Joseph Smith Seer Stones: Don Bradley’s Insights into Joseph’s Translations (Part 4)

Todd Noall

Todd Noall

Source Expert

Todd Noall is an author and religious scholar at Mormonism Explained with a focus on the history and theology of religion.

Fact Checked by Kevin Prince

The treasure digging group that the Smiths had been involved with in Palmyra when searching for the seer stone, claimed that the book of plates should be theirs because when you enter into a treasure digging group, you make a deal that anything that any one member of the group finds gets shared by everybody. Well, Joseph was part of the group so when Joseph gets these plates, they’re supposed to be shared. So they are raiding the Smith home, trying to get the plates over and over again after he’s brought them home. And so these are people who, I think, there are other indications that Joseph might think that they were involved in the manuscript draft. So there are a couple of good possibilities and people that may have been in on this. Also because it doesn’t necessarily have to just be one person.

There are some modern, sort of sketchy people who claim to have the manuscript now. None of those claims are credible, especially since the same people contradict themselves and their narratives and things like that. But I mean, I tend to think that if the manuscript still existed, it would have turned up. But I do have a source, and I’m not the only one who has the source so other people might put it out there, but for the time being, I’m keeping the specifics of it under wraps. That being said, over 50 years after the manuscript disappeared there was an apostle who visited Palmyra and talked with some of the locals. He’s talking with a guy who had been a Justice of Peace there in Manchester for like, 25 years. And the guy says to him that he could put his hands on the lost pages within half an hour if it were desired. And then the apostle writes nothing else in his journal. He says nothing else.

So here’s the thing, the guy who said that may have been mistaken, but he was a very credible person, right? He’s not the kind of person you would expect to just be shooting off his mouth if he didn’t think he had real reason to believe those pages were nearby. But I have looked at the houses in a certain radius and I need to get back to that, but I am interested in trying to see if there’s more we can get figured out. So there is some evidence that the manuscript continued to exist for a long time after that. 

When it comes to the most interesting things I’ve discovered within this topic, it’s all so interesting. I could write a whole book about it, and I did, but I would say, overall, what interests me the most from what I have found is that there are like temple connections in the lost pages. There are temple connections to the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and then there are temple connections to the actual contents of the Book of Mormon that we have, and to the lost pages so, if you’ve watched my videos, you might have heard some of this on Ward Radio or on Let’s Get Real with Stephen Jones and maybe other places. But for instance, a common story is that Joseph only uses the seer stone, he never uses the interpreters or the plates themselves, so why did the Lord even bother giving him plates because he never uses them? 

Well, where are they getting the idea that he never uses them? I mean, how does the fact that we know that he frequently used the seer stone mean that he never used the plates and the interpreters? 

We actually have accounts of him using the plates and the interpreters and what it was like and how he used them. And in one of these accounts, Joseph tells a visiting Protestant minister in Kirtland, that he put on the breastplate and the interpreters. Well, the breastplate, that’s, of course, a parallel to the breastplate of the biblical high priest, so we should take temple context into account. And the interpreters they’re parallel to the biblical Urim and Thummim that the high priests use. So again, we should think in a temple context. Then we’re told they hang a curtain between him and Martin, a veil. And they speak through the veil. Joseph speaks the sacred words to Martin through the veil. Martin hears and then Martin repeats the words back so Joseph can make sure he’s gotten them correct. And it’s like, this is like such an obvious parallel to what happens at the veil of the temple. And then like, we have Joseph Smith Sr. saying that the top plate of the golden plates had the emblems of masonry, as they were known to masons in that day. Well, I started looking into what he would have meant by that.

What he would have meant for sure would be like the most prominent symbols of Freemasonry, which are the compass in the square. So Joseph is dealing with plates that have a compass and square on them. And he’s like, wearing high priestly vestments, and he’s behind the veil, dictating sacred words that are being spoken back and forth through this veil. And this is part of what I was working on that helped and started prompting my return to the Church. So I was researching the first vision and the lost pages, and sort of how Joseph Smith became a seer. So I was looking at narratives of how people became seers, like in the Book of Mormon, and other restoration scripture. For instance, in Abraham chapter three, God puts his hand on Abraham’s eyes and he can see everything God’s created with his hands. Enoch, in the book of Moses, is told by the Lord to anoint his eyes with clay, and then he can see spiritual things so this is like Jesus in the Gospel of John anointing the eyes of the blind and then the eyes of the blind are healed. So Enoch’s eyes are being healed from spiritual blindness.
And so in Ether chapter three the Brother of Jared is on a mountaintop. And Joseph says in Nauvoo that anciently, mountaintops served as temples, like temple ordinances could be given there. And he says nowadays, now that we have the means to build temples, God requires that about us, but when the people didn’t have means, like Moses during the Exodus on Mount Sinai, ordinances could be given there. So the Brother of Jared goes to mountaintop to speak with the Lord, he has this one-on-one dialogue with the Lord. And he talks about the veil. They’re speaking through the veil and the Lord puts His hand forth through the veil, and the Brother of Jared sees His hand. The Lord stretches out His hand to touch stones, as parallel to Joseph Smith seer stone, and the Lord tests his faith and knowledge by asking him a series of questions, starting with a question about His hand, right, ‘what did you see?’ And so once the Lord has tested his faith and knowledge, and he’s passed the test, the Lord admits him into His presence, and says, ‘You’re redeemed from the fall.’ Well, redeemed from the fall, that evokes the whole backstory of Adam and Eve.

By Todd Noall, Source Expert

Todd Noall is an author and religious scholar at Mormonism Explained with a focus on the history and theology of religion.

Fact Checked by Mr. Kevin Prince, Source Expert

Kevin Prince is a religious scholar and host of the Gospel Learning Youtube channel. His channel has garnered over 41,000 subscribers and accumulated over 4.5 million views. Mr. Prince also created the Gospel Learning App, a reliable platform where individuals seeking truth can access trustworthy answers to religious questions from top educators worldwide.

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