In a previous conversation with Dr. Casey Griffiths, Casey said that a South American group used a Hofmann forgery to authenticate the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon. The late Dr. John Pratt pushes back on that charge, and we’ll talk about the Brazilian golden plates.
GT: That’s a great place, because I wanted to go there too. Because Casey Griffiths in my recent interview said somebody asked for proof, and a copy of the Hofmann forgery was provided as proof, basically.
John: Okay, let me review the Hofmann thing and then the answer. So, by the way, I have not studied this in detail. I read a certain paper and I’ll tell you my source, a man named Ian Cackler, is the man in Missouri who really wanted to know for himself about this Hofmann issue. He did detailed research and I will now summarize [it,] as best I understood. I read it to prepare for this. I had seen the plates. I knew it was true. So, I didn’t care about– I knew the Hofmann stuff, but I just thought, “Yeah, people are always…” I didn’t study it. Now, my main source is this one paper, so I’m quoting that. But, it made a lot of sense to me and he has all the references in there where you check it. I will send you the paper. I’ll email you the paper where you can provide it for any of your viewers that want to look at it. But, basically, well as you saw on your program, he showed the one main picture.
John: There’s one main picture that is always shown that is believed to be Martin Harris’s copying of the characters. The man you were interviewing pointed out that that actually was not Martin Harris’, that was John Whitmer’s.
GT: The Caracters document is what you’re talking about.
John: The Caracters document, that has the word character, at the top, spelled without the H. That was actually from John Whitmer. So, the complaint, the proposed fraud, saying that, “Ah, the Brazilian guy has just copied the Hofmann forgery.” There just wasn’t enough research done there. What they had was, they had that Caracters document that had some characters on it. They compared that to what Mauricio, apparently, provided at one time, and I don’t even have that myself. Not only were those characters on it, but some other characters were on it. Then, you look at the Hofmann forgeries, and those other characters are on the other Hofmann forgery. So they said, “Aha, he just copied the Hofmann forgery. That’s the whole [argument.]
GT: So, let me make sure I understand what you’re saying. So, you’re saying that this document that was sent to Missouri was a combination of the Caracters document as well as the Hofmann forgery? Is that what you’re saying?
John: No, I’m not. I’ll say it again. I’m saying that the characters–I just have to change it a little bit, and then it’ll be true, you were very close. The characters that Mauricio provided, some of which were on the Caracters document, and others were on the Hofmann forgery. So, people assumed that Hofmann used the real characters and just made up some other characters, and then that, “Oh, Mauricio is using those made-up characters. So, that would prove that he copied the Hofmann. But Hofmann was a much better forger than that. He didn’t just make up characters.
John: As the man you interviewed before said, there’s at least four sets of papers that had characters on them, known: the Charles Anthon one, the John Whitmer one, he had–I think he said three or four. There’s three or four original sources. Hofmann knew about all of those sources. So, in other words, the characters that Hofmann used were mostly correct. They’re real characters and Mauricio knew about, not only the ones on the Caracters document, but some of those. So, now, how do you know whether Mauricio copied Hofmann or whether they both made copies of the real thing. Here’s the answer. Hofmann confessed at the end on how he did it. I think what he did was really clever. He said, “Look.” He knows. He has these four documents. He’s taking characters off of, and he’s going to produce his forgery. He’s going to want to make it convincing that his was actually more authentic than the other ones. So, he says that he added some little extra seraphs. You know what seraphs are: the little extra things that aren’t part of the letter, sans seraph and seraph.
What do you think of his explanation? Check out our conversation….
Don’t miss our previous conversations with John.
590: Brazil Golden Plates
587: Dating First Vision