Ask A Latter-day Saint: Historical Church Documents


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By Jeff Borders

I enjoy learning about your faith so thank you. I guess I could just ask Google, but I’m wondering when you talk about “ancient records that we believe were translated by Joseph Smith through the gift and power of God” what happened to the originals? Something so critical to the faith must be in a museum somewhere?

Questions regarding the whereabouts of historical church documents are not uncommon. First let me tackle the subject of the Egyptian papyri which I mentioned in my previous “Ask A Latter-Day Saint” column when I spoke of Kolob. We believe that Joseph Smith, though the power of revelation translated these papyri and they currently constitute what we know as the Book of Abraham. Some of the facsimiles which he drew from can be viewed in the book itself. The actual papyri are still owned by the church, and because of their fragile nature are kept in a climate controlled space to preserve them.

The other question that might arise is in regards to the plates from which Joseph Smith translated the text of the Book of Mormon. We believe it was through the direction of an angel (one of the ancient writers of the Book of Mormon) that Joseph Smith was led to the plates. Then once his translation was complete, that same angel, Moroni, took those plates back.

Now I fully realize that this may seem strange to some. Many might say, how can you know they even existed at all? Personally I rely on the testimony of those who did see the plates, and my own spiritual impressions that I have had throughout my own life. But one could ask the same thing of most Christians. We don’t have most if not all of the original texts that constitute the bible. For me, I think that even if I were able to see them, my testimony wouldn’t change, because ultimately it comes down to a matter of faith.

I hope that helps to answer your question.

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