Urim and Thummim in LDS General Conference

This is a list of references in LDS General Conference to the translation of the Book of Mormon by means of the Urim and Thummim, taken from the database in BYU's WordCruncher. The earliest such reference was in 1856. The most recent was in 2007.

Early speakers are identified by initials and references to the Journal of Discourses (JD) and Conference Reports (CR).

JMG = Jedediah M. Grant

OP = Orson Pratt

HCK = Heber C. Kimball

BY = Brigham Young

WW = Wilford Woodruff

JT = John Taylor

ES = Erastus Snow

GQC = George Q. Cannon

At the end of the document are the only references to "seer stone(s)" found in all the conference reports. 

U&T in General Conference (95 references) (1854-2007)

Let us then confine our remarks to this dispensation, when the Prophet Joseph Smith was visited by an holy angel, clad in robes of light, who authorized him to sound the trump of the Gospel of peace, and receive the sacred records from the earth, and the Urim and Thummim,

(1850s1854, JMG Power of ¶7 • JD 2:12)


The people of God in these last days differ from other sects of religionists. How can it be otherwise, when our testimony is so different, when the first proclamation we heard was so different, when the restoration of the Book of Mormon, its translation by the use of the Urim and Thummim, the gifts and blessings of the Holy Ghost, the administration of angels, and everything connected with our religion, are so different from that to which the world have been accustomed?

(1850s1855, JMG Faith ¶29 • JD 2:278)


We should naturally suppose that the Lord intended to make this unlearned man read the book; that was indeed the fact, he was commanded of the Lord to read it, and he translated it by the means of a Urim and Thummim, which is well known to be an instrument used in ancient times, through which people inquired of the Lord.

(1850s1855, OP Ancient ¶15 • JD 2:288)


Paul also speaks of the only wise God. Perhaps some may suppose that it is translated improperly. But you will find the same thing in the Book of Mormon, translated by the Urim and Thummim; the same things are also contained in the new translation of the book of Genesis, given to Moses, where the Lord declares that, “There is no God besides me.”

(1850s1855, OP Holy Spirit ¶67 • JD 2:345)


It is for this object—namely, the salvation and redemption of the poor, lost, degraded sons of the forest, that God has given the Urim and Thummim, and caused to be translated one of the most glorious sacred records, or histories that was ever introduced into the world by mortal man.

(1850s1855, OP Salvation ¶1 • JD 9:174–JD 9:175)


Did God come himself? No: he sent Moroni and told him there was a record, and says he, “That record is matter that pertains to the Lamanites, and it tells when their fathers came out of Jerusalem, and how they came, and all about it;” and, says he, “If you will do as I tell you, I will confer a gift upon you.” Well, he conferred it upon him, because Joseph said he would do as he told him. “I want you to go to work and take the Urim and Thummim, and translate this book, and have it published, that this nation may read it.” Do you not see, by Joseph receiving the gift that was conferred upon him, you and I have that record?

(1850s1857, HCK Truth, Life ¶9 • JD 6:29)


If it has been translated by the gift and power of God, through the means of the Urim and Thummim, and angels have been sent from heaven to bear testimony of its truth, then all the inhabitants of the world are concerned and have an interest in it.

(1850s1859, OP Evidences ¶7 • JD 7:22)

He testifies that he was sent by an angel of God to bring these gold plates to light—that he obtained with them the Urim and Thummim, and translated the book.

(1850s1859, OP Evidences ¶45 • JD 7:29)


Joseph Smith, Jun., could not be deceived himself; for it was by an angel that he was commanded to go to the place where the records were deposited; it was by an angel he was told to take them from the place of their long deposit, together with the Urim and Thummim; and it was by the Urim and Thummim, connected with prayer, that he was enabled to translate the plates into the English language: consequently, he could not be deceived.

(1850s1859, OP Evidences ¶50 • JD 7:30)


In the year 1827 he was permitted to take those plates from their long deposit, and with them the Urim and Thummim—a sacred instrument such as was used by ancient Prophets among Israel to inquire of the Lord. He was commanded of the Lord, notwithstanding his youth and inexperience, to translate the engravings upon those plates into the English language. He did so, and others wrote from his mouth.

(1850s1859, OP Theocracy. ¶43 • JD 7:221)


The Lord had not spoken to the inhabitants of this earth for a long time, until He spoke to Joseph Smith, committed to him the plates on which the Book of Mormon was engraved, and gave him a Urim and Thummim to translate a portion of them, and told him to print the Book of Mormon, which he did, and sent it to the world, according to the word of the Lord.

(1860s1864, BY Earth the Home ¶21 • JD 10:303)


Temporal and spiritual things are inseparably connected, and ever will be. The first act that Joseph Smith was called to do by the angel of God, was, to get the plates from the hill Cumorah, and then translate them, and he got Martin Harris and Oliver Cowdery to write for him. He would read the plates, by the aid of the Urim and Thummim, and they would write.

(1860s1864, BY Temporal ¶14 • JD 10:364)


But God Himself is the author of the Book of Mormon. He inspired the ideas it contains, and gave them by the Urim and Thummim.

(1860s1867, OP Experience ¶8 • JD 12:87–JD 12:88)


The angel further commanded him, instead of going to work, to go to the hill that was shown him in vision and see the plates. His father told him to do as the angel had commanded him. He therefore started according to the instructions of the angel. When he had traveled about three miles in the direction indicated he came to the place and instantly recognized it by seeing objects which had been shown him the night previous in his vision. He uncovered the spot of ground, took off the crowning stone on the stone box, and there beheld the sacred record of the ancient inhabitants of this continent; by its side lay the Urim and Thummim, an instrument for its translation.

(1860s1869, OP Mormonism ¶14 • JD 12:357)


The work of translation was done with the Urim and Thummim, for Mr. Smith was not a learned man, and in fact was scarcely in possession of an ordinary common school education. He could write a little, but was by no means an expert penman, and, in the work of translation, he had to employ first one and then another to write the words of the records as he translated them with the Urim and Thummim, consequently the manuscripts of the Book of Mormon were written by different scribes.

(1860s1869, OP Mormonism ¶15 • JD 12:357)


Here, then, was a reality—something great and glorious, and after having received from time to time, visits from these glorious personages, and talking with them, as one man would talk with another, face to face, beholding their glory, he was permitted to go and take these plates from the place of their deposit—plates of gold—records, some of which were made nearly six hundred years before Christ. And then, to show still further a reality, something tangible, the Urim and Thummim, a glorious instrument, used by ancient seers, was also obtained with the record, through which, by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost and by the commandment of Almighty God, he translated that record into our language, and the book was published in the fore part of the year 1830.

(1860s1869, OP Revelations ¶13 • JD 13:66)


Where is our prophet who translated this book, that noble youth whom God raised up when only between fourteen and fifteen years of age? Where is that noble boy to whom God sent His angel, and to whom He gave the Urim and Thummim, and to whom He entrusted the original golden plates from which this book was translated? He fell a martyr to his religion under this free Government of the United States.

(1870s1870, OP Latter-day ¶40 • JD 13:136)


And having revealed this book, and it having been translated by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost—the same gift and spirit which enabled Joseph Smith to interpret the language of this record by the use of the Urim and Thummim; I say, having done this, the Lord commanded his servants to organize his Church

(1870s1870, OP Restoration ¶30 • JD 14:299)


In the year 1827, Joseph Smith, then a young man, took these records from their place of concealment, and, by the aid of the Urim and Thummim, translated them. In the presence of three witnesses, the angel took the plates and turned them over, leaf after leaf, showing them the characters thereon, and told them that they had been translated correctly.

(1870s1871, OP Blessings ¶9 • JD 14:11)


The crowning stone that covered the box was oval; by taking away the turf from its edges he succeeded, by the use of a lever, in raising it from the box. When he saw the plates, he also saw an instrument that was called by the ancient prophets a Urim and Thummim. While he was thus gazing upon the plates, the angel came again to him, and as he was about to put forth his hand to take them, forbade him, saying that he needed further experience; that they could not be entrusted with anyone only with those having an eye single to the glory of God; that they were sacred records, and that no person could have them for speculative purposes; and gave him certain commandments to keep, and told him to visit that place again one year from that time when he would again meet with him. He did so at the expiration of the year, and did so until four years had passed away; and on the morning of the 22nd of September, 1827, the angel permitted him to take the plates, and also the Urim and Thummim.

(1870s1871, OP Fulfillment ¶29 • JD 14:142)


After Martin Harris returned to Joseph Smith and told him the conversation that had taken place, how that Professor Anthon could not decipher the records, Joseph inquired of the Lord, and the Lord commanded him that he should translate the records, and that he should do it through the medium of the Urim and Thummim. He commenced translating, but being a poor scribe, he employed Martin Harris to write some for him; he also employed other scribes to write from his mouth, and at intervals continued to work upon the farm.

(1870s1871, OP Fulfillment ¶31 • JD 14:143)


These records, four hundred and twenty years after the birth of Christ, were hidden up, at least that was the last date given on them. With them was deposited a sacred instrument that was possessed by the people on this continent, called the Urim and Thummim. Many predictions were uttered, not only by Moroni, but by many previous prophets, that these records in the last days, should be brought to light by the ministration of holy messengers; that God would bring them forth in order to prepare the way before the coming of his Son from the heavens.

(1870s1871, OP Gathering ¶9 • JD 14:259)


The plainness we don’t dispute, we know that it is so plain that a wayfaring man though a fool need not err therein; all that we want to know in regard to the matter is, has God given that book, or is it an invention of man? What evidence have you to offer, inquires the stranger, to prove the divine authenticity of your book? You have the testimony of Joseph Smith. He says that an angel came and revealed to him the Book of Mormon, and that he was commanded by the Lord Almighty to go and get the plates, according to the vision that was shown to him at the time the angel came and conversed with him, that he obtained the plates, and he says he translated them by the Urim and Thummim.

(1870s1871, OP Gathering ¶11 • JD 14:260)


Moroni informs us that after the Lord should establish in the latter days a great and powerful nation of the Gentiles on the face of this land, and should deliver them by his power out of the hands of all other nations, then the Lord would bring forth this abridgment, these plates which Moroni was commanded to hide up; that the records should be revealed, that the individual who should discover them should, by the aid of the Urim and Thummim, be able to translate the records from the language in which they were written into our language, that these records should be brought forth expressly to accomplish the great purposes of the Lord in the last days in regard to warning all the nations of the Gentiles first,

(1870s1872, OP Nephite ¶12 • JD 14:331–JD 14:332)


And if we take the history of any man, from the days Joseph Smith received the plates from the hill Cumorah, and translated the Book of Mormon by the Urim and Thummim, until today, whoever has raised his hand against this work has felt the chastening hand of Almighty God upon him;

(1870s1872, WW Testimony ¶4 • JD 15:9)


With the plates was an instrument, called the Urim and Thummim, used by Seers in ancient times, and which enabled them to understand the things of God. The great High Priest used such an instrument in the midst of Israel on the other continent, and inquired of the Lord to receive sentence of judgment in difficult cases that were brought before him to be judged. Aaron had a Urim and Thummim in the center of his breastplate; and when the cases were brought before him, the breastplate of judgment, containing the Urim and Thummim, was consulted, and whatever sentence the Lord gave, Aaron gave to the people of Israel. The Prophets who deposited those plates in the hill Cumorah were commanded of the Lord to deposit the Urim and Thummim with them, so that when the time came for them to be brought forth, the individual who was entrusted with them might be able to translate them by the gift and power of God.

(1870s1872, OP Review of ¶12 • JD 15:184)


In that record the man’s name was pointed out as well as the work he was to do. Joseph Smith knew nothing of all this until after he was administered to by the angel of God; he had no knowledge of this when he brought forth that record to the world, and until he translated it, by the Urim and Thummim, into the English language.

(1870s1873, WW Unchangeable ¶7 • JD 16:265)


Before he was baptized he translated the greater part of the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost, through the aid of the Urim and Thummim.

(1870s1873, OP Distinguish ¶3 • JD 16:285)


These promises were made to the believers in our day; and moreover Joseph Smith declared that when he obtained the plates of the Book of Mormon, it was by an angel flying through the midst of heaven, who directed him by vision to the place where these plates were deposited—the hill Cumorah in the State of New York. He was also commanded of the Almighty to translate the contents of these plates by the aid of the Urim and Thummim, which were found deposited with the plates, and he translated them according to God’s command.

(1870s1874, OP Stick of ¶27 • JD 16:350)


Joseph Smith could not be deceived when the angel told him to go and obtain these plates, and gave him a vision of the very place where they were deposited, and he actually obtained them, and with them the Urim and Thummim, by which he translated them. There was no possibility of his being deceived in relation to the matter.

(1870s1874, OP Gospel ¶9 • JD 17:268)


The Lord commanded him not only to hide up the record, but also to deposit with it the Urim and Thummim, an instrument used by the ancient seers who dwelt on this Continent. The Lord promised Moroni that, in the latter days, he would bring forth that book out of the ground, that it should whisper out of the dust; that it should speak unto the living as if it were from the dead, and when he should bring it forth this Urim and Thummim, deposited with it, should enable the finder to translate it into the language of the people who should then inherit the land.

(1870s1874, OP Joseph Smith’s ¶6 • JD 17:281)


When Martin Harris reported to this boy, what the learned had said, and how they had proceeded in relation to this matter, the Lord God commanded this young man to translate the record himself, through the aid of the Urim and Thummim. But he made this excuse—“I am not learned.”

(1870s1874, OP Joseph Smith’s ¶9 • JD 17:283)


He received the knowledge that they were once in possession of the Gospel, and from that time he went on, step by step, until he obtained the plates, and the Urim and Thummim, and had power to translate them.

(1870s1874, BY Secret of ¶10 • JD 18:239–JD 18:240)


I answer that the Lord was consistent, and that when he sent this everlasting Gospel by his angel, he did not forget, when the work was translated by the Urim and Thummim, to again send an angel from heaven to ordain individuals by the laying on of hands to administer the ordinances of the Gospel, and to call them as Aaron was called, by new revelation.

(1870s1875, OP Second ¶20 • JD 17:315)


Have we faith in God and in his revelations? Have we faith in our own religion? Have we faith in Jesus Christ? Have we faith in the words of the Prophets? Have we faith in Joseph Smith, who, by the aid of the Urim and Thummim, translated the Book of Mormon, giving a record of the ancient inhabitants of this country, and through whom the Lord gave the revelations contained in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants? If we have faith in these things, then we certainly should prepare ourselves for the fulfillment of them.

(1870s1875, WW Parable of ¶8 • JD 18:111)


With these plates that Joseph Smith, the Prophet, obtained through the instructions of the angel, he also obtained the Urim and Thummim, and by their aid he copied a few characters from the plates, and translated them. He was not a learned man himself, but an ignorant farmer’s boy, scarcely having the first rudiments of education.

(1870s1875, OP Book of ¶6 • JD 18:156–JD 18:157)


Mr. Harris left him, and returned, some two hundred and fifty miles or more, to the neighborhood where the plates were found, and informed Mr. Smith of his success with the learned, after which the Lord gave a special command to Joseph, unlearned as he was, that he should translate the record by the aid of the Urim and Thummim. Mr. Smith commenced the work of translation.

(1870s1875, OP Book of ¶7 • JD 18:157)


Inquires one—“Did this angel give any authority to Joseph Smith, and to others to whom he revealed himself, to baptize?” Not at all. He revealed the record, and Joseph was commanded to translate it by the aid of the Urim and Thummim that was with it, and he was told that it would be sent to all nations, kindreds, tongues and people.

(1870s1876, OP Restoration ¶18 • JD 18:175)


I have also read these things for the benefit of strangers who may be present on this occasion. It is not to be expected that they will read it, for they do not believe it is a divine record; they do not believe that God has spoken, or that Joseph Smith was raised up to bring it forth to the children of men, by the power of the Urim and Thummim. It is not expected, therefore, that they will read a work that they have no faith in. They do not want to have faith in it, they do not consider it a matter of sufficient importance even to inquire of the Lord whether it is true or not. And yet, sometimes they may have, for a few moments, a feeling in their hearts that they would like to know what is contained in the “Book of Mormon;” hence, I have read this that you may have an idea what is contained in this book, on which the Latter-day Saints found their faith, as well as on the Bible.

You will perceive, Latter-day Saints, how this Urim and Thummim was formed in the first place. It was not something that existed on the earth in a natural state, it was something made by the Lord. He is a good mechanic, he understands how to make things.

(1870s1877, OP King Limhi ¶33–34 • JD 19:213–JD 19:214)


He made the Urim and Thummim, and we have an account of his making it in the words which I have been reading. Two crystal stones that he gave unto the brother of Jared were made by him. When ye shall write these things, ye shall seal them up, also the interpreters, until the Lord shall see fit, in his own due time, to reveal them to the children of men.

(1870s1877, OP King Limhi ¶34 • JD 19:214)


When that is brought forth, I expect that the same Urim and Thummim which the Lord gave to Joseph Smith will come forth with these plates, and they will be translated, but by whom I know not. Who will be the favored Seer and Revelator that will be raised up among this people to bring this revelation to light, is not revealed to me. And not only this revelation, but those twenty-four plates of gold which contain the doings of the old Jaredite nation that inhabited this North American continent; at present we have only an abridgment, not a hundredth part of their history. These plates of gold will come forth, as well as many other records kept by the first nation—the Jaredites, that came here; and I have no doubt that the Lord will give the Urim and Thummim to translate them.

(1870s1877, OP King Limhi ¶41 • JD 19:217)


The angel also told him that with these plates there was an instrument called the Urim and Thummim, which would enable him to translate the records into our language. Joseph accomplished the work of translation between the years 1827 and 1830, through the use of this instrument, which had been hidden up with the plates. Could he be deceived, when he got the plates before him, intently looking upon the peculiar characters engraved upon them, and also upon that most singular instrument, the Urim and Thummim?

(1870s1878, OP Marvelous ¶9 • JD 19:354)


For by faith Joseph Smith received the ministration of God out of heaven. By faith he received the records of Nephi, and translated them through the Urim and Thummim into our own language, and which have since been translated into many different languages.

(1870s1878, WW Faith ¶3 • JD 19:357)


Thus you see one of the first gifts bestowed by the Lord for the benefit of His people, was that of revelation—the gift to translate, by the aid of the Urim and Thummim, the gift of bringing to light old and ancient records.

(1870s1878, OP Book of ¶2 • JD 20:65)


I would ask, if the Latter-day Saints know of anything, greater than that which is contained in the Book of Mormon. What a wonderful thing the Book of Mormon is, to be brought forth by an angel sent from heaven to be translated from the ancient languages of this country into our English language, to have the Urim and Thummim given to the translator by which the words were translated.

(1870s1878, OP Book of ¶5 • JD 20:69)


This was the first duty required at his hands—namely, to translate from the plates of gold, which he discovered, by the aid of an instrument, called the Urim and Thummim. This sacred instrument was used in ancient times to inquire of the Lord.

(1870s1879, OP Discourse ¶2 • JD 20:143)


This young man being inspired of God, and having revelations granted to him from heaven, had the privilege of bringing forth this sacred record to this generation. The record was translated, as the Latter-day Saints understand, and as the world generally have been informed, by revelation, by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, through the aid of an instrument that was used anciently and called the Urim and Thummim. The Lord did not, in revealing this work to us, require us to receive it blindly and enthusiastically, but to receive it on good, substantial, sound evidence, such as we cannot controvert, such as we cannot contradict—evidence that no reasonable person, having the common reasoning faculties of man, can consistently reject.

(1870s1879, OP on the Book ¶3 • JD 21:129)


This angel committed, as I have always said, the plates of the Book of Mormon, together with the Urim and Thummim, into the hands of this youth, and also gave him many instructions informing him that he must be very strict in keeping the commandments of God, and that he must do with these plates as he was counseled from time to time, not to shew them to everybody that might wish to see them, but was strictly forbidden, by the angel, to shew them unto any person until the Lord should give him commandment so to do. He translated these plates unlearned as he was.

(1870s1879, OP Book of Morm ¶6 • JD 21:169)


He understood the difference between modern Christianity and ancient Christianity. And when the Urim and Thummim was lighted up by the power of God, and magnified before the eyes of this youth, those ancient characters upon the plates of the Book of Mormon, the distinction was clearly made, between the purity of the Gospel as it was taught in ancient days, and the doctrines and innovations of man as have been taught during many long centuries of apostasy.

(1870s1879, OP Book of Morm ¶10 • JD 21:172–JD 21:173)


And the Lord communicated with him and gave him a Urim and Thummim by which he was enabled to interpret, to read and comprehend the mind and will and the laws and purposes of God.

(1880s1880 JD, JT Great Princ ¶10 • JD 21:245)


First (not the authority of the Priesthood) but the authority to bring forth the plates of the Book of Mormon, and to translate them by the Urim and Thummim, by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. This was the first authority conferred upon the one whom the Lord chose to commence this great work…

Joseph Smith, when he translated these records by the aid of the Urim and Thummim, had not yet received any Priesthood, so far as his temporal existence was concerned.

(1880s1880 JD, OP Divine ¶5 • JD 22:28)


We have here on the ceiling of this building pictured to us, Moroni making known to Joseph Smith the plates, from which the Book of Mormon was translated, which plates had been hidden up in the earth; and in connection with them was the Urim and Thummim, by which sacred instrument Joseph was enabled to translate the ancient characters, now given unto us in the form of the Book of Mormon;

(1880s1882 JD, JT Dispensation ¶3 • JD 23:29)


At first Joseph Smith received the gift of seeing visions and the gift of translating dead languages by the Urim and Thummim, and when he had exercised himself in these gifts for a season,

(1880s1882 JD, ES God’s ¶10 • JD 23:183)


He received these revelations through the inspiration of the Almighty. He also by means of the Urim and Thummim translated the Book of Mormon; was, in fact, a seer as well as a revelator; had the spirit of prophecy to predict those things that should take place in the future, and many events that have since taken place were prophesied of by him before he was really ordained of God to administer the ordinances of life and salvation.

(1880s1884 JD, GQC Priesthood ¶6 • JD 26:242)


we claim in regard to the Latter-day Saints that it is necessary for them today to know of the mission of Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and others, to know whether Joseph Smith was a true Prophet of God or not, and whether or not he did receive the manifestations and power of God; to know if he did see the Father and the Son when he went to the woods to pray; that he did find the plates in the Hill Cumorah or did translate the same by the aid of the Urim and Thummim.

(1880s1888, April, 1st Session, Elder Andrew Jensen, ¶7 • CR)


And, as has been stated during this Conference, he brought forth the Book of Mormon-the stick of Joseph in the hands of Ephraim-in fulfillment of the testimony of Isaiah, translating that record through the Urim and Thummim, thereby revealing to us the history of the early inhabitants of this Continent.

(1880s1889, October, 6th Session, President Wilford Woodruff, ¶8 • CR)


The stick of Judah-the Bible-has been in circulation for centuries among all civilized nations. The stick of Joseph, in the hands of Ephraim-which is the Book of Mormon-was translated into English from the Reformed Egyptian, by means of the Urim and Thummim, in the hands of Joseph Smith,

(1890s1895, October, 3rd Session, Elder Franklin D. Richards, ¶21 • CR90)


The Book of Mormon has special and peculiar claim upon the faith of all true Christian people, because is was translated by the power of God through the Urim and Thummim, word by word and sentence by sentence.

(1890s1895, October, 3rd Session, Elder Franklin D. Richards, ¶23 • CR90)


I obtained them, and the Urim and Thummim with them, by the means of which I translated the plates, and thus came the Book of Mormon." It contains the simplest declaration and the best elucidation of the principles of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ of any one book extant. And why should it not be? translated word by word, sentence by sentence, line by line, page by page, through the Urim and Thummim? We have no other book on earth that has such claims to our undivided confidence as the Book of Mormon.

(1890s1896, October, 4th Session, Elder Franklin D. Richards, ¶2 • CR90)


He was faithful to this injunction, and on the 22nd of September, 1827, the angel of the Lord delivered these plates into the hands of the Prophet Joseph Smith, who translated them by the use of the Urim and Thummim, as he was led by the spirit of revelation from God. Through this we have what is called the Book of Mormon.

(1890s1899, April, 1st Session, Elder Matthias F. Cowley, ¶3 • CR90)


Now, you who have tried to dictate to a person know how hard it is to dictate, and to continue to do this, without altering or without having the last sentence repeated; but Joseph dictated to these men, and was not under the necessity of asking them where they had left off, because he translated by the power of God. The Urim and Thummim was in his possession, and with this instrument he was able to translate the characters that were engraven upon the plates. This was a miracle in itself, and these men who wrote for him would soon have been able to detect whether he was inspired in the translation, or whether it was his own brain that furnished them the material to write. And let me say that no man could write such a work, if he were ever so gifted. He would be detected in some fault or other.

(1900s1900, April, 4th Session, Elder Anthon H. Lund, ¶6 • CR90)


He gave us the book as a truth; it was a truth that God revealed these things to him; it was a truth that Moroni delivered the plates into his hands; it was a truth that this book was translated by the gift and power of God, through the medium of the Urim and Thummim. Now, we spend a good deal of time trying to determine how that was brought about. What does it matter how it was brought about? It was done by the gift and power of God, that is sufficient for me. It was done by means of the Urim and Thummim—not a new method either of learning the will of the Lord, for the ancients had it.

(1900s1909, April, 5th Session, Elder Anthony W. Ivins., ¶24 • CR90)


He received communications through the Urim and Thummim, for by that means he translated the Book of Mormon, and received a number of the revelations contained in the Doctrine and Covenants; among others, sections 3, 6, 10, 11, 12, 14, 16, 17.

(1910s1910, April, 4th Session, Elder Jonathan Golden Kimball., ¶9 • CR90)


He tells us of his receiving the golden plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated, and with those plates the Urim and Thummim, or the holy interpreters, by the use of which and by the help of the Lord, through His Spirit, Joseph was able to interpret the engravings upon the plates; and by the assistance of Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and others he was able to publish the Book of Mormon.

(1910s1912, April, 3rd Session, Elder George F. Richards., ¶9 • CR90)


After four years training, Moroni finally delivered unto Joseph these plates, together with the Urim and Thummim, by the aid of which, and through the gift and power of God, Joseph translated this history into the English language.

(1910s1915, October, 3rd Session, Elder William H. Smart., ¶7 • CR90)


He also told him that there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, containing the history of the ancient inhabitants of this continent, and that it also contained the fulness of the everlasting gospel, as it was delivered by the Savior to them, and that there was also deposited the Urim and Thummim, by means of which the characters engraven on the plates could be translated. This was the Book of Mormon, which was later delivered to Joseph Smith, translated by him and first published to the world in 1830.

(1920s1926, April, 1st Session, President Anthony W. Ivins, ¶61 • CR90)


Go back to 1830. In September of that year, a few months only after the Church had been organized, Satan was at work, and men were receiving revelations which were put forth to offset those that were given to the Church through the Lord’s chosen revelator, the Prophet Joseph Smith. He had been instrumental in translating the ancient records, and he had been given the aid of the Urim and Thummim. Hiram Page found a peculiar stone, and used that, as the devil seems to have influenced him, until the Lord had to speak and declare that that which Hiram Page had given unto the people was not of him and that when he had revelations to give to the Church he would give them through the man who was sustained as the revelator at the headof the Church, and not through somebody else. Read D&C, section 28.

(1930s1931, April, 2nd Session, Elder James E. Talmage, ¶26 • CR90)


The contents of this, record were translated by the prophet Joseph Smith by the power of God and the aid of the Urim and Thummim, and the Book of Mormon is the fruit of this translation.

(1930s1934, October, 5th Session, Elder Charles A. Callis, ¶15 • CR90)


Through the gift and power of God and the Urim and Thummim, he translated the Book of Mormon and published it on March 26, 1830, thus fulfilling this portion of the marvelous work and a wonder.

(1950s1958, October, 2nd Session, Milton R. Hunter, ¶30 • CR90)


Moroni, a prophet who lived upon this land of America about four hundred years after the birth of Christ and who had custody of the records that had been kept, of the hand dealings of the Lord with a people that he led to the land of America six hundred years before the birth of Christ, which record was recorded on gold plates, was delivered by Moroni to the Prophet Joseph Smith with the Urim and Thummim or interpreters by use of which he was able to translate these records which we now have as the Book of Mormon.

(1960s1963, October, 4th Session, LeGrand Richards, ¶40 • CR90)


Perhaps paramount to his accomplishments was that “through the gift and power of God and the Urim and Thummim” he translated the Book of Mormon into modern English from an ancient unknown language called Reformed Egyptian.

(1960s1968, October, 2nd Session, Milton R. Hunter, ¶33 • CR90)


Then how did Joseph Smith accomplish such a mammoth job in such a short time? He has told us that he translated the Book of Mormon “through the gift and power of God and through the Urim and Thummim.”

(1960s1969, April, 4th Session, Milton R. Hunter, ¶18 • CR90)


In response to these questions, we immediately speak of translation through the use of the Urim and Thummim of records prepared by ancient prophets; we speak of visions; we speak of visitations of angelic messengers from the presence of God; and we speak without hesitation of interviews with the Lord himself.

(1974, April, Boyd K. Packer, ‘We Believe All That God Has Revealed,’ Ensign, May 1974, ¶ 10)



The Book of Mormon is no ordinary book.

It was translated from gold plates which were delivered to Joseph Smith by an angel of God. It was translated by the gift and power of God. Oliver Cowdery, who was the scribe, said, “I wrote, with my own pen, the entire Book of Mormon (save a few pages,) as it fell from the lips of the Prophet Joseph Smith as he translated it … by means of the Urim and Thummim.” (Millennial Star 21 [1859]:544.)

(1976, April, James A. Cullimore, ‘The Book of Mormon,’ Ensign, May 1976, ¶ 9–10)



But let us consider for a moment the actual translation of this record. Joseph Smith says he did it by the gift and power of God, through the use of the Urim and Thummim. As unlearned as he was at that time in his life, he could have done it in no other way.

(1977, October, Mark E. Petersen, ‘It Was a Miracle!,’ Ensign, November 1977, ¶ 25)



As we read the Doctrine and Covenants, we become aware that many of the revelations recorded there were received by the Prophet through the use of the Urim and Thummim. This was the instrument employed by the Prophet in translating the Book of Mormon.

(1978, April, Henry D. Taylor, ‘Revelation,’ Ensign, May 1978, ¶ 9)



“Also, that there were two stones in silver bows—and these stones, fastened to a breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim—deposited with the plates; and the possession and use of these stones were what constituted ‘seers’ in ancient or former times; and that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating the book.”

(1979, April, Marion G. Romneyᵇ, ‘We, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,’ Ensign, May 1979, ¶ 7)



“My name is Cowdery—Oliver Cowdery. In the history of the Church I stood … in her councils. Not because I was better than other men was I called … to fill the purposes of God. He called me to a high and holy calling. I wrote with my own pen the entire Book of Mormon (save a few pages) as it fell from the lips of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and he translated it by the power and gift of God, by means of the Urim and Thummim, or as it is called by that book, ‘Holy Interpreter.’

(1989, April, Gordon B. Hinckley, ‘Magnify Your Calling,’ Ensign, May 1989, ¶ 26)



If the content of the book did not doom it to remain obscure, the account of where it came from certainly would. Imagine an angel directing a teenage boy to the woods where he found buried a stone vault and a set of golden plates.

The writings on the plates were translated by use of a Urim and Thummim, which is referred to a number of times in the Old Testament and described by Hebrew scholars as an instrument “whereby the revelation was given and truth declared.”

(2001, October, Boyd K. Packer, ‘The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ,’ Ensign, November 2001, ¶ 6–7)



After four years of continued obedience, Joseph received the plates on September 22, 1827, at the age of 21. He also received an ancient instrument for translating them, called the Urim and Thummim. Using this sacred interpreter, along with the Holy Ghost, Joseph began the work of translation in December of that year. In time he was joined by a schoolteacher named Oliver Cowdery, who acted as his scribe.

(2003, October, Robert D. Hales, ‘Receiving a Testimony of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ,’ Ensign, November 2003, ¶ 22)


Oliver wrote of this remarkable experience: “These were days never to be forgotten—to sit under the sound of a voice dictated by the inspiration of heaven, awakened the utmost gratitude of this bosom! Day after day I continued, uninterrupted, to write from his mouth, as he translated, with the Urim and Thummim … the history, or record, called ‘The book of Mormon’”

(2007, April, L. Tom Perry, ‘The Message of the Restoration,’ Ensign, May 2007, ¶ 28)


Seer stone(s)

We know something of the process and instruments he used in that translation. In that first 1830 printing, Joseph included a short preface and simply and clearly declared it was translated “by the gift and power of God.” What about the aids to translation—the Urim and Thummim, the seer stones? Were they essential, or were they like the training wheels on a bicycle until Joseph could exercise the faith necessary to receive more direct revelation?

(2017, April, Quentin L. Cook, ‘Foundations of Faith,’ Ensign, May 2017, ¶ 16)


In the early days there was a man that was a witness to the Book of Mormon, who had been selected by the Lord to handle the plates, to heft them, and then to write his testimony concerning that which he had seen and felt. He obtained possession of a seer stone—or as it is called sometimes, a peep-stone. Through this peep-stone he professed to obtain revelations, which he wrote. And the Lord gave a commandment upon the subject, and Oliver Cowdery was commanded to take Hiram Page by himself and talk to him upon the subject. He was instructed to tell him that that which he had received through that stone was not of God, and that Satan deceived him. He was told that this power was not given to him, and “neither shall anything be appointed unto any of this church contrary to the church covenants.”

(1880s1883 JD, GQC Conditions ¶20 • JD 24:364)