> How about the following question:
> What is the nature of translation? What do we truly know about the
>> state of a translated individual. I mention this because of something
> that is mentioned in President Hunter's biography. It is mentioned (I
> believe it is a journal excerpt) that he had pondered translation and
> had wondered, upon reflecting on circumstances around the passing of
> Joseph Fielding Smith, whether or whether not President Smith had
> actually been translated.
First, let's take a close look at the quote from "Howard W. Hunter" by Eleanor Knowles:
"On Sunday, July 2, 1972, Elder Hunter wrote that since he had no stake conference assignments, he spent his free time working on his genealogy. Shortly before ten o'clock that evening, a Church spokesman called to tell him that President Joseph Fielding Smith had passed away at nine-thirty. "This was shocking news because he has not been ill," Elder Hunter wrote. Then, after describing what he had been told about President Smith's final few hours, he concluded, "I have often wondered about the condition of persons who are translated, and tonight I have had the feeling that this was the course the President has followed from mortality to immortality without tasting of death." (p. 237)This indeed is a curious statement. What about President Smith's death would make him write something like this?
"President Joseph Fielding Smith spent a quiet, relaxing weekend with the McConkies and was looking forward to another Independence Day celebration. On Sunday afternoon, Amelia drove him to his own ward, the Eighteenth, for sacrament meeting. As always, the members gathered around to shake his hand and greet him as he entered and left the chapel. He was pleased to responded to the request of a young mother to touch her baby. On leaving, he joked with a young man who had taken his arm to help him down the two steps to the sidewalk, wondering aloud whether he could "jump" them. Later, son Reynolds came to take his father for a ride. They drove north to Bountiful to visit the Prophet's eldest daughter, Josephine Reinhardt, who had been a widow for many years. There plans were laid for a family gathering to be held at Josephine's home the following evening. After enjoying a visit with his daughter, who served him refreshments in her garden, the Prophet was driven back to the McConkies' home, where he shared a light supper with the family. Later, as he sat relaxing in a comfortable chair, which had been brought from the Eagle Gate, he chatted companionably with Amelia, who was seated nearby writing a letter. She left the room momentarily and on returning found him slumped forward in his chair, apparently unconscious. She summoned Bruce from a nearby room, and he promptly administered oxygen to the Prophet from a cylinder kept in the home for emergencies. It failed to revive him. Joseph Fielding Smith was dead seventeen days before his ninety-sixth birthday." ("Joseph Fielding Smith", Francis M. Gibbons, p.493-4)It is my understanding that translated beings retain their mortal body, but that it undergoes a change to a terrestrial state.
"Their place of habitation is that of the terrestrial order, and a place prepared for such characters He held in reserve to be ministering angels...This distinction is made between the doctrine of the actual resurrection and translation: translation obtains deliverance from the tortures and sufferings of the body, but their existence will prolong as the labors and toils of the ministry." (Joseph Smith, Teachings p. 170-1)Translated beings are later resurrected (in a twinkling of an eye). The three Nephites and John the Revelator were translated. The city of Enoch was translated, taken to heaven...separated from the earth. (See Inspired Version, Gen 14:32-34). Elder McConkie says Moses, Elijah, and Alma the younger were translated. (MD p.805)
But wasn't Moses "buried by the hand of the Lord" (Alma 45:19) Does this mean he left his body behind when he was translated? Elder McConkie calls this a figure of speech, meaning translation. Joseph Fielding Smith explains that Moses was translated because he had a mission to perform on the Mt. of Transfiguration.
Elder McConkie further states that translated beings before Christ were resurrected in a twinkling of an eye with Christ in his resurrection.
"Those who have been translated since the resurrection of Christ shall continue to live as mortals until the Second Coming when they shall receive their immortal glory. It will be resurrected, not translated beings, who shall return with the city of Enoch." (MD, p.807-8)OK, so it appears that translated beings indeed don't leave their moral bodies behind. So what did President Hunter mean? I can only conclude that he was pondering how peacefully President Smith died. Apparently he didn't feel the pain of death, which is similar but not the same, as the change the comes over to a person that is translated.
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> Where is John?
"The Spirit of the Lord fell upon Joseph in an unusual manner, and he prophesied that John the Revelator was then among the Ten Tribes of Israel...to prepare them for their return from their long dispersion, to again possess the land of their fathers." (according to John Whitmer's History of the Church, see footnote in HC 1:176) This was in 1831.John also appeared in the Kirtland temple when the Kirtland endowment was given to the 12. (Heber C. Kimball, p.91-92) Did John have a special role in restoring the endowment which some feel he received on the Mt. of Transfiguration? Interesting speculation.
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> Do we know by what process Joseph Smith used to translate the Book of
I too know that the Book of Mormon was translated by the power of God using the Urim and Thummim. But I don't think the U&T was some sort of high tech tool that would show the translation, word for word. Rather, I think the U&T was a tool to "center Joseph's faith." (McConkie, MM 294)
John A. Widtsoe wrote that as Joseph matured in his calling, the way he received revelation changed. First he received mostly heavenly visitations, then the U&T and then revelation without aids. And notice when Joseph "translated" the Bible and the Book of Abraham, he did not need these aids.
Orson Pratt stated
"The experience he had acquired while translating the Book of Mormon by the use of the U&T had rendered him so well acquainted with the Spirit of revelation and prophecy that in the translating of the New Testament, he did not need the aid that was necessary in the first instance." (School of Prophets, 1871)As you recall D&C 9 deals with the incident when Oliver Cowdery wanted to translate, but couldn't. He thought that all he had to do was ask for the translation from the Lord (vs 7). But he was told that he had to "study it out in your mind...", figure it out and ask if it is right. (vs. 8) This implies to me that the translation process Joseph used required a lot of his own abilities to put the concepts into English words.
It has been said that B.H. Roberts was once asked if he thought the Book of Mormon would read differently had it been translated by someone else. He replied
"Of course...not in substance and basic message, but in mode of expression." (Harold Glen to Truman Madsen 1966, BYU Studies 1979)We know that the Book of Mormon contains literary patterns (parallelisms) that are found in Hebrew poetry. Certainly the translation is just that, a translation. Joseph's "mode of expression" still enabled these patterns to show through and other word usages.
The Language of the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants were also received by a similar, but different process because this isn't a translation:
"The language, with the exception of the words actually spoken by heavenly beings, is the language of the Prophet. The ideas were given to Joseph Smith. He wrote them in the best language at his command." (J.A. Widtsoe, MDC p.9)Back to the Book of Mormon. Some critics use a silly argument, pointing to the use of the word "adieu" by Jacob in Jacob 7:27 that to them means that Joseph Smith goofed, because adieu is a word that clearly come from the French language, which was not developed until hundreds of years after the time of Jacob. But Joseph used words familiar to himself and the readers of the book to convey the closest meaning.
"Joseph received the ideas from God, but clothed these ideas with such words as came to his mind." (O. Pratt, 1872)
David Whitmer claimed that he knew how Joseph performed the translation: Joseph would
"hold the interpreters to his eyes...on which would appear the characters of the plates in a line at the top, and immediately below would appear the tanslation in English" (David Whitmer to Kansas City Journal, 1881)However, Joseph Smith stated in 1831 that it was not expedient "for him to relate these things" (the process of translation). Also, Whitmer gave conflicting accounts of this process.
Kirkham, in "A New Witness for Christ in America" believes
"...no one knows the procedure or exact method of the translation. All that is known is contained in these words, 'It was translated by the gift and power of God, with the aid of the Urim and Thummim.' Beyond this statement, it is only conjecture. The dictation was continuous with correction. It was not human. It was divine." (p. 196)Over the weekend I read Stephen D. Ricks' "Translation of the Book of Mormon: Interpreting the Evidence" in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2:2. I found it very interesting and right in line with what has been mentioned in this thread. Here's some excerpts:
"The accounts of the Three Witnesses speak of words appearing on the seerstone or "translators." But at what point in the translation process did they appear? I believe that it was after Joseph had formulated in his mind a translation that represented with sufficient accuracy the ideas found on the original. Was there only one correct translation for the ideas found on the plates? I do not believe so. Could a "correct" translation be improved upon in word choice or in some other manner, or could these ideas have been rendered into different words? Yes."
"Joseph himself seems to have felt no particular compunctions about revising the Book of Mormon, as witness the numerous changes (mostly of a grammatical nature) made by him in 1837 in the second edition of the Book of Mormon. If he had considered only one rendering acceptable, then he would certainly have refrained from making any changes in it (unless the changes resulted from errors in transcription or printing."
"While it would be incorrect to minimize the divine element in the process of translation of the Book of Mormon, it would also be misleading and potentially hazardous to deny the human factor."
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One thing I think which may be left out in this discussion is to consider where man gets the power to reason. Let us not forget the role that the light of Christ plays in all of this:
"It is in its less refined existence the physical light which reflects sun, moon, stars...in higher degree, the intellectual light. Its inspiration constitutes animal instinct, REASON IN MAN, vision in Prophets." (Parley P. Pratt, "Key to Theology" p.47)As one studies the scriptures, you are blessed with strokes of ideas and understanding that comes from both the Light of Christ and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. It seems like people on this thread are trying to separate reason from faith and the Holy Ghost, as it applies toward learning truth. You can't do it. Are you bold enough to think that the truth that you learn from scriptures through your study comes from your own human strengths and understanding? "O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men!" I'm also amazed how many on this list also seem to think that the Holy Ghost only teaches truth when we are praying. (First we shut God out and study on our own, and then we let him in when we go and pray...amazing!) As one rejects the truth and rejects the words of the prophets, that light is withdrawn from that person. Then "their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God." (2 Ne 9:28-29)
"When it is necessary for the Holy Ghost to speak to us, he is able to do so by acting through the other spirit -- Light of Christ" (Joseph Fielding Smith DS 1:40)
"When you feel pure intelligence (Holy Ghost) flowing into you it may give you sudden strokes of ideas. (Joseph Smith, HC 3:381)
Yes, study, working and reasoning is very important. But at no point should one pretend to shut out God and rely only on the "arm of flesh." Faith and the Holy Ghost must be part of the entire process.
In reading Elder Richard G. Scott's Oct 1993 Conference address, I found that it had applications to this discussion:
"I know that to gain knowledge of great worth requires extraordinary personal effort. This is particularly true when our desire is to obtain spiritual knowledge. President Kimball said it this way: 'The treasure of both secular and spiritual knowledge are hidden ones--but hidden from those who do not properly search and strive to find them...Spiritual knowledge is not available merely for the asking; even prayers are not enough. It takes persistence and dedication of one's life....Of all treasures of knowledge, the most vital is the knowledge of God.' (Teaching of SWK, p.389-90)...Yes, there are many, many good men and women in other churches. Tens of thousands of them each year are led to the fullness of the gospel. It is great to be part of this work to lead people to this gospel where they can obtain a much greater light and knowledge than they have ever received before. My wife is one of these people who discovered what she was missing in her old church. I'm thankful that the Spirit let her know that there was so much more that could affect her life and happiness.
"The need to exercise faith in Jesus Christ is absolutely essential. It is the foundation of the plan of salvation. When that exercise of faith is coupled with sincere effort based upon a willingness to hearken to His counsel, great personal growth and blessings follow...
"Profound spiritual truth cannot simply be poured from one mind and heart to another. It takes faith and diligent effort. Precious truth comes a small piece at a time through faith, with great exertion, and at times wrenching struggles. The Lord intends it to be that way so that we can mature and progress. Moroni said, 'Dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.'(Ether 12:6)...
"Gaining spiritual knowledge is not a mechanical process. It is a sacred privilege based upon spiritual law."
"While the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is given a prominent part in the great drama of the last days, it is not the only force nor the only means that the Lord has employed to bring to pass those things of which His prophets in ancient times have testified. (B.H. Roberts, 1902)
"God is using not only his covenant people, but other peoples as well, to consummate a work...other good and great men not bearing Priesthood, possessing great wisdom, and a desire to uplift their fellows having been sent by the Almighty into many nations, to give them, not the fullness of the Gospel, but that portion of the truth that they were able to receive and wisely use." (O.F. Whitney, 1921)
"Perhaps the Lord needs men on the outside of His Church to help it along...the beauties and glories of the gospel being veiled temporarily from their view for a wise purpose. The Lord will open their eyes in His own due time." (O.F. Whitney, 1928)
The great religious leader of the world...received a portion of God's light. (First Presidency, 1978)
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These intellectuals think the way to discover truth is to sift through every word written by these self-proclaimed scholars. These believe that they are a better source for hidden truth than our prophets and our scriptures. Sunstone and Dialogue are their primary sources for truth. If we trust what is written in our Sunday School manuals, we considered blind followers who will never know "truth."
These "scholars" think the Ensign is boring, and sacrament meetings are boring. They have "progressed" so far intellectually, that they are too good for these sources of truth.
"If we love the truth, we never get tired of hearing it. No matter how many times we hear the truth expressed, if we love it, it is always new. (Joseph Fielding Smith, DS 1:298)These "scholars" scoff at us for discarding Sunstone Symposiums out of hand. To them, it is light, relief from "dull truths" of the gospel.
"Am I valiant if my approach to the Church and its doctrines is intellectual only...if I am more concerned with having a religious dialogue on this or that point than I am on gaining a personal spiritual experience?" (Bruce R. McConkie, CR 1974)
Elder Oaks applauded a letter to the editor that contained this:
"I do not pretend to speak for the church, but perhaps I represent the thousands of intelligent, independent people whose souls respond to the spiritual power of general conference rather than the mental exercises of Sunstone Symposium."Elder Oaks also reminds us of these facts as we seek after truth:
"One cannot find God or understand his doctrines and ordinances by closing the door on the means He has prescribed for receiving the truths of his gospel. That is why gospel truths have been corrupted and gospel ordinances have been lost when left to the interpretation and sponsorship of scholars who lack the authority and reject the revelations of God." (CR Apr, 1989)
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Who saw the the Urim & Thummim? Joseph Smith, of course. Lucy Mack Smith said she did (Biographical Sketches and History of J.S) She said Joseph called them a "key" when he first showed them to her. David Whitmer said the 3 Witnesses were showed them by the Angel. (D&C 17:1) confirms.
Joseph Smith describes them as
"two stones in silver bows...fastened to a breastplate." (HC 1:12) and "two transparent stones set in the rim of a bow, fastened to a breast plate." (Wentworth Letter)David Whitmer was quoted as giving these descriptions:
"two white stones, each of the cased in as spectacles are, in a kind of silver casing, but the bow between the stones was more heavy, and longer apart between the stones, than we usually find it in spectacles." And, "whitish stones put in the rim of a bow, looked like spectacles only much larger." And, "two transparent pebbles set in the rim of a bow, fastened to a breastplate." And finally, "immense pair of spectacles set in a silver bow." He preferred calling them by their "proper" name: interpreters. (Cook, "David Whitmer Interviews.")Martin Harris described as
"two clear stones set in two rims very much resembling spectacles, only they were larger." (Mil. Star xliv:87)William Smith (brother of Joseph) gave an interesting description of the U&T:
"The U&T was set in a double silver bow which was twisted into the shape of a figure eight and the two stones were placed literally between the two rims of a bow. At one end was attached a rod which was connected with the outer edge of the right shoulder of the breastplate. By pressing the head a little forward, the rod held the U&T before the eyes much like a pair of spectacles. The instrument was too large for Joseph's eyes, they must have been used by larger men."In Mosiah they are described as
"two stones which were fastened into the two rims of a bow." (Mosiah 28:13)The Bible Dictionary gives a good overview of the U&T which I won't repeat here. There probably was more that one U&T because prophets in the old world and the new world used them. McConkie and Joseph Fielding Smith say this is a different on then the one Abraham had (MD p.818. DS 3:222) The one Joseph Smith used came from the Brother of Jared (D&C 17:1) Mosiah II had some "interpreters." (Mosiah 8:13). Was this the same U&T that Joseph Smith used? Mosiah (his grandpa) is also found "interpreting" many years earlier when he discovered Zarahemla and his people. They brought him that large stone to interpret that gave an account of Coriantumr. Did they find a U&T along with the stone? No mention of a U&T is made when the important artifacts are passed from King Benjamin to Mosiah (Mosiah 1:16). However, they are mentioned when Mosiah passes them on to Alma (Mosiah 28:20) They were prepared from the beginning and handed down from generation to generation (Mosiah 28:14)
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> Elder Oaks comments on this scripture:
> "There are two lessons here. First, those who acquire knowledge by
> means of signs have no occasion to develop faith. Without that
> spiritual development (discussed hereafter) and without the sustaining
> strength of faith, they are damned in their progress and remain
> vulnerable to transgression and to falling away. Second, those who
> acquire knowledge and then fall way are more cursed than those who,
> following the pathway of faith, have only come so far as to believe
> before they fall away.
We need to look a little closer at the two cases that Elder Oaks is referring to. 1) A person who receives a sign and obtains knowledge concerning some truth. 2) A person who follows the path of faith, but are only at the belief stage.
There's a big difference here from the cases discussed earlier. If instead he would have compared #1 against 3) A person who receives a sign AND the Holy Ghost bears witness. or 4) A person follows the path of faith AND receives a "perfect knowledge through the Holy Ghost" spoken of in Alma 32:34, I contend that the story is much different if such people fall away. So your conclusion is true if you are only talking about people in case #2:
> Also, a person converted by a sign is more condemned and subject to
>"more severe punishment" than one progressing spiritually through faith.
Those in case #2 and #3, will receive a more severe punishment because "where much is given, much is expected."
"The reason why blasphemy against the Son of God can be forgiven, even if vision or dream...manifestation does not impress the soul as deeply as does testimony of the Holy Ghost." (Joseph Fielding Smith AGQ 1:69)
"A visitation of an angel would not leave an impression without the manifestation of the Holy Ghost. Personal visitation might become dim as time goes on, but this guidance of the Holy Ghost is renewed and continued." (Joseph Fielding Smith DS 1:44)
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My attitude toward little-known visions and revelations is: They are interesting, but not for me. If our prophets today haven't referenced them at all and no references have been made over the pulpit at general conference to them, then maybe they aren't for us. Maybe they are just for the person receiving them. Maybe they are highly symbolic. Or maybe I'm just too skeptical. I don't start quoting these in our church classes.