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