Three Witnesses

Three Witnesses image

This article is about Latter Day Saints. For the Nero Wolfe short story collection, see Three Witnesses (book). The Three Witnesses as depicted by Edward Hart, 1883: Oliver Cowdery (top), David Whitmer (left), and Martin Harris (right).

The Three Witnesses is the collective name for three men connected with the early Latter Day Saint movement who stated that an angel had shown them the golden plates from which Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon; they also stated that they had heard God's voice, informing them that the book had been translated by divine power. The Three are part of twelve Book of Mormon witnesses, who also include Smith and the Eight Witnesses.

The joint statement of the Three Witnesses—Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer—has been printed (with a separate statement by the Eight Witnesses) in nearly every edition of the Book of Mormon since its first publication in 1830. All three men eventually broke with Smith and the church he organized, although Harris and Cowdery were eventually rebaptized into the church after Smith's death. Whitmer founded his own Church of Christ (Whitmerite). All three men upheld their testimony of the Book of Mormon at their deaths.

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Testimony of the Three Witnesses

On June 28, 1829, Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris went into the woods near the home of Peter Whitmer, Sr. and prayed to receive a vision of the golden plates. After some time, Harris left the other three men, believing his presence had prevented the vision from occurring. The remaining three again knelt and said they soon saw a light in the air overhead and an angel holding the golden plates. Smith retrieved Harris, and after praying at some length with him, Harris too said he saw the vision.

The three men provided a single written statement titled "Testimony of Three Witnesses", published at the end of the first edition of the Book of Mormon:

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