Truth is not only
violated by falsehood;
it may be equally
outraged by silence.
Martin Harris wanted to invest in the publication of the Book of Mormon. But his wife did not trust Joseph Smith. Hoping to convince her that it would be a worthwhile investment, Martin persuaded Joseph to lend him the first 116 pages of his translation. But when the time came for them to be returned, they could not be found.
Had Joseph’s claims been true, this shouldn’t have presented him with too much of a problem, apart from a setback in time. He still had the gold plates. And it surely would have been a simple matter for him to have re-translated the missing pages. But instead of throwing himself back into his translation work with renewed energy to make up for lost time, he became paralyzed with fear and foreboding. He knew that he had no hope of remembering all the names, places and other details that he had mentioned the first time around. Nor could he come up with the same wording. And if the missing pages turned up later, his claims would be exposed for what they were.
After seven long months of agonizing he came up with a solution. He said that God had instructed him not to retranslate the missing section, but instead to replace it with data from a different plate (c/f Doctrine & Covenants Section 10). When the 1830 edition was finally printed, minus the original 116 pages, it contained the following preface:
“As many false reports have been circulated respecting the following work, and also many unlawful measures taken by the evil designing persons to destroy me, and also the work, I would inform you that I translated, by the gift and power of God, and caused to be written, one hundred and sixteen pages, which I took from the Book of Lehi, which was an account abridged from the plates of Lehi, by the hand of Mormon; which said account, some person or persons have stolen and kept from me, notwithstanding my utmost exertions to recover it again — and being commanded of the Lord that I should not translate the same over again, for Satan had put it into their hearts to tempt the Lord their God, by altering the words, that they did read contrary from that which I translated and caused to be written; and if I should bring forth the same words again, or, in other words, if I should translate the same over again, they would publish that which they had stolen, and Satan would stir up the hearts of this generation, that they might not receive this work: but behold, the Lord said unto me, I will not suffer that Satan shall accomplish his evil design in this thing: therefore thou shalt translate from the plates of Nephi, until ye come to that which ye have translated, which ye have retained; and behold ye shall publish it as the record of Nephi; and thus I will confound those who have altered my words. I will not suffer that they shall destroy my work; yea, I will shew unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the Devil. Wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, I have, through his grace and mercy, accomplished that which he hath commanded me respecting this thing. I would also inform you that the plates of which hath been spoken, were found in the township of Manchester, Ontario county, New-York.”
But this excuse doesn’t stand up under scrutiny. The missing pages were handwritten, and any alterations would have been clearly visible. Furthermore, in those days there was no way of deleting anything without visibly damaging the paper.
The following link leads to articles that have a relevance to this subject:
Copyright © 2013 by Yvonne Gibbs. All rights reserved.