Book of Mormon

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Review: The Book of Mormon, A Reader’s Edition

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So I’m in love with my new “Reader’s Edition” of the Book of Mormon and I’ll explain why here in this review. First of all, I understand the value of the “official” scriptures the church puts out; they are brilliant for cross-referencing and studying.

However, I find them quite terrible for reading. If you don’t agree with me it might be because you grew up reading the four thin columns of highly compressed text and are used to it. But to many novices to scripture, especially the LDS editions, it might be a bit of a struggle if you are used to reading novels and other modern books presented in elegant typographic style.

I’m note really a novice to the LDS version of the scriptures, I’m quite used toRead Full Post

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Was 9/11 our Mormon 3:10?

Today is the 10th anniversary of the horrific events that began with the deaths of over 3000 people here in the United States and that continues to this day with a total human death toll that has climbed well over one million dead, 4.5 Million Displaced, 1-2 Million Widows, 5 Million Orphans and almost 5000 dead U.S. soldiers. [source]

Are we any closer to justice or peace? Where is the end to all of this? How does one win a war that is not declared on any nation but on individuals we arbitrarily identify as “terrorists”.

As a Latter-day Saint, I refer often to the Book of Mormon which has much to say on the situation of war. I have learned that is it just to fight to defend certain things:

Nevertheless, the Nephites were inspired by a better cause, for they were not fighting for monarchy nor power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church. And they were doing that which they felt was the duty which they owed to their God; for the Lord had said unto them, and also unto their fathers, that: Inasmuch as ye are not guilty of the first offense, neither the second, ye shall not suffer yourselves to be slain by the hands of your enemies. And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed… – Alma 43:45-47

Preemptive/Offensive Wars

Innocent people were killed on 9/11 and we declared ourselves as a nation under attack. If we look to the Book of Mormon for perspective, we will find recorded in 3 Nephi an account of a band of “terrorists” living out in the wilderness who threaten the Nephite civilization. The people conclude that the best decision is to fall upon them in the wilderness and destroy them in their own landsRead Full Post

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The Everlasting and Eternal God

Every now and then I come across a comment, an article or a discussion about the Eternal nature of God and what it means. This subject has always been very thought-provoking to me so I’d like to put down some thoughts on the matter.

Some who question Church doctrine quote Moroni 7:22 and Mosiah 3:5 which read:

Moroni 7:22 – For Behold, God knowing all things, being from everlasting to everlasting…

Mosiah 3:5 – …who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity…

These scriptures are brought up and compared to an excerpt from Joseph Smith’s “King Follet Sermon” where Joseph states:Read Full Post

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Jacob’s usage of the word “adieu” in the Book of Mormon

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And I, Jacob, saw that I must soon go down to my grave; wherefore, I said unto my son Enos: Take these plates. And I told him the things which my brother Nephi had commanded me, and he promised obedience unto the commands. And I make an end of my writing upon these plates, which writing has been small; and to the reader I bid farewell, hoping that many of my brethren may read my words. Brethren, adieu. – Jacob 7:27

I have often heard critics of the Book of Mormon make a big stink over the word “adieu” in the Book of Mormon. People argue that the Nephites could not possibly have known French or this word since it originated around the 14th century.

I’ve heard both LDS and non-LDS people talking about how the word adieu meansRead Full Post

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Breakdown of Alma 32:28

Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.

For the sake of convenience, I’m going to break each part of this verse down into digestible elements. This will not be exhaustive by any means and I might use this as a starting point for later study.

Now, we will compare the word unto a seed.

As a letter in the alphabet of symbolism, “seed” has been used to convey the idea of posterity or faith, but in this case “the word” is being compared to a seed. What is “the word” then? Well, technically, the word can be anything, it’s whatever you want to know. The word comes to us in many ways. It is preached to us, we read it in the scriptures or we just simply come across it or it reveals itself to us in diverse ways.Read Full Post

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WHO: Cell phone use can increase possible cancer risk

I’ve always kept my mobile phone at a distance because of things that I have read about their potential harmful effects. It’s one of the reasons I carry a backpack around wherever I go so that I can stow the thing away from my body. It’s interesting to how the have classified it as a ‘carcinogenic hazard’! Wow.

CNN — Radiation from cell phones can possibly cause cancer, according to the World Health Organization. The agency now lists mobile phone use in the same “carcinogenic hazard” category as lead, engine exhaust and chloroform.

Before its announcement Tuesday, WHO had assured consumers that no adverse health effects had been established.

A team of 31 scientists from 14 countries, including the United States, made the decision after reviewing peer-reviewed studies on cell phone safety. The team found enough evidence to categorize personal exposure as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

What that means is that right now there haven’t been enough long-term studies conducted to make a clear conclusion if radiation from cell phones are safe, but there is enough data showing a possible connection that consumers should be alerted.

“The biggest problem we have is that we know most environmental factors take several decades of exposure before we really see the consequences,” said Dr. Keith Black, chairman of neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

The type of radiation coming out of a cell phone is called non-ionizing. It is not like an X-ray, but more like a very low-powered microwave oven.

“What microwave radiation does in most simplistic terms is similar to what happens to food in microwaves, essentially cooking the brain. So in addition to leading to a development of cancer and tumors, there could be a whole host of other effects like cognitive memory function, since the memory temporal lobes are where we hold our cell phones.”

The voices urging caution to consumers have gotten louder in recent years.

The European Environmental Agency has pushed for more studies, saying cell phones could be as big a public health risk as smoking, asbestos and leaded gasoline. The head of a prominent cancer-research institute at the University of Pittsburgh sent a memo to all employees urging them to limit cell phone use because of a possible risk of cancer.

When you look at cancer development — particularly brain cancer — it takes a long time to develop. I think it is a good idea to give the public some sort of warning that long-term exposure to radiation from your cell phone could possibly cause cancer,” said Dr. Henry Lai, research professor in bioengineering at University of Washington who has studied radiation for over 30 years.

Results from the largest international study on cell phones and cancer was released in 2010. It showed participants in the study who used a cell phones for 10 years or more had doubled the rate of brain glioma, a type of tumor. To date, there have been no long-term studies on the effects of cell phone usage among children.

“Childrens’ skulls and scalps are thinner. So the radiation can penetrate deeper into the brain of children and young adults. Their cells are dividing faster rate, so the impact of radiation can be much larger.” said Black of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Manufacturers of many popular cell phones already warn consumers to keep their device away from their body.

The Apple iPhone 4 safety manual says for users’ radiation exposure to not exceed FCC guidelines, “When using iPhone near your body for voice calls or for wireless data transmission over a cellular network, keep iPhone at least 15 mm (5/8 inch) away from the body.”

Blackberry Bold advises users to, “keep the BlackBerry device at least 0.98 in. (25 mm) from your body when the BlackBerry device is transmitting.”

DOWNLOAD PDF report from WHO

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Constructing Nephi’s Ship

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I don’t know what Nephi originally constructed his ship with, but today we’re going to build his ship with an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper. I actually have a ton of stuff like this that I’ve used for lessons in the past so I’ll probably be posting some of these things every now and then.

So channeling Sugardoodle.net that my wife frequents, I’m going to provide a simple papercraft project for teaching about Nephi’s ship and obedience.

My current calling is teaching the CTR 7 kids in primary. It’s a calling that I find very interesting and rewarding as I get to discuss the gospel with these very young minds. Well, today’s lesson was on how God helps us to be obedient to his commandments which is an interesting topic in its own right. We talked about how difficult and even impossible it must have seemed for Nephi to do such a task.Read Full Post

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When Did Jesus Visit the Americas? by S. Kent Brown

A long time ago when I was reading 3 Nephi it occurred to me that Christ didn’t actually appear to the Nephites until almost a year after his resurrection. I guess that from all the LDS art, especially Arnold Frieberg’s (who I’m a huge fan of) famous painting that seems to indicate the Savior coming to the Nephites right after the destruction. Well, this article does a great job at exploring some of these ideas, so here it is for your enlightenment.

S. Kent Brown, “When Did Jesus Visit the Americas?” in From Jerusalem to Zarahemla: Literary and Historical Studies of the Book of Mormon (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1998), 146–156.

When Did Jesus Visit the Americas?

Conflicting views exist about when Jesus appeared to his New World disciples. Did he appear directly after his ascension to the Father? Some believe that his appearance followed the forty days with his disciples in Palestine, while others believe that an entire year had passed after the resurrection when he appeared in the Americas. Observations from the text suggest that he mercifully waited for the people to recover from the destruction that attended his crucifixion. Compelling details help us approach an answer to this puzzling question.

Even in the bright light of written commentary and artistic depiction, a question persists about the datingRead Full Post

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The Book of Mormon Condemns the New World Order

One of the past great leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was a man named Ezra Taft Benson. He had this to say about the Book of Mormon:

The Book of Mormon brings men to Christ through two basic means. First, it tells in a plain manner of Christ and His gospel. It testifies of His divinity and of the necessity for a Redeemer and the need of our putting trust in Him. It bears witness of the Fall and the Atonement and the first principles of the gospel, including our need of a broken heart and a contrite spirit and a spiritual rebirth. It proclaims we must endure to the end in righteousness and live the moral life of a Saint.

Second, the Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines and lays down contention. (See 2 Ne. 3:12.) It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day. The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon are similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time. (The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God, President Ezra Taft Benson, Jan 1988.)

The purpose of this article is to show how the Book of Mormon calls out and condemns the biggest threat to liberty that mankind has ever faced – a threat that already encompasses us.

The Setting

It is somewhere around A.D. 29-30 on the American continent. A group of elites, rich, powerful and connected, seek for more powerRead Full Post

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What is the “eye of faith”?

There is a three word phrase that is found only in the Book of Mormon and it has always intrigued me. We read of looking forward or beholding with an ‘eye of faith’ things that are either to come or things that currently exist but are invisible to temporal vision.

The three verses

We find the phrase “eye of faith” in the following scriptures listed below.

Alma 5:15
Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?

Alma 32:40
And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life.

Ether 12:19
And there were many whose faith was so exceedingly strong, even before Christ came, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith, and they were glad.

In both of the verses in Alma, we are admonished to ‘look forward’ with this eyeRead Full Post

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*UPDATED: Possible First Century Christian Lead Plates Discovered in Jordan

I actually came across this today at TempleStudy.com and thought it was absolutely fascinating! I love ancient artifacts especially when those artifacts give us new light into the past. If these lead plates are found to be authentic, there are some major implications in so many areas that I haven’t even had time to collect my thoughts on the subject!

One of the most significant features of the plates are their ties to ancient Christianity. It would make these documents the oldest Christian documents ever discovered in this region and can shed some new light into what some of these early believers taught and understood about the Gospel.

Then there are the obvious similarities of these records to the Book of Mormon, the original version written of plates of Gold and bound together with three rings. Here are the lead plates:

***UPDATE (Sat, April 2, 2011):

It appears that more and more there is evidence that these are indeed incredible forgeries. TempleStudy.com has a great write up on the current state of these ‘plates’. I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see what the investigations reveal about their origins; very interesting…

http://www.templestudy.com/2011/03/31/jordanian-lead-plates-authentic-forgery/#more-2396
http://danielomcclellan.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/on-the-lead-vs-bronze-codices/

These aren’t the only examples of ancient people writing on metal plates, here are some photos of several other authentic records that have been discovered:

Links

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The Sower, the Tree of Life and the Degrees of Glory

We have a parable and two visions to look at here. The parable of the sower is a familiar New Testament parable related by Jesus Christ to a multitude from a ship on the sea shore about the various types of ground certain seeds were cast on to. The first vision is an account in the Book of Mormon by a prophet named Lehi who sees a vision revolving around a tree of life and a description of the various types of people he observes. The second vision is an account from Joseph Smith in the Doctrine and Covenants concerning the degrees of glory that exist in the hereafter and a description of the characteristics of those inhabitants.

The Sower

In the parable of the sower, we are taught by the Master about seeds cast into various situations and what the consequences were. The parable is found in Matthew 13 in the New Testament.

  1. Good ground: (Brought forth fruit; some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.)
    Interpretation: To those that hear the word and understand it, they will all bear fruit but at varying degrees.
  2. The way side: (Fowls came and devoured them up)
    Interpretation: When any one hears the word of the kingdom, but doesn’t understand it the adversary can come and steal away whatever was sown in his heart.
  3. Thorns: (The thorns sprung up, and choked them.)
    Interpretation: This is one that hears the word, but the care of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word.
  4. Stony places: (There was not much earth so when they sprung up they were scorched by the sun because they had no root and they withered away.)
    Interpretation: This is one that hears the word and receives it gladly but because ‘he hath not root in himself’, he endures for a while but is immediately offended when tribulation and persecution arise.

Lehi’s Vision of the Tree of Life

In Lehi’s vision there are multitudes of people pressing towardRead Full Post

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Defining and understanding “Charity”

They don’t write definitions the way they used to anymore. This is just one more great reason why I love Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. The standard definition for ‘selfish’ is pretty straightforward, but then you come to ‘selfishly’ and then POW, you’ve got some brilliantly delivered doctrine!

SELF’ISHLY, adv. The exclusive of a person to his own interest or happiness; or that supreme self-love or self-preference, which leads a person in his actions to direct his purposes to the advancement of his own interest, power or happiness, without regarding the interest of others. Selfishness, in its worst or unqualified sense, is the very essence of human depravity, and it stands in direct opposition to benevolence, which is the essence of the divine character. As God is love, so man, in his natural state, is selfishness.

So if we want to dig a little deeper here, we will find a profound truth. We are used to two ends of a spectrum in our faith, we usually speak of pride and humility. But, in my opinion there is something more specifically worse than pride and infinitely greater than humility; it is selfishness on one end and at the other end, charity, which is the benevolence of Christ.

So what isRead Full Post

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Mormon 8:12

Mormon 8:12
And whoso receiveth this record, and shall not condemn it because of the imperfections which are in it, the same shall know of greater things than these. Behold, I am Moroni; and were it possible, I would make all things known unto you.

Much time is spent by some seeking to find a secular explanation for the existence of the Book of Mormon while others who work to counter the critics and dig deeper for clues that point to a work of divine origin.

Even though this self-proclaimed imperfect record came into existence through the fumbling hands of imperfect but inspired men, Joseph Smith still felt confident enough in the message to label the Book of Mormon as “the most correct of any book on earth”. Joseph also stated that “a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book,” which is certainly a bold claim by anyone’s standards.

Here is a book with a simple message, it acknowledges its faults but includes a promise that God himself will reveal the truth of it to those who read and ponder its words and then ask with faith in Christ (Moroni 10:3-5).

But can we look past the faults? Do we see them as evidence of fraud orRead Full Post

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Belief, Faith, Hope, Perfect Knowledge and the Scientific Method

I had a kind of epiphany a few years ago as I studied Alma chapter 32 and 33 in the Book of Mormon. This chapter covers Alma’s famous discourse on faith, one of the best, if not THE best that you’ll find anywhere in scripture. The sermon presents an beautiful analogy of how fundamental principles for discovering truth work together using the concept of nourishing a seed into a tree of life that bears fruits of knowledge.

The mistake

And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.

Now there’s nothing wrong with this verse, but sometimes during a Sunday School class I will hear this verse cited as the ‘definition of faith’. However, upon a closer read, we can see that this verse only says what faith is not and what you do if you have it. Now these provide clues to understand faith, but they clearly do not tell us what faith is. Faith is not to hope for unseen but true things, that is but one of the many things that one who has faith does. It is similar to saying that the definition of a sandwich is something like this:

And now as I said concerning sandwiches—A sandwich is not a hot dog; but if you eat a sandwich you will not be hungry any more.

Yes, probably a horrible analogy but is my point clear?

See, what happens is that this verse is only scratching the surface, the next few verses go off on an asideRead Full Post

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How Witnesses Described the “Gold Plates”

Compiled by Kirk B. Henrichsen

Journal of Book of Mormon Studies: Volume – 10, Issue – 1, Pages: 16-21
Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute, 2001

Material

“the appearance of gold”1Joseph Smith Jr., Eight Witnesses, Orson Pratt

“golden plates”2David Whitmer

“a mixture of gold and copper”3William Smith

Weight

“weighing altogether from forty to sixty lbs.”4Martin Harris

“I was permitted to lift them. . . . They weighed about sixty pounds according to the best of my judgement.”5William Smith

“I . . . judged them to have weighed about sixty pounds.”6William SmithRead Full Post

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Physical Parallels Between The Book of Mormon and Jesus Christ

First and most obvious is the fact that both Jesus and the Book of Mormon initially had a very controversial message. Some recognized truth immediately, while it took some time for others and yet more, even the vast majority, rejected the message altogether.

That said, there are many interesting similarities between the life of Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon itself particularly surrounding the death and resurrection:

Christ: buried and sealed in a stone sepulcher
BofM: buried and sealed in a stone box

Christ: round stone covered tomb
BofM: round stone covered box

Christ: Angels present when stone was rolled back
BofM: Angel present when stone was rolled back

Christ: Taught the word of God
BofM: Teaches the word of God

Christ: Witness saw him, 12 apostles and hundred of others
BofM: Witnesses saw it 12 official witnesses along with several more

Christ: Ascended to heaven with angels present
BofM: Taken back to heaven by an angel

Christ: Must rely on faith to believe
BofM: Must rely on faith to believe

Christ: Only physical evidence remaining are his words
BofM: Only physical evidence remaining are it’s words

Both Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon were buried in the earth and brought forth with angel(s) present, there were witnesses and they were removed from our presence with only their words for us to examine through the Spirit. So here is theRead Full Post

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The Pride and Prosperity Cycles

I used to think of the pride cycle as this long, ongoing, inevitable course that civilizations and people follow in their lives. We certainly see from the scriptures and history that these things repeat themselves and sometimes we focus so much on the disasters and consequences of sin that we don’t really consider when those moments of disaster were averted altogether. How do we reconcile these truths in our current “Pride Cycle” model?

The Pride Cycle

Above is our good old fiend the ‘pride cycle’. Now this cycle isn’t incorrect, as was said before we have seen this happen over and over again, but righteousness and prosperity do not always necessarily lead to pride and wickedness. I remember in a college course on Human Relations the professor asked the question: “What is the number one cause of divorce?” I knew what he thought the answer was but I decided to give the correct answer. I learned the correct answer from Spencer W. Kimball:

“Every divorce is the result of selfishness…” (“Marriage and Divorce” a devotional address given at Brigham Young University on 7 September 1976)

So I raised my hand and gave the answer, “selfishness”. He looked at me for a moment with a thoughtful expression and then said, “No, it’s money actually.” So according to his thinking, you can cause a divorce by dropping by someone’s home and dumping some money on their front door step ;) No, money is not the cause, it’s something deeper, it’s the corruption within the person that is already there and left unchecked and anything left unchecked is a tickingRead Full Post

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A Guide to Keeping Your Own “Small Plates”

We learn more about Nephi’s records, or plates, in the front of the Book of Mormon with a section called “A Brief Explanation about the Book of Mormon”:

The Plates of Nephi, which were of two kinds: the Small Plates and the Large Plates. The former were more particularly devoted to the spiritual matters and the ministry and teachings of the prophets, while the latter were occupied mostly by a secular history of the peoples concerned (1 Nephi 9:2–4)

Nephi kept two records, one containing a secular history upon ‘other plates’ which came to be known as the ‘large plates of Nephi’ and another record upon smaller plates that contained primarily prophecies and sacred teachings.

How many of us do a good job with keeping a journal or secular history (large plates) of our lives of any kind at all? It’s no secret that we collectively seem to struggle with this, so how likely is it then that we keep a record of our own personal revelations, answers to prayer, promptings, etc? I would bet that many of us have not even considered doing so in the first place.

First off, let’s see what various church leaders have said on the matter:Read Full Post

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Interpreters and Combinations

The purpose of this article is to explore the physical description of the Nephite “interpreters” (or Urim and Thummim as they were called by Joseph Smith) and their purpose. This article will demonstrate that these artifacts have been passed down for thousands of years and their primary use is for revealing the history of secret Satanic conspiracies upon the American continent as a warning to future inhabitants of this land.

What were they and what did they look like?

Joseph Smith claimed that he translated ancient records with the assistance of a “Urim and Thummim”. The Urim and Thummim were part of the sacred vestments that the high priest wore during the period of Mosaic Law. Here is what the LDS Bible Dictionary says about the Urim and Thummim:

Heb. term that means Lights and Perfections. An instrument prepared of God to assist man in obtaining revelation from the Lord and in translating languages. See Ex. 28: 30; Lev. 8: 8; Num. 27: 21; Deut. 33: 8; 1 Sam. 28: 6; Ezra 2: 63; Neh. 7: 65; JS-H 1: 35.

Using a Urim and Thummim is the special prerogative of a seer, and it would seem reasonable that such instruments were used from the time of Adam. However, the earliest mention is in connection with the brother of Jared (Ether 3: 21-28). Abraham used a Urim and Thummim (Abr. 3: 1-4), as did Aaron and the priests of Israel, and also the prophets among the Nephites (Omni 1: 20-21; Mosiah 8: 13-19; Mosiah 21: 26-28; Mosiah 28: 11-20; Ether 4: 1-7). There is more than one Urim and Thummim, but we are informed that Joseph Smith had the one used by the brother of Jared (Ether 3: 22-28; D&C 10: 1; D&C 17: 1). (See Seer.) A partial description is given in JS-H 1: 35. Joseph Smith used it in translating the Book of Mormon and in obtaining other revelations.

This earth in its celestial condition will be a Urim and Thummim, and many within that kingdom will have an additional Urim and Thummim (D&C 130: 6-11).

It is very difficult to tell what the purpose of these particular implements were used for from the text of the Old Testament. There are a few passages that indicate that they had something to do with revelation; that they were oracles of some kind, but there is nothing indicating that they were used for translating languagesRead Full Post

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