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Guy's Blog

Just one Guy's personal blog of thoughts & sense--common, non, and otherwise--of the world in which we live.

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Location: Nipomo, Central Coast, California, United States

I also blog over at Nipomo News, Messenger and Advocate and Bloggernacle Times

Monday, November 07, 2005

Thoughts From Joseph Smith Rough Stone Rolling

I mentioned in an earlier post that I'd be starting the new biography of Joseph Smith entitled Rough Stone Rolling, by Richard Lyman Bushman. As I read through the book, I thought I'd share a few of the passages I enjoyed the most, and give a few comments as well. I'm not a book reviewer or an historian, so all these thoughts are clearly of a lay person.

I've just started Chapter 3: Translation. As the title notes it deals with Joseph's translation of The Book of Mormon. It begins with a quote from Emma Smith, Joseph's wife, who in part stated:

J.S. could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well worded letter, let alone dictating a book like the Book of Mormon.

Emma Smith Bidamon, Notes of Interview with Joseph Smith III, 1879.
Joseph Smith, Rough Stone Rolling p. 57.

I liked this particular quote. Emma knew Joseph since their early 20's, when they were first married. She was present for a great deal of the translation, and was in fact an eye witness to the entire translation process as the rest of this quote reveals:
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. He had neither mss nor book to read from. If he had had anything of the Kind he could not have concealed it from me. The plates often lay on the table without any attempt at concealment, wrapped in a small linen table cloth, which I had given him to fold them in. I felt of the plates, as they lay on the table, tracing their outline and shape. They seemed to be pliable like thick paper, and would rustle with a metalic sound when the edges were moved by the thumb, as one does sometimes thumb the edges of a book. O[liver] and JS wrote in the room where I was at work.

Emma Smith Bidamon, Ibid.
Joseph Smith, Rough Stone Rolling, Ibid.

The interview from which this passage came was one her son, Joseph Smith, III conducted in 1879, just before her death, and some 35 years after The Prophet was martyred at Carthage Jail. Three years after The Prophet's death, Emma remarried to Lewis Bidamon, a non-Mormon. Emma never associated with the Utah branch of the Church, the main sect which traveled across the plains to Salt Lake City in 1846 to 1847.

Emma was also opposed to Joseph's practice and introduction of polygamy. She tolerated the practice while he was alive, but eventually denied the Prophet ever practiced the doctrine. Of course, this view is inconsistent with the historical record.

Nevertheless, despite the fact that Emma Smith suffered greatly during her mortal life, lost her first husband, The Prophet, in the prime of their lives, and became estranged to the Utah Mormons in later years, she continued firm in her testimony that Joseph was who he claimed to be; that in fact Joseph translated The Book of Mormon by the Gift and Power of God; that she knew of the physical reality of the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated; that she physically felt the plates; that she physically wrote for the Prophet as he dictated; that she personally and physically witnessed the translation process unfold; that in fact her husband, The Prophet Joseph, translated the Book of Mormon by the Gift and Power of God.


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