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Dear Gramps,

I had a question in relation to the translation process. I have read many accounts that when the 116 pages were lost that the Urim Thummim were taken away and that the remainder of the translation process was done with the use of Joseph’s Smiths own seer stones and then later without any type of instrument as he learned how to translate without. According to church history is this correct?





Dear Aaron,

Not exactly correct. It is true that following the loss of the 116 pages of manuscript of the Book of Mormon the Urim and Thummim were taken from the prophet, but it was only for a few days. When they were restored to him he again used them in the translation process. However, as he became more versed in the revelation process he did not need to rely on the Urim and Thummim and so the latter part of the work of translation was done without any mechanical aid. This information comes from two sources, as shown below—

“As soon as the 116 pages of manuscript had been lost through the carelessness of Martin Harris, the Urim and Thummim was taken from the Prophet. The sacred instrument was restored after a short time, and the Revelation in Section 3, especially rebuking Martin Harris, was received. Then both the plates and the Urim and Thummim were removed for a few days. It was necessary that the young Prophet should learn the lesson that he was entirely dependent on the Lord. When they were restored, he received the Revelation in Section 10, containing instructions to himself with regard to the lost portion of the manuscript” (Smith and Sjodahl, DCC, p. 49.)

“Soon, however, the Prophet no longer used the Urim and Thummim. Brother Richard Cowan, professor of Religious Education at Brigham Young University, estimates that one-half of all the revelations the Prophet received before the Melchizedek Priesthood was restored were received through the Urim and Thummim. After he received the Melchizedek Priesthood, he no longer used the device. Elder Widtsoe explained why: ‘The Prophet did not always receive revelations by the aid of the Urim and Thummim. As he grew in spiritual power, he learned to bring his mind into such harmony with divine forces that it became, as it were, itself a Urim and Thummim to him; and God’s will was revealed without the intervention of external aids; that is, truth may become known without outside help when one is in harmony or in full tune with the requirements of the subject in hand’” (John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, p.90.)






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