A Timeline of the translation of the plates

See also:

Joseph Smith used a Urim and Thummim to translate The Book of Mormon

Joseph Smith used a seer stone to translate The Book of Mormon

The box was filled with tinkertoys


September 21, 1823 – Joseph meets Moroni. Joseph is 17 years old.

September 22, 1827 –  Joseph receives the plates.

Oct.-Dec., 1827 –        Joseph moves due to persecution- he moves to Harmony, Pennsylvania with Emma- 100 miles away, Martin Harris gives him $50.


Jan.-Feb. –                 Joseph translates, Emma scribes.

Feb.-March –             Martin Harris visits Charles Anthon in New York City.

April 12-                     Martin Harris believes and scribes for the Prophet Joseph.

June 14-                      Martin Harris takes the 116 page manuscript to Palmyra.

June 15-                      Alvin Smith born to Emma & Joseph- Alvin dies the same day.

July-                            Joseph heads to Palmyra- Martin has lost the manuscript.

July-September-       Joseph loses the gift of translation- plates taken by Moroni, Section 3 of the Doctrine & Covenants received.

September 22-           Joseph gets the plates back from Moroni.


Feb.-March-                A “few” pages are translated with Emma as scribe, Joseph is told to wait (D&C 5:30).

April 5-                        Oliver Cowdery arrives in Harmony, Pennsylvania.

April 7-                        Translation resumes in full force.

May 15-                       John the Baptist restores the Aaronic Priesthood.

May-June                    Peter, James & John restore the Melchizedek Priesthood.

June 1-                         Joseph & Oliver move to Fayette to complete the translation.

June 30-                       The translation of the Book of Mormon is complete.


March 26-                    The first copies of the Book or Mormon went on sale in Palmyra.

In regards to the loss of the manuscript George Q. Cannon has said:

The work of translating the plates progressed through the two months from April until June; not steadily, for Martin [Harris] was much called away. But at the expiration of that time, on the 14th day of June, 1828, Martin had written one hundred and sixteen pages foolscap of the translation. And at this hour came a test, bitter in its experiences and consequences to the Prophet of God.

A woman wrought a betrayal of the confidence reposed in Martin Harris and a temporary destruction of Joseph’s power.

The wife of the scribe was desirous to see the writings dictated to her husband by Joseph: she importuned Martin until he, too, became anxious to have in his own possession the manuscript. Long before the 14th day of June, he began to solicit from the Prophet the privilege of taking the papers away that he might show them to curious and skeptical friends; and thereby be able to give convincing proof to doubting persons, of Joseph’s divine mission.

A simple denial was not sufficient, and he insisted that Jehovah should be asked to thus favor him. Once, twice, in answer to his demands, the Prophet inquired; and each time the reply was that Martin Harris ought not be entrusted with the sacred manuscript. Even a third time Martin required that Joseph should solicit permission in his behalf; and on this occasion, which was near the 14th day of June, 1828, the word came that Joseph, at his own peril, might allow Harris to take possession of the manuscript and exhibit it to a few other persons who were designated by the Prophet in his supplication. But because of Joseph’s wearying applications to God, the Urim and Thummim and seer stone were taken from him. Accordingly the precious manuscript was entrusted to the keeping of Martin Harris; and he bound himself by a solemn oath to show it to only his wife, his brother Preserved Harris, his father and mother, and Mrs. Cobb, his wife’s sister. After entering into his sacred covenant, Martin Harris departed from Harmony, carrying with him the inspired writings.

Then came about the punishment of Martin for his importunacy and of Joseph for his blindness. Wicked people, through the vanity and treachery of Martin’s wife and his own weakness, gained sight of the precious manuscript and they contrived to steal it away from Harris, so that his eyes and the eyes of the Prophet never again beheld it.

For his disobedient pertinacity in voicing to the Lord the request of Martin Harris, Joseph had been deprived of the Urim and Thummim and seer-stone; but this was not his only punishment. The pages of the manuscript which contained the translation he had been inspired to make, and which thereby became the words of God, had been loaned to Martin Harris and been stolen; and now the plates themselves were taken from him by the angel of the record.

The sorrow and humiliation Joseph felt were beyond description. The Lord’s rebukes for his conduct pierced him to the center. He humbled himself in prayer and repentance; and so true was his humility that the Lord accepted it as expiation and the treasures were restored to his keeping.

Martin Harris was also shamed and grieved; and he repented in anguish the violation of his trust. But, though a measure of confidence was restored to him, he was never again permitted to act as a scribe for the Prophet in the work of the translation.

While Joseph was mourning the loss of the manuscript, the Lord revealed to him many truths regarding the situation to which he had brought himself, and also warning him of the designs of wicked men who plotted to overthrow him and to put the name of God and his newly revealed record to shame in the land.

A rebuke was given at this time in words which Joseph always remembered.


Life of Joseph Smith, 1907, pp. 31-33.

See also: The box was filled with tinker toys


About LDS Scripture Teachings

I write about ways scripture applies in our lives: LDSScriptureTeachings.org
This entry was posted in Book of Mormon, Church History, Doctrine and Covenants, Joseph Smith History and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to A Timeline of the translation of the plates

  1. Pingback: The box was filled with tinker toys | LDS Scripture Teachings

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