Debunking the Spaulding Manuscript Theory

In part 5 of my Sidney Rigdon series, I wrote that I thought I was done writing about Sidney Rigdon.  But alas, I have been given a challenge to refute the Spaulding Manuscript theory by Doug G, so it looks like I’m temporarily back to talking about Sidney Rigdon.

I just finished a book called Sidney Rigdon:  Portrait of Religious Excess, by Richard Van Wagoner.  Chapter 11 is called Book of Mormon Authorship, and deals directly with the issue of whether Sidney Rigdon is the true author of the Book of Mormon, rather than Joseph Smith.  In my previous post about Unconventional Book of Mormon Geography Theories, Doug G made a comment claiming that the Book of Mormon is related to the Solomon Spaulding Manuscript, so I want to address this theory.

Lest anyone think my quotes are from apologetic sources, let me discuss them.  My quotes are going to come from two books: (1) the Sidney Rigdon book (which I’ll abbreviate SR) and (2) No Man Knows My History, by Fawn Brodie (which I’ll abbreviate NM).  While Fawn Brodie was excommunicated for her book (thus increasing her stature in the eyes of skeptics), few people know much about Van Wagoner.  Van Wagoner’s book has received many awards, but has been criticized by FARMS for being “fundamentally, not simply tangentially, defective.”  Any book criticized by FARMS often gives skeptics (like Doug G) reason to like the book.  Neither book is not apologetic in nature.  Both books greatly discount the Spalding Manuscript theory.  Here is a short bio of the author, Richard Van Wagoner, found at the publisher’s website.

“Richard S. Van Wagoner, M.S., Brigham Young University, is a clinical audiologist and Lehi city historian. He is the author of Lehi: Portraits of a Utah Town, Mormon Polygamy: A History, and Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess; and the co-author of A Book of Mormons. He has been published in Brigham Young University Studies, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Sunstone, Utah Historical Quarterly, and Utah Holiday, and has won awards from the Dialogue Foundation, John Whitmer Historical Association, and the Mormon History Association. He is a contributor to The Prophet Puzzle: Interpretive Essays on Joseph Smith.”

What is the Spaulding Manuscript?

Solomon Spaulding was born in 1761 in Connecticut, and graduated from Dartmouth College (NH) in 1785.  He was a minister for the Congregational Church in New York, and later became a Presbyterian.  In 1809, he moved to Ohio and wrote a historical novel, narrated by a Roman sailor named Fabius who was shipwrecked in ancient America.  The book was never published, and he died in 1816.  After several changes of ownership (including the RLDS church), the manuscript has been donated to Oberlin College in Ohio, where it currently resides.  You may view the manuscript here.

What is the theory?

What is quite interesting to me is that this theory dates back to literally 1831, and Rigdon has always denied the theory.  According to NM page 68,

The theory ran as follows:  The Book of Mormon was a plagiarism of an old manuscript by one Solomon Spaulding, which Sidney Rigdon somehow secured from a printing house in Pittsburgh.  After adding much religious matter to the story, Rigdon determined to publish it as a newly discovered history of the American Indian.  Hearing of a young necromancer Joseph smith, three hundred miles away in New York State, he visited him secretly and persuaded him to enact a fraudulent representation of its discovery.  Then nine months after the book’s publication Smith’s missionaries went to Ohio and the pastor pretended to be converted to the new church.

Through the years the “Spaulding theory” collected supporting affidavits as a ship does barnacles, until it became so laden with evidence that the casual reader was overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the accumulation.  The theory requires a careful analysis because it has been so widely accepted.  The documentary evidence on both sides is so burdensome, however, that I have relegated it to an appendix.


There are some interesting similarities between the two books, which I will highlight below.  Footnote 22 on SR page 140 says,

Spaulding’s fictitious narrative described in a shipload of Romans in the days of Constantine who were blown off course during a voyage to the British Isles.  They safely reached the east coast of North America, after which one of them, Fabius, began writing a history of their activities.

Spaulding’s introduction is nearly identical to the Joseph Smith story.  While out for a mid-day stroll, wrote Spalding, he “hap[pen]ed to tread on a flat Stone” with a badly worn inscription.  “With the assistance of a leaver I raised the Stone…[and found] that it was designed as a cover to an artificial cave.”  Descending to the bottom, he discovered “a big flat Stone fixed in the form of a do[o]r.”  Moving the obstacle he saw an earthen box within which were “eight sheets of parchment”  Written on the pages “in an elegant hand with Roman Letters & in the Latin Language” was “a history of the author[‘]s life & that part of America which extends along the great Lakes & the waters of the Mississippy.”

If Spalding’s and Smith’s recounting have a common antecedent, it seems to be the Masonic “Legend of Enoch.”  In this saga, Enoch, the seventh patriarch, the son of Jared, and great-grandfather of Noah, according to Masonic tradition, became disgusted with wickedness surrounding him.  Fleeing to the “solitude and secrecy of Mount Moriah” he became engaged in prayer and contemplation.  Here the Shekinah (sacred presence) appeared to him with instruction to preserve the wisdom of the antediluvians to their posterity….”

NM page 449 addresses other obvious similarities.  (I have changed the formatting to highlight the similarities, but the following is an exact quote from the NM book.)

There were certain similarities between the book of Mormon which, though not sufficient to justify the thesis of common authorship, might have given rise to the conviction of Spaulding’s neighbors that one was a plagiarism of the other.

  • Both were said to come out of the earth;
  • Both were stories of colonists sailing from the Old World to the New;
  • Both explained the earthworks and mounds common to western New York and Ohio as a result of savage wars.
  • John Miller had spoken of the “humorous passages” in Spaulding’s work, which would certainly apply to the “Manuscript Story,” but not the utterly humorless Book of Mormon.
  • Other features, like the scriptural style,
  • the expression “it came to pass,”
  • and the proper names, seem too definite to be questioned.

But it should be remembers, as President Fairchild pointed out in his analysis of the problem, that “the Book of Mormon was fresh in their minds, and their recollections of the ‘Manuscript Found’ were very remote and dim.  That under the pressure of suggestion of Hurlbut and Howe, they should put the ideas at hand in place of those remote and forgotten, and imagine that they remembered what they had recently read, would be only ordinary example of the frailty of memory.”

How did the theory come about?

During 1830 and 1831, Mormon missionary work in Ohio flourished, including converts Sidney Rigdon, Orson Hyde, Orson Pratt, and Parley P Pratt (who were members of Rigdon’s Baptist congregation.)  When Sidney announced his conversion during his Baptist services and some 100 members of his congregation soon joined, there was much consternation among the members of his congregation who felt Sidney was badly deceived.  According to SR page 132,

Mormonism’s success in Ohio, particularly among Sidney’s Reformed Baptists, spelled conspiracy in some peoples eyes.  While eleven of Smith’s friends and relatives signed affidavits that they had examined the gold plates and seen the angel who delivered them to the prophet, many did not accept this supernatural explanation.  To cynics it seemed improbable that a semi-literate farm boy could author a literary work so intricate in plot and steeped in biblical lore as the Book of Mormon.

The logical explanation for the holy book was that Smith must have collaborated behind the scenes with someone better educated and more sophisticated.  A former school teacher, Oliver Cowdery, Smith’s major copyist during the project, was considerably better schooled than his prophet-cousin.  Cowdery was touted in the press as co-author of the Book of Mormon in the 25 November 1830 Cleveland Herald.  But as soon as Sidney made his late 1830 trip to New York to meet Smith, rumors surfaced that he, not Cowdery, was the mastermind behind the new scripture.

The earliest New York publication linking Rigdon with Book of Mormon authorship was the 1 September 1831 issue of the New York Courier and Enquirer, reprinted in the 29 October 1831 Hillsborough Gazette (Ohio)….’There is no doubt but the ex-parson from Ohio {Rigdon} is the author of the book which was recently printed and published in Palmyra, and passes for the new Bible.’

SR Page 134 talks about a Methodist minister from Jamestown, NY who had converted to Mormonism.  His name was Doctor Philastus Hurlburt (and there are many alternate spellings of his name.)  Hurlburt was sent on a mission to Pennsylvania, but was excommunicated for an obscene comment to a young woman.  Stung by what he viewed as mistreatment, he sought revenge.  Hurlburt learned that Solomon Spaulding had authored

a romantic historical fiction that like the Book of Mormon contained an account of an early immigration to America.  Hurlburt returned to Kirtland and announced a lecture on what he called “Anti-Mormonism.”  To this group he recounted his travels to Pennsylvania where “he had learned that one Mr. Spaulding had written a romance, and the probability was, that it had, by some means, fallen into the hands of Sidney Rigdon, and that he had converted it into the Book of Mormon.

With financing of Rigdon’s old Baptist friends, Hurlburt learned that Spaulding’s widow lived in Monson, Massachusetts.  On Dec 20, 1831, the Wayne Sentinel published,

“The original manuscript of the Book was written some thirty years since, by a respectable clergyman, now deceased, whose name we are not permitted to give.  It was designed to be published as a romance, but the work has been superadded by some modern hand-believed to be the notorious Rigdon.  These particulars have been derived by Dr. Hurlburt from the widow of the author of the original manuscript.”

Evidence that the Spaulding Manuscript is not the Source of the Book of Mormon

Spaulding’s widow, Matilda Davison, gave the manuscript to Hurlburt.  NM page 144,

Now to his bitter chagrin he found that the long chase had been vain; for while the romance did concern the ancestors of the Indians, its resemblance to the Book of Mormon ended there.  None of the names found in one could be identified in the other;  the many battles which each described showed not the slightest similarity with those of the other, and Spaulding’s prose style, which aped the eighteenth-century British sentimental novelists, differed from the style of the Mormon Bible as much as Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded different from the New Testament.

(The manuscript Hurlburt found was published by the Reorganized Church in Lamoni, Iowa in 1885 under the title The Manuscript Found).  Continuing on,

Hurlburt knew, however, that he had a keg of powder even without the manuscript.  He boldly exhibited his affidavits in Kirtland, lectured in the surrounding towns, and arranged to publish the documents in book form with the assistance of Eber D. Howe.  The lectures caused a furor.

The appendix in NM page 447 gives additional insight into the manuscript.

She [Spaulding’s widow] gave permission to examine the Spaulding’s papers in the attic of a farmhouse in Otsego County, New York; but he found there only one manuscript, which was clearly not the source for the Book of Mormon.  This was a romance supposedly translated from twenty-one rolls of parchment covered with Latin, found in a cave on the banks of the Conneaut Creek.  It was written in modern English and was about 45,000 words long, one sixth the length of the Book of Mormon.  It was an adventure story of some Romans sailing to Britain long before the Christian era, who had been blown to America during a violent storm.

Hurlburt’s  Downfall/ED Howe takes over Issue

Hurlburt at some point confronted Smith.  SR Page 136,

Smith and Rigdon were quick to defend the Mormon cause.  And at some point in the passion of a heated exchange, Hurlburt publicly threatened that he would “wash his hands” in the prophet’s blood.  In January 1834, Smith filed a legal complaint bringing Hurlburt to trial on 1 April.  The court found him guilty, fined him $200, and ordered him to keep the peace for 6 months.

The notoriety surrounding Hurlbut, compounded by an embarrassing incident when his wife was discovered in bed with Judge Orris Clapp, tarnished his image.  He sold his research to Eber D. Howe, editor of the Painesville Telegraph, who held a long-term grudge against Mormonism for converting his wife and daughter.

On Nov 28, 1834, The Painesville Telegraph contained the first advertisement of Howe’s book Mormonism Unvailed. It was one of the first published books attributing Rigdon as the real author of the Book of Mormon.   SR page 136,

While Howe admitted he had Spalding’s manuscript, it was obvious that the former minister’s work, a secular text, was not the source for the Book of Mormon, a lofty religious tome, although the introduction, ethnological assumptions, and mystical lore were undeniably similar.  To explain the enigmatic gaps in genre and plot, Howe wrote that his witnesses claimed Spalding had “altered his first plan of writing, by going farther back with dates, and writing in the old scripture style, in order that it might appear more ancient.”

Howe further purported that through some unspecified means, Rigdon must have secured this hypothetical second, revised manuscript while he was living in Pittsburgh.  He concluded: “We, therefore, must hold out Sidney Rigdon to the world as being the original ‘author and proprietor’ of the whole Mormon conspiracy, until further light is elicited upon the lost writings of Solomon Spaulding.”

Other Manuscripts?

NM page 447-8 discusses the possibility of other manuscripts, and discounts them.

She [Spaulding’s widow] told him that “Spaulding had a great variety of manuscripts” and recollected that one was entitled the “Manuscript Found,” but its contents she “had no distinct knowledge.”  During the two years she had lived in Pittsburgh, Spaulding had taken the manuscript to the office of Patterson and Lambdin, she said, but whether or not it had been returned was uncertain.

She gave Hurlbut permission to examine Spaulding’s papers in the attic of a farmhouse in Otswego, New York; but he found there only one manuscript, which was clearly not the source of the Book of Mormon.


Hurlbut showed this manuscript to Spaulding’s neighbors, who, he said, recognized it as Spaulding’s, but stated that it was not the “Manuscript Found.”  Spaulding “had altered his first plan of writing, but going farther back with dates and writing in the Old Scripture style, in order that it might appear more ancient.”  This surmise may have been true, though there was no signed statement swearing to it.  But it seems more likely that these witnesses had so come to identify the Book of Mormon with the Spaulding manuscript that they could not concede having made an error without admitting to a case of memory substitution which they did not themselves recognize.

It is significant that five of Hurlbut’s witnesses were careful to except the “religious” matter of the Book of Mormon as not contained in the Spaulding manuscript, and the others stated that “the historical parts” were derived from the Spaulding story.  The narrative Hurlbut found had no religious matter whatever, but the Book of Mormon was permeated with religious ideas.  It was first and foremost a religious book.  The theology could not have been wrought by interpolation, since practically every historical event was motivated either by Satan or the Lord.

NM Page449,

Hurlbut, at least, was certain that Spaulding had written a second manuscript.  Eber D. Howe, Hurlbut’s collaborator, now wrote to Robert Patterson, the Pittsburgh printer mentioned by Spaulding’s widow.  He replied “that he had no recollection of any manuscript being brought there for publication, neither would he have been likely to have seen it, as the business of printing was conducted wholly by Lambdin at that time.”

Disappointed in this source, and unable to get any confirming evidence from Joseph’s neighbors in western New York, Hurlbut had to be content with insinuating that Sidney Rigdon, who had once lived in Pittsburgh, was somehow responsible for getting the Spaulding manuscript into Joseph Smith’s hands.

If, on the other hand, Hurlbut was right and there were actually two Spaulding manuscripts, one might reasonably expect similarities between the Book of Mormon and the extant manuscripts, since the latter was full of unmistakable literary mannerisms of the kind that are more easily acquired than shed.  Spaulding was heir to all the florid sentiment and grandiose rhetoric of the English Gothic romance.  He used all the stereotyped patterns-villainy versus innocent maidenhood, thwarted love, and heroic valor-thickly encrusted with the tradition of the noble savage.  The Book of Mormon had but one scant reference to a love affair, and its rhythmical, monotonous style bore no resemblance to the cheap clichés and purple metaphors abounding in the Spaulding story.

Where was Rigdon between 1809 and 1830?

NM Page 449-51

Many writers, however, still believed that a second Spaulding manuscript was the true source of the Book of Mormon, and labored indefatigably to prove it.

If the evidence pointing to the existence of a second Spaulding manuscript is dubious, the affidavits trying to prove that Rigdon stole it, or copied it, are all unconvincing and frequently preposterous.

First there is no evidence that Rigdon ever lived in Pittsburgh until 1822, when he became pastor of the First Baptist Church.  Robert Patterson, Jr., son of the Pittsburgh printer, conducted an exhaustive research among the old settlers of the vicinity to try to establish the truth of the Spaulding theory.  This was in 1882, sixty-six years after Spaulding’s death.  Many were familiar with the theory and believed it, he said, but few could give first-hand information.  Rigdon’s brother-in-law, not a Mormon, and Isaac King, and old neighbor, swore to him that Rigdon did not go to Pittsburgh before 1822.  Mrs. Lambdin, widow of Patterson’s partner, denied any knowledge of Rigdon, as did Robert P. DuBois, who had worked in the printing shop between 1818 and 1820.

One woman, who had worked as a mail clerk in Patterson’s office between 1811 and 1816, stated that she knew Rigdon and that he was an intimate friend of Lambdin’s but this was clearly untrue as evidenced by the statement of Lambdin’s widow that she had never heard of Rigdon….

Brodie rejects other affidavits from this point on.  NM Page 453,

The tenuous chain of evidence accumulated to support the Spaulding-Rigdon theory breaks altogether when it tries to prove that Rigdon met Joseph Smith before 1830.


Rigdon’s life between 1826 and 1829 has been carefully documented from non-Mormon sources.  It is clear from the following chronology that he was a busy and successful preacher and one of the leading figures of the Campbellite movement in Ohio.  Until August 1830, when he broke with Alexander Campbell over the question of introducing communism into the Campbellite Church, he was one of the four key men of that church.  It cannot be held that Rigdon rewrote the Spaulding manuscript before 1827, since the anti-Masonry permeating the book clearly stemmed from the Morgan excitement beginning late in 1826.

Brodie then lists all the known funerals, marriages, and other meetings of Rigdon between 1826 and 1830, along with gaps of information where his whereabouts are unknown.  It fails to show a link between Smith and Rigdon prior to Dec 1830.

Rigdon’s Side of the Story

Sidney Rigdon was born in 1793 near St. Clair Township, Pennsylvania.  He was the son of a farmer, who did not want Sidney to become a preacher.  However, Sidney eventually made the acquaintance of Alexander Campbell, leader of the Campbellite movement, a subset of the Reformed Baptist Movement.  (Campbell’s group later became the Disciples of Christ.)  Rigdon eventually established a congregation in Ohio.  He was known as a great orator, and held many religious debates with ministers in the surrounding area.  SR Page 55,

Publication of the “Golden Bible”, as people were calling it, had been recounted in several Western Reserve and New York newspapers as early as 1827, when Joseph Smith began working on the book.  There can be little doubt that Rigdon, an enthusiastic reader of newspapers, was aware of the book before it was placed in his hands.  Orson Hyde, a ministerial apprentice who lived for some time in Rigdon’s Mentor, Ohio home and who would later be associated with him in Mormonism, wrote that about 1827 “some vague reports came in the newspapers, that a ‘golden bible’ had been dug out of a rock in the State of New York.  It was treated, however, as a hoax.  But on reading the report, I remarked as follows-‘who knows but this gold bible may break up all our religion, and change its features and bearing?'”

Parley P Pratt learned of the Book of Mormon on a boat stop on the Erie Canal.  His conversion on Sept 1, 1830 is well-documented in the movie, How Rare a Possession, put out by the church.  Pratt was hopeful that Rigdon would receive that message, and arrived with Oliver Cowdery.  SR Page 58,

Rigdon at first spurned them and “felt very much prejudiced at their assertions.”  “He had one Bible,” he said, “which he believed was a revelation from God and with which he pretended to have some acquaintance; but with respect to the book they had presented him, he must say that he had considerable doubt.”  (Times and Seasons, 15 Aug 1843)

“You brought truth to me,” Pratt responded, “I now ask you as a friend to read this for my sake” (Deseret News 21 Apr 1879). Waving aside further argument, Rigdon replied, “No, young gentlemen, you must not argue with me on the subject; but I will read your book, and see what claim it has upon my faith, and will endeavor to ascertain whether it be a revelation from God or not.”  (Times and Seasons, 15 Aug 1843)

His first reaction that night was unfavorable.  Matthew Clapp, who replaced Rigdon as minister of the Mentor Disciple congregation, wrote in 1831 that when Rigdon first read the book he “partly condemned it-but two days afterwards, was heard to confess his conviction of its truth.”  (Western Reserve Chronicle 3 Mar 1831).  Rigdon’s daughter Nancy, in an 1884 interview, recalled that when Pratt and Cowdery gave her father the book, he “read it and examined it for about an hour and then threw it down, and said he did not believe a word of it.”  Another reported that he initially pronounced it a “silly fabrication.”  But he kept reading, apparently all night.

The next day, Rigdon had changed his mind about the book.  He allowed Pratt and Cowdery to preach to his congregation.  Afterwards, Rigdon promised to finish reading the book.  As Rigdon talked with Cowdery regarding Joseph Smith, Cowdery remarked that Smith had “hardly a common school education,” to which Rigdon replied, “if that was all the education he had, he never wrote the book.”  SR Page 62,

One day in early to mid-November 1830 (probably the 7th) Rigdon called to assembly a large congregation of his friends and neighbors in the Methodist church at Kirtland…

Rigdon was baptized by Oliver Cowdery, and 30 other people joined with him. SR Page 63,

While Rigdon’s Kirtland following joined the Mormon fold, his Mentor congregation resisted.  They were furious at his defection.

As a result of his conversion, the congregation evicted him from the partially completed home owned by the congregation.  SR Page 71,

Although he had found in Mormonism a religion to match his manner, Sidney had not yet met the Mormon Prophet.  Possibly to satisfy some remaining doubts, particularly  those of his wife, who “wished him to go to Palmyra to see Joseph Smith,” he went to Manchester, New York, along with Edward Partridge, a Painesville hatter and one of Rigdon’s Reformed Baptist followers.

When Rigdon and Partridge arrived at the Smith home in mid-December, the prophet was not there but was visiting his parents in Waterloo…When they arrived in Kingdon that evening, the prophet was conducting a religious service.  Partridge, after listening to him, requested immediate baptism.  Joseph Smith recommended the immersion be delayed until the fatigued Partridge had rested, and the next day, 11 December, Smith baptized him in nearby Seneca Lake.”

Rigdon and others’ denials

SR Page 133,

(1) During the spring of 1833 or 1834, while visiting the home of Samuel Baker near New Portage, Ohio, Rigdon stated in the presence of a large gathering that he was aware some in the neighborhood had accused him of being the instigator of the Book of Mormon.  Standing in the doorway to address the audience in the yard, he held up a Book of Mormon and said:

‘I testify in the presence of this congregation, and before God and all the Holy Angels up yonder, (pointing toward heaven), before whom I expect to give account at the judgement day, that I never saw a sentence of the Book of Mormon.  I never penned a sentence in the Book of Mormon. I never knew that there was such a book in existence as the Book of Mormon, until it was presented to me by Parley P. Pratt, in the form that it now is.’

(2) On his deathbed with an interview to his son Wickliffe, “I found him as ever in declaring that he himself had nothing whatever to do in writing the book, and that Joseph Smith received it from an angel.  On his dying bed he made the same declaration to a Methodist minister…. My mother has also told me that Father had nothing to do with the writing of the book, and that she positively knew that he had never seen it until Parley P. Pratt came to our home with it.

(3) Nancy R. Ellis, Rigdon’s most anti-Mormon offspring, recalled in an 1884 interview the arrival of the missionaries to her Mentor, Ohio home when she was eight years old:  “I saw them hand him the book, and I am positive as can be that he never saw it before…. She further stated that her father in the last years of his life called his family together and told them, as sure as there was a God in heaven, he never had anything to do in getting up the book of Mormon, and never saw any such thing as a manuscript written by Solomon Spaulding.”

(4) Former apostle William McClellin (who was excommunicated in 1838) said regarding Rigdon, “He never heard of the work of Smith & Cowdery, until C[owdery] and P[arley] P Pratt brought the book to him in Mentor, O[hio].  True enough, I have but little confidence in S. Rigdon, but I know he was more the tool of J. Smith than his teacher and director.  He was docile in J.S. hands to my knowledge.


SR page 137.

The weight of scholarly studies since Fawn Brodie’s seminal 1945 No Man Knows My History biography of Joseph Smith has all but eliminated the Spalding theory and Rigdon’s complicity.  The earliest Book of Mormon critic, Rigdon’s former mentor Alexander Campbell, opined in 1831 that Joseph Smith profoundly affected by the Salvationist Christianity of nineteenth-century Protestant America, was, in fact, the author of the work.

NM page 455-6

Alexander Campbell, who knew Rigdon intimately, described his conversion to Mormonism with great regret in the Millennial Harbinger, attributing it to his nervous spasms and swooning and to his passionate belief in the imminent gathering of Israel.  But of the authorship of the Book of Mormon he wrote bluntly:  “It is as certainly Smith’s fabrication as Satan is the father of lies or darkness is the offspring of night.”

Andrew Ainsworth did a post on the Curious Case of Solomon Spaulding, which talks more about the legal aspects of proving plagiarism.  Andrew is a lawyer, and I found his perspective interesting.

So, I’m sure there are people out there who believe the Book of Mormon is fiction.  However, I believe the Spaulding Theory has been thoroughly discredited by these two authors.  Comments?


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55 comments on “Debunking the Spaulding Manuscript Theory

  1. Roger, as a final clarification, let me say that Mormons view the BoM and Bible on equal footing. An attack on the BoM is no different than an attack on the Bible in a Mormon’s eyes. I know you don’t view it that way–I’m just trying to help you understand where I’m coming from.

    For a Mormon to reject the BoM on the basis of logic, then they must also reject the Bible based on logic. Once again, I know you don’t view it that way. My “attack” on the Bible was an attempt to get you to understand how a Mormon views the BoM and Bible. If a Mormon throws out the BoM, it is nearly impossible not to throw out the Bible on the same grounds. It is my opinion that Bible believers don’t put the Bible through the same gauntlet as they do the BoM. If they did, I think they would have to believe as Margie does.

    That’s why I think it is so hard for a Mormon to leave Mormonism and accept any other faith, because rejecting the BoM is in essence, rejecting the Bible. I know you don’t view them as related, but for a Mormon, that’s how we view things. So, yes to be consistent, if one rejects the BoM, I don’t see how one can be anything but an atheist, or an agnostic. Perhaps one can still believe in God, but any Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or Buddhist beliefs in this God must all be in error. At that point, a person would view all religion as man made.

    Like you, I am not a Biblical literalist. This Yale course on the OT is VERY interesting. To clarify once again, I don’t view the Bible as simply plagiarism. I do wonder, if you became convinced that Nahom was a legitimate BoM location, how would that affect your convictions on the Spaulding theory? (I know this is off topic, but I have said all I want to say on Spalding for the foreseeable future.)

  2. MH:

    If a Mormon throws out the BoM, it is nearly impossible not to throw out the Bible on the same grounds. It is my opinion that Bible believers don’t put the Bible through the same gauntlet as they do the BoM. If they did, I think they would have to believe as Margie does.

    I hold open that possibility, but so far I have found that there are generally sufficient answers when it comes to the Bible. You are correct that we see this differently since you put it in terms of putting both works “through the same gauntlet” and I suggest that the BOM doesn’t even get off the ground since it cannot be placed into a legitimate historical context. But we will probably just have to agree to disagree on that.

    So, yes to be consistent, if one rejects the BoM, I don’t see how one can be anything but an atheist, or an agnostic. Perhaps one can still believe in God, but any Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or Buddhist beliefs in this God must all be in error. At that point, a person would view all religion as man made.

    I legitimately don’t understand this. To clarify, I understand the mindset that Mormonism is allegedly a higher form of Christianity, therefore if Christianity is not true, then neither is Mormonism… but the converse simply does not hold. Why not? Because Mormonism piggy-backs on Christianity, not the other way around. The claims of Christ came first. Joseph Smith came second. Joseph claimed to restore a Christianity that had allegedly lost it’s way, but there were/are plenty of people who disagree that a “restoration” was ever needed. If Joseph Smith was a true prophet, then sure, a restoration must have been needed, but if Joseph Smith was a false prophet, then his claims about a restoration are also false. Therefore the claims of Christ need to be evaluated separately to any claims of Joseph Smith and should rise or fall on their own merits regardless of anything Joseph claimed.

    I do wonder, if you became convinced that Nahom was a legitimate BoM location, how would that affect your convictions on the Spaulding theory?

    There would be at least three ways to view it…

    1. The location is a valid BOM location which should prompt plenty of additional investigation and should lead to future finds

    2. The location is a coincidence (yes, the coincidence argument works for critics too! LOL!)

    3. Spalding, Smith, Cowdery or whoever wrote that section of the BOM (or whoever was plagiarized from to produce it) had access to that information and built it into the story

    At this point I’d say #2 is most likely–especially considering that “Nahom” is a very Biblical sounding construction. BTW, the difference when Spalding advocates employ the coincidence argument vs. Spalding critics is the talley…. so far we’ve appealled to “coincidence” one time, whereas you guys are so familiar with it, it has become second nature to you! LOL!

    All the best!

  3. Roger, to view this from a Mormon point of view, Christianity was so corrupted when the apostles were killed, that Mormonism isn’t a piggy-back of Christianity at all–it’s a completely separate movement. Protestants piggy-back off Catholics. It could be argued that Catholics piggy-back off the Orthodox Church. Those 3 sets of Christianity share a common ancestry, which Mormonism rejects after the apostles were killed. I think that’s why protestants don’t want to call Mormons as Christians, because we are so different, and have such different concepts of the trinity/godhead. So, I don’t think piggy-backing is an appropriate analogy from a Mormon perspective.

  4. […] the novel is, but some people are still trying to prove the Spaulding theory, but I think has been thoroughly debunked.  I also think the original Jokkers wordprint study was successfully refuted by […]

  5. […] the novel is, but some people are still trying to prove the Spaulding theory, but I think has been thoroughly debunked.  I also think the original Jokkers wordprint study was successfully refuted by […]

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