The Dale R. Broadhurst
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A New Basis for
The Spalding Theory:
Parallels of Theme and Vocabulary in
The Book of Mormon
The Oberlin Spalding Manuscript
Working Paper No. 10
by: Dale R.Broadhurst
Methodist Theological School in Ohio
Rev. 4: October 2000 (e-text)
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The Solomon Spalding manuscript currently in the Oberlin College Archives has been an object of controversy for nearly 150 years. During this time writers skeptical of Joseph Smith's account for the origin of the Book of Mormon have often turned to Spalding's literary artifact to support their various theories for the Mormon book' s "true" authorship. (01)
The possibility of there being some link between Spalding and the Book of Mormon was first promoted at the end of 1833 when D. Philastus Hurlbut, a recently excommunicated Latter Day Saint Elder, began lecturing on the subject in and around Kirtland, Ohio.(02) These lectures, long since lost and forgotten, set the tone and much of the substance for Eber D. Howe's 1834 exposure of Mormonism.(03) In them Hurlbut contended that the Book of Mormon had been plagiarized from the unpublished writings of a former Congregational minister named Solomon Spalding. He didn't argue that the untitled Spalding manuscript(04) now housed at Oberlin College was the source for this alleged plagiarism, but instead solicited testimony from Spalding's former neighbors that a later work, entitled the "Manuscript Found," was the original source for much of the Saints' sacred book.(05)
There exists only fragmentary evidence suggesting that Hurlbut actually recovered a Spalding story matching early descriptions of the "Manuscript Found.(06) Whether or not he did find this legendary story in 1833, Hurlbut did, in fact, recover and bring to Ohio the untitled "Oberlin manuscript" penned by Rev. Spalding manuscript. This he gave to Howe early in 1834, along with other anti-Mormon documents he had collected.(07) Howe's book described the Oberlin document in a short paragraph where he dismissed it as an early Spalding tale having no resemblance to the later "Manuscript Found"(08) and thus presumably no resemblance to the Book of Mormon either. Howe could find no further use for the manuscript and it soon became lost among the papers accumulated in the Painesville Telegraph newspaper office -- where it remained for fifty years before coming to light among some of those same papers in the Honolulu home of Lewis L. Rice in August of 1884. During the intervening fifty years the description in Howe's short paragraph describing the novelette still occasionally gave rise to speculation that it might have some connection with the Book of Mormon.(09)
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This occasional speculation faded, however, in 1885 when Lewis L. Rice entrusted the Hawaii find to Oberlin College President James H. Fairchild, who in turn allowed its publication by the Reorganized LDS Church.(10) The RLDS printing initially seemed to verify Mormon claims that the Oberlin novelette was in no way related to the Book of Mormon. Fairchild, a respected scholar and educator, compared the two works and announced in 1886, "the manuscript has no resemblance to the Book of Mormon except in some very general features. There is not a name or incident common to the two."(11) Fairchild further theorized that the Hawaii find was the very same "Manuscript Found" seen by Spalding's Ohio neighbors over sixty years previous to his own examination of the story.. According to Fairchild, the dim memories of these old Spalding associates, coupled with pernicious prompting from D. P. Hurlbut in 1833, produced the mistaken reports of there once having existed two separate Spalding works, one of which read much the same as the Book of Mormon.(12)
The developments of 1885 caused a temporary lull in claims from the Spalding authorship advocates. Obviously the Oberlin Spalding holograph was not the same story as was told in the Book of Mormon, and in addition to that, a noted non-Mormon scholar had pronounced the Spalding authorship claims a dead issue. This respite was not permanent, however; eventually investigative writers began to point out what they saw as unusual textual parallels in the published Oberlin manuscript and the Latter Day Saint scriptural book. This new clique of critics primarily reported on general thematic similarities in the two works. For example, they notoiced that both texts told of ocean voyages to the New World; both told of a war of extermination between two related ancient peoples, etc.(13) Even the most disinterested of readers could reasonably predict that two stories relating the purported history of the ancient Americans would contain at least a few similarities in theme and language. But early twentieth century investigators like Theodore A. Schroeder, J. E. Mahaffy, T. C. Smith, Charles Shook, George Arbaugh, M. C. Bown and James Bales uncovered what appeared to be a truly remarkable collection of such similarities.in the two texts.(14) The majority of these new critics believed that their lengthy compilations of detailed thematic affinities "proved" that the Book of Mormon had been pirated from Spalding's work. Writing in 1902, the Rev. J. E. Mahaffy reported that the Oberlin manuscript was only "the first crude outline of the story written by Spalding, and was probably never exhibited to anyone by him. The wonder is that this crude block-out of the romance contains so many points of detailed identity with the final copy; and that so many points of identity have been retained... all of this is additional evidence that a later copy did furnish the basis for the Book of Mormon."(15)
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Such reasoning was typical for those who were predisposed to see a connection between Spalding's work and the Mormon book. To help explain the reason for the large number of textual similarities, most of these critics advanced the notion that the Oberlin Spalding manuscript was only a sort of "rough draft" for his later, expanded historical romance. Taking a clue from Howe's book, they guessed that Spalding had a revised his plot and created new, more biblically-styled characters when he wrote his expanded "Manuscript Found." Enough of the first story's theme had supposedly been retained in the rewriting to establish the firm likelihood that Solomon Spalding had indeed authored the Book of Mormon story. This twentieth century critics' consensus theory was generally reinforced by their quoting from early testimony saying that the more secular parts of the Book of Mormon could be traced directly back to Spalding's writings. According to the early witnesses who provided this kind of testimony, most of the Mormon book's "religious material" must have come from the pen of a later redactor who interwove his theology with Spalding's pseudo-history. Obviously this theoretical editor must have been a person who was keenly interested in promulgating a new "scriptural" basis in order to establishin an Amercan religious community of the Christian primitivist and millenarian mold.(16)
These kinds of authorship arguments were fairly common among non-Mormon writers between about 1900 and 1945, the year in which Fawn McKay Brodie's popular biography of Joseph Smith Jr. appeared.(17) While Brodie accepted the critics' views on the non-historiocity of the Mormons' scriptural book, she could not accept the arguments of Charles Shook and others who claimed that the Oberlin manuscript was a rough draft for the Book of Mormon. Like Lewis L. Rice and James H. Fairchild before her, Brodie concluded that, "there was only one Spaulding manuscript, there were certain similarities between it and The Book of Mormon which, though not sufficient to justify the thesis of common authorship, might have given rise to the conviction of Spaulding's neighbors that the one was a plagiarism of the other."(18)
Brushing aside the critics' compilations of textual parallels, Brodie argued somewhat convincingly that the witnesses to Spalding's literary efforts were unreliable in their recollections.(19) This notion of the Spalding authorship claims having been based upon faulty memories became so widely accepted in the second half of the twentieth century that it has strongly influenced the reasoning of both attackers and defenders of the Book of Mormon down to the present day.<(20) When attempts were made by a handful of investigators to revive the Spalding claims between 1976 and 1978 , those efforts were soundly refuted by Saints and skeptics alike.(21)
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THE NEED FOR FURTHER INQUIRY
Today one might ask whether there is any reason to even consider entering into a re-examination of the Spalding claims. After all, the published arguments of widely accepted writers such as Fairchild and Brodie can easily be put to use in support of the traditional Latter Day Saint position on the Spalding "theory". If the pronouncements of leading Elders in the restoration churches(22) do not convince modern minds of the futility of any such re-examination, should those inquiring minds not at least accept the equally dissuading conclusions of the critics in this matter?
After a lengthy study of the subject, its history and the various claims and counter-claims, the current author strongly believes that there is a need for further productive inquiry into the old Spalding authorship claims. This conclusion is founded upon the outcome of his lengthy and detailed examination of the Oberlin manuscript and the Book of Mormon. While the primary focus of that examination was upon a close reading of the two texts themselves, it also included an exhaustive perusal of the mountain of previous reporting which has accumulated on the subject over the last 160 years. After concluding this study in 1980, it is the author's candid conviction that the textual parallels previously mentioned are so numerous, detailed, and arranged that serious consideration must be given regarding the probable internal relationship of the two texts.
While inspecting the findings of the aforementioned textual examination, the reader can benefit by keeping three essential questions in mind:
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The first question offered for consideration is: How does the text of the Book of Mormon resemble the text of the Spalding manuscript? This reporter's study indicates that lengthy segments of the Latter Day Saint book do indeed bear a striking thematic and linguistic resemblance to certain, limited parts of the Spalding work. This fact has been pointed out by other writers numerous times in the past; but it has been largely disregarded by contemporary students of Mormon history and scriptures in the wake of the extensively published Fairchild and Brodie arguments.(23) Surprisingly however, neither Fairchild, Brodie, nor those later writers who quote and support their assertions in this matter, demonstrate any clear evidence of their having carefully examined the texts they speak about so freely. Incredible as it may seem, no previous writer on the subject had ever subjected the Spalding manuscript to even the most basic tools in the scientific method prior to April 1979.(24) Though scores of supposedly authoritative statements have been printed telling how the Oberlin manuscript's story does or does not resemble the Book of Mormon, none of these appear to have been based upon a critical examination of the texts themselves. Prior to 1979 no expert in literary source criticism or in statistical "word-print" analysis had ever issued a substantial report on this subject, while more recent writers have generally avoided the matter of textual parallels altogether.(25) Past commentary on this issue has usually been confined to the subjective pronouncements of various defenders of predetermined "pro" and "con" positions in debates over the validity of Mormon doctrines or over the veracity of early Latter Day Saint leaders such as Joseph Smith, Jr.
The Oberlin Spalding ManuscriptGiven the fact that no standardized or quantative methodology was used prior to 1979 in any critical study of the Spalding manuscript, and given the additional fact that the past reports echoed sharply polarized contending viewpoints, there need be little wonder that not even a reliable transcript of the Spalding text was available to readers prior to 1980. This is particularly regrettable in that the old published editions of the Oberlin Spalding text are grossly inaccurate in such important matters as the correct spelling of personal and place names.(26)
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The first informal reports on these preliminary studies were made available to certain reviewers in 1979 and 1980(29), but only after writing and submitting those initial reports did the writer conclude taking measurements and collating the results for use in an analysis of the texts. The first tangible result of this effort was the 1980 charting of the vocabulary common to the Spalding manuscript and the Book of Mormon.
In Figure I a graph line representing the count of words common to both texts (30) has been superimposed over a chart of the 15 internal divisions of the Oberlin Spalding manuscript. The displacement of that graph line in the Y direction indicates the relative change in word count: the higher the position of the graph line the higher the common vocabulary overlap with the Book of Mormon at that point in the Spalding manuscript. A semi-logarithmic division of the Y axis accentuates the visual portrayal of word count fluctuations throughout the manuscript.
Such a wide fluctuation in vocabulary count was unexpected. One might expect a text totally unrelated to that in the Book of Mormon to maintain a generally flat profile across the graph. Instead of confirming that expectation, the graph line shows wide fluctuations in vocabulary overlap throughout the Spalding text. These fluctuations in the graph line correspond to relatively large changes in how much Spalding's text at various points does or does not resembles that of the Book of Mormon. At certain points the measured Spalding text and its concomitant story line are significantly similar to the Mormon book's wording and story line; at other points the two works are obviously very different.
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Figure I: Book of Mormon Vocabulary as Measured in the Oberlin Spalding Manuscript
Where the common word count is relatively high, one can expect the manuscript to possess a corresponding high degree of linguistic similarity to the Mormon text. This similarity is measurably strong at the very beginning of the Spalding story. Then comes a series of fluctuations through the middle of the story that lead to a vocabulary overlap culmination at the end of the unfinished manuscript. In comparing the graph line levels through story's internal divisions, with one another, the careful observer will see that its "Introduction" and Chapters I, VII, VIII, XIII and XIV rank as relatively high in their vocabulary resemblance to the Book of Mormon, as a whole, while Chapters II, IV, V, VI and IX rank near the bottom of the scale in resemblance.
The thematic evolution of the story told in the Oberlin manuscript can also be examined with the aid of this graph. The story begins with information on the abridged civil and religious records of the ancient inhabitants of America. This introductory section is immediately followed by an account in Chapter I relsating a stormy ocean voyage in which Old World peoples are directed to a divinely appointed landing in the Americas.
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Despite its modification by fluctuations in common vocabulary count, the graph line generally rises throughout the story until it finally culminates by indicating a remarkably high correlation with Book of Mormon vocabulary. It is at the very end of Spalding's unfinished manuscript where its text most resembles that of the Book of Mormon. This progressive increase in vocabulary is partly due to an absolute increase in the number of words Spalding used as he progressed in telling his story. A second factor contributing to the word count increase comes from the fact that Spalding wrote a larger number of words on each page of his manuscript as neared the last part of the unfinished story. As additional words are introduced into the manuscript and repetitively used in telling its story, the possibility of its vocabulary overlap with the Mormon book increases. But the major factor in this progressive increase in vocabulary overlap in the manuscript is simply due to the fact that its final two chapters include significantly more themes and terms which are generally characteristic of the Book of Mormon narrative.(32)
This numerical evolution in textual resemblance measurement is extraordinary when its is vieweed from the prespective offered by least one external consideration. If the Spalding manuscript is indeed something like the "rough draft" some have claimed it to be for the story told in the Book of Mormon, one would expect it to possess just such a characteristic of progressive resemblance, as the former story would have both first suggested and then evolved into overlapping elements of the latter story.(33)
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Figure II: Distribution of Book of Mormon Texts Resembling Spalding's Writings
Figure II (detail): The Account of General Moroni the First in the Book of Mormon
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The Book of Mormon
Study of the 167 page Oberlin manuscript in direct comparison to the Latter Day Saint book is greatly facilitated by the concordances, dictionaries and published studies on the Book of Mormon. The reciprocal examination, in which the Book of Mormon is studied for resemblance to the manuscript, has (until very recently) been a much different matter. At the time this reporter began his investigation no illuminative studies, concordances or dictionaries devoted to Spalding's writings were anywhere available. In comparing the Book of Mormon to Spalding's work, the current writer was was at first only able to make a series of more or less random cross-examinations.34 Even given this limitation considerable data documenting thematic and vocabulary overlaps was compiled. This compilation made possible the preparation of the generalized Book of Mormon chart pictured in Figure II.35
The Spalding manuscript chart previously referred to shows more or less gradual patterns change in that document's vocabulary resemblance to the Mormon book; the chart prepared for the Book of Mormon reveals a more complex pattern. The segments of the LDS text that are most like Spalding's writings in terms of common word count and common story plot elements tend to be compact blocks of text containing relatively high counts of words and ideas in common with the manuscript.36 Figure II (above) shows that by far the largest of these blocks of high textual overlap occurs between Alma XX and Helaman I.37 This extraordinary block of narrative matches almost exactly with the time-span of Moroni I's career as a great war hero in the Alma and Helaman history.
The Moroni war stories contain practically countless instances of parallels in theme and vocabulary with the Spalding romance, and it is from this section of the Book of Mormon that writers have taken a great many of their points of supposed "identity" with Spalding's writings.38 In addition to this major block of text there are numerous shorter sections scattered throughout the book which also bear an uncanny resemblance to Spalding's prose. A careful examination of these blocks shows that their locations throughout the story often match closely with the chapter divisions of the Latter Day Saint scripture, where the story theme often changes abruptly and new subjects or characters are sometimes introduced. This pattern of a correspondence between high degrees of textual resemblance and divisions within the Mormon text is particularly evident at I Nephi V, Alma XX, Helaman I, Mormon I-III and Ether VI.
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At this point the reader can consider three other charts documenting textual patterns occuring within the Book of Mormon.
Figure III: Distribution of Book of Mormon Texts Typical of the Old Testament
In the first of these charts, Figure IlI (above), the pattern of textual resemblance of the Book of Mormon to the KJV Bible's "Old Testament" is illustrated.(39) When the Mormon book's passages quoting or paraphrasing Old Testament terminology are charted out, a pattern appears which looks somewhat similar in its structure to that already encountered in Figure II. As in that previous chart, blocks of text showing a very strong resemblance to a pre-existing literary work can be found scattered throughout the Book of Mormon, but they occur primarily as a concentration in one major block that is considerably larger than any other similar block in the chart. In this case that single notable block occurs in the 8th, 9th and 10th chapters of II Nephi where the Book of Mormon reproduces, with slight variance, a portion of the biblical book of Isaiah (reportedly taken from Laban's "plates of brass").
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Figure IV: Distribution of Book of Mormon Texts Typical of the New Testament
In the second chart, Figure IV (above), the occurrence of textual blocks greatly resembling New Testament phraseology is illustrated.(40) Once again, cluster patterns are evident in the chart, though the textual resemblance occurrences are not clumped together in discrete blocks to the same marked degree as can be seen in the charting of resemblances to Spalding and to the Old Testament. The Christophany related in III Nephi is perhaps marginally primary example of clustering in this scattering of texts closely resembling the New Testament. Other clusters of similar magnitude occur in the middle of I Nephi, in Jacob (and on either side of Jacob, in II Nephi and Mosiah), and near the beginning of Alma.
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Figure V: Generalized Chart of Book of Mormon Sections Characteristic of Spalding Locations,
in Relation to the Location of Texts Typical of the Bible. (A detailed depiction is also available.)
In the third chart, Figure V (above), data from the three previous charts have been combined to form a single, composite picture of the Book of Mormon. Here a hitherto unrecognized pattern in the book's text becomes visible. Though the turquoise-colored biblical type material is widely and profusely scattered throughout the Book of Mormon, it occurs essentially separate and apart from the "Spaldingish" texts. Only rarely do the two types of material overlap each other to the point of forming a hybrid textual intermixture.
Some of the Mormon text appears to be made up of alternating short segments from both the "biblical" and "Spaldingish" categories, while other sections shows no marked resemblance to either Spalding's writings or to the Bible. These unclassified green-colored sections of text are labeled on the chart as "matrix."
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At this point another consideration external to the study of the texts might well be mentioned. If the Oberlin Spalding manuscript was a kind of "rough draft" for Spalding's subsequent, primarily secular history of the ancient Americans -- and if (as several early witnesses claim) much Christian religious material was later interpolated into Spalding's secular history -- one might expect the textual patterns resulting from such redaction to appear as somewhat similar to those illustrated in Fig. V.
Some Basic Textual Similarities in the Two WorksReturning to the first question: How does the text of the Book of Mormon resemble the text of the Spalding manuscript? the examiner can fairly say that those parts of the Book of Mormon that present basically a secular historical narrative bear the closest thematic and linguistic resemblance to the writings of Spalding, as we know them from his Oberlin manuscript. When the Mormon book's Nephite scribes write of adventures, journeys, wars and contentions they often sound much like Spalding. When they turn to visions, sermons, oracles, and religious history, their resemblance to Spalding drops off significantly. Small examples of this phenomena can be seen in Figure II (above) where blank segments of non-Spaldingish text (moderately high in religious thematic and vocabulary content) here and there break up the Spaldingish narrative found between Alma XX and Helaman I.
It would require laborious preparation to adequately portray the locations and inter-relationships of the many details in textual similarity occuring in the two works. Completion of that task would entail the application of a more rigidly defined methology and the compilation of quantified documentation far beyond the limited scope of this paper and the study results it reports. Hopefully, serious students of the Book of Mormon will one day perform these kinds of narrowly focused textual studies and present findings that may fill in some of the gaps in this report.(41) One brief example of the type of textual affinity deserving of such in-depth study can be mentioned here. Between Alma XX and Helaman I there is a remarkable feature in the text worthy of special note. This particular story-block abounds in proper names which contain short and identical syllables or unique letter combinations. While these kinds of names are commonplace throughout much of the Book of Mormon.(42)they are of particular interest when they occur so frequently and with so much variety as in this Spaldingish block. A compilation of these names brings to light a shared constructional feature normative to most names in the Spalding work and this adds an additional point of "identity" between the two texts.
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Figure VI: Similarities in Spalding and Book of Mormon Original Proper Names Constructions
(A more exhaustive list of the Oberlin Spalding manuscript names is available online)
Consider the letter combination patterns evident in the Figure VI. lists. While it is true that only one name is common to Spalding and the entire Book of Mormon,(43) this tabulation demonstrates a remarkable resemblance in how original names are constructed in Spalding and in the Alma XX - Helaman I text segment. Certain internal syllables, prefixes and suffixes recur throughout the name sets, forming patterns in nomenclature that are unlikely to have arisen purely by chance in either text. One possible explanation for the origin of nomenclature patterns such as these would be to speculate that the respective authors selected some initial root names and then built up secondary names from syllables chosen from root names. Syllabels from the names Helorum (a place in Sicily) and Kishkumenitas (a place in Pennsylvania) may have been selected by the author to provide the several "Hel" and "Cumen" phonemic sets found in the Book of Mormon. The biblical Nimrod may have provided the "rod" suffix common to a couple of names in the Oberlin story. The use of such a methodology by the authors is nowhere conclusively evidenced in the texts themselves, but Spalding's erasures, additions, and overwitings for certain names are probably consistent with its application in his manuscript at least.
Samples of the TextsIn Figure VII (below) a page from the Alma XX - Helaman I textual block is presented alongside a page from the end of Spalding's 12th chapter. These two pages are examples from the respective stories containing what might be termed "moderate resemblance" to the other work. In the two examples word groups common to both works are underlined and vocabulary common to both is colored red. Notice that both examples contain the phrase "die(d)... in the cause of their country and (of) their God." This unique, non-biblical phrase is a typical example of the common phraseolohy that causes the two texts to resemble each other at certain points. These two very similar phrases in Spalding and the Book of Mormon have more in common than their both containing sets of the same words strung together in the same order. The idea that those who die in battle, defending their country in God's cause, ascend quickly to the bliss of heaven is one found in both the Spalding Manuscript and the Book of Mormon.(44) This kind of dual textual resemblance well represents the combination of unique theme and vocabulary that elevates certain textual affinities from the status of the mundane to that of the significant
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Investigation of resemblance in the two works need not be limited to locating examples of unusual textual affinities. Figure VIII (above) shows a page from the third chapter of Spalding's manuscript which has little resemblance to anything in the Book of Mormon. Next to Spalding's page is one from the Book of Mormon which reproduces passages from the book of Isaiah. One might expect an experienced preacher like Spalding to have used an occasional biblical expression, and that may account for some the vocabulary marked in red on his page. But, although both pages contain the word group in the midst of, and although Spalding reproduces on his page an expression from Deuteronomy (highlighted in green), it would be difficult to find any two pages of text less alike than these. A report on the two texts which limited itself to examining examples such as this one might present a convincing case for there being no resemblance whatever in Spalding and the Book of Mormon.. The opposite is equally true: a report that listed only examples of unusual textual affinity would tend to obscure the fact that in many places the two works bear little resemblance to each another.
Unfortunately just such limited examination of the texts appears to have been the methodology employed by many investigators in the past. Some of these writers focused their reporting on compiling a potpourri of Spalding similarities in order to "prove" the Book of Mormon a fraud.. Others have published recreant reports proclaiming that there is no substantial resemblance between any part of the Oberlin Spalding manuscript and any part of the Book of Mormon.(45) These purposefully misleading reports, coupled with reporting carried out in near total ignorance (such as that published by James H. Fairchild), have sustained the illusion that the Book of Mormon has been shown to be either a total plagiarism or to bear absolutely no resemblance to the writings of Spalding. Today there is ample evidence available to show that both of these mutually exclusive notions are journalistic veils that serve only to obscure the need for objective studies.
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REASONS FOR THE RESEMBLANCE
The second question previously stated was: Why does the Book of Mormon resemble the Oberlin Spalding manuscript? Until a great deal more study has been carried out, it is likely that few satisfactory answers will be directed toward answering this question. Without resorting to external evidence, perhaps the best that one can do now is to offer some reasonable conjecture. Perhaps all the similarities in the two texts are due purely to chance and similar levels of vocabulary correspondence might well occur in many diverse sets of historical works written in the same language. Perhaps, as Susan Curtis has suggested, the similarities are there because both books belong to a common genre of nineteenth century literature dealing with the origin of the American Indians.46 It is also possible that Joseph Smith, Jr. or one of the other persons involved in the Book of Mormon "translation" process, had at some previous time been exposed to some of Spalding's stories.47 If this happened, an unconscious application of bits and pieces from his work could have unintentionally crept into the "translation" process. This theory might even be extended to a remarkable instance of extrasensory perception on the part of these latter day seers, revelators and translators.48
Finally there remains the possibility that the parallels in the two texts arise from their sharing a mutual reliance upon a hitherto unidentified source. This answer could well be extended to include the probability of common authorship. If future textual scholarship supports this disturbing answer to the question, the examination of external evidence for their having been a mutual author would necessarily become an important undertaking for Mormons and non-Mormons alike.. The need for this kind of critical inquiry may well arise before long. And, if it does, the attention of the investigators might well be directed to the additional parallels with Spalding that are to be found in other Latter Day Saint writings, such as the Joseph Smith re-working of the KJV Bible and 1842 Times & Seasons "History of Joseph Smith." Additional odd parallels with ideas from Spalding's might also be discovered in a careful examination of the social and religious views of the earliest Mormons.(49)
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The third question requiring an answer is: What are the probable consequences arising from the fact that portions of the Book of Mormon do indeed resemble Spalding's work to a remarkable degree?
For one thing, the historians of the Latter Day Saint restoration movement and the scholars of restoration scriptures can no longer parrot the often repeated remark that the two works are in no way alike. But beyond this elementary fact, it appears likely that facing these textual challenges will eventually compel the Saints to apply an additional measure of intellectual maturity and scholarly professionalism in their futire studies of the Book of Mormon and Mormon origins. The vintage suggestions of Douglas Wilson50, calling for a critical text of the original Book of Mormon remain unfulfilled. There have been laudable efforts51 made in thois respect in recent years, but much remains to be done before serious students of the work will have the necessary research and exegesis tools at their fingertips.
Another probable consequence resulting from these textual challenges is that the supposed historicity of the Book of Mormon story will be weakened beyond repair. In view of the lack of determinative archaeological support for the pre-Columbian cultures spoken of in the Book of Mormon, every instance in which the book is shown to bear signs of an early nineteenth century origin serves only to weaken the case made for its historical verity. Whether or not portions of the Book of Mormon can be attributed to the pen of Solomon Spalding, Ethan Smith, or some other early nineteenth century writer, the very fact that it can be closely and fruitfully compared to their known literary works strengthens its ties to nineteenth century American fictional and speculative writing.
The findings arising from a critical study of the two texts will perhaps also result in the transformation of certain viewpoints previously associated "anti-Mormons" into the stuff of serious scholarship. Untangling the knots of mystery in the Spalding theory need no longer be seen as a negative endeavor; rather it can best be regarded as reasonable and necessary inquiry into a thorny problem that has troubled the LDS restoration movement since its inception.
Check back in the near future to view the finished product.
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1A large number of books and articles have been devoted to the so-called "Spalding theory" in general and to the Oberlin manuscript in particular. The best overview and bibliography on this subject published to date is found in Lester E. Bush, Jr.'s "The Spalding Theory Then and Now," Dialogue X:4 (Autumn 1977), pp. 40-69. For additional recent studies see Charles H. Whittier and Stephen W. Stathis, "The Enigma of Solomon Spalding," loc. cit., pp. 70-73, Howard A. Davis et. al., Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? (Santa Ana, CA 1977), and Wilford Smith, "In the Shadow of Solomon Spaulding," (unpublished paper in the possession of Rex. C. Reeve, Jr., professor at the Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University).
2 Hurlbut was a prolific public speaker in his younger years. Before joining the Saints in March of 1833 he had been a Methodist exhorter and had given numerous lectures on a variety of subjects. As a Mormon missionary with young Daniel Copely in NW PA his efforts helped bring in a number of converts, but following his excommunication in June of 1833 he returned to that same region to present anti-Mormon lectures. Traveling to the East later that year, he continued his lectures while collecting statements critical of Joseph Smith, Jr.; see Benjamin Winchester, The Origin of the Spaulding Story, (Philadelphia 1840), pp. 5-8 and Maria S. Hurlbut's "statement" in the Chicago Historical Society's Mormon Collection: Arthur B. Deming Manuscripts, (hereinafter cited Deming "MSS").
Although Hurlbut based his August 1833 lectures in Kirtland, Mentor and the Conneaut area on an embryonic plagiarism theory, it wasn't until December of 1833 that he announced any evidence or supporting details in the press. See Winchester, op. cit. pp. 8-10, "Mormon Mystery Developed," Wayne (NY) Sentinel, Dec. 20, 1833 and an unsigned letter dated December 31, 1833 in the Mrs. Hiram Lake documents in the New York Public Library's Manuscripts Section. Hurlbut's lecturing in and around Kirtland following his return from the East was short-lived. Joseph Smith, Jr. moved quickly with legal measures designed to restrain Hurlbut and on Jan. 15, 1834 a magistrate's court in Painesville placed him under an order to keep the peace. The county court upheld the order. See "Statement of J(ohn) C. Dowen," Deming "MSS," op. cit. and Geauga Co., Ohio, "Journal of the Court of Common Pleas, Book M" pp. 193ff. (April 9, 1834).
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3 Eber D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed . . . (Painesville, OH 1834), especially Chapter XIX and "To the Public," Painesville Telegraph, Jan. 31, 1834.
4 Despite repeated efforts down through the years to identify this work as the "Manuscript Found," there is no evidence that the Spalding holograph ever bore such a title. Even the often cited title "Manuscript Story, Conneaut Creek" cannot be traced to Spalding. Because of this and because of Howe's distinct separation of the two stories, the work should be cited as: Solomon Spalding, MS (untitled manuscript in the Oberlin College Archives). See Arthur B. Deming, "Mormon Forgery," Naked Truths About Mormonism 1 (Oakland, CA 1888, hereinafter cited as Naked Truths) and William H, Kelley's letter in the Saints' Herald 32 (August 8, 1885), pp. 511-512.
5 Howe, op. cit., pp. 278-290.
6 That Spalding wrote other stories besides the Oberlin manuscript appears certain. See Howe, op. cit., pp. 283-284, 287-288, Redick M'Kee, "Solomon Spaulding Again," the Washington (PA) Reporter, April 21, 1869, Josiah Spalding letter in Samuel J. Spalding, The Spalding Memorial, (Boston, 1872, rev. 2nd ed. edited by Charles W. Spalding, Chicago, 1897), pp. 237-239, Matilda Spalding McKinstry's 'statement' in Ellen E. Dickinson, "The Book of Mormon," Scribner's Monthly, XX:615, (August 1880), Eber D. Howe letter and interview in Ellen E. Dickinson, New Light on Mormonism, (NYC 1885), pp. 72-73, 259, Redick M'Kee letter of Jan. 26, 1886 in Deming "MSS," op. cit., Fred Van Campen letter of June 3, 1885 listed in Susan F. Zearing, "Letters and Papers of James Harris Fairchild," Vol. III (unpublished bibliography in the Oberlin College Library), Frederick Wright, "The Recently Discovered 'Solomon Spaulding' Manuscript . . ." Oberlin Review XIII (Feb. 20, 1886), p. 133, Matilda Spalding McKinsfry letter of Nov. 8, 1886 in Deming "MSS," op. cit., and Rachel Derby letter and S. S. Osborn "statement," Naked Truths 1, op. cit.
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Even some Mormon sources support the existence of at least one manuscript quite different from the Hawaii find; see D. Tyler, "The Spaulding Story," Deseret Evening News, Jan. 16, 1878.
While there is ample evidence that Spalding wrote a romance entitled the "Manuscript Found" there is no conclusive proof that Hurlbut ever obtained a story by that name. Despite his later denials of ever having that particular work in his possession, a number of statements from residents of the Kirtland area testify that in his early 1834 lectures Hurlbut did indeed display this legendary manuscript for public comparison to the Book of Mormon. If this is true the manuscript of that title had disappeared by the time that Howe's book went to press. There were early reports that Hurlbut (or Howe) had obtained the "Manuscript Found" in New York and had sold it to the Mormon leadership. One authoress even suggests that Howe's retirement from his newspaper editorship in 1835 came as a result of a Mormon payoff in the affair; see Dowen, Deming "MSS," op. cit., "About Spaulding," "Several Copies of 'Manuscript Found'," and "W. R. Hine's Statement," all three in Naked Truths< 1, op. cit., also "Charles Grove's Statement" and "Jacob Sherman's Statement," Naked Truths 2, op. cit.. James A. Briggs' wrote several letters or articles on this subject; see Briggs' March, 1875 letter in J. Godman's article: "Mormonism," The International Review XI (Sept. 1881) pp. 222-223, a second letter in the New York TribuneJan. 31, 1886, a third letter to Arthur B. Deming dated March 22, 1886, Naked Truths, op. cit., and a fourth letter to the NY Watchman, reprinted in the Chicago Daily Tribune, Oct. 2, 1886, p. 10. For supporting references see John Storrs and D. R. Austin, letters, in John A. Clark, Gleanings by the Way, (Philadelphia 1842), pp. 261-266, Dickinson, New Light . . . op. cit., pp. 25-27, 64-73, 260, and Eva. L. Pancoast, Mormons at Kirtland, (unpublished thesis, Case Western Reserve University, 1929) Apendix I, pp. 9-10.
Several of these sources are of questionable veracity. On Deming see Richard L. Anderson, "Joseph Smith's New York Reputation Reappraised," BYU Studies X:283-314 (Spring 1970). Obvious flaws have been discovered in Pancoast's report; see Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History, (NYC 1945, second rev. ed., 1977), p. 145 and Max A. Parkin, "The Nature and Causes of Internal and External Conflict of the Mormons . . ." (thesis, Brigham Young University, 1966: published in edited form as Conflict at Kirtland, Salt Lake City, 1967), p. 126, fn. 107.
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7 Various theories exist as to why Hurlbut turned his material over to Howe for publication and as to how much of Mormonism Unvailed was actually authored by Hurlbut. Perhaps a broad interpretation of the 1834 court restraining order barred Hurlbut s local publication of the inflamatory material under his own name. A more likely explanation is that Hurlbut's relationship with his financial backers such as Grandison Newell had deteriorated to the point that they were no longer willing to pay his publication costs. The choice of Eber D. Howe as publisher was probably based upon his record as an anti-Mormon printer despite his wife and daughter being members of the church. Howe was aware of the Kirtland area anti-Mormons having commisioned Hurlbut's 1833 invesigative journeys and Howe was probably a member or an associate of the group. There is a report that a "Dr. Rosa" of Painesville was involved in the editing whereby material from back numbers of Howe's paper was introduced into the book's first fourteen chapters and letters on OH Mormonism by Ezra Booth reprinted in the lengthy fifteenth chapter. This reproduction of newspaper articles, along with the inclusion of affidavits and extensive quotations from Mormon scripture, left little space in the volume for much text to have been penned by Hurlbut.
The lack of a close relationship between Hurlbut and Howe was underscored by Howe's deletion of many of Hurlbut's affidavits from the book, his trip to Conneaut to double-check the truthfulness of the statements, and his cheating Hurlbut out of payment by surreptitiously supplying the suscribers with books before Hurlbut could deliver copies to them. See Benjamin F. Johnson Journal, p. 16, LDS Church Archives, Sidney Rigdon's letter of May 27, 1839 in Parley P. Pratt, Plain Facts . . . (Manchester, UK 1840), pp, 14-16, George A, Smith, "Divine Origin of Mormonism," Journal of Discourses VII:113 (Liverpool, 1860), "Statement by E. D. Howe" and Maria S. Hurlbut's statement, Deming "MSS," op. cit., "Mr. Bell's Statement," Naked Truths 1, op. cit., and James B, Allen and Leonard J, Arrington, "Mormon Origins in New York," BYU Studies, X:246, fn, 7, (Spring 1969).
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8 Howe's report (Mormonism Unvailed, op. cit., p. 288) reads:
"The trunk referred to by the widow, was subsequently examined, and found to contain only a single M.S. book, in Spalding's hand-writing, containing about one quire of paper. This is a romance, purporting to have been translated from the Latin, found on 24 (sic.) rolls of parchment in a cave, on the banks of Conneaut Creek, but written in modern style, and giving a fabulous account of a ship's being driven upon the American coast while proceeding from Rome to Britain, a short time previous to the Christian era, this has country then being inhabited by the Indians. This old M.S. been shown several of the foregoing witnesses, who recognise it as Spalding's, he having told them that he had altered his first plan of writing, by going farther back with dates, and writing in the old scripture style, in order that it might appear more ancient. They say that it bears no resemblance to the 'Manuscript Found.'"
9 Robert Patterson, Jr., (the son of the Pittsburgh businessman whose print shop temporarily retained Spalding's "Manuscript Found" c. 1812-1813) investigated the Spalding theory extensively. His report on the subject was entitled "Solomon Spaulding and the Book of Mormon," in Boyd Crumrine (editor), History of Washington County . . . (Philadelphia, 1882), p. 425ff. An excerpt from his article (p. 430) reads:
"Mr. Howe, in 1835, had in his possession a story in Spaulding's handwriting, and admitted to be his, which "purported to have been translated from the Latin, found on twenty-four rolls of parchment in a cave on the banks of Conneaut Creek," giving an account of a ship driven upon the American coast, with a party from Rome, previous to the Christian era. The Book of Ether, which is a portion of the Book of Mormon, purports to relate the history of a party which commenced its wanderings at the confusion of tongues at Babel, found its way to America, and whose history, written by Ether upon twenty-four plates whilst he was concealed in the cavity of a rock, was long afterwards discovered by the people of Limhi. Here is a threefold resemblance: each is the history of a colony not Jewish transported to this continent; each is recorded on the same number of plates or parchments; each colony seeming to have perished; and each history is hidden in a cave and is long afterwards discovered. That two plots so much alike should originate so nearly about the same time and place in two different minds seems incredible."
Mr. Patterson's list of parallels is somewhat diminished by the fact that Spalding actually wrote that his history was taken from one of "twenty-eight" rolls deposited in an artificial cavity in an ancient burial mound; see Dale R. Broadhurst, "A Transcript of Solomon Spalding's Manuscript," Spaulding Research Project Working Papers 1-10, 2:1-3, (unpublished M.A. Project papers, Methodist Theological School in Ohio, 1980, hereinafter cited as: Broadhurst, "Papers").
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Clark Braden compared the Howe summary to the Latter Day Saint book and concluded that it must have been only the first in a literary progression of four manuscripts which eventually resulted in the Book of Mormon; see Edmund L. Kelley and Clark Braden, Public Discussion of the Issues Between the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the Church of Christ (Disciples) (privately published by Braden, Saint Louis 1884, 2nd ed., Lamoni, IA 1913), pp. 34-35, 43, 55, 75. A similar theory was proposed by William H. Whitsitt in his "Sidney Rigdon, The Real Founder of Mormonism" (unpublished MS in the Library of Congress, 1885, last revisions c. 1891), pp. 174-204f., hereinafter cited Whitsitt, "MS"). Whitsitt published an abbreviated version of his theory in Jackson S. MacCauley (editor) The Concise Dictionary of Religious Knowledge, (NYC 1891, rev. 3rd ed., 1893), pp. 615-622.
10 Outlines of and excerpts from the Hawaii find were published in various sources before the RLDS volume became available in 1885. The LDS edition, prepared from Lewis L. Rice's transcript, was printed the following year. The first critical transcript became available for study in 1980. See Joseph F. Smith (pseud. "Islander"), "Manuscript Found," the Deseret Evening News, July 14, 1885, C. M. Hyde, "Who Wrote the Book of Mormon," the (Boston) Congregationalist, July 30, 1885, William H. Kelley letter in the Saints' Herald 32:511-512, (August 8, 1885), "The Manuscript Found," loc. cit., pp. 528-533, Sereno E. Bishop, "Solomon Spaulding's Manuscript Found at Honolulu," the (Syracuse NY) Independent, Sept. 10, 1885, Solomon Spalding (Spaulding), The "Manuscript Found" or, "Manuscript Story" (Lamoni, IA 1885), Solomon Spalding (Spaulding), The "Manuscript Found" Manuscript Story, (Salt Lake City 1886) and Broadhurst, "Papers" 2, op. cit.
11 James H. Fairchild, "Manuscript of Solomon Spaulding and the Book of Mormon," Tract No. 77 (Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, OH 1886), p.194.
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Fairchild had expressed similar views earlier, see his "Solomon Spaulding and the Book of Mormon," Bibliotheca Sacra 62:173-174, (Jan. 1885), "Solomon Spaulding's Manuscript," Oberlin Review XIII:3 (Oct. 24, 1885), pp. 27-28, and "Mormonism and the Spaulding Manuscript," Bibliotheca Sacra 63:167-174, (Jan. 1886). The slipshod methods used by Fairchild in his comparison of the two works are outlined in Seymour B. Young, "The Book of Mormon and the Spaulding Manuscript," the Improvement Era 1:651-652, (July 1898).
12 Fairchild, "Manuscript of Solomon Spaulding . . ." op. cit., pp. 196-198. In later years Fairchild became more cautious in his statements; writing in 1900: "With regard to the manuscript of Mr. Spaulding now in the library of Oberlin College, I have never stated, and know of no one who can state, that it is the only manuscript which Spaulding wrote, or that it is certainly the one which has been supposed to be the original of the Book of Mormon. The discovery of this MS does not prove that there may not have been another, which became the basis of the Book of Mormon. The use which has been made of statements emanating from me implying the contrary of the above is entirely unwarranted." "Fairchild's Last Statement," in Theodore A. Schroeder's The Origin of the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City 1901), p. 1..
13 The possible list of significant thematic parallels in the two works would be very lengthy. Over 180 parallels had been detected by 1958 and this number has been greatly expanded since. See Dale R. Broadhurst, "A Preliminary List of Textual Affinities Between the Spaulding Manuscript and The Book of Mormon," (unpublished paper dated June 1979 in the RLDS Church Historian's Office) , "A Compilation of Similarities Between Solomon Spaulding's Manuscript and the Book of Mormon From Lists of Previous Investigators," Broadhurst, "Papers" 3, op. cit., "A Proposal for a Comparative Study of the Textual Affinities in the Solomon Spaulding Manuscript and the Book of Mormon," Broadhurst, "Papers" 1, op. cit., pp. 52-69, and Vernal Holley, Book of Mormon Authorship: A Closer Look, (Roy, UT, 1990, 3rd ed. rev. & enlarged).
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14 Schroeder, op. cit., pp. 4-6, J. E. Mahaffey, Found at Last! "Positive Proof" That Mormonism is a Fraud and the Book of Mormon a Fable . . . (Augusta GA 1902), pp. 53-56, T. C. Smith, The Book of Mormon and Mormonism 2:84-95 (Denver, Sept. 1912), Charles A. Shook, The True Origin of the Book of Mormon (Cincinnati 1914), pp. 156-166, George B. Arbaugh, Revelation in Mormonism, (Chicago 1932), pp. 16-18, M. D. Bown, "One Hundred Similarities Between The Book of Mormon and the Spaulding Manuscript," (unpublished MS in Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, 1937?), and James D. Bales, The Book of Mormon? (Rosemead, CA 1958), pp. 142-146. For a relatively small list (accompanied by a notice saying that "a forthcoming book will fully detail the similarities") see Howard A. Davis et. al., op. cit., pp. 247-254.
15 J. E. Mahaffey, op. cit., p. 50.
16 Ever since August 8, 1831, when the NY Morning Courier and Enquirer ran James Gordon Bennett's "Mormonism" article, Sidney Rigdon has been linked to Joseph Smith's early activities in New York and/or Pennsylvania. The Morning Courier and Enquirer added more details on Rigdon's alleged role in the origin of Mormonism in its September 1, 1831, issue and soon after papers like the Broome County (NY) Courier (Dec. 27, 1831) were picking up the news and spreading Rigdon's infamy far and wide. Howe was the first of many book writers to connect Rigdon with the origin of the Book of Mormon and subsequent reporters expanded upon the theory to the point that early books on Mormonism generally pictured Rigdon was as the secret founder of that movement. Despite printed denials from Rigdon himself, along with a few supporting statements from his early Campbellite followers, and from his own children, an impressive accumulation of testimony grew up over the years indicating that he was in some way connected with the preparation and bringing forth of the Book of Mormon. If (as Braden and Whitsitt contended) the theology and doctrines contained in the book can be shown to be a miracle-laden outgrowth of Campbellite teachings, the circumstantial evidence pointing to Rigdon as its originator or editor would be substantially strengthened. Rigdon's 1830-31 participation with Joseph Smith, Jr. in the production of Smith's "translation" of the Old Testament biblical text indicates that by at least that date Rigdon was no stranger to the task of writing, re-writing, or otherwise emending biblical-style scriptures.
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Rigdon's close associate in his Campbellism-influenced Baptist ministry in Pittsburgh, Walter Scott, later accused him of stealing what was by then labeled "Disciple" doctrine and practice and of implanting those religious appropriations into early Mormonism. At the same time, Scott considered the Mormons to be an apostate group splintered off from the Christian restoration movement in America; see his letter of Oct. 22, 1851 to Francis W. Emmons (Disciples of Christ Historical Society, Nashville, TN) and his The Gospel Restored . . . (Cincinnati 1836), p. 476. Rigdon's post-1830 retention of certain unique Campbellite doctrines was largely supplemented and extended by his own views regarding the activity of the Holy Ghost during conversion and after, and imminent millenarianism, the gathering of believers into Christian communitarianism, the validity of latter day miracles, modern revelation, an open canon of scripture, the ministering of angels, etc. Rigdon appears to have held most of these non-Campbellite views prior to being baptized a Mormon, but reliable documentation on this subject remains scanty. Those writers who claim to detect Campbellite ("Disciple") theology, doctrines, and distinctive terminology in the Book of Mormon include Braden, Public Discussion . . ., op. cit., Whitsitt, "MS," op. cit., Arbaugh, op. cit., and Joseph W. White, "The Influence of Sidney Rigdon Upon the Theology of Mormonism," (unpublished thesis, University of Southern California, 1947).
Cogent testimony of Rigdon's non-participation in events directly related to the coming forth of the Book of Mormon can be found throughout the entire history of Latter Day Saint writings, but those loyal arguments are best considered in tandem with equally loyal claims that Rigdon's veracity was frequently unreliable. For examples of the latter see Lucy Mack Smith, Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith (Liverpool, 1853, 2nd ed. Lamoni, IA 1912), p. 196, "Trial of Elder Rigdon," Times and Seasons, Vol. 5 (Sept. 15, 1844) pp. 652-653, Jedediah M. Grant, A Collection of Facts, Relative to the Course Taken By Elder Sidney Rigdon . . . (Philadelphia, 1844), pp. 35-36, and John Jaques, "The Life and Labors of Sidney Rigdon part VII," the Improvement Era III:8 (June, 1900) pp. 586-587. See also Harmon Sumner's recollection in J. H. Kennedy, Early Days of Mormonism (London, 1884), p. 64. For arguments in favor of Rigdon's innocence in the origin of Mormonism see P. P. Pratt, Plain Facts, op. cit., P.P. Pratt, "The Mormonites." Times and Seasons, Vol. I (January, 1840), pp. 45-46, Orson Hyde's letter in Benjamin Winchester and George J. Adams, Plain Facts, Shewing the Origin of the Spaulding Story (Beford, UK 1841), pp. 25-27, John E. Page, The Spaulding Story Concerning the Origin of The Book of Mormon (Pittsburgh 1843, rev. 2nd ed., Plano, IL 1866), Tyler, op. cit., "Sidney Rigdon and the Spaulding Romance," the Deseret Evening News, April 21, 1879, Pittsburgh Leader interview with Rigdon's daughter (either Elizabeth or Nancy) reprinted in "Another 'Spaulding Story' Refuted," the Deseret Evening News, June 17, 1884, and John W. Rigdon. "Sidney Rigdon and the Early History of the Mormon Church," Friendship (NY) Sesqui-Centennial Times, July, 1965. For a history of Rigdon with an extensive bibliography, see Richard S. VanWagoner, Sidney Rigdon, A Portrait of Religious Excess (Salt Lake City, 1994). VanWaggoner's book builds upon his own research and information uncovered by other scholars, such as Hans Rollmann "The Early Baptist Career of Sidney Rigdon in Warren, Ohio" BYU Studies 21:1 (Winter 1981) and Thomas J. Gregory, "Sidney Rigdon: Post Nauvoo," (same publication) to provide the most definitive Rigdon biography published to date. The VanWagoner volume entirely supplants F. Mark McKiernan's earlier The Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness: Sidney Rigdon, Religious Reformer, 1793-1876 (Lawrence, KS, 1972) as the standard reference work on this early Latter Day Saint leader.
17 Brodie, op. cit.
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18 Ibid., p. 449. In place of the Spalding theory Brodie directed her readers' attention to Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews (Poultney, VT, 1823, rev. 2nd ed,, 1825) as a possible influence on Joseph's "translation" process. She may have picked up this idea from the unpublished writings of Brigham H. Roberts. See Marvin B. Hogan, "A Parallel," Rocky Mountain Mason, Jan. 1956, pp. 17-31, Wesley P. Walters, "The Origin of the Book of Mormon," The Journal of Pastoral Practice III (1979) pp. 123-152, and Brigham H. Roberts, Studies of the Book of Mormon, (Salt Lake City, 1992) p. 355. A possible link between Joseph Smith's publication and the ideas put forth by Ethan Smith was first brought to light by Clark Braden, who pointed out thematic similarities between the Book of Mormon and Josiah Priest's The Wonders of Nature and Providence Displayed (Albany, NY, 1825) which had reprinted a large portion of Ethan Smith's 1823 edition, see Kelley and Braden, op. cit., p. 52.
A Spalding authorship hypothesis for the Mormon book need not exclude the possible influence of Ethan Smith upon the work, either prior to Spalding's death or thereafter. It is highly likely that the two Congregationalist ministers-in-training met and exchanged religious ideas while studying at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. Spalding received his baccalaureate there in 1785 and apparently returned the following year to begin his Master's studies in theology. Braden reports that he received his A. M. degree in 1787. This was likely granted a few months before he was licensed to preach in CT by the Windham Congregationalist Association on Oct. 9, 1787. Ethan Smith studied at Dartmouth between 1786 and 1790. In the increasingly secular atmosphere of the school he often sought out those few "who were alive to Christian obligation, with whom he was accustomed to take sweet counsel." Spalding's adopted daughter Matilda recalled a certain "clergyman, a friend of his (Spalding's) who came to see him" and with whom he shared the results of his writing in OH. Could this have been Ethan Smith? Solomon and Matilda were married in Smith's home village of Belchertown, MA in 1795, and Matilda was buried there in 1844. From 1792 to 1817 Ethan Smith served as pastor for congregations in NH. See Samuel J. Spalding, op. cit., pp. 160-161, Howe, op. cit., p. 279, L. A. Smith, "Ethan Smith," in William Sprague's Annals of the American Pulpit II (NYC 1857) p. 279, the Dartmouth College and Associated Schools General Catalogue (Hanover, NH 1940) pp. 75 & 79, and Matilda Spalding McKinstry, op. cit.
The probable personal ties between Solomon Spalding and Ethan Smith are strengthened by the 1887 re-telling in an OH newspaper of a report provided by an unnamed grandson of Smith's. In that report Smith and Spalding are said to have been friends and to have shared an interest in the possible Israelite origin of the American Indians. Spalding is further reported to have borrowed an unpublished book authored by Smith on that particular subject and to have never returned it. The grandson says, "Taking the latter's views as expreesed in his book, Spaulding some years later wrote his famous "Manuscript Found . . ." "The Book of Mormon," Cleveland Plain Dealer, April 24, 1887, reprinted in David Persuitte's Joseph Smith and the Origins of Mormonism, (Jefferson, NC 1985) "Appendix C: The Spalding Theory," pp. 247-255." For further ideas regarding a Smith-Spalding relationship see VanWagoner, op. cit., p. 465 (esp. n. 11 & 12) and Byron Marchant, Mormon Roots . . . (Salt Lake City 1994) p. 15.
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19 Brodie, op. cit., pp. 446-449. Brodie is more critical of Hurlbut's OH and PA affidavits than those he gathered in NY. Her views on the former statements generally reflect those of Mormon writers on the subject from the time of Benjamin Winchester forward. Brodie essentially repeats the sentiments of previous Mormon writers without offering a critical analysis of her own. Joseph F. Smith, then a Counselor in the LDS First Presidency, had covered this same ground with near-vitriolic condemnations in his "The Manuscript Found," the Improvement Era, III:4-6 (1900), and Brigham H. Roberts had reinforced Smith's pronouncements with his own series of articles rebutting the claims of Theodore Schroeder; see esp. his "The Origin of the Book of Mormon," American Historical Magazine Vol. 3 (Nov. 1908) pp. 556-558. Later writers, following in Brodie's footsteps, have amplified her criticism of the Hurlbut affidatits. See Whitney Cross, The Burned-Over District, (Ithaca, NY, 1959), pp. 141-142, Allen and Arrington, op. cit., and Marvin S. Hill, "Secular or Sectarian History," Church History 43:88 (March 1974). For a primary source on the opinions of Smith's former neighbors in and around Palmyra see William L. Kelley's "The Hill Cumorah The Hill Cumorah and the Book of Mormon," Saints' Herald 28: (June 21, 1881).
20 Brodie's book was hailed as "the finest job of scholarship yet done in Mormon history" and her appendix refuting the Spalding theory as a work that "should lay that theory to rest once and for all." Dale L. Morgan, "A Prophet and His Legend," The Saturday Review of Literature, Nov. 24, 1945, p. 7. Following Morgan's hardly disinterested laudation of his protege's refutation of the Spalding theory numerous other writers made probitable use of Brodie's conclusions. See Ray B. West, Jr., Kingdom of the Saints, (NYC 1957), pp. 22-25. Robert Kent Fielding, "The Growth of the Mormon Church in Kirtland Ohio," (unpublished thesis, Indiana University, 1957), p. 13, Mario S. DePillis, "The Development of Mormon Communitarianism 1826-1846," (unpublished thesis, Yale University, 1960), p. 43, Ray G. Morely, "An Investigation of Anti-Mormon Hypotheses for the Origin of the Book of Mormon," (unpublished paper in the Special Collections of the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University, 1965), pp. 26-27, Francis W. Kirkham, A New Witness for Christ in America Vol. 2 (Salt Lake City, rev. 2nd ed., 1959), pp. 271-273, John J. Stewart, Joseph Smith the Mormon Prophet, (Salt Lake City 1966, p. 92, Richard L. Anderson, "The Reliability of the Early History of Lucy and Joseph Smith," Dialogue IV:2 (Summer 1969), pp. 15-17, Wilford L. Goodliffe, "American Frontier Religion: Mormons and Their Dissenters, 1830-1900," (unpublished thesis, University of Idaho), p. 47, Francis M. Gibbons, Joseph Smith: Martyr, Prophet of God, (Salt Lake City, 1977), p. 137, Leonard J. Arrington and Davis Bitton, The Mormon Experience (NYC 1979), p. 15, fn. 41, and Robert N. Hullinger, Mormon Answer to Skepticism, (St. Louis, MO 1980), pp. 1-3.
A recent summary of Brodie's contribution on this subject says: "Latter-day Saints had been making essentially the same arguments about the Spalding Theory for over a century, but they had not managed to persuade gentile critics, who seem to have responded to Brodie because she appeared to them to be unbiased and also because she had provided an engaging account of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon in which she advanced a version of the original Smith Theory. It should be noted, however, that essentially the same criticisms she directed at Hurlbut's attempt to link Spalding's romance to the Book of Mormon could (and should) have been made against the "evidence" collected or fabricated by Hurlbut concerning Joseph's early involvement in 'magic' and 'money-digging.'" Louis C. Midgley "Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? The Critics and Their Theories," in Noel B. Reynolds (editor) Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited . . . (Provo 1997).
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21 The "Three Researchers" news stories of 1977 temporarily revived public interest in the Spalding theory. For supportive reports see Russell Chandler, "Book of Mormon Challenged Anew," Los Angeles Times, June 25, 1977, "Mormon Mystery," Time, July 11, 1977, p. 69, Edward E. Plowman, "Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?" Christianity Today, July 8, 1977, pp. 32-34, Howard A. Davis, et. al., op. cit. and Walter Martin, The Maze of Mormonism, (Santa Ana, CA, 1978, rev. ed.).
For critical responses to the above see Orson Scott Card, "Spaulding Again," The Ensign, Sept. 1977, pp. 94-95, David Merrill, "Behind the Spalding Controversy," Sunstone III:1 (Dec. 1977) pp. 28-29, Edward E. Plowman, "Mormon Manuscript Claims: Another Look," Christianity Today, Oct. 12, 1977, pp. 38-39, Dean C. Jessee, "Spalding Theory Re-examined," Deseret News: Church News section, August 20, 1977, pp. 3-4, Bush, op. cit., Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Did Spalding Write the Book of Mormon? (Salt Lake City 1977) and Wesley P. Walters, "The Spalding Affair," The Journal of Pastoral Practice II:1 (Winter 1978), pp. 133-139.
22 Though a multitude of apostles, counselors and assorted high priests in the various restoration churches have assured the faithful that all aspects of the Spalding theory were patent lies or flagrant misrepresentations, Joseph Smith, Jr. never responded directly to the questions regarding his possible use of Spalding's writings for the "translation" of the Book of Mormon. See Jerome Stoffel, "Joseph Smith and the Mormon Dilemma" (unpublished paper in the Utah State University Library, 1971), p. 27. A British authoress attempting to report on Joseph's refutation was forced to put fictional words in his mouth; see Lily Dougall, The Mormon Prophet, (London, 1899), p. 320. Smith's published comments always avoided the topic of plagiarism; see his "To the Elders of the Church," LDS Messenger & Advocate, Dec. 1835 and "To the Subscribers . . ." Elders' Journal, Aug. 1838. Many restoration church officials refuted the plagiarism charges during Joseph's lifetime (presumably with his knowledge and consent) but none ever quoted him on the subject; see Broadhurst, "Papers" 9, op. cit.
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A few official refutations made after Smith's 1844 death include: John Taylor. Three Nights' Public Discussion . . . (Liverpool 1850), Elias Harrison, "The Spaulding Story Refuted From Itself," Millennial Star, Jan. 24, 1857, George A. Smith, "Divine Origin of Mormonism," Journal of Discourses VIII (1860) pp. 111ff, "Discourse" and "Historical Discourse," loc. cit., IX (1860), pp. 332ff., and XI (1864), pp. 1ff., George Q. Cannon, "The Curse of Folly," Deseret Evening News, June 23, 1879, Charles W. Penrose, "The Manuscript Found," loc. cit., Jan. 3, 1881, RLDS Church, Origin of the Book of Mormon, (Plano, IL 1880), Josiah Ells, Prophetic Truth . . . (Pittsburgh 1881), pp. 51-58, George Reynolds, "Intrernal Evidences . . ." Juvenile Instructor XVII (1882) pp. 235 & 251, William Smith, William Smith on Mormonism, (Lamoni, IA 1883), Joseph Smith III, The Spaulding Theory Re-examined Plano, IL 1883), Edmund L. Kelley, Public Discussion . . . op. cit., George Reynolds, The Myth of "Manuscript Found," (Salt Lake City 1883), Oliver Cowdery, as reported in the Historical Record VI:201 (1887), David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ, (Richmond, MO 1887, Brigham H. Roberts, "A New Witness For God VIII," The Contributor X:1 (Nov. 1888), pp. 19-20, W. W. Blair, Joseph the Seer, (Lamoni, IA 1889), pp. 174-175, Brigham H. Roberts, "Mormonism" Improvement Era II:11 (Sept. 1899) p. 831, Joseph F. Smith, "The Manuscript Found," op. cit., LeRoi C. Snow, "Solomon Spaulding's Manuscript," Deseret Evening News, May 26, 1900, Charles W. Penrose, "Repeating Old Fables," Deseret Evening News, July 19, 1900, Charles W. Penrose (editor), "Objections of Critics," Deseret Evening News, May 14, 1901, James E. Talmage, "The Story of Mormonism II," Improvement Era IV:9 (July 1901) pp. 692-694, Brigham H. Roberts, YMMIA Manual No. 9 (LDS Church 1905), Brigham H. Roberts, Defense of the Faith of the Saints I, (Salt Lake City 1907), pp. 365-366, "The Origin of the Book of Mormon," a series of articles in the American Historical Magazine, op. cit., see III & IV (1908-1909), Charles W. Penrose, "An Old Slander Revived and Refuted," Millennial Star, June 1, 1908, Joseph Smith III (?), "Mr. Mahaffey's Rare Discovery," Saints' Herald 49:1001-1002 (Oct. 15, 1902), Elbert A. Smith, "The Spalding Romance Theory," Saints' Herald 60:613ff. & 66:953ff. (1913 & 1919), Brigham H. Roberts, New Witnesses For God II Vol III (Salt Lake City, 1909), pp. 354-394, Brigham H. Roberts, Defense of the Faith of the Saints II, (Salt Lake City 1912), Charles W. Penrose, " . . . The Spaulding Theory Refuted," Liahona XVIII:375-377 (1921), Joseph Fielding Smith, Essentials in Church History (Salt Lake City, 1922), esp. Chapter 18,
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In more recent years efforts in writing of Latter Day Saint history and Book of Mormon apologetics have slowly gravitated into the hands of trained professionals who are generally not high church officials. The few statements offered by officials during this period include: Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation Vol. I (Salt Lake City 1953), p. 409, Chris B. Hartshorn, "External Evidences of The Book of Mormon," The Gospel Quarterly, XVII:4 (1955) pp. 12-19 & 58-61), Charles A. Davies, "Question Time," Saints' Herald 109:17 & 112:601 (1962 & 1965), Charles A. Davies, "View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon," loc. cit., 109:537-538 (1962), Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine (Salt Lake City, 2nd ed., 1966), p. 749, and Richard P. Howard, "Since Yesterday," op. cit.
The pronouncements of these officials and highly respected loyalist writers have carried great weight among the Saints in the past and continue to do so today. In a few cases (mostly among Utah Mormons) they have been seen as being something akin to inspired instruction from the mouth of The Lord's Anointed -- very close to being divine revelation and rarely subject to question. For example, Joseph F. Smith (the nephew of Joseph Smith, Jr.) while serving as an LDS Apostle, rendered his church invaluable service in securing a copy of the Spalding manuscript discovered in Hawaii in 1884. Smith was perhaps the very first Mormon ever to read what became known as the "Oberlin" Spalding manuscript and his account of its transcription and his role in securing its partial publication in the Deseret Evening News provided the LDS members with their first reliable information on that manuscript since it had been mentioned by Howe fifty years before. In his letter to the Deseret Evening News dated May 11, 1885 (printed July 14, 1885, op. cit.) Smith says that the Hawaii find was "carefully examined and compared with the Book of Mormon" and following that personal examination Smith could emphatically declare that the Spalding manuscript was "without similarity in name, incident, purpose, or fact" and that "there is not one word nor sentence in it common with the Book of Mormon." Smith never changed his statement in this regard, even after he became the sixth President of the LDS Church in 1901. Among members of the LDS Church, Smith's 1885 declaration regarding the nonrememblance of the two works took on a status near to that of inspired communication. And, as the words of a prophet and member of Joseph Smith's immediate family, that declaration cannot easily be questioned nor corrected even by modern Mormon scholars who now know much more about the subject than Joseph did F. Smith in 1885.
23 For a comprehensive list of thematic parallels detected in the past and examples of responses by restoration writers see Broadhurst, "Papers" 3, op. cit.
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24 My own textual examination began early in 1979, see Broadhurst, "Papers" 1, op. cit. , pp. 6-8. A computerized study reaching inconclusive results was carried out on the authorship of The Book of Mormon between 1972 and 1975. This study made some use of the Oberlin Spalding Manuscript text. See Herbert Guerry, "Some Misunderstandings of My Research," Saints' Herald 122:495 (Aug. 1975).
25 The Book of Mormon, on the other hand, in recent years was subjected to some preliminary textual analysis by trained statisticians. They made use of the Oberlin Spalding text in their study. See Wayne A. Larsen, Alvin C. Rencher and Tim Layton, "Who Wrote the Book of Mormon>," BYU Studies 20:2 (Spring 1980) p. 230, fn. 15, for comments on this report and its subject matter see also Jerald and Sandra Tanner, "BYU Computer Study," Salt Lake City Messenger, 41 (Dec. 1979), John L. Hilton, "On Verifying Wordprint Studies: Book of Mormon Authorship," BYU Studies 30:3 (Summer 1990), D. James Croft, "Book of Mormon 'Wordprints' Re-examined," Sunstone 6 (Mar.-Apr. 1981), pp. 15-21, Wayne A. Larsen and Alvin C. Rencher, "Response to Book of Mormon 'Wordprints' Reexamined," loc. cit., pp. 22-26, Brent Lee Metcalfe, Vernal Holley, Book of Mormon Authorship, op. cit., pp. 52-54, and Brent Lee Metcalfe, "The Priority of Mosiah" in Brent Lee Metcalfe (editor), New Approaches to the Book of Mormon, (Salt Lake City 1993) esp. p. 408.
26 In one extreme case of misreading the RLDS edition on page 124 prints Theljard for Kelsock, cf. Broadhurst, "Papers" 2, op. cit., p.154:27.
27 The missing block is found on page 117 of the Oberlin manuscript. It is missing from page 67 of the 1886 and 1812 LDS editions, perhaps through an oversight of the transcriber. This deletion is particularly unfortunate for students of the texts in that it removes the only occurrence of the important textual parallel: "They . . . surrendered themselves prisoners of war." The same phrase, along with the same contextual theme, can be found on page 337 of the 1830 Book of Mormon. The problems inherent in the reading of these faulty published texts were largely eliminated by the appearance of Kent P. Jackson (editor), Manuscript Found, The Complete Original "Spaulding Manuscript," Provo, BYU Religious Studies Center, 1996, an electronic text version of this work can be found on the GospeLink CD-rom issued by Deseret Books Software (Salt Lake City 1998). Jackson's copy is not a perfect transcript and it lacks necessary features for scholarly study, such as MS line numbers; however, even with its faults, Jackson's transcript is by far the best published to date.
28 Broadhurst, "Papers" 2, op. cit.
29 See my "A Preliminary List . . ." op. cit. and "Papers" 1, op. cit.
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30 As can be seen from the formula provided in Figure I, all words of four letters and over and all recognized phrases (including phrase fragments of three consecutive words or more) common to both works were counted on every page of the Oberlin manuscript. Since this process was first carried out without the use of automatic data processing, an ample margin of error was allowed throughout the compilation. While this method was acceptable for the construction of a generalized chart of the text, a computerized analysis is would be required for an exhaustive count of all words and word groups common to the two works. William A. Williams compiled a tabulation of the single shared words in the two texts in 1998 and I have prepared a similar tabulation of phrases and phrase fragments common to the two texts; preliminary printouts of these listings are available in computer spreadsheet files in the possession of the author. These preliminary compilations were consulted during the final phase of the my study but their contents do not consistently form the basis for the study results provided in the current report.
31 This fact, along with the general sketchiness and rough appearance of the text, shows that the manuscript was left unfinished. Speculation that Spalding left this particular copy with a Pittsburgh printer for possible publication is entirely unwarranted. Any author submitting even an unfinished fragment of his work for the consideration of a publisher must provide a reasonably clean, readable, and coherent text. This manuscript, with its frequent cross-outs, erasures, inconsistent spelling, and character name changes in mid-text (along with an abrupt discontinuation) appears to be a discarded story sketch or first draft of a projected novelette.
32 This phenomenon becomes particularly apparent after MS page 135. The scenes of death, destruction, and carnage which follow are very reminiscent of similar scenes in the Book of Mormon and the words used to describe events in the two works' parallel sections are repeatedly practically identical. After MS page 154 whole paragraphs read like passages out of the Mormon book. For examples see the text examined in my "Papers" 1, op. cit., pp. 52-68. Not all writers agree that significant parallels exist between these military narratives. Brodie maintains that "the many battles which each (text) described showed not the slightest similarity with those of the other," Brodie, op. cit., p. 144, (my emphasis added).
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33 Evidence of this kind of textual evolution commonly appears in the work of neophyte authors. In re-reading two fictional stories I myself wrote and put aside several years ago, I at once noticed their common and stereotypical plot development. Though the characters and place names were entirely different in the two works, the earlier production read much like an earlier draft of the second story. I was easily able to trace a large number of stylistic elements and thematic elements directly back to their earlier evolution in the first manuscript. The non-unique vocabulary used in both stories was nearly identical. My recourse to a personal example here no doubt reflects the generally subjective nature of my research and reporting on this subject. I have, however, outlined a replicable methodology useful in textual examination and provided at least some measurements of certain instances of resemblance in the texts. Certainly the preliminary results I am reporting here do not constitute a definitive statement on Spalding and Book of Mormon thematic and phraseology resemblances. I present my findings only as an example and indication of what can be found through the use of my investigative methodology.
34 This difficulty might have been avoided, had I made use of automatic data processing. The manual cataloging of the words and terms common to the two works consumed over 800 man-hours of concentrated study. The results are available in a cross-referenced annotated copy of the Spaulding transcript currently in my possession (cf. n. 30 supra).
35 My division of the Mormon text into sections resembling Spalding's knowing writing and material unlike his writing was a partly a subjective process. Generally, wherever the ratio of three or more word groups common to both texts, per 100 words of Book of Mormon text was sustained for 1000 words or more, that textual segment was classified as resembling the Spalding text and labled in my tabulation as "Spaldingish." This identification and labeling process was supplemented by the selection and charting of numerous key words in the two texts. Some of the key words used to help prepare this supplemental identification were:
nativity, inhabitants, journey, river, horses, corn, iron, records, arts, history, rights, sacred, nation, country, stratagem, army, vengeance, hill, battle, blood, treaty, contentions, chief, priest, account, ordain, adieu, forts, timber, defend, reign, darkness, determination, calamities, carnage, revenge, multitude, fleld, swords, arrows, enemies, prostrate, rushed, groan, slaughter, confusion, pursued, strewed, profound, sallied, overspread, escape, leader, passage, havok, fury, massacre, surrounded, prisoners, agonies, and band.In those cases where identifying the ratio of shared word groups with contextual 1000 word segments produced counts of 2.5 to 2.9, the presence of two of the key words within a 100 word block raised the count by 0.1. Thus, a 100 word block originally rated at only 2.8, but which also contained four key words, automatically saw its index count raised to 3.0.
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36 In many instances the "Spaldingish" textual segments have abruptly defined limits which border directly upon very non-Spaldingish sections in the Book of Mormon; such is the case at the chapter break between Mosiah V and VI and between Alma XIX and XX (all chapters are 1830 ed.). After such an abrupt beginning a high count of words and terms common to Spalding is often maintained for several hundred words of text. What appear as likely interpolations of secondary material into these Spaldingish Book of Mormon segments occur occasionally, also often appearing near the chapter breaks. Thus, a lengthy segment rated at 3.0 on my resemblance scale may include near its end or beginning a small block of text whose index number drops to less than 1.0, after which the 3.0 rated text continues briefly and then ends abruptly. While the occurrence of such a pattern may not necessarily indicate an interpolation, its explanation as such would be a reasonable identification.
37 This block is so extensive and so homogenous in its resemblance to large sections of the Spalding text that I was able to make use of its features to provide a standard by which "borderline" cases of resemblance in the Book of Mormon could be more clearly classified as to how closely they resembling Spalding's writing.
38 see Broadhurst, "Papers" 3, op. cit.
39 Isolation of sections in the Book of Mormon which is common to the Authorized ("KJV") edition of the Old Testament was accomplished through the use of various concordances and with reference to information provided in the following: Thomas W. Brookbank, "Hebrew Idioms and Analogies in The Book of Mormon," Improvement Era XII:117ff., 234ff. and XVIII:136ff, (Dec. 1909, Jan. 1910, & Dec. 1914), Sidney B Sperry, "Hebrew Idioms in the Book of Mormon," Improvement Era LVII:703 (Oct. 1954), E. Craig Bramwell, "Hebrew Idioms in the Small Plates of Nephi," (unpublished thesis, Brigham Young University, 1960), Jerald & Sandra Tanner, The Case Against Mormonism, 1:76-82 (Salt Lake City, n.d.), H. Michael Marquardt, "The Use of the Bible in the Book of Mormon," Journal of Pastoral Practice II, 2:95-136 (1978) and George D. Smith, Jr., "Looking at the Book of Mormon," (unpublished paper read at the Sunstone Theological Symposium, August 24-25, 1979).
40 Isolation of sections resembling the New Testament "KJV" text was facilitated by reference to: Glade L. Burgen, "A Study of New Testament Textual Parallels in the Book of Mormon" (unpublished paper in Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, 1965), Tanner, Case I:82-102, op. cit., Marquardt, op. cit. and George D. Smith, op. cit.
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41 Such tabulation, analysis, and reporting could be carried out, given sufficient time, proper methodology, and the currently available resources. See the accounts of my initial efforts in this direction, Broadhurst, "Papers" 1, op. cit., "A Preliminary List . . ." op. cit., and n. 30 supra
42 J. N. Washburn gives a good introductory discussion of this matter in his The Contents, Structure and Authorship of the Book of Mormon, (Salt Lake City 1954), pp. 166-176.
43 The only name common to the two works is Jesus Christ. However, some names in the two accounts do sound somewhat similar: Amalickiah/Hamelick, Laban/Labanco, Nimrod/Moonrod/Lakoon
44 A clarification of the "battlefield death leading to divinely provided happiness" theme mentioned on page 382 of the 1830 edition (as pictured in Figure V) can be found at 302:29ff in the same work: "the destruction of many thousand lives . . . according to the promises of the Lord, that they (who died in righteous battle) are raised to swell at the right hand of God, in a state of never ending happiness." .
45 See Orson F. Whitney, History of Utah Vol I (Salt Lake City 1892), pp. 49-54, N.L. Nelson, "The Spaulding Story Revived," The Mormon Point of View 1:91-100 (Jan. 1904), J. E. Homans (pseud. Robert C. Webb), The Case Against Mormonism (NYC 1915), pp. 57-58, and E. Cecil McGavin, Cumorah's Gold Bible, (Salt Lake City 1940), pp. 175-177.
46 Susan Curtis, "Palmyra Revisited: A Look at Early 19th Century American Thought and. the Book of Mormon," (paper read at the 4th Annual Restoration History Lecture Series, Graceland College, May 10, 1977, rev. version pub. in Dan Vogel (editor), Essays on Mormonism Series No. 2 (Salt Lake City 1990).
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47 A direct link between Joseph Smith, Jr. and the alleged plagiarism of Spalding's writings was first proposed by Jonathan B. Turner, Mormonism in All Ages . . . (NYC, 1842), pp. 212-218. Turner supposed that Smith somehow came across Spalding's writings when they were stored at the Jerome Clark residence at Hartwick, Otsego Co., NY, about 35 miles northeast of the area of Smith's activities with Joseph Knight and Josiah Stowell and about 15 miles north of Otego, NY, where Smith was reportedly engaged in seer-stone activities during this same period. See Frederic G. Mather, "The Early Days of Mormonism," Lippincott's Magazine 26 (Aug. 1880) pp. 200ff. Turner also offered the unlikely suggestion that, as a youth, Joseph might have had access to the Spalding writings when they were stored about fifty miles east of Palmyra at William H. Sabine's residence in Onondaga Hollow (near Syracuse), Onondaga Co. NY. This highly speculative notion was given some credit by J. W. Gunnison, The Mormons or Latter-Day Saints, (Philadelphia 1856), pp. 94-97 and was expanded upon by Ellen E. Dickinson, New Light . . . op. cit., pp. 19-22, 31-32. M. D. Bown gave the possibility some credence in his "100 Similarities . . . op. cit., pp. 4-5 and it was accepted as fact by Alice Felt Tyler, Freedom's Ferment, (Minneapolis 1944), p. 92.
Whatever merit may rest in these unsubstantiated stories, it is entirely possible that Joseph learned of Spalding's tales as a young man through a then current oral tradition. As a youth Joseph was greatly interested in some of the elements presented in Spalding's writings, such as the use of beasts like Spalding's mammoths for transportation in ancient America; see Lucy Mack Smith, Biographical Sketches . . ., op. cit., p. 92 and Brigham H. Roberts' comments as reported by Wesley P. Walters in "The Origin of the Book of Mormon," The Journal of Pastoral Practice III:3 (1979) pp. 146-147.
The Joseph Smith, Sr. family was no doubt at least slightly acquainted with one branch of the Spalding family. Solomon Spalding's aunt, Mary Pierce Spalding, was originally from Sharon Vermont and lived there until 1826. Her son, Reuben Spalding, Jr. (1758-1849) was Solomon's cousin. He was also a prominent churchman and the local Justice of the Peace in Sharon at the time that the Smiths lived in Vermont; see S. J. Spalding, Spalding Memorial, op. cit., pp. 143, 235-236. Solomon Spalding was widely remembered as having read from his writings to numerous people both in OH and PA. He may have begun this hobby of story-telling as early as his academy headmaster days in Cherry Valley, Otsego Co., NY. At that time (c. 1790-1805), before American writers like Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper had achieved international fame, native American novel-length fiction was a new and remarkable thing. People took note of Spalding's story recitations and details from some of his tales may have enjoyed a wide oral circulation by the time of his death in 1816. See Howe, op. cit., pp. 279, 281, 284-285, Joseph Miller, Sr.'s statement in "Who Wrote the Book of Mormon," The Washington (PA) Reporter, April 8, 1869, Redick M'Kee, "Solomon Spalding again, loc. cit., April 21, 1869, Matilda Spalding McKinstry, op. cit., and an account of Rachel Wilson Harding's remembrances as retold in Gerald Langford, The Richard Harding Davis Years, (NYC 1961), p. 4.
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48 For speculation in this direction see Howard J. Booth, "An Image of Joseph Smith, Jr.: A Personality Study," Courage I:1 (Sept. 1970), pp. 12-13.
49 Such parallels have been noticed by investigators of the restoration movement numerous times in the past but have yet to be studied and reported by a competent scholar. Of special interest is the parallel of intermarriage between Whites and Indians (what both Spalding and the Book of Mormon writers refer to as "mingling"). In the Oberlin manuscript pp. 19-20 a Roman man proposes to marry an Indian lady with the purpose of begetting nearly white, Christianized children. A very similar subject is addressed in Joseph Smith, Jr.'s unpublished July 17, 1831 revelation received on the borders of the Kansas Indian Territory. This unique document appears to contain the first written reference to plural marriage recorded among the Saints -- a topic which Spalding made use of in the fictional revelations set down in his "Sacred Roll." Spalding may have had second thoughts on his own pseudo-scriptures authorizing plural marriage; p. 58 in the Oberlin manuscript has cross-outs through his paragraph on polygamy. See also: Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Mormonism Like Watergate? (Salt Lake City 1974). pp. 6-15 and Broadhurst, "A Preliminary List . . ." op. cit., pp. 15-16. For more Spalding parallels with Latter Day Saint beliefs and practices see T. C. Smith, op. cit., pp. 88-94, Shook, op. cit., pp. 163-164, George B. Arbaugh, "Evolution of Mormon Doctrine," Church History IX:157ff., (1940) and Bales, op. cit., pp. 142-147. Further interesting parallels with Mormonism may be found in the unpublished Library of Congress MS attributed to Solomon Spalding: "Romance of Celes;" see esp. pp. 373-412 in the transcript on file with my papers in the Special Collections of the University of Utah's Marriott Library (Manuscripts Accession 913: box 18, fd. 7). The parallels between Spalding's story and the Joseph Smith account for the coming forth of the Book of Mormon are covered in: John H. Evans, One Hundred Years of Mormonism (Salt Lake City 1915), pp. 102-103, Brigham H. Roberts, "Manuscript of Parallels (unpublished MS in RLDS Church Library and Archives (n.d.): "Parallels List" p. 2, Charles A. Davies, "View of the Hebrews and The Book of Mormon," Saints' Herald 109:538, fn. 9, (Aug. 1, 1962), Shook, op., cit., pp, 156-158, Bown, op., cit., Arbaugh, Revelation . . . op. cit., Bales, op. cit., p. 142, Bush, op. cit., p.1;2, and my "The Coming Forth of The Book of Mormon in Relation to the Solomon Spalding Manuscript," Broadhurst, "Papers" 4, op. cit.
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50 Douglas Wilson, "Prospects For the Study of the Book of Mormon as a Work of American Literature," Dialogue III:1 (Spring 1968), p. 29-41.
51 See Richard P. Howard, Restoration Scriptures, A Study of their Textual Development(Independence, MO 1969, rev. 2nd ed. 1995), Dean C. Jessee, "The Original Book of Mormon Manuscript," BYU Studies X:259-278 (Spring 1970), Robin Tucker, "Book of Mormon Comparison," (unpublished paper in the RLDS Library and Archives, n.d.), and the following by Stan Larson: "A Study of Some Texual Variations in the Book of Mormon . . ." (unpublished thesis, Brigham Young University, 1974), "Early Book of Mormon Texts . . ." Sunstone I:4 (Fall 1976), pp. 45-55 4:45-55, "A Most Sacred Possession, The Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon," The Ensign VII:9 (Sept. 1977), pp. 87-91, "Textual Variants in Book of Mormon Manuscripts," Dialogue X:4 (Autumn 1977), pp 8-30, and "Conjectural Emmendation and the Text of the Book of Mormon," BYU Studies 18:563-569 (Summer 1978). Other helpul information may be found in Lamoni Call, 2000 Changes in the Book of Mormon, (Bountiful, UT 1898) and Jerald and Sandra Tanner, 3913 Changes in the Book of Mormon, (Salt Lake City n.d.).
52 See J. Henry Ibarguen, "Mormon Scholasticism," Dialogue XI:3 (Spring 1978) pp. 92-94, and Dee F. Green,"Book of Mormon Archaeology: the Myths and Alternatives," Dialogue IV:2 (Summer 1989), pp. 71-80.
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53 There have been some steps taken toward, the toleration of such a viewpoint within the ranks of the RLDS Church in recent years; see "The Book of Mormon" in Study Papers Prepared for the Curriculum Consultation Committee, (unpublished reports by the RLDS Dept. of Religious Education, 1967), pp. 103-112, Wayne H. Ham, "Problems in Interpreting the Book of Mormon as History," Courage I:1 (Sept. 1970), pp. 15-22, and "The Identity of the Church," in Appointees' and Staff Conference Papers, (unpublished reports by the RLDS First Presidency, Jan. 1979), esp. pp. 7-10.
While the Reorganized Latter Day Saints have begun to accept a critical approach to their own modern scriptures and the Judeo-Christian scriptures in general, the more significant effects of this change have yet to reach deeply into the individual, semi-independent congregations. This growing institutional viewpoint in regard to scripture may however, occasionally provide a factor in incidents which continue to separate that church's membership into loyalist and dissident fundamentalist factions. Even among loyalists the fundamentalist views of scripture (tempered somewhat by the Saints' traditional skepticism regarding biblical inerrancy) continue to prevail at the congregational level. The idea of scripture standing as a witness to revelation rather than its being a record of propostional, plenary revelation has only recently started to seep down to individual congregations.
A summary of the view held by many higher RLDS leaders in regard to the Book of Mormon is communicated in Peter A. Judd and Clifford Cole, "Scripture," in Jean-Christophe Bouissou and Wayne H. Ham (editors) The Faith of the Church, (Independence, MO 1997), pp. 59-61:
"One of the major topics of inquiry by persons from within and without the (restoration) movement over the years has been the origin of the Book of Mormon. Many persons have tried without success to show that parts or all of the book are in fact directly derived from other writings such as Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews and Solomon Spalding's Manuscript . . . Similar lack of success has resulted from the efforts of some to 'prove' the book's historical authenticity . . . Perhaps it is time for us to openly admit to a variety of views about the Book of Mormon. We (each) need to reach our own conclusion about the book's origins and meanings and determine for ourselves what implication, if any, these conclusions have for the ways that we will use the book."
The faithful members of the other restoration churches have yet to make any significant break with scriptural literalism and other manifestations of their traditional religious fundamentalism. There appears to be a growing comprehension among the better educated members as to what scholarly textual criticism might entail, but thoughts along this line are more frequently directed to texts like the Dead Sea Scrolls than to the Saints' own sacred books. It appears unlikely that the average member of the LDS Church, for example, is currently prepared to deal with the implications generated by the kind of scriptural study results described in my current report.