Early review of sixteen pages from the forthcoming First Edition (1830)
of the Book of Mormon
For the New-York Telescope.
CAUTION AGAINST THE GOLDEN BIBLE.
The editor of the
Palmyra Freeman declared in his paper of August 11th, as follows:--"The Golden
Bible is the greatest piece of superstition that has ever come within the sphere
of our knowledge."
In the Investigator,
No. 12, Dec. 11, I published, by way of caution, a letter of Oliver H. P.
Cowdry, in answer to my letter to Joseph Smith, Jun. Martin Harris, and David
Whitmore--the believers in the said bible of gold plates--which they affirm they
have miraculously, or supernaturally beheld. I sought for evidences, and such as
could not be disputed, of the existence of this bible of golden plates. But the
answer was--the world must take their words for its existence; and that the book
would appear this month.
The editor of the
Palmyra Freeman, their neighbour, adds to the above, that "in the fall of 1827,
Joseph Smith, of Manchester, Ontario county, reported he had been visited in a
dream by the spirit of the Almighty, and informed, that in a certain hill, in
that town, was deposited this Golden Bible, containing an ancient record of
divine nature and origin. After being thrice visited thus, as he states, he
proceeded to the spot, and found the bible, with a huge pair of spectacles. He
had been directed, however, not to let any mortal being examine them [i.e. the
plates and the stone-eyed spectacles] under no less penalty than instant death!!
It was said that the leaves of the bible were plates of gold, about eight inches
long, six inches wide, and one-eighth of an inch thick [i.e. 8 plates are one
inch thick, 8 long and 6 wide.] On these plates were characters, or
hieroglyphics, engraved." The whole of the plates are said to weigh about thirty
pounds; which would be in gold near eight thousand dollars, beside the value of
One of Joseph Smith's
proselytes, Is, continues the Palmyra Freeman, "Martin Harris, an honest and
industrial farmer of Palmyra." He is said to have shown some of these characters
to Professor Samuel L. Mitchell, of this city, who could not translate
them. Martin Harris returned, and set Joseph Smith to the business of translating
them: who, "by placing the spectacles in a hat and looking into them, Joseph Smith
said he could interpret these characters."
The editor of the
Palmyra Freeman describes Joseph Smith as not being very literate: and that his
translation is pronounced, "by his proselytes, to be superior in style, and
more advantageous to mankind, than our holy bible!"
I have this month
received sixteen pages of this work, from page 353 to 368 inclusive. I cannot
perceive any superiority of style in this specimen; not any evidence that
this bible is not a book of Joseph Smith's own manufacture. His title-page
professed that he was the author of it; and this declaration is evidenced
by its style. For in these sixteen pages, I noticed 'yea' was repeated 34
times; and even 21 times in two pages. The words, 'It came to pass,' is
repeated 56 times in 16 pages, and even ten times on one page. 'Now' and
'behold,' are reiterated near the commencement of sentences, full thirty
times apiece, and more, in these sixteen pages. Consequently these four things
are repeated 162 times on the eardrum, while speaking of the war of the Nephites
and Lemanites, in the day of Moroni, and reign of the judges, according to the
book of Alma.
Thus, in page 359, it is
written--"Yea, verily, verily, I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and
ever would be, like unto Moroni--yea, the devil would never have no
power over the
hearts of the children of men: [never to have no power, is
ever to have some power.] Behold, he was a man like unto
Ammon, the son of Mosiah; yea, and even the other sons of Mosiah;
yea, and also, Alma and his sons." Whether this style is equal to our scripture
style, the reader can judge.
Again, in pages 353
& 4, it reads thus: "And those who died in the faith of Christ are happy in
him, as we must needs suppose." That a weak faith ends this sentence, is
Again, page 353, is
written--"And there was but a few which denied the covenant of freedom."
Was should have been were.--Again: "And there were some who died
with fevers, which, at some some seasons of the year, was [were] very
Again, in the next
page--"And it came to pass that they would not, or the more part, would not obey," &c. The
following is the title-page of the Golden Bible, as published in the Palmyra
Book of Mormon; an account, writted by the hand of Mormon upon plates,
taken from the plates of Nephi:--
"Wherefore it is an
abridgement of the record of the people of Nephi, and
also of the Lamanites, written to the Lamanites, which are a remnant of the
house of Israel; and also to the Jews and Gentiles; written by way of
commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation; written and
sealed and hid up unto the Lord, that they Might not be destroyed,--to come forth
by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof--sealed by the hand
of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by the way of the
Gentile, the interpretation thereof by the gift of God: an abridgement taken
from the book of
"Also, which is a record of
the people of Jared, which were scattered at
the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, when they were building
a tower to get to Heaven; which is to shew unto the
remnant Of the house of Israel how great things the Lord hath
done for their fathers: and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, That
they are not cast off forever; and also To the convincing of Jew and Gentile
that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting
himself unto all nations. And now, If there be fault it be the mistake of
men: wherefore condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at
the judgment seat of Christ.--By JOSEPH
SMITH, Junior, Author and Proprietor."
Thus we are informed
that this book of Mormon was written [i.e. engraved] by the hand of
Mormon, on plates taken from the plates of Nephi;--wherefore it is [not a
transcript, but what a strange conclusion] an abridgement of The record of
Nephi, &c. If so, why is it not called the record of Nephi? But what is also
strange, this record is "written by way of commandment, and
also[and or also is here useless] by the spirit of prophecy and of
revelation;" [what an uncommon record of past and known events to the Nephites!]
sealed and hid up unto the Lord; sealed up by the hand of Moroni--an abridgement
taken from the book of Ether." [Instead of being hid up, it was hid down in the
earth of a hill, or in a stone reservoir. It was first said to be an abridgement
of the record of Nephi, but it is now said to be an abridgement taken from the
book of Ether.] "Also which is a record of the people of Jared, &c.
to teach Jew and Gentile, that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God." But
lastly, Joseph Smith, jun. declares he is the author of this book of Mormon,
this record of Nephi, this book of Ether, this record of Jared's people, who
were scattered at the building of the tower of Babel; this convincing work,
which is to convert Jew and Gentile to believe that Jesus is the eternal God.
Surely our missionaries should take notice of this! "Now if there be fault, it
be the mistake of men," says J. S.
This title page is
another specimen of superior style, in which one is soon lost--and wonders
what J. Smith means; or how can all that is written by the author be
These facts are given
to caution people not to spend their money uselessly for a book, that is more
probable a hoax--or a money-making speculation--or an enthusiastic delusion, than
a revelation of facts by the Almighty.
C. C. BLATCHLY.
Vol. VI, No. 38, Saturday, February 20, 1830, page 150, original in Chicago
Historical Society, Chicago, Illinois.)
Note: The author of this article thought that the size given for the "plates of gold, about
eight inches long, six inches wide, and one-eighth of an inch thick" meant "[i.e. 8 plates
are one inch thick, 8 long and 6 wide.]" The plates were said to be "one-eighth of an inch thick"
with no mention of how many plates.
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