Hello! Shalom! Aloha! Mabuhay!

If this is your first visit to Modern Apocrypha, I have only two recommendations for continuing on with minimal confusion:

1) Please begin with the first introductory post (found HERE) and work your way forward. Almost all the posts on this blog flow chronologically and will make more sense with the background and context of previous ones. Jumping in anywhere might be disorienting.

2) Please read along in the texts posted off to the right. I try not to summarize too much in the commentary and discussion, and being at least somewhat familiar with what we're discussing or I'm commenting on will be most beneficial and edifying for all involved. Plus, going along with the theme of this blog, any hidden truths to be brought to light will be found within the text itself and not necessarily within my ramblings.

Okay, fine, three recommendations:

3) Please read with an open heart, mind, and spirit. See what truths you can find in these works--ones which speak to you. Namaste : )

Saturday, November 1, 2014


Ten weeks after the experience with the three men, it's Monday night, 6 April 1987 (a date well-known and significant to LDS readers, and the day after Pres Ezra Taft Benson gave his concluding General Conference talk (found HERE) on the role of the scriptures of the Restoration in the gathering of Israel and instruction of the plan of salvation). Elisha is having a single-person-style FHE, studying his scriptures, when he notices movement outside his house. (He still has a home even after selling all his belongings.) Ignorant, brave, curious, stupid, or whatever, he opens his door to see what was moving in the dark and, luckily, only finds Oleeha standing there. (Again, he refers to him as American.)

I think it's interesting that Oleeha seems to be loitering outside the house and doesn't knock. I don't know if there's anything there to read into (e.g., he needed to be invited in, à la vampire mythology), or maybe it's just that his arms were full with the stack of copper sheets he'd brought to Elisha for translation and didn't want to rudely kick-knock a probably flimsy door ; )

Now here's a rhetorical question, but with all of these ancient records needing translation (e.g., Jaredite, Nephite, Aklatan, etc.), why doesn't the Lord simply provide correct translations for everyone in their own language at once? Why does he go through the all the trouble and complications of human assistants and instrumentation? My best suggestion is that as a loving Father wishing for our progress, He provides experiential opportunities for the righteous exercise of faith and agency. The translation process is one of those situations: faith and an eye single to the God's glory are necessary on both the part of the translator and reader.

So, Oleeha puts the copper sheets on a table, asks Elisha to get paper and pencil (ah, the pre-computer age), and begins instructing him in how to translate. He first shows Elisha "man's way of translating"--deciphering symbols from one known language into another. But God's method is "an easier way to do it." (Although, I think "easier" is relative in this situation; it all depends on how in-tune one is to the Spirit.) This spiritual method consists of looking at a symbol, closing your eyes, focusing on that symbol in your mind, noting the strongest word that comes to mind, and asking God if that is the correct word. The Spirit will then confirm the truth. Elisha does this for all the symbols of a line, and to his surprise, his translation isn't gibberish. Oleeha then validates his translation via man's method. The two then work for hours to translate the first sheet of the record.

If you remember back in Visions 2, Part 2, we discussed the method of translation the Lord taught Oliver as found in D&C 9. It's the same exact method as taught to Elisha--work with the Spirit to find a potential solution to a problem, ask God if it's right, and feel the answer given by the Holy Ghost. This is "the gift and power of God" that Joseph Smith referred to time and again whenever someone inquired concerning the method of translating the Book of Mormon. It is kinda cool to see, though, that the singular method of translation "by the gift and power of God" can still occur through various media: three different individuals (Joseph, Oliver, Elisha) possessing three different gifts of the Spirit (seership, revelation, dreams and visions) and utilizing three different spiritual tools (Urim and Thummim/seerstones, rod, mind).
Elisha wakes up and realizes the whole experience happened in a dream-state. However, he still can remember the translation word-for-word and quickly writes it down. Once it's put to paper, it's gone from his mind. (Christ made this same promise to him in Visions 3, Part 9, that he'd be able to remember everything from these visions, etc. until they're written down.) It takes him eight months of nightly translation to complete the entire record. In comparison, with the translation of the Book of Mormon as we currently have it (minus the Book of Lehi), it took Joseph and Oliver only three months to translate ~250,000 English words. The current edition of the Aklatan contains only ~68,000 words, but we can't do much more of a comparison than that since there are still full and portions of books of the record still to be released. It could've taken longer for a number of reasons: differences between dream- and awake-state translation process, Joseph's natural gift of seership, differences between the coded writing systems, sleeptime shorter than the workday, etc. It's all fun speculation. One interesting advantage of performing all the translation while in a dream-state is that Elisha probably would still be able to go about his daily activities no worse for wear. (Although this experience seems different than lucid dreaming or REM sleep, so I don't know how it would've affected him physiologically.) There were many times that the translation of the Book of Mormon had to be postponed so that Joseph and Oliver could work for money or food, and they were often saved by the generosity of others.


  1. Makes me wonder how voluminous this book really is! Great thoughts!

  2. I really like how you pointed out the differences in the three men's spiritual gifts and yet how they all were called to translate. Definitely a good take-away message for us all in comparing ourselves to others and fulfilling our own missions.

  3. PS, I also like your choice of Oliver Cowdery pictures. :)

    1. I thought the family would get a kick out of that one : )