Hearing the Voice of the Lord
A Timeline of the Marvelous Translation of the Book of Mormon
(Follow this link for a painting of Joseph Smith Translating by Anthony Sweat)
Draw a timeline dating from September 1827 to June 1829, with individual months marked above the timeline. As you read about each event below, mark an X on the timeline.
- Sept. 27, 1827: Joseph Smith received the plates. For three months he almost daily dug them up and reburied them to keep them hidden from his enemies until he found a safe situation.
- Dec. 1827: For the next three months, he practiced translating, until he finally had some characters figured out.
- Feb. 1828: Martin Harris took the finished characters to Professor Charles Anthon in New York City for verification of the translation.
- Apr. 12, 1828: The translation began in earnest with Martin as the scribe. In two months and two days, the Book of Lehi was completed.
- June 14, 1828: Martin Harris took the Book of Lehi (116 pages) to show his wife. They were stolen. The gift of translation was removed from Joseph Smith, as were the plates themselves and the Urim and Thummim.
- Sept. 22, 1828: After a three month period of repentance, all was restored to Joseph Smith, but there were no fruits to the effort so far. Joseph started back at ground zero re-developing and relearning the gift for six months (twice as long as before).
- Apr. 7, 1829: Oliver Cowdery began as scribe and translation once again began in earnest, probably at the Book of 1 Nephi. (Alternatively, he could have picked up at the Book of Mosiah, where he left off. Mosiah is obviously missing the first couple of chapters of the original record, since it does not start with a heading or an introduction, as do all the other books. This alternative chronology is noted in parentheses.)
- May 15, 1829: Mosiah 18:8-10 (or 3 Nephi 11) was reached, and in answer to prayer regarding the passage, John the Baptist appeared to Joseph and Oliver and they were baptized.
- June 1, 1829: Joseph had moved to Fayette, NY and reached Ether 5 (or if he started over, 2 Nephi 27) where he read about the importance of three witnesses, whereupon he prayed for witnesses to the Book of Mormon, and his prayer was answered.
- June 11, 1829: The Book of Mormon was finished and the copyright was obtained. Joseph had translated the entire book in 60-65 days, a rate of 3,100 words per day! Although Oliver Cowdery had excellent penmanship, you can see from the photograph below that he had to write sloppily because of the great speed required as Joseph dictated.
Joseph Smith asked Oliver Cowdery to make him a copy. It took Oliver three times as long to copy it as it took for Joseph Smith to dictate it.