LDS Church History: Oliver Cowdery, Book of Mormon Witness





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Uploaded on May 30, 2008

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Oliver Cowdery was one of the first members of the Mormon Church and was a key figure in Mormon history. Oliver served as scribe to Joseph Smith during the translation of the Book of Mormon, was the first person to be baptized into the Church, was witness to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, and was a leader in the early days of the Church. He witnessed many profound visions and miraculous events with Joseph Smith and had a good deal of authority in the early Church.

Oliver was born on October 3, 1806, in Wells, Vermont. There is little information about his youth; the earliest records available state that at twenty years old he moved to New York. He worked as a clerk in a store until 1829, and then taught at the school in Manchester. Oliver Cowdery boarded in the home of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith, Joseph Smith's parents, and while there learned of Joseph's visions and the manuscript he was translating. Oliver became convinced of the truth of this work and desired to become a scribe for Joseph Smith.

Oliver became Joseph's scribe on April 7, 1829, and worked with him until the translation of the Book of Mormon was completed. Oliver was grateful for the opportunity to hear the words of the book. In his own words he said:

These were days never to be forgotten—to sit under the sound of a voice dictated by the inspiration of heaven, awakened the utmost gratitude of this bosom! Day after day I continued, uninterrupted, to write from his mouth, as he translated with the Urim and Thummim, or, as the Nephites would have said, 'Interpreters,' the history or record called 'The Book of Mormon' (Messenger and Advocate, October 1834, p. 14).
While they were translating, Joseph and Oliver learned about baptism and decided to ask the Lord whether they ought to be baptized. As they prayed, John the Baptist appeared to them as a heavenly messenger. Calling them his "fellow servants," he ordained them to the Aaronic Priesthood with the authority to baptize. Joseph and Oliver went to the nearby Susquehanna River where Joseph first baptized Oliver, then Oliver baptized Joseph. Not long after, Oliver Cowdery witnessed the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood under the hands of the ancient apostles Peter, James, and John.

While translating the record, Joseph and Oliver learned that three witnesses would be allowed to see the record and bear testimony of its existence in addition to Joseph. In June of 1829, Oliver became one of these Three Witnesses to the existence of the gold plates, along with Martin Harris and David Whitmer. The three men and Joseph retired to the woods where they prayed. An angel appeared to them, showing them the gold plates. The voice of God was also heard, commanding them to bear record of the event. Though these men suffered and struggled much, not one of them ever denied this testimony.

Information from http://www.mormonwiki.com


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