SALT LAKE CITY, Aug. 5 (UPI) -- The Mormon Church revealed artifacts of its history in a book featuring a photograph of church founder Joseph Smith's "seer stone."
The egg-shaped stone is included in a newly-published history of the Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS), and has been seen by few people. Smith used the sacred stone, he claimed, to translate the Book of Mormon, the principal text of the faith. A founding tenet of the faith is that Smith used the stone in the 1820s as he translated the story of Jesus' visit to North America, found on golden plates, from "reformed Egyptian" to English, using spiritual tools which included the stone.
Publication of the photograph this week, and of the "printer's manuscript" which followed the original Book of Mormon are an effort to make the church's history more tangible and transparent.
It is part of a move on the part of the church to offer a better understanding of how Smith founded the religion in Palmyra, N. Y.
Most of the original, hand-written Book of Mormon was ruined by water damage; the remainder is in the LDS History Library in Salt Lake City.
"This image allows us to connect in a way with something that's actually a physical object," said Richard E. Turley Jr., Assistant LDS Church Historian.
Steven E. Snow, Church Historian, added, "They're beautiful, and we hope that both images and discussion of this sacred object will add to the understanding of the translation of the Book of Mormon."