Journal of Book of Mormon Studies


Royal Skousen


Modern Church, Critical Text, Joseph Smith, Restoration, Coming forth of the Book of Mormon


Details of the translation process Joseph Smith used for translating the Book of Mormon from the plates can be adduced from statements of witnesses and from evidence in the original and printer’s manuscripts. According to witnesses, Joseph Smith often translated without the plates being present and used the interpreters to receive the revealed text. Evidence from the manuscripts themselves shows that the original manuscript was written from dictation, that Joseph Smith was working with at least twenty words at a time, that Joseph Smith could see the spelling of names, that the scribe repeated the text to Joseph Smith, and that the word chapter and the corresponding chapter numbers were not part of the revealed text. The manuscripts and text show that Joseph Smith apparently received the translation word for word and letter for letter, in what is known as “tight control.”