ITEMIZED LIST OF PRESUMED SIMILARITIES
Between Spaulding's "Manuscript Story"
and the Book of Mormon
Specific and single similarities have been isolated, listed separately, and numbered, with the paralleling citations from each work following. Whenever possible, direct quotations have been made. Only when necessary has discussion been utilized, and here care has been taken that the duplicating references are amply and accurately recorded -- but even so, errors no doubt will appear. This method of listing parallels is cumbersome perhaps, and has involved exceeding labor in preparation; but it seems to have the merit of providing direct comparison between the two works with a minimum of vagueness.
"MS" refers to Solomon Spaulding's "Manuscript Story," the edition used being published at the Millennial Star Office, Liverpool, England, 1910, 116 pages. "BM" refers to the BOOK OF MORMON, and the edition used was published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, 1920, 522pp.
Please Read These Notes First:
1. All additions to Bown's original paper are shown in blue.
2. Commentary here as a summary; For full commentary follow the links.
3. The Commentator's Personal Ratings of Bown's Parallels:
* poor parallel or not a parallel: should have been dropped
Some On-line Textual Resources:
1. Search the Book of Mormon: LDS and RLDS texts (side-by-side scrolling comparison)
2. Search the Book of Mormon: Current LDS edition (includes phrase search)
3. Search the Book of Mormon: 1830 edition (includes concordance functions)
4. Search the Spalding MS: Special e-text version (includes concordance functions)
5. Search the Spalding MS: Special e-text (side-by-side with 1830 Book of Alma)
6. Search the Spalding MS: LDS 1910 edition (the edition used in Bown's citations)
7. Read Holley's book: Book of Mormon: A Closer Look (Spalding / BoM Comparisons)
8. Search the Bible: King James version (includes Apocrypha & concordance functions)
9. Search Ethan Smith's Book: View of the Hebrews (includes concordance functions)
25. There were many tribes or races of people.
MS -- Besides the Deliwans, Ohons, Sciotans, and Kentucks, there were "innumerable" tribes along the Atlantic coast (p. 20), and "various tribes" living near the great Sciotan empire. (Cf. pp. 45-46)
BM -- The most important were the Nephites, Lamanites, and Jaredites; but there were also Mulekites, Lemuelites, Josephites, Ammonites, Amalekites, Amlicites, Zoramites, and so on.
Comment summary on item #25: *
Bown's observation here is practically meaningless. We might expect that any history of the pre-Columbian Americas, whether true or otherwise, would mention a variety of inhabitant groups. The tribal and racial commonalties between Spalding's peoples and the Book of Mormon peoples are nowhere especially strong and distinct. While we may draw a few sub-parallels between the various groups, the fact the texts mention multiple groups is probably not a significant parallel.
(more comments on item #25)
26. The people built cities.
MS -- The Deliwans told Fabius that along the banks of a river fifteen days journey away there were "great towns & mighty kings and a people who live in a state of civilization." (p. 18) Among the principal cities & towns which are named are Tolanga, Gamba, and Owhahon.
BM -- Cities are frequently mentioned, such as Nephi, Zarahemla, Desolation, Onihah, Gilgal, Mocum, Gadiandi, Gadiomnah, Gimgimno, Moronihah, etc. The Nephites built "many cities on the north, on in a particular manner which they called Lehi." (Alma 50:15) Coriantumr built "many mighty cities." (Ether 9:23) And so on.
Comment summary on item #26: **
Neither Spalding nor the Book of Mormon tells us much about its cities; the cities in the two accounts most resemble each other in what we do not know about them. Given this paucity of information, we might guess that Zarahemla and Tolanga would be essentially indistinguishable from Hopewell Cahokia.
(more comments on item #26)
27. Built along the seashore and bodies of water.
MS -- The Deliwans and related tribes lived along the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean (p. 20) A "large town or city" was built along the Owaho river. (p. 18) The city of Tolanga was "situate on the Banks of the Siota River." (p. 32) The Kentuck [River]. (p. 42) "The people who were denominated Ohians were settled on both sides of the River Ohio -- & along the various branches of the River." (p. 42)
BM -- The cities of Nephihah, Lehi, Moriaton, Omner, Gid, and Mulek" were on the east borders by the seashore." (Alma 51:26) The city of Antiparah was on the "borders by the seashore." (Alma 50:13) Zarahemla was bordered by the River Sidon. (Mormon 1:10)
Comment summary on item #27: **
It is not surprising that the cities would grow up along the banks of rivers and near the natural harbors of the seashore. While some pre-Columbian population centers developed in places well away from major rivers and seashores, several Book of Mormon descriptions appear to show that the Jaredites and Lehites favored locations in well-watered lands and along seacoasts. If a Great Lakes Geography could be established for the Book of Mormon lands, the parallel with Spalding's seacoast settlements might be strengthened.
(more comments on item #27)
28. Some modern building methods were used.
MS -- The inside of the walls of the houses of the Ohons "were formed of clay, which was plastered over with a thin coat of lime" The chimney of their fireplaces were built of split timber on the inside "(with wet dirt or clay) of which they plaster, dirt or clay -- which compleatly covers & adheres to the timber & prevents the fire from having any operation upon it." (p. 23)
BM -- "And there being but little timber upon the face of the land, nevertheless the people who went forth became exceedingly expert in the working of cement; therefore they did build houses of cement, in which they did dwell." (Helaman 3:7) Cf. also Helaman 3:9, 11. 9
Comment summary on item #28: **
It is probably incorrect to view the structures and building methods of either source as being exclusively "modern." About the only Spalding building element that would be an out-of-place addition to known pre-Columbian homes would be his fireplace with a draft chimney. But this is not found in Book of Mormon structures. The "cement" mentioned in the Book of Mormon may have been similar to Spalding's "plaster," but such building materials were known in the ancient Americas (see also Bown's item #29).
(more comments on item #28)
29. Some of the people built houses of wood. 10
MS -- "Their houses were generally but one storey high -- built of wood . . ." and they plastered the outside. (p. 23)
BM -- "And the people . . . did suffer whatsoever tree should spring up upon the face of the land that it should grow up, that in time they might have timber to build their houses . . ." (Helaman 3:9) And again: "And thus they did enable the people in the land northward that they might build many cities, both of wood and of cement." (Helaman 3:11) Cf. also Jarom 1:8.
Comment summary on item #29: **
Houses built of plastered wood could be essentially the same as structures built both of wood and cement. Perhaps Book of Mormon "cement" was little more than a structurally stronger version of Ohian "plaster."
(more comments on item #29)
30. Others lived in tents.
MS -- The Deliwans permitted the Romans to occupy "six wigwams." (p. 7) Only the Ohons and Kentucks appear to have had houses, their savage neighbors lived in tents and wigwams.
BM -- The Lamanites lived in tents. (Enos 1:20) The Jaredites came to Moriancumer, "and they dwelt in tents, and dwelt in tents upon the seashore for the space of four years." (Ether 2:13) In traveling the commonly carried their tents with them like their Hebrew ancestors. (Cf. Mosiah 18:34, Alma 2:26, 2 Nephi 5:7, etc.)
Comment summary on item #30: ***
Bown is correct in equating Spalding's "wigwams" with at least some of the Book of Mormon "tents." Those of the Lamanites would likely be close counterparts. He might have strengthened his parallel by noting that the Ohian soldiers on campaign encamped in tents, just as their Book of Mormon military counterparts did.
(more comments on item #30)
31. They fortified their cities and borders.
MS -- "During the time of their rising greatness & tranquility their policy led them to fortify their country in every part, the interior as well as the frontiers . . . near every vilage or city they constructed forts or fortifications." (p. 54 (Referring to the Ohons)
BM -- "Yea, he had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small forts, or places of resort . . . and also building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea all around about the land." (Alma 48:8) Cf. also Alma 49:13, 50:10, 3 Nephi 3:14, Mormon 2:4, Jarom 1:7, etc.
Comment summary on item #31: ****
The Ohian and Nephite fortification efforts were essentially identical and both would have taken a tremendous expenditure of energy and resources. Both peoples build border fortifications which ultimately proved ineffective. In Spalding's story forts were also erected outside the cities or adjacent to them. This also appears to have been the defensive policy of the Nephites at one stage in their wars with the Lamanites. Neither account mentions strongly fortified citadels within the cities themselves.
(more comments on item #31)
32. These fortifications were similar.
MS -- ". . . The Ramparts or walls, were formed of dirt which was taken in front of the fort. A deep canal or trench would likewise be formed . . . In addition to this they inserted a piece of Timber on the top of the Ramparts -- These pieces were about seven feet in length from the ground to top which was sharpened." (p. 54)
BM -- ". . . Moroni, caused that they (the Lamanites) should commence digging a ditch round about the land, or the city, Bountiful. And he caused that they should build a breast-work of timbers upon the inner bank of the ditch; and they cast up dirt out of the ditch against the breast-work of timbers; and thus they . . . encircled the city of Bountiful round about with a strong wall of timbers and earth, to an exceeding height." (Alma 53:3-4)
Comment summary on item #32: ****
This is one of Bown's better discoveries. These fortifications correspond well with the "mound-builder" earthworks, as described by Josiah Priest and Ethan Smith. These writers provided essentially the same descriptions as do Spalding and the Book of Mormon writers. Although the two ancient records share much in the way of thematic elements (as well as bits of common phraseology) with each other and with Priest and Smith, the over-all vocabulary used to describe these elements in Spalding is sometimes rather different from that used in the Book of Mormon.
(more comments on item #32)
33. There were classes among the people.
MS -- "Indeed the higher class of women were extremely fond of orniment. . ." (p. 21) "The females of the (higher class) most wealthy class. . ." (p. 23)
BM -- "And it came to pass that after much labor among them, they began to have success among the poor class of people." (Alma 32:2) And again: "And the people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning." (3 Nephi 6:12)
Comment summary on item #33: *
This barely qualifies as a parallel. Other than the royalty mentioned in the two accounts, and perhaps some ill-defined nobility, the only real class distinctions in the respective records appear to be based upon race and wealth. Within the Ohian and Nephite societies themselves, wealth creates something like an upper class, but this is not a formal institition.
(more comments on item #33)
34. The people were governed by kings.
MS -- The manuscript names Habelon, king of Chiango; Ulipoon, king of Michegan, Numapoon, king of Colorangus; Ramuch, king of Genesco. (pp. 81-82) The Ohons and Kentucks were ruled by Emperors.
BM -- Melchizedek was king of Salem (Alma 23:18), Nephi was a king of the Nephites (Jacob 1:9), Aaron was a king of the Lamanites, (Mormon 2:9), Amgid was a king of the Jaredites (Ether 10:32. And so on.
Comment summary on item #34: **
This parallel is valid, but Bown presents an incomplete view of the topic. There were royal administrations among the Jaredites, the Benjamin-Mosiah era Nephites, and the pre-Lobaska Ohians, but they seem to have had little in common. A better, but equally incomplete, parallel might be drawn between the rule of the judges in both accounts.
(more comments on item #34)
35. The kingship passed from father to son.
MS -- Labarmock succeeded his father on the Sciotan throne, and it was commanded that "the office shall be hereditary in the eldest male of his family. . ." (p. 43) The office of High Priest was also hereditary. (p. 44)
BM -- Benjamin was succeeded as king by his son Mosiah (Mosiah 6:3), Nephi succeeded his father Helaman (Helaman 3:37), Kim succeeded his father Moriaton (Ether 3:37), Laman was succeeded by his son (Mosiah 10:6), Zeniff was succeeded by his son (Mosiah 10:22), and so on.
Comment summary on item #35: ***
This observation is generally true, but it overlooks the fact that Nephite kings could resign from office and hand their powers over to (apparently) whomever they chose. This oddity may be paralleled by the practical resignations and disappearances of Alma and Lobaska in the two accounts.
(more comments on item #35)
36. Practiced communal living.
MS -- Fabius reported to his party: "Our community might be said to be one family, tho we lived in separate houses, situate near each other. The property was common stock -- what was produced by our labor was likewise to be common . . ." (p. 9)
BM -- "And they (Nephites and Lamanites) had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift." (4 Nephi 1:3)
Comment summary on item #36: ***
Only a relatively small portion of the peoples in either account ever practiced communal living. In each case, it is found among the gospel-influenced Christians. Going beyond the two records themselves, some of the communal practices they mention also were adopted by a few of Sidney Rigdon's followers and by several communiterian Mormon groups.
(more comments on item #36)
37. Trade and commerce practiced in times of peace.
MS -- It was the occupation of some of the Ohons to carry on "a bartering trade to the southwestward -- in order to furnish the people with cotton & other articles." (p. 22)
Lobaska, as arbiter between the Ohons and Kentucks in their first war, demanded "that the individuals of each nation may carry on a commerce with each other." (p. 40)
BM -- "And it came to pass that the Lamanites did also go whithersoever they would, whether it were among the Lamanites or among the Nephites; and thus they did have free intercourse one with another, to buy and sell, and to get gain, according to their gain." (Helaman 6:9)
"And they (Jaredites) were exceedingly industrious, and they did buy and sell and traffic with one another, that they might get gain." (Ether 10:22)
Cf. also 4 Nephi 1:46.
Comment summary on item #37: ***
The trade between the Sciotans and Kentucks paralleled that carried on among the Jaredites and that entered into by the Lamanites and Nephites. While the Ohians traded far afield for certain goods, nothing is said of Book of Mormon people engaging in international trade.
(more comments on item #37)
38. They had a system of taxation.
MS -- According to the Sciotan constitution the king and his counselors "may likewise lay taxes for the support of government & for the defence of the nation." (p. 43-44)
BM -- Noah laid a tax of one fifth part of all they possessed . . ." (Mosiah 11:3) Again: "For behold, we are in bondage to the Lamanites, and are taxed with a tax which is grievous to be borne." (Mosiah 7:15) Riplakish taxed the Jaredites "with heavy taxes; and with the taxes he did build many spacious buildings." (Ether 10:5)
Cf. also Mosiah 2:14, 11:16, etc.
Comment summary on item #38: **
Taxation in the two accounts is quite different. Book of Mormon taxes appear to be mostly onerous levies of goods and corvee labor, while Ohian taxes were levied for the legitimate support of a benevolent constitutional imperialism.
(more comments on item #38)
39. They wrote in characters.
MS -- The Ohons "had characters which represent words -- & all compound words had each part represented by its appropriate character . . . They generally wrote on parchment -- & beginning at the right wrote from the top to the bottom, placing each character directly under the preceding one." (p. 25)
BM -- "And now, behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian . . ." (Mormon 9:32)
Comment summary on item #39: ****
The Book of Mormon peoples brought their character-writing with them from Asia. Spalding's Lobaska, who was apparently also from Asia, brought similar characters with him and taught their use to the Ohians. While the Jaredites and Lehites were accustomed to inscribing their writings on metal, rather than on Ohian parchment, the use of characters in Spalding and the Mormon book is essentially the same.
(more comments on item #39)
40. They also wrote on a roll.
MS -- The Ohons generally wrote on parchment. . ." (p. 25). The constitution was on a roll, and on the "sacred Roll" was written the theology of the Ohons and is frequently mentioned. (Cf. p. 26, 28, 31, 35, etc.)
BM -- Practically all the writings of these peoples appears to have been engravings on metal plates, but note: "Moreover, the word of the Lord said unto me: Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man's pen, concerning Maher-shalal-hash-baz,"
Comment summary on item #40: *
Bown's quoting from the Book of Mormon Isaiah texts says nothing about Jaredite and Lehite writing materials. This is speculation, not a textual parallel.
(more comments on item #40)
41. They communicated by means of letters.
MS -- Elseon, a Kentuck prince, asks permission to marry the Sciotan Emperor's daughter by letter (p. 58); The Emperor replies by letter (p. 60); Elseon's beloved receives a letter from her father (p. 61); Rambock dispatches a demand to the Kentuck Emperor (p. 70); the Emperor replies by letter (p. 73); and so on.
BM -- Giddianhi, the robber chieftain, writes an epistle to Lachoneus (3 Nephi 3:1); Mormon writes an epistle to the king of the Lamanites (Mormon 6:2); Helaman writes to Moroni (Alma 56:1); and so on.
Comment summary on item #41: ***
The Nephite-Lamanite "epistles" are about the same as the Ohian letters. Both accounts use this literary device to personalize and enrich their narratives. There are also a number of sub-parallels to be found in the construction, methods, and context of use for the sets of letters quoted by both accounts.
(more comments on item #41)
42. The people were agricultural.
MS -- "The people (Ohons) obtained their living generally by the cultivation of the land . . ." (p. 21)
BM -- "And it came to pass that the people of Nephi did till the land and raise all manner of grain, and of fruit." (Enos 1:21)
Cf. also Mosiah 9:9, 1 Nephi 18:24, 2 Nephi 5:11, etc.
Comment summary on item #42: **
It comes as no surprise that both Spalding and the Book of Mormon offer us examples of farmers, livestock-raisers, and hunter-gatherers. Both accounts also give evidence of their peoples having a somewhat diversified economy. Generally speaking, the level they had reached in regard to agricultural and industrial technology was about the same.
(more comments on item #42)
43. Corn and wheat were raised. 11
MS -- "Corn, wheat, beans, squashes & carrots they raised in great abundance." (p. 22)
BM --"And we (people of Zeniff) began to till the ground, yea, even with all manner of seeds, with seeds of corn, and of wheat, and of barley . . ." (Mosiah 9:9). etc.
Comment summary on item #43: ****
The Ohians and Nephites both raised New World maize and Old World wheat. It is not surprising that both accounts mention the raising of corn. But the cultivation and harvesting of wheat was unknown among pre-Colombians of any type. It is significant that both records mention these two crops in the same breath.
(more comments on item #43)
44. They raised stock of various kinds.
MS -- "It was the occupation of a certain part of the men to tend upon the tame animals, to drive them to pasture & to keep them from straying and feed them when the snow was on the ground." (p. 22) The Ohons domesticated wild animals such as the elk, and also "had large numbers of turkeys and gees." (p. 22)
BM -- The Nephites raised "flocks of herds, and flocks of all manner of cattle of every kind, and goats, and wild goats, and also many horses." (Enos 1:21)
Comment summary on item #44: **
The known overlap between Ohian and Book of Mormon livestock seems to be limited to horses. There isn't much here upon which to construct a parallel, unless we just say that both accounts tell a bit about stock-raisers.
(more comments on item #44)
45. They domesticated large animals which are unknown today.
MS -- ". . . he offered to furnish us. . . with four Mamoons. . . These were an animal of prodigious magnitude, even biger than the eliphant." (p. 18) Also spelled "Mammouth." (p. 22), "mamouth (p. 75), and "mammoth" (p. 70).
BM -- And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants, and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms." (Ether 9:19)
Comment summary on item #45: ****
Since Asian elephants, at least, are easily domesticated, we can assume that when the Jaredites "had" elephants "which were useful unto man," they were domesticated animals. As such, these New World elephants correspond directly with those domesticated by the Ohians.
(more comments on item #45)
46. They domesticated horses.
MS -- "The ground was plowed by horses . . ." (p. 23)
"Hamboon mounted on an eligant Horse richly caparosoned. . ." (p. 89)
BM -- "And it came to pass that the people of Nephi did . . . raise . . . flocks of herds, and flocks of all manner of cattle of every kind, and goats, and wild goats, and also many horses." (Enos 21)
"And it came to pass that when Ammon had made ready the horses and chariots . . ." (Alma 18:12)
The Jaredites also used horses. (Ether 9:19)
Comment summary on item #46: ****
No herds of American horses roamed the plains of America when Columbus arrived. No evidence of Pre-Columbian bridles, bits, saddles, horseshoes, etc. have ever been uncovered. These facts alone put the Spalding horses and the Book of Mormon horses in the same category. Although Spalding does not have the Book of Mormon's chariot-pulling horses, he does have wheeled mechanisms rolling on his ground and war-horses in his battles. The parallel here is a significant one.
(more comments on item #46)
47. Dogs were known.
MS -- Two "Black Dogs" and two "White Dogs" were used by the Deliwans in one of their sacred festivals. (p. 12)
BM -- "But behold, it one day it was left desolate; and the carcases were mangled by dogs and wild beasts of the wilderness." (Alma 16:10)
Comment summary on item #47: **
The "dogs" in Alma are differentiated from the "wild beasts," and so were likely domesticated ones. Spalding's Deliwans ate their dogs; his Ohians merely kept them as domestic guards.
(more comments on item #47)
47b. (was 100.) Captured and domesticated fowls.16
MS -- The Deliwans lived by "fishing & fowling" etc. (p. 11), while the Ohons "had large numbers of turkeys and gees -- which tho' originally wild yet by treating them with great familiarity by croping their wings and feeding them frequently they discovered no disposition to ramble off but propogated their species & laid eggs in abundance" (p. 22).
BM -- When the Jaredites sailed they prepared all manner of food, including "whatsoever beast or animal or fowl that they should carry with them" (Ether 6:4); the fowls they had previously obtained with snares (Ether 2:2).
Amulek said that there should be "not a sacrifice of any manner of fowl" (Alma 34:10). Jacob is made to say: "And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people; and as one gathereth eggs that are left have I gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped" (2 Nephi 20:14).
Comment summary on item #47b: **
The Jaredites, like Spalding's Ohians, kept fowl. If the Nephites carried on the traditional temple offerings, they probably had doves. Amulek's addressing this very subject makes that likelihood all the more probable. Domestic turkeys were kept by pre-Columbians. But none of this quite adds up to the Lehites having kept the geese and other fowl which the Ohians had domesticated; Bown's parallel is an incomplete one.
(more comments on item #47b)
Go to: item #48