Seer Stone

Seer Stone: Described as a chocolate-colored, egg-shaped rock Joseph Smith found while digging a well near Palmyra, New York (Comprehensive History of the Church 1:129). A number of witnesses claimed Smith used the stone when translating the Book of Mormon. According to historian Richard Bushman, “Joseph Jr. never repudiated the stones or denied their power to find treasure. Remnants of the magical culture stayed with him to the end.” (Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, p. 51). BYU Professor Daniel C. Peterson explained, “We know that Joseph didn’t translate the way that a scholar would translate. He didn’t know Egyptian. There were a couple of means that were prepared for this. One was he used an instrument that was found with the plates that was called the Urim and Thummim. This is a kind of a divinatory device that goes back into Old Testament times. Actually most of the translation was done using something called a seer stone. He would put the stone in the bottom of a hat, presumably to exclude surrounding light. And then he would put his face into the hat. It’s a kind of a strange image for us” (PBS TV program “The Mormons”).

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