Source: Martin Harris literal experience quotes

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Quotations from Martin Harris which demonstrate the literal nature of the Three Witness experience

"He believes in the visitation of angels in bodily form, for he has seen and conversed with them, as he thinks, and is satisfied."
— Report on Martin Harris from skeptical newspaper, 1870 (emphasis added).[1]
  • Martin Harris' testimony is reported in a mocking newspaper article, which still makes it clear that Harris' experience was tangible and literal:

Martin Harris, another chief of Mormon imposters, arrived here last Saturday from the bible quarry in New-York. He immediately planted himself in the bar-room of the hotel, where he soon commenced reading and explaining the Mormon hoax, and all the dark passages from Genesis to Revelations. He told all about the gold plates, Angels, Spirits, and Jo Smith.—He had seen and handled them all, by the power of God! [2]

  • Joseph Smith was an eyewitness to what Martin Harris said at the exact moment that the manifestation took place. He reported that Martin's words were: "Tis enough; mine eyes have beheld". [3] Another eyewitness, named Alma Jensen, saw Martin Harris point to his physical eyes while testifying that he had seen both the angel and the plates. [4]
  • Oliver Cowdery wrote a letter to a skeptical author in November 1829, and spoke for both himself and Harris on the question of whether there was some trickery or "juggling" at work:
"It was a clear, open beautiful day, far from any inhabitants, in a remote field, at the time we saw the record, of which it has been spoken, brought and laid before us, by an angel, arrayed in glorious light, [who] ascend [descended I suppose] out of the midst of heaven. Now if this is human juggling—judge ye".[5]
  • George Godfrey, and Martin Harris's response to him, after Godfrey suggested that Harris had been deceived:
A few hours before his death and when he was so weak and enfeebled that he was unable to recognize me or anyone, and knew not to whom he was speaking, I asked him if he did not feel that there was an element at least, of fraudulence and deception in the things that were written and told of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and he replied as he had always done so many, many times in my hearing the same spirit he always manifested when enjoying health and vigor and said: ‘The Book of Mormon is no fake. I know what I know. I have seen what I have seen and I have heard what I have heard. I have seen the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon is written. An angel appeared to me and others and testified to the truthfulness of the record, and had I been willing to have perjured myself and sworn falsely to the testimony I now bear I could have been a rich man, but I could not have testified other than I have done and am now doing for these things are true.[6]
  • To William Homer (1869):
Young man, do you see that sun shining through that window? Just so sure as that sun shines and gives us light by day, and the moon and stars give us light by night, just so sure I know the Book of Mormon is true. For I saw the angel, I heard the <his> voice, I saw and handled the plates upon which the Book of Mormon was written; and by the power and influence of the Holy Ghost, the translation was made by the Prophet Joseph Smith, whom I know by the power and gift of the Holy Ghost, was a true Prophet of God....[7]
  • Elder Edward Stevenson reported in 1870:
    • On one occasion several of his old acquaintances made an effort to get him tipsy by treating him to some wine. When they thought he was in a good mood for talk they put the question very carefully to him, ‘Well, now, Martin, we want you to be frank and candid with us in regard to this story of your seeing an angel and the golden plates of the Book of Mormon that are so much talked about. We have always taken you to be an honest good farmer and neighbor of ours but could not believe that you did see an angel. Now, Martin, do you really believe that you did see an angel, when you were awake?’ ‘No,’ said Martin, ‘I do not believe it.’ The crowd were delighted, but soon a different feeling prevailed, as Martin true to his trust, said, ‘Gentlemen, what I have said is true, from the fact that my belief is swallowed up in knowledge; for I want to say to you that as the Lord lives I do know that I stood with the Prophet Joseph Smith in the presence of the angel, and it was the brightness of day (emphasis added).” [8]
    • Bro. Martin visited many of the wards, continuing to bear his testimony both of what he had beheld with his own eyes, and verily knew to be true. He publicly said that many years ago, in Ohio, a number of persons combined [and] sought to get Martin to drink wine for the purpose of crossing him in his testimony. At the conclusion they asked him if he really believed the testimony that he had signed in the Book of Mormon to be true; he replied, no he did not believe it, but, much to their surprise, he said he knew it to be true (italics in original).[9]
    • "I can prove by the Bible the truth of the work, as well as being an eye witness, for I saw the book in the angel's hands and I also heard his voice, and I bear my testimony to you that I saw his words were fulfilled by my taking the words of a a book to the professor [Charles Anthon], although I did not know it at the time."[10]
  • To William Waddoups (1870):
"Young man, I had the privilege of being with the Prophet Joseph Smith, and with these eyes of mine," pointing to his eyes, "I saw the angel of the Lord and I saw the plates and the Urim and Thummim and the sword of Laban, and with these ears," pointing to his ears, "I heard the voice of the angel, and with these hands, "Holding out his hands, "I handled the plates containing the record of the Book of Mormon,[11] and I assisted the Prophet in the translation thereof."[12]
  • To John E. Godfrey (May 1875):
"After they [David Whitmer, Joseph, and Oliver] had been visited by the angel the Prophet then came over to me where I was praying, and I asked the prophet to pray with me...after praying sometime the angel appeared with the golden plates and I saw with these two eyes the angel stand with the gold plates in his hands, and I saw him turn leaf by leaf the plates of gold, and I also heard the voice of the Lord saying that these words were true and translated correctly."[13]
  • To Ole A. Jensen (June 1875):
"The Prophet Joseph Smith, and Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer and myself, went into a little grove to pray to obtain a promise that we should behold it with our eyes natural eyes, that we could testify of it to the world (emphasis added)."[14]
  • To Alma L. Jensen (July 1875):
"Now I don't believe, but I know it [the Book of Mormon] to be true, for with these eyes I saw the ange and with these ears (pointing to them) I heard him say it was a true and correct record of an ancient people that dwelt upon this the American continent, and I hereby testify to you young men that it is true."[15]
  • When in England to preach for an LDS splinter group, Martin Harris was ejected from a meeting of Latter-day Saints. He left, and began to loudly criticize the Church leadership. Critics of Mormonism arrived quickly.
George Mantle to Marietta Walker, 26 December 1888:

When we came out of the meeting Martin Harris was beset with a crowd in the street, expecting he would furnish them with material to war against Mormonism; but when asked if Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, he answered yes; and when asked if the Book of Mormon was true, this was his answer: "Do you know that is the sun shining on us? Because as sure as you know that, I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, and that he translated that book by the power of God."[16]


  1. Martin Harris interview with Iowa State Register, 28 August 1870, "A Witness to the Book of Mormon," Iowa State Register (Des Moines) (28 August 1870); in Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 2:330.
  2. Martin Harris . . .,” Painesville Telegraph (Painesville, Ohio) 2, no. 39 (15 March 1831).
  3. NeedAuthor, Times and Seasons 3 no. 21 (1 September 1842), 898. off-site GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  4. Autobiography of Alma L. Jensen, 1932.
  5. Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, in letter dated 29 November 1829, quoted in Corenlius C. Blatchly, "THE NEW BIBLE, written on plates of Gold or Brass," Gospel Luminary 2/49 (10 Dec. 1829): 194. (emphasis added)
  6. George Godfrey, “Testimony of Martin Harris,” from an unpublished manuscript copy in the possession of his daughter, Florence (Godfrey) Munson of Fielding, Utah; quoted in Eldin Ricks, The Case of the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1971), 65–66. Also cited in Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), 117. ISBN 0877478465.
  7. Martin Harris to W.H. Homer in December 1869, in William Harrison Homer, "Testimony given by Brother W.H. Homer, January 3, 1922, 5:15 P.M., at 2522 No. Kodaio Blvd., Chicago, the home of his son-in-law and daughter, Mr and Mrs. Merrill O. Maugh<an>," Church Archives; in Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 2:314.
  8. Letter of Elder Edward Stevenson to the Millennial Star Vol. 48, 367-389. (1886) quoted in William Edwin Berrett, The Restored Church (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1974), 57–58.
  9. Martin Harris interview with E. Stevenson, February 1870 in Edward Stevenson to the Editor, 30 November 1881, Deseret Evening News 15 (13 December 1881). Reprinted in Deseret News 30 (28 December 1881): 763; Millennial Star 44 (30 January 1882): 78-79; 4 (6 February 1882): 86-87 (emphasis added); cited in Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 2:321.
  10. Martin Harris interview with E. Stevenson, in Edward Stevenson, Reminiscences of Joseph, the Prophet and the Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Edward Stevenson, 1893), 30–33 (emphasis added); in Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 2:326.
  11. Note that Harris handling the plates was likely prior to the witness experience, while they were covered, in assisting Joseph early on with the translation.
  12. Martin Harris, interview with William Waddoups, September 1870, "Martin Harris and the Book of Mormon," Improvement Era 26 (September 1923): 980; in Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 2:335.
  13. Martin Harris interview with John E. Godfrey, May 1875 in John E. Godfrey, Affidavit, 2 June [July] 1933, Church Archives; Published in Deseret News (church section), 15 July 1933, 5 (emphasis added); in Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 2:372.
  14. Martin Harris Interview with Ole A. Jensen, July 1875 in Ole A. Jensen, "Testimony of Martin Harris (ONe of the Witnesses of the Book of Mormon)," undated (c. 1918), original in private possession, photocopies at Utah State Historical Society, Church Archives, and Special Collections of BYU's Harold B. Lee Library; cited in Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 2:375.
  15. Martin Harris, interview with Alma L. Jensen, 4 July 1875, statement 1 June 1936, Dayton, Idaho, typescript, in archives, Harold B. Library, BYU; cited in Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 2:378.
  16. George Mantle to Marietta Walker, 26 December 1888, Saint Catherine, Missouri, cited in Autumn Leaves 2 (1889): 141. Cited in Matthew Roper, "Comments on the Book of Mormon Witnesses: A Response to Jerald and Sandra Tanner," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2/2 (1993). [164–193] link