Watch: Scholars Share How Joseph Smith Used a Seer Stone and the Urim and Thummim to Translate the Book of Mormon

by | Mar. 27, 2018

Mormon Life

Though most members know that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon using the Urim and Thummim, they may not know that the prophet also used a separate seer stone "for convenience." 

"We're not really sure what that means," editor for the Joseph Smith Papers Project Mark Ashurst-McGee says in a video about seer stones for the upcoming Saints series. "But if you think of Urim and Thummim, the descriptions of the Urim and Thummim, it's described as two clear stones in a rim like glasses. . . . connected to a breastplate and they're large, they don't fit onto Joseph Smith's face."

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Instead of occasionally popping the lenses out, Joseph Smith would use a seer stone and stow away the Urim Thummim for safe keeping. Shading the seer stone from the sun and other sources of light by placing it inside a hat, Joseph Smith was then able to discern the translation for the Book of Mormon. 

But using a seer stone in addition to the Urim and Thummim to translate the Book of Mormon demonstrates the power of modern miracles through "small and simple things."

"The idea that Joseph Smith used a seer stone to translate, this is an idea we can get used to," Ashurst-McGee says. "We believe in a God who works through small and simple things and God can speak to Joseph Smith any way that He wants to." 

Watch for more interesting discussions leading up the release of volume one of the Saints series Saints: The Standard of Truth later this year

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Lead image from the video above
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