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BYU Studies Vol. 40 (2001)
In 1828, the H. and E. Phinney Company in Cooperstown, New York, published a quarto-size edition of the King James Bible. This is the version that Joseph Smith, founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, used in his work when he created a new translation of the Bible. Here the author examines Joseph Smith’s marked-up copy of the Phinney Bible as an artifact important to Mormonism’some of Smith’s corrections and additions appear in footnotes of the Bible that Mormons use today. The author notes that the Phinney Bible’s updated language is more modern than the version of the Bible Latter-day Saints officially use (the King James), and the modernization may or may not have influenced Joseph Smith’s word choice in creating his translation. The author also gives biographical information on the Phinneys, describes how their Bible may have made its way into Joseph Smith’s hands, briefly traces the history of the English Bible in America, and describes the printing process employed by the Phinneys.
One of the strangest and most extensive archaeological hoaxes in American history was perpetrated around the turn of the twentieth century in Michigan. Hundreds of objects known as the Michigan Relics were made to appear as the remains of a lost civilization. The artifacts were produced, buried, “discovered,” and marketed by James O. Scotford and Daniel E. Soper. For three decades these artifacts were secretly planted in earthen mounds, publicly removed, and lauded as wonderful discoveries. Because the Michigan Relics allegedly evidence a Near Eastern presence in ancient America, they have drawn interest from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as well as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This article traces the intriguing history of this elaborate affair and Mormonism’s encounter with it. At the center of this history lies the investigation of the artifacts by Latter-day Saint intellectual and scientist James E. Talmage.