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Book of Mormon Witnesses

The Book of Mormon contains two sets of joint statements written by Joseph Smith for those who claimed to have seen the gold plates.

Three Witnesses

The Three Witnesses are David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris, who mortgaged his farm to finance the first printing of the Book of Mormon.

It is inconclusive if the witnesses actually saw plates or if they only claimed to see them through a visionary experience. The testimony published in the Book of Mormon suggests it was through supernatural means:
And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon.

Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, Martin Harris
The Testimony of Three Witnesses
  • Since all three served as scribes for Joseph Smith as he dictated the Book of Mormon, its perplexing why an angel would need to come down and show them the plates.

Eight Witnesses

The Book of Mormon also includes a joint statement from eight men who claim to have seen the gold plates.
  • Half of the witnesses are related to David Whitmer.
  • Three are related to Joseph Smith including his father and two brothers.


The relationship with the witnesses were strained.
Brigham Young Some of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon, who handled the plates and conversed with the angels of God, were afterwards left to doubt and to disbelieve that they had ever seen an angel*.

Brigham Young – Mormon prophet
Journal of Discourses 7:164
* Notice Brigham equates seeing the plates with seeing an angel
  • Within eight years all of the Three Witnesses were excommunicated from the church.
Joseph Smith Such characters as McLellin, John Whitmer, David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris, are too mean to mention; and we had liked to have forgotten them.

Joseph Smith – Mormonism founder
History of the Church 3:232
  • After Joseph Smith's death, Oliver Cowdery eventually joined the Methodist church. Martin Harris and David Whitmer followed James J. Strang. See Succession Crisis


In the end, whatever the witnesses saw or claimed to have seen through a vision doesn't matter, because none could read Reformed Egyptian, so none could verify that Joseph's Book of Mormon is an accurate translation.