Plates of Mormon: Three Parts for Three Eras
by John P. Pratt
22 Dec 2019, 1 Winter (E), 1 Creation (M), 1 Sgr (S), 1 Lib (US)
©2019 by John P. Pratt. All rights Reserved.
|1. Keep an Open Mind
2. Number of Plates
3. The Sealed Contents
3.1 Book of Mormon
3.2 Words of Moroni
4. Two Witness Sets?
4.1 Book of Mormon
4.2 Sealed Portion
5. Book with 7 Seals
The Book of Mormon and The Sealed Book of Mormon agree that the Plates of Mormon have three parts to come forth in three different eras.
Until now it has been understood by believers in the Book of Mormon that the Plates of Mormon from which it was translated were divided into two parts: an unsealed part which became the Book of Mormon and a sealed portion containing a “vision of all” (Isa. 29:11) which will come forth only when the Savior returns.
Then earlier this year The Sealed Book of Mormon appeared from Brazil claiming that there were really three parts because the sealed plates are really in two sections, and the first is partially contained in that new book.
At first many rejected it for that reason alone because such a claim contradicted long held traditions. Now a careful reading of the Book of Mormon itself shows that indeed it implies that there must be three parts to the plates. Moreover, it supports the claim that the second part, which had been sealed, should appear at this very time. A hoax would attempt to fulfill expectations, but a true book, especially one given to try the faith of believers (3 Nephi 26:11), would have no reason to fulfill false traditions. Thus, this article compares a careful reading of the Book of Mormon to the claims made by the Sealed Book of Mormon of three parts to the plates.
1. Keep an Open Mind
The Book of Mormon contains a rather detailed description of the Plates of Mormon from which it was translated by Joseph Smith, the Seer. The greater portion of those golden plates were sealed to come forth at a later time, but the part which was published in 1830 as the Book of Mormon discusses the contents of the sealed portion in some detail.
On 26 Mar 2019 a book named The Sealed Book of Mormon was published by a group in Brazil, which claimed to be the translation of the first 19 plates of 42 which had been unsealed in the presence of eleven witnesses. The claim is that the plates were delivered to one Mauricio Berger by the Angel Moroni, who had been the final author of those plates around AD 420. Three of those witnesses also saw the Angel Moroni, the sword of Laban, and the interpreters that would be used by Mauricio to interpret those newly unsealed plates to translate this new book into both Portuguese and English.
That is an astounding claim, which parallels that of Joseph the Seer back in 1823-1830. It seemed worthy of investigation even though it did not come through the expected channel, meaning the head of the Utah LDS Church, or possibly the head of one of the other many branches of churches, mostly located in Missouri, which also claim descent directly from Joseph’s church. Last May I made a thorough investigation of the book’s contents, and concluded that the book is indeed authentic! That article focused mainly on the meat of the book, rather that the introductory description by Moroni himself of just was is contained in all of the Plates of Mormon, both unsealed and sealed. This article, on the other hand, focuses only on that small explanatory book called The Words of Moroni. It compares what it claims to what the Book of Mormon has already claimed is in the sealed portion, looking for either inconsistencies or new enlightenment.
Before beginning, note there are two distinct ways to approach reading a new book which claims to be inspired, or otherwise to contain truth. One way, the method of science, is to be skeptical, filled with doubt, and be actively seeking for ways to disprove it. This attitude is almost guaranteed to be successful in finding many flaws in the material, which accounts for the comparatively slow progress of science. Max Planck, the physicist who originated quantum theory, lamented that the only way for the proofs of a new scientific theory to be accepted is to have all the senior adherents of the old theory to die! Perhaps that is because it is they who referee which new papers are allowed to be published in the official journals. The same could be said of religious teachings: the Prophet Joseph Smith also was frustrated in trying to teach new gospel principles because his followers would “fly to pieces like glass” if new truths disagreed with their traditions (TPJS p. 570).
The other way to read new material is to have a open mind and give the book a chance. It is to have a childlike heart, assume the posture of a believer, be forgiving to overlook small errors, and yet test the theory or new perspective against the facts to see if it might indeed be true. Being open minded does not mean being gullible, which is to ignore the red flags of a deception, and in fact, to ignore the heart which can recognize falsehoods. Readers of a new book who think they already know exactly what the book should contain may need to be open minded enough to consider other alternatives. Thus, the indiscriminate acceptance of new principles is not advocated, but rather asking questions while reading with the hope of finding an answer which reconciles a perceived problem, rather than asking questions like a prosecuting attorney who is trying to prove the witness to be lying. In other words, ask questions like a little child, genuinely wanting to know the answer.
Another way to say this is that one of the best ways to discover whether someone is lying is to attempt to believe everything they say and then catch them in an inconsistency. With that in mind, let us make deductions from what is stated in the Sealed Book, attempting to believe every detail. Then we can compare that to what the Book of Mormon itself says about the contents of the sealed portion. Thus, this article is mostly about checking consistency between the Sealed Book and the Book of Mormon, both claiming to have been translated from the different parts of the same set of plates.
Disclaimer: This article is strictly my own work and does not represent any official position of the group who published the book. All statements and conclusions in this article about the Sealed Book are taken directly from the published book itself, with references given. The photo of the plates was taken from their online publications, with my own labels added according to my understanding of their written material.
2. The Number of Plates
The Preface by Mauricio Berger in the Sealed Book states that “of the forty-two plates that were released with the opening of the first seals, only nineteen are translated in this book.” He added that the contents of the other 23 plates will only come forth when the members of the church are living in accordance with these first teachings.
The mathematically inclined may recognize that that simple sentence, along with the resulting book provides a way to estimate the number of plates which were required to produce the Book of Mormon. Those numbers can be compared to a photograph (see Figure 1) of the plates released by the Brazilian group to verify that the number of plates required for the Book of Mormon matches the photo. Thus, let us begin by simply attempting to count the number of plates which were translated to become the Book of Mormon, based on the numbers given in the Sealed Book.
If 19 plates (engraved on both sides according to the eight witnesses) produced the 185-page translation in the Sealed Book, then one plate produced about 10 pages of the book. That means one side of a plate produces 5 pages, which is about what would be expected for ideographic writing like Egyptian hieroglyphs or Chinese characters. Thus, the claim of the number of plates translated is consistent with the number of pages of translation. If the plates are a hoax, then at least someone went to the trouble to do a reasonable calculation of how many plates it should require to produce a 185-page translation!
In order to compare to the first edition of the Book of the Mormon (to avoid footnotes, etc.), it is necessary to consider also the number of words per page because the print size and page sizes are different. After those adjustments are accounted for, and remembering that the plates also include the Book of Lehi, it turns out that it would be expected to require about 85 plates to have produced the Book of Mormon.
Thus, we have a prediction of the number of plates that should be allotted to the Book of Mormon. Figure 1 shows a photo of the plates published by the group who produced the book, with my labels added to the three divisions which are clearly shown in the photograph. There the plates in each of the three sections described by them can be clearly seen. The unsealed section has the plates spread out (Part 1: the Book of Mormon), the recently unsealed section still clipped together even though the large bands have been removed (Part 2: 42 plates, the first 19 of which are now translated as the Sealed Book), and the big final and still sealed section (Part 3: to be opened by the Savior). It is left for an exercise for the reader to determine if there are about 85 plates in the first open section which allegedly became the Book of Mormon. To me, counting plate edges at the far side of the plates in the three rings, it looks like about twice as many plates as the 42 which are more spread out on that side. It is very difficult to believe that hoaxers would have thought of making the correct number of bogus golden plates to fulfill this requirement! So again the claims of the translation are very consistent with their photograph of the plates. None of this proves anything to be true, but only that their story is self-consistent.
2. The Sealed Contents
Now let us look at what both books say about the content of the sealed portion of the Plates of Mormon.
2.1 Book of Mormon
If one asks what the Book of Mormon itself says about the contents of the sealed portion of the plates, the usual answer is that it “contains the complete record of the vision of Jared (Ether 4:4-5).” While that statement is certainly true, it turns out that a careful reading of the Book of Mormon text reveals that the sealed portion contains more than that. Let us examine the text more closely.
After the death of the prophet Mormon, who was the compiler of plates called by his name, his son Moroni continued on the work by adding his own book (Book of Moroni) and then also translated and abridged part of the 24 gold Plates of Ether, which translation is called The Book of Ether within the Book of Mormon. The rest of those plates contained the vision of the Brother of Jared. Moroni was commanded to transcribe it to be included in the sealed section.
Here is where Moroni describes his translation of the vision of Jared:
And it came to pass that the Lord said unto the brother of Jared: Behold, thou shalt not suffer these things which ye have seen and heard to go forth unto the world, until the time cometh that I shall glorify my name in the flesh; wherefore, ye shall treasure up the things which ye have seen and heard, and show it to no man.
And behold, when ye shall come unto me, ye shall write them and shall seal them up, that no one can interpret them; for ye shall write them in a language that they cannot be read.
And behold, these two stones will I give unto thee, and ye shall seal them up also with the things which ye shall write.
For behold, the language which ye shall write I have confounded; wherefore I will cause in my own due time that these stones shall magnify to the eyes of men these things which ye shall write.
And when the Lord had said these words, he showed unto the brother of Jared all the inhabitants of the earth which had been, and also all that would be; and he withheld them not from his sight, even unto the ends of the earth.
And the Lord said unto him: Write these things and seal them up; and I will show them in mine own due time unto the children of men.
And it came to pass that the Lord commanded him that he should seal up the two stones which he had received, and show them not, until the Lord should show them unto the children of men. — Ether 3:21-25, 27-28
This quote is extremely important, and parts of it may have been previously overlooked. The Lord prepared the two interpreting stones to be used, and they were sealed up along with Jared’s record. Moreover, the language in which Jared wrote them was apparently the Adamic language because it had not been confounded.
Moroni continues. He explains that Jared’s sacred vision was only to be kept secret until the coming of Christ to the Americas, at which time Jesus manifested them to those He visited (Ether 4:1-2).
And the Lord commanded the brother of Jared to go down out of the mount from the presence of the Lord, and write the things which he had seen; and they were forbidden to come unto the children of men until after that he should be lifted up upon the cross; and for this cause did king Mosiah keep them, that they should not come unto the world until after Christ should show himself unto his people. And after Christ truly had showed himself unto his people he commanded that they should be made manifest. — Ether 4:1-2
Where did Mosiah get the two interpreting stones? The record does not state that they were found with the 24 gold plates of Jared! In fact, when Ammon was asked by King Limhi if he knew of anyone who could translate the gold plates, Ammon replied that King Mosiah was a seer because he had “wherewith” he could interpret languages (Mosiah 8:13).
Where did Mosiah get the interpreter stones, if not from King Limhi? They did not come with the Plates of Ether. Here is that account of how King Mosiah translated the 24 Plates of Ether and how he received those stones:
And now he translated them by the means of those two stones which were fastened into the two rims of a bow.
Now these things were prepared from the beginning, and were handed down from generation to generation, for the purpose of interpreting languages;
And they have been kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord, that he should discover to every creature who should possess the land the iniquities and abominations of his people;
And whosoever has these things is called seer, after the manner of old times.
Now after Mosiah had finished translating these records, behold, it gave an account of the people who were destroyed, from the time that they were destroyed back to the building of the great tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people and they were scattered abroad upon the face of all the earth, yea, and even from that time back until the creation of Adam. — Mosiah 28:13-17
So the interpreters had been handed down from the beginning to be used for interpreting! Could it be that the account of Jared’s vision was also handed down, along with the interpreters which had been prepared for that very purpose? Let’s continue to read the account.
Before reviewing Moroni’s comments about the sealed contents, consider another estimation about the numbers of plates in the Plates of Ether found by Limhi’s men while hunting for city of Zarahemla (Mosiah 8:9). Using the method described above the 35 pages of the first Book of Mormon comprising the Book of Ether, Moroni’s abridgment of 24 plates probably only required 4 plates of the Plates of Mormon. So there could have been much more written on the rest of the Plates of Ether, such as the vision of Jared.
To continue with Moroni’s summary of what is in the sealed portion:
Behold, I have written upon these plates the very things which the brother of Jared saw; and there never were greater things made manifest than those which were made manifest unto the brother of Jared.
Wherefore the Lord hath commanded me to write them; and I have written them. And he commanded me that I should seal them up; and he also hath commanded that I should seal up the interpretation thereof; wherefore I have sealed up the interpreters, according to the commandment of the Lord.
For the Lord said unto me: They shall not go forth unto the Gentiles until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord.
And in that day that they shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord, even as the brother of Jared did, that they may become sanctified in me, then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations, saith Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of the heavens and of the earth, and all things that in them are. — Ether 4:4-7
Here Moroni clearly states that he has written upon the plates the vision of the brother of Jared. Then, the Lord speaks of calling the Gentiles to repentance in the last days, that we might receive “greater things” which have been hidden because of unbelief (Ether 4:13). Then, apparently still referring to the sealed plates, the Lord prophesies more about what will come forth and when:
And then shall my revelations which I have caused to be written by my servant John be unfolded in the eyes of all the people. Remember, when ye see these things, ye shall know that the time is at hand that they shall be made manifest in very deed.
Therefore, when ye shall receive this record ye may know that the work of the Father has commenced upon all the face of the land.
Therefore, repent all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me, and believe in my gospel, and be baptized in my name; for he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned; and signs shall follow them that believe in my name. — Ether 4:16-18
This prophecy appears to be referring to something in the sealed plates which will come forth before the vision of Jared. The context implies that the revelation, which called the Book of Revelation in the Bible, that the revelation of John will come forth from the sealed plates at a time before the vision of Jared. It will not come in a time when people have the faith of Jared, but rather when they need to repent and follow Jesus and believe in His words. The vision of Jared is in the sealed plates to be opened by the Savior, but this vision of John is also sealed and yet is to come forth sooner, implying that the sealed section will come forth at two different times. Hence, the Plates of Mormon must be divided into three parts to come forth at three different times, with the last two parts comprising the sealed section. That conclusion came just from the Book of Mormon, and to my knowledge, no one has ever noticed that before this year.
So did you already know that? Have you ever heard it taught that the sealed part of the plates contain the revelation given to John the Revelator? And did you know that when that book appears it will be a sign that its revelation is about to be fulfilled?
If not, do you think some guys in Brazil planning a hoax would have thought of including that revelation in their description of the sealed plates? Let us now turn to what the Words of Moroni in the Sealed Book say about the contents of Part 2 of the sealed portion of the Plates of Mormon.
2.2 Words of Moroni
The Words of Moroni in The Sealed Book of Mormon explain much about just what is contained in the sealed portion of the Plates of Mormon. In particular, that book explicitly states that the Lord commanded Moroni to divide the Plates of Mormon into three parts which would each come out at a different time:
Nevertheless I was commanded by the Lord to separate into three sets the whole record contained in the plates of Mormon in order to be revealed in three periods of time. — Words of Moroni 1:11.
The subsequent verses explain that the first part is “open” (not sealed) and is a covenant between God and the gentiles, “given in preparation for the people to understand the greater things when they will be revealed” (v. 12). This confirms what the Lord told Joseph Smith, that the Book of Mormon is actually a covenant, but it had been taken lightly, leading to condemnation (D&C 84:56-58). It also parallels the language (“greater things”) used in the Book of Mormon where Moroni is describing what is in the sealed portion (Ether 4:13).
The next verses in the Words of Moroni describe what is in the second part (Part 2) which constitute some of the “greater things” promised. It sounds as if Part 2 is not all revealed at one time, but states that readers
will receive more, a little here, another little there, line upon line, precept upon precept, until they know the mysteries of God through the revelation of the second part, to the understanding of all things concerning His church in the last days. — Words of Moroni 1:13.
That might well correspond to the fact that The Sealed Book of Mormon is a translation of only 19 of the 42 plates contained in Part 2.
It goes on to mention something else which must be contained in Part 2. After stating that only the Savior is worthy to open the sealed plates containing the revelation in Part 3, he describes what else must be revealed before that time, as the very sign of the times that is given in the Book of Mormon, which was discussed above. He states:
before the Lord came to unveil the fullness of His mysteries, that the revelations which the Lord had made to be written by His servant John, should be manifested in the eyes of all the people before His coming. And that these revelations, transcribed by my father, Mormon, in these sealed records, should serve as a reminder to the covenant children that the work of the Father truly began over all the inhabited land. — Words of Moroni 1:18.
This is an amazing statement! It gives us a chance to test the truthfulness of this entire book by comparing it to events in the near future. It quotes a prophecy in the Book of Mormon and states that it will be fulfilled by something that must be contained in Part 2 of the sealed plates. That is, as noted above, the Book of Mormon states that new light about the Revelation of St. John will come forth and when it does the events prophesied therein will begin to happen, which will be a sign that the Father has begun His work (Ether 4:16-18). This quote claims that the record of the vision of John is contained in the sealed plates as transcribed by Mormon! That vision must be located in Part 2, the first part of the sealed plates, because it comes forth before Part 3 is opened by the Savior.
Moroni goes on to describe in detail what will occur after the Savior comes to his temple, at which time He will delineate the borders of His Kingdom which will be a refuge for His followers, where they will be safe because no one will be allowed to cross those borders. That is apparently when there will be protection only in Zion (D&C 45:66-69).
In case we had failed to deduce that the revelation given to John is in Part 2 of the plates, Moroni goes on to list the contents of that part as including (1) The Sealed Book of Moses which is only a summary of “issues related to the Melchizedek priesthood” (Words Moroni 1:28) but does not contain the prophecies of Moses, (2) the Acts of the Three Nephites, (3) the Prophecies of Samuel the Lamanite (Words Moroni 1:36), and finally (4) one third of the record of the Revelation of John, written by the three Nephites, who were also caught up to the throne of God (Words Moroni 1:37). It then again repeated that the Revelation of John will come forth “when these things begin to occur again among the sons of men” (Words Moroni 1:37).
For those who have not yet read The Sealed Book of Mormon, it should be again noted that it only contains the translation of the first 19 of the 42 plates contained in Part 2. It contains three books: The Words of Moroni, The Sealed Book of Moses, and the Acts of the Three Nephites. We are then told that we will only receive the rest of the translation, namely the short summary of the Prophecies of Samuel the Lamanite and of the Revelation of John, “only when the people of the church are living in accordance with these first teachings revealed here” (Preface, p. 10).
3. Two Witness Sets?
The Book of Mormon mentions that there will indeed be three witnesses of the angel and the plates, but it now appears that it actually mentions two sets of three witnesses, one set of three for Part 1 and another set of three for Part 2. Both are accompanied by a few other witnesses of the plates only. Let’s look at where both are apparently mentioned in the Book of Mormon and then explicitly described in the Words of Moroni.
3.1 Book of Mormon
First, Nephi’s vision mentions three witnesses of the book (plates) at the time when some characters from the unsealed plates would be taken to a learned man. That is clearly referring to the time of Joseph Smith, who would be translating the unsealed portion of the plates (Part 1):
But the book shall be delivered unto a man, and he shall deliver the words of the book, which are the words of those who have slumbered in the dust, and he shall deliver these words unto another;
But the words which are sealed he shall not deliver, neither shall he deliver the book. For the book shall be sealed by the power of God, and the revelation which was sealed shall be kept in the book until the own due time of the Lord, that they may come forth; for behold, they reveal all things from the foundation of the world unto the end thereof. — 2 Nephi 27:9-10
Just two verses later, it is stated that the book (plates of Mormon) would only be viewed by three witnesses, who will testify of its truth, along with a few others:
Wherefore, at that day when the book shall be delivered unto the man of whom I have spoken, the book shall be hid from the eyes of the world, that the eyes of none shall behold it save it be that three witnesses shall behold it, by the power of God, besides him to whom the book shall be delivered; and they shall testify to the truth of the book and the things therein.
13 And there is none other which shall view it, save it be a few according to the will of God, to bear testimony of his word unto the children of men; — 2 Nephi 27:12-13
As discussed above, in the Book of Ether, Moroni describes what is in the sealed portion of the plates of Mormon. There he also mentions three witnesses along with a few others, who will witness the plates, apparently when the first sealed portion (Part 2) is opened:
And now I, Moroni, have written the words which were commanded me, according to my memory; and I have told you the things which I have sealed up; therefore touch them not in order that ye may translate; for that thing is forbidden you, except by and by it shall be wisdom in God.
And behold, ye may be privileged that ye may show the plates unto those who shall assist to bring forth this work;
And unto three shall they be shown by the power of God; wherefore they shall know of a surety that these things are true.
And in the mouth of three witnesses shall these things be established; and the testimony of three, and this work, in the which shall be shown forth the power of God and also his word, of which the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost bear record–and all this shall stand as a testimony against the world at the last day. — Ether 5:1-4
At first blush this prophecy sounds like it is simply a repeat of that of Nephi about the unsealed plates because it says not to touch the sealed plates, but then it adds that by and by it shall be wisdom in God (to have some sealed plates translated). The entire context of this prophecy is Moroni’s discussion of the sealed plates, so that opens the door to the possibility that this prophecy is of a second set of three witnesses, along with others “who shall assist to bring forth this work”.
3.2 Words of Moroni
The Words of Moroni explicitly clarifies that there will be two sets of three witnesses and accompanying witnesses, one set for the Book of Mormon and another set for the Sealed Book of Mormon.
In his description of the coming forth of the translation of the first part of the sealed plates, he states:
it will occur just as in previous days of times, that this other man of whom I have written, that he will have the privilege of showing these plates to those who will help him bring this work to light. Initially they will be shown to three by the power of God, who will know with certainty that these things are true. And through the mouths of these three witnesses these things will be firmly established. And no one else will see, except a few according to the Holy Spirit, and they shall testify together with the power of God — Words of Moroni 1:20.
Thus, these words verify what was proposed only as a possibility above, that the three witnesses mentioned in Ether 5:3 in the Book of Mormon were not the three witness of the Book of Mormon, but instead the three witnesses of the Sealed Book of Mormon!
4. Book with Seven Seals
The Book of Revelation contains a famous, yet enigmatic, description of a book having seven seals which only the Lion of Judah, Jesus Christ, is worthy to read:
And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.
And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?
And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.
And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.
And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. — Rev. 5:1-5
Volumes have been written about those verses. The Book of Revelation itself explains occurrences which happen at the opening of each of the seven seals by the Lamb of God.
More information about the Book with Seven Seals was given by the Lord to the Prophet Joseph Smith;
Q. What are we to understand by the book which John saw, which was sealed on the back with seven seals? A. We are to understand that it contains the revealed will, mysteries, and the works of God; the hidden things of his economy concerning this earth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence.
Q. What are we to understand by the seven seals with which it was sealed? A. We are to understand that the first seal contains the things of the first thousand years, and the second also of the second thousand years, and so on until the seventh. — D&C 77:6-7
Thus, the Book with Seven Seals apparently contains the entire 7,000-year history of the earth, with one millennium per seal. But that is exactly what the Book of Mormon tells us is contained in the vision of the Brother of Jared as written by Moroni in the sealed part of the Plates of Mormon. Therefore, the possibility arises even from the Book of Mormon alone, that there may be a connection between Part 3 of the sealed plates and the Book with Seven Seals of Revelation.
Now let us turn to the Sealed Book to see if it may also support this possibility.
First, we are told that Moroni’s father Mormon had a vision where he saw that his plates would have another book added to it which would be sealed with seven seals. That was done by his son Moroni when he wrote the vision seen by the brother of Jared. Moreover, he saw that only the Savior would be “worthy” to open that book:
the record of the seven seals, that my father, Mormon, foresaw in this record, that our Lord alone is worthy to open the rest of the seals … in the sealed set of the plates of Mormon — Words of Moroni 1:17.
Moreover, we are explicitly told that Part 3 is sealed internally with six other heading plates of sealed subsections, thus dividing it into seven parts separated by seven seals:
but with two internal heads to contain the remainder of the plates, where there will be another six heads of seal, according to the circumstances that Christ will reveal them in the times designated by Him, after His coming at the temple in Zion. — Words Moroni 1:21.
If one looks closely at Part 3 of the Plates of Mormon in the photograph in Figure 1, it can be noticed that there are apparently some subdivisions in that part, where there is a small slit of extra spacing between the plates, which are otherwise tightly bound. It must be remembered that according to the Sealed Book, that part also contains the prophecies of Moses and two thirds of the Revelation of John. It might also contain many other things. Nevertheless, it does appear to have several subsections.
The possibility that Part 3 of the Plates of Mormon indeed constitutes the Book with Seven Seals is left to the reader to ponder in his heart.
The claim of The Sealed Book of Mormon that the sealed portion of the Plates of Mormon have two subsections has met with considerable opposition by those who have believed that those plates were a single unit, to be opened only by the Savior when He returns. The purpose of this article is to point out that a more careful reading of the Book of Mormon itself suggests that indeed it implies that the sealed portion has two parts: (1) one to be revealed about the time in which the Book of Revelation begins to be fulfilled as sign for the covenant people to repent and heed a second invitation to come unto Christ, and (2) the last much larger portion of the sealed plates to be revealed only when the Savior returns.
It is also suggested that the Book of Mormon may actually predict that when the first part of the sealed plates comes forth that there will also be three main witnesses to testify of it, along with several others who shall aid in the work, even according to the same pattern that was used when the Book of Mormon first came forth. It was noted that it was explicitly stated in the Sealed Book that there would indeed be two such sets of witnesses.
Finally, a comparison was suggested between the last part of the sealed section and the Book of Seven Seals mentioned in the Biblical Book of Revelation. In the Book of Mormon, the only similarity is that both contain a comprehensive history of the 7,000-year history of Adam’s family, but the Sealed Book supports the conjecture that the two are related by explicitly stating that the latter sealed section has seven seals and that only the Lamb of God is worthy to open it.
Thus, it is concluded that it is much easier to believe that The Sealed Book of Mormon is authentic than to believe that some hoaxers would have known these subtleties of Book of Mormon better than any scholars of the last two centuries in order to have all of these details match perfectly. In other words, no one else to my knowledge has ever noticed that the Book of Mormon itself implies that the Plates of Mormon must have three parts to be published in three different eras. Could some hoaxers have really been smarter than all previous Book of Mormon scholars? It truly appears to be the work of God!
- Pratt, John P., “Is The Sealed Book of Mormon Genuine?” (26 May 2019).
- See “Max Planck” in Wikipedia: “A new scientific truth does not generally triumph by persuading its opponents and getting them to admit their errors, but rather by its opponents gradually dying out and giving way to a new generation that is raised on it.”
- Pratt, John P., “From Natural Man to Childlike Heart” (8 Dec 2019).
- The Sealed Book has about 31 lines per page with an average of 13 words per line, so 185 pages contain 185 x 31 x 13 = about 75,000 words. The first edition of the Book of Mormon had 585 pages with 43 lines per page and 11 words per line, or about 585 x 43 x 11 = 277,000 words. The plates of Mormon also contain the Book of Lehi which was 116 pages of about 36 lines per page and 14 words per line (see www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/printers-manuscript-of-the-book-of-mormon-circa-august-1829-circa-january-1830). That is another 58,000 words for at total of 335,000 words. Thus, the number of plates required for the Book of Mormon should have been about 19 x 335,000/75,000 = 85.
- Of course the approximate dimensions of the Plates of Mormon have been known to have been about 6 x 8″ and perhaps 5″ high (see Kirk Henrichsen’s article “What Did the Golden Plates Look Like?” New Era,July 2007, p. 31), so hoaxers might have just been lucky. Remember we are not looking for proof of anything, only for self-consistency. It should also be noted that in footnote 18 of that article, Edward Stevenson’s diary of 22 Dec 1877 is quoted as claiming that David Whitmer described the three binding rings as “D” shaped, rather than on two vertical posts sharply curved at the top, as shown in Figure 1. That difference should be explained at some point, but it is not a deal breaker for me because it is a secondhand account of someone’s memory nearly 50 years after the fact. All other known descriptions from the witnesses say only that the plates were held together by three rings.
- “What is the ‘sealed portion’ of the Book of Mormon, and will we ever know what’s in it?”, New Era (Oct, 2011), “To the Point” section.