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The translation of the Book of Mormon was a miracle of modern


When most of us hear the word translation, we

think of bilingual dictionaries, conjugation
charts, and Google Translate. If we need to
verify that something is translated correctly, we
might ask a native speaker or someone who has
studied the language for a long time. The result
would be an academic translation, or a
translation based on our own knowledge.
However, even the best academic translations
can lose some of the original meaning. This is
one characteristic that sets the Book of
Mormon apart from any other book.

First-person accounts of Joseph Smith's

process of translating the Book of
Mormon describe not an academic translation
but a revealed translation. The Gospel Topics essay Book of Mormon Translation
shares some of the accounts of those who participated in the translation process. They
testify to the divinity of the Book of Mormon and the miraculous nature of its

In her account of the translation, Emma Smith states that Joseph could neither write
nor dictate a coherent and well-worded letter. There were no academic tools to
translate the characters of reformed Egyptian, the dead language on the plates. "For this
monumental task," the essay explains, "God prepared . . . practical help in the form of
physical instruments."

One of these instruments was known as the "interpreters" or the "Urim and Thummim";
it was described by witnesses as "a clear pair of stones bound together with a metal rim."
Another instrument was "a small oval stone, or 'seer stone.'" Rather than read from the
plates, Joseph would read the English translation that the Lord gave him from these
stones. As described in the essay, Joseph often placed the interpreters or the seer stone
in a hat to block the outside light so he could read the divine translation from the
illuminated stones.

While these tools might sound odd to us today, this pattern of using tools to accomplish
miracles follows descriptions in the Book of Mormon (Alma 37:2324) and other
scripture (Numbers 21:9, John 9:6). A deeper understanding of how the Book of
Mormon came to be can help us see how the Lord intimately ensured that it is indeed
the most correct of any Book on earth.
Learn more about how the Book of Mormon was translated in the Gospel Topics essay
Book of Mormon Translation.

Source: LDS Gospel Topics

Shelby Gardner, Mormon Insights


Find More Insights

Learn more about how the Book of Mormon was translated in the Mormon
Insights article Understanding the Translation of the Book of Mormon by Tacy

Read more about other miracles in the translation process in Robert K. Dellenbachs
general conference address The Translation Miracle of the Book of Mormon.

For more on the significance and influence of the Book of Mormon, read
President Russell M. Nelsons talk A Testimony of the Book of Mormon.