More on Mormon Gold PLates

I know that the original thread was closed, but that was on account of some stupidity and name-calling. I’m hoping we can be mature and not sink into that sort of thing. I also hope I’m not violating any rules by re-addressing this, because I just came back on, and one question wasn’t answered correctly.

What you’re referring to almost certainly isn’t the Kinderhook Plate (a 19th century hoax that has since been disproven, and which didn’t originally have anything directly to do with the Mormons), but the so-called “Anthon Transcript”. Shortly after Joseph Smith started translating the gold plates, his friend and financial backer Martin Harris (who ultimately mortgaged his house in order to pay for the first publication of the Book of Mormon) took a copy of some of the characters from the Book (along with Smith’s translations) down to New York City to be inspected by a Professor Anthon, supposedly an expert on Ancient Egypt.

This as before the knowledge of hieroglyphics due to Champollion and the oft-neglected Thomas Young became widely known, so it’s likely that no one in New York City was able to translate hieroglyphics. According to the account given by Harris, Anthon was impressed by the characters of “reformed egyptian” and the translation. According to an account supposed to have been written by Anthon himself (and repriented in, among other books, the workds of Gerald and Sylvia Tanner, whence I have them), Anthon recognized the characters as spurious and non-Egyptian. Which is correct? You pays your belief money and you takes your chances. I was brung up non-LDS, so I’m forced to take option two. I have LDS friends who were raised on this belief, and they take option 1. The best thing to do, I think, is to simply note our differences. None of us are stupid people, but it’s unlikely that any of us are going to change our minds.
Anthon described the document that he saw. Years later, a document surfaced in the possession of one of the LDS founders who had left the Church (although he didn’t deny it), claming to be a copy of the characters. It’s also called the Anthon Transcript, even though it doesn’t actually resemble Anthon’s description. He said that the characters were written in vertical columns, with a figure in a circle at the end. The existing transcript is in horizontal rows, with no circle at the end.

Around 1980 a guy named Hoffman claimed to have found THE original Antho transcript, stuck between two pages in a Smith family bible. It was on old paper folded into quarters, and it resembled Anthon’s description. The LDS Church was ecstatic. When the LDS Museum of Church History frst opened, they published four documents as souvenirs, copies of important Church documents, and the Hoffman Anthon transcript was one of these. The Tanners also published copies in their books.

About five years later Hoffma was arrested for mrder, attempted murder, and forgery. He’d produced a great many LDS Church documents and essentially blackmailed the LDS Church into buying them at inflated prices. Then he released the contents to LDS Church Critics, anyway. When one such scheme started to unravel, he killed one person with a pipe bomb and tried to set others. He was caught in the explosion of one of his bombs, but survived. ne condition for a lighter sentence was to tell all. He told how he’d forged all the Church documents, some of them highly embarassing but false). He’s in prison still, for life.
What amazes me is his research and psychology. He knew which documents people were looking for, and what they expected to find in them. The Anthon Manuscript was a prime example – his version matches Anthon’s description, making it seem authentic. But it’s even better than that – Hoffman’s version makes the previous “Anthon transcript” look like a bad copy of Hofman’s document!
So that’s the story. None of the Gold PLates is around today, but we have the Whitmer copy and a few other copies of some of the characters (some reportedly appeared in advertsements for the BoM).

OK, so if there are any authenticated copies of the gold plate characters such as you describe, it should be a simple enough matter to verify if they correspond to any of the four known Egyptian writing systems (hieroglyphic, hieratic, demotic, Coptic). Let’s see 'em!

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a definition of exactly what “reformed Egyptian” means, though. Reformed by who? Based on what?

Cal, you are correct.

When I posted the explanation of the Kinderhook Plates, I had read the question as asking if “One of the gold plates is said to exist,” not "A copy of one of the gold plates is said to exist.

The only thing I could think of that fit what I thought was said was one of the Kinderhook Plates, which still does exist.

And yes, let’s please keep this civil. And for those of you who don’t know, I was raised LDS, am a returned missionary, and left the church over 20 years ago. I am currently a non-believer in the LDS religion, though my early church training lives on and I can answer most questions about basic LDS belief.

Current changes to the religion, however, can stump me at times…

I found the source of my “Hill Cumorah cavern filled with metal plates and other records” lesson. It is apparently Brigham Young reporting something that Oliver Cowdery told him:

[quote=Journal of Discourses, Vol.19, p.40, Brigham Young, June 17,
I lived right in the country where the plates were found from which
the Book of Mormon was translated, and I know a great many things
pertaining to that country. I believe I will take the liberty to tell
you of another circumstance that will be as marvelous as anything can
be. This is an incident in the life of Oliver Cowdery, but he did not
take the liberty of telling such things in meeting as I take. I tell
these things to you, and I have a motive for doing so. I want to
carry them to the ears of my brethren and sisters, and to the children
also, that they may grow to an understanding of some things that seem
to be entirely hidden from the human family. Oliver Cowdery went with
the Prophet Joseph when he deposited these plates. Joseph did not
translate all of the plates; there was a portion of them sealed, which
you can learn from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. When Joseph
got the plates, the angel instructed him to carry them back to the
hill Cumorah, which he did. Oliver says that when Joseph and Oliver
went there, the hill opened, and they walked into a cave, in which
there was a large and spacious room. He says he did not think, at the
time, whether they had the light of the sun or artificial light; but
that it was just as light as day. They laid the plates on a table; it
was a large table that stood in the room. Under this table there was
a pile of plates as much as two feet high, and there were altogether
in this room more plates than probably many wagon loads; they were
piled up in the corners and along the walls. The first time they went
there the sword of Laban hung upon the wall; but when they went again
it had been taken down and laid upon the table across the gold plates;
it was unsheathed, and on it was written these words: “This sword
will never be sheathed again until the kingdoms of this world become
the kingdom of our God and his Christ.”

Also, the Wikipedia article on Reformed Egyptian has a picture of the “Caractors” document, which is usually called the Anthon Transcript. It doesn’t match Anthon’s description of what he saw … but the article goes into much greater detail about it.

So can we start from this, please?

Can anyone provide a cite for an actual “Professor Anthon”, employed by some school in the New York City area in the 1870’s or 1880’s?

The official Mormon guide I got (while touring the Mormon temple in Salt lake City) says that Smith dug up the golden plates in a stone box! It says nothing about any cave. We have a serious issue here…which is the correct story?
Look, I can accept that a prophet sets out to found a religion. I cannot accept two different versions being bandied about. Don’t forget, these events took placein the 1800’s…not 2000 years ago. So there were witnesses, letters, newspaper accounts etc. Which is the truth?

The plates which Joseph Smith translated were dug up from a stone box, where he was directed by the Angel Moroni to find them. According to Joseph Smith, and also the text of the Book of Mormon, the account which we have is an abridgement of over 1000 years of history compiled by Moroni’s father Mormon (hence the name Book of Mormon).

The cave which is referenced in Brigham Young’s account is when Joseph was instructed to return the plates. This may or may not be the cave where Mormon did his work, condensing the plates which he had collected into the much smaller set which was then buried in the hill for Joseph to find. No contradiction here.

No joy. What I got from the OP is that what was alleged to be a founder’s copy of the transcript did not look like what was reportedly examined by Anthon; that whether Anthon himself authenticated or refuted the transcript is in question and is based on second-hand accounts; and that the allegedly “rediscovered” “original” of the transcript was “unearthed” by someone who turned out to be a forger. IOW, no “authenticated” copies.

This would have been in the late 1820’s – the Book of Mormon was published in 1830.

Not exactly an authoritative cite

I’m not saying Wikipedia is authoritative in general (although it’s surprisingly reliable for most subjects, in my experience, as long as the subject isn’t under active dispute by pro- and con- factions), but the information on Charles Anthon comes basically verbatim from the 1911 Encyclopadia Brittanica.

“Encyclopaedia Brittanica,” rather.

OK, I puled out my copy of Mormonism: Shadow or Reality by the Tanners to look this stuff up. (I knw I’ve been taken to task over citing the Tanners, but my position remains that they are not the evil liars they are made out to be. Certainly they’re not as bad as whoever you plan on voting against Nov. 2.) On. p. 105 of the 1982 Fourth edition thy note that Anthon was a professor t Columbia Unversity, so he had his chops.

Looking over the transcripts, I can state that, even to a layman like myself, they are obviously not hieratic or hieroglyphic script. Although I can suggest that Smith’s calling them “reformed Egyptian” gives him wiggle room to claim that they’re is something else.
I also see that I;m wrong in my recollection about the Kinderhook Plates – they were originally made specifically to try to trap Joseph Smith. Smith stated that he might be able o translate a portion of them, but he was mordered before he published anything, so the issue of whether he was taken in is arguably unresolved.
By the way, as soon as Hoffman’s guilt was clear, the LDS Church withdrew the facsimile of their version of the Anthon Transcript. I treasure my copy.

Well, your position is simply wrong. I showed you quite clearly that they are in fact evil liars.

It’s a bit dishonest to cite the most prominent anti-Mormons about LDS facts. Will you next be citing creationist websites about the facts about evolution?

At any rate, Harris’ account of his visit to Prof. Anthon is recorded here. Who you believe shouldn’t depend on how you were brought up but rather on investigation of the facts. It’s pretty much a he-said-she-said story. But keep in mind that Harris mortgaged his farm to pay for the publication of the Book of Mormon.

This summary

is a bit off as I understand it. IIRC the LDS church policy at the time was to buy up pretty much any LDS-related artifact and evaluate it later. I’ve never seen any evidence that Hoffman “blackmailed” anyone. And of course, frauds are typically purchased at inflated prices. I don’t recall any indication that the price of the documents was unusually high for that type of document at the time.

At any rate, if you’re going to substantiate those claims, it’ll have to be a source other than the Tanners.

If you’ll read my post, you’ll note that I noted his.

As for Anthon’s side of the story, th Tanners are citing Lambs book – I]ve checked it, and, assumng that Lamb accurately. as for it’s being a “he-said-she-said” type of story, that’s precisely what I wrote. id you even read my post?

This de ja vu stuff is getting tiresome.

Cal and emarkp.

You’ve been doing this for some years now.

Take it the f*** out of GQ.

And don’t EVER bring it back!

samclem GQ moderator.