Keystone or Millstone?
Seal Beach, Ca.: (self-published), 2005
Keystone or Millstone?
Comparing Theories About Who Wrote the Book of Mormon
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Someone has said that the coming forth of the Book of Mormon is the greatest miracle since the resurrection of Jesus Christ...
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Every year millions are spent on propganda attacking the beliefs of the Latter-day Saints...
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Eternity. Seemingly axiomatic is the uncreated, eternal nature of three realities...
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Similarities Between the Book of Mormon
and Other Texts
Some Latter-day Saints may not care to admit it, but the BofM does have similarities to Manuscript Found, View of the Hebrews, and the Bible But most are superficial...
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General Differences Between the Four Books
Though similarities are found between the BofM and the other three texts, vastly more differences exist...
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Unearthing Ancient American Documents
An important set of general similarities which should be examined for specific differences are not between the plots of the three American stories. Rather, it is the uncovering of gold plates, the discovery of parchmenr rolls, and the unearthing of a Jewish phylactery...
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Some have attempted to compare Joseph Smith's story of an angel with Muhammad's angel, Gabriel, and his heaven-sent revelations. However, no one but Muhammad saw Gabriel...
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Theories About Who Wrote the Book of Mormon
The three fundamental theories about the authorship of the BofM have basically gone unchanged throughout the years...
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Book of Mormon has been placed in our hands. A viler imposition was never practiced. It is an evidence of fraud, blasphemy, and credulity, shocking both to Christians and moralists. The author and proprietor is Joseph Smith, Jr." 2
Alexander Campbell, a minister and one of the founders of the Campbellite Church (Disciples of Christ), wrote in the Millennial Harbinger, of February 7th, 1831:
The book [of Mormon] professes to be written at intervals and by different persons during the long period of 1,020 years. And yet for uniformity of style, there never was a book more evidently written by one set of fingers, nor more certainly conceived in one cranium since the first book appeared in human language, than this same book. If I could swear to any man's voice, face or person, assuming different names, I could swear that this book was written by one man. And as Joseph Smith is a very ignorant man and is called the author on the title page, I cannot doubt for a single moment that he is the sole author and proprietor of it. 3
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often given away or loaned to those who could not afford it. The book itself foretells the fact that it would largely be unwelcomed and would, therefore, not bring wealth to its supposed author: "The things which are pleasing unto the world I (Nephi) do not write, but the things which are pleasing unto God and unto those who are not of the world" (1 Nephi 6:5). In another place the same prophet predicted its unpopularity by accurately quoting what thousands cry today: "We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible" (2 Nephi 29:3).
ANOTHER'S STORY WAS USED: After the BofM became more widely available, bigoted newspaper editors and anti-Mormon writers began realizing, after thousands had read the book and had allied themselves with Joseph, that an "illiterate" could not have been its author. Skeptics then rationalized that someone else must have authored it, or helped Joseph write it. 7
Manuscript Found was written by Solomon Spaulding (also Spalding) many years before the BofM was printed. Joseph Smith's critics often claim that MF was used by him to author the Book of Mormon:
Solomon Spaulding of Conneaut, Ohio, had been a Presbyterian minister but was later engaged in literary work. He was interested in the Indian mounds of his neighborhood, and also in the mysterious question of what became of the ten tribes of Israel which were carried into captivity. These thoughts he wove into a novel. It was a sort of historical romance about the American Indians, written purely out of his imagination, telling of the American Indians before the discovery of America. He called his novel Manuscript Found, suggesting that the story had been found in an Indian mound.
Spaulding took his manuscript to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to get it printed in 1812. For some reason it was not published but lay in the printing office of Robert Patterson until it disappeared. Spaulding died in 1816, never recovering his manuscript.
When the Book of Mormon appeared in 1830, the widow of Spaulding, his relatives, friends, and neighbors declared that it was his manuscript except for the religious matter. They had heard Spaulding read parts of it, and recognized it. It is known that Sidney Rigdon was employed as a printer in Pittsburgh in 1822. Evidence is good that he either stole the Spaulding manuscript or at least got a copy of it. He had been a Baptist preacher but was deposed in 1824. Then he joined the Campbellites but quarreled with Alexander Campbell. He then preached for a while in an independent church but decided to start a new religion by giving the world a new revelation. He carried out his scheme with Joseph Smith and founded Mormonism. 8
Philastus Hurlburt: The Spaulding manuscript theory had its birth with a disgruntled ex-Mormon -- Doctor (his birth name; not a title) 9 Philastus Hurlburt (also Hurlbert or Hurlbut). Hurlburt had been excommunicated from the LDS Church in 1833 for immorality "with women while on a mission." 10 He first proposed his notion after hearing about Spaulding's novel but without ever seeing it. Having heard there were several similarities between the two
7 Op. cit., A New Witness for Christ in America, Vol. 2, p. 337.
8 Casper B. Nervig, Christian Truth and Religious Delusions, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1941, pp. 113-114.
9At one time it was believed that the seventh son -- which Hurlburt was -- possessed supernatural qualities. They were often given titles for their first names which explains why he was given the name, "Doctor," by his parents.
10 Op. cit., History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Vol. I, p. 352.
books, Hurlburt began teaching that Solomon Spaulding was the author -- not Joseph Smith.
Sidney Rigdon: Upon learning that Sidney Rigdon had been converted to the LDS faith, Hurlburt figured that he and Spaulding, because they had been ministers, had worked together with Joseph Smith to write the Book of Mormon. The Spaulding/Rigdon collaboration fraud eventually devolved into Rigdon alone working with Joseph Smith. 11
According to the updated proposal, Rigdon had stolen MF from a Pittsburgh printer and had used it with Joseph Smith. Hurlburt's theory rested upon placing Rigdon in Pittsburgh while MF awaited printing in the Pittsburgh offices of Patterson and Lambdin because, according to Hurlburt, Spaulding had left it there between 1812 and 1814. However, Rigdon's mother, Nancy, pointed out that Sidney had lived on their farm in Saint Clair, Pennsylvania, from his February 19, 1793 birth until 1819. It was not until 1822 -- six years after Spaulding had died -- that Rigdon first walked the streets of Pittsburgh. During the interim, in March of 1819 he earned a license to preach under the tutelage of a Saint Clair Baptist minister, Andrew Clark. From Saint Clair he moved to Trumbull County, Ohio, where he preached until February 1822 when he took charge of a Pittsburgh church. By that time the printing offices were out of business. 12 In 1826 Rigdon associated himself with the Disciples of Christ church, moved back to Ohio, and preached in the Bainbridge area.
If Hurlburt was correct, besides stealing a copy of the manuscript from a nonexistent printing office, Rigdon performed a series of other inconceivable steps. First, the thirty-year-old preacher secretly traveled from Pittsburgh to Manchester, New York, to ask a seventeen-year-old "lazy" and "illiterate" boy, whom he had never met, to tell others that he had talked to God when he was fourteen, and had recently talked with an angel about buried gold plates. Four years later Rigdon again took time away from his family and hectic ministerial duties in Ohio and returned to talk Joseph into finding unpaid scribes to record his dictated translation from unseen gold plates. Then, under the absent eye of his partner in crime, "disorderly" Joseph had to find someone who would pay for the printing of their book. In order to prove what he was doing was not a hoax, the youth had to produce a facsimile of a few written "caracters" from the nonexistent golden plates for his financial benefactor to take to a professor of ancient languages at Columbia University for verification. 13 Finally, without any help from Rigdon, Joseph had to locate three men who would swear, without any financial benefit, that they had heard the voice of God and had seen an angel holding etched gold plates. He would then need to locate eight others -- none of whom was Rigdon -- to freely attest that they had handled and "hefted" the same records. Why Rigdon included someone else at all -- especially an "unlearned, lazy" teenager -- in his stunt was never explained by Hurlburt. John Henry Evans has noted: "It was easier for the critics of the BofM to believe the impossible Rigdon/Smith story than for them to believe that the
11 Op. cit., A New Witness for Christ in America, Vol. 2, pp. 337-338.
12 Robert and Rosemary Brown, They Lie in Wait to Deceive, Vol. II, Brownworth Publishing, Mesa, Arizona, 1984, pp. 14-15.
13 "The Witness: Martin Harris," Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, May 1999, pp. 35-37.
Book of Mormon originated in the unschooled youth from the backwoods of New York." 14
Because Hurlburt had been a Mormon and supposedly knew what he was talking about, he found believers. Since then Hurlburt's idea has been presented again and again as factual.
Seeking to reinforce his Rigdon/Smith theory, Hurlburt traveled to New Salem, Ohio, where Spaulding had written his novel. There he found a few who had heard the story read to them twenty years before and were willing to testify that the same names recorded in MF were in the Book of Mormon. In 1833 Aaron Wright wrote:
I first became acquainted with Solomon Spalding (sic) in 1808 or 9... When at his house, one day, he showed and read to me a history he was writing, of the lost tribes of Israel, purporting that they were the first settlers of America, and that the Indians were their decendants.... He traced their journey from Jerusalem to America, as it is given in the Book of Mormon, excepting the religious matter. The historical part of the Book of Mormon, I know to be the same as I read and heard read from the writings of Spalding, more than twenty years ago; the names more especially are the same without any alteration. He told me his object was to account for all the fortifications, to be found in this country, and said that in time it would be fully believed by all, except learned men and historians. 15
Hurlburt then proceeded to Pittsburgh to contact the office of Patterson and Lambdin so he could publish Spaulding's book for all the world to examine. Unsuccessful in this effort because the offices were no longer there, he located Spaulding's widow, Mrs. Davison, in Amity [sic] Pennsylvania. When he informed her that he wished to publish her husband's story and would share half of its proceeds with her, she eagerly gave him the only copy. Alarmed at what he found, Hurlburt never had the story printed; it could never have been used as the basis for the Book of Mormon. He then suggested that Spaulding must have written another novel, even though Mrs. Davieson had said nothing about such a book. Rumors were then spread that Hurlburt had sold Spaulding's second book to the Mormons who had destroyed it. Having become unpopular because of alleged immoral conduct with other women and attempts on Joseph Smith's life, Hurlburt, using Eber D. Howe's anti-Mormon book, continued promoting his faulty thesis.
In the fall of 1830, months after the BofM was first offered to the public, LDS missionaries passing through Ohio were invited to speak to Rigdon's congregation. After the meeting Rigdon informed his followers that the information they had heard that evening "demanded their most serious consideration." 16
For two weeks Rigdon buried himself in the BofM's pages. Impressed "by a revelation from Jesus Christ," he told his wife, Phebe, about it. She too had been "diligently investigating the subject.... I have weighed the matter," she told her husband, "I have contemplated on the circumstances in which we may be placed; I have counted the cost, and I am perfectly satisfied to follow you." The Rigdons, with twenty others, were baptized on November 14, 1830 -- months
14 John Henry Evans, Joseph Smith an American Prophet, The Macmillan Co., NY, 1960, p. 400.
15 Op. cit., A New Witness for Christ in America, Vol. II, p. 139.
16 Op. cit., A New Witness for Christ in America, Vol. I, pp. 318-328.
after the BofM came from the presses in the spring of 1830. 17 According to Parley Pratt, one of the missionaries who gave Rigdon his copy of the BofM, it was not until "early in 1831" that Rigdon traveled to New York and first met the prophet. "From that time forth rumor began to circulate that he, Rigdon, was the author of the Book of Mormon." 18
Rediscovery of Spaulding's novel: Around 1839 or 1840, a non-Mormon -- L. L. Rice -- purchased E. D. Howe's types, press, and a large collection of books and manuscripts. Forty-five years later he discovered MF in the collection. After reading it, Rice wrote:
It is certain that this Manuscript is not the origin of the Mormon Bible.... There is no identity of names, of persons, or places; and there is no similarity of style.... It is unlikely that anyone who wrote so elaborate a work as the Mormon Bible, would spend his time in getting up so shallow a story as this.... From all I have seen and learned.... this is the only writing of Spaulding. 19
President J. H. Fairchild of Oberlin College, Ohio, where the manuscript is now housed, concluded:
The theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon in the traditional manuscript of Solomon Spaulding, will probably have to be relinquished.... Mr. Rice, myself, and others, compared it with the Book of Mormon, and could detect no resemblance.... There seems to be no name or incident common to the two. The solemn style of the Book of Mormon, in imitation of the English Scriptures, does not appear in the manuscript. 20
View of the Hebrews: Understandably uncomfortable with the impossible claim that MF was the original BofM, I. Woodbridge Riley, in 1902 or 1903, proposed that Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews was the core of the new scriptures. 21 However, no basis for comparison exists other than the two books are about ancient Hebrews who lived in the Americas. Furthermore, there is no evidence showing that Joseph Smith ever had access to VH, nor did any of his contemporaries ever suggest his use of that work. Ethan Smith must have known about the BofM; its notoriety insured that he had to have heard of it. But he never accused Joseph of plagiarizing his work. In addition, in 1833, twenty-three "leading Protestant clergymen" endorsed VH and its lost tribes of Israel thesis, but not one connected VH with the Book of
17 Op. cit., A New Witness for Christ in America, Vol. I, pp. 318-328; op. cit., They Lie in Wait to Deceive, Vol. 2, pp. 430-435; Donna Hill, Joseph Smith the First Mormon, Doubleday and Co., 1977, p. 120.
18 Op. cit., A New Witness for Christ in America, Vol. I, pp. 329-332; Vol. II, pp. 323-331 .
19 Op. cit., They Lie in Wait to Deceive, Vol 2, p. 394.
20 Op. cit., A New Witness for Christ in America, Vol. II, pp. 208-209.
21 Richard Bushman, Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism, University of Illinois Press, 1984; from John W. Welch, "Finding Answers to B. H. Roberts's Questions," pp. 22-23, FARMS WEL-85d, referring to I. Woodbridge Riley, "The Founder of Mormonism: A Psychological Study of Joseph Smith, Jr." (Yale Ph. D. dissertation, 1902).
WHICH THEORY IS CORRECT? Or is any of them valid? If one is obviously more logical than the others it is probably the true story. "One only credits a miraculous explanation if alternatives are more miraculous. 23 Or, perhaps there is another, more believeable, idea that has not yet been posed.
Like oceanographers probing the mysterious depths of a vast literary sea, scholars continue to inspect, scrutinize, analyze, test, and compare the BofM's myriad strange and beautiful features with what is known about ancient Hebraic, Egyptian, and native American languages, writing styles, poetry, archaeology, customs and culture. Its validity is unquestionable to a Latter-day Saint who honestly studies the evidences that have been uncovered. But to those who make little effort to find out, it remains a peculiar puzzle.
22 Op. cit., "Finding Answers to B. H. Roberts's Questions and An Unparallel," pp. 22-23; from "Key to the Revelation of John," NY: J & J Harper.
23 Noel B. Reynolds, editor, Book of Mormon Authorship, Bookcraft, Inc., Salt Lake City, 1982, pp. 11-12.
Title Page, Mistakes, Corrections
Nothing like the Title Page of the Book of Mormon appears in MF, VH, nor the Bible...
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Into a World Beyond
The three American texts all describe journeys from the Eastern Hemisphere to the Western...
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No such place-name as Bountiful is found in MF, VH, nor the Bible...
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During the BofM era, five major cultures -- Olmec, Zapotec, Maya, Teotihuacan, and Izapa -- existed in Mesoamerica...
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Book of Mormon Geography
PLACE NAMES: Spaulding and E. Smith often placed their natives in zones with modern names...
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MANUSCRIPT FOUND: Immediately the natives ran with apparent signs of surprise and astonishment to the bank of the river...
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Marriage, Communal Life, Gender Roles
MANUSCRIPT FOUND: But now a most singular and delicate subject presented itself for consideration...
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Anatomy and Physical Descriptions
MANUSCRIPT FOUND: Interest as well as curiosity invited an acquaintance with our new neighbors...
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MANUSCRIPT FOUND: They held festivals at stated times which varied in the manner of conducting them...
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Recreation, Arts, Entertainment
MANUSCRIPT FOUND: The whole tribe repair to the top of an hill...
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Astronomy, Seasons, Calender
MANUSCRIPT FOUND: Gracious God. How deplorable our situation...
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MANUSCRIPT FOUND: On what principle can we account for immigration of the ancestors of these innumerable hordes of human beings that possess this continent...
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Food, Animals, Metal, Clothing Material
MANUSCRIPT FOUND: I am now to describe a nation who have but little resemblance to those savages who live along the coast of the Atlantic...
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MANUSCRIPT FOUND: Learning appears to be so important to the nature of man and a good convenient share of it so easy to obtain, that some may wonder why it is not universally diffused...
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MANUSCRIPT FOUND: In every nation there is some kind of religion and in every religion, however adulturated and corrupted, there are some things which are commendable...
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MANUSCRIPT FOUND: Defraud not thy neighbor nor suffer thy hands secretly to convey his property from him...
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Wise Men and Their Miracles
MANUSCRIPT FOUND: Perhaps reader, before we describe the government of the Ohons, it might be proper to relax our mind...
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Blue Feather War
MANUSCRIPT FOUND: [The] Sciotans were thus rapidly progressing in their improvements...
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MANUSCRIPT FOUND: The people who were denominated Ohons were settled on both sides of the River Ohio...
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MANUSCRIPT FOUND: The customs and amusements of a nation evence the state of society which exists among the people...
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Courtship and Marriage
MANUSCRIPT FOUND: Other diversions which had no tendency to fit them for war they seldom practiced...
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Crime and Punishment
MANUSCRIPT FOUND: But we are not to suppose that in the most virtupus age of the nation all were virtuous...
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Peace and Prosperity
MANUSCRIPT FOUND: Though learning, civilization, and refinement had not arrived at that state of perfection in which they exist in a great part of the Roman Empire...
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MANUSCRIPT FOUND: During the time of their rising greatness and tranquility, their policy led them to fortify the country in every part...
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Love Conquers All
MANUSCRIPT FOUND: As the Sciotans and the Kentucks had maintained with each other an interrupted peace...
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Enter the Villain!
MANUSCRIPT FOUND: The reader will recollect that Elseon and his friends left Moonrod...
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The Heavens Speak Through the Wise
MANUSCRIPT FOUND: But the indignation and malace of Sambal increased with time...
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MANUSCRIPT FOUND: This uproar and the harangue of the High Priest determined the wavering mind of the emperor...
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MANUSCRIPT FOUND: Hamboon, mounted on an elegant horse richly caparisoned, rode through the encampmemt...
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A Grave Situation
MANUSCRIPT FOUND: That day afforded them no time to bury their dead...
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Greater Love Hath No Man
MANUSCRIPT FOUND: After the funeral rites were finished, and the armistice having expired, the hostile emperors must now determine on further plans for operation...
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Conflagration and Plunder
MANUSCRIPT FOUND: Forty days had now expired since the two armies had taken their different positions...
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A Coward's End
MANUSCRIPT FOUND: Determined that the Sciotans should have no chance to improve the darkness of the ensuing night to make their escape...
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Capture of the Fair Princess
MANUSCRIPT FOUND: Great were the amazement and consternation of Rambock...
(remainder of p. 225 not transcribed)
Duel to the Death
MANUSCRIPT FOUND: At this instant a loud voice was heard...
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Rescued By the Arms of Love
MANUSCRIPT FOUND: After pursuing the Sciotans about six miles, Elseon and his army returned...
(remainder of p. 229 not transcribed)
MANUSCRIPT FOUND: There Manuscript Found ends! The reader is left hanging. Nothing is said about reuniting Lamesa and Elseon, nor if Rambock and Hamboon ever signed a peace treaty. What happened to Fabius and his crew? View of the Hebrews concludes with a summary of why native Americans (Israelites, according to E. Smith) will reunite with the Jews and other Israelites...
(remainder of pp. 230-231 not transcribed)
MANUSCRIPT FOUND: Clearly the Book of Mormon was not plagiarized from Manuscript Found nor from View of the Hebrews. And though there are many superficial similarities and a few duplications from sections of the Bible, because the people of both books were supposedly Israelites, differences far and away outnumber resemblances; the main body of the BofM obviously could not have been gleaned from the Old or New Testaments. Together, according to devotees of both books, the Bible and the BofM are linked as witnesses to Jesus Christ and his gospel of salvation from everlasting spiritual and physical death ...
(remainder of pp. 232-244 not transcribed)
(this book's index was not transcribed)
[ inside back cover ]
Willard (Bill) Morgan was born and raised in California where he earned graduate and post-graduate degrees in Elementary Education. For twenty-eight years this "Teacher of the Year" enjoyed mingling with and teaching second through sixth grade children.
Prior to his teaching career, Bill served for three years in the United States Coast Guard. After joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during his junior year in college, he served a two-year mission. He has also served the Lord in various other church capacities including home teaching, choir member, priesthood advisor, stake missionary, Sunday School teacher, high councilor, stake executive secretary, bishop's councilor and bishop.
Bill and his wife, Barbara Allen of Prescott, Arizona, raised seven busy bees (Bill, Beverly, Bernice, Bonnie, Belinda, Bobbi) mainly in Barstow, California, but also in American Fork and Pleasant Grove, Utah. In Barstow they purchased a piece of desert land and built their own home with the help of friends. A violinist, he and his pianist/cellist wife and their musical family performed there in numerous community and church events. They also enjoyed camping trips to many geographical, historical, and LDS church sites and pagents throughout the U. S. and Canada. Upon retirement they sold their home and with two of their children moved to Utah to be closer to others who were graduating from college and settling there. However, after ten years of cold weather they decided to become "snowbirds" and move back to warmer Seal Beach, California, for the winters and return to pleasant Pleasant Grove each summer.
Keystone or Millstone? is Bill's second book. His first was From Critic to Convert. That book portrays his skeptical attitude about an angel's visit to a teen-aged American farm boy, gold plates, and Joseph Smith's vision of God the Father and his son, Jesus Christ. After more than a year of meeting with LDS missionaries and reading anti-Mormon and pro-Mormon literature, he finally read the Book of Mormon prayerfully and became converted to the "keystone" of the LDS religion.
However, trouble loomed as his testimony began to quiver because of a discovery he had made while taking summer courses at Brigham Young University. When he was learning about the LDS faith, he had been told about the "Spaulding manuscript," a book from which the Book of Mormon supposedly sprang. No one he then knew had read it and he could not locate it in any library during those pre-internet days. What if the gold plates' scriptures actually did come from Solomon Spaulding's pen? When he discovered a copy of Spaulding's manuscript years later, in of all places, Brigham Young University's Harold B. Lee library, he began wondering again. Are the two books alike? Instead of being the "keystone" of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is the Book of Mormon a "millstone" dragging its believers down to hell, as he had been led to believe by unfriendly authors? Now, at last, he could compare the two books.
Keystone or Millstone? is that comparison; but it is also a comparison between sections of Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews and the Holy Bible to see if Joseph Smith could have used those books to write the Book of Mormon. Or, as ridiculous as it may seem to some, is his story about an angel and gold plates true?
Keystone or Millstone?
The present reviewer can only wonder what audience this odd book is intended for. In some ways it appears to complement and supplement Robert L. & Rosemary Brown's 1984 book, They Lie in Wait to Deceive II, and perhaps the same LDS readers who have purchased and enjoyed the Browns' "faith-promoting" comments on the Spalding-Rigdon theory for Book of Mormon authorship will also find Elder Morgan's book useful.
The major fault of this book (and it harbors many), is that its author has taken too seriously the old Latter Day Saint propaganda -- that Solomon Spalding only wrote one book, and that one book bears no substantial resemblance to the text of the Book of Mormon. Having departed on his voyage of discovery at this landlocked port, it is no wonder that Elder Morgan succeeds in accomplishing little more than eventually returning to his point of origin, from whence he declares: "Clearly the Book of Mormon was not plagiarized from Manuscript Found nor from View of the Hebrews. And though there are many superficial similarities... differences far and away outnumber resemblances." How it is that this author can be so positively certain, that he has indeed perused Solomon Spalding's reported "Manuscript Found," he does not seem inclined to say. At one point, on page 19, the good elder passes along, without objection, the old report, that Solomon Spalding "took his manuscript to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to get it printed in 1812. For some reason it was not published but lay in the printing office...;" and then, at the conclusion of his regurgitation of the Oberlin manuscript's text, the same author appears astonished, that "There Manuscript Found ends! The reader is left hanging. Nothing is said about reuniting Lamesa and Elseon, nor if Rambock and Hamboon ever signed a peace treaty. What happened to Fabius and his crew?" Indeed, what happened to everybody in this obviously unfinished and unsaleable story?
Blinded by Pre-Judgment?
It is probably safe to say that only a an investigator whose mind has been conditioned by some prejudice in the matter of Book of Mormon authorship would automatically conclude that a badly written, ambigious, ungrammatical, and painfully incomplete piece of old historical fiction could have ever been the very same holograph Solomon Spalding is said to have left with a Pittsburgh publisher for acceptance and promulgation as a popular novel. Elder Morgan appears to include himself among the worthy company of scholars who are not adverse to "probing the mysterious depths of a vast literary sea" in search of explanations for the "BofM's myriad strange and beautiful features," and yet, what objective reader can browse the contents of Keystone or Millstone, without wondering if this hopeful author has but taken a few "shallow draughts" from history's Pierian spring? Having seemingly convinced himself that Mr. Spalding really had left his "Manuscript Found" at "the Pittsburgh offices of Patterson and Lambdin," Elder Morgan spends the better part of his page 20 in attempting to convince his readers that Sidney Rigdon could have had no contact with such a manuscript, which Spalding had left with said publishers "between 1812 and 1814," because "It was not until 1822 -- six years after Spaulding had died -- that Rigdon first walked the streets of Pittsburgh." Well, then, that certainly sounds conclusive! Might not the prospective LDS buyer simply replace Keystone or Millstone back upon the book store sales rack at that point, well assured that the "Spalding-Rigdon theory" is based upon chronological impossibilities?
But wait -- there's more. On page 21 Elder Morgan lets "the other shoe drop" and explains even more convincingly why Sidney Rigdon could have never taken possession of Mr. Spalding's infamous "Manuscript Found":
Hurlburt then proceeded to Pittsburgh to contact the office of Patterson and Lambdin so he could publish Spaulding's book for all the world to examine. Unsuccessful in this effort because the offices were no longer there, he located Spaulding's widow, Mrs. Davieson, in Amity, Pennsylvania. When he informed her that he wished to publish her husband's story and would share half of its proceeds with her, she eagerly gave him the only copy.Spalding-Rigdon theory proponents -- please take note: The widow of "Manuscript Found's" writer was living at Amity, a few miles from Pittsburgh, when anti-Mormon D. P. Hurlbut was conducting his 1833 investigations, and she handed the investigator her late husband's only copy of "Manuscript Found." What Elder Morgan neglects to supply here is the event by which the widow ended up with the much sought after document back in Spalding family possession. No doubt the LDS narrative-weaver expects his readers to locate such an event in past Mormon publications. And by happy circumstance, the missing part of the story is so supplied by the companion of an LDS Apostle:
While I was living in Pittsburgh in 1841, at the time so much was said of the Book of Mormon, and in connection with the Solomon Spaulding Story. It was stated that the Spaulding manuscript was placed in Mr. Patterson's hands for publication, and that Sidney Rigdon was connected with him at the time. In connection with John E. Page I called upon General Patterson, the publisher... [who] stated to us that the Solomon Spaulding manuscript was brought to him by the widow of Solomon Spaulding to be published, and that she offered to give him half the profits for his pay, if he would publish it; but after it had laid there for some time, and after he had due time to consider it, he determined not to publish it. She then came and received the manuscript from his hands, and took it away. He also stated that Sidney Rigdon was not connected with the office for several years afterwards.And there we have it: signed, sealed and delivered. The story read by Willard Morgan was brought to a Pittsburgh publisher, named Patterson, "between 1812 and 1814," which was at least six years before Sidney Rigdon "first walked the streets of Pittsburgh." Then, in 1833, D. P. Hurlbut recovered this same story, read decades later by Willard Morgan, when said Hurlbut located the manuscript -- the only copy, mind you -- in the possession of Spalding's widow. Quite obviously then, with this ponderous weight of negative evidence seemingly on his side, Elder Morgan can (and did) procede to compare this same story -- the one now on file at Oberlin College -- with the text of the Book of Mormon, and not surprisingly at all, he finds too little similarity to shake his religious testimony.
How very predictable -- and how very, very wrong! Even a slight dipping of his toes into the "depths of a vast literary sea" of historical sources should have provided would-be histiruan Morgan with a vastly different view of things.
Some Challenges for Willard Morgan
On pages 234-41, the author provides any "skeptics" among his readership with 39 "Challenges -- his version of past events and past circumstances, which should serve as answers to any questions ever raised by the Gentiles regarding the Mormon explanation for the "Nephite Record." His 39 points are answerable, but this current review is hardly the place for publishing such a rebuttal. Instead, 39 additional questions are here posted for Elder Morgan's consideration. Should he take the trouble to formulate a set of answers, perhaps he will begin to comprehend the many factual and structural errors in his 244 page presentation. The suggestion is not made lightly; nor is it meant to detract from the author's interesting contribution of Spalding/BoM/View of the Hebrews literary parallels and "un-parallels." These remarks (which comprise the bulk of Morgan's original writing in his volume) will be summarized as one item, among numerous others, in the on-line "Sciotia Revisited" bibliography of textual parallels.
01. Where and when did the Solomon Spalding claims for Book of Mormon authorship first arise? D. P. Hurlbut could not have been the originator, since on page 19 it is mentioned that he "heard there were several similarities between the two books."
02. How many miles from Pittsburgh did Sidney Rigdon live, during 1812-14? Hint: This map may be of some use.
03. If Sidney Rigdon did not walk the streets of Pittsburgh until 1822, why was he receiving his mail there (along with Pittsburgh resident Solomon Spalding), at least as early as 1816?
04. Where were Matilda Spalding Davison and her daughter, Matilda Spalding McKinstry living in 1833? Hint: She was not at Amity, Pennsylvania!
05. Which aunt and cousins of Sidney Rigdon were living at Amity, Pensylvania at the time Mr. and Mrs. Solomon Spalding resided there? Hint: Don't just look at the 1810 Amity Census Index -- consult the actual tabulatiuon.
06. When, and in what periodical, was Sidney Rigdon's name first linked to the Spalding authorship claims for the Book of Mormon; thus effectively establishing the "Spalding-Rigdon theory."
07. On page 19 it is stated that "After the BofM became more widely available, bigoted newspaper editors and anti-Mormon writers began realizing, after thousands had read the book and had allied themselves with Joseph, that an "illiterate" could not have been its author." Name two such editors, who published such views before 1832. Note: It is highly unlikely that the "Church of Christ," founded Apr. 6, 1830, had as many as 1,000 members before the year 1832.
08. Provide any reliable source, showing that D. P. Hurlbut was given the name "Doctor" at birth, by his parents.
09. On page 20 it is stated that "Upon learning that Sidney Rigdon had been converted to the LDS faith, Hurlburt figured that he and Spaulding, because they had been ministers, had worked together with Joseph Smith to write the Book of Mormon." Document the approximate date when Hurlbut discovered Rigdon was a Mormon. Was that before or after Hurlbut first heard of the Spalding authorship claims?
10. Also, on page 20, it is stated that Hurlbut first "figured" that Rigdon, Spalding and Smith "had worked together" to compose the Book of Mormon. Provide a reliable source for this chronological impossible notion. Hint: It cannot be the source, A New Witness for Christ in America, Vol. 2, pp. 337-338, which makes no such assertion.
11. What source can be used to confirm the assertion made on page 20, that "according to Hurlburt, Spaulding had left it ["Manuscript Found"] there [Pittsburgh offices of Patterson and Lambdin] between 1812 and 1814." Where does D. P. Hurlbut make such a claim -- or, where is such a claim attributed directly to him?
12. In what source was it that "Rigdon's mother, Nancy, pointed out that Sidney had lived on their farm in Saint Clair, Pennsylvania, from his February 19, 1793 birth until 1819. It was not until 1822 -- six years after Spaulding had died -- that Rigdon first walked the streets of Pittsburgh." Hint: It cannot be the source, They Lie in Wait to Deceive, Vol. 2, pp. 14-15, which makes no such assertion.
13. On page 20, it is stated that "in March of 1819 he [Sidney Rigdon] earned a license to preach under the tutelage of a Saint Clair Baptist minister, Andrew Clark." Where, exactly, is this "Saint Clair" located -- and what source documents that a Baptist minister there tutored Sidney Rigdon? By what means, and under what religious authority did Sidney Rigdon "earn" such a "license to preach?"
14. On page 20, it is also stated that in "February 1822... he [Rigdon] took charge of a Pittsburgh church. By that time the printing offices were out of business." What "offices" were these and where were they located? Hint: The publishing firm of R. Patterson & Lambdin commenced business on or about Jan. 6, 1818, as the successor to R. and J. Patterson, and R. Patterson & Lambdin remained in operation through Feb. 17, 1823.
15. On page 20, it is stated that "In 1826 Rigdon associated himself with the Disciples of Christ church." When did Sidney Rigdon first meet the Rev. Alexander Campbell? When did the two men first "associate" in a substantial way? When was the church called "the Disciples of Christ" first organized?
16. On page 20, it is stated that Sidney Rigdon was accused of obtaining a Spalding manuscript from "a nonexistent printing office." Given the facts that Robert Patterson continuously operated a publishing company in Pittsburgh between 1812 and 1823 (in partnership with three different junior partners), and that this publishing company continuously made use of the presses of either Silas Enles or Butler & Lambdin; exactly what "nonexistent printing office" is thus referred to?
17. On page 20, it is stated that D. P. Hurlbut proposed that "the thirty-year-old preacher secretly traveled from Pittsburgh to Manchester, New York." Sidney Rigdon turned 30 on Feb. 19, 1823 and was yet residing in Pittsburgh a year later, when he turned 31. Provide documentation that D. P. Hurlbut asserted (or implied) that Sidney Rigdon trabeled to Manchester during this period. Alternatively, provide any reliable contemporary source that verifies Joseph Smith making public claims regarding the "Nephite Record" during this same year-long period.
18. On page 20, it is stated that D. P. Hurlbut proposed that "Four years later Rigdon again took time away from his family and hectic ministerial duties in Ohio and returned to talk Joseph into finding unpaid scribes to record his dictated translation." Provide documentation verifying that Sidney Rigdon could not have taken a 10-day to 2-week vacation from his "ministerial duties in Ohio," in order to travel as far away as, say, Pittsburgh or Rochester.
19. On page 21, it is stated that "Because Hurlburt had been a Mormon and supposedly knew what he was talking about, he found believers" in the Spalding authorship claims. Provide the names of nine such "believers" who accepted those authorship claims before D. P. Hurlbut retired from anti-Mormon activities in February of 1834. Explain when it was that Hurlbut convinced these nine "believers" to accept his BoM authorship explanation.
20. On page 21, it is stated that in New Salem Ohio, D. P. Hurlbut "found a few who had heard the story read to them twenty years before and were willing to testify that the same names recorded in MF were in the Book of Mormon." Is this all that the "few" were "willing to testify" to? Are there verifiable facts in their preserved statements?
21. In page 21 an excerpt from a 1833 statement of Aaron Wright is given. What other statement regarding the Spalding authorship claims did Mr. Wright provide in 1833? In his second statement, what did Mr. Wright have to say about the spalding manuscript now on file at Oberlin College? Did he, an eye-witness to Spalding's activities and writings, make the claim that the Oberlin manuscript was the same document as "Manuscript Found?"
22. On page 21 it is stated that D. P. Hurlbut was the person who first came up with the explanation, or suggestion, that "Spaulding must have written another novel, even though Mrs. Davieson had said nothing about such a book." Give a reliable source to document this conclusion. What did this same widow have to say about the quantity of her late husband's writings, in her published statement of 1839? What did her daughter (also an eye-witness( have to say, in the 1880s, when she was shown a published copy of the Oberlin story?
23. On page 21 it is stated that "Rumors were then spread that Hurlburt had sold Spaulding's second book to the Mormons who had destroyed it." Provide the names of five eye-witnesses who claimed to have seen D. P. Hurlbut exhibit the "Manuscript Found," in and around Kirtland, Ohio, in December, 1833. Provide the first source that claimed D. P. Hurlbut had transferred "Manuscript Found" to the Mormon leaders. Hint: That source was published after Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, Martin Harris, Orson Hyde, William McLellin, John Boynton, Thomas B. Marsh, W. W. Phelps, William Smith, and Luke and Lyman Johnston (all top leaders, privy to church secrets) left the Mormons in 1838.
24. On page 21, mention is made of "LDS missionaries passing through Ohio." When were Mormons first commonly called "Latter Day Saints?" What were these "missionaries," destined for western Missouri, doing in northern Ohio? Where had Sidney Rigdon been in the days immediately preceeding the missionaries' arrival at his home in Mentor?
25. Provide documentation, verifying that Sidney Rigdon spent "two weeks" studying the Book of Mormon, before he was converted to Mormonism.
26. Provide a reliable source, showing that Sideny Rigdon was baptized a Mormon on "November 14, 1830."
27. Who did these "LDS missionaries" baptize, in Geauga Co., Ohio, before they gained Rigdon as a public convert to Mormonism? Explain where each of the four missionaries were, between the day of their arrival at Mentor and the day of Rigdon's baptism.
28. On page 22, Parley P. Pratt is quoted as saying, "it was not until 'early in 1831' that Rigdon traveled to New York and first met the prophet." On what date did Sidney Rigdon and Edward Partridge meet "Elder Smith" at Kingdon, in the state of New York? Why does Pratt say that this was the first time Rigdon met with "Elder Smith?" When was Joseph Smith ordained an elder in the Church of Christ?
29. On page 22, Lewis L. Rice is quoted as saying he believed that the Spalding manuscript found among his possessions in Hawaii was "the only writing of Spaulding." What date was this opinion given? What were Mr. Rice's subsequent statements on the matter of Book of Mormon authorship? What did he say in his last recorded communication regarding this subject?
30. On page 22, James H. Fairchild is quoted as saying that "the traditional manuscript of Solomon Spaulding" had been "compared" by him and others "with the Book of Mormon." When did Fairchild first express the opinion that the Spalding manuscript uncovered in Hawaii was the "Manuscript Found?" What were Mr. Fairchild's subsequent statements on the matter of Book of Mormon authorship? What did he say in his last recorded communication regarding this subject?
31. Was I. Woodbridge Riley the first writer to propose that Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews "was the core" of the Book of Mormon? What did Ethan Smith's grandson have to say about his grandfather's relationship with a young Solomon Spalding? What college did both Solomon Spalding and Ethan Smith attend? How long was their overlap in studies at that school? What member of the Joseph Smith, Sr. family attended the same campus and undoubtedly has some of the same instructors as Solomon Spalding and Ethan Smith?
32. Why did Oliver Cowdery's great uncle endorse Ethan Smith's book (before the Book of Mormon was published)? Who solemnized Ethan Smith's marriage?
33. Why is Solomon Spalding's widow buried in the same Belchertown, Massachusetts cemetary as Ethan Smith's family?
34. When was Ethan Smith the pastor of Oliver Cowdery's mother and sisters? Why was a Solomon Spalding manuscript discovered within walking distance of the location of the church where Ethan Smith served as the Cowderys' pastor.
35. In what way did Sidney Rigdon's early career as a tanner connect him with Solomon Spalding's would-be printer and publisher, in Pittsburgh?
36. Name four early eye-witnesses who later claimed to have seen Sidney Rigdon in possession of a certain religious manuscript, or writings of a peculiar nature.
37. When was news of Joseph Smith and the "Gold Bible" first published in the newspapers where Sidney Rigdon lived, in Ohio? When did Rigdon's disciples, Eliza R. Snow and Orson Hyde, say that they first heard such news reports?
38. Name four early eye-witnesses who later claimed that Sidney Rigdon before 1830 spoke openly of a wonderful religious book or revelation, about to be published.
39. What was the first published statement, informing readers that Spalding holograph now on file at Oberlin College was not his "Manuscript Found?"