The History of the Complete and Full Translation of the Book of Mormon

Topics: Mormonism

The prophet Joseph Smith translated the book of Mormon through a series of miracles made only possible through god. Throughout a couple of years Joseph, with the help of others, successfully translated this sacred text. Through this process, Joseph used different articles given to him by God which helped him accomplish his task. Ultimately, after many hardships, Joseph published the book of Mormon and it became one of the most well-known books in the world.

In 1827, Joseph first received the plates on the Hill Camorra.

That following spring, Joseph began his initial translations on the plates.

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Along with the plates Joseph was provided with a sacred instrument called the Urim and Thummim. He also acquired help from several scribes such as Emma Smith, Martin Harris, John Whitmer, and Oliver Cowdery. Emma describes this work by saying, “No man could have dictated the writing of the manuscripts unless he was inspired; for, when [I was] acting as his scribe, [Joseph] would dictate to me hour after hour; and when returning after meals, or after interruptions, he would at once begin where he had left off, without either seeing the manuscript or having any portion of it read to him”(Saints’ Herald, 290).

Emma describes that when she worked as Joseph’s scribe he worked countless hours providing accurate information of where he left off every time. Along with his scribes and the Urim and Thummim Joseph also used a seer stone to aid in his work. He would use this stone to translate the figures that were engraved on the plates. Martin Harris describes this Seer Stone by saying, “By the aid of the Seer Stone, sentences would appear and were read by the Prophet and written by Martin, and when finished he would say ‘written;’ and if correctly written, the sentence would disappear and another appear in its place; but if not written correctly it remained until corrected, so that the translation was just as it was engraved on the plates, precisely in the language then used” (CHC 1:29).

This quote accurately depicts how Joseph’s stone worked. He would place the stone inside of a top hat he owned. Once the stone was in the hat he would place his face in that hat so there would be no light. Once the stone was surrounded by the darkness the translation would begin. On the Seer Stone joseph would see the English interpretation of the Book of Mormon. Joseph would then read the English translation to Oliver Cowdery, with each line disappearing after it had been translated correctly. This process was made known by an interview given by Emma Smith in 1879. In the interview, Emma says, “In writing for your father I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table close by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us…”(The Word of God, 9899). Through this account that Emma provides, we know the exact means of how joseph could translate the sacred Egyptian Text to English. In total it took Joseph Smith only about eighty-five days to complete his full translation of the Book of Mormon. In total it took from April seventh to the end of June. Emma acted as the first scribe in the translation and later Oliver and Cowdry and John Whitmer finished the translations. In August 1829, the translation was finished and the book was ready to be published. Joseph contacted Egbert B. Grandin to become the publisher. To afford the publication Martin Harris mortgaged his farm to provide enough money to pay Egbert B. Grandin. Finally, in 1830 The Book of Mormon was available for all to read.

The full translation of the Book of Mormon in such a brief time frame was an incredible accomplishment that could only be done through the will of the Lord. Moroni ten verse four says, “I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the holy ghost” (Moroni 10:4). Through the power of the holy ghost, Joseph was able to successfully translate the Book of Mormon. If we read the scriptures and ponder them then the Holy Ghost will manifest its truth just like it did for Joseph Smith.

Works Cited

  1. The Saints’ Herald Reader: a Selection of Editorials, Articles, and Stories from the Saints’ Herald, the Official Church Organ of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Herald House, 1955.
  2. Roberts, B. H. A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Century I. Brigham Young University Press, 1978.
  3. McKeever, Bill, and Eric Johnson. “A Seer Stone and a Hat – Translating’ the Book of Mormon.” Mormonism Research Ministry, 12 Oct. 2016,
  4. The Book of Mormon, Moroni 10:4

Cite this page

The History of the Complete and Full Translation of the Book of Mormon. (2022, Aug 08). Retrieved from

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