Seer Stones and Translations: Brant Gardner's "The Gift and the Power" August 18 2015
On August 4, 2015, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints published photos for the first time of the seer stone Joseph Smith claimed to have used to translate the Book of Mormon, as well as the handwritten printer's manuscript of the book. While the photos and recognition of the seer stone may have been an exciting moment for those more acquainted with this aspect of early Mormon history, for others the appearance of the stone on their social media and news outlets may been unsettling--especially when the idea of the Prophet using such a stone seemed to counter the stories and portrayals of the translation process that they were more familiar with.
As a resource to perhaps help with some of the concerns, confusion, and questions that have arisen we would like to share a couple chapters from our 2011 publication, The Gift and Power: Translating the Book of Mormon. In this book, Brant Gardner explores all the pertinent issues and questions surrounding the translation of the Book of Mormon, including how Joseph's own cultural understanding contributed to his method of translation and why the book contains both Hebraisms, lengthy passages from the King James Bible, and anachronistic language and ideas.
Perhaps most intriguingly, Gardner explores in detail the phenomenon of the seer stone and provides a comprehensive theory as to why Joseph Smith thought a rather ordinary stone might be a tool to help him translate a book of scripture.
Gardner's meticulously researched and thought-provoking book is possibly the best published work available on the translation of the Book of Mormon.