Subject: Joseph Smith as sole author theory 
Date: Feb 03 01:33 2005
Author: Mark 

While I think Tal makes some good arguments for “JS as sole author” theory based on what creative genius can accomplish and the fact that one doesn’t have to be formally educated to produce amazing works of literature, art, etc., as CraigC has pointed out there are numerous reasons to believe that Rigdon had a significant hand in the BoM’s creation as well, and that Cowdery was also involved (e.g.. the significant translation speed-up that occurred when Cowdery was the scribe). These two being accomplices also helps explain the more extravagant spiritual manifestations (egg. D&C 76, the receiving of the Priesthood by John the Baptist, etc.) that occurred primarily among these three.

There’s also the testimony of one of Cowdery’s closest associates, Judge W. Lang, who said that Cowdery told him that the BoM wasn’t translated from gold plates but was derived from Spalding’s “Manuscript Found” which Rigdon had obtained at the printing office in Pittsburg. It seems to me that the weight of the available evidence, which shows Rigdon’s “fingerprints” all over the BoM in terms of the exact issues that he had with Campbell in the same timeframes that different parts of the BoM were produced, as well as Cowdery and JS’s input himself (egg. Lehi’s dream of the Tree of Life) make collaboration much more likely than a “JS did it alone” theory. Rigdon had the motive, means, and opportunity, and has his fingerprints all over the book. JS clearly has fingerprints on the book as well. And there are reasons to believe that Cowdery was no dupe.


Subject: I don't concern myself very much with whether Joseph could have done it...
Date: Feb 03 08:24
Author: JeffH

I suspect Rigdon had a large hand in it and that they made use of a Spalding manuscript, and those suspicions have little to do with whether Joseph Smith had the ability to write the BoM or not. If anything, I question the likelihood that he would put forth such an effort far more than I question his abilities, but I don't think of either in any way as a basis for giving credence to claims of Spalding or Rigdon partial authorship. Brodie's statement that the belief in Joseph's lack of ability is the basis for the Spalding/Rigdon theory is a straw man as far as I'm concerned.

As I weigh the evidence, I simply think that although the evidence is perhaps not sufficient for proof, there is still a significant body of evidence pointing to Rigdon and Spalding that cannot be easily explained by an authorship theory that excludes these men.



Subject: Interesting comments...
Date: Feb 03 12:49
Author: Tal Bachman

Hi

I concede that the co-authorship theory can't really be disproved. It is just that, to me, it seems to require more assumptions than are really necessary. If you read JS's dictations and writings around the time of the BOM, they are teeming with ideas and turns of phrase, sparkling with wit and insight. He is a smart guy. His writings might be crude stylistically in some ways, as was the BOM, but again, I tend to feel the way BH Roberts did: reading them leaves you with every impression that this young man was totally capable of having written the thing himself.

Who co-wrote the Pearl of Great Price? Who co-wrote the really wonderful story now canonized as the Joseph Smith History in the D&C? Who co-wrote the Doctrine and Covenants? Who co-wrote the sermons? If JS needed help for the BOM, would he not have needed help for the others? But in case after case, JS sat there alone dictating, just as he was reputed to have done by Martin, Emma, Isaac, David, et al, during the creation of the BOM. You see exactly the same pattern, evidence of the same creative process.

I mean, what incentive would Oliver Cowdery have, after being outraged at Joseph's "filthy" affair with Fanny Alger and feeling frustrated and even angry at Joseph and his abuse of his position, to not blow the lid open on the whole thing? I guess you could say he didn't want to implicate himself in fraud, but I don't know...this is the same guy who once said that he often wondered, during those early days of the church, whether he and Joseph were "really in their right mind". I just don't get the sense from Oliver, or from Sidney after reading the Van Wagoner bio, that these guys were genuine co-authors of anything. Certainly Sidney helped shape general doctrinal trends and even specific doctrinal points as a counselor, but of course that's not what we're talking about. Can it really be imagined that Sidney Rigdon would have put up with all the stick he took from Joseph, if he knew that the BOM was a total fraud - that HE had helped write it? Sidney would have had plenty of other opportunities to make money elsewhere, unlike Joseph. Joseph tried to nail Nancy, his daughter, for Pete's sake. I just don't see any evidence as convincing as that pointing to: Joseph Smith was a genuinely talented religious innovator/thinker and storyteller/author.

He's a great storyteller. You know, my dad is a fantastic storyteller, too. Some guys just have it. They have the timing, the sense of suspense, the ability to not let a few (or a lot) of facts get in the way of a good story, the tragedy and the comedy, the whole thing. My dad has no college degree. He probably couldn't "write out" any of his great stories with anything like the flair the oral versions have. He often told us long, extended stories as kids, that were in my opinion the equal or better of anything the Brothers Grimm recorded.

Something happens when he starts to tell them. They just all "work" somehow. I went with him on a fireside tour when I was eight to a bunch of stakes. He had the audiences literally spellbound. People were crying. People joined the church, re-dedicated their lives to the church, gave up drugs. And most of his stories were embellished to the point of being essentially fictionalized. And yeah, a lot of people "felt the spirit" telling them that they were "true". But they were not "true", that is, they were not accurate representations of physically real events.

Not that this was malicious on my dad's part - it's just that what SHOULD have happened gets him so excited, I think, that it starts to become what actually did happen, and the line between reality and fantasy gets increasingly blurred as the stories, and the powerful reactions they elicit, "evolve" in majesty. After awhile, I don't think he knows anymore what's happened, or at least, it just doesn't matter. I know for a fact that even on occasions when he has been corrected, he will laugh or shrug it off and keep on telling the "improved" version. This isn't unique to him or Joseph or FARMS, it just seems a part of the human experience. Fortunately, though, not everyone gives way to that extent to our innate craving for drama and story and communal ritual, to the point where Reality becomes incidental to life.

I appreciate the interesting comments, but my own experience still leads me to suspect that both the orthodox and anti-Mormon positions that "Joseph Smith could NOT have written this on his own" ignore the realities of human creativity as they have shown themselves innumerable times, and rely on in a way disregarding the innate genius of Joseph as it shows itself in all kinds of other ways.

I look forward to more insight on this,

T.



Subject: Some comments on the comments
Date: Feb 03 14:13
Author: Luman Walters

First while I agree with you that Smith could have TOLD a good story I don't know if he himself could WRITE one - or have one written from his words.

I have a copy of both the original edition BOM without the editing and copies of the original documents (such as have survived).

This latter is the recent Skousen printing.

My initial impression was that these could be the transcripts of a storyteller.

Except for the introduction into the BOM of theological concepts and rituals that would not have been known to Smith that were specific to the Campbellite movement.

There is much that Smith could have picked up from his environment but I do not believe that he could have picked up these. By this I mean such as "Baptism for the remission of sins", "By grace we are saved through faith after all that we can do...", the Eucharistic invocation, etc.

Campbell's initial review of the BOM in the Millennial Harbinger says it clearly:

"This prophet Smith, through his stone spectacles, wrote on the plates of Nephi, in his book of Mormon, every error and almost every truth discussed in N. York for the last ten years. He decides all the great controversies - infant baptism, ordination, the trinity, regeneration, repentance, justification, the fall of man, the atonement, transubstantiation, fasting, penance, church government, religious experience, the call to the ministry, the general resurrection, eternal punishment, who may baptize, and even the question of freemasonry, republican government, and the rights of man. All these topics are repeatedly alluded to. How much more benevolent and intelligent this American Apostle, than were the holy twelve, and Paul to assist them!!! He prophesied of all these topics, and of the apostasy, and infallibly decided, by his authority, every question. How easy to prophecy of the past or of the present time!!"

Some of these Smith could have picked up from his environment. Some, I think, he could not have. Well, he could have - but not in the manner that they appeared as in the BOM.

I find it strangely coincidental that the very doctrines that caused Rigdon problems in re the Campbell's Restoration were the very things that were included in the BOM.

As to Rigdon being able to work elsewhere I must differ. I too have read Waggoner's book and in it he tells how Rigdon's fall back occupation was that of a tanner. Waggoner further tells of Rigdon's animus against such a lowly profession.

Rigdon too was a great speaker and storyteller. He was so till the end of his life. He, however, lacked administrative ability.

Combine Rigdon's status problems with anything resembling manual labor, no professional job skills, a deep seated egomania, and his medical condition (a form of manic depression) and he could not hold any other job promising the same potential return as that of preacher and prophet (which BoC/D&C recognizes him as).

He also believed in communal living. At that time commune(ism) was looked to in America as the future for economic life. Now we realize its failings but then it promised prosperity for those who would engage in it. Certainly those at the TOP of such an organization would profit.

There were MANY such communities in existence at the time and they were, at that time, doing fairly well.

Campbellism had effectively limited his options in re commune(ism). The insertion of this doctrine into BOM was part of that which sealed the deal, in my opinion.

If there had been no Rigdon there would have been no Mormonism. Either the book would have been created as a work of fiction to be sold for profit (and this was Smiths admitted original plan) or it would have died a borning as a religious movement because of a lack of followers. Smith had assembled about 30 - right? Rigdon provided a hundred or so more ... Rigdon put Smith and Mormonism over the critical mass to get to the next stage ...

Now to combine both theories what could have happened is this:

Smith 'dictates' a 'translation' to Cowdery et al off the top of his heads from his imagination and from notes provided him by Rigdon/Rangdon. These could have included pages/outlines from Spaulding. This theory would explain why he could not even remotely reduplicate the lost 116 pages. He wasn't dictating from a (semi-)formal manuscript but from scraps of paper (which he had in his hat at times?) with rough outlines and certain key phrases and concepts which Rigdon wanted inserted..

As to why no one 'cracked' ...

Rigdon may well have looked at the BOM and Mormonism as a way to embed his views into Christianity and bring about the Millennium. Doing good and doing well at the same time. Mormonism failed for him in many respects but Waggoner reveals that the loss of the power struggle with Young did not stop him. He continued to play the prophet card. His Church is now 10,000 strong - largely in the Pennsylvania area. To deny Mormonism would be to deny the hopes of his earlier years, to deprive him of possible income, and cause him to be an object of shame and ridicule. What would he have to gain from this? If he saw nothing wrong with the Mormon enterprise at the beginning why would he deny himself the opportunity to continue it later in life?

Cowdery - the Smiths and the Cowderys have previous associations in re the Wood Scrape and New Israelites. Their relatives had been involved in this proto-Mormonism. Groups such as the New Israelites overlapped with and were used as a front for criminal activity ('The Refiners Fire' by John L. Brooke covers some of this).

For Cowdery and Smith there was a background that Mormonism was WITHIN. A background of dowsing rods, Jupiter Talismans, Spanish Silver, seer stones, groups of men digging for treasure ... readings from mysterious books, raising their status by claiming descent from ... and various illegal activities (smuggling and the like) ...

For Cowdery to betray Mormonism would be to betray a way of life where hard scrabble farmers struggling to escape such a life used folk religion and crime as a way out. To betray Mormonism would be to betray a way of life that he and his relations were deeply embedded within. Some of this deeper context may well have still been in place for his family and friends when he was expelled from the church. Why would he give details, for example, on the Nauvoo bank fraud? He himself would be brought before the bar. And, if he had betrayed Smith HE would not have been able to 'pass the bar' and become a lawyer. He needed another profession after leaving Smith. Choosing the Law precluded the admission of felonious activity.

For both Rigdon and Cowdery there was perhaps also the fear that revealing Mormonism, or portions of it, as a fraud would bring the enmity of both the Mormons and the anti-Mormons. Where could they have found refuge from people who would have harbored long term grudges and use them as targets?

Cowdery's contribution to the initial mix would have been as a fairly educated man (for that time and place) who could take dictation and put the words on paper in at least a semi-presentable form. Later, when they found that Smith did not need much editorial hand holding others could be brought in as scribes. Cowdery solves the initial fear on the part of Smith as storyteller that his words could not be set down on paper with the same effect as they had when spoken.

Just as Rigdon saw Mormonism as a way to advance his religious agenda (Restoration of early Christianity and the bringing of the Millennium) just so the folk-magicians of the then frontier (with which the Cowderys had been involved) in the present North East would see an effort such as Mormonism not as a fraud but as a magical event - an extension of their beliefs in both betterment and 'magic'. The magical event/invocation that brings about a new reality.

Mormonism was a confabulation of Restorationist Christianity and of folk-magic tradition.

Neither Smith nor Rigdon could have accomplished anything resembling either Modern Mormonism or the Mormonism of the day separately. Separately they would not have been able to create the BOM in the form that captured the imagination of frontier America.

So, in these rambling thoughts, I reveal why I think that Rigdon and Smith DID collaborate and if they did collaborate in the religion they collaborated in the book!

Any comments on the comments on the comments?


Subject: You raise a lot of good points, Luman. Nice post. How would you...
Date: Feb 03 15:29
Author: Tal Bachman

respond to my points about the sole authorship of the PGP, the D&C, etc.? Does that not have any bearing on how the BOM might have been created?

Also, doesn't the famous Campbell quote you mention lend credence to the JS as author theory? In it, Campbell admits that the themes discussed in the BOM are all themes that were being discussed and debated all over that area at that time...On what grounds should we suppose that a young man who had become a "passable exhorter" in the Methodist faith, growing up in a family regularly debating religious ideas in a Bible culture, wouldn't have ever heard about the very issues you mention?

Couldn't Sidney have made a comfortable living as a preacher/pastor in another religious tradition? I'm still not sure he would have put up with all of JS's crap, the postal thing, the sexcapades, etc., unless he didn't somehow feel JS was the real deal. And I don't see how he could have thought he was the "real deal" if Sidney himself had been a co-author of the BOM...

What is there in the life of Sidney Rigdon that suggests he thought JS was a fraud?

You make some good points but these are some questions I have.

T.



Subject: Re: You raise a lot of good points, Luman. Nice post. How would you...
Date: Feb 03 17:24
Author: Luman Walters

First - I don't have a good feel or knowledge of the user interface of this board. I can't highlight, bolden, etc. So - I'll put your points down and double underline them and then reply. It might come out awkwardly when I finally post this so be warned.

Second - when we are speaking of human beings there is always a bell-shaped-curve consideration as to their possible motivations and etc.. Especially when we almost entirely have only circumstantial evidence. I'm not invested emotionally in any theory so I'd be happy to have you (or whomever) bring up a point that I had not considered and that would cause me to modify my theories extensively.

So to begin ...

=== respond to my points about the sole authorship of the PGP, the D&C, etc.? Does that not have any bearing on how the BOM might have been created?
============================================================

We really don't know that Smith IS the sole author of these - do we?

I don't know off the top of my head but weren't some of the D&C revelations by others then Smith? I'm not sure on this so please inform me.

Also there is the question of scribes. Most of the scribes, I am sure, were completely subordinate to Smith and would not even have thought to correct/edit him in the transcription of a revelation. But Rigdon was ABOVE the scribes. He was, after all, a prophet equal to Smith according to D&C (citation ?). Is it known that Smith ever dictated to Rigdon or Cowdery (who I theorize was in on the enterprise)? These two would have provided a collaborative process at the least.

I recall from my reading a case where Smith and Rigdon publicly and collaboratively received a revelation. One would say what he saw. The other would then say: "Yes, I see it ...". (citation ?).

Again I recall where Smith commented to Rigdon after both had been in a revelatory state words to the effect that it was "...harder then Sidney thought wasn't it?". The point being that they together were in a revelatory state.

Also there is the possibility that Rigdon would write a revelation and Smith would 'spontaneously' dictate it after having absorbed/memorized it. This is how I think Smith did the BOM - at least with the scribes other then Cowdery.

Also, if I recall correctly, many of the revelations et al were published in the Mormon paper and thus might have been subject to editorial intervention at that point.

A Catholic theologian once told me that he disregarded all 'higher criticism' in re the New Testament text that would tend to discredit Paul's authorship of certain Epistles because: "After all, Paul was a Bishop and he simply could have said to a Priest of his: 'write me up something on ...'". Has there been any stylistic analysis of the documents you mention? But since most would have passed through Smith before they reached their publication his 'fingerprints' would be all over them

Now - you have deeper knowledge of the churches teachings in re authorship so - are any of the above possible? Do we KNOW that Smith created these himself or is this just a never questioned assumption? Certainly AFTER the fact others modified the words. The BoC was edited into D&C with MANY substantial changes. Did Smith edit them alone or in collaboration with ...

Similarly there have been changes in BOM and D&C. Who did these?

Even if Smith were the sole author of ... This simply could have been he case of Smith (eventually) overcoming and overshadowing Rigdon. Rigdon was not as charismatic/manipulative as Smith and may simply have thereby, over time, become the subordinate partner. Smith, gaining confidence, could have more and more struck out on his own. Rigdon too began to have his depressive episodes that rendered him incapable of interacting with Smith for days/weeks at a time.


=== Also, doesn't the famous Campbell quote you mention lend credence to the JS as author theory? In it, Campbell admits that the themes discussed in the BOM are all themes that were being discussed and debated all over that area at that time...On what grounds should we suppose that a young man who had become a "passable exhorter" in the Methodist faith, growing up in a family regularly debating religious ideas in a Bible culture, wouldn't have ever heard about the very issues you mention?
============================================================

Maybe. I said that SOME of them were from Rigdon. What I would propose is the construction, either literal or metaphorical, of a 'spreadsheet' listing all of the above themes. It's a good list to start with though probably not comprehensive.

We would then put the BOM opinions/texts regarding them in an accompanying column. In another column we would put in the Campbellite opinions/text in re these themes. Another column(s) would have the variants that Smith might have absorbed - Methodist, Baptist, Anglican, whatever.

We could then compare and analyze. The only research along these lines that I am familiar with places Campbellite doctrine inappropriately in the BOM (and BoC/D&C). I don't know if anyone has done anything serious in re non-Campbellite Protestant inclusions other then the general stuff ...

So to answer the question - were there Campbellites in Smiths area with whose doctrine he could have been familiar? I don't think so but would be willing to stand corrected. I don't know enough concerning the spread of their churches, doctrines, or wandering preachers.

Also we have the problem of the DEVELOPMENT of Campbellite doctrine and the timing of it's insertion into the BOM. CraigC of this board has made comments in re this that I have read nowhere else.

Smith, early on, would only have been exposed, if at all, to the EARLY Campbellite doctrine NOT the later that appears to be embedded in the BOM. Off the top of my head I don't have a firm timeline for the growing influence of the Campbell's et al and the spread of their movement.


=== Couldn't Sidney have made a comfortable living as a preacher/pastor in another religious tradition?
============================================================

No.

For many on the frontier with no formal training or trade the ministry was a 'way out' just as say for a young man of the Middle Ages a 'career' as a monk or Priest would have been a 'way out'.

There may have been some latitude early on in the particular Protestant tradition that Rigdon chose but I think that by the time that he broke with the Campbells there would be some additional considerations.

I think that he had gone so far with the Campbells that other theological traditions would have been loath to take him on. He had contended (and this was in his character) with so many and his eloquence (much noted by friends and foes) was so great that his reputation would have prevented 'converting' to Methodism or whatever. I don't think that even Rigdon could have pulled this off.

But also - I don't think that he WANTED to. I think that he had been 'captured' by the doctrines. He BELIEVED in Millennialism, communism, adult baptism, etc. Methodism or whatever would NOT have given him a vehicle for the expression/fulfillment of these doctrines.

He had gone as far as could in Campbellism - how could he, he most probably asked himself in his more lucid moments, with Gods co-operation, take the Restoration into the world and thus help bring about the Millennium even earlier then it would have occurred. There is a reason, after all, that Campbell's newspaper was called the MILLENNIAL Harbinger. Harbinger - to help bring about.

It is hard for us in the present times to think of Rigdon and Smith as anything except the most rank hypocrites and scam artists. But I believe that in their minds they saw themselves as doing Gods will in a 'non-traditional' way.

Smith would have seen the writings and the Church itself as a magic spell/utterance. Rigdon would have seen them as a means to ... and thus part of Gods Will.

So - having friction with the Campbells et al, being somewhat of an egomaniac, having staked out revolutionary (for the time) theological positions --- there was nowhere for him to go. The walls were closing in. Smith was the door.


===I'm still not sure he would have put up with all of JS's crap, the postal thing, the sexcapades, etc., unless he didn't somehow feel JS was the real deal. And I don't see how he could have thought he was the "real deal" if Sidney himself had been a co-author of the BOM...
===========================================================

Beyond a certain point Rigdon was trapped in Mormonism as much if not more so then he had been trapped in Campbellism.

The charismatic Smith assumes the lead role (not initially certain). The communism does not produce the expected benefits - even for those at the top of the communal pyramid. His disease kicks in periodically requiring him to rely on Smiths good will. The disease episodes allows others to grow closer to Smith then he. He is reduced to poverty -the church being his sole means of support. The Protestant ministry becomes even less possible then when he was with Campbell et al. He does not want to drop back to being a Tanner. Even if he would have been able to tolerate that - he would have been a Tanner with a strange religious background. A further barrier to entry into work that he despised.

And he was, I believe, a responsible husband and parent. He did not want his family to drop into further poverty.

Then comes his manic episodes. Even one who has no religious pretensions becomes 'grandiose' during those episodes. In them all is possible again as it was at the beginning of the enterprise. All difficulties would be overcome. Smith has his problems but still ...

So during depressed times he was isolated in his house. During normal he had to grit his teeth and hope for better days. During manic times - there was no problems.

He didn't think that Smith was the "real deal" in the sense that modern Mormons or religious of any other sort would regard him. Smith was a means to an end. And if Rigdon ever came to doubt his choice ... well the factors mentioned above would have come into play.

Smith was means to an end. The BOM was a means to an end. The Church itself (remember it was the 'Church of Christ' - Rigdon's choice) was a means to an end.

The harbinging of the Millennium and the associated enrichment of Rigdon and his family.

Now if he HAD thought that Smith was the 'real deal' then the episode of Smith going after his daughter would have brought him complete disillusionment. Wouldn't it have done the same for you?

It is only if he did NOT think that Smith was the 'real deal' (at least in OUR terms) that he could endure this assault and continue the association.

Scammers, at whatever level, can deal with each other. They have a common coinage. 'Religious' believers tend to break at the slightest sign of sin or theologic difference - else why are there so many contending sects?


=== What is there in the life of Sidney Rigdon that suggests he thought JS was a fraud?
============================================================

Nothing. Not a fraud - a means to an end.

Again we have a cosmic coincident of two such personalities (Smith, Rigdon,and perhaps one or two others) coming together in what we today would regard as mutually reinforcing neuroses.

But to them ...

If we could bring back frontier America as it was then and start it all over again the odds that Mormonism would occur are astronomically against such a thing occurring.

But maybe we'd be talking about some other religious movement that would have arisen because Mormonism did not.

Think Scientology. Thing Bishop Russell and the "Bible Students/Jehovah's Witnesses. Think Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God, think alpha-male Protestant TV/Radio preacher.

Do they actually "believe" or do they come to believe in the value of the enterprise they set out on and come thereby to justify it to themselves after a certain point? Or ...

So may questions of belief/non-belief at each step ...

We ought chart out Smithism/Rigdonism and their companions in crime cited above as a pathology and note the steps along the way. I think Smith/Rigdon passed through just about all the steps along the path.

They are twins from the womb of early America. The Romulus and Remus of Mormonism. Though knowledge of Rigdon has faded over the years by putting myself back into the early years of the church I see them twins from the womb of early America - the Romulus and Remus of Mormonism. Mormonism could not exist without BOTH of them. So the question becomes: how early was Rigdon involved. I say from before the beginning.

I contend that he had the enterprise in his head BEFORE he found Smith as a willing patsy.

Smith I think was a cynic all along the way. He came to accept and play the part. I believe that Rigdon believed at some level but not in the manner that you or I believe/would believe/would ever choose to believe.

But enough for now. Get CraigC to give us a timeline for Campbellite insertion for our analyses. Find the 116 pages in some attic of America. Find the (second?) Spaulding manuscript. Find the plates. Find a confession floating around out there behind some painting in some antique dealers hands NOT associated with Hoffman.

...

For now all we have are our mutually edifying (I hope) comments to each other.



Subject: But to apply Occam's razor...
Date: Feb 03 16:02
Author: JeffH

and to suggest that JS authorship provides a simple explanation, then one must also either ignore or also provide a simple explanation for many other pieces of evidence. As one example only, why were several associates and relatives of Spalding apparently convinced that the BoM contained much of his identical writings? There are many other evidences that some see as pointing to Rigdon as co-author, and those that provide connections from Spalding to Rigdon and Rigdon to Smith (note: I am fully admitting that some of these evidences are not strong). One can fall back on Brodie for explanations, but I believe Brodie, at best, provides only a starting point for discussion. Her analysis is flawed, neglectful, and doesn't come near to addressing the full body of evidence one could present in favor of Spalding/Rigdon authorship.

My point in this brief post is not to argue that the evidences I mention are good or not. I can save those arguments for other days. It's simply to say that the application of Occam's razor must consider the entire body of evidence. Like a couple posters here who have recently said as much, I once thought JS wrote the BoM. Then as I learned about more evidence, the "simplest" explanation became that the witnesses to Spalding's writings were probably fairly accurate in their descriptions. Other evidences fell into place in a big picture that started to make more sense and, despite its complexities, to feel simpler (i.e. like less stretching of the mind) than sole JS authorship.



Subject: Is this an important distinction?
Date: Feb 03 16:56
Author: Tal Bachman

I want to try to clarify something.

Is there not a difference between "co-writing", and "being influenced by" or even "plagiarizing"?

I've co-written songs; I've also "re-written" by myself pre-existing songs. In some cases, (have you ever heard of The Rutles?), my re-writes were full-on plagiarizations (for fun); in other cases, Sheryl Crow-like, they were clever "re-writes" that no one, I mean no one, could ever pick up on unless I showed them how I had inverted this, changed that, etc.

Co-writing, sitting there collaborating with someone else, seems to me to be different than writing something yourself, even if you're "re-working" something consciously. I am not denying that JS was influenced by other pieces, or by comments made by others, etc. The man was a sponge. All creative productions have "referents" and inspirations or templates. I mean, as a songwriter, I can hear songs and know where someone's stolen this or that from, and re-worked it.

Usually those examples are far subtler than the relationships between Ethan Smith's "View of the Hebrews" and Joseph's BOM, for example. It's really dumb for apologists to point out all the ways in which the BOM differs from VotH, when the relationships are so striking. It reminds me of the story of the Irishman who, accused of murder with tons of evidence of guilt, volunteered to present to the judge 99 men who he HADN'T killed as evidence of his innocence. BH Roberts was pretty clear on this - there are many parallels, and there is every reason to believe that JS was familiar with, if not the book itself, but with Ethan Smith's ideas, being as he was Oliver's family's pastor.

Perhaps some of Oliver's comments provided Joseph with certain ideas. I bet Mutt Lange suggested a number of things when he produced ACDC's "Back In Black" album. But Mutt Lange didn't "write" "Back In Black", and ACDC's subsequent output makes it reasonable to believe that in fact they were the "creators". I don't see any reason to believe that Malcolm, Angus, and Brian needed ghostwriters.

Influences, sure. Not ever having seen a Solomon Spaulding manuscript, but being familiar with Ethan Smith's and Josiah Priest's stuff, and the many ideas floating round at that time, I am inclined to disregard the SS manuscript, just on grounds of not "needing" it for a theory of the production of the BOM, regardless of what someone said Oliver said once. A lot of people say a lot of things. Oliver said he was there when Peter James and John were hanging around; he also said, as I pointed out, he sometimes wondered if they had gone insane. Martin Harris said he literally saw the plates sometimes, and then other times said he saw them in vision. Sarah Pratt said the madame of the Nauvoo brothel said they had gotten to know JS very well - did the madame really ever say such a thing?

I'm not suggesting that a plausible account of what happened can't be reconstructed, but only that it takes a lot of really careful sifting, and of course, it is doubtful to what degree absolute certainty can be achieved on certain issues. A first hand admission from Sidney Rigdon or Oliver that they in fact COLLABORATED with Joseph on writing the BOM, or some sign of behavior from them that would be explained by that, would mean something to me, but until then I feel that we have something concrete, to me a pretty plausible scenario given JS's innate wit and flair for the dramatic, which is being complicated by less than concretely justified speculation.

We're talking about a guy who is really, really quick on his feet. We're talking about a guy whose SURVIVAL had depended on understanding human psychology. This is a guy who, once things gets rolling, invents stories off the cuff about white Lamanites named Zelph, sword waving homicidal polygamy police angels, Adam's rocks, where the Garden of Eden was, why his prophecies aren't always fulfilled, why he can't "re-translate" the 116 pages, why he shouldn't have to pay the rest of the toll to the toll bridge guard when he went back to Harmony, why he couldn't "dig out" the (non-existent) treasures (they were "slipping" into the earth), etc. He's Bill Clinton. He's resourceful - he's Odysseus, he's "polytropos", the man of many turns (wiles). He's the Native American Trickster, he's Brer Rabbit. He can get out of anything.

Anyway, all I started out to say is - that JS was influenced, absolutely. At the very least, we have to cite the KJV Bible, and we can go on from there.

But a co-writer is a different thing. I just don't know of any solid evidence of that, and I don't think anyone has taken up my point that no witness to Joseph's dictation of the Book of Mormon ever said anything other than that it was Joseph talking while staring into a rock in his hat. That is pretty solid evidence in and of itself. Not even Isaac Hale said anything different. I admit it's possible he was reading notes written by Sidney Rigdon, but to me it's highly implausible. And there's just no reason to believe it happened, or that it was necessary.

Sure, Sidney Rigdon knew the scriptures, Oliver was pretty well educated - but Joseph was the brain. The other guys might have influenced things here and there, but I think we're talking Oliver is to Joseph what George Martin is to Paul and John; maybe a refiner, maybe a helper in some ways in getting the thing going, but not the creative genius. George Martin didn't write those songs - John and Paul did. Seems the same way with Oliver/Sidney and Joseph. Again, I can't help think that the supposition that Joseph could NOT have written it is perhaps residual brain freeze from the church, which makes the same argument in order to justify the "it was angels" as the most plausible argument. It just doesn't make sense.

If, while certainly having "influences", Leo Tolstoy could write Anna Karenina on his own, and Sergio Aragones could write those MAD comic strips on his own, and Danielle Steel can write her romance novels on her own, and John Keats could write his poems on his own - Joseph Smith could have written the BOM on his own. People write books on their own all the time, and there's just nothing so extraordinary about the BOM that we need an angel or a ghostwriter theory that I can see.

But here I see I am repeating myself, so I'll be quiet now!

Best,

T.



Subject: Another comment before I must log off ...
Date: Feb 03 17:35
Author: Luman Walters

==But a co-writer is a different thing. I just don't know of any solid evidence of that, and I don't think anyone has taken up my point that no witness to Joseph's dictation of the Book of Mormon ever said anything other than that it was Joseph talking while staring into a rock in his hat. That is pretty solid evidence in and of itself. Not even Isaac Hale said anything different. I admit it's possible he was reading notes written by Sidney Rigdon, but to me it's highly implausible. And there's just no reason to believe it happened, or that it was necessary.
==============================================================

My point wasn't that Smith was reading notes written by Rigdon (though I think on key theological points he WAS to make sure that he fulfilled his part in the bargain) but that he was using Rigdon's writings/outlines as grist for his mill.

Rigdon in (in part) - Smith out.

In agreement with the remarks that you made at the beginning of the above post ...

It's a jazz/rock and roll riff with Rigdon on drums/bass and Smith on lead guitar.

But they have to agree on the 'song' before they begin.



Subject: Just re-read and am mulling over your points, LW...
Date: Feb 03 23:47
Author: Tal Bachman

One quick question for clarification: Do you feel that JS was capable of having been the sole author (granted influences and template documents like "View of the Hebrews"), but simply wasn't, or have you concluded that he could not have done so given the Campbellite references you cited, lack of education, etc.? What I mean is - is your theory, which I admit may be correct, born of a preliminary conclusion that JS wasn't capable, or did you begin with assuming he could have, and then after weighing evidence, come to feel that he didn't?

Do you know what I mean?

By the way, is Luman your real name?

T.


Subject: I can't speak for LW, but...
Date: Feb 04 01:26
Author: CraigC

in my own case, I was a believer in the Smith-as-sole-author theory until about 5 years ago.

At that time I was engaged in a letter exchange with a close TBM relative. He asked me to explain how an uneducated farm boy could produce the BoM. I told him I had some ideas, but his question wrankled. After all, I had used that very same question as a missionary (and with some success).

What made his question worse was a kind of epiphany that I had experienced a few years prior to his question. At the time, I was reading some of the early writings of JS. I was amazed at how utterly illiterate he was - third grade at best! Even though I knew then that the BoM was fantasy, I thought to myself "how in the heck could this guy have pulled it off?"

So when my TBM relative hit me with the same question, it really bothered me. About that time, I also ran across posts by RandyJ and JeffH on he RfM site describing aspects of the Spalding-Rigdon Theory. I knew nothing about it, but began to wonder if there might be another explanation.

So I checked out the web sites of Dale Broadhurst and Ted Chandler, and could hardly believe what I found there. I realized that there was a LOT of data I had never seen before. It was like a whole universe that had been shut off to me. Pieces seemed to fall into place in a way that was amazing to me.

As a TBM, I was one of those people who took the BoM very seriously. I studied it intensely. So when I came to understand how the voices of Spalding and Rigdon would sound, I realized that the BoM contains within it some of the best clues to its origins. I could hear Spalding ("Old Come to Pass" as his neighbors called him) at the end of Alma. I could hear Rigdon (the Disciples of Christ Preacher) in Moroni and at the end of 2 Nephi as he preached to the 'children of men". It fit. I found could go through the book chapter-by-chapter assigning authorship, and I could see patterns that made sense. The evidence was sitting there. Right in front of my face. It was there all along, but I could not see it.



Subject: Re: Just re-read and am mulling over your points, LW...
Date: Feb 04 02:29

Mail Address: 
===Do you feel that JS was capable of having been the sole author ... ?
============================================================

Yes, but not of the book we have now. He was a story teller, as your father was, as some (less and less because we are now, no longer, an aural culture) we meet are.

He was capable, as his family testifies, of telling of the previous inhabitants of their land and holding his family in thrall thereby. His father was a story teller/dreamer. Witness the Tree of Life dream/story. There were most probably other stories told by his father and his fathers companions (some of whom were New Israelite types) that he interpolated into the BOM. He lived in, was part of and participated in this aural culture.

This culture was remarkably like what the Hebrew culture must have been with these aural stories eventually being codified by some priestly/prophetic class into the Old Testament as we know it.

Smiths culture had the advantage of greater literacy thus a greater mass of input and speed of transmission.

All testify to the qualities such that you and I can well say that he could have told (not necessarily written mind you) such a book.

But not THAT book.

I see too many theological points that he simply could not have picked up. Points that do not fit easily into a 'STORY'.

Now we must consider the fruits of research that we now possess - how many of the tales of the early church were told at a much later date and cast back upon the past.

Consider the story of the early visions. The young lad asks God which of the churches were true. All were corrupt he was told.

This concept was NOT a concept of Smiths milieu. This was a Restorationist concept. I believe that it was cast back upon the past of the church to create a basis for the Church. Cast back from whence and by whom? By a Restorationist. Who was the initial Restorationist in the church (besides Pratt). It was Rigdon - Pratt being his agent in the too clever and too coincidental by far official story of how Smith and Rigdon met.

Now to admit of the possibility that Smith may have had an extensive hold upon the theologies of the day consider this anecdote that I have picked up in my reading. I have read (having lost the citation) of a religious debate in the Ohio sometime in the 1800s between say 1820 and the Civil war. Thousands - some say 50,000 people showed up in an enormous tent encampment to hear two men debate religion.

Was it a debate between an atheist and a Christian?

No.

Was it a debate between a Christian and a Jew?

No.

Was it a debate between a Protestant and a Catholic?

No.

It was a debate BETWEEN TWO PRESBYTERIAN MINISTERS!!!!

About some, what we would presently regard as, theological minutiae.

Without Radio, TV, movies, or our vast supply of written material this passed for entertainment on the frontier.

The point here is that the average man then was much more aware of theology then we were today.

Still, having related this, I see Smith, in the 'Burned Over' district, preacher after preacher having evangelized through the area, having absorbed, at the surface level at least, much theology and theological story telling. But NOT the theology that is much embedded in the BOM

Remember that the name of Methodism comes from 'The Method' - that is a plan to excite the audience, to make them aware of their condition, and to bring them to repentance.

To bring them to repentance... That was the aim of the ministers that excited, or tried to excite, those in the Burned Over district.

They were not endeavoring to 'Restore the Original Church'. That was an effort of a different sort entirely.

I am willing to be convinced otherwise but the points that the Restorationists were mainly concerned with were not the points that would have been discussed in the religious discourse that would have been available to Smith.

Also note that Restorationism was held initially and eventually (it still remains today as a quite minority position among Protestantism in the Churches of Christ and a few other small denominations) by a very small number of men and congregations.

So without Rigdon's influence I would maintain that Smith would have written a book without the explicit formulae that I find in the BOM. Interpolations that often interrupt the flow of the 'story'. Remember the stories of your father (?) as you informed us. Except for the fact that he was a believing Mormon (?) what explicit theological concepts intruded into HIS stories? Even in his MORMON stories (if he told those) I doubt that he allowed theology to create a drag on the story. The 'stories' that I have heard from a storyteller are at a level ABOVE such explicit references. We are carried along by the 'flow' of the story. Think of the rock and roll songs as stories. Great but ambiguous poetry in which one will NOT find, for example, the Pythagorean theorem explicated.

Think of the Old Testament and it's stories. The theology we now see in it is largely projected back upon it. Projected having been discovered therein by future Christian theologians to bolster their positions.

But in the BOM in contradistinction to the Old Testament of which it is, in part, an imitation we find ... details.

And at least partly and I would say disproportionately Restorationist details.

Could the Clintonesque, charismatic, 'sponge' of a man Smith have truly come up with, for example, " ... for we know that is by grace that we are saved, after all that we can do" (2 Nephi 25:23).

A simple sentence but very subtle theology. In a phrase it distinguishes itself from 99% of the Protestantism of the day. But not in an immediately obvious way. I am somewhat familiar with the Church of Christ position today. They are the theological descendants of the Restorationists. This is what they believe though they do not have this formulae. They do NOT believe in salvation through works but they do believe in ordinances (such as baptism) that are necessary for salvation. The ordinance of baptism for them precedes and is necessary for salvation. It is part of 'all that we can do'.

The preachers of the burned out district believed in salvation through FAITH BROTHER - SAY HALLELUJAH! In short - salvation through faith (alone).

They could not have worked their crowds by subtle references to works, ordinances, references to the early church and the necessity for ... and the like. A Methodist 'exhorters' job was to work the crowd to an emotional pitch BEFORE the preacher arrived and then the Preacher would work the emotion even higher until he called them to repentance, to the altar, to a changed life. But this was IMMEDIATE salvation for ... Behold TODAY is the day of salvation and no other ...

The Restorationists while eloquent in their own way were calmer in their theology. If the Church, as established by the Savior and his apostles, was reestablished then all else would follow. Even miracles. Even the Millennium.

All would be well in ...

"for we know that is by grace that we are saved, after all that we can do" (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 25:23). --- This could not, I maintain, come from Smith. It must have come from a Restorationist. Rigdon was the first Restorationist in the Church. He must have had prior contact in order for this subtle point to be included in the BOM story - turning it from a STORY alone to a story with the basis for a RELIGION embedded in it!

Think of the two evidences that we can lay at Smiths feet.

First: "By Joseph Smith, Junior, Author and Proprietor". This on the first page of the first printing of the BOM.

Smith stated that he wanted to make money off the book. ( I believe that this citation comes from his Mothers book ). Rigdon was NOT there continually as Cowdery et al were. Smith was, by my theory, not yet convinced in the religious aspect of what I call 'The Enterprise'.

Second: consider the expedition to Canada to sell the rights to the book. Was this ordered by the first revelation? My mind is cloudy ... Was this 'revelation' also a projection back. I know not. I don't have all the material in front of me.

But whatever - these show the intention, in Smiths mind, of SELLING A STORY via a book!

If it were up to Smith alone, and whatever of his companions were involved in the STORY project, there would have been little religious content to the BOM. What use would that have been? Would it have sold more books? I doubt it. It interfered with the flow of and the attractiveness of the STORY as story.

Sorry for rambling on - but it's night here and I'm collating in my mind what I long ago should have committed more coherently to paper.

So let me cut to a question analogous to the first ...


Could RIGDON alone have written the BOM?
========================================

Yes, but again it would NOT have been the BOM as we know it.

Rigdon could indeed tell a story. He was after all a preacher and a good one. His disease would have ENHANCED his story telling abilities (when he was physically and emotionally capable of telling them).

But his story would have been too filled with his theological niceties, personal ambitions, and Millennial hopes.

I suppose that he could have taken a 'science fiction' manuscript of the order of Spaulding or whomever and re-written it but it would have been as grandiloquent at the very least as the Spaulding work that we have and thus as little read today.

The power of the BOM comes from Smith.

Read the FIRST EDITION of the BOM (My copy is in "Joseph Smith Begins his Work" [Volume I] - by Wilford C. Wood).

There you will read, by and large, the badly punctuated prose of an 'unlettered' country story teller. Not that Smith couldn't read and write but that this was not necessary for telling a STORY!

Better - read the reprinting of the original manuscripts (Skousen). These are without even the publishers minimal punctuation.

By reading this you KNOW that it was aurally dictated and without consideration for the formalities of publishing in book form. Not because that was not the intention of the 'author' but because he had not the experience in writing or publishing and thus had no idea what was involved.

"And it came to pass ..." is a storytellers strophe much superior to the "uhhhh" that I, as a non-story teller, would tend to use - not having the experience of story telling and thus not having an idea what was involved in THAT craft.

So - two men each capable of writing the BOM.

But neither, alone, capable of writing the BOM as we know it.

But I do ramble on. There is much more. Other themes that I have underlined in my BOM that I take for Rigdonite interpolations (one example/theme - lack of miracles in the present age because of hardness of heart and lack of the previous uncorrupted faith).

Reviewing my notes I saw then when I worked on the theory that there may have been a division in the BOM between the Books that I took to be entirely the work of Smith and those that he worked on under the influence of Rigdon.

Another stray consideration is that Smiths family was NOT Christian in the sense that we now project back upon them. Mother Smith did end up in and take part of the family with her to Presbyterianism (before her son became a prophet) but their past, as I have alluded to in previous posts was littered with Hermeticism, free thinking, Unitarianism (radical for thee day), and etc. Not, I would think, an environment from which a story teller would project early Christianity (as he supposed) back upon the early Indians of the continent. Remember that his mother stated in her book that he entertained the family with stories of the customs of the early inhabitants. I don't believe that she mentioned him saying ought of the religion or of Christianity (I could be wrong here - please correct me when you find the exact citation).


=== is your theory, which I admit may be correct, born of a preliminary conclusion that JS wasn't capable, or did you begin with assuming he could have, and then after weighing evidence, come to feel that he didn't?
============================================================

No Smith WAS capable as I have indicated above but I really never thought about it. I wasn't sure of what Smith was capable of at first but then I learned of Rigdon, his beliefs, talents, and ambitions and, after an examination of the BOM with him in mind I saw, as if a fog was lifting, elements in it that, I believed, could not be of Smith. But the greatest part could not be of Rigdon either.

And Smith was obviously NOT dictating from a manuscript.

Thus I deduced Smiths strengths in The Enterprise (reinforced by B. H. Roberts and others opinions of these strengths and capabilities). And also, I deduced, the Enterprise could not have been a well formulated 'conspiratorial' plan but episodic instead relying on the coincidences and synchronicity of life to emerge into the present form that we know of whereby WE instinctively try to project some order back upon it - in a manner analogous to the rearward projection practiced by the Church to justify itself.

But such imagined 'order' did not, I feel, actually exist. instead - it was a cosmic/'comic' coincidence - Smith and Rigdon. Each feeding off the others strengths and ambitions ... Each 'in the area' of the other and happening upon one another by events now lost to history.

Further research tended to substantiate, expand, and develop my Romulus/Remus, Yin/Yang theory.

The Enterprise was not then (historically) 'necessary'. We might instead say that 'BOM Happens".

But I realize that I have exceeded even the "McCue Limit" and perhaps exemplify the story of the man who tells you how to build a watch after having been asked the time ...

And so adieu (hmmm ... where in the BOM is that referenced?) and no more of my theories of The Enterprise - at least for tonight.


Subject: Tal, you might find this info enlightening.....
Date: Feb 05 09:48
Author: Randy J.

A few days ago, I gave a link to some excerpts from an "Ensign" article, along with my comments interspersed, which show how many tenets of theology which were supposedly "restored" by God through Joseph Smith were actually a hodge-podge of doctrines currently being preached by various sects in the New England area:

As the saying goes, 'there's nothing new under the sun.' Very few of Joseph
Smith's teachings were original or exclusive to himself. Here's a little more
on the origins of many of Smith's teachings:

The following excerpt comes from the "Ensign" magazine, January 1989, in an
article titled "Preparing The Way--The Rise of Religious Freedom in New
England," pp. 18-19. The article details the various sects that had arisen
just before the time of JS, and some of their beliefs. I can't copy the
whole article, but here is the most important portion verbatim, interspersed with
some sarcastic comments of mine in parentheses:

"In 1734, there were only six Baptist churches in New England; and in 1750,
28. Yet in 1795, 285 Baptist churches existed in New England. (That sect was
America's first convert religion). Accompanying the tremendous growth of
the Baptists was the formation of other religious communities. Universalists
organized in Gloucester, Mass, in 1779; Unitarians in Boston in 1785; Jemima
Wilkinson's Jerusalem Community in Rhode Island in the 1780s; Freewill
Baptists in New Hampshire in 1780; and Restorationists in Vermont in 1801.
During this American reformation, MANY BELIEFS WERE BROUGHT INTO HARMONY
WITH THE TEACHINGS OF THE STILL-FUTURE RESTORED CHURCH. (Emphasis mine in case
you didn't notice how silly that sentence was). These changes in belief would
later make it easier for many to receive the fullness of the gospel.


For example, the Unitarians, Eastern Christians, and some Universalists
replaced the traditional view that God was three persons of one essence with
a belief that the Father and Son were two separate and distinct entities.
(Funny, I thought that idea was lost to the world until the "first vision",
and here the Ensign says that others were already teaching it before JS came along!)

In addition, Unitarians joined Quakers in proclaiming a belief that the
Bible has not always been translated correctly. (Oh well, another alleged
"inspired" idea of JS' that was actually previously taught by others). 

Unitarians, liberal Congregationalists, Eastern Christians, Freewill
Baptists, and other groups rejected the traditional Calvinistic doctrine of
total depravity. Instead, they felt that
individuals would be judged according to their actions and they would not be
held accountable for Adam's transgression. (That concept is almost verbatim
to the later LDS Articles of Faith). Unitarians, Universalists, Freewill
Baptists, and Restorationists proclaimed with the newly organized Methodist church that
man played a role in the process of salvation and that man could fall from
grace. (Works in addition to grace.)

Baptists and Eastern Christians popularized the doctrines of baptism by
immersion for believers and of the Lord's supper as a memorial.
Restorationists added the belief that mankind needed to return to the pure
practices and doctrines of ancient Christianity. (The Great Apostasy).
Meanwhile, Universalists taught that after death men went into either a
state of happiness or a state of misery (The "spirit world.")
Christ, they added, preached to the spirits in prison to convert others, so that
eventually every knee would bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the
Christ. All in the spirit world
would eventually be converted and lifted up into a heavenly paradise. 
(Gee, so the 'spirit world' concept wasn't originally from Mormonism either.)

While others criticized Universalists for encouraging unrighteousness (the
result, the critics felt, of saying that the punishment of hell was not
everlasting), the Universalists replied that the foundation of unhappiness was wickedness.
(And amazingly, that 18th-century Universalist doctrine made it into the
ancient "Nephite record"---Remember
Alma 41:10--"wickedness never was happiness").

In addition to arguing that some created a hell on earth through unrighteousness, they
preached that living the laws of God had an intrinsic value. Some of Joseph
Smith's relatives were Universalists--his father, his grandfather, Asael,
and an uncle, Jesse. (So it's obvious that JS gleaned much of his
theology from his own family and cultural environment, rather than from
"revelation.")

End quote.

So there you have it, from the church's own official magazine, a layout of
many major Mormon doctrines, which were actually a hodge-podge of existing
teachings of which he was very familiar. Of course, the church's spin is
that
"the Lord" was influencing these Restorationists to change their sect's
teachings to fall in line with Mormonism--which, amusingly, wasn't even
invented yet! And that idea blows a hole in JS' claim that God told him
not to join
any church for they were all wrong---yet supposedly it was GOD HIMSELF who
was influencing these groups to include these teachings. What a tangled
mess 
of illogic.

The article didn't mention one word about the Campbellites, which is the
main
sect many of JS' followers came from, including Rigdon. LDS defenders want
to minimize doctrinal connections between JS and Campbell because they know
that
the theological link is devastating to the "official story" of how
Mormonism began.

Alexander Campbell began preaching against the fraud of Mormonism almost as
soon as it appeared. To quote Campbell from February 1831:
"This prophet Smith, through his stone spectacles, wrote on the plates of
Nephi, in his Book of Mormon, every error and almost every truth discussed
in
New York for the last ten years. He decided all the great controversies:
infant baptism, ordination, the trinity, regeneration, repentance,
justification, the fall of man, the atonement, transubstantiation, fasting,
penance, church government, religious experience, the call to the ministry,
the general resurrection, who may baptize, and even the question of
freemasonry, republican government and the rights of man....But he is better
skilled in the controversies in New York than in the geography or history of
Judea."

Randy J.

-- 

I simply don't see how the 24-year-old Joseph Smith knew enough details about sectarian doctrines to include them in the BOM on his own. But Sidney Rigdon had both the knowledge and the motivation to concoct such a fraud, since he had been defrocked as a Baptist preacher in 1822 for teaching heretical doctrines, and later split with the Campbell's over disagreements about some of the same doctrines which are included in the BOM, and which became foundational tenets of Mormonism.

By the way, "Luman Walters" was the name of the folk-magician in the Palmyra area from whom some contemporaries believed Joseph Smith was "inspired" to concoct his story about a buried treasure/book. A very clever screen name.


Subject: And even if the 24-year-old JS had absorbed enough details about sectarian doctrines
Date: Feb 05 10:24
Author: Mark (was "Still Active")

which got included in the BoM, there's still the testimony of JS and Rigdon having met earlier and the obvious implications of that, AND the specific Campellite doctrine that was not so widely preached yet and that made its way into the BoM and that correspond quite distinctly with issues that Rigdon himself was grappling with in that pre-1830 timeframe.


Subject: Re: Is this an important distinction?
Date: Feb 04 05:25
Author: ali

This has been on my mind too. I've been trying to understand how much Sidney Rigdon was involved in the whole BOM enterprise. I think the studies by Dale Broadhurst at www.mormonstudies.com/fragmnt2.html are very compelling. I think the Spaulding Manuscript was definitely a basis from which Rigdon compiled the JS History (the three visits in the night, the actual retrieving of "the plates"-all of that is found in Spaulding's manuscript). And, I think it's quite likely he shared the manuscript with Joseph. But, how much was an actual agreed upon con... I don't know. I also agree that Joseph could have written the book, but I think he took from several sources (Spaulding, View of the Hebrews, The Golden Pot... etc...) and concocted his own story from the stew. I used to think that was preposterous. But, the more I read these other sources, the more I understand how he could weave his own story through the fragments of these others running through his head. But, what Sidney and Oliver knew...... that IS the question.

However, I also question why Rigdon would stay and testify to authenticity of the book until the end if he knew JS was a fraud-especially after JS's proposition to his daughter etc... It does baffle me. Where did I hear that his dying words were, "my lips are sealed", and that he instructed his family to burn his personal papers? I don't know...I can't figure him out.



Subject: The question is which theory gives the best explanation for the data
Date: Feb 04 12:01
Author: CraigC

Hi Tal,

First, let me say how much I enjoy your posts. They are a real pleasure to read.

Let's consider the points you make, one-by-one.

You say: The man was a sponge.

If Smith was the sole or primary author, then you have to assume he was a sponge. However, if he was not the sole or primary author, someone else could have been the sponge. In the Spalding-Rigdon Theory, the sponges are Spalding and Rigdon.

You say: Not ever having seen a Solomon Spaulding manuscript, but being familiar with Ethan Smith's and Josiah Priest's stuff, and the many ideas floating round at that time, I am inclined to disregard the SS manuscript, just on grounds of not "needing" it for a theory of the production of the BOM, regardless of what someone said Oliver said once..

If the evidence were so flimsy as you suggest here I would also disregard the Spalding-Rigdon Theory. But the amount of evidence supporting the Spalding-Rigdon Theory is large. And the evidence is of differing types (eye witness testimonies, word usage patterns, theological consistencies, timeline consistencies, thematic consistencies, hearsay, etc.). Moreover, the evidence suggests a big picture that is consistent with the known personality types of Smith, Rigdon, and Spalding.

You say: We're talking about a guy who is really, really quick on his feet. We're talking about a guy whose SURVIVAL had depended on understanding human psychology. This is a guy who, once things gets rolling, invents stories off the cuff about white Lamanites named Zelph, sword waving homicidal polygamy police angels, Adam's rocks, where the Garden of Eden was, why his prophecies aren't always fulfilled, why he can't "re-translate" the 116 pages, why he shouldn't have to pay the rest of the toll to the toll bridge guard when he went back to Harmony, why he couldn't "dig out" the (non-existent) treasures (they were "slipping" into the earth), etc. He's Bill Clinton. He's resourceful - he's Odysseus, he's "polytropos", the man of many turns (wiles). He's the Native American Trickster, he's Brer Rabbit. He can get out of anything.

I think you overestimate Smith. To me, the evidence suggests he was a con man, someone who could identify and exploit human gullibility. The Bainbridge trial proceedings of 1826 demonstrate that.

You say, I just don't know of any solid evidence of that, and I don't think anyone has taken up my point that no witness to Joseph's dictation of the Book of Mormon ever said anything other than that it was Joseph talking while staring into a rock in his hat. That is pretty solid evidence in and of itself.

There is good evidence that much of the manuscript was copied. My guess is that when Smith wished to dupe someone, he used dictation. Copying was used when he needed to accelerate the pace of translation. Surviving sections of the scribes’ hand-written documents (recovered from the cornerstone of the Nauvoo House) contain numerous transcription errors similar to those that would be expected if the translation process involved copying from another manuscript. See: http://mormonstudies.com/scribe.htm.

You say I admit it's possible he was reading notes written by Sidney Rigdon, but to me it's highly implausible..

Do you think that David Copperfield could create the illusion of translating while holding a hat over his face? If so, then why not Smith?

You say, And there's just no reason to believe it happened, or that it was necessary

Well yes there is reason. In fact, there are quite few reasons. If Smith wrote The Book of Mormon by himself, how do you explain the following:

1. The length and complexity of The Book of Mormon and literary features suggesting that the author drew from Roman history and the Classics. Where is the evidence that Smith’s educational preparation equipped him with such knowledge? Where is the evidence that he possessed the self discipline or scholarly temperament needed to acquire such knowledge?

As Smith himself explained: "we were deprived of the benefit of an education suffice it to say I was merely instructid in reading writing and the ground rules of Arithmatic which constuted by whole literary acquirements" (Joseph Smith 1984, 4).

See: http://www.mormonstudies.com/author1.htm

2. Why didn't Smith know the Book of Mormon geography? If he was the author, wouldn't it be reasonable to expect him to familiar with the geographic setting of The Book of Mormon? But there is no evidence that he was.

3. Why didn't Smith's pre-1830 theological convictions match the theology of the Book of Mormon? If he was the author, isn't it reasonable to expect that he would have had a theology like that found in The Book of Mormon? But before 1830, he preferred Methodism, not the Disciples of Christ theology found in The Book of Mormon.

4. Why did Smith seem so surprised by some parts of The Book of Mormon and why did he have trouble pronouncing some of the words if he made them up?

"When he stopped for any purpose at any time he would, when he commenced again, begin where he left off without any hesitation, and one time while he was translating he stopped suddenly, pale as a sheet, and said, 'Emma, did Jerusalem have walls around it?' When I answered 'Yes,' he replied 'Oh! I was afraid I had been deceived.' He had such a limited knowledge of history at that time that he did not even know that Jerusalem was surrounded by walls."

Source: http://www.mormonstudies.com/author1.htm

Other incidents during the translation also suggest that Smith was unfamiliar the text he was translating. For instance, he reportedly did not know how to pronounce “Sariah” or “Nephi”.

5. If Smith was the sole or primary author how do you explain:

- people who were familiar with Spalding's Manuscript Found and testified that it had the same historical content as the BoM?

- Spalding word usage patterns in the BoM? Spalding themes in the BoM?

- Sidney Rigdon's foreknowledge of a new scripture about to come forth?

And there's a LOT more that the Smith-as-author theory fails to account for.

I hope you’ll leave the door open on this one, Tal. The Spalding-Rigdon theory can explain a lot. When I came to understand it, I was amazed at how many pieces seemed to fall into place –quirky things I had never understood about the structure of the BoM suddenly made sense. And then I realized that the same theory could also explain the Book of Moses. Now, I think it could explain even much more than that. Consider who was with Smith for almost every major revelation of the D&C.

Best wishes,

Craig


Subject: One comment Craig (rare for me)
Date: Feb 04 13:35
Author: Luman Walters
Mail Address: 


===
2. Why didn't Smith know the Book of Mormon geography? If he was the author, wouldn't it be reasonable to expect him to familiar with the geographic setting of The Book of Mormon? But there is no evidence that he was.
=============================================================

I think that there is indication that he DID. I am not familiar with citations that speak to his knowledge or lack thereof post-BOM but consider this:

In "Joseph Smith and the Origins of the Book of Mormon" the author David Persuitte gives a list of names developed by Vernal Holley comparing geographic names from the BOM and corresponding nearly identical ones in the eastern Great Lakes region.

In the book a list of the names is included. The similarities are impressive.

I fail to find this codified list on the web though I will continue to look for it.

I do find however: http://sidneyrigdon.com/vern/Holley2.JPG - which is a map showing the BOM names superimposed on the area. Presumably on top of similar names of the day.

This is from the url: http://www.solomonspalding.com/docs2/vernP3.htm#pg6061 - this will take you to the page in Holley's book which shows the map. This is in Dale Broadhursts site. Holleys book is here on the web on that site. I don't know if Holleys work is available as a BOOK. You may scan up and down the pages for the name comparisons provided one by one.

So Smith COULD have used the names in the geography of the day and of his area and simply transliterated them giving him, in his mind, a fairly firm grasp of BOM geography for the purpose of creating the book (by whatever means). There have been some criticisms of Holleys theory in re correspondence with BOM geography. Further analysis is needed.

But just as Smith could have used this template just so anyone else (Spaulding, Rigdon, whomever) could have also.

But Smith lived closest to this area. Rigdon and Spaulding were from the Pittsburgh area - though both had traveled throughout the country.

So - are there citations showing Smiths grasp of BOM geography or the lack thereof?

If I remember correctly he paid it little heed later in his career which indicates to me that it was not completely of his manufacture. Instead he goes on to develop his own theology which contrasts with that of the BOM. An example of 'leaving Sidney behind'?

Another thought. Remember that there were early reports (pre-BOM)that a 'Gold Book' of the Indians had been discovered in Canada. In my mind I have a citation that Smith originally intended to 'find' the plates in Canada but something else came up to prevent the trip. Or else he couldn't disappear from the area to simple feign the trip.

And along these lines ... why would he go to try to sell the rights to the BOM in Canada. Why not the US?

Hmmm ... more then one comment ... I'd better end this now ...


Subject: BoM geography, Smith's ignorance of it, and the Detroit manuscript
Date: Feb 05 00:49
Author: CraigC

Hi Luman.

Previously I wrote that Smith did not seem to know BoM geography, and I used that assertion to support the idea that he was unfamiliar with the contents of the BoM, and so was unlikely to have been the sole or primary author.

You responded: I think that there is indication that he DID.

According to the Mormon Studies site:" It is apparent from the statements which Joseph Smith made between 1834 and 1838 that he had no conception of the geography of the Book of Mormon. He simply took whatever sites or artifacts which he happened to come upon as evidence of Nephite occupation"

source: http://www.mormonstudies.com/geo1.htm

Primary sources used to conclude that Smith was ignorant of BoM geography are provided at the above link.

Other sources suggest that Smith thought that the geography covered the entire North and South American continents. But this view, if Smith really did believe it , is not consistent with the geography given in the BoM.

http://www.irr.org/mit/map1.html

http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/basic/bom/geography_eom.htm

You say, consider this: In "Joseph Smith and the Origins of the Book of Mormon" the author David Persuitte gives a list of names developed by Vernal Holley comparing geographic names from the BOM and corresponding nearly identical ones in the eastern Great Lakes region. In the book a list of the names is included. The similarities are impressive. I fail to find this codified list on the web though I will continue to look for it.

Yes, I know where this is on the web. It is here:

http://www.solomonspalding.com/docs2/vernP3.htm#pg65

Holley says this: “When Spaulding's travels are tracked on modern maps, they encompass nearly all of my proposed Book of Mormon geographical locations. He had opportunity to obtain first-hand knowledge of ancient fortified earthworks, Indian place names, [biblically-derived] place names, and [unique] geographical locations that influenced his writings”.

You wrote: I do find however: http://sidneyrigdon.com/vern/Holley2.JPG - which is a map showing the BOM names superimposed on the area. Presumably on top of similar names of the day. This is from the url: http://www.solomonspalding.com/docs2/vernP3.htm#pg6061 - this will take you to the page in Holleys book which shows the map. This is in Dale Broadhursts site. Holleys book is here on the web on that site. I don't know if Holleys work is available as a BOOK. You may scan up and down the pages for the name comparisons provided one by one.

Yes, I was aware of this material. If Holley's identification of the BoM geography with New England and Canada is correct (and I tend to think it is) then it further supports the view that Spalding was the author of the source document used by Smith.

You say, So Smith COULD have used the names in the geography of the day and of his area and simply transliterated them giving him, in his mind, a fairly firm grasp of BOM geography for the purpose of creating the book (by whatever means).

I think it is more likely that Rigdon modified Spalding's document without recognizing the New England Canada geography, and that Smith then "translated" the Spalding-Rigdon document without recognizing the New England Canada geography.

You say, There have been some criticisms of Holley's theory in re correspondence with BOM geography. Further analysis is needed.

I think the word correspondences noted by Holley are too strong to be ignored.

You say But just as Smith could have used this template just so anyone else (Spaulding, Rigdon, whomever) could have also.

Yes, that's what Spalding most likely did.

You say, Another thought. Remember that there were early reports (pre-BOM)that a 'Gold Book' of the Indians had been discovered in Canada. In my mind I have a citation that Smith originally intended to 'find' the plates in Canada but something else came up to prevent the trip. Or else he couldn't disappear from the area to simple feign the trip.

I think you are referring to the "Detroit manuscript". In 1823, the Detroit Gazette reported discovery of a manuscript containing unknown characters. The manuscript was sent to "the learned" - a Dr. Samuel Mitchill, for evaluation. Dr. Mitchill was unable to read it, but others identified it as a book of Roman Catholic instructions written in Irish shorthand (insular miniscule) and referred to as “Tironian notes”. Irish Monks from Canada evidently created and left the document in Detroit.

This widely reported incident probably motivated Smith to copy characters from the plates and give them to Harris for translation by "the learned". It is probably no coincidence that Harris first traveled to see the same Samuel Mitchill of the Detroit Manuscript incident, before he went to see Professor Anthon who "could not read a sealed book".

Of interest is the similarity between the characters in the Detroit Manuscript and what was later claimed by Joseph Smith to be "reformed Egyptian". About 60% of the characters in the Detroit Manuscript also appeared in the characters that Smith copied and gave to Martin Harris.

http://olivercowdery.com/smithhome/2000s/2001RBSt.htm#part2

It is also probably significant that the owner of the Detroit manuscript was none other than Abraham Edwards, a business partner of Stephan Mack - the uncle of Joseph Smith’s uncle and a cousin of Oliver Cowdery.

Craig


Subject: Uncials/Characters/Caractors
Date: Feb 05 10:43
Author: Luman Walters

I was unaware of this "Detroit Document". I think that the "Gold Book" was from a separate newspaper article of the day - which may have been a rewriting of this story but I do not have my research materials at hand.

But the "Detroit Manuscript" material is quite devastating.


=== Of interest is the similarity between the characters in the Detroit Manuscript and what was later claimed by Joseph Smith to be "reformed Egyptian". About 60% of the characters in the Detroit Manuscript also appeared in the characters that Smith copied and gave to Martin Harris.
============================================================

I skimmed the pages you linked to but could not find the images of the Detroit characters. Do you have a direct link to them or could you tell me wherein one of the pages you linked to it appears? I tend to get lost in Broadhursts archives ...

I have no knowledge as to the development of Celtic uncials but would presume that if the images of the characters in this manuscript are unavailable that I could memly obtain the set of uncials for the time period hypothesized would suffice..

Remind me to tell you of newer indexing techniques when we correspond ... Data is often 'out there' ('truth' is our problem) but accessing it ...

Any possibility of a linkage here to Strang and his (eventual) plate?

Thanks ...


Subject: Re: Uncials/Characters/Caractors
Date: Feb 05 11:59
Author: CraigC

You ask: I skimmed the pages you linked to but could not find the images of the Detroit characters. Do you have a direct link to them or could you tell me wherein one of the pages you linked to it appears? I tend to get lost in Broadhursts archives ...

I made a mistake in what I initially posted. Allow me to correct that.

The Detroit Manuscript was written in some kind of derivative of Tironian shorthand, but the Detroit manuscript itself has now disappeared. So the 60% identity to the Anthon characters is not 60% identity to characters on the Detroit Manuscript (since we don’t have it), but rather to characters in two books of Tironian shorthand notes, discovered by Richard B. Stout (2001-02).

http://olivercowdery.com/smithhome/2000s/2001RBSt.htm#note49

Says Stout:

“Eventually, I drew up two lists of over thirty identical or near-identical symbols found in both the "Anthon transcript" and one or both of the note books (see a portion of that comparison below)…These Latin shorthand notes matched nearly sixty percent of the transcript's occasionally repeated "Caractors."”

In researching the history of Tironian notes, Stout discovered that there was a proliferation of shorthands derived from the Tironian in England in the 16 and 17th centuries.

Says Stout,

“Obviously, I could not check each of the hundreds of systems that were available to the scribe(s) of the Detroit Manuscript. But in the dozen or so pre-19th century systems I did check, a majority of the symbols on the "Anthon transcript" could be accounted for. Perhaps the most surprising is William Addy's symbol for altogether -- a black square. I had assumed that the three black squares in the "Anthon transcript" could not have originate in shorthand. After all, taking the time to draw and fill in a square would not seem the most efficient way to denote a word quickly. However, there it is in Addy's (and Joseph's) characters. Symbols from Addy's shorthand meaning idolatry, Christ, cross of Christ, and trespass are also found in the "Anthon transcript." I have included below just a portion of a page from Jeremiah Rich's New Testament in shorthand. The reader will note quite a number of identical and very similar characters just this tiny fragment has in common with the "Anthon transcript."”

Stout provides images for comparison at the link:
http://olivercowdery.com/smithhome/2000s/2001RBSt.htm#note49


Subject: Re: One comment Craig (rare for me)
Date: Feb 05 10:20
Author: Randy J.


But just as Smith could have used this template just so anyone else (Spaulding, Rigdon, whomever) could have also.

But Smith lived closest to this area. Rigdon and Spaulding were from the Pittsburgh area - though both had traveled throughout the country.

Yes, and both Spalding and Rigdon lived in northern Ohio later, as well---I'm sure you're aware that it was the late Spalding's relatives and friends in northern Ohio in 1832 who, when early Mormons introduced them to the newly-published BOM, remarked that it was similar to Spalding's tales.

And Rigdon had been heading a "Restorationist" commune in the Kirtland area for several years. An initial reaction by some Smith-sole-author believers is that Rigdon couldn't have been involved because he lived so far away from Smith's area. But it takes a little research to realize that from where Rigdon lived, near the shore of Lake Erie, one could ride on a passenger flatboat up to the Buffalo area, and from there travel up the Erie Canal, practically to Joseph Smith's front door, in a matter of days.

Ironically, while Fawn Brodie dismissed the idea of Rigdon's involvement for lack of evidence, she listed Rigdon's late 1820s Campbellite preaching itinerary in her appendix to support her position; but several blocks of time in which gaps occur in Rigdon's activity schedule happen to coincide with foundational events in Mormonism---such as a gap from August 23 to October 9, 1827 (the very period in which Smith claimed to receive the golden plates from Moroni); a gap of about six weeks in May-June 1829 (during the height of the BOM's alleged "translation"); and from March-June 1830 (the very time during which Joseph Smith founded his church.)

When we add items like these to the reports from various people who claimed that Rigdon was involved in Smith's late 1820s money-digging band, and Rigdon's alleged "prophecy" of a new Bible to come forth, the evidence for his participation in the production of the BOM becomes much stronger.


Subject: Re: Interesting comments...
Date: Feb 04 14:40
Author: JeffH

Hi, Tal.

I find your writings to be very thoughtful, insightful, and entertaining. This is a fun thread to read and participate in. I will try to offer some thoughts regarding a few things you mentioned...

Tal Bachman wrote:
 ... If you read JS's dictations and writings around the time of the BOM, they are teeming with ideas and turns of phrase, sparkling with wit and insight. He is a smart guy. His writings might be crude stylistically in some ways, as was the BOM, but again, I tend to feel the way BH Roberts did: reading them leaves you with every impression that this young man was totally capable of having written the thing himself.

I believe Joseph was a creative and persuasive person at least from the time he was a teen. Although I stated previously that Joseph's ability or inability to write the BoM is not a central issue to me, I still find reason to question his degree of literacy and knowledge at the time the BoM was being produced. I agree that later writings and teachings proved Joseph to be well read, but from those who knew him in New York prior to 1827 and from a lack of evidence otherwise, I get the impression that he was generally not very literate and not given to putting forth strong efforts. Again, I am talking about the time before the BoM.

Who co-wrote the Pearl of Great Price? Who co-wrote the really wonderful story now canonized as the Joseph Smith History in the D&C? Who co-wrote the Doctrine and Covenants? Who co-wrote the sermons? If JS needed help for the BOM, would he not have needed help for the others?


My answer to this last question would be yes, and that he received such help, though with time he needed less and less of it. And with time the teachings of the church became less and less orthodox, sometimes contradicting previous teachings or revealed scriptures. Here I think you see a transition from a theology crafted largely by Sidney Rigdon to a theology crafted by the fancies of Joseph Smith.

 But in case after case, JS sat there alone dictating, just as he was reputed to have done by Martin, Emma, Isaac, David, et al, during the creation of the BOM. You see exactly the same pattern, evidence of the same creative process.


I envision the BoM dictation process much differently. I agree with Craig that the head in the hat was used only when necessary to try to make someone believe that he was receiving the words in that fashion. In the early stages with Martin as scribe, perhaps he had to do this quite a bit (assuming Martin was a dupe), even necessitating the near memorization of small blocks of the story that he could then recite while his head was buried. This could have fooled Martin, and Isaac Hale may have witnessed this show on a few occasions. Emma suggested that Joseph could dictate for long periods at a time, but she said this in the same interview with her son in which she denied he practiced polygamy, and frankly I don't trust her at that point to be doing anything but providing the best possible image to JS III of his father.

Joseph got in trouble when the 116 pages were lost because he had already presented the translation process as word-for-word revelation. In reciting the story, he likely did not produce a word-for-word dictation of his source text - perhaps because he was burying his face in the hat and he was to some degree paraphrasing and/or improvising. When Oliver showed up and they decided to principally copy the source text with Oliver as scribe, they still had to maintain the previous dictation illusion for onlookers. So, when necessary, Joseph would stick his head in the hat and start reciting. All Joseph would really have to do is simply come close to something they had just copied. It would be another year before the book was printed, so who could reasonably verify that the text in the BoM was or wasn't exactly what Joseph spewed while his head was in the hat?

As I see it, people believed he dictated with his head in the hat for long periods of time simply because he put on a show as often as he needed to make people believe it. Oliver (and maybe Emma?) knew otherwise and added further testimony to the deception, and copying of a source text was really the way most or all of the BoM was produced.



 I mean, what incentive would Oliver Cowdery have, after being outraged at Joseph's "filthy" affair with Fanny Alger and feeling frustrated and even angry at Joseph and his abuse of his position, to not blow the lid open on the whole thing? I guess you could say he didn't want to implicate himself in fraud, but I don't know...this is the same guy who once said that he often wondered, during those early days of the church, whether he and Joseph were "really in their right mind". I just don't get the sense from Oliver, or from Sidney after reading the Van Wagoner bio, that these guys were genuine co-authors of anything. Certainly Sidney helped shape general doctrinal trends and even specific doctrinal points as a counselor, but of course that's not what we're talking about. Can it really be imagined that Sidney Rigdon would have put up with all the stick he took from Joseph, if he knew that the BOM was a total fraud - that HE had helped write it? Sidney would have had plenty of other opportunities to make money elsewhere, unlike Joseph. Joseph tried to nail Nancy, his daughter, for Pete's sake. I just don't see any evidence as convincing as that pointing to: Joseph Smith was a genuinely talented religious innovator/thinker and storyteller/author.


One reason I think Sidney and Oliver didn't expose anything was that they truly believed in what they were trying to bring about. They believed in a restoration of the true church of Jesus Christ, and they somehow viewed what they were doing as directed by the hands of God. I believe they were the pious frauds. I actually think Joseph was a bit simpler (at least at the time the BoM was being produced). I think he was in it for a good scam as a way to make some money and get some attention. I think Sidney and Oliver really believed God was using them to do something special. I would bet that they later both came down to earth when they saw where Joseph had taken the whole thing. I think the other major reason for their silence was that they saw no hope of salvaging any type of career or security if they were to admit their complicity and/or delusions.

Jeff


Subject: Two writers: the Preacher and the Historian
Date: Feb 04 12:34
Author: Makurosu
Ever notice that there seem to be two writers in the Book of Mormon? There is the Preacher, who gives the fiery sermons. Then there is the Historian, who tells the story of the peoples in the Book of Mormon without getting into too much religion. These two very different writing styles seem to go through the entire book.

When I read the Book of Mormon, I can very easily imagine Sidney Rigdon taking an existing Spalding manuscript about two races of people in the Americas, and adding a bunch of sermons to it. I've even thought that the Preacher (Rigdon) is a better writer than the Historian (Spalding).

From there, I can imagine this new manuscript being handed over to Joseph Smith to read to his scribe, pretending to channel it from a seer stone. This explains all the bad grammar and additions like polygamy being to "raise up seed," treasures slipping away, etc.

Also, remember that the original 116 pages (the Book of Lehi) were lost and had to be rewritten. That would explain how Joseph Smith Sr.'s Tree of Life vision got into the Book of Nephi, and how Lehi's family seems strangely similar to the Smith family.


Subject: This thread is "THE" perfect example....
Date: Feb 04 13:03
Author: Craig Paxton

of why I am so obsessed with this board. I absolutely love this kind of thought expanding discourse. I’m entertained by some of the other fluff that this board is full of, but the intellectual bantering that this thread has exhibited, is a perfect example of the “thinking mans high” that keeps me addicted to RFM.
Thanks to each that has contributed to this thread.... My mind is thoroughly enjoying the ride


Subject: Just to summarize, and view a way forward
Date: Feb 04 13:57
Author: Tal Bachman

Okay

I appreciate all the criticism. I think the objections to my comments could be summarized in this way:

1.) The goal isn't to "formulate a theory which is the least you can get away with (like the 'sole author' theory)", but rather, taking into consideration all that we see needs to be considered, to understand how the Book of Mormon was assembled, regardless of how cumbersome that story is, as long as it is built on the facts, plausible suppositions, etc.

2.) There is evidence you seem to be unaware of that suggests that a.) Sidney Rigdon was something of a co-author, and that b.) the old claim that JS copied a Solomon Spaulding manuscript in fact has very much going for it. Your responses to A and B, and particularly B, don't do enough to dispel the conclusion that Joseph had a co-author and used the Spaulding manuscript as a template.

I admit that it is true that after growing up around evangelicals, many of whom parroted the old story that Solomon Spaulding's book was the "source" for the BOM, and sometimes leafing through the old-style evangelical "anti-Mormon" literature, most of which struck me then as now as being fairly idiotic, and being forever unable to find anything concrete to suggest that the Spaulding theory was anything other than a real stretch, I have pretty much dismissed it.

But - since I now find myself surrounded with people who have clearly thought long and hard about this issue, I guess it's time to revisit the Solomon and Sidney issues.

Although, that said, once overwhelming evidences rule out the original contention that Joseph Smith found actual golden plates, and translated them page after page, as still depicted in authorized-for-buildings church art and official church magazines, even while wearing a giant armor breastplate and peering through spectacles, (misidentified by JS as the Israelite Urim and Thummim), the rest of this stuff takes on much less urgency. In other words, we all have come, sadly or not, to the conclusion that the BOM simply is not what it claims, and are beginning again from there.

One last point - I'm not so sure I overstated Joseph's quick-wittedness in getting things done, or putting things over. One personal favorite example of this is Joseph's response when he finds out that legally, they are not allowed to start the Kirtland Banking Society - he has the word "anti" printed in front of the word "banking" on the notes, and gleefully declares that the entire enterprise must now be legal, since it is in fact, an "anti-banking" society.

Anyway, I'll go check out the Dale Broadhurst stuff.

It's really nice to be able to talk about this stuff. Discussion, mutual exploration, is one thing I've really missed. Often on here we only talk about things we all already agree on, which sometimes leaves me feeling vulnerable to the same sort of unconscious removal from reality I ended up feeling as a member, where there is very little or no debate at all and you're all just reinforcing each other. I tried to discuss things on an apologetic board once, but it ended up only leaving me think I must be right, since the responses were often so silly.

In a way, I wouldn't mind seeing a few more people like Sharon Yes TBM on this board just for that reason (more serious discussion and non-acrimonious debate), but I know I'm probably in a small minority on this.

Anyway, thanks for the comments. Talk to you soon.

T.



Subject: Tal...
Date: Feb 04 15:01
Author: JeffH

copied from a prior thread, I wrote...

 Although I believe it is lacking in some important areas, and I disagree with some of their ideas, and I don't particularly like their rhetoric, the authors of "Spalding Enigma" have done a good job compiling a large number of resources into one book. The problem is it's on CD, unless you are lucky enough to find one of a handful of hardcopy versions that Dale Broadhurst was able to make on my printer in my apartment a few years ago.

Jeff


Subject: Yes, Mak!!!
Date: Feb 04 13:42
Author: Luman Walters

Equivalent to the theorized 'J' and 'P' authors of Genesis...

Higher Criticism and form redaction comes to the BOM!

The 'Preacher' and the 'Historian' that's good.

So 'P' and "H'- everyone in agreement?

Or is it for Smith 'V'isionary
'S'cam-artist
...

Let's go with 'H'istorian because there is evidence he wanted initially to sell it as a fictional history.


Subject: A key point to think about in all this is that
Date: Feb 05 09:30
Author: Mark (was "Still Active")

IF Rigdon did know and associate with JS prior to 1830 as alleged by a number of witnesses then that fact alone is prima facie evidence that they were involved in a collaboration together that they didn't want people in general to be aware of -- because Rigdon consistently denied that he'd ever known or met JS prior to late 1830 when he converted to Mormonism (and brought the largest initial group of new converts into the Church and influenced the movement of the fledgling Church from New York to Ohio where Rigdon's Campellite congregation was) and both he and JS clearly tried to hide that "fact". This, when combined with the Cambellite doctrines that got into the BoM and the timelines of when many of those doctrines became sticking points for Rigdon and how they correspond with what we know or can be deduced about the timeline for the development of the BoM from 1827 to 1829, and then combine that with how immediately Rigdon became the "2nd in command" in the Church and how much he influenced early Church doctrine and policy (and likely D&C revelations) - and was even oddly accused (wondered about) by Oliver Cowdery of having been the voice of John the Baptist (in Cowdery's article he wrote on why he was separating himself from the Church in 1839 or so IIRC), a strong case can be made on this evidence alone that he collaborated with JS to create the BoM.

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