Joseph Smith translated (dictated/narrated) the “book of Lehi” in 1828 to Martin Harris who subsequently lost the 116-page manuscript. Revelation given to the prophet (D&C 10) provides clues about the lost manuscript and how to accept that loss and continue with Book of Mormon production by translating data from another account that is engraved in the records. We are informed that the lost “book of Lehi” will be replaced with writings on the plates that offer “a more particular account” and is called the “record of Nephi.” The explanation from God is that the replacement “is more particular” in that it will provide “greater views” of the gospel of the Nephite religion. In other words, the latter provides more value than the first! So, Smith is commissioned to accept the loss of the “book of Lehi” and begin anew with Nephi’s account which parallels Lehi’s version within the 116-page manuscript beginning from Jerusalem and the voyage to the land of promise; thereafter follows Nephi’s personal ministry and the accounts leading all the way down to the reign of king Benjamin.
I now explain my understanding of how the Book of Lehi and the lost 116-page manuscript is different from the account that was later produced through Smith and Cowdery. All of this, of course, is my speculation and viewpoint. I ask YOU to please consider it and weigh the possibilities based on my presentation within this thread. Please understand the main theme of the Book of Mormon was a premeditated or existing story in Joseph Smith’s mind before he ever dictated a single word to Martin Harris. It is a work of pure fiction in which he devised from his own wit and intelligent design. Smith originally planned to present the Book of Mormon story using the direct narrative of Lehi, the patriarch and prophet of a family who was destined to leave Jerusalem and inherit a land of promise in the New World. We may reason that the first verse of the Book of Lehi was similar in nature to the first verse later crafted in 1 Nephi:
(Theoretical) Book of Lehi 1:1 wrote:I, Lehi, having been called of God as a prophet in Israel, therefore I was commanded in all the things of my God; and having seen many visions in the course of my days and having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge through dreams of the mysteries of God, therefore I, Lehi, make a record of my proceedings in my days.
I believe it was Smith’s original plan to begin his imagined story of the Book of Mormon through the eyes and mouth of the patriarch Lehi. Thus, the narrative of Lehi’s ministry in Jerusalem was explained in his own words, written by his own hand. The eight year journey in the wilderness leading up to Bountiful on the Arabian coast was based on the narrative given from the mouth of Lehi. In addition, the account of Lehi featured details of the voyage from Arabia to America and all the happenings that occurred on that voyage were recorded by Lehi. Lehi presided over all who inherited the promised land. Details of his ministry, prophecies, dreams, and circumstances were given through his voice and by his pen. After the death of Lehi and Sariah in the promised land, the narrative switched to his faithful son Nephi. The ministry of Nephi and historical circumstances between the Nephites and Lamanites leading up to king Benjamin were expressly given through the eyes of those who possessed the plates.
So, in a nutshell, the Book of Lehi was a record written by Lehi and was passed down to Nephi and others all the way down to the reign of king Benjamin when the record for the first translation comes to an end. The translation Smith gave to Harris of Lehi’s account was similar to the one given to Cowdery of Nephi’s version but made it possible to express the same story in different ways. Smith knew it was not possible to reproduce the same story given to Harris but he could improvise and come up with a similar story covering the same theme and circumstances through the eyes of another character within the original story. This is how Smith managed to save the Book of Mormon! He would simply retell the story from another point of view! It was a brilliant means to salvage the manuscript that was lost and resurrect the original story and continue from there.
The main difference in narrative between the lost manuscript and the replacement that constitutes our current version of the Book of Mormon is that father Lehi was the narrator of the first translation and Nephi was the narrator of the second. Smith knew there was no way he could reproduce or retranslate the exact same story. His memory was not perfect and he knew it was an impossible task. There would have been serious differences and contradictions in the details that would have been detected and called out by those who possessed the stolen manuscript. The outcome of this problem is pretty much self-explanatory but Smith ranted on about how his so-called enemies under the influence of Satan would simply alter the words and falsely accuse him of making changes. That really was a ridiculous excuse on Joseph’s part. But all they would need to do is show the manuscript and point out the obvious differences. Smith knew that and so he accepted the loss of Lehi’s account and came up with the idea to retell the story from Nephi’s perspective. It was a brilliant plan and it worked almost flawlessly.
The first point I wish to bring up about how we can discern Smith tripping up in retelling the story with a different narrator is the voyage to the promised land and the fact that the number of days for that voyage is not recorded in the text. I have discussed this in detail on this board and will include some clips of that discussion. I will also introduce new information and perspective to strengthen my case which shows Smith was simply retelling the story to the best of his ability using Nephi as his eyes and ears. Poor Lehi lost the helm and took a backseat because Martin Harris lost the manuscript! I will demonstrate how seemingly Captain Lehi was demoted to that of a feeble ship’s hand, like a stowaway who was about to die of old age. The retelling makes Nephi the ship’s captain and master of the Liahona as he usurps his father’s authority in what could be construed as a mutiny from Bountiful to the land of promise.
The second point I wish to disclose through my personal conjecture will prove utterly fascinating! Hold on to your seats because I am going to take you on ride into the mystery of Book of Mormon coverups and expose them.
TO BE CONTINUED