SL09251 Mapping Mormon Issues: Conspiracy, Delusion or Revelation? The 180-year Controversy Over the Book of Mormon Witnesses

Did Joseph Smith hypnotize the Book of Mormon witnesses? Did he palm off copper or tin plates on them as gold? Were their experiences visions, physical perceptions of ancient artifacts, or the fabrications of a conspiracy? Each of these explanations has been proffered since the witnesses laid down their challenge in the summer of 1829. In my paper, part of Sunstone’s Mapping Mormon Issues project, I’ll explore this controversy—its origin, unfolding, and future. I’ll point out where the attempted explanations have succeeded and where they have failed, identify overlooked evidence, and offer new perspective on the debate and the meaning of these foundational experiences.

Don Bradley