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Oliver Cowdrey was one of the three primary witnesses for the Book of Mormon and assisted Joseph Smith in writing the Book of Mormon. Oliver Cowdrey was also the Third cousin of Joseph Smith.
| In the original Book of Commandments of 1833 we find this revelation given through Joseph Smith to Oliver Cowdery:
" you shall receive a knowledge of whatsoever things you ask in faith, with an honest heart...Remember this is your gift. Now this is not all, for you have another gift which is the gift of working with the rod: behold it has told you many things:behold there is no other power save God, that can cause this rod of nature, to work in your hands, for it is the work of God;and therefore whatsoever you shall ask me to tell you by that means, that will I grant unto you, that you shall know."
In the subsequent version called The Doctrine and Covenants published in 1835 the Lord seems to have wanted a different rendition. It is as follows:
" Now this is not all your gift, for you have another gift, which is the gift of Aaron: behold it has told you many things; behold there is no other power save the power of God that can cause the gift of Aaron to be with you; therefore doubt not, for it is the gift of God, and you shall hold it in your hands, and do marvelous works; and no power shall be able to take it away out of your hands ,for it is the work of God"
The rod reffered to above is a divining rod used to find buried treasure.
When people talk about mormon culture being rich etc. I blanch a bit. This just seems like silly treasure hunting turned religion to me. I think JS and Oliver were, as Van Wagoner calls them " Pious Frauds" .
Now for a little fun. Here is something that a treasure digger should never have to ask:
Where is my rod? I mean, if you have the gift of Aaron why do you need to ask. Just feel for it.
| In the Church News there were three articles dealing with Oliver Cowdery. In part these articles said:
Oliver was “the chief beneficiary of one of Joseph Smith’s most peculiar qualities; his generosity in sharing his vision.”
So what did happen?
Based on the letters from Oliver Cowdery to Joseph Smith, Oliver is “frustrated and angry; he feels oppressed.” While this is often the case with those that leave the Church, “it turns out not to be the Church’s fault, in most cases, but the individual’s attitude that is in conflict.”
They do admit however “Lack of sophistication [on the part of Church Leadership] made Oliver personally liable for what was really a debt of the Church incurred for the purpose of the Church.”
In 1836 the Kirkland Safety Society Bank was formed. Orson Hyde was sent to the legislature to try to secure a charter and Oliver Cowdery was sent to secure printing plates for the bank. The charter was denied, so the bank reorganized as an anti-bank or quasi banking organization in 1837. Joseph Smith used boxes full of rocks with a layer of coins on top to show the bank assets in order to get people to deposit money. In reality most of the assets of the Mormon Church and the members was in land.
At that time there was a great deal of land speculation in Ohio, Michigan and Missouri. This drove the land prices from around $7.00 per acre to around $44.00 per acre. Joseph Smith used the money that the bank did have to speculate further. By 1839 the price of land fell to the $17.00-$18.00 per acre. The bank and the Church had invested $60,000 in land and no longer had funds to cover its obligations. Oliver Cowdery was the Vice President of the anti-bank and signed most of the bank notes. Joseph Smith made himself cashier rather than an officer.
At the same time, Joseph Smith started down the road to polygamy. Oliver did not support polygamy.
Late in 1837 Joseph Smith wrote the following in the newspaper:
I am disposed to say a word relative to the bills of the Kirtland Safety Society Bank. I hereby warn them to beware of speculators, renegades and gamblers, who are duping the unsuspecting and the unwary, by palming upon them, those bills, which are of no worth, here. I discountenance and disapprove of any and all such practices. I know them to be detrimental to the best interests of society, as well as to the principles of religion
Joseph Smith also gave the following testimony:
He claimed that a nonmember of the Church by the name of Sapham had told him in Kirtland that a warrant had been issued against Oliver "for being engaged in making a purchase of bogus money and dies to make the counterfeit money with." According to the Prophet, he and Sidney Rigdon went to visit Oliver concerning the matter and told him that if he were guilty, he had better leave town; but if he was innocent, he should stand trial and thus be acquitted. "That night or next," the Prophet said, Oliver "left the country" (A History of the Latter-day Saints in Northern Missouri From 1836 to 1839, p.146).
Sidney Rigdon testified:
After Oliver Cowdery had been taken by a State warrant for stealing, and the stolen property found ... in which nefarious transaction John Whitmer had also participated. Oliver Cowdery stole the property, conveyed it to John Whitmer ... Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Lyman E. Johnson, united with a gang of counterfeiters, thieves, liars, and blacklegs of the deepest dye, to deceive, cheat, and defraud the saints out of their property....
Oliver Cowdery purchased the plates and signed most of the notes from the Kirkland anti-bank when there was no acceptable collateral to back up the notes. This was considered to be counterfeiting. Joseph Smith directed him to sign notes, then accused him of counterfeiting when there was a break.
During the full career of Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer's bogus money business, it got abroad into the world that they were engaged in it.... We have evidence of a very strong character that you are at this very time engaged with a gang of counterfeiters, coiners, and blacklegs,... we will put you from the county of Caldwell: so help us God. Sidney Rigdon,1838 quotation published in: US Senate Document 189
In the excommunication hearing point 8 was his involvement in “bogus business” as described in a common report. The common report was the newspaper article written by Joseph Smith Jr. The testimony against Oliver Cowdrey on the subject was provided by Joseph Smith and circumstantial evidence.
Another point in the excommunication was that Oliver had sold a piece of his own land without the approval of Joseph Smith.
Apparently there was an additional problems between Joseph Smith and Oliver. In his reply to the Church concerning his excommunication, he complained about the theocratic rule that Joseph Smith had instituted. Oliver Cowdery responded to the excommunication in part by saying:
The very principle of which I conceive to be couched in an attempt to set up a kind of petty government, controlled and dictated by ecclesiastical influence, in the midst of this national and state government. You will, no doubt, say this is not correct; but the bare notice of these charges, over which you assume the right to decide, is, in my opinion, a direct attempt to make the secular power subservient to Church direction - to the correctness of which I cannot in conscience subscribe - I believe the principle never did fail to produce anarchy and confusion.
Here is a summary of charges against Oliver Cowdery and his response to the Mormon Church.
This attempt to control me in my temporal interests, I conceive to be a disposition to take from me a portion of my Constitutional privileges and inherent right - I only, respectfully, ask leave, therefore, to withdraw from a society assuming they have such right.
Here is a complete transcript of the excommunication proceedings and responses to his letter:
On January 12, 1838, faced with a warrant for his arrest on a charge of illegal banking, Smith and Rigdon fled to Clay County, Missouri just ahead of an armed group out to capture and hold him for trial.
| That's what the authors of "Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?" (Cowdery, Davis, Vanick, 2005) argued between pages 288 and 293, but I have my doubts and want to get feedback from anyone who might be more convinced by their argument.
The authors begin with a statement by Lorenzo Saunders:
The quoted portion of the statement is this:
"I received your note ready at hand and will try (to) answer the best I can and give all the information I can as respecting Mormonism and the first origin. As respecting Oliver Cowdery, he came from Kirtland in the summer of 1826 and was about there until fall and took a school in the district where the Smiths lived and the next summer he was missing and I didn't see him until fall and he came back and took our school in the district where we lived and taught about a week and went to the schoolboard and wanted the board to let him off and they did and he went to Smith and went to writing the Book of Mormon and wrote all winter. The Mormons say it [want] wrote there but I say it was because I was there."
The WRWBM authors identify the two schools spoken of by Saunders: 1) the Stafford School ("in the district where the Smiths lived", Ontario Co. District #11, school on Stafford Rd. ~1.3 miles south of the Smith home) and 2) the Armington School ("the district where we [Saunders] lived", Ontario Co. District #10, school on Canandaigua Rd. ~1 mile east of the Smith home).
There are other important implications if all Saunders says is true, but I want to focus on the part about Oliver's teaching activities.
The generally believed chronology among scholars is that Oliver taught school in Manchester during the 1828-29 term (the exact school not specified), and spent much or all of that time boarding with the Smiths, prior to traveling to Harmony PA to write for Joseph in April 1829. Nothing is typically said about Oliver's exact activities prior to that, so Saunders's statement is very important if it can be verified. Saunders places Oliver at two different schools in different terms (albeit the second one being only a brief stint), and his chronology puts Oliver teaching in the Smith's district in 1826-27, two years before the 1828-29 term.
From this, the WRWBM authors propose a new chronology that puts Oliver at the Stafford School in for the 1826-27 term, the Armington school briefly at the start of the 1827-28 term before going to work on the BoM, and then back to the Armington School for the 1828-29 term.
The authors present supporting statements from people who attended the Stafford school with the Smith children that pretty solidly establish that Oliver taught at the Stafford School. Some don't mention for how long, but Saunders's statement mentions just one term and Christopher Stafford specifically said that it was one winter.
A statement of John Stafford supports the Saunders claim that Oliver had taught at the Armington school, but neither of these two statements gives enough information to determine how long. Saunders's 1885 statement talks just about the brief start to the one term, but there's not specific mention that he returned to teach another term. The WRWBM authors claim that Oliver taught the 1828-29 term at the Armington school, but there's no direct evidence I see to confirm that it wasn't the Stafford School - I think they are forced to say it was the Armington school because they already used up their "one year" at the Stafford school (1826-27) in their proposed chronology.
I'm not convinced of the authors' chronology, primarily because all the statements can be reconciled if we suppose just one specific error in Saunders's statement. Suppose Oliver really arrived to live and teach in Manchester in 1828, and that the year 1826 given in Saunders's statement is incorrect. Perhaps Saunders was simply wrong, or there's the possibility that an 8 in the written statement was misread as a 6 (I know that sounds lame, but it can't be denied as a possibility). Anyhow, re-reading Saunders's statement again with 1828 instead of 1826 seems to fit well with what we already know (or think we know), and I propose the following Chronology:
The only difference between my chronology and what we commonly hear about Oliver is that I believe Saunders is correct about Oliver teaching for a brief stint at the Armington School, so I have that as part of my chronology. Dates and years can be hard to remember correctly, so I can see confusing 1826 and 1828 when giving a statement 60 years later, but simply knowing that he sat in a class room with Oliver as his teacher and that Oliver ditched out early from the term is a memory I think Saunders would be less likely to confuse.
- Oliver teaches at the Stafford School in the 1828-29 term.
- Oliver goes to write for Joseph in the spring of 1829.
- By the beginning of the 1829-30 term, the dictated BoM manuscript has been completed. Joseph returns to Harmony in October 1829, and Oliver begins the 1829-30 term employed to teach at the Armington School.
- After a very brief time, it is decided that Oliver should no longer teach but devote himself to the preparation of the printers manuscript. So he again boards with the Smiths, and there he works on the printers manuscript. (This activity may be what Saunders spoke of as the writing of the BoM in Manchester.)
I still think Oliver's activities prior to the 1828-29 school term in Manchester are likely very important to understanding BoM origins. I'm just not convinced by this particular claim that puts Oliver as the teacher in the Smith's school as early as 1826.
There is a separate piece of evidence that may tell us something about Oliver's teaching career. If you have Vogel's "Early Mormon Documents (vol. 5)", go to page 287 and read the letter from Lee Yost to Diedrich Willers, Jr. (1897). Yost says Oliver Cowdery was a teacher in Fayette sometime prior to Smith's arrival there (along with some other strange tales about Oliver's activities). If Yost is at least correct about Oliver being a teacher there, that could be how he and the Whitmers were first acquainted. Perhaps Oliver had taught school in Fayette in the 1827-28 term or earlier. Other clues as to Oliver's whereabouts in the 1826-28 time frame are rare. We have his name appearing here: http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/dbroadhu/NY/miscNYS0.htm#110727
We also have a statement from David Whitmer which places Oliver in Palmyra in 1828 prior to his boarding with the Smiths, and which suggests that Oliver had indeed been acquainted with the Smiths prior to the school term: http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/dbroadhu/MO/Miss1881.htm#060581
| Magic Sticks And Stones Used By The Early LDS Church |
Thursday, Jul 30, 2009, at 09:15 AM
Original Author(s): Spongebob Squaregarments
Topic: OLIVER COWDREY -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| Many truth seekers are familiar with the magical seer stones Joseph used to translate the Book of Mormon with. But many people are not aware that Oliver Cowdery used a magic stick referred to as the Rod of Aaron to obtain revelation with.
The ‘gift of Aaron’ referred to in the Doctrine and Covenants used to be called the ‘gift of working with the rod’ in the predecessor of the DandC called the Book of Commandments.
From section 7 of the BofC:
“Now this is not all, for you have another gift, which is the gift of working with the rod: behold it has told you things: behold there is no other power save God, that can cause this rod of nature, to work in your hands…”
Oliver Cowdery’s gift was really a divining rod. The origins of the Church are much more involved in folk magic and superstition than we’ve been lead to believe by the LDS Church’s heavily-censored versions of its history.
As the Church began to grow, the leaders of the early church were embarrassed by the magical practices that were fundamental to the development of the Church such as the use of seer stones and divining rods. If we accept the beginnings of the Church as actual events, then we must believe that the rod Oliver used was more than just a stick, and that the stone Joseph used to translate the Book of Mormon with was a magic stone. We can see why the Church has moved away from even talking about these things. The church leaders today have distanced themselves from external devices believed to have magic power, to receive God’s revelations. But the historical record is clear that the early Mormon leaders relied on special ‘sticks and stones’ in order to produce “the revelations” they claimed were from God.
To learn more about Oliver’s divining rod:
To learn more about Joseph’s use of magic stones:
| What are the facts?
- All agree that Cowdery was Smith’s primary scribe for the Book of Mormon.
- On June 25, 1829, Cowdery claimed to have seen the resurrected angel Moroni --last of the Nephite prophets-- along with the gold plates.
- Cowdery further claimed that in the previous month -- on May 15, 1829-- he and Smith had received the Aaronic Priesthood from John the Baptist – a Biblical prophet who visited them as an angel (sources: Oliver Cowdery letter to W. W. Phelps in the MandA Oct 1834; patriarchal blessing book of Joseph Smith, Sen, 2 October 1835). Yet Smith said that he and Cowdery gave the Aaronic Priesthood to each other (Joseph Smith–History 1:71-72).
- Later Cowdery claimed that he and Smith had received the Melchizedek Priesthood from three more angels -- Peter, James, and John --Resurrected Apostles of Jesus Christ. Mormon scholars place this visit in June, 1831 - more than a year after the church was organized and ordaining "elders" for missions.
- The Book of Mormon was published in March, 1830. Newspaper articles published soon afterwards reported on Cowdery’s interactions with angels: "the person here, who pretends to have a divine mission, and to have seen and conversed with Angels, is Cowdry.” (source: Painesville Telegraph, Nov. 16, 1830).
- Cowdery's reports of supernatural visits continued. He later claimed that on April 3 1836, he and Smith were visited by Jesus Christ and by the resurrected Biblical prophets Moses, Elias, and Elijah.
If all of the above claims are bogus, Cowdery was either fooled by Smith or he was collaborating with Smith.
How trustworthy was Cowdery?
After many years of service to the Church, Cowdery’s reputation was not favorable: he was accused of lying and counterfeiting by those who knew him best.
Rigdon (1838) said: "Oliver Cowdery... united with a gang of counterfeiters, thieves, liars and blacklegs of the deepest dye, to deceive, cheat and defraud the Saints.” (published in US Senate Document).
Smith also claimed that a nonmember of the Church by the name of Sapham had told him in Kirtland that a warrant had been issued against Oliver "for being engaged in making a purchase of bogus money and dies to make the counterfeit money with." According to Smith, he and Sidney Rigdon went to visit Oliver concerning the matter and told him that if he were guilty, he had better leave town; but if he was innocent, he should stand trial and thus be acquitted. "That night or next," the Prophet said, Oliver "left the country" (A History of the Latter-day Saints in Northern Missouri From 1836 to 1839, p.146).
The first published allegations of Book of Mormon authorship named Cowdery:
“Mr. Cowdry and Mr. Smith the reputed author, have taken the old Bible to keep up a train of circumstances, and by altering names and language have produced the string of Jargon called the "Book of Mormon.” John St. John, Editor of The Cleveland Herald (Nov. 25, 1830)
The author of the above quote - John St. John-- knew Cowdery before Cowdery became a Mormon and had a negative impression of him:
"On reading the name of Oliver Cowdry, in support of the divine authenticity of the work, whatever faith we might have been inspired with on reading the certificate, was banished, for we had known Cowdry some seven or eight years ago, when he was a dabbler in the art of Printing, and principally occupied in writing and printing pamphlets, with which, as a pedestrian Pedlar, he visited the towns and villages of western New York and Canada."
In 1887, Lorenzo Saunders, a neighbor of the Smith family, recalled: "I was frequently at the house of Joseph Smith from 1827 to 1830... I saw Oliver Cowdery writing, I suppose the "Book of Mormon" with books and manuscript laying on the table before him"
Modern methods of text analysis can compare texts and identify chapters that are most similar to the known writings of candidate authors. In 2008, we (Jockers et al.) published an article in which Cowdery was named as a likely contributor to the Book of Mormon, along with Spalding and Rigdon.
Our current work suggests that Smith and Cowdery contributed about 25% of the text of the Book of Mormon.
| Okay, this thread really isn't about Oliver as SOLE author. The evidence for Solomon Spaulding, Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith's influence in the Book of Mormon is too great to ignore, and I'm sure each of those men had their hand in the pie. However, this thread is going to be about emphasizing Oliver's role in the production, which I think was far greater than most people realize. Yes, I know that assigning authorship to the Book of Mormon has little bearing in the scheme of things, but many people out there base a great portion of their testimony on the Book of Mormon, and I think it's important to get the theories out there.
1) View of the Hebrews
In 1823 Ethan Smith (unrelated to the Joseph Smith family) wrote a book entitled "View of the Hebrews," which argued that the Native Americans were descended from the lost ten tribes of Israel who traveled over the seas and populated the new continent, thence dividing into civilized and uncivilized groups, changing their government from monarchy to a form of republic, wars, preaching the gospel, etc... The views of this book were not unusual for the time, and were shared by Solomon Spaulding who had attended school with Ethan Smith.
Ethan Smith was pastor over the Congregational Church in Poultney, VT at this time, and among his congregation was a young man named Oliver Cowdery. Who knows how many Sundays Oliver spent listening to the words of a man who was writing and had written a book such as "View of the Hebrews." Who knows how much personal time Oliver had with the man during his most formative years. It can only be assumed how much of this material was going through Oliver's head while he was helping Joseph Smith with the Book of Mormon.
2) Early possible connections with Sidney Rigdon
Oliver's brother, Erastus, moved to Trumbull, OH in 1818, where he lived until his death in 1833. Sidney Rigdon lived in Warren, 9 miles away, from 1820-22, after which he moved to Pittsburg where many witnesses have him running into and taking the Spaulding manuscript. Around the same time that "View of the Hebrews" came out, in 1823, Oliver moved to western New York to take a job as a printer's assistant, where he would have travelled all over the countryside meeting lots of interesting people.
During the great Palmyra revival in 1825 Joseph Smith most likely attended some of the stirring Methodist meetings in town. With Oliver on foot, and Rigdon's whereabouts unknown in the Spring of 1825, it is possible that they may have attended these meetings as well.
After living in Pittsburg for a few years, Rigdon moved back to Ohio, occasionally seen near Erastus' home in Trumbull. Of course, there is no direct evidence that Oliver and Sidney met at this time.
3) When the Book of Mormon was written
In assessing who was reponsible for the Book of Mormon, it is pivotal to nail down when exactly it was written. When Joseph first arrived in Harmony he managed to put together a set of transcribed characters from the plates. Emma and her brother Reuben helped with this endeavor. Another brother of Emma, David, said that Reuben "assisted Joe Smith to fix up some characters such as Smith pretended were engraven on his book of plates." (History of Susquehannah County Pennsylvania, 1873, pg 104). Emma herself agreed that Reuben had helped with the translation.
In the Book of Mormon translation process, Joseph used scribes to write down his dictations. However, why would scribes be necessary if all you're doing is copying characters? Joseph could have just as well done this by himself. In fact, it would have been far easier for him to do this by himself, as no dictation is necessary. Just copy the character as you see it. Nevertheless, Emma and Reuben helped put together this set of figures that was eventually brought to Charles Anthon, and which figures survived to today. You can see them here:
After Martin Harris arrived, the real translation into English began. Several years later Joseph Smith said that 116 pages had been translated, and that they had contained the Book of Lehi. Lucy later confirmed the number of pages as 116 in her history, though it is doubtful that she ever saw them. We have no other description or claim as to what or how much exactly was translated during this time. Considering the lack of contemporary descriptions as it being anything other than a manuscript, these claims by Joseph and his mother are generally accepted at face value. However, since these pages are lost forever, presumably burned by Lucy Harris, we will never know exactly what or how much was on them.
Nothing else was translated for at least several months. During this time Oliver Cowdery met the Smith family in Palmyra and was supposedly converted, all but begging to go see Joseph as soon as possible, but trapped by a prior agreement to teach a season of school.
Joseph, meanwhile, had supposedly gotten his "gift" back. At least this is what DandC Section 10 wants us to believe. However, the reader will notice an interesting thing when considering the chronology of the sections of the Doctrine and Covenants. Each section is in chronological order, with only a few exceptions. Section 10 glares at the reader as an obvious exception, as if somehow it was rearranged to follow section 3, which speaks about the losing of the 116 pages. Sections 4-9 follow in perfect order up to April of 1829. Then, all of a sudden, the section 10 jumps back to the Summer of 1828. Section 11 then resumes where section 9 left off. Why is this?
A careful look at Lucy's history perhaps sheds some light on this chronology mystery. In her handwritten manuscript she says that in August of 1828 she said that she "went down to Harmony to make (Joseph) a visit." Joseph then told his mother that he had been praying and that the angel told him "if you are sufficiently humble and penitent that you will receive (the plates) again on the 22 september." Lucy specifically states that DandC 10 had not been received at this time, but rather states that it was received "soon after" at some time that she could apparently not recall.
One interesting feature of DandC 10 is the insistence that the translation should skip over the original material and continue translating where it originally left off (ie, skip the book of Lehi and continue on with the plates of Nephi). Since it is generally accepted that Nephi-Omni were translated last, after the rest of the Book of Mormon had already been translated, then by the sound of it, DandC 10 was likely received just as Joseph and Oliver had finished Moroni 10 and were ready to go back to the beginning, as it were. At this time it would have been decided whether to retranslate the Book of Lehi or not. This would place DandC 10 around May, 1829, and surprisingly enough makes it fall exactly between section 9 and section 11. If this chronology is true, then it wasn't until May of 1829 that Joseph first let people know that his gift had been returned, retroactive to the previous September 22nd.
So what happened in the Fall and Winter of 1828? Did Joseph indeed resume translating as he said he did? In his own words Joseph stated "I did not however go immediately to translating but went to laboring with my hands upon a small farm which I had purchased of my wife's father, in order to provide for my family." If he was farming then the harvest alone would likely have taken him into October. Did he resume translating after that?
The most direct word we have on this matter comes from Emma, who later in life said "In writing for J. S. I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table close by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it and dictating hour after hour, with nothing between us."
This phrase by Emma has been generally accepted at face value, but how well can we trust Emma's word on matters involving the golden plates? In Lucy's autobiography she states that, several days after Joseph had gone with Emma on the wagon to get the plates, "we went to Emma Joseph’s wife and asked her if she knew aught of the record whether Joseph had taken them out or where they were She said she did not know... but she thought Joseph was to have the record he would ." Emma wasn't even honest with her own mother-in-law about the whereabouts of the plates. This and other statements by Emma cast doubt on her recollection of these events in Harmony.
Joseph Knight later recalled about this period, "Now he Could not translate But little Being poor and nobody to write for him But his wife and she Could not do much and take Care of her house and he Being poor and no means to live But work... He and his wife Came up to see me the first of the winter 1828 and told me his Case." So Joseph and Emma took the time out of their scant translating to make the 300-mile trip to the Knight residence, and even then only could tell him that little progress had been made.
In reality, other than Emma and Joseph, we really have no witness to confirm that any translation occured at all until Oliver Cowdery arrived the next Spring. Thus, it is reasonable to assume the possibility that every word of the Book of Mormon that we have today was written after the arrival of Oliver Cowdery on the scene.
4) Oliver Cowdery tried to translate
As soon as Oliver Cowdery arrived, there seemed to have been some controversy as to whether he or Joseph should be the translator. The first revelation given to Oliver states "And, behold, I grant unto you a gift, if you desire of me, to translate, even as my servant Joseph... then shall you assist in bringing to light, with your gift, those parts of my scriptures which have been hidden because of iniquity... I give unto you, and also unto my servant Joseph, the keys of this gift, which shall bring to light this ministry..." (DandC section 6). In fact, Oliver was a co-recipient for the revelation known as DandC section 7. Section 8 says to Oliver "you may translate and receive knowledge from all those ancient records which have been hid up." Apparently Oliver did do some of the translating, but later it seems that Joseph was no longer keen in letting Oliver be called the translator, and received Section 9 which states in part "because that you did not continue as you commenced, when you began to translate, that Ihave taken away this privilege from you."
Who knows how much Oliver Cowdery translated by himself. The fact is, though, that even scriptural revelations agree that Oliver did some amount of the translating. If you're looking for someone to place at the scene of the crime when it comes to determining who wrote the Book of Mormon, Oliver Cowdery is definitely there.
5) Oliver Cowdery as a special witness
For the first few years, Oliver seems to always creep up in special divine manifestations, starting with his witness of the golden plates as shown by an angel. Strangely enough, Oliver was the only one of the three witnesses to not state that he only saw the plates through "spiritual eyes." However, reliable affirmations of this witness by Oliver later in life are also hard to find, as are affirmations of other divine manifestations that he alone allegedly shared with Joseph, including the restoration of the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods, along with the visit from Elijah and the restoration of the sealing keys. It seems that whenever Joseph needed an alibi, Oliver was always right there to nod his head, or at least agree through his silence on the matter. This alone is reason enough to suspect that Joseph and Oliver were collaborators from the start.
6) Oliver's own admission
Judge W. Lang, Oliver's business partner while he was out of the church, wrote the following in a letter to Thomas Gregg in a letter dated Nov 5, 1881, "This I will say that Mr. Cowdery never spoke of his connection with the Mormons to anybody except to me. We were intimate friends. The plates were never translated and could not be, were never intended to be. What is claimed to be a translation is the 'Manuscript Found' worked over by C[owdery] . He was the best scholar amongst them... Without going into detail or disclosing a confided word, I say to you that I do know, as well as can now be known, that C[owdery]. revised the 'Manuscript' and Smith and Rigdon approved of it before it became the 'Book of Mormon.' I have no knowledge of what became of the original."
Now, I won't go so far as to say that all of the Book of Mormon came from Oliver Cowdery. When the translation processed moved to the Whitmer residence, there clearly were original manuscript pages in the handwriting of members of the Whitmer family. In this case Joseph would have been dictating and Oliver may have not played a very big role. Ironically, this is also the part of the Book of Mormon that is most heavily plagiarized from the Bible and which contains the near-identical dream that Joseph Smith Sr. had according to Lucy's retelling. Aside from this bit, it is reasonable to assume that Oliver Cowdery at the least wrote a good portion of the Book of Mormon, probably drawing from a Rigdon-Spaulding manuscript which he would have brought with him to Harmony. It could be that he wrote all the rest.
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