Snippets from the testimony of David Whitmer (Part 3)

Snippets from the testimony of David Whitmer (Part 3) March 25, 2018


Bryce Haymond's David Whitmer
A photograph of David Whitmer (1805-1888) in his old age, retouched and colorized by the estimable Bryce M. Haymond for the Interpreter Foundation. See


Of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon, David Whitmer survived the longest after his experience with the plates, the angel and so forth.  He lived until 1888.  For fully fifty years, Whitmer lived among “Gentiles,” outside of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and separated from the Mormon people.  But he continually reaffirmed (and never denied) his testimony of the book.


Here is another passage from his account, as it is printed in Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, Personal Glimpses of the Prophet Joseph Smith (American Fork, UT: Covenant Communications, 2009):


I will now give you a description of the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated.  Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine.  A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing.  One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English.  Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph, to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear.

Sometimes Joseph could not pronounce the words correctly, having had but little education; and if by any means a mistake was made in the copy, the luminous writing would remain until it was corrected.  It sometimes took Oliver several trials to get the right letters to spell correctly some of the more difficult words, but when he had written them correctly, the characters and the interpretation would disappear, and be replaced by other characters and their interpretation.  Some hieroglyphics represented but one word, or name, some represented several, and some from one to two lines.  While Joseph Smith was dictating the translation he had no manuscript notes or other means of knowledge, save the seer stone and the characters as shown on the plates.

Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man, which is true because Joseph Smith was a man of limited education and could hardly write legibly.  (44-45)



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