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Unless he was inspired, how could 23-year-old Joseph Smith dictate all 269,510 words of the Book of Mormon without any notes?

There are several accounts of Joseph Smith’s translation of the Book of Mormon and none of them include any indication of him referring to notes. In fact, some accounts are explicit that there were no notes whatsoever. 

For example, the Chicago Times in 1881 recorded after an interview with David Whitmer:

Mr. [David] Whitmer emphatically asserts as did [Martin] Harris and [Oliver] Cowdery, that while Smith was dictating the translation he had no manuscript notes or other means of knowledge save the seer stone and the characters as shown on the plates, he being present and cognizant how it was done.

– Chicago Times, October 17, 1881; cited in John W. Welch, “The Miraculous Timing,” 168.

This becomes an issue for any alternative theories of the Book of Mormon, especially when we consider how complex the book is.

If Joseph was actually using notes, how did he manage to keep them hidden? Where and when did he manage to secretly write the notes? If any of the scribes saw him using notes then why did they remain convinced the book was true?


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