Book Review: Joseph Smith’s Seer Stones

“I trust you will make this [Joseph’s Seer Stone] a matter of history.” – Zina Young Card.

“These stones will I give unto thee . . . [which]  shall magnify to the eyes of men these things which ye shall write.” Ether 3:24

Zina Young Card, Daughter of Brigham Young
Zina Young Card

When I first heard about Michael H. Hubbard and Nicholas J Frederick’s Joseph Smith’s Seer Stones, I asked myself, What can one possibly learn about Joseph’s Seer Stones? Aren’t they merely cultural artifacts that Joseph used to as a means of inspiration in translating the Book of Mormon? In summation, I thought that this book would have very little to offer, and would either be very short or very repetitive.

Boy, was I wrong. As it turns out, there is much to be learned regarding the Seer Stone’s, and much more that needs to be talked about. The book goes into extraordinary detail regarding interesting topics such as how Joseph found his seer stones, what was the context of the life of seer stones, a theology of seer stones, among others.

What was most interesting, in my opinion, was the portion tracing the seer stones back to Joseph and to today and the part about theologizing the stones. The authors give a very good critique of the “Didactic Model” of seer stones, which basically entails that the stones were used as a crutch for Joseph Smith’s prophetic role, rather than God’s actual means of communication with Joseph Smith. After all, if God created the brother of Jared’s Seer Stones specifically for a divine purpose, He could have done the same for Joseph Smith. Pointing to the Book of Mormon, Joseph’s seer stones, the authors argue, “were not [merely] cultural artifacts, but rather sacred relics that identified him as a seer, revelation, and prophet” (Hubbard and Frederick, 133).

Another great feature that has nothing to do with the content of the book is the paper that was used in its printing. Throughout the book one will notice colorful illustrations of seer stones, prophets, apostles, and others who were involved in Joseph’s Seer Stones. These colorful illustrations and photographs helps readers connect with the text and understand better who’s who and what’s what.

In conclusion, I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who has questions about seer stones. The authors manage to create a beautiful working narrative that many simply do not know about or have considered. And it’s meticulous arguments add to the fruitful discussion.


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