85 Days

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 he began again, so we must use our historical and contextual clues to help us determine which option we think is correct.

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 on the Large Plates.

Although I have set up the #BOMTC reading schedule to begin at 1 Nephi 1 and end with Moroni 10, I sometimes 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 Mosiah to Moroni BUT that originate in 1 Nephi 1 to Omni–books that Joseph Smith would not have 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

  • 1828 Words of Mormon 1:13-18 (only part retained from the 116 pages)

April, 1829:

  • April 5 Oliver Cowdery arrives in Harmony, Pennsylvania
  • April 6 Joseph purchases his and Emma’s cabin from his father-in-law on the Hale property
  • 7 Translation begins: Mosiah 1-3
  • 8 Mosiah 4-7
  • 9 Mosiah 8-11
  • 10 Mosiah 12-16
  • 11 Mosiah 17-20
  • 12 Sunday, Mosiah 21-25
  • 13 Mosiah 26-28
  • 14 Mosiah 29-Alma 2
  • 15 Alma 3-6
  • 16 Alma 7-10
  • 17 Alma 11-13
  • 18 Alma 14-17
  • 19 Sunday, Alma 18-19, about this time wrote a letter to David Whitmer
  • 20 Alma 20-23
  • 21 Alma 25-26
  • 22 Alma 27-30
  • 23 Alma 31-33
  • 24 Alma 34-36
  • 25 Alma 37-39
  • 26 Alma 38-40
  • 27 Alma 41-43
  • 28 Sunday, Alma 44-45, about this time wrote a letter to David Whitmer
  • 29 Alma 46-48
  • 30 Alma 49-51

May, 1829

  • May 1 Alma 52-54
  • 2 Alma 55-57
  • 3 Alma 58-61
  • 4 Alma 62-63/Helaman 1
  • 5 Sunday, Helaman 2-4
  • 6 Helaman 5-7
  • 7 Helaman 8-10
  • 8 Helaman 11-13
  • 9 Helaman 14-16
  • 10 About this time traveled 30 miles to Colesville
  • 11 About this time traveled 30 miles back from Colesville
  • 12 Sunday, 3Nephi 1-3
  • 13 3Nephi 4-6
  • 14 3Nephi 7-10
  • 15 3Nephi 11-12, Restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood prompted by 3 Nephi 11:25
  • 16 3Nephi 13-15
  • 17 3Nephi 16-18
  • 18 3Nephi 19-21
  • 19 Sunday, 3Nephi 22-23
  • 20 3Nephi 24-27
  • 21 3Nephi 29-30 and 4Nephi
  • 22 Mormon 1-4
  • 23 Mormon 5-7
  • 24 Mormon 8-9 and Ether 1
  • 25 Sunday, Ether 2-3, Samuel Smith baptized
  • 26 Ether 4-7
  • 27 Ether 8-10
  • 28 Ether 11-12, Hyrum Smith arrives, David Whitmer arrives
  • 29 Ether 13-15/Moro 1-4
  • 30 Moroni 5-8
  • 31 Moroni 9-10, Title Page. By this date the translation of the large plates was finished.

June, 1829

  • June 1 Sunday
  • 2 Move from Harmon, travel to Fayette
  • 3 Travel to Fayette
  • 4 Travel to Fayette
  • 5 Unpack in Fayette, resume translation, 1Nephi 1-2
  • 6 1Nephi 3-6
  • 7 1Nephi 7-10
  • 8 Sunday, 1Nephi 11-12
  • 9 1Nephi 13-16
  • 10 1Nephi 17-19
  • 11 Copyright filed in Western District Court of the United States
  • 12 1Nephi 20-22
  • 13 2Nephi 1-3
  • 14 2Nephi 4-6, Oliver wrote a letter to Hyrum
  • 15 Sunday, D&C 14, 15, 16, 18, baptism of Hyrum, David and Peter Whitmer Jr, and others
  • 16 2Nephi 7-9
  • 17 2Nephi 10-13
  • 18 2Nephi 14-19
  • 19 2Nephi 20-24
  • 20 2Nephi 25-27; 27:12 will prompt the showing to the Three Witnesses
  • 21 2Nephi 28-31
  • 22 Sunday, about this time Oliver prepares the “Articles of the Church of Christ”
  • 23 2Nephi 32-33, about this time the Three Witnesses see Moroni
  • 24 Jacob 1-3
  • 25 Jacob 4-5
  • 26 Jacob 6-7
  • 27 Enos and Jarom
  • 28 Omni, Words of Mormon, Translation completed
  • 29 Sunday, in Manchester, New York, about this time, the Eight Witnesses shown the plates
  • 30 By this date, the entire translation was finished

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

Sources for this post:


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