Joseph Smith’s translating hat

ENSIGN ARTICLE: “Joseph dictated it [the Book of Mormon] word by word as he looked into instruments the Lord had prepared for him, including the Urim and Thummim and at times a seer stone, using a hat to shield his eyes from extraneous light in order to plainly see the words as they appeared.” –Elder Marcus B. Nash, of the Seventy, in an article entitled “Joseph Smith: Strength Out of Weakness,” Ensign, December 2017. [source]

GOSPEL TOPICS: “Joseph’s wife Emma explained that she ‘frequently wrote day after day’ at a small table in their house in Harmony, Pennsylvania. She described Joseph ‘sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us.’ ” –from Book of Mormon Translation, from the Gospel Topics section of [source]

COMMENTARY: I applaud the church’s baby steps with their first published image of Joseph translating the Book of Mormon with a hat near at hand. You could be cynical and say that the LDS church is only making small attempts at showing pictures that portray the events surrounding the church’s founder with historical accuracy because they feel forced to do so by critics of the church who claim the church has presented its members with a whitewashed version of church history. But that would only be true if a) they had spent the past 175+ years never publishing a depiction of Joseph translating the Book of Mormon with his face in a hat and virtually never mentioning the hat in connection with the translation process in the many publications that discuss the translation, and b) when they finally did publish a picture of a hat present in the translation process, they did so in a way where anyone who didn’t already know how the hat was used would never guess it from the picture. But what do I know? I’m just another apostate.

2 Responses

  1. You can say:
    “They declared such and such as the whole story for 175 years, and now they are saying somthing different.”
    And it’s strange that this doesn’t seem to register even a mental tickle with so many.
    It’s like you just told them the clan leader is wearing a red tie today.
    You just get a blank look — So?
    I guess if you really love your clan, and just know your leaders are perfect, the only thing that matters is … well nothing.

    I recall that McConkie told us that it didn’t matter what he had said in the past. That he was a living prophet and the only thing that mattered was what he was saying today. (If he was wrong yesterday, he was damn sure right today. And even if not, it’s only our job to follow, not to second guess.)

    BTW, growing up, I was taught that the stone in the hat was a lie.

    1. When I left the church a little over five years ago, one of the issues I brought up with my bishop and stake president was the use of a seer stone and a hat in the Book of Mormon translation process. I was told it wasn’t true. Now it’s in the Ensign.

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