Paul A. Douglas

32. Joseph Creates a Witness Affidavit for Signature

Old Letter With Handwritten Text. Grunge Vintage TextureI think the testimony of the witnesses would be more credible if they had written their own accounts instead of merely signing a prepared statement carefully crafted by Joseph Smith.

As well, we now know that the three witnesses did not all see the plates or angel at the same time. Only David Whitmer and perhaps Oliver Cowdery saw the angel together. Martin Harris removed himself from the group and did not see the angel until perhaps three days later. 1

Joseph Smith was very charismatic and we know was quite persuasive, we have very little to go on in terms of how Joseph got them to sign.

Remember too that all the witnesses had very close ties to Joseph and his family. Some like Martin Harris even had a substantial financial investment in the success of the Book of Mormon.

The witnesses were a product of the early 1800s and believed in magical things – second sight, witches, dreams, seer stones, etc. It would seem that at least some of the witnesses were easily swayed by stories of the supernatural, especially in a religious context.

Most of the witnesses ended up leaving the church and many followed other leaders and other religions such as James Strang, the Shakers, the Methodists, etc. By 1847 not a single one of the surviving eleven witnesses had anything to do with Mormon Church.

Many of the witnesses who left the Church, believed that Joseph was at best a fallen prophet, who changed the church’s doctrines and revelations against God’s will.

Apologists Responses to Joseph Smith’s Creation of a Witness Statement for the Witnesses to Sign

There is very little from the apologists on this issue, Each of the witnesses should each have written their own testimony instead of merely signing a carefully prepared statement written by Joseph Smith. If the signatories did not find the document 100% accurate, it would have to be completely rewritten by hand – no mean feat in the 1800s.

As well we know there was not a signing ceremony, it was not like the signing of the Declaration of Independence. They did not all sign at the same time.

Had the witnesses written their own statement, perhaps we would have learned, what the angel looks like, what if anything did the angel say?


1 Anthony Metcalf, Ten Years Before the Mast, nd., microfilm copy, p. 70-71).

FairMormon’s Comments

Again FairMormon has nothing.

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