Most people familiar with the story of the translation of the Book of Mormon know about the lost first 116 pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript. Martin Harris served as scribe for the first 116 pages, and his skeptical wife Lucy Harris asked Martin to get her the pages so she could take a look. Joseph Smith wrote that he asked the Lord repeatedly if he could lend them out, and finally Joseph allowed Martin to take the pages. Unfortunately for Joseph, the pages went missing. Lucy Harris wanted to see if Joseph could reproduce the text word for word, and no amount of begging could get her to tell where she put the pages. As Fawn Brodie explains in “No Man Knows My History”:
Despairingly [Joseph] realized that it was impossible for him to reproduce the story exactly, and that to redictate it would be to invite devastating comparisons. Harris’s wife taunted him: “If this be a divine communication, the same being who revealed it to you can easily replace it.”
Later Joseph wrote two revelations (D&C 3 and D&C 10) where the Lord warned him not to retranslate the source for the 116 pages he had already translated. The evil people who stole the pages would change the original translation in order to embarrass Joseph Smith. But fortunately the Lord knew this was going to happen 1,500 years before the pages were lost, so he had Mormon include an unabridged copy of the same material in the gold plates, only more spiritual and less secular than the first version Joseph translated and lost. And since God is so wise, the duplication exactly covered the material that went missing. Whew!
Obviously, I’m not buying Joseph Smith’s explanation. In my opinion, the Book of Mormon is the oral work of a gifted orator, Joseph Smith. He knew he wouldn’t be able to duplicate what he had previously dictated because it was an oral account, not something written down that he was reading. You can read FairMormon’s explanations as to why Joseph Smith is telling the truth in this matter, but as usual, I find their reasoning very unconvincing.
But what if Joseph Smith really was a prophet of God like he claimed, and he had the power of an almighty God helping him along the way? Here are some ways this story should have ended. Each comic is a different ending.