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Mormon Discussion: 2018 Sunstone Symposium Gold Plates – Ancient or Modern Fabrication

One of the coolest issues to dive into is Moroni’s Gold Plates.  This ancient mortal was the last to make engravings and to see them protected until he himself buried them only to as a post mortal being entrust them to the prophet Joseph Smith.  What do we know about these plates and whose testimony can we trust.  Numerous 1st, 2nd, and 3rd hand witnesses tell us much about these plates but in the end it may be Moroni himself who helps us solve this puzzle?



12 thoughts on “Mormon Discussion: 2018 Sunstone Symposium Gold Plates – Ancient or Modern Fabrication”

  1. If moroni was real, It is possible that the plates that moroni interacted with were fabricated by Mormon and that moroni was taught they were gold. He could be relating tradition or information he was taught.

    1. From a faithful perspective, Nephi is the primary fabricator of the plates (Large and Small Plates of Nephi). Mormon is the prophet historian who arranges the existing records into the narrative that becomes known as The Book of Mormon (also keep in mind that the Book of Lehi comes from the plates, but doesn’t make it into the Book of Mormon, which increases the linguistic density problem of the characters on the plates).

      There are a vast number of possible scenarios. Here are a couple off the top of my head:
      * Moroni knew the plates were not made of gold, but _did_ refer to them as _gold_ plates to Joseph, who was involved in money digging (sortof a “click-bait” way to get and keep Joseph’s attention).
      * Joseph misremembered or misspoke when recounting his history. Moroni _actually_ told him the plates were golden.
      * Joseph _embellished_ the story when recounting his history or when telling others in order to capture their attention.

  2. Great episode/presentation, Bill. Wish I could have seen it at Sunstone. Going with the possible theory that the top half was copper that looked like gold and the bottom was sealed tin, what do you make of this quote from Josiah Stowell:

    Josiah Stowell
    7 Nov, 1832
    Josiah Stowel, being by me sworn, saith… that Smith, the prisoner, went in the night, and brought the Bible, (as Smith said;) witness saw a corner of it; it resembled a stone of a greenish caste; should judge it to have been about one foot square and six inches thick; he would not let it be seen by any one; the Lord had commanded him not; it was unknown to Smith, that witness saw a corner of the Bible, so called by Smith; told the witness the leaves were of gold; there were written characters on the leaves;

    His dimensions for the plates seem way off (a foot square vs. 6×8, but thickness is consistent). Do you think this was the bottom corner that was sealed in some sort of green material? Do you think this was a patina on copper? Do you think JS initially had a less sophisticated prop that was either some kind of green tile brick or copper with patina?

    Also, what do you make of the tile brick story about the two rascals who pulled off the cover and exposed a tile brick?

  3. I love this type of in depth thorough analysis.
    You got to love plausible situations.

    Once the myth is debunked, then what?

  4. The “glass box” is a wooden box that Joseph Smith had commissioned to be built to hold the article in question. There is some story about him borrowing the money from someone to pay for this construction. It is called a “glass box” because the typical use of said box was to hold drinking glasses, an item of some value back in the day.

  5. Martin Harris mentions the plate being placed into an “Ontario glass-box” in his interview with Joel Tiffany. This refers to a wooden box used for window glass factories in Ontario and Geneva, Ontario Co., NY. I have been unable to locate such a box.

  6. The sealing of the plates in the Book of Mormon itself only refers to sealing the interpretation, not the plates themselves. Whitmer’s vision cannot be used to describe the plates. When JS made the plates he did not seal a portion of them physically. In fact, when JS brought the plates home in September 1827, he had no idea that he would even include Ether and knew nothing about sealed plates.

  7. It would take a very long time to make gold-looking plates. I don’t think you can show eight men the plates and let them handle them “momentarily.” It wouldn’t work. Martin Harris said the eight didn’t see the plates with natural eyes, and John Whitmer said he saw them by a supernatural power. Orson Pratt’s report that the engravings were stained black is probably explained as the Anthon transcript’s influence on their visionary experiences.

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