HOW LONG DID IT TAKE JOSEPH SMITH TO TRANSLATE THE BOOK OF MORMON?
Among the amazing facts about the Book of Mormon is the astonishingly short time Joseph took to translate it. Recent research into the historical record shows it unlikely that any more than 65 to 75 days were invovled in the actual translation.
Translation of the Book of Mormon, as we have it today, did not begin in earnest until April 7, 1829, after the arrival of Oliver Cowdery in Harmony, Pennsylvania. Before this time, Joseph had translated only the 116 pages of the Book of Lehi (which transcript Martin Harris lost) and had worked on a few pages with Emma as his scribe. Working "with little cessation," Joseph and Oliver had reached 3 Nephi 11 by May 15, and they apparently completed the Plates of Mormon by May 31. This appears likely, since the Title Page at the end of these plates was translated before June 11, the date on which the full text of the Title Page appears in the copyright application for the Book of Mormon. At that point, no more than 55 days had transpired.
The work continued after a move to the Whitmer farm in Fayette, New York. It appears that the Small Plates of Nephi were translated at this time. By mid-June, Joseph and Oliver had finished 1 Nephi and had reached 2 Nephi 27, which most likely sparked the manifestation to the Three Witnesses, although other scenarios are possible. In any event, the manuscripts of the History of the Church indicate that the few remaining pages were finished following the visitation to the Three Witnesses. Thus, about 20 days in June.
Total days: Hardly more than 75. Probably less. These were busy days. From April to June, one must also allow Joseph time to reveal several sections of the D&C; to restore the Priesthood; to baptize others; to give personal instructions to Oliver, Hyrum and Samuel Smith, and Joseph Knight; to move on buckboard from Harmony to Fayette (3 to 4 days); to obtain the copyright; and to eat and sleep.
In practical terms alone, this is an impressive feat: 7 to 10 current book pages per day, final copy, day after day. Imagine, on average, only a day and a half to compose King Benjamin's sppech, or a week to do 1 Nephi, or a couple of hours for Alma 36! No wonder Oliver wrote in 1834, "These were days never to be forgotten."