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Joseph Smith-Earliest Summary of the Book of Mormon Translation


"I was married to Emma Hale, daughter of Isaac Hale, who lived in Harmony, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, on the 18th [of] January, A.D. 1827. On the 22nd day of September of this same year I obtained the plates, and in December following we moved to Susquehanna by the assistance of a man by the name of Martin Harris, who became convinced of the visions and gave me fifty dollars to bear my expenses. And because of his faith and this righteous deed, the Lord appeared unto him in a vision and showed unto him his marvelous work which he was about to do.

"And he immediately came to Susquehanna and said the Lord had shown him that he must go to New York City with some of the characters, so we proceeded to copy some of them, and he took his journey to the eastern cities–and to the learned, saying read this I pray thee, and the learned said I cannot, but if he would bring the plates they would read it, but the Lord had forbid it. And he returned to me and gave them to me to translate, and I said, [I] cannot, for I am learned, but the Lord had prepared spectacles for to read the book. Therefore I commenced translating the characters and thus the prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled which is written in the 29th chapter concerning the book.

"And it came to pass that after we had translated 116 pages, that he desired to carry them to read to his friends that peradventure he might convince them of the truth. Therefore I inquired of the Lord, and the Lord said unto me that he must not taken them, and I spoke unto him (Martin) the word of the Lord. And he said, inquire again, and I inquired again and also the third time. And the Lord said unto me, let him go with them, only he shall covenant with me that he will not show them to only but four persons. And he covenanted with the Lord that he would do according to the word of the Lord. Therefore he took them and took his journey unto his friends to Palmyra, Wayne County and State of New York. And he brake the covenant which he made before the Lord, and the Lord suffered the writings to fall into the hands of wicked men. And Martin was chastened for his transgression, and I also was chastened for my transgression for asking the Lord the third time. Wherefore the plates was taken from me by the power of God, and I was not able to obtain them for a season.

"And it came to pass after much humility and affliction of soul I obtained them again, when [the] Lord appeared unto a young man by the name of Oliver Cowdery and showed unto him the plate in a vision, and also the truth of the work and what the Lord was about to do through me, his unworthy servant. Therefore he was desirous to come and write for me to translate. Now my wife had written some for me to translate, and also my brother Samuel H. Smith, but we had become reduced in property. And my wife’s father was about to turn me out of doors, and I had not where to go. And I cried unto the Lord that he would provide for me to accomplish the work he had commanded me."

"A History of the Life of Joseph Smith, Jr.," written and dictated by the Prophet in 1832, The Papers of Joseph Smith, 1:9-10