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Michael Hubbard Mackay

Teoksen The Joseph Smith Papers: Documents: July 1828 - June 1831 tekijä

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Sisältää nimen: Michael H. MacKay

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Associated Works

Approaching Antiquity: Joseph Smith and the Ancient World (2015) — Avustaja — 11 kappaletta, 1 arvostelu
BYU Studies Vol. 59 No. 4, 2020 (2020) — Avustaja — 3 kappaletta
Mormon Studies Review, Volume 6 (2019) (2019) — Avustaja — 2 kappaletta
BYU Studies Vol. 60 No. 1, 2021 (2021) — Avustaja — 2 kappaletta
Journal of Book of Mormon Studies - Volume 29 (2020) (2020) — Avustaja — 1 kappale

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In September 2015, photographs of one of Joseph Smith’s seer stones were
published in the Joseph Smith Papers: Revelations and Translations:
Volume 3. To go along with this, an article was published in the October
2015 Ensign [1] that gave a brief overview of seers, seer stones, and
the translation of the Book of Mormon, and also included one of the
photographs. This was significant because prior to that, it had been
unseen, locked away in the First Presidency’s vault. As it turns out,
there were many that were unaware that a seer stone had been used in the
translation of the Book of Mormon and this apparently caused some
surprise and confusion.

This book goes much further than the Ensign article to “provide a
friendly introduction to seer stones,” as well as to “provid[e] an
introduction to the historical sources in an accessible style for
Latter-day Saints and others.” [2] In doing so, they include sources
both friendly and unfriendly to the church (but unfortunately do not
always differentiate between them for readers who may not be familiar
with some of them). This is an important book in that it is the first
fully devoted to the topic.

The introduction talks about “Mormon Paradigm Shifts.” This is for those
who were taken by surprise to find out about seer stones, in spite of a
multitude of references in church literature throughout the years. “With
so many Latter-day Saint scholars acknowledging and studying Joseph
Smith’s use of seer stones, it is clear that the Church has not been
hiding this information. And yet, as with many historically specific
topics, without direct references provided in Church teaching materials
and curriculum, the average Latter-day Saint would not necessarily
encounter the seer stones in the course of their devotional study.
...That is why the latest appearance of the topic in the October 2015
Ensign (and Liahona) was so important: it underscores how, even while
keeping a sacred relic private, the Church continues to be open about
the miraculous process of the translation of the Book of Mormon.” [3]

The first chapter explains that while a divide has been created between
magic and religion, to Joseph Smith and those around him, there was no
divide. The word “occult” is used several times, which I found jarring,
as it is usually critics who use that term in a pejorative way, and the
authors do not explain what they mean by it.

In chapter two, money digging is addressed. There were many people in
the area who used seer stones and divining rods to find buried treasure,
and Joseph likely became interested through their influence. “Modern
historians studying the use of seer stones in the Book of Mormon
translation process often look at Joseph’s money-digging days for
answers or clues to understand the translation process better. The
decision to make this comparison, though, is structured around a
division: the idea that money digging was a nonreligious endeavor, while
the translation of the Book of Mormon was decidedly religious in nature.
However, these labels are imposed by the modern perspective, and they
ignore that both treasure seeking and translating were likely perceived
by Joseph’s early converts as supernatural events.” [4]

Chapter three addresses the question of where Joseph Smith found his
seer stones, of which he had at least three. Research done by D. Michael
Quinn is compared with that of Mark Ashurst-McGee, and found to be
conflicting in some details. Various historic accounts from both
believers and critics are compared. It is determined that the brown
stone may have been found on the shore of Lake Erie, after looking
through someone else’s stone and being shown where to find it, while the
white stone was probably found either while digging a well or looking
for treasure. “...It is clearly acknowledged that the stones were found
in the New York landscape and under the influences of money-digging
culture, yet that context does not seem to conflict with the idea that
God guided Joseph Smith to find the seer stone. Decades later, Mormons
had disconnected other ideas and emphasized the idea that it was a
revelatory process, similar to Joseph Smith’s future prophetic role.” [5]

In the fourth chapter, the use of seer stones in the translation of the
Book of Mormon is discussed. Several different theories of translation
are compared, including those of Royal Skousen, B. H. Roberts, Dan
Vogel, Richard Bushman, Blake Ostler, Brant Gardner, and Grant Hardy.
“Some of these translation theories and scholarly approaches require
readers to disregard Joseph Smith’s miraculous claims about the Book of
Mormon, while others try to find a common ground between faith and
skepticism.” [6] Joseph Smith does not seem to have left a record
describing what he saw on the seer stones, although it is possible that
something may yet be uncovered. According to witnesses, the Nephite
interpreters that came with the gold plates were eventually replaced by
a single seer stone (there are conflicting reports over whether it was
the brown or white one), either of which were also referred to as the
Urim and Thummim. Joseph put the stone in a hat to block out light and
according to several different accounts, words appeared on it and stayed
until they had been transcribed. This was a new use for seer stones -
when searching for treasure people saw visions rather than words. “The
process of translation provides convincing evidence that Joseph was
explicitly doing something fundamentally different while translating
than he had done as a money digger.” [7]

The next chapter attempts to trace ownership of the white and brown
stones after the church was established. “It examines the evidence we
have about each of the seer stones and their custodial history, while
admitting that there is not enough evidence to assure ourselves that we
know exactly what happened to them at every point over nearly two
hundred years.” [8] The brown stone appears to have been given away to
Oliver Cowdery after the Book of Mormon was translated. According to
Emma, it was the stone used for the translation. It was then given to
Phineas Young, who gave it to his brother, Brigham. Zina Diantha
Huntington Young then got it after Brigham died, and then passed it on
to her daughter who apparently gave it to John Taylor. At some point
Wilford Woodruff had it but then Joseph F. Smith retained it in the
Smith family and Joseph Fielding Smith eventually put in the First
Presidency’s collection. The white stone seems to have been carried by
Joseph Smith throughout his life, and may have been valued above the
brown stone, which he had given away. The authors believe it may have
actually been the stone that was used in the Book of Mormon translation.
It is supposed that the white stone travelled with the brown stone after
Joseph’s death, and was the seer stone that Wilford Woodruff consecrated
on the altar of the Manti Temple.

Chapter six talks about seer stones in the Book of Mormon. “Like Joseph
Smith, prophets in the Book of Mormon use sacred objects and ancient
relics to translate old records and uncover new revelation from God. In
particular, two characters, the brother of Jared and Mosiah II,
demonstrate a propensity for receiving revelation linked to unknown
languages, often with the assistance of sacred objects.” [9] When the
brother of Jared wrote down his vision and sealed it up, he included two
stones to be used for future interpretation. There is discussion about
whether the seer stones that Mosiah II (it is assumed we understand that
the designation means Mosiah the grandson of Mosiah, as it is not
explained until later in the chapter) possessed are the same or a
different set, and an argument is given for there being only one, which
was passed down from generation to generation. The possibility is then
raised that these same stones were given to Joseph as the Nephite
interpreters, or if there had been two sets, they could have been those
of Mosiah II. There is also some discussion over the name Gazelem that
appears in Alma 37:23, and several theories are given as to who or what
it referred to.

Chapter seven talks about questions raised by the Book of Mormon, which
it also answers. The topic of the presence of King James Bible language
and content is discussed, and it is concluded that “Nephi’s varied forms
of borrowing demonstrate his belief that close association with biblical
characters and text actually provides evidence for the truthfulness of
his record.” And that “many nineteenth-century readers, particularly
those involved in the Restorationist movement, would have expected any
word from God to sound like the words from God they already had.” [10]
One of the more interesting things in this chapter is the idea that the
Liahona was a seer stone. “Similar to the Liahona, Joseph Knight and
David Whitmer claimed that words would appear on Joseph’s seer stone and
then disappear after he had dictated the words to a scribe. Furthermore,
just as the Liahona functioned by faith and righteousness, so did the
seer stones Joseph used to translate the Book of Mormon.” [11]

In chapter eight, the authors mention the currently common theory that
Joseph started translating with the Nephite interpreters, then switched
to his own seer stone, then finally was able to receive revelation
without any aids. It is proposed that he never actually stopped using a
seer stone, as he apparently carried the white one with him throughout
his life, and there are accounts of him using it on many occasions,
including possibly for the translation of the Book of Abraham. “In
addition to translating at least a portion of every scriptural text of
the Restoration with a seer stone, it is significant that at least some
of Joseph’s contemporaries believed that revelation through a seer stone
was the surest way of receiving revelation from God.” [12] Indeed,
Joseph taught in D&C 130 that “the place where God resides is a great
Urim and Thummim” and that we may each receive a white stone “whereby
things pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms will be made known.” [13]

There are also interesting appendixes which cover information such as
which of Joseph’s neighbors owned a seer stone, Joseph’s other stones
(including the supposed green one), Hiram Page’s seer stone, when
exactly Joseph got his seer stones, mentions of the Urim and Thummim in
the Old Testament, and the white stone mentioned in Revelation 2:17.
There is then an annotated biography for seer stone sources, which
includes 52 pages of statements from different people regarding the stones.

The book has many illustrations, photos, charts, and diagrams, including
illustrations of what the translation process may have actually looked
like when using seer stones, with Joseph looking into a hat. The
diagrams and charts seem to be meant to clarify sequences of events or
compare statements, but some of them are actually a little confusing.
And in some places the book seems a bit disorganized, repetitive, or
confusing. There are also a distracting number of typos. These things
may be because of multiple authors, or a short production time, but it
could have used more editing.

Overall, the book is a very interesting read for anyone wanting to know
more about seer stones. In some ways, it leaves more questions open than
it answers, but it is a good starting point for further research. And
perhaps there is yet more information waiting to be uncovered.

Footnotes:

[1] https://www.lds.org/ensign/2015/10/joseph-the-seer?lang=eng

[2] Page XIII

[3] Page XXI-XXII

[4] Page 9

[5] Page 39

[6] Page 48

[7] Page 56

[8] Page 65

[9] Page 89

[10] Page 115

[11] Page 121

[12] Page 129

[13] Page 135
… (lisätietoja)
 
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Associated Authors

Gerrit J. Dirkmaat Contributor, Author, Editor
Nicholas J. Frederick Author, Contributor
Mark Ashurst-McGee Editor, Introduction, Contributor
Brian M. Hauglid Editor, Contributor, Introduction
Barbara Morgan Gardner Editor, Contributor
Craig James Ostler Contributor
Richard L. Bushman Foreword, Contributor
Mary Jane Woodger Contributor
David A. LeFevre Contributor
Andrew C. Reed Contributor
Anthony R. Sweat Contributor
Ryan S. Gardner Contributor
Jacob D. Judd Contributor
Kenneth L. Alford Contributor
Robert L. Millet Contributor
Alexander L. Baugh Contributor
Richard O. Cowan Contributor
Craig K. Manscill Contributor
Bruce A. Van Orden Contributor
Lloyd D. Newell Contributor
Daniel K Judd Contributor
Samuel Brown Contributor
Jared Hickman Contributor
Ann Taves Contributor
Don Bradley Contributor
Grant Hardy Contributor
Gerrit Dirkmaat Contributor
Amy Easton-Flake Contributor
David Golding Contributor
Thomas A. Wayment Contributor
David W. Grua Contributor
Matthew J. Grey Contributor
Rachel Cope Contributor
Kiersten Robertson Contributor
Gerald Causse Contributor
Brian Q. Cannon Contributor
Julie K. Allen Contributor
Scott C. Esplin Contributor
Sherilyn Farnes Contributor
Samuel D. Brunson Contributor
R. Devan Jensen Contributor
Sharon Ann Murphy Contributor
Joseph F. Darowski Contributor

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Teokset
10
Also by
9
Jäseniä
116
Suosituimmuussija
#169,721
Arvio (tähdet)
½ 4.3
Kirja-arvosteluja
1
ISBN:t
19

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