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1 Nephi 17 - 22

I continued reading through the end of 1 Nephi.

I've been thinking about inspired work and foundations suitable for a testimony. The thought has occurred to me that books and other works can be inspired without being true. For example: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, The Wizard of Oz, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

They can touch you and teach true principles and yet be fiction. I wonder about how The Book of Mormon can be considered distinct from this.

While studying, the thought crossed my mind that perhaps Joseph had the visions, the visitations, everything as he said and but was unable to translate the curious characters on the Golden Plates, desparately looking to his trusty seer stone to try to gain contact again with those heavenly forces that had started him on his mission. Knowing a little about the Nephite culture from his visitation by Moroni (or was it Nephi? - this has been a historical question as well since the story was told both ways), he attempted to produce the translation, but didn't even refer to the plates during the process -- all the while praying for revelation to guide him as it had done in the beginning. What if the Golden Plates never were translated, but an original inspired book was brought forth instead? This would account for Joseph's readiness to revise it and correct doctrine in it in subsequent years, and his tendency to disregard many of its clear teachings (on the monotheism, the trinity and polygamy for example) in later work. Had he known it was lacking he would be eager to correct its shortcomings, otherwise it seems he would have let it stand. I read somewhere a sentiment that suggested that Oliver Cowdery believed in the Golden Plates but had also indicated that they were never translated, nor ever intended to be. Please understand, this is all a "What if?" consideration.

If this were true, it would not invalidate Joseph Smith's mission. The keystone of our religion is a Masonic term the full meaning of which evades the understanding of the modern reader of the Book.

So, I have a lot of questions.

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