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How Do the Witnesses of the Gold Plates Compare to the Witnesses of the Resurrection? Part 2

Post Author: Bill Pratt

In part 1, we started looking at Rob Bowman’s online exposition of how the witnesses of Jesus’s resurrection and the witnesses of Joseph Smith’s golden plates compare to each other.  We pick up where we left off.

Bowman next looks at the “contrast between the makeup of the collection of publicly identified witnesses to the Resurrection and the publicly identified witnesses to the gold plates.”

The witnesses to the Resurrection included at least five women (with Mary Magdalene as the first such witness); the witnesses to the gold plates included no women.

The witnesses to the Resurrection identified as family members of Jesus actually consisted only of, perhaps, two such family members, James and Cleopas (if, as some scholars think, he was the man by that name elsewhere identified as a family member).  An appearance to Jude may be implied, and it isn’t unreasonable to speculate that Jesus also appeared to other family members such as Mary.  Still, the named individuals who functioned as public witnesses to the Resurrection included only one or two family members of Jesus. The rest of the named witnesses were drawn from a dozen or more families, with at most two individuals from any one family (such as Simon Peter and Andrew, or James and John the sons of Zebedee).

By contrast, the witnesses to the gold plates were drawn almost entirely from two families, the Smith family and the Whitmer family.  Hiram Page married into the Whitmer family, which means that all of the “eight witnesses” were from the Whitmer and Smith families.  Oliver Cowdery was Joseph Smith’s second or third cousin.  David Whitmer was one of the “three witnesses.”  Thus, ten of the eleven witnesses were relatives of either Joseph Smith or David Whitmer!

Think about this.  Jesus’s resurrection was witnessed by numerous people who were not related to Jesus.  In the case of the golden plates, the witnesses mostly came from two families, one being Smith’s own – hardly a diverse group.  This puts into question the overall credibility of the golden plate witnesses, and certainly cannot compare to the diversity of the resurrection witnesses.

Bowman next looks at, perhaps, the most interesting comparison of the witnesses – their credibility after their experience.  In part 3 , we will look at the lives of the resurrection witnesses and the lives of the golden plate witnesses.  The contrast is glaring, to say the least.  See you then.


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  • D.Whitmer

    Don’t you think it ironic that Bowman uses the resurrection to try and discount the only book that confirms the Biblical account of the resurrection?
    Bowman and Pratt are woefully ignorant of both the Holy Book of Mormon and the Law of Witnesses.
    Nowhere in verse is there a requirement for more than two or three witnesses to establish doctrine. I give you three of them for the coming forth of that holy Nephite record:
    a. For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the LORD of hosts shall do this. (Isaiah 37:32)

    b. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold. (John 10:16, i.e. they weren’t the Gentiles as some propose)

    c. And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed. (Isaiah 29:11)
    Now for facts about the MANY witnesses with nothing to gain by lying:

    *Martin Harris (A previous employer of Joseph’s who paid his
    debts in Palmyra and provided safe transportation for he and his wife to
    Harmony. He acted as scribe and took copies of the characters to New
    York to show scholars. Lost 116 pages, saw the plates and angel. Never denied his testimony.)
    *Emma (Joseph’s wife, acted as scribe and was there when the
    plates were r*etrieved from the hill where they were buried. She
    witnessed many attacks against her husband as people tried to steal
    them from him.)
    *Reuben Hale (Emma’s brother acted as scribe.)
    *Isaac Hale (Emma’s father allowed them to live on his property and gave them protection. He was aware of the process.)
    *Samuel Smith (Joseph’s younger brother came and stayed for a while relieving Emma and Rueben and acted as scribe.)
    *Joseph Knight Sr. (Bought paper and supplies for Joseph so he could work uninterrupted. He traveled 30 miles each way to do so. He was aware of the process and testified in court that Joseph was a seer.)
    *Oliver Cowdery (A school teacher whom Jesus appeared to
    and instructed him to go and help Joseph – free of charge. He was
    scribe for most of the record. He saw the plates in vision before hand,
    and later in person by the angel. Later he disaffected from Joseph but never denied his testimony of The Book.)
    *Katharine Smith (Joseph’s sister who confirmed Joseph fasted and prayed several days after loosing 116 pages to Martin Harris.)
    *Mary Whitmer (Housed and fed Joseph, Emma and Oliver under the direction of an angel who showed her the plates. She too was aware of the process.)
    *Christian Whitmer (Eldest son of Mary, was a scribe.)
    *John Whitmer (A younger brother with an aptitude for writing, also a scribe, later to become church historian.)
    *David Whitmer (A younger brother, saw the angel and gold plates. He disaffected from Joseph but never denied his testimony of The Book.)
    *Elizabeth Ann Whitmer (Youngest sister, sat and watched the process, hour after hour.)
    *Hyrum (Joseph’s older brother, helped transport him, bring supplies, and oversaw the printing process.)
    *Lucy (Joseph’s mother was privy to the whole process as was his father Joseph Sr.)
    *Michael Morse (Emma’s brother-in-law saw the process.)
    *Sarah Heller Conrad (Hired servant in the Whitmer home at the time the process was going on. Witnessed heavenly glory upon them. Details below.)

    Sarah Heller Conrad By Oliver B. Huntington

    “Sunday, June 13, 1897-I conversed with one old lady eighty-eight
    years old who lived with David Whitmer when Joseph Smith and Oliver
    Cowdery were translating the Book of Mormon in the upper room of the
    house, and she, only a girl, saw them come down from [the] translating room several times when they looked so exceedingly white
    and strange that she inquired of Mrs. Whitmer the cause of their
    unusual appearance, but Mrs. Whitmer was unwilling to tell the hired
    girl the true cause, as it was a sacred, holy event connected with a holy, sacred work which was opposed and persecuted by nearly everyone who heard of it.
    The girl felt so strangely at seeing so strange and unusual
    appearance, she finally told Mrs. Whitmer that she would not stay with
    her until she knew the cause of the strange looks of these men. Sister Whitmer then told her what the men were doing in the room above and that the power of God was so great in the room
    that they could hardly endure it; at times angels were in the room in
    their glory, which nearly consumed them. This satisfied the girl.
    (Oliver B. Huntington, History of the Life of Oliver B. Huntington, p. 49-50)

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