There are 13 thoughts on “Bare Record: The Nephite Archivist, The Record of Records, and the Book of Mormon Provenance”.

  1. As one who usually listens (via MP3 Audio) to most of the essays in the Interpreter, I was able to glean from this recitation just a hint of its important message. In other words, the speaker (Anita Wells?) rate of speech was faster than my slow brain could process – although, again, I gleaned a hint.
    But the hint was enough to take me to the printed essay itself and study in depth the essay’s valuable insights.
    Thank you, Sister Wells (Anita), for this thoughtful and well-written contribution to the historical Book of Mormon literature.
    (IF you were the reader/speaker recorded in the MP3 Audio, perhaps help us slow-processing listeners by slowing your rate of speech to a more in-person conversational one. This certainly is not a criticism, but only a suggestion from a slow-processing listener/reader.)

  2. Pingback: Why Is the Book of Mormon Called an "Abridgment"? | Meridian Magazine

  3. Wonderful exposition, Sister Wells! I am amazed how little I knew about “chain of custody” and “provenance” when considering the sources of the Book of Mormon. Your careful work deserves the accolades you’ve received, and will likely strengthen the testimonies of Book of Mormon readers, as it has mine.

  4. In addition, to say that Joseph “didn’t even use the plates for his dictation” isn’t entirely correct. For example, Joseph wrote the following, which shows his detailed familiarity with the plates, their construction, and their content: “The title page of the Book of Mormon is a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand side of the collection or book of plates, which contained the record which has been translated; the language of the whole running the same as all Hebrew writing in general.”

    William Smith, Joseph’s brother, said that Joseph “always used [the Urim and Thummim] in connection with the breastplate when receiving official communications, and usually so when translating as it permitted him to have both hands free to hold the plates.”

    Yes, some of the witnesses’ accounts say that Joseph sometimes translated without the plates or with the plates covered by a cloth, but that must not always have been the case.

  5. Is there a reason that Nephi the son of Nephi – one of the Disciples of Jesus Christ (4 Nephi) is left out of your list? It appears to me that this Nephi kept the records from 34 AD to 110 AD. (4 Nephi 1:1, 19)

    In the article you say, “From there Helaman 2 gave them to his son Nephi 3, who gave them to his son Amos 1,”
    This statement leaves out two record keepers named Nephi, Nephi 2 and Nephi 4.

  6. Sure God can give a vision, appear to all of us at once instead of just one individual supposedly, give scripture via direct revelation like the book moses, etc.

    The fact that the plates weren’t even used seems to diminish their importance. Why all the work when it was never going to be necessary in the first place? Do you think Nephi, Moroni, Mormon and the rest were upset when God told them that the plates were unnecessary?

    • What suggests that the plates weren’t necessary? Since Joseph (nor any other human at that time) could read what was on the plates, they were destined to be something other than the source of words to be looked up on a non-existent dictionary. That doesn’t mean that they had no use. They certainly were useful to indicate that they existed, and hence that there was an ancient text. They served as a sign.

      However, the question is more about what the plate authors wrote. They put text on the plates, but did that text end up in the Book of Mormon? Of course, that is a discussion of process, but if the content they wrote ended up in our English text (regardless of the method), then the creation of the plates served their purpose.

      Were the plates valuable? If they recorded text–and we have that text–then absolutely they are essential. That they were not physically consulted isn’t the issue–it is about the content.

      Were the physical plates valuable? Even though the content appears to have come from other means, the physicality of the plates served multiple important purposes.

      None of this diminishes the importance of the plates at all.

  7. Too bad Joseph Smith didn’t even use the plates for his dictation. I guess all the work putting the record together was a waste of time.

    • To respond seriously to your sarcasm, we wouldn’t have the Book of Mormon without the original ancient record. Regardless of how the translation process worked, Joseph was not able to begin it until he had the physical plates in his possession, and when he lost the power to translate (due to giving the 116 pages to Martin Harris), he had the plates removed for a season. The ancient creation was required for the current translation, and thus the centuries of effort that went into forging, engraving, editing, and curating the plates were not wasted.

    • James,

      Joseph Smith said that he translated the plates “by the gift and power of God.” Are you suggesting that God does not have the power to project in vision the characters of the plates and the translation thereof?

      The only alternative is that Joseph Smith dictated The Book of Mormon out of his own head. If you had sincerely examined the above article, or any of dozens more like it on this website alone, you would realize that it was impossible for anyone in the early Nineteenth Century to have written it.

  8. Excellent! A great addition to the mounting recognized internal evidence of the authenticity of The Book of Mormon.

  9. Thank you for a wonderful and interesting article. As someone working in forensic science, I found the section on chain-of-custody particularly interesting as well as the Appendix. One minor note is that in the list of authors cited in the text you go from Helaman to Nephi-3 and leave out Nephi-2 who is appropriately listed in the various Appendix lists.

    What is the source of the July 2, 1829 date for the 8 witnesses seeing the plates (date listed in the Appendix)?

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