“Then Shall the Learned Say: I Cannot Read It”

W. Cleon Skousen

In these four verses we have the instructions of the Lord to Joseph Smith in order to fulfill Isaiah's prediction that the writings of this book would be submitted to certain modern linguists for their evaluation. Isaiah said the prophet to whom the Book of Mormon would be entrusted would be delivered to "another" -- which proved to be Martin Harris -- and he would take it to a learned linguist and ask him to read it. Martin Harris took the transcription from the plates to Columbia University and asked the famous scholar, Professor Anthon, to evaluate the transcriptions which had been copied and translated by Joseph Smith from the plates. When Martin Harris reached Columbia University here is what he said happened:

"I went to the city of New York, and presented the characters which had been translated, with the translation thereof, to Professor Charles Anthon, a gentleman celebrated for his literary attainments. Professor Anthon stated that the translation was correct, more so than any he had before seen translated from the Egyptian.... He gave me a certificate certifying to the people of Palmyra that they were true characters, and that the translation of such of them as had been translated was also correct.

"I took the certificate and put it into my pocket, and was just leaving the house, when Mr. Anthon called me back, and asked me how the young man found out there were gold plates in the place where he found them. I answered that an angel of God had revealed it unto him. He then said to me, 'Let me see that certificate.' I accordingly took it out of my pocket and gave it to him, then he took it and tore it to pieces saying there was no such thing as ministering angels, and if I would bring the plates to him he would translate them. I informed him that part of the plates were sealed and that I was forbidden to bring them. He replied, I cannot read a sealed book.' I left him and went to Dr. Mitchell who sanctioned what Professor Anthon had said respecting both the characters and the translation.'"4

Without realizing it, Professor Anthon had said the exact words Isaiah and Nephi had predicted he would say some 2,600 years earlier!

Treasures from the Book of Mormon