Saturday, January 5, 2008

Urim and Thummin

MORMONS: [The Encyclopedia Britannica, Thirteenth Edition, London, vol. 18, pp. 842-843, 1926]… a religious sect founded by Joseph Smith… born… December 1805 at Sharon… Vermont, from which place… his parents, who like his grandparents were superstitious, neurotic, seers of visions, and believers in miraculous cures and in heavenly voices and direct revelation, removed to New York, where they settled on a small farm… Joseph, a good natured, lazy boy, suffering from a bad heredity physically and psychically, began to have visions which seem to have accompanied epileptoid seizures… from which he recovered apparently before he became of age. The boy’s father was a digger for hidden treasure… the son became a crystal gazer and by the use of a “peep-stone” discovered the whereabouts of pretended hidden treasure.

He [Smith] said… that on the night of the 21st of September 1823 the angel Moroni appeared to him three times, and told him that the Bible of the western continent, the supplement to the New Testament, was buried on a hill called Cumorah, now commonly known as Mormon Hill….

It was not until the 22nd of September of 1827 that (as he said) he dug up, on the hill near Manchester, a stone box, in which was a volume… made of thin gold plates… and fastened together by three gold rings. The plates were covered with small writing [supposedly of the reformed Egyptian tongue]… with the golden book Smith claimed that he found a breastplate of gold and a pair of supernatural spectacles, consisting of two crystals set in a silver bow, and called “Urim and Thummin”; by aid of these the mystic characters could be read. Being himself unable to read or write fluently, Smith employed as amanuenses: first Martin Harris… then his own wife, Emma; after the middle of April 1829, Oliver Cowdery, a blacksmith and school teacher, and David Whitmer; to them , from behind a curtain, he dictated a translation, for the printing and publishing of which Martin Harris paid, in spite of the continued opposition of his wife to the scheme. An edition of 5000 copies of The Book of Mormon was printed early in 1830… Soon afterwards, according to Smith, the plates disappeared, being taken away by the angel Moroni.

The Book of Mormon, in which Joseph Smith was declared to be God’s “prophet,” with all power and entitled to all obedience, professes to give the history of America from its first settlement by a colony of “Jaredites” from among the crowd dispersed by the confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel down to the year 5 A.D.

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