Three & Eight Witnesses

CES Letter Core Question

Were the three & eight witnesses gullible people united by a belief in magic?

They are 11 witnesses to the Book of Mormon: Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, Hiram Page, David Whitmer, John Whitmer, Christian Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer, Peter Whitmer Jr., Hyrum Smith, Samuel Smith, and Joseph Smith Sr. – who all shared a common worldview of second sight, magic, and treasure digging – which is what drew them together in 1829. (This was not a magic club. What drew them together is that they believed that Joseph received divine revelations and that his work was of God)

The following are several facts and observations on three of the Book of Mormon Witnesses:


CES Letter, Page 88

The witnesses were not gullible dupes, but were skeptical inquirers who would not have easily been deceived.

The witnesses were willing to testify because they believed in Joseph Smith and because their experiences were real to them. They understood that by giving their names to their witness statements, they would suffer social costs and rejection.

Some of the witnesses were related, but assuming collusion because of familial ties is not warranted. In fact, the opposite dynamic is just as likely. Their interest in Joseph Smith would not have distinguished their natural skepticism. 


Additional Resources:

Tangible Restoration: The Eye Witnesses of The Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon Witnesses: Evidence for The Book of Mormon

Book of Mormon Witnesses, Part 1: Motives (PDF) by Michael Ash

Book of Mormon Witnesses, Part 2: Oliver Cowdery (PDF) by Michael Ash

Book of Mormon Witnesses, Part 3: Martin Harris (PDF) by Michael Ash

Book of Mormon Witnesses, Part 4: David Whitmer (PFD) by Michael Ash

Explaining Away the Book of Mormon Witnesses (2004 FAIR Conference) by Richard L. Anderson

Tangible Restoration: The Witnesses and What They Experienced (PDF) (2006 FAIR Conference) by Daniel C. Peterson

The Cowdery Controversies (PDF) (2007 FAIR Conference) by Larry Morris

The Testimony of Eight by Scott Gordon

Faith and Reason 39: Hidden Records, Michael R. Ash

Faith and Reason 7: Book of Mormon Witnesses, Michael R. Ash

Mormon FAIR-Cast 150: The Apostasy of the Witnesses, Martin Tanner

Mormon FAIR-Cast 150: The Apostasy of the Witnesses,

The Book of Mormon Critical Text Project and Mary Whitmer Witness to the Gold Plates by Royal Skousen

pt 1 Book of Mormon Witnesses and the Restoration

pt 2 Book of Mormon Witnesses and the Restoration

pt 1, Tangible Restoration: The Witnesses and What They Experienced 2006 FAIR Conference address

pt 2, Tangible Restoration: The Witnesses and What They Experienced 2006 FAIR Conference address

pt 3, Tangible Restoration: The Witnesses and What They Experienced 2006 FAIR Conference address

pt 4, Tangible Restoration: The Witnesses and What They Experienced 2006 FAIR Conference address

pt 5, Tangible Restoration: The Witnesses and What They Experienced 2006 FAIR Conference address

pt 1, The Cowdery Controversies

pt 2, The Cowdery Controversies

pt 3, The Cowdery Controversies

pt 4, The Cowdery Controversies