Though translating with a seer stone may seem odd, what matters most is that the Book of Mormon was translated by the power of God.
Never-before-seen pictures of Joseph Smith’s first seer stone are found in “Joseph the Seer” in the October 2015 Ensign and Liahona. Assistant Church Historian Richard E. Turley Jr., with coauthors from the Church History Department, Robin S. Jensen, and Mark Ashurst-McGee, explain the origin of the words seer stone, Urim and Thummim, and interpreters. The article helps readers understand how the translation process really happened.
Most importantly, the article points out that regardless of the details of the translation process, God is the ultimate source of the Book of Mormon’s translation.
You might have heard that Joseph Smith used other stones besides the two found with the golden plates to translate the sacred record. What is the truth? In addition to the Urim and Thummin, which were the two stones deposited with the plates, Joseph had three seer stones from other sources. For convenience, he often used one of his single seer stones in the translation process instead of the Urim and Thummim.
Joseph didn’t have to look directly at the plates to translate; the plates often sat covered as he looked through the seer stone to receive revelation.
These facts may leave you asking more questions. Speaking to a crowd who questioned the translation details, Joseph redirected their question to what is most important. He said the Book of Mormon, which testifies of Jesus Christ, “was translated by the gift and power of God.”
feature image courtesy of the joseph smith papers
—Tacy LeBaron, Mormon Insights
Find more insights
To learn more about the actual translation process, “Book of Mormon Translation,” an article released by the Church in 2014.
Explore more little-known facts about the translation of the Book of Mormon in “From Darkness unto Light.”