Book of Mormon Plates

Book of Mormon Plates

Moroni Joseph Smith MormonWhen the angel Moroni first appeared to Joseph Smith on the night of  21 September 1823, “He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates” (Joseph Smith History 1:34). Others were later privileged to see the plates and some even hefted them and leafed through the plates themselves. The three witnesses declared that they had “seen the plates which contain this record” and “the engravings which are upon the plates,” but their official statement, published at the beginning of the Book of Mormon since 1830 gives no further details about the plates. On the other hand, in their published statement, the eight witnesses declared that Joseph had shown them the plates, “which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship.”

In subsequent interviews, some of the witnesses (including others who saw the plates) described the ancient book in more detail, estimating its size and weight. A number of articles discussing such descriptions have been published, including the following, which are available on the web:

Kirk Henrichsen*, “How Witnesses Described the ‘Gold Plates’,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 10/1 (2001): 16-21

Malin Jacobs* and John A. Tvednes*, Response to question about the weight of the gold plates, posted on the SHIELDS web site

Reed Putnam*, “Were the Golden Plates Made of Tumbaga?” Improvement Era 69 (September 1966): 788-89, 828-31

Janne M. Sjodahl*, “The Book of Mormon Plates,” Improvement Era (April 1923), reprinted in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 10/1 (2001): 22-24

Janne M. Sjodahl*, “Concerning the Plates of the Book of Mormon,” chapter 2 in Sjodahl, An Introduction to the Study of the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1927), 35-46