The Book of Mormon was presented to the world as the translation of an ancient text engraved on golden plates more than 180 years ago. However, the faithful assurance that it is a translation has not had an accompanying understanding of how that translation took place. How could the ill-educated Joseph Smith translate the ancient text on the golden plates into the English Book of Mormon upon which so many base not only their faith, but a willingness to completely change their lives?
The Gift and Power: Translating the Book of Mormon examines the various issues surrounding that translation. How does the fact of the translation fit into a magical worldview in which Joseph had a place as a village seer? What might that context mean for our understanding of the text?
This work explores the kind of translation the Book of Mormon represents. Did Joseph Smith or the marvelous instruments do the actual work of translation? Is it a tight or loose translation? How closely tied is the English text to the source text from which it was translated? What about Hebraisms in the text? What about the lengthy passages of King James English in it?
The volume concludes with the most puzzling and persistent questions: How did the seer stones work? Why didn’t Joseph retranslate the Book of Lehi? How did revival language make its appearance in the book? Why couldn’t Oliver Cowdery translate? Brant Gardner offers answers to these questions. The result is a faithful description of how God used a human prophet to translate a transcendentally important scriptural text.