Simply Fiction


Excerpt from a 2000 BYU paper by Joseph Fielding McConkie (Professor of Ancient Scripture, BYU) and Craig J. Ostler (Assistant Professor of Church History and Doctrine, BYU) titled ‘The Process of Translating the Book of Mormon’: 1

“Spanning a period of twenty years (1869-1888), some seventy recorded testimonies about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon claim David Whitmer as their source. Though there are a number of inconsistencies in these accounts, David Whitmer was repeatedly reported to have said that after the loss of the 116 pages, the Lord took both the plates and the Urim and Thummim from the Prophet, never to be returned. In their stead, David Whitmer maintained, the Prophet used an oval-shaped, chocolate-colored seer stone slightly larger than an egg. Thus, everything we have in the Book of Mormon, according to Mr. Whitmer, was translated by placing the chocolate-colored stone in a hat into which Joseph would bury his head so as to close out the light. While doing so he could see “an oblong piece of parchment, on which the hieroglyphics would appear,” and below the ancient writing, the translation would be given in English. Joseph would then read this to Oliver Cowdery, who in turn would write it. If he did so correctly, the characters and the interpretation would disappear and be replaced by other characters with their interpretation

Such an explanation is, in our judgment, simply fiction created for the purpose of demeaning Joseph Smith and to undermine the validity of the revelations he received after translating the Book of Mormon.”


Excerpt from Joseph the Seer, Ensign (October 2015): 2

“The stone Joseph Smith used in the Book of Mormon translation effort was often referred to as a chocolate-colored stone with an oval shape. This stone passed from Joseph Smith to Oliver Cowdery and then to the Church through Brigham Young and others.”



1 The Process of Translating the Book of Mormon, BYU (2000) –
2 Joseph the Seer, Ensign (October 2015) –