll from the top to the bottom, you'd only be moderately dizzy from the experience. Superman could leap it with the propulsion from one fairly sizeable burrito fart. A few thousand people could scarcely stand on the hill, let alone a few million people battle and die on it. Yet this is the most important hill in all of Mormon history, and the original housing ground of the precious Gold plates, chestplate, Urim and Thummim, and possibly even the sword of Laban.
The address of the hill is apparently 603 State Rd. 21, Palmyra, N.Y. If there are any listeners in New York that happen to live near this, or know where this is, I think it would be awesome for you to get a selfie with the hill in the background, and post it in the comments section of this episode on facebook. I know this is probably asking a lot, and probably nothing will ever come of it, but it's worth a shot at least.
So let's talk about why Joe was so fascinated with hills in the first place, to close out this episode. We need to talk about mound builder mythology. I've made reference to it a few times without explaining what it is very well.
The time frame we have been talking about up to this point, was during an age of European migration throughout the American territory. Along with this migration, came an insatiable need for exploration. The unexplored American territory was a land of untamed wilderness and unkilled savages. To put some perspective on this localized knowledge of the western territories, Lewis and Clark had only returned from their grand 2 year exploratory mission in 1806, merely a year after Joe was born. Much like playing a real time strategy video game, the fog of the unknown territory, was often terrifying, or at very least, it sparked the interest, and speculation of a lot of people.
Well, with all this exploration, people were finding and uncovering all kinds of elaborate ruins, and amazing feats of ancient engineering and architecture. In South and Central America, dozens of ancient, uninhabited ruins and pyramids were being found by explorers. Last historical episode, when we talked about the source texts for the Book of Mormon, I listed dozens of books at the end of that episode, that had a theme of general inquisition concerning the origin of these ruins.
Well.... The people at the time had a certain opinion of the red-skinned savages that inhabited the land. They believed that these evil and unruly people could never be responsible for creating such amazing works of architecture and art. After all, they were just tepee dwelling nomads that cut the scalps off any white skinned person that came near them right? Well, this was the motivated reasoning behind mound builder mythology
People, not just lay people, but educated people that devoted their life to studying these ruins, surmised that there must have been some other explanation for these things coming into existence. I mean, come on, the Indians weren't smart enough to do anything this cool. Some people excavated Mammoth bones and asserted that they were bones from an ancient race of giants that built everything.
Others found artifacts that were Spanish, and thought they were deposited there thousands of years before, by the people that built the ruins. Some even had the crazy idea of ancient Jews sailing across the ocean to the void American continents, for the sheer purpose of multiplying and replenishing this new promised land. But let's face it, that's just stupid.
Well, some of these ruins, were actually buried in hills from normal weather and erosion, and had to be excavated. But, geographical and meteorological studies were nowhere near where they are now. We have natural ways of explaining why these ruins were buried now, but all they could do back then, was say some intelligent being was responsible for what they were finding. Of course the Natives were far too stupid to handle such a task, so obviously, it was some race of white people, or giants, or something.
There are some other nuances to the full mound builder myth, but that covered the basics of it to an extent that we can be satisfied with for now.
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