Subject: Where the Book of Mormon and the Book of Moses came from
Date: Dec 19 16:41 2004
After a few years of study, I have concluded that the evidence regarding the origin of the Book of Mormon strongly favors the general views expressed by RandyJ and JeffH (frequent posters on this site).
These views were first clearly expressed by William H. Wittsitt (1841-1911).
William Whittsitt writings
Their primary living advocate is Dale Broadhurst.
Dale Broadhurst work
Without jumping into all the evidence at this time (I'll give it if asked), here is the basic story, expanded somewhat to include my own hypothesis regarding the origins of the book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price:
The person primarily responsible for the Book of Mormon was an evangelical preacher named Sidney Rigdon. Rigdon believed that anything that brought people to Christ was good. He hated contention and doctrinal disputes, and envisioned an idyllic society in which people lived together in peace and harmony. As luck would have it, Rigdon became acquainted with the unpublished writings of an aging Congregationalist preacher named Solomon Spalding, a well-educated man who had written speculative narratives about the origins of the Native Americans. Rigdon recognized in Spalding’s writing a singular opportunity. By adding the restoration doctrines of the Disciples of Christ, he could convert them into a new scripture that would resolve doctrinal disputes and bring people to Christ. But he needed a way to reveal his new scripture. He needed a Revelator. Fortunately for him, he lived in an era of seers – people who looked into seer stones and saw magical things. The best was Joseph Smith, Jr., an ambitious young man hungry for money and respect. In Smith, Rigdon found the ideal Revelator – a natural psychologist, gifted in the con of the seer stone. So Rigdon passed off his scripture to Smith, and Smith executed his role as Seer and Revelator, developing tales of angelic visitations and a divinely guided translation. As their plan unfolded, however, unexpected events intervened. Translated pages were lost. New doctrines emerged among the Disciples of Christ. These changes led Rigdon to modify large sections of the manuscript, and to add new scripture, including more of Spalding’s writings. The need to guide the much younger Smith also became more pressing. Rigdon found himself acting in Christ’s stead, revealing to Smith information needed to create a new Church. After completing the Book of Mormon, he continued on with a "translation" of a Spalding narrative about the Canaanites. The result was the book of Moses, an expansion of a part of Genesis. Revision of Genesis naturally led Rigdon to a revision of the rest of the King James Bible. What had started as inspired revision of Spalding manuscripts ended with an inspired revision of the King James Bible.
Date: Dec 19 22:23
It is a very appealing idea. I am re-reading Palmer's book. It is well documented except a few items that are a bit of a stretch.
Where is the documentation that Rigdon ever met JS prior to JS going to Kirtland Ohio? Is it all just speculative and circumstantial or is there even a single contemporaneous account of the two meeting?
I think that this endeavor is similar to the exercise that many have engaged in trying to show that William Shakespeare had a ghost writer that was educated and talented and is the actual person who penned the plays. I actually read a couple of books on that theme several years ago. In the end there was no connection, just speculation and circumstantial evidence. Do you have anything more than that?
Subject: The evidence, though circumstantial, is compelling...
Date: Dec 20 10:36
or at least to many people, that is the case, myself included.
In the case of Spalding, we have several people who were familiar with what he had written in the early 1810s, and when they encountered the Book of Mormon, they identified within it Spalding's story he entitled "Manuscript Found". These statements have been attributed by some (including Brodie) to confused memories and to malicious motives of D.P. Hurlbut, but those explanations didn't hold up for me as I took a closer look at Hurlbut's travels and tried to make sense of more of the evidence.
The evidence linking Sidney Rigdon to Spalding would be quite coincidental if the two really had no connection to the BoM, especially considering that these two were independently suspected as BoM contributors before anyone even discovered their earlier c.1816 Pittsburgh connection. In other words, a theory of their partial co-authorship was not invented in the absence of previous suspicion. It was built upon some degree of evidence, and once conceived, additional evidence was found - not enough to necessarily prove such a theory, but still enough to compel many and to make the Spalding/Rigdon claims the predominant naturalistic explanation for the BoM through most of the 19th century. Two factors played key roles in the transition to Smith authorship as the favored naturalistic explanation. First was the dying off of all those who knew personally any of the prime suspects. Second was the re-discovery of Spalding's Roman story manuscript, which the RLDS and LDS churches successfully used to convince observers that Spalding's writings had nothing to do with the Book of Mormon.
I am hopeful, too, that some documentary piece of evidence still exists that can place Rigdon with Smith prior to late 1830. The testimonies that claim such were all given at much later dates, with the exception of a second-hand anonymous report given by James G. Bennett in 1831. The gaps in Rigdon's chronology that correspond to key BoM and early church events are a prime focus, but if Rigdon were spending time with Smith or others in secret, then there may be little hope of finding traces of such travels. From statements of people in Mentor Ohio, it appears Rigdon was telling people there that his long distance travels in the late 1820s were taking him to Pittsburgh. Presumably such travels would not have been in secret. So, although there is no firm placement of Rigdon in NY during those gaps, I am left to wonder also why there is no evidence of Rigdon having been in Pittsburgh (or some other location) during those gaps either. Travels not done in secret would seem much more likely to leave a trace than secret ones. I'm not suggesting that lack of evidence for Pittsburgh travels proves NY travels, but I think it's important to acknowledge that there were important BoM and church events happening at times when we have no documented clue of where he was, and there is nothing documented that backs up his claims of traveling to Pittsburgh.
Bob, speaking for myself and not for Craig (because if he can do it that is great), but there is much more to all this than I believe can be stated in this forum. My suggestion for anyone wanting to know more about the Spalding/Rigdon claims is to just start reading and following as many links as you can. Some good places to start? Try these...
But be sure to branch out from there and to read opposing viewpoints. Most Smith authorship writers make their case without addressing most of the evidence and speculation in the above writings, but if you dig you can find opposing viewpoints, and it is worth doing so.
Subject: Re: The evidence, though circumstantial, is compelling...
Date: Dec 20 11:21
Author: dan hankins
We know though that Rigdon left and never came back. I wonder why he never let the cat out of the bag? Why he never said he wrote the book or he knew who did? I think Its hard to prove stuff previous to 1830 but probably easier after 1844 if anything was produced. If Rigdon wrote it why did he never say that? maybe other explanations are needed.
Subject: On Rigdon
Date: Dec 20 23:48
Rigdon could not afford to be connected too closely with the revelation of his new American scripture. People would too easily tie him to Spalding, and he knew it. So he decided to rely on Smith, a person with the requisite seer skills.
What he did not anticipate was Smith's skill at running the show, and the tale ended up wagging the dog. After Smith took control, Rigdon could not expose Smith without also exposing himself, and thereby ruining his life's work.
In preparing the Book of Mormon, Rigdon wanted to gut the Campbellites (the Disciples of Christ) by placing their doctrines in the Book of Mormon, and attracting Campbellites to a restored Church that would be true to his vision of the Primitive Church. He was proud of his efforts, and would never undermine them.
In an article in the Messenger and Advocate (Kirtland), June, 1837, Rigdon bragged:
"One thing has been done by the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. It has puked the Campbellites effectually; no emetic could have done so half as well.... The Book of Mormon has revealed the secrets of Campbellism and unfolded the end of the system. "
Subject: Rigdon and Smith together
Date: Dec 20 12:01
Where is the documentation that Rigdon ever met JS prior to JS going to Kirtland Ohio?
See this reference:
Sidney Rigdon in New York Before 1830
One of the sources cited in the above link is particularly interesting. In a two-part article in the Morning Courier-NY Inquirer (published by JW Webb and MM Noah), writer J.G. Bennett placed Rigdon (who he misnamed “Ringdon”) with Smith during the money digging activities. One of the money diggers suggested going to Ohio to secure the services of Sidney Rigdon, who was reportedly gifted at finding “the spots of ground where money is hid and riches obtained”. Rigdon is reported to have responded joined Smith and the other money diggers:
Evidence for Rigdon and Smith treasure hunting together
I would like to thank RandyJ for bringing this last reference to my attention.
You say, I think that this endeavor is similar to the exercise that many have engaged in trying to show that William Shakespeare had a ghost writer that was educated and talented and is the actual person who penned the plays. I actually read a couple of books on that theme several years ago. In the end there was no connection, just speculation and circumstantial evidence. Do you have anything more than that?
The evidence is circumstantial but substantial, in my opinion compelling. Men have been convicted to death on less.
I have written an article on this, but it is too much to post here, so I am trying to figure out the best format for its disclosure. Your suggestions would be welcome.
Subject: Thanks for the references on Rigdon and Smith together
Date: Dec 20 22:24
Now, how to do explain the many independent statements by people that Smith dictated the BOM while burying his face in a hat while gazing into his peep stone? Did he have Rigdon's manuscript in hand? Is that what was under the table cloth? If there was a Rigdon produced manuscript, why was JS not able to reproduce the lost 116 pages in a fashion that was reasonably nearly identical to the first dictated version written in Martin H hand?
I'm not doubting the possibility. I am just wondering how you handle evidence that may be confounding at least on the surface.
BTW, I would be interested in reading your tome.
Maybe some site will allow it to be posted temporarily and we could down load it for future reference.
Subject: Thoughts on dictation and copying
Date: Dec 20 23:31
You write: Now, how to explain the many independent statements by people that Smith dictated the BOM while burying his face in a hat while gazing into his peep stone? Did he have Rigdon's manuscript in hand? Is that what was under the table cloth? If there was a Rigdon produced manuscript, why was JS not able to reproduce the lost 116 pages in a fashion that was reasonably nearly identical to the first dictated version written in Martin H hand?
Smith dictated from the hat as a part of his normal magical seer act. He was a professional. Think of David Copperfield. To imagine how he might have done this, think about his methods as disclosed in the transcript of his 1826 Bainbridge trial:
Bainbridge trial proceedings
It makes sense that when Smith needed to dupe someone, he used his old hat trick and dictated, probably first memorizing what he needed to dictate or secretly reading the words on some carefully hidden papers.
The problem with the dictation was speed. it was too slow.
So when Smith needed to accelerate the pace of translation, he used copying. Surviving sections of the scribes’ hand-written documents (recovered from the cornerstone of the Nauvoo House) contain the kind of transcription errors that would be expected if the translation process involved copying from another manuscript.
Examples are provided here:
Examples of copying errors in the scribe's manuscripts
Copying would explain the rapid pace of "translation" when Oliver Cowdery was scribe: Cowdery was scribe for almost everything except the Book of Mosiah, and all this was done in about 2 months. Cowdery was evidently in on the con. Here is a statement that would support that view:
Statement from Judge Lang
I would be interested in reading your tome.
I would like to give it to you. Right now, some people have it and are helping me to debug it. I want it to be as free of errors as possible. After that is done, I am going to find a way to make it available.
Subject: Not how I see it
Date: Dec 20 11:26
There can be no doubt that Rigdon was the right person for Joseph Smith to work with. His knowledge of scripture certainly lent to the work Joseph did. But what is important here in creating the Book of Mormon, is not as much the knowledge of scripture (most scripture could be copied from Isaiah and it didn't take a scholar to do that), but rather the ability to tell Native American stories. In Lucy's Journal, JS mother, she tells how JS became very proficient at telling Native American stories, even at a young age. This coupled with books JS read like "View of the Hebrews" created the false belief that Native Americans were of Hebrew descent. These facts produce the best answers to the mistakes made in the Book of Mormon. An arrogant and proficient Native American story teller, coupled with erroneous information equals Book of Mormon. I do believe there are many sources Joseph Smith used, and Rigdon was just one of many of his plagiarized attempt of scripture.
Subject: Re: Not how I see it
Date: Dec 21 01:46
But what is important here in creating the Book of Mormon, is not as much the knowledge of scripture (most scripture could be copied from Isaiah and it didn't take a scholar to do that), but rather the ability to tell Native American stories
I disagree with your dismissal of the theology. The Book of Mormon contains a large amount of Disciples of Christ theology, such as baptism by immersion for the remission of sins. Disciples of Christ theology points to Rigdon, not Smith, who was a Methodist.
I also disagree with your view that Smith had what it takes to write or dictate a lengthy and complex story about the origins of the Native American Indians. The person who was best equipped to write such a narrative was clearly Solomon Spalding. Spalding had the education, interests, and temperament needed to write a long, complex, and boring narrative about the ancient inhabitants of America. We know this because one of his long, complex, and boring narratives is available today, and that manuscript has many textual and word usage parallels to the Book of Mormon. The extant Spalding manuscript is called Manuscript Story. or the Oberlin College document (because that it where it is stored).
The on-line text of Manuscript Story is available at:
Dale Broadhurst has proposed that Manuscript Story was the precursor for a narrative entitled Manuscript Found - the widely hypothesized primary source for the Book of Mormon. He has documented many parallels between Manuscript Story and the Book of Mormon.
Thematic parallels are described here:
More thematic parallels
Textual parallels are described here:
More textual parallels
Still more textual parallels
Even more textual parallels
So what I am suggesting is this: Give the Spalding-Rigdon theory a chance! It's worth it. I promise.
Yes, of course, Smith could spin an exciting yarn, but he could not write, let alone dictate a book as complex and convoluted as the Book of Mormon. I have yet to see any good evidence suggesting otherwise.
Subject: So Smith even ripped off the scam that he ended up running, no wonder he was so poised to rip off the masons down the road
Date: Dec 20 12:11
if Rigdon wanted a point man for his manipulative con scheme he certainly hit the jack pot with Joe.
Subject: An example of things I would like to get opinions on...
Date: Dec 20 13:44
Here is an example of the type of thing I would like to see at least mentioned when discussing Spalding/Rigdon authorship claims...
This is but one of numerous statements of varying context that give credence to the Spalding/Rigdon authorship claims for the Book of Mormon. If someone wishes to make a case for a theory that implicitly denies some of the claims and/or opinions contained in such statements, then he or she will have to give an explanation for their existence. Even if that explanation is only to say that these people were liars or were making too much of their memories, at least give me the impression that these things are known of and have been thought about.
Again, I offer this one statement as simply an example, and don't intend to begin a discussion of it alone. Those of us persuaded by such statements are more persuaded by their volume and general consistency rather than any one voice.
Subject: Spalding isn't much of a solution...
Date: Dec 22 20:05
First: What's the motive for Rigdon to formulate such a plan with Smith, a complete unknown at the time, who's only infamy is doing second-rate money-digging cons? What's in it for Rigdon? Why turn over control and power to Smith if he is the actual mastermind and author of the Book of Mormon? Nothing I've seen in Rigdon's character suggests that this is something he would ever be inclined to do.
Second: Why is Smith so distraught at losing the 116 pages? If the story is being stolen from a Spalding manuscript, why the panic? Why the switching to the small set of plates story? Why the problems with the names of Kings, and the lack of specific details in the story right up to the point he loses the 116 pages?
Third: We have Spalding's writings. They sound nothing like the Book of Mormon, nor are they written like the Book of Mormon. How can a person explain the grammar problems in the 1830 Book of Mormon if huge chunks of it are being lifted from Spalding who had no such errors? One of the first criticisms of the Book of Mormon is on how poorly it is written. How can that be possible if Spalding's writings underpin the entire book?
Fourth: We have Smith's writings. We have his first vision account. We have the D&C and PGP. It all sounds like the Book of Mormon. Why? If Spalding's writings were so influential, so important in the creation of the Book of Mormon, why then isn't there a stark difference between those works? Why do the Mormon scriptures all sound the same? Where is Spalding's voice as a writer? And if it has been so thoroughly obliterated, then how can anyone suggest his writings were even necessary to make the Book of Mormon? What real world example can someone give to prove this is even possible to do? And how is the reworking of a Spalding writing so completely as to eliminate his voice any easier than writing the Book of Mormon from scratch? Where is the incentive for supposedly using Spalding's work?
Fifth: Where is the evidence? How can someone suggest Spalding is the underpinning of the Book of Mormon when there is no such manuscript to compare it to? How is that any different than Mormons claiming the missing part of the papyri really does have the Book of Abraham on it? The evidence is all conjecture based on eyewitnesses many years after they would have seen Spalding's work, and right after they had just seen the Book of Mormon. Isn't it more probable that they remembered some of the same ideas that aren't unique to the Book of Mormon, or Spalding, that are present in View of the Hebrews and other writings of Smith's time, and that they merely jumped to the conclusion that Smith must have used Spalding's work? Where is the direct evidence that proves plagiarism?
Sixth: Why are the Spalding theories not accepted by virtually all well-respected researchers and historians of Mormon history? Why aren't they seeing this "compelling evidence" if it truly is so compelling? Why do they almost universally agree that Smith was the author and see his fingerprints all over the Book of Mormon? Does the Spalding theory require some mass conspiracy by the majority of Mormon researchers in order to explain why it isn't taken seriously?
There are so many problems with the Spalding theory, mainly because whatever problem it attempts to solve is immediately replaced by five problems it can't. The theory is inherently flawed for just that reason--in the end, it requires too much and does very little.
Subject: Rigdon's motives
Date: Dec 22 22:30
Let's take them one at a time.
You say, First: What's the motive for Rigdon to formulate such a plan with Smith, a complete unknown at the time, who's only infamy is doing second-rate money-digging cons? What's in it for Rigdon? Why turn over control and power to Smith if he is the actual mastermind and author of the Book of Mormon? Nothing I've seen in Rigdon's character suggests that this is something he would ever be inclined to do.
In the early 1820's, Rigdon was drawn to the Reformed Baptist movement (Disciples of Christ) which was led at that time by Alexander Campbell and Walter Scott. Rigdon was perhaps equally instrumental in building the Church, and Campbell even once referred to him as one of their greatest orators. But Rigdon wanted to see the Church go further than Campbell - he wanted it to follow the "ancient order of things", to create an idyllic society with "no contention". Campbell opposed him. Rigdon decided that for him to be truly able to bring people to Christ, he would have to create a new religion. But the needed new scriptures that were more clear about doctrine. He realized that this might be done by modifying Spalding's writings to create a new American scripture. It made sense to him to fill this new scripture with Disciples of Christ teachings. That way, when the new scripture was revealed to the world, followers of Campbell would naturally be attracted. But at the same time, he needed to hide his identity; he was too easily tied to Spalding and Campbell. So he found himself a revelator, a seer - the best in the neighborhood
Here are a few references that give insight into Rigdon's motives:
At the Mahoning Baptist Association's annual meeting in Warren, Trumbull, OH, Aug 29-31, 1828, “Rigdon introduced an argument to show that our pretension to follow the apostles in all their New Testament teachings, required a community of goods; that as they established this order in the model church at Jerusalem, we were bound to imitate their example.”
Alexander Campbell then denounced Rigdon’s plan. “This put an end to it. Rigdon finding himself foiled in his cherished purpose of in grafting on the reformation his new community scheme, went away from the meeting at its close, chafed and chagrined, and never met with the Disciples in a general meeting afterward. On his way he stopped at Bro. Austin's, in Warren, to whom he vented his spleen, saying; "I have done as much in this reformation as Campbell or Scott, and yet they get all the honor of it!"
The translation of the Book of Mormon was completed in June, 1829. Rigdon spent the summer of 1829 preparing Churches for Mormonism:
“The church of Christ in Perry was organized by S. Rigdon, August 7th, 1829" (Hayden, p.346). In the Autumn of that year he established the church at Euclid (Hayden, p.409). The church at Birmingham in Erie county (Hayden, p.465k); Elyria in Loraine county (Hayden, p.467); and the church at Hamden in Geauga county, were each originated through his labors in the year 1829”. What did he teach? Reportedly he spoke of the gift of inspiration, miracles, speaking in tongues, the weekly sacrament. He emphasized a literal gathering and the millennial reign of Christ on Earth. He sought to establish the ancient order with respect to “all things common”, by establishing a community of goods.
Dr. Storm Rosa, a leading physician of Ohio, in, a letter to the Rev. John Hall of Ashtabula, written in 1841, said: "In the early part of the year 1830 I was in company with Sidney Rigdon, and rode with him on horseback for a few miles.... He remarked to me that it was time for a new religion to spring up; that mankind were all right and ready for it."
Subject: lost pages and related questions
Date: Dec 22 22:51
You ask, Why is Smith so distraught at losing the 116 pages? If the story is being stolen from a Spalding manuscript, why the panic?
Smith feared that the lost pages would resurface and be compared to a “retranslation”. He knew they would not match. This may be because some of Rigdon’s documents were destroyed after “translation”, or because he himself occasionally added impromptu verses, which he knew he could not reproduce.
The lost pages likely included Rigdon’s versions of Spalding’s Lehi, Enos, Jarom, and Omni. The content of the lost pages was similar to the latter parts of the current Book of Alma (characteristic of Spalding’s writing). Nephi 9:4 indicates that it emphasized the “reign of the kings, and the wars and contentions.” According to the preface to the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, the lost pages contained “the book of Lehi, which was an account abridged from the plates of Lehi, by the hand of Mormon”.
Likely content of the lost 116 pages included: the story of Lehi and his family, the story of Laban, the story of Mosiah 1 and his people fleeing the land of Nephi with their records and possessions, discovering the land and the people of Zarahemla, Mosiah becoming their king (Omni 13-14), the discovery of Coriantumur by the people of Zarahemla, and the translation of the large stone by Mosiah 1 about the demise of the Jaredite nation (Omni 20-22).
Why the switching to the small set of plates story?
Rigdon decided to:
1. Write a replacement. The replacement would be the “Plates of Nephi”. Nephi would become an internal editor for the plates of Lehi.
2. Replace the words “plates of Lehi” in the “untranslated” part of the Book of Mormon with the words “plates of Nephi”. This required only minor modifications of Mosiah, Alma, Helaman, 3 Nephi, 4 Nephi and Mormon 1-7, so Rigdon chose to do this first. Smith returned the untranslated part to Rigdon, and lost his “privileges” for a “season” (D&C 3).
Sometime around Oct 1828 to early 1829, Rigdon began preparing a replacement for the lost book of Lehi. After completing 1 Nephi 1-8, he wanted to add prophecies and additional restoration theology. He decided to call his more theological replacement for the lost pages the “small plates of Nephi”. The term “plates of Nephi” would from this point on refer to the more historical account edited by Mormon. Rigdon used this opportunity to add prophecies that would appear to have been fulfilled by the Book of Mormon. These including Christ’s visit to America (1 Nephi 12:6; 13:42); the loss of “plain and precious parts of the gospel” - because of the “abominable church of the devil” (1 Nephi 13:32-33); the coming forth of “other books” that would restore the “plain and precious things” (1 Nephi 13:39-40); the coming of a “seer” named Joseph who would be “like unto Moses” and his spokesman (2 Nephi 3:6-21); and the Anthon affair in which the learned could not read a “sealed book” (2 Nephi 26:15-20).
Rigdon also continued to add copied material from the King James Bible, inserting Chapters 2-14 and 50-51 Isaiah. http://www.xmission.com/~research/central/isabm6.html#conclusions. He also continued to make frequent use of the phrase “children of men”: http://truthseeker.tripod.com/LDSQUESTION13.html
Note: This sequence for creation of “small plates of Nephi” (early 1829) is consistent with Quinn Brewster’s analysis “A Theory of Evolutionary Development for the Structure of the Book of Mormon”, though Brewster’s analysis is written from the perspective of Smith as sole author.
Why the problems with the names of Kings, and the lack of specific details in the story right up to the point he loses the 116 pages?
I am unclear what you mean here. I assume you are referring to Smith's behavior during translation of the 116 pages.
My guess is that Smith was doing whatever he needed to do to dupe his scribes. Dictation using the seer stones in a hat was his preference; that was the con he was already good at.
When he needed to speed up the pace of translation in April 1829, he secured the services of Cowdery, who likely just copied manuscripts provided by Rigdon.
Subject: The writing style
Date: Dec 22 23:07
You say, Third: We have Spalding's writings. They sound nothing like the Book of Mormon, nor are they written like the Book of Mormon.
Spalding wrote several narratives. Witnesses reported that he wrote one of them (called Manuscript Found) in old Biblical language. The neighbors even began referring to him as Old Come to Pass". The phrase "And it came to pass" is used repeatedly throughout the Book of Moses (54 times), as it is in the Book of Mormon (1304 times).
There are actually many similarities between Spalding's writings and the book of Mormon. Dale Broadhurst has proposed that Manuscript Story was the precursor for a narrative entitled Manuscript Found - the widely hypothesized primary source for the Book of Mormon. He has documented many parallels between Manuscript Story and the Book of Mormon.
Thematic parallels are described here:
Textual parallels are described here:
Broadhurst has also identified 37 words that are found in Manuscript Story and in the Book of Mormon but not the King James Bible, the Apocrypha, the writings of Josephus or in Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews. They are: abyss, attitude, burthen, burthens, clasped, crisis, crossing, defiance, depravity, dispelled, dormant, dragged, encircle, encircled, energies, explaining, ferocious, glut, gushing, hemmed, impeded, listened, manifesting, massacred, monster, movements, plans, pleasingly, puffing, regulations, shrink, spurn, steadfastly, tumbling, waving, worried, wrestling.
The best evidence for Manuscript Found is that of the Conneaut witnesses – people who knew Solomon Spalding, were familiar with Manuscript Found and immediately recognized its similarities to the Book of Mormon:
Additional evidence linking Manuscript Found to the Book of Mormon comes from an analysis of Spalding word usage patterns and events incorporated into the Book of Mormon. Tom Donofrio has shown that Spalding borrowed phrases and events from Mercy Otis Warren (1728-1814), author of History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution. In turn, Warren borrowed from David Ramsay’s History of the American Revolution. Examples of this repeated borrowing are found in the Book of Mormon. An example is the story of Captain Moroni and the “freemen”.
How can a person explain the grammar problems in the 1830 Book of Mormon if huge chunks of it are being lifted from Spalding who had no such errors? One of the first criticisms of the Book of Mormon is on how poorly it is written. How can that be possible if Spalding's writings underpin the entire book?
Grammar problems could have been introduced by Spalding, Rigdon, or by scribes. Compositional problems arose because of the loss of the first 116 pages and the different styles of Spalding and Rigdon. If you do much reading of Spalding's work, you will see why he was unpublished. It is incredibly boring. Spalding really was a lousy writer. I can see why he was never published.
Subject: the voices of Rigdon and Spalding
Date: Dec 22 23:26
You say Fourth: We have Smith's writings. We have his first vision account. We have the D&C and PGP. It all sounds like the Book of Mormon. Why?
Rigdon was Smith's Revelator. We should expect similarities in style for the scriptures you have listed. As for the first vision, I am wondering which version you are referring to.
If Spalding's writings were so influential, so important in the creation of the Book of Mormon, why then isn't there a stark difference between those works? Why do the Mormon scriptures all sound the same? Where is Spalding's voice as a writer? And if it has been so thoroughly obliterated, then how can anyone suggest his writings were even necessary to make the Book of Mormon?
In the early sections of the D&C, you are hearing Rigdon's voice undiluted. Many of these sections align well with sections of the Book of Mormon that Rigdon likely wrote (Mormon 8-10, Moroni's insertions in Ether, Moroni, 1 and 2 Nephi, Jacob). In other parts of the Book of Mormon, particularly the end of Alma, you clearly hear the voice of Spalding. As I already pointed out, there are many examples of Spalding's word usage patterns - they come through loud and clear.
What real world example can someone give to prove this is even possible to do?
Many people carry out successful frauds and cons and deliberate deception of all kinds. Mark Hoffmann did a nice job. David Copperfield does the magic thing well. There are many examples.
And how is the reworking of a Spalding writing so completely as to eliminate his voice any easier than writing the Book of Mormon from scratch? Where is the incentive for supposedly using Spalding's work?
His voice was not eliminated. The reason for using Spalding's work was simple - it provided a ready-made plot and explanation for the Native American Indians. All that Rigdon needed to do was to insert Disciples of Christ doctrines into it in the most effective way he could think of.
Subject: Evidence for Manuscript Found
Date: Dec 22 23:55
You say, Fifth: Where is the evidence? How can someone suggest Spalding is the underpinning of the Book of Mormon when there is no such manuscript to compare it to?
The hypothesized primary source for the Book of Mormon was Manuscript Found. Many people testified that they heard it read and that its plot, names, and historical content matched that of the Book of Mormon.
When Orson Hyde and Samuel H. Smith delivered a sermon on the Book of Mormon at a schoolhouse in Conneaut, Ohio, Nehemiah King, an old friend of Spalding's recognized it as the Spalding's work. Friends and relatives of Spalding (his brother, John, Henry Lake, Aaron Wright, and the Jackson family) agreed with King. These 8 people, referred to as the Conneaut witnesses, later signed affidavits to that effect. These affidavits were collected by D. P. Hurlburt, and published in Mormonism Unvailed by Edward Howe
The Conneaut witnesses said of The Book of Mormon that "its narrative followed the lines of Spalding's novel. The plot was the same, the names of [the characters] were the same, the exact language was, in many instances... the same, and the only noticeable change was the addition of scriptural passages and religious matter which did not appear in Spalding's original work."
A copy of Manuscript Found was apparently found and shown to several groups in Dec 1833. People who saw it or heard it read said that it was like the Book of Mormon. Unfortunately, that copy of Manuscript Found disappeared under suspicious circumstances.
Manuscript Story (the Oberlin College manuscript) is considered a precursor document to Manuscript Found. As I already pointed out, there is textual and word usage evidence that links Manuscript Story to the Book of Mormon.
You ask, How is that any different than Mormons claiming the missing part of the papyri really does have the Book of Abraham on it? The evidence is all conjecture based on eyewitnesses many years after they would have seen Spalding's work, and right after they had just seen the Book of Mormon. Isn't it more probable that they remembered some of the same ideas that aren't unique to the Book of Mormon, or Spalding, that are present in View of the Hebrews and other writings of Smith's time, and that they merely jumped to the conclusion that Smith must have used Spalding's work?
You are mistaken on several points. As I have already pointed out there is considerable circumstantial evidence or existence of Manuscript Found (the witnesses and similarities to Manuscript Story). The evidence is not mere conjecture many years after the fact, as you put it. The Spalding theory was in the air before the witness affidavits were collected. The Wayne Sentinel of Palmyra, New York, credited authorship of The Book of Mormon to "a respectable clergyman now dead." http://home1.gte.net/dbroadhu/RESTOR/Lib/New1834a.htm
Where is the direct evidence that proves plagiarism?
We don't have Manuscript Found, of course, but there is evidence of plagiarism. I like Tom Donofrio's work showing that Spalding borrowed phrases and events from Mercy Otis Warren (1728-1814). In turn, Warren borrowed from David Ramsay’s History of the American Revolution. Examples of this repeated borrowing are found in the Book of Mormon. An example is the story of Captain Moroni and the “freemen”.
Spalding also seemed to borrow place names and geography of his local environment. Vernal Holley demonstrated that the geography and place names of The Book of Mormon likely came from Spalding’s travels in New England and Canada. Lake Ontario became the "sea east" and Lake Erie became the "sea west". The Genesee River became the “River Sidon:
You ask, Isn't it more probable that they remembered some of the same ideas that aren't unique to the Book of Mormon, or Spalding, that are present in View of the Hebrews and other writings of Smith's time, and that they merely jumped to the conclusion that Smith must have used Spalding's work?
No, I don't think that is more probable Nehemiah King specifically remembered Spalding's stories. Also, how would you account for all of the above-cited thematic and word usage similarities between Manuscript Story and the Book of Mormon?
Subject: Re: Evidence for Manuscript Found
Date: Dec 24 14:19
Thanks CraigC (and Perry Noid) for the publicity.
Spaulding was a veteran of the American Revolution. It is evident that this influence is in the one surviving manuscript. There are also strong similarities in the BoM.
Spaulding appears to have been much more well read than JS.
If JS was copying Spaulding he would have had to read every work Spaulding read in order to guard against incriminating evidence of borrowing by Spaulding.
In other words, JS may have made a tragic assumption that Spaulding's work was original and that Spaulding did not lift material from other sources. JS did not know that he was borrowing borrowed material because he was not exposed to the works Spaulding read. JS unwittingly exposes himself in this regard.
Subject: Neglect by well-respected historians
Date: Dec 23 00:14
You say, Sixth: Why are the Spalding theories not accepted by virtually all well-respected researchers and historians of Mormon history? Why aren't they seeing this "compelling evidence" if it truly is so compelling? Why do they almost universally agree that Smith was the author and see his fingerprints all over the Book of Mormon? Does the Spalding theory require some mass conspiracy by the majority of Mormon researchers in order to explain why it isn't taken seriously?
This is a good question. I'm not sure why so many intelligent people have not carefully examined the evidence. One possibility is that they have simply accepted at face value Brodie's debunking of the Spalding Theory.
I do hope that more "well-respected researchers and historians of Mormon history" will take a closer look at the Spalding-Rigdon theory. I believe it has been too often dismissed out-of-hand.
Subject: Good theories unify, systematize, clarify; Spalding-Rigdon theory does that
Date: Dec 23 00:24
You say, There are so many problems with the Spalding theory, mainly because whatever problem it attempts to solve is immediately replaced by five problems it can't. The theory is inherently flawed for just that reason--in the end, it requires too much and does very little.
I could hardly disagree more with you.
Simply saying that "there are so many problems with the Spalding theory" does not mean that there really are so many problems with the Spalding theory! Go look at the evidence! There is a lot of it. Moreover, the evidence for this theory is of many different types - witnesses, word usage patterns, themes, consistency with timeline, and signature theological elements.
Any competing explanation for the origins of the Book of Mormon should be able to explain that evidence. If it fails to do that, then that theory is itself inherently flawed.
In my opinion, the Spalding-Rigdon theory does an amazing job at systematizing and unifying information. It makes many things clear.
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