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JAMIE - In D&C 9:7-87 Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.8 But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must cask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.
This scripture always confuses me because I did not read anywhere Joseph Smith was following same methods to translate "Study it out in your mind"?
Next question, Why Oliver Cowdery need to study it out in his mind he is translating from Urim and Thummim which was given by Angel Moroni to Joseph Smith ? I can understand if Satan somehow trick and change words that appear on Urimm & Thummim but that is not the case. What are your thoughts.
JOEL - It is reported that as Joseph Smith used the seer stone to translate, sentences appeared. He read those sentences aloud to Martin Harris and after writing down the words, Martin would say, "Written." Someone who interviewed Harris recorded him saying that Joseph "possessed a seer stone, by which he was enabled to translate as well as from the Urim and Thummim, and for convenience he then used the seer stone." ("One of the Three Witnesses," Deseret Evening News, Dec. 13, 1881, 4.)
Marcus B. Nash said:
"This was not a composition. This was dictated, word by word, as he looked into instruments the Lord prepared for him, using a hat to shield his eyes from extraneous light in order to plainly see the words as they appeared. Contrary to one who translates with the use of a dictionary, as it were, the translation was revelation flowing to him from heaven, and written by scribes. (Marcus B. Nash, "'Out of Weakness He Shall Be Made Strong'", 70th Annual Joseph Smith Memorial Devotional (history.lds.org) (3 June 2013))
In 1831 Cowdery testified under oath that Joseph Smith "found with the plates, from which he translated the book, two transparent stones, resembling glass, set in silver bows" and "that by looking at these, he was able to read in English, the reformed Egyptian characters, which were engraven on the plates." (A. W. Benton, "Mormonites," Evangelical Magazine and Gospel Advocate 2 (April 19, 1831)).
When Oliver Cowdery tried to do some translating on his own he was told:
"Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right." (D&C 9:7-8)
If the words simply appeared using the interpreters, what is the meaning of "study it out in your mind" mean?
This is a typical process that one would normally use when one seeks God for an answer to a problem. We study the problem and think of a solution then ask God if it is right.
But what studying does one need to do when the words were appearing on the seer stone? And when they did appear why would they need to ask God if what appeared were the right words? Why would they not be right?
To me this suggests that the more mechanical methods reported by Cowdery, Harris, and others were not exactly how it was done. They may have been assumptions on their part because it looked like he was reading the words. Some of their reports were written down many years after the fact and their impressions and memories may not have been accruate.
God has in the past either provided such things or instructed man to build or use existing things as tools in manifesting His power and communication with man. A physical prop or a trigger can help in concentrating on the task at hand. There was for example, the rod of Aaron(Ex 7:9-10); the burning bush(Ex 3:2); the pillar of fire(Ex 13:21); the tabernacle of Moses(Ex 33:9); the ark of the covenant(Judg. 20:27); and the Liahona(Alma 37:38). For Joseph Smith it was the seer stone and Urim and Thumim.
But rather than the words actually appearing on the stone, it seems that the words of the translation must have been revealed to Joseph through his mind and that is where the word "study" might come in. That one must concentrate on the task(study) and be in a revelatory state of mind before the words would come through to his mind and then asking God if what he received was true.
We can pretty much only speculate on this. Joseph Smith himself never spoke of how the translation worked, only that it was by "the gift and power of God".
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