Thursday, March 31, 2016

Richard Bennett on the Book of Mormon Translation

"It would appear that the process was less one of decoding or deciphering the precise meaning of the individual characters and inscriptions found on the plates, as Champollion had so painstakingly done with the Rosetta Stone, and more one of discerning the meanings conveyed thereon and then, in addition, transforming such meanings into acceptable King James Bible literary English. Consequently, the interpreters seem to have functioned on two levels: conveying meaning from the ancient text while simultaneously suggesting wording in biblical-sounding English beyond Joseph's limited ability at the time. Thus it would appear that Joseph Smith was not a decoder of ancient signs and symbols or a translator in the Champollion sense but rather a transmitter, translator, and writer who, with the aid of the interpreters, transcribed what he saw into exquisite English prose and poetry."1

1 Richard E. Bennett, School of the Prophet: Joseph Smith Learns the First Principles, 1820-1830 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2010), 56


  1. A few comments and quotations worth preserving from the book:

    Bennett quotes Solomon Mack's autobiography (Mack was Lucy Mack Smith's father): "I prayed to the Lord, if he was with me, that I might know it by this token--that my pains might all be eased for that night. And blessed be the Lord, I was entirely free from pain that night. And I rejoiced in the God of my salvation--and found Christ's promises verified....Everything appeared new and beautiful. Oh how I loved my neighbors. How I loved my enemies—I could pray for them....The love of Christ is beautiful. There is more satisfaction to be taken in the enjoyment of Christ one day, than in half a century serving our master, the devil."
    pgs 23-24

  2. Quotation from Hugh B. Brown:

    "The gospel will show us a way through and around our troubles. It promises no crown without a cross, no triumph without a battle. Remember, the storms beat upon the house built upon the rock, even as they do upon the one built on sand. True, the pathway may be strewn with rocks that bruise our feet, but when we contemplate our goal, they only tend to toughen and strengthen our resolve, and we recall that 'great works are performed not alone by strength but by perseverance.'...If we banish hardship we banish hardihood; out of the same door with calamity walk courage, fortitude, triumphant faith, and sacrificial love. If we abolish the cross in the world, we make impossible the Christ in man." (pg 124)

    Hugh B. Brown, "Salvation is My Goal," New Era, 1974.