The Three Witnesses
were a group of three early leaders of the Latter Day Saint movement
who signed a statement in 1830 saying that an angel
had shown them the golden plates
from which Joseph Smith, Jr.
translated the Book of Mormon
and that they had heard God's voice testifying that the book had been translated by the power of God. The Three are among the eleven Book of Mormon witnesses
, of whom the remainder were the Eight Witnesses
who affirmed that they "saw and handled" the plates.
The Three Witnesses were Oliver Cowdery
, Martin Harris
, and David Whitmer
, whose joint testimony, in conjunction with a separate statement by Eight Witnesses
, has been printed with nearly every edition of the Book of Mormon since its first publication in 1830. All three witnesses eventually broke with Smith and were excommunicated from the church
he had founded. Harris and Cowdery eventually rejoined the church, and to varying degrees, all three continued to testify to the divine origin of the Book of Mormon.In 1838, Joseph Smith called Cowdery, Harris, and Whitmer "too mean to mention; and we had liked to have forgotten them." B.H. Roberts, ed. History of the Church
(Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1905), 3: 232.
Testimony of the Three Witnesses
Probably in early July 1829—but on an unspecified day and in an unspecified place—Joseph Smith Jr.
, Oliver Cowdery
, David Whitmer
, and Martin Harris
are said to have retired to the woods, praying to... Read More