Timeline Book Of Mormon Translation Essay

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Book of Mormon Charts

Section 1: The Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon

Section 2: The Structure of the Book of Mormon

Section 3: Chronology of the Book of Mormon

Section 4: Jesus Christ in Book of Mormon

Section 5: Teachings of the Book of Mormon

Section 6: Messages of the Book of Mormon

Section 7: Comparative Studies of the Book of Mormon

Section 8: Money in the Book of Mormon

Section 9: Law in the Book of Mormon

Section 10: Word Studies of the Book of Mormon

Section 11: War in the Book fo Mormon

Section 12: Cycles in the Book of Mormon

Section 13: Geography in the Book of Mormon

Section 14: The First Edition of the Book of Mormon

Section 15: Invitations of the Book of Mormon

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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 1:13-18was actually part of this original translation process.

April, 1829:

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

May, 1829

  • May 1, Alma 52–54
  • May 2, Alma 55–57
  • May 3, Alma 58–61
  • May 4, Alma 62 to Helaman 1
  • May 5, Helaman 2–4
  • May 6, Helaman 5–7
  • May 7, Helaman 8–10
  • May 8, Helaman 11–13
  • May 9, Helaman 14–16
  • May 10, 3 Nephi 1–3
  • May 11, 3 Nephi 4–6
  • May 12, 3 Nephi 7–10
  • May 13, 3 Nephi 11–12
  • May 14, 3 Nephi 13–15, leading to the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood
  • May 15, 3 Nephi 16–18, and the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood
  • May 16, 3 Nephi 19–21
  • May 17, 3 Nephi 22–23
  • May 18, Joseph and Oliver travel to Colesville to get supplies
  • May 19, Joseph and Oliver return from Colesville, and the power to give the gift of the Holy Ghost was received
  • May 20, 3 Nephi 24–27
  • May 21, 3 Nephi 28 to 4 Nephi, and D&C 7 may have been received
  • May 22, Mormon 1–4
  • May 23, Mormon 5–7
  • May 24, Mormon 8–9
  • May 25, Ether 1–3, and Samuel Smith was baptized
  • May 26, Ether 4–7
  • May 27, Ether 8–10
  • May 28, Ether 11–12
  • May 29, Ether 13 to Moroni 4
  • May 30, Moroni 5–8 and D&C 12 was received
  • May 31, Moroni 9–10 and Title Page, and D&C 11 was received. By this date the translation of the large plates was probably completed.

June, 1829

  • June 1, Joseph and Oliver pack and move from Harmony PA to Fayette NY
  • June 2, Travel to Fayette
  • June 3, Travel to Fayette
  • June 4, Arrive at Fayette
  • June 5, 1 Nephi 1–2
  • June 6, 1 Nephi 3–6
  • June 7, 1 Nephi 7–9, and D&C 15 and 16 were received
  • June 8, 1 Nephi 10–12, and D&C 14 was received
  • June 9, 1 Nephi 13–16, and D&C 18 was received
  • June 10, 1 Nephi 17–19
  • June 11, Copyright for the Book of Mormon was filed in federal court
  • June 12, 1 Nephi 20–22
  • June 13, 2 Nephi 1–3
  • June 14, Attend to Sunday church affairs
  • June 15, 2 Nephi 4–6
  • June 16, 2 Nephi 7–9
  • June 17, 2 Nephi 10–13
  • June 18, 2 Nephi 14–19
  • June 19, 2 Nephi 20–24
  • June 20, 2 Nephi 25–27; 27:12 probably promting the Three Witnesses
  • June 21, Attend to Sunday church affairs;  about this time Oliver prepares the “Articles of the Church of Christ”
  • June 22, 2 Nephi 28–31, and D&C 17 was received
  • June 23, 2 Nephi 32–33,and the Three Witnessed received their manifestation by Moroni
  • June 24, Jacob 1–3
  • June 25, Jacob 4–5
  • June 26, Jacob 6–7
  • June 27, Enos and Jarom
  • June 28, Omni and Words of Mormon, translation probably completed
  • June 29, About this time, the Eight Witnesses shown the plates in Manchester, NY
  • June 30, the testimonies of the Three and the Eight Witnesses were written

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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