Reason #116: Testimony Sleight of Hand?

At the most recent LDS conference, LDS leader Jeffry R. Holland held up a copy of what he claimed was the actual Book of Mormon that was read by Joseph and Hyrum Smith the day they died in a jail cell in Carthage, MO (related in D&C 135:4- 5.)

Mormons would like to depict the death of Joseph Smith as a martyrdom of an innocent man, when in fact both Mormons and non-Mormons who knew Joseph Smith were angered by his aspirations to the presidency of the United States, his Bernie-Madoff-like bank failure, and his sexual escapades with young girls and other women already married to his friends.

But Holland’s impassioned waving of a copy of the Book of Mormon has problems, according to “Danna” on the Recovery From Mormonism web site 10-06-09.  Consider her documentation and make up your own mind:

The Book of Mormon read by Hyrum and mentioned in D&C 135 has been previously identified in the LDS Church news as belonging to Bathsheba Smith, the Wife of Geo. A. Smith.


The book has her name inscribed on the front, and Hyrum’s dog-ear folds over about four lines of type:

Holland’s copy has no inscription, and the dog-ear turns over about ten lines of text:

When an Apostle states: “I hold in my hand, that book!, the very copy from which Hyrum read. The same corner of the page, turned down, still visible!” Wouldn’t you think he would be telling the truth? If he didn’t want to risk the real book, why claim to be waving it around? Why the emotional weeping over the book?

I don’t know which, if any, book has the genuine Hyrum Dog-Ear. Chances are the events related in D&C 135 are simply an earlier attempt at creating a faith-promoting myth – maybe several dozen books may exist with dog-ears at the end of Ether. But given the context of Holland’s manipulative speech (and the lack of care with which he treated the supposed precious relic), I don’t have any reason to believe anything he says.  – Danna

For more information, see The Mormon Mirage 3rd Edition:  A Former Member Looks at the Mormon Church Today(Zondervan, 2009). Also available as an audiobook and as an expanded-text E-book for Nook, Kindle and other reading devices.

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