Sidney Rigdon wrote the Book of Mormon?

Book of Mormon

So says a new computer-assisted authorship study out of Stanford:

 

Jockers, Matthew L., Daniela M. Witten, and Craig S. Criddle. 2008. “Reassessing authorship of the Book of Mormon using delta and nearest shrunken centroid classification.” Literary and Linguistic Computing fqn040.

I caught this as part of my HighWire Press alerts (I don’t typically follow publications in this journal). A quick scan through the article is really pretty amazing. The authors basically conclude that about 25% of the Book of Mormon is copied from Isaiah-Malachi from the King James Version of the Bible. The balance, about 75%, was written by Sidney Rigdon and Oliver Cowdery (with a little help from Orson Pratt), but was based on the writing of Solomon Spaulding.

Conclusions:

  1. The Book of Mormon is not an ancient document but a 19th century work of fiction.
  2. Joseph Smith didn’t even write the book, which is what most liberal Mormons assert when the historical claims are refuted via archaeological and other scientific evidence.
  3. Sidney Rigdon wrote the book with a little help from friends.
  4. The Book of Mormon is a collaborative work of fiction that is held up as scripture by millions of people.
  5. Sad, sad, sad.

41 thoughts on “Sidney Rigdon wrote the Book of Mormon?

  1. Well, they didn’t even include Joseph Smith among the possible authors they analyzed, so it’s unsurprising they’d conclude he didn’t write it. 😉

  2. How long before the church blacklists this group as “antis”?

    Actually, what kuri says is curious. Since Joseph wasn’t even among the possible slate of authors, what was his role? Was he just colluding with Rigdon and Cowdery as the charistmatic frontman?

    I dunno. With that, I think I’ve outconspiracied myself for the day.

  3. I think it’s a huge — fatal, actually — flaw in the study. What use is an authorship study that leaves out one of the three most probable authors (Smith, Rigdon, and Cowdery), especially when the existing consensus is that the one they left out is the most probable?

  4. I can’t believe you actually brought up the Spaulding conspiracy theory. Even Fawn Brodie and the Tanners consider that theory to be a load of rubbish.

    I therefore bequeath to thee… a quick cut and paste job from the FAIR wiki:

    “Spaulding was a lapsed Calvinist clergyman and author of an epic tale of the ancient Native American “Mound Builders.” The theory postulates that Spaulding wrote his manuscript in biblical phraseology and read it to many of his friends. He subsequently took the manuscript to Pittsburg, where it fell into the hands of a Mr. Patterson, in whose office Sidney Rigdon worked, and that through Sidney Rigdon it came into the possession of Joseph Smith and was made the basis of the Book of Mormon.

    There are three major problems with this theory:

    1. The historical record indicates that Sidney Rigdon first learned of the Book of Mormon from Parley P. Pratt and his missionary companions in November 1830, and that Rigdon did not meet Joseph Smith until December of that same year. All of this was long after the Book of Mormon was translated and published. Critics can only marshal circumstantial evidence of a conspiracy in which Rigdon met Joseph much earlier, then later pretended to be converted to Mormonism.
    2. The purported Spaulding manuscript was not brought forward for analysis because no one knew where it was, or if it even existed. In 1884 an authentic Solomon Spalding manuscript titled “Manuscript Story—Conneaut Creek” was recovered by Lewis L. Rice in Honolulu, Hawaii and taken to the Oberlin College Library in Ohio. The unfinished story bore hardly any resemblance to the Book of Mormon. [1] The text was published by the RLDS Church in 1885 under the title “Manuscript Found.” The LDS Church also published the text. (See “Further Reading,” below, for links to online texts).
    3. Claims that Spaulding wrote a second manuscript is easily discredited by the fact that the published Spaulding manuscript clearly shows that it was not finished until after Spaulding moved away from many of the people who claimed to have heard him read from the later story. [2]

    The discovery and publishing of the manuscript put to rest the Spaulding theory for several decades. But in the early 20th century the theory surfaced again, only this time its advocates claimed there was a second Spaulding manuscript that was the real source for the Book of Mormon. However, supporters of the revised Spaulding theory have not produced this second purported manuscript.”

    Now go my child. And sin no more.

  5. The reason that Joseph Smith wasn’t included in the analysis was because the authors of the study judged that there were no sample texts that could be relied upon to be in Smith’s authentic voice. In other words, most of his papers were written by scribes.

    I can’t believe you actually brought up the Spaulding conspiracy theory.

    Speaking of confirmation bias 🙂 have you taken the time to read the study, or are you content with your sample of apologetics?

    I haven’t read the entire paper yet, but I’m not entirely comfortable with the methodology. The entire omission of Smith is one example. Applying their methods to the purported in text authors would have been good.

    Anyway, interesting so far.

  6. “Speaking of confirmation bias 🙂 have you taken the time to read the study, or are you content with your sample of apologetics?”

    I’ve only skimmed the article, but the authors don’t seem to have addressed any of the timeline issues Seth raised. Their argument seems to be that there must be a second Spalding manuscript because the only existing one doesn’t match the Book of Mormon closely enough to be its source (although it does provide an adequate writing sample).

    “The reason that Joseph Smith wasn’t included in the analysis was because the authors of the study judged that there were no sample texts that could be relied upon to be in Smith’s authentic voice. In other words, most of his papers were written by scribes.”

    That’s no reason to simply assume that he wasn’t the author, though.

  7. Actually, kuri, Joseph Smith’s lack of writing is a necessary (but perhaps not sufficient) reason for omitting him as an author. If you read the paper, the authors describe their analysis. It rests upon the assumption that the person’s “voice” they are trying to find is that person’s voice in that person’s other writing. If Joseph Smith didn’t actually write much (i.e., he used scribes), it would be pretty difficult to find his “voice”. Your argument is like saying that if these same authors looked at the Bible for authorship, they should absolutely include Jesus among the potential authors, despite the fact he was illiterate and didn’t write any of the book.

    Another point of support for the arguments of this paper: Joseph Smith was uneducated. Mormons love to grab onto this point and say, “How could a mostly illiterate, uneducated young man write a book as complex as the BofM?” Well, what if he didn’t write it? If Joseph Smith was as uneducated as Mormons like to claim, the explanation in this paper actually makes more sense.

    Another point: Have either of you (Seth and Kuri) read Vernal Holley’s book comparing the Book of Mormon to Manuscript Found? If not, you should. It’s free:
    http://sidneyrigdon.com/vern/vernP1.htm

    There are a lot more similarities than FAIR seems willing to admit. In fact, your snippet from FAIR is, alas, typical apologetic BS, ignoring all of the similarities Holley discovered. Based on Holley’s analysis, I’d say that points 2 and 3 from FAIR are bunk. Only point 1 has any merit.

    On point 1, I’m not a historian and therefore recuse myself from trying to defend the timelines involved. However, my limited understanding of the timeline involved does suggest that Rigdon and Joseph Smith had limited or no contact until after the publication of the Book of Mormon. That seems like the big hole in the argument. Perhaps more knowledgeable individuals can comment on that point.

  8. I’ve only skimmed the article, but the authors don’t seem to have addressed any of the timeline issues Seth raised. Their argument seems to be that there must be a second Spalding manuscript because the only existing one doesn’t match the Book of Mormon closely enough to be its source (although it does provide an adequate writing sample).

    I think their argument about the second Spalding manuscript rested more on the affidavits than on a comparison with the Book of Mormon.

  9. proxfm,

    Joseph Smith purportedly dictated the Book of Mormon too. Excluding him as the/a possible author of a purportedly dictated work because he dictated his other works doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. (Of course, excluding him makes sense in terms of the software being unable to capture his “voice” because of the variability involved in his dictation process, but that’s a bug, not a feature.)

    As for the “illiterate” argument, I’ve never found that convincing, no matter who’s using it. I’ve never thought the Book of Mormon was so extraordinary that an imaginative person couldn’t have written it, nor have I seen any erudition beyond familiarity with the Bible as necessary.

    I haven’t read Holley’s entire book, but the “similarities” seem awfully superficial to me. A lot of them seem more or less inevitable in the kind of stories told. But I suppose it’s possible Joseph Smith could have cribbed from it or been inspired by it.

  10. “I think their argument about the second Spalding manuscript rested more on the affidavits than on a comparison with the Book of Mormon.”

    Well, yeah, I was just closing the circle on their argument.

  11. I think it’s interesting that a full 25% of it is quotes from Isaiah-Malachi. Reading the thing, you notice it’s a lot, but 25%? Whether if it was written by White Central Americans a long, long time ago or by some guys in New York that signals a certain laziness on the part of the authors, don’t you think?

  12. I’ve never thought the Book of Mormon was so extraordinary that an imaginative person couldn’t have written it, nor have I seen any erudition beyond familiarity with the Bible as necessary.

    You might be interested in The Sealed Portion if you haven’t seen it before. Not a perfect imitation of the BoM voice, but imaginative.

  13. Hueffenhardt, thank you for the links. I just read them both with great interest. I’m particularly appreciative for the second one that clarifies what Holley was analyzing, as it was not the “lost” manuscript but Manuscript Story: Conneaut Creek, which isn’t the alleged manuscript used by Rigdon and Smith. Good to know.

    Kuri, did you read the links posted by Hueffenhardt? That certainly lays out the evidence pretty well that it is possible Rigdon was involved. Despite being compelling, I wouldn’t consider this a slamdunk case for a Rigdon-Spaulding authorship. What’s missing, of course, is better evidence for Rigdon getting together with Smith before 1830. The little evidence for that relationship is weak. Otherwise, the case is compelling.

    So, as it stands now, either Joseph Smith wrote it, drawing on the Bible heavily and potentially other sources, or Rigdon wrote it, drawing on Spaulding’s manuscript, and fed it to Joseph Smith. I’d say I’m leaning about 70% toward the Rigdon-Spaulding version and 30% toward the Joseph Smith sole-authorship version.

  14. profxm,

    There is clearly more to the idea than I thought. But I think Occam’s razor suggests Smith as author is more likely (i.e., Rigdon-Spalding requires the addition of a “phantom” manuscript and extensive secret early contact between Smith and Rigdon; Smith as author just requires Smith).

  15. Frankly, I don’t know why anyone would care to mopolgize JS’s authorship of the book. If it wasn’t Mormon et al then it seems you’re grasping for straws trying to defend JS … Unless of course you’d simply like to maintain the “brilliant fraud” view. But please don’t waste our time with the hocky appeal to Occam’s Razor. You want claim that JS’s sole authorship is the more simple explanation you do this by throwing out real data that even BoM scholars defend as evidence of plural authorship.

    No, it’s either Mormon et al (clearly not the Occam’s Razor choice) or, apparently, Rigdon et al as the real alternatives to JS the brilliant huckster.

    Finally, it really doesn’t matter if JS’s voice is included in the analysis (it matter’s more that there is so precious little of authentic JS voice) when the verfiable evidence of other 19th C + Biblical voices appears to account for virtually the entire text.

    Please, mopologists all, do yourselves and the world a favor and respect the boundary between faith claims and claims of reason and evidence. It’ll be less embarrassing for you. It’ll be more tenable. You’ll be more likely to please your god.

  16. Matt,

    I’m not sure what “mopologize” is supposed to mean, why you think I’m doing it, or what you think it has to do with trying to figure out who wrote the Book of Mormon. Care to elaborate?

  17. Matt — I think you may have misunderstood Kuri’s position. I don’t think Kuri is trying to bolster the truth claims of the church or going after the antis just for the sake of disagreeing with antis or anything like that.

    I think the question of BoM authorship is kind of interesting, but I get the impression that the evidence to demonstrate conclusively which 19th century author(s) really wrote it no longer exists.

  18. Thanks for the links to the articles. I don’t have anything of substance to say except that I find this stuff interesting.

    But I also find biblical authorship/archeology questions fascinating as well – so what can I say.

  19. Maybe I did mistake your actual position, Kuri. “Mopologist” is a crude ref to “mormon apologist”. And you don’t have to be a believer to apologize for the Mormon position … just sympathetic to the point of ignoring evidence … which is what I think you’re doing. But, again, I’m very likely assuming too much.

    But more to your point, I find it difficult to imagine how one arrives at the position that JS as sole author is the simpler explanation. Again, you have to throw-out much evidence of plural authorship that many Mormon apologists and JS himself have embraced and promoted (though for their faith promoting purposes) in order to arrive at that position. Occam’s Razor doesn’t mean simpler as in ignore the evidence.

  20. “Matt — I think you may have misunderstood Kuri’s position. I don’t think Kuri is trying to bolster the truth claims of the church or going after the antis just for the sake of disagreeing with antis or anything like that.”

    You’re right, I’m not doing either of those things. I’m just trying to look at the article with a healthy skepticism. I think far too many people accept scholarship uncritically if it happens to support their preconceived ideas. (No, I’m not accusing anyone in this specific case.) I try not to do that.

    So like I would with any academic study that interests me, I’m trying to understand what the authors’ assumptions are, what they put in and why, what they left out and why, how they reached their conclusions, whether those conclusions are truly warranted, and so on.

    My conclusion after all that is that the study is intriguing, but I don’t think it’s strong enough to overthrow the current general consensus that Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon. I have my doubts about the utility of the computer program they used. Even if it is useful, I think leaving out Joseph Smith as a possible author is a serious flaw. I don’t think the evidence for secret Rigdon-Smith contacts and a second manuscript is strong.

    So I still think Joseph Smith is the most likely author of the Book of Mormon.

  21. A reasonable and admirable position to take, kuri. As chanson noted, I don’t know that we’ll ever be able to determine the actual author (though I did have an image of me traveling back in time in a time machine to catch Rigdon and Smith in cahoots earlier as I read through the comments).

    I was surprised by the omission of Smith as a possible author as well, though I can understand their reasoning. Even so, the similarity in writing in the BofM with Rigdon’s writing is pretty surprising and seemingly hard to deny.

    Do you, kuri, (or anyone else) know a lot about the software employed for this kind of thing?

  22. Matt,

    The authors of the study also “threw out” previous studies that indicate the Book of Mormon had multiple authors. I don’t think that makes them apologists.

    Fawn Brodie rejected the Rigdon-Spalding hypothesis. That was the foundation for a lot of subsequent work on Book of Mormon authorship, most of which has concluded that Joseph Smith wrote it. I don’t think that makes Brodie an apologist.

    Joseph Smith is the simpler explanation because we know that he produced the book in some way. The simplest way to produce a book is to write it. Adding God to the production of the Book of Mormon would make it much more complicated — extraordinary evidence is required. Adding Sidney Rigdon would make it more complicated — strong evidence is required. Adding a “phantom” manuscript is more complicated — strong evidence is required. Adding both Rigdon and a manuscript is more complicated than adding just one of them — strong evidence is required.

    I don’t think the evidence for any of those three extra factors is non-existent, but I don’t think it’s strong enough in any case to overcome the simplest explanation: Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon. For now, subject to review if further evidence appears, I think that’s the best explanation.

  23. profxm,

    I think they had a good reason to leave out Joseph Smith — it’s too hard right now to figure out what he actually wrote himself — but I didn’t like the way they passed over that as if it were a feature rather than a bug.

    Even if Spalding and Rigdon are the primary authors, surely Smith also had some input into the book. If their software works as claimed (unfortunately I don’t know much about it, although what I do know leaves me skeptical), it should find his input, which would change the results. One would think.

  24. Let’s be clear on what it means for JS to be “the most likely author”, ie the sole author … leaving out the 25% that was cribbed directly from the Bible …

    1. We have to assume that the guy was monolithically brilliant to the point of generating a roughly self-coherent story with no more assistance than that of a scribe to put it to paper.

    2. Since the scribes have consistently testified that the nature of their participation was limited to writing the verbatim words of JS as they left his mouth we either have to assume that they were truthful about the perceived prophetic nature of the translation or that they in some way colluded with JS in fraudulently portraying the nature of their involvement.

    3. If truthful, we have to assume that JS was more than merely brilliant but a brilliant savant with talents to rival god’s own miracles. An under-educated farm boy (or a self-educated reader of popular texts if you will) producing modern scripture … rivaling the work of the educated and literate elites of ages past.

    4. If not truthful then we already have signs of a conspiracy to credit JS with something he did not do. At what point do we draw the line on what we’ll accept as his sole authorship?

    5. Furthermore, to arrive at the assumption that JS was the sole author we have to ignore the fact there were able co-conspirators in his midst or at best assume that such were somehow not likely to have participated.

    6. Finally, I think the sole-authorship argument rests heavily on JS and his witnesses’ testimony of the sequence of events (which, mind you, are tainted by claims of mysticism and occult powers). No need to assume the the text came forth on the timeframe presented. If anything, such testimony is unreliable because it is commingled with faith claims.

    What else could you add?

    I guess my primary suspicion of the “JS as sole author” position is that it relies upon the TBM account. This is why I see it’s defense as mormon apologetics.

  25. 1. I think Joseph Smith was brilliant. I don’t think calling him a genius is overstating the case.

    2. Dictation of books is far from unheard of. For example, everything Winston Churchill wrote from the day he could afford a secretary was dictated (and he said he was able to dictate even as a schoolboy). He produced numerous books that way. If Joseph Smith dictated the Book of Mormon, it would be unusual, but not impossible.

    3. I think that’s a TBM argument. I don’t think the Book of Mormon is extraordinary either as literature or in terms of ethics, frankly. I think King Benjamin’s sermon is beautiful, but except for that I don’t think the book is all that special (assuming it’s not what it claims to be, of course).

    5. The presence of potential conspirators is not in itself evidence of conspiracy.

    6. That’s a good point, but unfortunately almost all the testimony we have is from the people involved. The fact that some of it may be tainted doesn’t give us license to make stuff up.

  26. From last point to first …

    No one’s making stuff up. Just not assuming that the testimony makes the ‘sole authorship’ position more Occam’s Razory.

    The presences of potential conspirators may not be evidence of a conspiracy but certainly provides plausible alternatives to hopeful claims of JS’s solitary brilliance. That’s enough for me to be less assuming about other evidences of conspiracy …. say, like that of this post.

    If you don’t think the BoM is extraordinary then I suspect that you’re letting literary criticism cloud your judgement. The book is extraordinary in many ways if not as literature. But as literature it is a unique artifact that has swayed the paths of generations of pilgrims. Isn’t that extraordinary?

    So now you’re comparing JS to Winston Churchill to support your claim of his ableness. But it’s the argument: “he coulda done it” therefore I won’t discount it in the face of plausible alternatives until those alternatives prove over-whealming. I say “coulda done it” is a most tenuous position.

    So, based on what do you assess the brilliance of JS? PS. you can’t use the BoM because that would be circular logic.

  27. I think Joseph Smith’s brilliance is evident. He inspired thousands to believe, revere, and follow him while he was alive. He started a religion that still has millions of followers. I think it’s the religion and its people that are extraordinary, not the book per se.

    I brought up Churchill because I’m very familiar with how he worked. I’m less familiar with the working style of Mark Twain, for example, although I know he also dictated at least some of his work. I’m sure there are many other authors, both great and forgotten, who have dictated books. It’s not the usual way of writing books, but it’s not strange at all, is the point.

    One thing we learn from Occam’s razor is that if you have evidence for a simple explanation that works, you should seek better evidence before you replace it with a more complex explanation. There is some evidence that supports the Rigdon-Spalding hypothesis, but I don’t think it’s better than the evidence for Smith as sole author. I don’t think it’s even as good, actually. But Occam’s razor only speaks of probabilities. The most likely explanation is not always the correct one, of course.

  28. You clearly give JS a great deal of credit for the formation of the church. Probably deserved. But probably too much credit. At any rate, hat does this have to do with proving him capable of producing the BoM on his own? Staying on point … evidence of one type of brilliance (say, visionary charismatic) does not prove another type (say, sole author of the BoM).

    Since I clearly discount ‘the evidence of sole authorship’ for its dependance on TBM testimony, I’d like to know what evidence you find so compelling in support of sole authorship, you know, other than TBM testimony. What is this better evidence? Am I missing something? What’ the evidence of JS’s literary brilliance to compare with Churchill or Twain or whatever? The only evidence we really have is stuff that his ‘scribes’ produced — you know, the same guys that said JS didn’t write it either … that it came from god.

  29. Hellmut, that’s a good point.

    The summary puts it this way, to paraphrase:

    The results point to plural authorship of 19th C origins with Sidney Rigdon in dominance, Solomon Spaulding heavily integrated, and a gaggle of others (supposedly JS could be among them) but with Rigdon’s fingerprints all over these minor authors as well.

    Certainly this study is no smoking gun. But as typical with discovery, it just another point of evidence which weighs against the traditional view of BoM origins. Obviously all minds will not sway with this accumulation of negative evidence but why do I get the feeling that we’ve long past the point where we should be ashamed to embrace tradition on this one?

    Fascinating stuff.

  30. I don’t know a great deal about Joseph Smith’s early writing. But is/was it really “as bad” as the author (in the mormon studies link above) claims?

    Do we have records from JS’s early speeches/talks – are they difficult to follow?

    Finally – I will probably start a different post for this, but I found the description of the differences between Campbellism and mormonism/doctrine very interesting. Baptism for the remission of sins and all that. Growing up, lots of people would talk about mormon principles, but never really a compare and contrast of mormon doctrine/principles and other religions. The only one I can think of was someone who wore the YW medallion to remember her faith as opposed to the cross she had worn growing up.

  31. For a test like this, you need the author’s language, not just a report or summary in indirect speech. Besides, a person’s spoken and written voice can be quite different.

  32. Yes, it is fascinating, Matt. May be, the textual analysis is not a smoking gun but it’s like finding Sidney Rigdon’s fingerprints all over the Book of Mormon’s transcript.
    I agree with Bob McCue; this evidence is so strong that it will shape the opinion of non-Mormon academics, which anchors the emerging opinions of the Saints. In fifteen or thirty years, there will be a consensus among the Grantite Mormons to read the Book of Mormon no longer literally but figuratively.
    We already have reports of stake presidents who emphasize that the message of the Book of Mormon is true even if there are doubts about its historicity. A good share of the ‘naclers is advancing similar arguments.
    Right now, believers will try to obfuscate the issue but after the epistemological dust has settled, figurative truth will become the fall back position of mainstream Mormonism.

  33. “Jockers, Witten and Criddle do provide evidence of Rigdon’s authorship: the textual analysis.”

    I said “strong evidence.” My experience in academia was limited to a brief period on its fringe, but that was enough to teach me to be very, very sceptical of big claims and exciting methods. Perhaps the kinds of computerized textual analyses J, W, and C used have a high rate of proven success in identifying unknown authors, but I doubt it. If they do, I will reevaluate, of course.

    “…the textual analysis is not a smoking gun but it’s like finding Sidney Rigdon’s fingerprints all over the Book of Mormon’s transcript.”

    But you don’t find it odd that Joseph Smith’s “fingerprints” are completely absent? Does it make sense to you that he had no discernible impact on the Book of Mormon?

  34. kuri wrote:

    But you don’t find it odd that Joseph Smith’s “fingerprints” are completely absent? Does it make sense to you that he had no discernible impact on the Book of Mormon?

    I didn’t get the sense that the research demonstrated a “complete absense” of JS. They certainly don’t make this part of the explicit conclusions, do they?

    The point is that the results point to other than JS as the primary author. These findings (call them weak if you will) compound with other finding, such as those presented in other investigations and research to affirm a view of plural authorship. The twist here being that Rigdon’s voice has been affirmed as dominant.

    JS most certainly played a significant role in the production and introduction of the BoM — just not as primary author. I think this is the point.

  35. Kuri, the Joseph Smith hypothesis could not be tested because we do not have his “fingerprints.” Smith relied on scribes all his life. Therefore, there is no written work that can be attributed unequivocally to him.

    Smith’s voice can be traced by negative elimination. If there are segments of the Book of Mormon that cannot be attributed to a sampled author, it will be by somebody else, which might well be Joseph Smith.

    Word print analysis is pretty solid. The nice thing about this method is that it minimizes opportunities for bias and is completely replicable.

    Arguably, word print is a more objective and a more reliable method than literal finger print analysis.

    The one big challenge is to select and obtain the most appropriate text samples for comparison.

  36. “I didn’t get the sense that the research demonstrated a “complete absense” of JS.”

    I don’t think it demonstrated that, or was intended to demonstrate that, but he is completely absent from the research.

    I think the study is a lot like if I give a guy some food and say, “Tell me if this food tastes more sweet, sour, salty, or bitter.”

    Then he says, “It’s mainly salty. I taste a little sweet and a little sour, but salty is the predominate flavor.”

    So I say, “What about bitter?”

    Then he says, “I don’t know what bitter tastes like, so salt is the predominate flavor.”

    So I say, “How can you determine the ‘predominate’ flavor of this food if you can’t taste one of the flavors? How do you know it isn’t more bitter than salty?”

    Then he says, “Look, I just proved that salt is the predominate flavor.”

    So I say, “WTF?”

  37. “Kuri, the Joseph Smith hypothesis could not be tested because we do not have his “fingerprints.” Smith relied on scribes all his life. Therefore, there is no written work that can be attributed unequivocally to him.”

    I get this.

    “Smith’s voice can be traced by negative elimination. If there are segments of the Book of Mormon that cannot be attributed to a sampled author, it will be by somebody else, which might well be Joseph Smith.”

    That doesn’t seem to be how the study worked. If I understand it correctly, they just used different authors and checked for the closest matches. “Author unknown” wasn’t one of their controls.

    “Word print analysis is pretty solid.”

    I’d like to know your basis for saying this.

  38. Seth wrote: “The discovery and publishing of the manuscript put to rest the Spaulding theory for several decades. But in the early 20th century the theory surfaced again, only this time its advocates claimed there was a second Spaulding manuscript that was the real source for the Book of Mormon. However, supporters of the revised Spaulding theory have not produced this second purported manuscript.”

    Actually, this is the dumbest argument against the Spaulding theory (and the one the Church has used for years). Read the last chapter of “Mormonism Unvailed” by E.D. Howe, published in 1834, the first source of the Spalding authorship claim. Howe verifies that two Spalding manuscripts existed by contacting the writers of the original affidavits who still lived in Conneaut in 1834.

  39. sidney rigdon did not like to say thy kingdom come in the lords prayer.. it is not in the book of mormon version. any thoughts?

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