85 Days: Day by Day

Joseph Smith received the gold plates from Moroni on September 22, 1827. “I obtained them,” the Prophet testified, “and the Urim and Thummim with them, by the means of which I translated the plates; and thus came the Book of Mormon.”

The Prophet Joseph Smith received the gold plates from Moroni on September 22, 1827. “I obtained them,” the Prophet testified, “and the Urim and Thummim with them, by the means of which I translated the plates; and thus came the Book of Mormon.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, (2011), 57–68)

Some people have wondered, “When Joseph Smith began translating the Book of Mormon following the loss of the first 116 translated pages, did he begin at 1 Nephi 1 or did he begin where he left off in the original translation process?”

As far as my research has found, Joseph Smith never actually mentioned where in the gold plates he picked up in the translation process, so we must use our historical and contextual clues to help us determine which option we think is correct. Did he begin in 1 Nephi (part of the original Small Plates) or did he continue translating in the Large Plates section with the book of Mosiah?

From what I have studied on those two options, I have come to believe that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery picked up in the translation process near where Joseph left of following the 116 translated pages from the Book of Lehi in the Large Plates section.

Like most people, I usually begin reading the Book of Mormon at 1 Nephi 1 and end with Moroni 10, but sometimes I like to begin with Mosiah 1 (a supposed re-start point of the translation) and end with the Words of Mormon. Once you are familiar with the Book of Mormon, it is very interesting to begin your study at Mosiah 1 and consider all of the things mentioned in the books from Mosiah to Moroni that actually originate in the books of 1 Nephi 1 to Omni–books that Joseph Smith would not have even translated yet!

Our good friends at Book of Mormon Central sent me a nice little chart that helps us see a possible timeline of events during the translation process of April-June of 1829. Perhaps you would like to try the #BOMTC by using this schedule as a guide:

Estimated Dates for the Day-by-Day Translation of the Book of Mormon

  • April-June of 1828, 116 pages of the Book of Mormon were translated by Joseph Smith; Martin Harris acted as the main scribe. During this time Joseph allowed Martin to take the transcript so that he could show it to certain individuals. As a result of this incident, the 116 pages were lost. However, some research suggests that Words of Mormon 1:13-18 was actually part of this original translation process.

April, 1829:

May, 1829

June, 1829

July, 1829

  • July 1, The Preface to the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon was written

*All dates are approximate. Please see the article, “Book of Mormon Translation,” an official essay published by the Church for additional insights.

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