For the last two months, I have been speaking a lot about about the “two-sets-of-plates” scenario. It’s an easy concept, but because it is a new paradigm in Church history (so far as I know), I did a lot of research and analysis and discussed it with knowledgeable people as a sanity check.
Right now, this is my favorite topic because it answers so many questions about Church history.
(Readers of this blog tend to be interested in Book of Mormon geography/historicity. You already appreciate the relevance of the New York Cumorah. The two-sets-of-plates scenario is just another corroboration of what Joseph and Oliver said all along about Cumorah. And yet the comical search for “Cumorah” in southern Mexico continues… A topic for a future blog post, maybe.)
Those of you who have read my blogs and books and attended my presentations know that I’ve approached Church history backwards:
I started with 1842 Nauvoo (The Lost City of Zarahemla, Brought to Light).
Then I looked at 1835 Kirtland (Letter VII: Oliver Cowdery’s Message to the World about the Hill Cumorah).
Now I’m back to 1829 Harmony and Fayette.
I’ll be speaking about this topic this Saturday (Feb 11 in Salt Lake County) and the following Saturday (Feb 18 in Utah County), as I mentioned in yesterday’s post.
A lot of people have been asking about it and I can’t answer individual questions due to time constraints. That’s why I wrote the book.
Whatever Happened to the Golden Plates? is about 200 pages long in the 5 x 8 format that most people seem to like. The book includes 107 footnotes. I’ve reduced footnotes and details in printed versions to keep page counts and prices low, but more material is available to readers online as explained in the book.
You can go on Amazon and read sample pages, here. The sample includes the Introduction, which explains why I wrote the book.
I wrote this book to share what I consider an exciting new development in Church history. It has always been assumed that Joseph Smith translated one set of plates—the ones he got from the box in the Hill Cumorah. But my research suggests that there were in fact two sets: one set containing abridgments by Mormon (Lehi—the lost 116 pages—and Mosiah through Mormon 7) and Moroni (Mormon 8 through Moroni 10), which Joseph translated in Harmony, Pennsylvania, and the other set containing the small plates of Nephi (1Nephi to Words of Mormon), which Joseph translated in Fayette, New York.
If true, this insight may reconcile details of Church history that seem out of place, random, or just strange.
We can’t accept every historical account on its face, unexamined. But in the cases of the evidences I’ll discuss in this book, previously inexplicable accounts seem to fit together to answer important questions that continue to gnaw at us today. Questions such as:
“Where did Joseph get the plates of Nephi?”
[If you think they were part of the record Moroni left in the box on Cumorah, you may be surprised when you take another look at material you’ve read your entire life.]
“Where was the repository of Nephite records Mormon mentioned in Mormon 6:6?”
“Where did Joseph get the plates he showed to the Eight Witnesses?”
And, of course, “Whatever happened to the golden plates?”
Chapter one tells you everything you need to know–except all the details.
My basic thesis could fit in a tweet: “Joseph translated two separate sets of plates.”
This concept is so obvious to me now that it’s difficult to remember thinking he translated only one set.
And yet, the one-set interpretation of Church history has been taken for granted for decades. Maybe it’s never been challenged before.
Arthur Schopenhauer’s observation is overused, but I think it applies here because my simple tweet, by itself, is not going to overcome the long-held assumption.
All truth passes through three stages.
First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
The rest of this book explains the rationale for my thesis. It’s possible that for some people, the idea alone will suffice. They’ll think back on what they know of Church history and realize that the two-sets-of-plates theory explains a lot of things. It makes sense of the Title Page and D&C 9 and 10. If you already get it, you’re done.
Quickest read ever.
But if you’re like me, you want to explore the facts and the reasoning. So here goes.
I hope you get as much out of this new paradigm as I have!