Joseph Smith translated golden plates that became the Book of Mormon at the start of his call as prophet. It turns out that James Strang also was a translator. He translated plates at the beginning of his call as prophet. These are known as the Voree Plates. Historian Bill Shepard will tell us more about these plates, as well as other Strangite scriptures.
Bill: So right off the bat, James J Strang is going to claim that an angel appeared to him and said that there are sealed plates on this prominent hill in Voree or in Burlington, the outskirts. So he is going to get his witnesses. I’m not sure how many were even Mormons.
GT: Some of them were non-Mormons.
Bill: Right. So they go and they dig under an oak tree and they said that the branches were sealed around these brass plates and so forth. They testify to this. A man named [Samuel W. Soule] and [Christopher Latham], who invented the typewriter, was in Kenosha, Wisconsin and he came out as a newspaper…
GT: The QWERTY typewriter that we still use today, right?
Bill: Yeah, the old one. He came out and even he testified. He says, “This appears to not be a humbug.” So, again, primitive Mormonism, because James Strang is going to claim angelic ordination and having the urim and thummim. He is going to translate plates that people saw widely.
GT: So was it the Voree plates, were those the first things he translated?
Bill: Yes. These were important in that it’s very believable about a race of people that are on their last legs and they’re going to be destroyed and they’re going to hide their records–seal up the records until they are translated in the future. So this was an important thing: Again, primitive Mormonism.
GT: So what about the Book of The Law of Lord? I know that was another book of Scripture that you guys use. When was that translated and how did that come about?
Bill: James is going to say that an angel appeared to him and told him of the plates, the sealed record.
GT: The Plates of Laban in the Book of Mormon.
Bill: Yes, and that they are delivered the hand that he translates them which is certainly doctrine used by the Strangites today as looked on as one of the lost books of the Bible, if you will. Again, primitive Mormonism.
What do you think of Strang’s translation abilities? Does it help you see people’s skepticism of Joseph Smith? Check out our conversation…