Peep Stones

I’ll start with an easy issue, at least for me 🙂 Joseph Smith used “peep stones” or “seer stones” in translating the Book of Mormon. No, really, he did. the church does not debate this, they just also do not talk about it much. A few sources say that he may have translated for a short period of time using the Urim and Thummim (spelling?) which Joseph claimed to have found buried with the plates, but then pretty much abandoned this and used two or more different seer stones which he had found. He would put the seer stone in a hat to block out the light and then look at the seer stone and dictate the Book of Mormon to his scribe. He did not necessarily look at the plates while translating, according to witnesses. These may be (probably were) the same stones he used to try to find buried treasure. Early church leaders endorsed the use of seer stones for receiving revelation.

Pro-Mormon websites:

Here’s a good church-friendly website that has a good summary of this information: http://mormonstories.org/top10toughissues/

Here’s what the Maxwell institute at BYU says on the issue: http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/jbms/?vol=7&num=1&id=167

Here’s what FAIR, a very pro-Mormon site, says on the issue: http://en.fairmormon.org/Joseph_Smith/Seer_stones

(Maybe) Neutral websites:

Here’s an outline of LDS Historical issues by MormonThink, a website written by mostly members of the church, that tries to give both sides of many Mormon issues. http://www.mormonthink.com/outline.htm

I won’t even bother with more websites. No one really debates this. Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon using a peep stone/ seer stone in a hat, not the way it is depicted in Mormon artwork (and in primary, seminary, Sunday school, etc.)

The only issue I really have with this is that the church teaches it wrong. THAT bothers me. But the fact that Joseph used treasure hunting stones to translate the Book of Mormon doesn’t really matter all that much to me. It seems strange. But then, I never did think Joseph was translating the Book of Mormon in the typical sense–he didn’t know Hebrew or Ancient Egyptian (nobody knew Ancient Egyptian at that time)–so if the Book of Mormon was, indeed, “translated” then by translated we mean he either was inspired or maybe that God dictated it to him word by word. I can handle the idea that he used peep stones.

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