Annotated Book of Mormon
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Testimon of Eight Witnesses

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Book of Mormon Annotations

Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That Joseph Smith, Jun., the translator of this work, has shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship. And this we bear record with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shown unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our names unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen. And we lie not, God bearing witness of it.

Keep in mind that others testified on behalf of Joseph to something that wasn’t true. In the October 1, 1842 “Times and Seasons” various leaders declared that they knew of no other rule or system of marriage except that published in the 1835 version of the Doctrine and Covenants. It says, “Inasmuch as this Church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication and polygamy, we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife, and one woman but one husband” (“Statement on Marriage”).

  • Newel K. Whitney and Elizabeth Ann Whitney (as a counselor in the Relief Society) signed this. They had previously given their daughter to Joseph to be sealed to him in July 1842.
  • Eliza R. Snow signed this as Relief Society Secretary. She had been polygamously sealed to Joseph in June 1842.
  • Sarah M. Cleveland signed this as a counselor in the Relief Society. She was apparently “a polygamy insider” by June 1842 (Sarah Kingsley Cleveland).
  • John Taylor signed this. He said he learned about polygamy shortly after returning from England in 1841 (Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture, Vol. 16, pp. 17-18).

Christian Whitmer
Jacob Whitmer
Peter Whitmer, Jun.
John Whitmer
Hiram Page
Joseph Smith, Sen.
Hyrum Smith
Samuel H. Smith

The eight witnesses were close associates to Joseph (the Whitmers and Hyrum Page, who was an in-law to the Whitmers), and Joseph’s immediate relatives (Father and two brothers). They could hardly be considered impartial. Consider also that false memories can be implanted by social influence (a process called social contagion of memory). Any acquaintance can offer suggestions that might change memory, but “the more one dominates a conversation the greater impact they will have on shaping the group’s collective memory, a conversational role referred to as the ‘dominant narrator’” (Memory’s malleability: its role in shaping collective memory and social identity), and Joseph was certainly a dominant narrator among the Saints of his day.

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