Firm Testimonies of the Witnesses
CES Letter Core Question
Were the witnesses firm in their testimonies?
From a legal perspective, the statements of the testimonies of the Three and Eight witnesses hold no credibility or weight in a court of law as there are a) no signatures of any of the witnesses except Oliver, b) no specific dates, c) no specific locations, and d) some of the witnesses made statements after the fact that contradict and cast doubt on the specific claims made in the statements contained in the preface of the Book of Mormon.
CES Letter, Page 100-101
With regard to the Three and Eight witnesses:
None recanted; Click here
They had shared experience which they used to check the reality of the experience; Click here
All who signed knew they would be ridiculed, and did not expect to be believed; Click here
Some maintained their testimony even in the face of threats or death; Click here
Some could have made profit from denying their testimony; Click here
Others suffered personal or professional losses because of their testimony; Click here
Many left the Church, but continued to insist upon their testimony. Click here
Some witnesses affirmed that, to their knowledge, no other witness had ever denied their testimony either. Click here
The CES Letter is simply not grappling with the totality of the evidence, and is distorting much of the evidence that it does present.
Did the Book of Mormon witnesses ever recant?—
Brief Summary: Some have tried to argue that some or all of the Witnesses recanted concerning their testimony. They were all faithful to their testimonies to the end of their lives, even though many of them had personal disagreements with Joseph Smith that caused them to leave the Church. (Click here for full article)
Witnesses knew they would be ridiculed and not believed—
Brief Summary: The Witnesses understood that by giving their names to the witness statements, they would suffer social costs and rejection. (Click here for full article)
Witnesses persisted even in the face of persecution or death—
Brief Summary: The Witnesses stuck to their claim even in the face of threats or the risk of death. (Click here for full article)
Witnesses who left the Church continued to maintain their witness—
Brief Summary: Some witnesses were excommunicated and left the Church. However, the staunchly stuck to their witness accounts. (Click here for full article)
Witnesses had shared experiences which they could compare to confirm their reality—
Brief Summary: The Three and Eight Witnesses did not have merely internal, subjective experiences. These were shared experiences, which they could and did use to confirm their reality and objectivity. (Click here for full article)
Witnesses confirmed the faithfulness of other witnesses—
Brief Summary: The Three and Eight Witnesses often affirmed that others of their number had maintained their witness. (Click here for full article)
Witnesses reaffirmed published statements in the Book of Mormon—
Brief Summary: The Three and Eight Witnesses often reaffirmed their written statement and referred others to it. (Click here for full article)
Brief Summary: Some have tried to argue that the Eight witnesses only claimed a 'spiritual' or 'visionary' view of the plates, not a literal, physical one. The witnesses left concrete statements regarding the physical nature of the plates. There were others besides the eleven who saw and felt the plates, and testified that they were real. (Click here for full article)
Richard Lloyd Anderson, "Book of Mormon Witnesses," byu.edu
Richard Lloyd Anderson, "Attempts to Redefine the Experience of the Eight Witnesses," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 14/1 (2005): 18–31.
Kenneth W. Godfrey, "David Whitmer and the Shaping of Latter-day Saint History," in The Disciple As Witness: Essays on Latter-Day Saint History and Doctrine in Honor of Richard Lloyd Anderson, edited by Richard Lloyd Anderson, Stephen D. Ricks, Donald W. Parry, and Andrew H. Hedges, (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2000),223–256.
Kirk B. Henrichsen, "How Witnesses Described the "Gold Plates"," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 10/1 (2001): 16–21.
Jeff Lindsay, "Circumstantial Evidence and the Witnesses of the Book of Mormon: Can They Be Ignored Any Longer?", jefflindsay.com
Matthew Roper, "Comments on the Book of Mormon Witnesses: A Response to Jerald and Sandra Tanner," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2/2 (1993): 164–193.
Richard Lloyd Anderson, "The Credibility of the Book of Mormon Witnesses," in Book of Mormon Authorship: New Light on Ancient Origins, edited by Noel B. Reynolds and Charles D. Tate (eds.), (Provo, Utah : Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University ; Salt Lake City, Utah : Distributed by Bookcraft, 1996 ),Chapter 9, 213–232.
Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981).
Richard L. Anderson, "Personal Writings of the Book of Mormon Witnesses," in Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited: The Evidence for Ancient Origins, edited by Noel B. Reynolds, (Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1997), Chapter 3.
Milton V. Backman, Jr., Eyewitness Accounts of the Restoration (Orem, Utah: Grandin Book, 1983).
Matthew B. Brown, Plates of Gold: The Book of Mormon Comes Forth (American Fork UT: Covenant, 2007).
John W. Welch and Larry E. Morris, editors, Oliver Cowdery: Scribe, Elder, Witness (Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, 2006).
Faith and Reason 7: Book of Mormon Witnesses, Michael R. Ash, 0:15:32
Mormon FAIR-Cast 150: The Apostasy of the Witnesses, Martin Tanner, 0:19:20