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Joseph Smith's "Magic" Glasses and Other Bizarre Objects from Mormonism

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Non-Mormons may not know this, but early Mormonism is surprisingly full of "magical" Mormon objects, such as the Prophet Joseph Smith's magic glasses, used to translate divine golden plates into the Book of Mormon. To outsiders, these sacred Mormon objects may seem odd, but to true believers, they're an accepted part of the faith.

Photographs of Mormon seer stones, for example, were released by the church in 2015 in an effort to increase transparency about these early objects. The most famous of these stones, Urim and Thummim, were used by Joseph Smith as "lenses" in the glasses that supposedly helped him interpret the word of God. Confused? Read on to learn what all these "magical" objects, plates, stones, and swords are really all about.

  • The Lost 116 Pages, Vanished Translations by Smith of the Golden Tablets

    Photo: Lewis A. Ramsey / Wikimedia / Public Domain

    During Joseph Smith's supposedly divine translation of the golden plates into the Book of Mormon in Harmony, PA, the man in the painting above, Martin Harris, mortgaged his farm, moved in with Smith, and became a scribe. Harris's family in New York was skeptical of the endeavor, so Harris convinced Smith to let him take 116 pages of their work to his family to convince them of its worth.

    While in New York, Harris claimed the pages were stolen. Rumor has it Harris's wife burned them, either because she was "irritated at having earlier been denied a glimpse of the ancient plates," or, as Christopher Hitchens relates, "she stole the first hundred and sixteen pages and challenged Smith to reproduce them." The truth in unclear.

    For a time, Smith claimed he lost the ability to translate. Following "much humble affliction of soul," his gifts were restored. But Smith said he couldn't simply retranslate the lost pages, because the pages may have been in someone else's possession, and thus could be published in "altered form to discredit his ability to translate accurately." So Smith instead translated other golden plates covering roughly the same time period as the lost work, the content of which remains unknown to this day.