- Dale R. Broadhurst's  SPALDING  RESEARCH  PROJECT -


The Dale R. Broadhurst "Spalding Papers"

  Spalding's Writing & 1830 Book of Mormon
Paper #12: Sciotia Revisited:

Solomon Spalding / Book of Mormon Thematic Parallels

I. An Annotated Bibliography
II. M. Bown's Paper (this page)
III. BoM Parallels Tabulation

(Rev. 0c: October 1998)

"It is impossible to describe the horror of the bloody scene... the blood & carnage"


- i -


(Part  II)

A Commentary on M. D. Bown's "One Hundred Similarities"


Dale R. Broadhurst

Revision 0c: October 1998

Editorial and Bibliographic Information

Of making many books there is no end,
and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
(The Preacher)

- ii -





by  M. D. Bown

( c. 1938, Brigham Young Univ. )

All my additions to Bown's original paper are shown in blue.
Numbers in square brackets are Bown's original pagination.
                -- Dale R. Broadhurst --



pp. 01-06: Bown's Introduction

pp. 07-42: Bown's Spalding / Book of Mormon Similarities

pp. 07-12: Bown's Parallels 01-14, With Comment Added
01.  Both are accounts of early inhabitants of America
02.  Civilization of inhabitants was much higher than the Indians'
03.  Both pretend to be records of events that actually occurred
04.  Include religious and moral as well as historical accounts
05.  Both works use Bible language
06.  Some proper names are similar
07.  Both use similar literary device to support authenticity
08.  Records written by individuals who actually lived at the time
09.  Both related events occuring during several hundred years
10.  The extant records represent abridgements of the originals
11.  The records were deposited for safekeeping by the historian
12.  They were subsequently found in a box buried in the ground
13.  The cover had to be pried up
14.  The records required translation

12-15: Bown's Parallels 15-24, With Comment Added
15.  The departure of a small party from the Old World
16.  The people crossed the ocean in a sailing vessel
17.  A great storm arose
18.  The voyagers became frightened, and were lost
19.  The storm continued many days
20.  They prayed to God for the storm to cease
21.  Then the storm ceased
22.  They sailed further several days and then landed
23.  They landed on the American Continent
24.  There were many rivers and lakes in the land

pp. 15-22: Bown's Parallels 25-47, With Comment Added
25.  There were many tribes or races of people
26.  The people built cities
27.  Built along the seashore and bodies of water
28.  Some modern building methods were used
29.  Some of the people built houses of wood
30.  Others lived in tents
31.  They fortified their cities and borders
32.  These fortifications were similar
33.  There were classes among the people
34.  The people were governed by kings
35.  The kingship passed from father to son
36.  Practiced communal living
37.  Trade and commerce practiced in times of peace
38.  They had a system of taxation
39.  They wrote in characters
40.  They also wrote on a roll
41.  They communicated by means of letters
42.  The people were agricultural
43.  Corn and wheat were raised
44.  They raised stock of various kinds
45.  They domesticated large animals which are unknown today
46.  They domesticated horses
47.  Dogs were known
47b.  (was 100.) Captured and domesticated fowls

pp. 22-26: Bown's Parallels 48-59, With Comment Added
48.  The people had furnaces
49.  They refined ore
50.  They manufactured their own tools from steel
51.  These tools were somewhat similar
52.  They coined their own money
53.  They made their own cloth
54.  Pottery was made by the people
55.  Music and musical instruments used
56.  They practiced polygamy
57.  There were robbers in the land
58.  The people kept public records
59.  They kept sacred records apart

pp. 27-34: Bown's Parallels 60-78, With Comment Added

60.  They had priests and high priests
61.  There was magic and sorcery
62.  Some of the people were idolatrous
63.  Payment of tithing was demanded
64.  They offered sacrifices
65.  They thought the Earth revolved around the sun
66.  Believed in the fall of man from a higher state
67.  Believed that man was created by a supernatural Being
68.  The Lord speaks with a voice of thunder
69.  They believed in a good and an evil spiritual power
70.  They believed in a life after death
71.  A heaven for the righteous; a hell for the wicked
72.  Filthiness was particularly offensive
73.  They used a seer-stone
74.  Some of the people worshipped a great spirit
74b.  (was 83.) The people obtained inspiration from heaven
75.  There were prophets among the people
76.  The people believed that man had a soul
77.  They believed in prayer
78.  They observed a sabbath day
pp. 34-42: Bown's Parallels 79-99, With Comment Added
79.  There were two dominent, but contrasting races or tribes
80.  Some of the people were dark, others lighter
81.  The people had a great leader with four sons
82.  Two of the sons became leaders of opposing tribes
83.  (moved to #74b)
84.  Men of one of the tribes painted their heads with red
85.  Men of one tribe shaved their heads
86.  Men of one tribe dressed in the skins of wild animals
87.  Preparation for war was a constant occupation
88.  There were wars between two factions
89.  The last war was to be one of extermination
90.  Armies of huge size were assembled
91.  They were armed with swords and with bows and arrows
92.  Great destruction of property and towns, by fire
93.  There was a tremendous slaughter
94.  Women and children included in the slaughter
95.  They fought on a plain, overlooked by a hill
96.  They fought during the day and rested at night
97.  Similar strategy is described
98.  They buried their dead in heaps and covered them
99.  Attributed their destruction to the judgment of God
100. (moved to #47b)

pp. 42-43: Bown's Footnotes (combined as endnotes)

pp. 43-45: Proper Names in the Spaulding Manuscript


[ pp. 01 to 06 ]


With the discovery and publication of the long-lost romance written by Solomon Spaulding and variously titled "Manuscript Story," "Manuscript Found," etc., supporters of the notion that Joseph Smith copied the BOOK OF MORMON from that story were forced to invent new explanations of the alleged relationship between the two works. On the other hand, Mormons delightedly hailed the discovery as positive vindication of their contention that the BOOK OF MORMON was a translation of divine aid, of records made by Israelite ancestors of the modern Indians.

Acceptance of the conclusion that the two works are entirely dissimilar, with "not one sentence, one incident, or one proper name common to both," 1 has been surprisingly easy, not only for Mormons, but for most anti-Mormons as well. And at the same time, it is rather puzzling, for there are many similarities and major parallels which have somehow escaped the attention of the writers. 2 It may be that when the readers of the Spaulding manuscript discovered that it was by no means what they had hoped, or feared, as the case might be, the dissimilarities loomed so huge that few gave the matter a second thought. Disappointed anti-Mormons turned their weapons elsewhere, while Mormons thankfully assumed that the old plagiarism charge was effectively silenced and have generally forgotten the entire controversy.

One might suppose that in a study of this type that there should exist a number of parallels between the two works, and when these had all been located, no additions could be made. This is only very broadly true, unfortunately, and has caused much difficulty throughout. What shall one consider as a genuine parallel? Reynolds 3 cites as a dissimilarity that the Roman party landed on the east coast of the American continent, while the Nephites landed on the west coast. Is it legitimate to use the fact that both landed on the American continent as an item of similarity? Again, the Mormon record was alleged to have been written in "reformed Egyptian," the Spaulding tale in Latin. Is it legitimate to cite that both records required translation as an item of similarity? As a matter of fact, most of the parallels itemized are of this nature -- two variations of exactly the same general idea, the same incident, or the same type of circumstance -- and this has been regarded as sufficient reason for including many items.

A second group of parallels includes those that are scarcely peculiar to both works and are relatively trivial in themselves, but in the aggregate, it is felt, approach significance. Thus is listed the fact that both records mention many rivers and bodies of water -- obviously trivial -- and should one also mention that there were wives, families, marriages, eating by the people, that night followed day, and the like? No fixed rule has been followed in these instances; most of this type have not been included, and perhaps many that were could well have been omitted. Still a third group of similarities might have been included, that is, those based upon an "absence of mention." For example, it is obviously witless to cite that neither work mentions railroads, but what shall we say to the fact that both works are, for example, exceedingly vague as to topography and geography, both frequently leave a character "in mid-air," introduce people without any antecedent history, were originally written without verse division, and the like? None of this type have been included.

Evidently, then, one might extend the list of parallels well-nigh indefinitely -- or attenuate it to near zero, depending upon the notion of what constituted "similarity" one preferred to adopt. And this, no doubt, would depend considerably upon one's personal prejudices, difficult to obviate where religious beliefs are concerned. Under the circumstances, the present writer has been very generous in listing similarities, depending largely in direct quotation, item for item, with only a minimum of comment, preferring others to be the judges as to whether the suggested parallels represent true similarities or not.

In a sense, any judgment as to whether Joseph Smith was guilty of plagiarism or not is a question for the courts, and it would be very interesting, no doubt, to analyze court decisions in copyright cases with the view of determining how similar two works must be in order to establish copyright infringement. But in the present case, Spaulding's unpublished manuscript under common law becomes "dedicated to the people," or what amounts to public property, and copyright infringement can never be tested. Spaulding's romance antedated the BOOK OF MORMON by about twenty years, but even so, similarity does not establish plagiarism of one or the other, for both might have been copied from a third manuscript. Certainty can never be established. If the similarities are sufficient one might hold that Joseph Smith must have read the Spaulding tale, even though there was no supplementary evidence that he did so. Or one might attempt to show that the manuscript was never available to Joseph Smith, and therefore any similarities that do exist are accidental. Again, one might argue that Joseph Smith had heard much of the story Spaulding had written in conversations with people familiar with it, such as, for example, while Smith was working in Onondaga Valley, New York, about 1823. Or again, both writers may have been merely reflecting the current traditions, legends, and speculations concerning the early American inhabitants, writing in terms of their own patterns of experience and thinking. Still again, one might contend that since Joseph Smith translated the BOOK OF MORMON from plates engraved fourteen hundred years before Spaulding was born, it is quite impossible that there could be any but accidental similarities between the two works. And so it goes -- the possibilities are well-nigh endless. In any event, one might murmur to those dubious of the authenticity of Smith's work" "Oh ye of little faith!" For after all, on the basis of faith, the position of Joseph Smith and his followers, as with all features of religion, is ultimately impregnable. If one has faith that the BOOK OF MORMON is [the] divine word of God, what difference does it make that it might be similar to one or forty other works? Be that as it may, the present writer holds no brief for any speculation, his task being simply one of presenting a number of apparent similarities and parallels between the published "Manuscript Story" written by Solomon Spaulding and a current edition of the BOOK OF MORMON.

This study has grown out of a minor paper on the so-called Spaulding theory of the origin of the BOOK OF MORMON prepared for a university class during the winter of 1935. A few similarities between the two works were collected at that time, and continued interest resulted in further extending the comparison during the summer of 1935. Subsequently several new items were added, but not until the summer of 1937 was there a systematic comparison made; the present paper being based upon a careful reading of the entire BOOK OF MORMON (Plus re-reading of many parts) and several readings of the Spaulding story. I have used almost all the parallels suggested by other writers, particularly George B. Arbaugh and John Henry Evans, some eleven or twelve items in all came from these sources. Practically all the material had been collected before the very useful BOOK OF MORMON CONCORDANCE (prepared by George Reynolds) was available, but it has been an invaluable aid in checking and extending citations, as well as suggesting additional items of similarity. In a very real sense, however, Professor M. Wilford Poulson has made this study possible, and I am indebted to him not only for its inception but for continued guidance and encouragement. The errors of omission and commission are, however, my own.

M. D. Bown

1Publisher's Preface to Spaulding's "Manuscript Story," Liverpool: Millennial Star Office, 1910, 116pp.
2E.g.: George Reynolds ("The Myth of the 'Manuscript Found'". Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor, 1883, p. 49). B.H. Roberts (NEW WITNESSES FOR GOD, volume 3, p. 377), and Robert C. Webb (THE CASE AGAINST MORMONISM, N.Y.: L.L. Walton, 1915, p. 53) are Mormons who find no similarity. John Henry Evans (ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF MORMONISM, Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1915, p. 102) notes a few similarities. George B. Arbaugh (REVELATION IN MORMONISM, Chicago: University of Chicago, 1932), however, observed that there are "striking resemblances" between the two stories, listing some nineteen items, all of which are included in this paper. (Cf. pp. 17-18 of his book.)
3Reynolds, op. cit p, 52. He entitles a chapter "Utter Disagreement of the Two Histories" (pp. 45-54), pointing out many instances which from his point of view are dissimilarities, since he apparently demands exact agreement. All of these are actually but two variations of identical incidents and in this paper are included as items of similarity.

Begin reading with Parallel #1

Go Back to Part I

Commentary on M.D. Bown:  [parallels 01-14]   [parallels 15-24]   [parallels 25-47]   [parallels 48-59]
[parallels 60-78]   [parallels 79-99]   [Bown's Notes]    [Names Index]   [Editorial & Bibliographic Info.]

Return to:   Spalding Studies "Research"  |    "SRP Section"  |    "Broadhurst Papers Index"

    Last Revised: May 5, 2005