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Jerald & Sandra Tanner
Did Spalding Write the B. o. M.?
(Salt Lake City: Modern Microfilm 1977)

  • Title Page   Contents

  • Part 1a  Did Spaulding Write the B. of M.?
  • Part 1b  Supplement added Aug. 8, 1978
  • Part 2   Oberlin MS (LDS 1910 reprint)
  • Part 3   Smith's First Vision
  • Part 4   "Shadow or Reality" chapter
  • Part 5   "View of the Hebrews" parallels

  • Transcriber's Comments

  • see also:   Review of 1989 Tanner article mentioning Spalding  |  1977 Dean Jessee article

      The 1977 text bears no copyright notice. The transcriber will, however, honor an implicit copyright.
    If the authors wish to have the following reproduction changed, they may contact the transcriber.







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    Part 1

    Part 2   [link to this text]

    Part 3

    Part 4

    Part 5   [link to this text]


    [ 1 ]

    Part 1


    On June 25, 1977, the Los Angeles Times reported a very sensational story relating to the origin of the Book of Mormon:

    "Three Southern California researchers say they have new evidence that challenges the authenticity of the Book of Mormon . . .

    Based on the opinions of three handwriting experts, the researchers have declared that portions of the Book of Mormon were written by a Congregationalist minister and novelist who died more than 10 years before Joseph Smith is said to have received the revelations from God through golden plates.

    Though controversy about the authenticity of the Book of Mormon has swirled since its publication in 1830, the critics' case until now has rested on circumstantial evidence.

    Critics had maintained that similarities of style, subject matter and testimonies of perhaps biased persons linked Smith, founder of the Mormon Church, with Solomon Spaulding, the minister-writer who died in 1816.

    But this week the young researchers, none of whom is now a Mormon, revealed that they believe Spaulding wrote 12 pages of 'First Nephi,' part of the 522- page Book of Mormon. . .

    The researchers, Howard A. Davis and Donald Scales, both of Torrance, and Wayne L, Cowdrey of Orange, say that two years ago they obtained enlarged photocopies of 12 original manuscript pages that are in the Latter-day Saints archives in Salt Lake City.

    These reproductions were compared with specimens of handwriting in 'Manuscript Story,' a novel about the origin of American Indians generally acknowledged to have been written in longhand by Spaulding around 1812.

    The handwriting analysts, all well known in their field, worked independently and did not know of the Book of Mormon connection, Cowdery said in an interview.

    The first expert to be consulted was Henry Silver. He told The Times:   'It is my definite opinion that all of the questioned handwriting . . .  were written by the same writer known as  Solomon Spaulding . . .'

    Other handwriting analysts, who examined the Spaulding materials and the reproduced Mormon pages were Howard C. Doulder and William Kaye. Both live in the Los Angeles area and are frequently called to testify in court cases.

    Doulder told The Times, 'This is one and the same writer,' assuming that the photocopied material he was furnished is a true copy of the original documents in Salt Lake.

    Kaye, in an opinion written Aug. 27,1976, said it was his 'considered opinion and conclusion that all of the writings were executed by Solomon Spaulding. . .'

    The controversy is a critical one for the Mormons, a fast-growing church of 3. 8 million members. . .

    The 12 pages reproduced from the collection and examined by the handwriting analysts were dictated by Smith to 'an unidentified scribe,' according to Mormon historians. . ." (Los Angeles Times, June 25, 1977)

    For a number of years we have published material critical of the Mormon Church, and for this reason we were deluged with requests for information on this new discovery. Under the circumstances it was almost impossible to keep out of the controversy. Since we do not believe in the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon, nothing could have pleased us more than to have seen the conclusions of the California researchers verified.

    Nevertheless, we had grave doubts about the new find, and after an examination of the documents we were forced to the conclusion that the discovery would not stand up under rigorous examination. In an article published in the Ogden Standard-Examiner, David Briscoe wrote the following:

    "SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- One of Mormonism's long-standing critics has joined the church in discounting conclusions of California researchers that the Book of Mormon was pirated from the writings of a 19th Century novelist,

    Jerald Tanner, a Salt Lake City anti-Mormon publisher, says he was allowed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) on Thursday to see documents that convinced him novelist Solomon Spaulding could not have written part of the Book of Mormon manuscript.

    Tanner said, however, he does not accept the church position that the book is the word of God, translated by Mormon founder Joseph Smith from gold plates . . .

    Tanner accompanied one of the California handwriting experts, William Kaye, to church headquarters Thursday, where they were allowed to see the original Book of Mormon manuscripts held by the church.

    Church spokesman Don LeFevre said Kaye also examined a document which is the basis of part of another Mormon scripture, The Doctrine and Covenants.

    That manuscript is clearly dated 15 years after Spalding's death in 1816 and appears to have been written in the same hand as the disputed Book of Mormon manuscript, Tanner said.

    He acknowledged not being a handwriting expert but said there are significant differences in the handwriting that a layman can spot . . .

    Tanner said he and Kaye spent 90 minutes examining the documents." (Ogden Standard-Examiner, July 8, 1977)"

    After the Associated Press put this story on the wire, we were interviewed by KALL Radio, Our comments caused the California researchers to send the following telegram to the radio station:



      BoM I Nephi 7:3-12 BOOK OF MORMON

    Handwriting of "Unknown Scribe"
    (I Nephi 7:3-12)
    enlargement #1
    1910 Spalding MS p.112 SPALDING

    Handwriting of Solomon Spalding
    ("Manuscript Story," p. 112)
    enlargement #2



      BoM I Nephi 7:17-8:2 BOOK OF MORMON

    Handwriting of "Unknown Scribe"
    (I Nephi 7:17-8:2)
    enlargement #3
    1910 Spalding MS p.111 SPALDING

    Handwriting of Solomon Spalding
    ("Manuscript Story," p. 111)
    enlargement #4





    Because of the fact that many misunderstandings have arisen over what happened at the Church archives we feel that it is best if we include a complete statement about the matter.

    STATEMENT BY JERALD TANNER. In our book Mormonism -- Shadow or Reality? page 166, we printed a photograph of the top of a page of the original Book of Mormon manuscript. This page had previously been suppressed by the Mormon Church. An examination of this photograph reveals that there has been a serious change made in the Book of Mormon. The original manuscript at one point reads: ". . . even the eternal father . . . " When the first edition of the Book of Mormon was printed in 1830 it agreed with the manuscript, but in later editions it has been changed to read: ". . . even the Son of the Eternal Father!" (I Nephi 11:21)

    At any rate, one of the California researchers was reading Mormonism -- Shadow or Reality? when he ran into this photograph of the manuscript of the Book of Mormon. He had previously been examining the handwriting of Solomon Spalding (Spalding's name is spelled this way in the earliest documents) and was struck with the fact that there was a resemblance between the two writings. Subsequently three handwriting experts were consulted and are reported to have given support to this theory.

    Several months before the discovery was announced a friend of the Spalding researchers came to Sandra and I with the startling announcement that the source of the Book of Mormon had definitely been found. We were, of course, very excited and began to compare a photograph of Solomon Spalding's writing with the Book of Mormon manuscript. I noticed, however, that there were dissimilarities between the two documents. For example, the manuscript written by Spalding uses capital letters where proper names are given, whereas the writer of the Book of Mormon manuscript seems to omit this in most cases. We have "nephi "jerusalem," and etc. Another dissimilarity is that Spalding usually uses the ampersand (&) instead of writing out the word "and." In the Book of Mormon, however, it is usually written out. Sandra pointed out that some of the similarities between the documents could be explained as peculiarities of the time period in which the documents were produced. She demonstrated this from documents Wesley P. Waiters found when he was doing research which proved that Joseph Smith was tried as a "glass looker " in 1826

    One thing that troubled me was the fact that Henry Silver, one of the handwriting experts, was the same man who declared the so-called Mormon will an authentic document. We had just completed a pamphlet on the subject, Howard Hughes and the Mormon Will, in which we showed that the internal inconsistencies of the will proved that it was a forgery. I felt that if Mr. Silver could err in this regard, he could also make a mistake with regard to the Book of Mormon pages.

    For these reasons we cautioned this friend of the

    researchers that they should be very cautious in putting forth such a sensational claim. Since it was such a secret matter, none of the documents were left with us for further inspection. From our brief examination of the documents, however, we had some grave doubts about the whole thing.

    After the discovery was announced, I was very anxious to obtain copies of the documents. Unfortunately, however, no photographs were published in our area. On July 6, 1977, 1 received a phone call from a friend of the California researchers. He said that Mr. William Kaye, a hand-writing expert from Los Angeles had been sent to examine the original Book of Mormon pages in the Church archives, and he wondered if I would accompany Mr. Kaye to be sure that he was shown the right documents. He knew, of course, that I was not a handwriting expert, but he felt that my experience with Mormon documents would be very helpful to Mr. Kaye. I had grave reservations about accepting such an assignment, but I was told that I should make it a matter of prayer. Mormon leaders had always refused me copies of the documents, and at one time A. William Lund, who was Assistant Church Historian, told me that he would not even show me a copy of the i.e., the Church newspaper. Some years Later, a friend was told by the Church Historian that "professional anti-Mormons' would not be allowed to do research. When the friend asked who were "professional anti-Mormons" the reply was people like 'the Tanners."

    At any rate, I decided to accept the assignment. The original plan was that I was to pick up Mr. Kaye and accompany him into the Church archives. The next morning, however, the friend of the California researchers called me and said that the researchers felt that it was best that I did not accompany him because my presence might prevent him from seeing the documents. It was decided, then, that I should drive Mr. Kaye to the Church Office Building and allow him to go in by himself. This was a great relief to my mind as I did not want a confrontation with Church officials. As I was driving Mr. Kaye to Mormon headquarters, however, I became impressed with the fact that I should go in with him. I had heard that the Church had a revelation, dated June, 1831, which contained hand-writing which resembled that found in the 12 contested pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript, I thought that this was a very important matter, and I felt that I might be able to talk Church officials into showing Mr. Kaye this document.

    After we parked the car, I told Mr. Kaye that word had been sent that my presence in the archives might keep him from seeing the documents. He indicated, however, that even if they did not allow me to come in the archives, this should not prevent him from seeing the documents since the appointment was already set up. Besides, he felt that the press might be present and he would like someone to accompany him. He said, however, that it really didn't matter to him and that I would have to make up my own mind. The gravity of the situation seized me, I knew that if my presence prevented Mr. Kaye from seeing the documents it would cause serious problems with the researchers. On the other hand, I knew that it was my one chance to settle the matter with regard to the question as to whether Spalding really wrote the Book of Mormon pages. Finally, I mustered up my courage and proceeded with Mr. Kaye to the Church archives. I followed behind Mr. Kaye as he was directed from one office to another and finally to the conference room. I sat down close to him so that I would be able to have a good look at the documents. We were alone in the room for a few minutes, but then Donald Schmidt, Church Archivist, entered with a cart containing a large number of documents. At this point I felt very much out of place --almost like the Book of Mormon story of Nephi in Laban's treasury. (This story, found in I Nephi 4:7-25, tells how Nephi cut off Laban's head, disguised himself in his garments and deceived his servant so that he could enter into the treasury and take the "plates of brass.")



    At any rate, Mr. Kaye introduced me to Mr. Schmidt as "Mr. Tanner." We shook hands, and then Mr. Schmidt asked for my first name. At this point, I wished that I had a name like Nathan (a Church official). I knew, however, that as a Christian I had to tell the truth, so I answered "Jerald." There was an embarrassing silence for a few moments as Mr. Schmidt weighed the gravity of the situation. He undoubtedly realized that he could be in serious trouble with Church officials if he allowed me to stay, yet, on the other hand, he knew that it would create a bad impression to ask me to leave in the presence of the handwriting expert. Since this issue was being carefully watched by the press, it could create bad publicity for the Church. After contemplating the issue for a few moments Mr. Schmidt decided to allow me to stay. Dean Jessee and Don LeFevre then entered the room, and I was introduced by my full name.

    I sat back down by Mr. Kaye and we were allowed to examine the original documents. It was very exciting for me to see the original pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript laid on the table in my presence.

    At this point I should make note of the fact that some people now claim that we did not see the original pages -- in other words, they believe the Church switched documents on us to fowl up the investigation. I do not think that there is the slightest possibility that such a switch could have been made. I recognized the handwriting as the same I was familiar with from photocopies I had obtained long before the controversy arose. It was the "unknown" hand and appeared identical to the photocopies. Since we had our own photocopies of the documents with us, it is impossible for me to believe that any substitution could have been made. The pages which we were shown had the appearance of being very old, and all evidence leads me to believe that they were in fact the very original pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript.

    The reason some people feel that the pages were switched is that Henry Silver claimed that the pages he saw were laminated, whereas William Kaye believes the pages we were shown were in plastic holders. My impression was that they were laminated. This controversy arose immediately after we inspected the documents. Mr. Kaye told me that he was surprised that Mr. Silver had described the documents as being laminated. I was rather taken back by the statement, and I asked him why he thought they were not laminated. He replied that he had seen one of the men remove the document from its plastic holder. This, of course, would be impossible if the document were laminated. I have since felt that what Mr. Kaye actually saw was another document we had been examining removed from a plastic holder.

    However this may be, I firmly believe the pages I saw were the originals, and I think it would make very little sense for the Church to switch the pages now, since the original idea that it is Spalding's writing came from the photocopy in Mormonism -- Shadow or Reality? To attempt a switch at this time seems completely irrational, since we already have photocopies made before the controversy arose. What point would there be in making such a switch?

    At any rate, as Mr. Kaye and myself continued to examine the documents we were treated with courtesy, I began to note and discuss the important dissimilarities between the photocopies of the Spalding manuscript and the writing in the Book of Mormon manuscript. Then the final blow came to the California researchers' theory. This was the revelation dated June, 1831, Section 56 of the Doctrine and Covenants. The Church voluntarily produced this revelation and invited Mr. Kaye to inspect it. The claim has been made that Mr. Kaye did not see the original of this revelation. I am absolutely certain this is incorrect. Both the original revelation and a photocopy were given to us for inspection. I noted the date at the top and the fact that the paper appeared to be very old. After looking carefully at the revelation, I became convinced that it was probably written by the same scribe who wrote the 12 contested pages in the Book of Mormon manuscript. Both manuscripts in turn differed from Spalding's work in important features.

    I felt that the evidence furnished by the revelation was so devastating that I immediately went to the press with a statement hoping that the whole matter could be resolved before more damage was done.

                Jerald Tanner [signature]

    After the story was published we were met with some very strong criticism. Some Christians who had been working with the Mormons felt that we had betrayed their cause. They seemed to think that we were working against the purposes of the Lord and that we should keep quiet about our findings. We do not hold any bad feelings about this. We know that these people really believe the discovery is authentic and that we are mislead in our conclusions. But then we also know that these people have not compared the 1831 revelation with the pages in the Book of Mormon manuscript.

    It is our feeling that this new theory will not stand the test of time and the more it is advocated the more damage it will do. Nothing could have delighted us more than to have found the California researchers' claims to be correct, but the evidence indicated the contrary and we had to state the case as we saw it.

    Two days after the Associated Press printed our findings, the following appeared in an article in the Salt Lake Tribune:

    "One of three Los Angeles handwriting experts hired to check authenticity of the Book of Mormon has withdrawn from the assignment.

    In a telephone interview Friday, Henry Silver, peppery 86 year-old expert who insists Howard Hughes wrote the 'Mormon Will,' said he is fed up.'

    'I'm out of it,' he said. 'I don't want any part of it.'

    He said he decided to withdraw after published reports that he agreed 12 pages of the Book of Mormon were written by . . . Solomon Spaulding . . .

    'That is not true,' Mr. Silver said. 'I have told news representatives that I could not say that without examining the original writings of Solomon Spaulding. not just the photocopies provided (by three California researchers)' . . .

    Asked if he were provided Spaulding originals in Los Angeles, Mr. Silver replied tersely: 'I'm out of it.'

    He said again he has been misrepresented in the press. 'The stories indicate I have said the handwriting in the Book of Mormon matches Spaulding's. I have never said that. I couldn't with only photocopies of Spaulding's handwriting.'

    Another handwriting expert, William Kaye . . . examined the Book of Mormon original pages at the church archives here, accompanied by one of Mormonism's long time critics, Jerald Tanner, a Salt Lake City anti-Mormon publisher.

    "Mr. Kaye, who examined Spaulding originals at Oberlin, said he could give no opinion until he examines all 12 pages... of the Book of Mormon. LDS officials agreed to provide photocopies. "(Salt Lake Tribune, July 9, 1977)


    Before showing some of the dissimilarities between the Book of Mormon manuscript and Solomon Spalding's manuscript, it is only fair to state that there are similarities between the two. Some of them, in fact, are very impressive. (The word "that" for instance, is similar in both manuscripts.) Nevertheless, we feel that the dissimilarities far outweigh the similarities. A good example is the use of capitalization in the two manuscripts. In the Book of Mormon manuscript names are usually not capitalized, whereas the names in Spalding's manuscript begin with capitalization. Below is a brief comparison of portions of the two manuscripts (we will use the letter M to stand for the Book of Mormon manuscript and the letter S to stand for the manuscript written by Solomon Spalding.



    BoM & Spaulding compared 1

    The word "I" is not capitalized by the scribe who wrote the Book of Mormon pages, but in Spalding's manuscript it is.

    BoM & Spaulding compared 2

    It is interesting to note that the 1831 revelation uses the small "i" just like the Book of Mormon scribe and it is written in the same manner.

    The word "and" is usually written out in the Book of Mormon, whereas Spalding uses the ampersand.

    BoM & Spaulding compared 3

    BoM & Spaulding compared 4
    Occasionally the Book of Mormon scribe does use the ampersand, but when he does it is not similar to Spalding's ampersand. The ampersand in the 1831 revelation, on the other hand, is identical to the one found occasionally in the Book of Mormon manuscript.

    Don LeFevre pointed out a very important dissimilarity concerning the formation of the letter "s" in the two manuscripts. The Book of Mormon manuscript almost always uses the modern style "s" except where two appear in a row. Solomon Spalding, on the other hand, uses the old style at the beginning and even in the middle of words. This old style looks almost like the letter "f." The word "these" makes an interesting comparison.

    BoM & Spaulding compared 5
    Below is a comparison of two lines from the "unknown" scribe in the Book of Mormon manuscript and the Spalding manuscript. The reader will notice that except where the letter "s" appears twice in a row in the Book of Mormon manuscript the old style is not used. In the Spalding manuscript, however, the words "most," "desire" and "sword" all appear in the old style.

    BoM & Spaulding compared 6
    The use of the old style letter "s" in Solomon Spalding's work clearly shows that it was written prior to the 12 contested Book of Mormon pages. Now, while a person might advance the theory that Spalding changed to the more modern style just before his death in 1816, this would still leave the problem concerning capitalization unexplained. It is very unlikely that he would change to the modern style "s" in the Book of Mormon pages and then turn right around and almost abandon the use of capital letters in proper names. We think that this is strong evidence that the two documents did not come from the same hand. We have noticed other dissimilarities which we will not bother to mention at this time.

    Other Problems

    We feel that even if a hundred handwriting experts said that the Book of Mormon pages and the Spalding manuscript were written by the same hand, there are still serious historical problems which would have to be explained before the theory could be accepted.



    When we first told Wesley P. Waiters of this new idea he pointed out a very important item. The handwriting just before and just after the "unknown" hand has been identified as that of Joseph Smith's scribes, and since Spalding died in 1816, it is rather difficult to believe that his handwriting would appear in the middle. (The Book of Mormon was, of course, written by Joseph Smith's scribes in the late 1820's.) On June 28, 1977, Dr. Leonard J. Arrington, Mormon Church Historian, issued a statement to the press in which the following appeared:

    "The theory has been advanced that 12 pages among the 140 pages of the manuscript of the Book of Mormon in our possession are in the handwriting of Solomon Spaulding, a person who died in 1816 . . .

    The theory is completely untenable. It would require us to believe that Spaulding had written 12 pages in his copybook, that those 12 pages somehow drifted 14 years later into the hands of an unrelated young farm hand a long distance away, that this young man while dictating the Book of Mormon inserted those 12 pages into his manuscript part of the way through his narrative, and that those 12 pages matched exactly the size and texture of the paper which is just ahead of it and after it in the manuscript, and that they match the ink and the language style and content of what the young man had dictated before and after those pages. The whole idea is preposterous. "

    According to the Los Angeles Times, the California researchers have come up with the idea that all the pages in question and those just before and after came out of Spalding's notebook:

    "A number of questions about the pages linked to Spaulding by the handwriting experts remain unanswered. And the research project itself is not altogether a disinterested study.

    Why a scribe would insert pages written by Spaulding into the Book of Mormon manuscript instead of rewriting them is open to conjecture.

    'The sections in the archives appear to have been written at the same time with the same ink on the same stock of paper,' said LeFevre. 'Why would Smith take the original manuscript and try to match the ink and paper -- it would have been easier to copy off Spaulding's writing in his own hand if he had wanted to plagiarize.'

    Researcher Cowdrey speculates that Smith had Spaulding's notebook in which the manuscript was written and simply had the other scribes write new material on unused pages of the notebook as Smith dictated. Then, Cowdrey reasons, Smith tore out some of the pages written by Spaulding and all of the pages newly written by the scribes and put them in their present sequence.

    This, Cowdrey says, would explain the uniformity in the paper stock and its age." (Los Angeles Times, June 25, 1977)

    We feel that this idea as to how Spalding's pages appeared in the middle of pages written by Joseph Smith's scribes is very difficult to believe.

    Another serious problem confronting those who believe that Spalding actually wrote 12 pages of the manuscript of the Book of Mormon is that it would make him responsible for all the words that appear on these pages. Since the style is completely different than that found in Spalding's extant manuscript (see Part 2 of this book), we are inclined to feel that he could not be the author.

    The 12 pages of the Book of Mormon in the "unknown" hand present a serious problem for those who accept the affidavits of Solomon Spalding's brother and some of his friends. Most of these affidavits claim that Spalding's work did NOT contain the religious material found in the Book of Mormon.

    John Spalding stated: "I have recently read the Book of Mormon, and to my great surprize I find nearly the same historical matter, names, &c. as they were in my brother's writings . . . according to the best of my recollection and belief, it is the same as my brother Solomon

    wrote, with the exception of the religious matter." (Mormonism Unvailed, by E.D. Howe, 1834, p. 280)

    John N. Miller testified: "I have recently examined the Book of Mormon, and find in it the writings of Solomon Spalding, from beginning to end, but mixed up with scripture and other religious matter, which I did not meet with in the 'Manuscript Found.'" (Ibid., p. 283)

    Aaron Wright stated: "He [Spalding] traced their journey from Jerusalem to America, as it is given in the Book of Mormon, excepting the religious matter." (Ibid., p. 284)

    Speaking of Spalding's work, Oliver Smith said that "no religious matter was introduced, as I now recollect." (Ibid., p. 285)

    Nahum Howard testified: "I have lately read the Book of Mormon, and believe it to be the same as Spalding wrote except the religious part." (Ibid., p. 286)

    Now, if these affidavits are taken at face value, it is very hard to explain the presence of religious material in the 12 pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript. Actually, these 12 pages, published as I Nephi 4:20 to I Nephi 12:8, are just filled with religious material such as Lehi's dream of the Tree of Life. While it may be possible to postulate that Spalding wrote three manuscripts instead of just two to explain this dilemma, we feel this would be stretching one's credulity.

    Origin  of  Spalding  Theory

    When the Book of Mormon first appeared in 1830 it was believed to be the work of Joseph Smith. In 1831 Alexander Campbell wrote: "And yet for uniformity of style, there never was a book more evidently written by one set of fingers . . . this book was written by one man, And as Joseph Smith is a very ignorant man and is called the author on the title page, I cannot doubt for a single moment but that he is the sole author and proprietor of it." (Millennial Harbinger, Feb. 1831, p. 93)

    In 1833 a new theory was proposed, Fawn Brodie explains:

    "He [Joseph Smith] had made a vindictive enemy of Philastus Hurlbut, a handsome, ambitious convert whom he had excommunicated in June 1833 for 'unchristian conduct with the ladies.' In vengeful mood, Hurlbut began an investigation of the beginnings of the Mormon Church.

    "ln Conneaut, about fifty miles east of Kirtland, he heard a rumor that one John Spaulding had seen a resemblance between Joseph's Book of Mormon and an old manuscript written many years earlier by his brother, Solomon Spaulding. Electrified by the idea that the Book of Mormon might be proved a forgery, Hurlbut ransacked Conneaut for evidence . . . John Spaulding and his wife Martha, together with several neighbors, remembered dimly that Solomon's old historical novel had been about a lost people who were ancestors of the Indians. That it was not a religious history they were all agreed; but under Hurlbut's excited proding they managed to recall an astonishing number of details that coincided exactly with those in the Book of Mormon -- astonishing because it had been twenty years since the single occasion on which they had heard Solomon read his manuscript aloud.

    Hurlbut wrote down their affidavits, collected their signatures, and went off triumphantly to Palmyra,...

    "Only one thing remained to complete his case: rediscovery of Solomon Spaulding's manuscript. After finding Spaulding's widow in Massachusetts, he was directed by her back to eastern New York, where he located the manuscript in a trunk in the attic of an old farmhouse. Now to his bitter chagrin he found that the long chase had been vain; for while the romance did concern the ancestor of the Indians, its resemblance to the Book of Mormon ended there. None of the names found in one could be identified in the other; the many battles which each described showed not the slightest similarity with those of the other, and Spaulding's prose style, which aped the eighteenth-century British sentimental novelists, differed from the style of the Mormon Bible as much as Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded differed from the New Testament.



    Hurlbut knew, however, that he had a keg of powder even without the manuscript. He... arranged to publish the documents in book form with the assistance of Eber D. Howe... He sold his manuscript for five hundred dollars to Howe, who printed the book Mormonism Unvailed under his own name." (No Man Knows My History, 1971, pp. 143-145)

    Since Hurlbut's affidavits are of such importance in studying the Spalding theory we have photographically reprinted them in the pages which follow from the 1834 printing of Mormonism Unvailed.




    D E L U S I O N,






    W A S   B R O U G H T   B E F O R E   T H E   W O R L D.







    BY  E.  D.  HOWE.

    P A I N E S V I L L E :


    Pages 9-14 reproduce Chapter XIX from Howe's Mormonism Unvailed


    Suppression  of  Manuscript

    In E. D. Howe's Mormonism Unvailed, p.288, it is admitted that a manuscript was found "in Spalding's handwriting" which contained "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 country then being inhabited by the Indians."

    The Mormon writer George Reynolds says that "Mrs. Davison [Solomon Spalding's widow] positively asserts that she gave Hurlburt the original of the 'Manuscript Found,' either directly, or through her order to Mr. Clark, and that he promised to publish it, which however he never did. He claimed that it did not read as he expected, or he found nothing that would suit his purpose." (The Myth of the Manuscript Found.' 1883, pp. 16-17)

    Hurlbut claimed that he took the manuscript to E.D. Howe. Instead of publishing the manuscript, or even a part of it, Howe suppressed it. Francis W. Kirkham maintains that "Hurlburt and Howe refused to publish it for the reason it would be proof that the writings of Solomon Spaulding had no part in furnishing the contents ofthe Book of Mormon." (A New Witness For Christ In America, 1959 v. 2, p, 158)

    During the years when the manuscript was suppressed, many serious charges were made by both Mormons and anti-Mormons. On June 28, 1841, John Storrs wrote a letter in which he stated:

    "Dr. Hurlburt took the manuscript. It is reported in Missouri, that he sold it for four hundred dollars, that the manuscript is not to be found... I am suspicious that a deep and long game has been played by the Mormons to obtain and destroy the manuscript. Some one has got that manuscript and has got it secreted from the public eye. And if that manuscript cannot be found, in my mind will be proved that the Mormons have conveyed it away. The burden of proof is on the Mormons. To them it belongs to produce the manuscript. If they have got the manuscript and will not produce it, it is plain they fear its publication to the world will destroy their pretended revelation." (A New witness For Christ In America, v.2, p. l76)

    Ellen E. Dickinson said that "There is no possible way of finding out what Hurlburt did with the manuscript... There was a report to the effect that he sold it to the Mormons for $300, and that they then destroyed it." (Scribner's Monthly, August, 1880, page 616)

    In a sworn statement, dated Jan. 10, 1881, Hurlbut denied that he had destroyed or sold the manuscript:

    "... I found Mrs. Davison, late widow of the Rev. Solomon Spaulding... Of her I obtained a manuscript, supposing it to be the manuscript of the romance written by the said Solomon Spaulding, called the 'Manuscript Found,' which was reported to be the foundation of the 'Book of Mormon.' I did not examine the manuscript until I got home, when upon examination I found it to contain nothing of the kind, but being a manuscript upon an entirely different subject. This manuscript I left with E. D. Howe... Said Howe says the manuscript was destroyed by fire, and further the deponent saith not." (Scribner's Monthly, Oct. 1881, p. 946)

    A. B. Deming says that Howe told him "He did not know what became of it, he supposed it was destroyed when the newspaper office was burned. The files of the Telegraph, Howe's paper, of 1836-7-8, were burned." (Naked Truths About Mormonism, January, 1888, p. 1)

    We feel that it is very possible that Howe did believe that the manuscript was destroyed in a fire, but, be this as it may, in 1884 Spalding's manuscript was rediscovered in Hawaii. Francis W. Kirkham wrote:

    "An unexpected discovery was made in Honolulu, Hawaii, of the writings of Solomon Spaulding. L. L. Rice had purchased
    the printing establishment of Eber D. Howe at Painesville, Ohio. The papers in Mr. Howe's office had been sent to Hawaii. President James H. Fairchild of Oberlin College, Ohio, asked Mr. Rice to search through these papers for historical data concerning the Civil War. As a result, the long lost manuscript of about one hundred-twenty-five pages, written by Solomon Spaulding, was found. It was now assumed that these writings of Solomon Spaulding would definitely prove the origin of the Book of Mormon." (A New Witness For Christ in America, v. 2, p. 207)

    E. D. Howe was still alive when the Spalding manuscript was rediscovered. A. B. Deming relates the following:

    "I told Mr. E. D. Howe that word had been received from the Sandwich Islands that Spaulding's manuscript from which the 'Book of Mormon' was made, had been found there, without mentioning Rice's name. Mr. Howe trembled and become greatly excited. I told a clergyman in the town that he could not have been much more so if the Sheriff had read his death warrant. A few days later he said he was failing and wanted to die. I finally read to him Mr. W. H. Rice's letter and that relieved his fears, for he said Rice used to edit the Telegraph and he probably had Conneaut story, which proved to be correct." (Naked Truths About Mormonism, January, 1888, p. 2,)

    Many people felt that the discovery of Spalding's manuscript would deal the final death blow to the idea that Joseph Smith borrowed from him to produce the Book oi Mormon. James H. Fairchild, President of Oberlin College, the institution which now has possession of Spalding's manuscript, made this statement:

    "The theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon in the traditional manuscript of Solomon Spaulding will probably have to be relinguished. That manuscript is doubtless now in the possession of Mr. L. L. Rice,...

    There seems no reason to doubt that this is the long-lost story. Mr. Rice, myself, and others compared it with the Book of Mormon, and could detect no resemblance between the two, in general or in detail. There seems to be no name or incident common to the two. The solemn style of the Book of Mormon, in imitation of the English Scriptures, does not appear in the manuscript. The only resemblance is in the fact that both profess to set forth the history of lost tribes. 'Some other explanation of the origin of the Book of Mormon must be found, if any explanation is required." (The Bibliotheca Sacra, Oberlin, Ohio,Vol, XLII, 1885, pp. 173-174)

    L. L. Rice, who rediscovered the Spalding manuscript, made these comments:

    "it is certain that this Manuscript is not the origin of the Mormon Bible, whatever some other manuscript may have been. The only similarity between them, is in the manner which each purports to have been found -- one in a cave on Conneaut Creek -- the other in a hill in Ontario County, New York. There is no identity of names, of persons, or places; and there is no similarity of style between them. As I told Mr. Deming, I should as soon think the Book of Revelation was written by the author of Don Quixote, as that the writer of this Manuscript was the author of the Book of Mormon...

    As to this Manuscript, I can not see that it can be of any use to anybody, except the Mormons, to show that it is not the original of the Mormon Bible. But that would not settle the claim that some other manuscript of Spauldings was the original of it...

    P. S. -- ... Finally, I am more than half convinced that his is his only writing of the sort, and that any pretense that Spaulding was in any sense the author of the other, is sheer fabrication," (The True Origin of the Book of Mormon, pp. 66-69, as cited in A New Witness For Christ In America, Vol. 2, pp. 210-211)



    As Mr, Rice had predicted, believers in the Book of Mormon were very anxious to use the manuscript to disprove the Spalding theory as to the origin of the Book of Mormon. The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints printed it in 1885, and the Utah Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) published it in 1910. The reader will find a photographic reproduction of Spalding's manuscript in Part 2 of this book.

    A  Second  Manuscript?

    Although the publication of the manuscript convinced many people that the Spalding theory was untenable, many anti-Mormon writers continued to support it. They maintained that Spalding had written a second manuscript which Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon used in the production of the Book of Mormon. This idea of two manuscripts had been proposed by E. D. Howe in Mormonism Unvailed in 1834. On page 288 of Howe's book we read that some of Spalding's acquaintances claimed that he 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 [i.e., the manuscript which Howe obtained] bears no resemblance to the 'Manuscript Found.'"

    Anti-Mormon writers claimed that the Mormons had distorted the truth by publishing Spalding's manuscript under the title, "The Manuscript Found." They said that the original manuscript did not contain this title and that the Mormons had merely assumed that it was the same story. Charles A. Shook wrote:

    "Reader, when the Mormon elder, who comes to your door with his literature, tells you that the 'Manuscript Found,' from which it is claimed the Book of Mormon was taken, was discovered in Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands, in 1884, and that they now have it in printed form for twenty-five cents per copy, don't you believe it. The manuscript from Honolulu is not the 'Manuscript Found,' but the 'Manuscript Story'; the former may be found, revamped, as the Book of Mormon, at the publishing houses of the... Mormon churches." (The True Origin of the Book of Mormon, [p. 77]  as cited in A New Witness For Christ In America, Vol. 2, p. 216)

    The anti-Mormon writer Fawn M. Brodie does not agree with Charles A. Shook. She thinks that it is more likely that there "was only one Spaulding manuscript:"

    "The Spaulding--Rigdon theory of the authorship of the Book of Mormon is based on a heterogeneous assortment of letters and affidavits collected between 1833 and 1900... Hurlbut interviewed these people in August and September 1833...

    lt can clearly be seen that the affidavits were written by Hurlbut, since the style is the same throughout. It may be noted also that although five out of the eight had heard Spaulding's story only once, there was a surprising uniformity in the details they remembered after twenty-two years. Six recalled the names Nephi, Lamanite, etc; six held that the manuscript described the Indians as descendants of the lost ten tribes; four mentioned that the great wars caused the erection of the Indian mounds; and four noted the ancient scriptural style. The very tightness with which Hurlbut here was implementing his theory rouses an immediate suspicion that he did a little judicious prompting.

    However, the affidavits were arresting, and Hurlbut knew it. He visited Spaulding's widow...

    She gave Hurlbut permission to examine Spaulding's papers... but he found there only one manuscript, which was clearly not the source for the Book of Mormon...

    Hurlbut showed this manuscript to Spaulding's neighbors, who, he said, recognized it as Spaulding's, but stated that it was not the 'Manuscript Found.' Spaulding '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.' This surmise
    may have been true, though there was no signed statement swearing to it. But it seems more likely that these witnesses had so come to identify the Book of Mormon with the Spaulding manuscript that they could not concede having made an error without admitting to a case of memory substitution which they did not themselves recognize... it should be noted that if, as seems most likely, 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 one was a plagiarism of the other. Both were said to have come from out ofthe earth; both were stories of colonists sailing from the Old World to the New; both explained the earthworks and mounds common to western New York and Ohio as the result of savage wars. John Miller had spoken of 'humorous passages' in Spaulding's work, which would certainly apply to the 'Manuscript Story,' but not to the utterly humorless Book of Mormon.

    Other features, like the scriptural style, the expression 'it came to pass,' and the proper names, seem too definite to be questioned. But it should be remembered, as President Fairchild pointed out in his analysis of the problem, that the Book of Mormon was fresh in their minds, and their recollections of the 'Manuscript Found' were very remote and dim. That under the pressure and suggestion of Hurlbut and Howe, they should put the ideas at hand in place of those remote and forgotten, and imagine that they remembered what they had recently read, would be only an ordinary example of the frailty of memory.

    If on the other hand, Hurlbut was right and there were actually two Spaulding manuscripts, one might reasonably expect similarities between the Book of Mormon and the extant manuscript, since the latter was full of unmistakable literary mannerisms of the kind that are more easily acquired than shed. Spaulding was heir to all the florid sentiment and grandiose rhetoric of the English Gothic romance. He used all the stereotyped patterns -- villainy versus innocent maidenhood, thwarted love, and heroic valor -- thickly encrusted with the tradition of the noble savage. The Book of Mormon had but one scant reference to a love affair, and its rhythmical, monotonous style bore no resemblance to the cheap cliches and purple metaphors abounding in the Spaulding story." (No Man Knows My History, pp. 442, 443, 446-450)

    We are inclined to agree with Mrs. Brodie that there was probably only one manuscript dealing with the ancient Indians and that the witnesses suffered from "memory substitution" because of the long lapse of time. The same type of situation can be demonstrated by another incident that happened with regard to the Spalding affair. The reader will remember that Hurlbut said he obtained only one manuscript from Spalding's widow. As it turned out, this manuscript had no relationship to the Book of Mormon. Nevertheless, as time passed people began to believe that Hurlbut had a manuscript which was like the Book of Mormon. On March 22, 1886, James A. Briggs wrote:

    "But I believe he had also with him, and we had before us in that investigation, the original 'Manuscript Found' written by Rev. Solomon Spaulding. I have said and believed for more than fifty years that I have seen and had in my hands the original 'Manuscript Found' from which the Mormon Bible was made.

    I have no doubt we had the Manuscript Found' before us, that we compared it with the Mormon Bible, that the style in which the 'Manuscript Found' was written was the same as that of the Mormon Bible. The names -- peculiar -- were the same, not to be forgotten. The names Lehi, Nephi, Maroni, etc., and the expression 'and it came to pass' often repeated." (Naked Truths About Mormonism, January, 1888, p. 4)

    On page 2 of the same publication, A. B. Deming wrote



    that he had "taken statements from fifteen persons who had heard Hurlbut lecture on the 'Origin of Mormonism,' and read from the Spaulding 'Manuscript Found' and the same from the 'Book of Mormon.'"

    Since it is almost impossible to believe that Hurlbut had more than one manuscript, we are led to the conclusion that these witnesses also suffered from "memory substitution." Perhaps what they really heard was Hurlbut reading the affidavits of Spalding's friends.

    At one time we thought that the Spalding theory received some support from the publication know[n] as Defence in a Rehearsal of My Grounds for Separating Myself from the Latter Day Saints by Oliver Cowdery. In this pamphlet Oliver Cowdery, one of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, was supposed to have implied that the the voice of the angel who appeared at the time of his baptism "did most mysteriously resemble the voice of Elder Sidney Rigdon, who, I am sure had no part in the transactions of that day." Since Rigdon's name was linked to the Spalding manuscript by anti-Mormon writers, and since Mormons maintain that he was not even acquanted with Smith at the time of the baptism, we felt that this might provide some evidence for the Spalding theory. After a great deal of research, however, we were led to the conclusion that this purported "Defence" by Oliver Cowdery is in reality a forgery. We have published our research with regard to this matter in the pamphlet, A Critical Look -- A Study Of The Overstreet "Confession" And The Cowdery Defence."

    Fawn M. Brodie says that the Spalding theory is based on "the untenable assumption that Joseph Smith had neither the wit nor the learning to write the Book of Mormon, and it disregards the fact that the style of the Book of Mormon is identical with that of the Mormon prophet's later writings, such as the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price, but is completely alien to the turgid rhetoric of Rigdon's sermons." (No Man Knows My History, p. 442)

    In 1965 we published a document which seems to show that Joseph Smith had the ability to write the Bookof Mormon, This document had been suppressed because it contains an account of Joseph Smith's First Vision which differs drastically from that published by the Mormon Church in the Pearl of Great Price. The most important difference being that it mentions only one person (Christ) appeared in this vision. The official account says that both God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith. This early account of the First Visionis in Joseph Smith's own handwriting. Dean C. Jessee, of the Church Historical Department, states: 'This is the only known account of the Vision in his own hand." Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Spring 1971, p. 86) This is also the earliest known account of Joseph Smith's First Vision -- it was written about six years before the official account.

    The reader will find a reproduction of this document in Part 3 of this book. A careful comparison of it reveals that it is much closer in style to the Book of Mormon than the Spalding manuscript. For example, the story in Spalding's manuscript begins as follows (the first few words are in brackets because they were altered or erased by Mr. Spalding):

    [[My name was [is] Fabius]] The family name I sustain is Fabius, being decended from the illustrius General of that name -- i was born at Rome..." (Manuscript Story, page 4; see Part 2 of this book)

    The Book of Mormon, on the other hand, begins with these words:

    "I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents... "(I Nephi 1:1)

    The beginning of Joseph Smith's Strange Account oi the First Vision sounds like the Book of Mormon:

    "I was born in the town of Sharon... of goodly parents..." ("An Analysis of the Accounts Relating Joseph

    Smith's Early Visions:" by Paul R. Cheesman, Master's thesis, B.Y.U., 1965, p. 127; reproduced in Part 3 ot this book)

    It is our belief that Joseph Smith could have produced the Book of Mormon from documents available to him in the late 1820's. In our book Mormonism -- Shadow or Reality? we noted parallels to items pubished in Joseph Smith's home town newspaper and to books such as View of the Hebrews and The Wonders of Nature and Providence Displayed.

    We have included our chapter on the Book of Mormon from Mormonism -- Shadow or Reality in Part 4 of this book.

    It is our belief that the famous Mormon historian B. H. Roberts lost faith in the Book of Mormon toward the end of his life. He seemed to feel that Joseph Smith could have borrowed a great deal from Ethan Smith's book View of the Hebrews. B. H. Roberts went so far as to compile a list of 18 parallels between the two books. This manuscript was published after his death in The Rocky Mountain Mason. We have included Robert's work as Part 5 of this study.

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    [ 18 ]



    Added August 8, 1978

    After publishing Did Spalding Write The Book Of Mormon? in July, 1977, we received a great deal of criticism for not waiting until the California researchers finished their book before making an attack on the new theory. It was felt that after we examined all their evidence we might change our minds about the matter. The book was delayed for some time but finally appeared in November. It is entitled, Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? After reading this book carefully, we must report that our feelings have not changed. In fact, we are more convinced than ever that we made the right decision. The evidence against the new Spalding theory now seems to be overwhelming, and the California researchers' failure to come to grips with some of the basic criticisms leads us to the conclusion that they have no real answers to the objections. Instead of publicly dealing with the issues, the researchers sent us a drawing of a jackass which the reader will find on the next page.

    When we first made our statement on the Spalding matter, we felt almost like we were alone. The researchers were claiming that three noted handwriting experts had examined photocopies of the documents and all three agreed that twelve pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript were actually written by Solomon Spalding. We felt better, however, on July 9, 1977, when the Salt Lake Tribune reported that "One of three handwriting experts hired to check authenticity of the Book of Mormon has withdrawn from the assignment....

    "He said he decided to withsraw after published reports that he agreed 12 pages of the Book of Mormon were written by... Solomon Spaulding,...

    "'That is not true,' Mr. Silver said. 'I have told news representatives that I could not say that without examining the original writings of Solomon Spaulding, not just the photocopies provided (by three California researchers.'..."

    Christianity Today for Oct. 21, 1977, said that "analyst Henry Silver, 86, dropped out of the case without offering a final opinion. He had examined the Mormon manuscript but withdrew without seeing the novel manuscript at Oberland. Obviously disturbed by all the controversy surrounding the case, Silver claimed he had been misrepresented in initial press accounts, that he had not been told at the outset that the Book of Mormon authorship was involved, and that Walter Martin -- the person who had financed the research -- had 'a vendetta' against the Mormon Church."

    The California researchers say that "Due to ill health, Silver resigned the case before he examined all of the original documents." (Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? p. 231) On page 188 of the same book, we finf a letter from Silver's doctor which says that he advised him against making a trip to Ohio to examine the original Spaulding manuscript. Regardless
    of the reasons for Mr. Silver's withdrawal from the case, we think that it is extremely unfortunate that he was unable to complete his investigation. We do not feel that misrepresentations in the press or the question of whether Walter Martin has a 'vendetta' against the Church should have anything to do with Mr. Silver's opinion. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, July 9, 1977, when Mr. Silver was asked if he would examine the Spaulding manuscript if it were brought to Los Angeles, he "replied tersely: 'I'm out of it.'" We feel that when an expert enters into a controversy like this he should complete his work.

    Although the California researchers do not mention it in their book, on different occasions they have implied that Henry Silver withdrew from the case because he feared for his life. In a letter dated Jan. 12, 1978, Silver himself stayed: "As far as I am concerned I have never had any threat what-so-ever thrown at me in connection with the case, nor have I ever had a threat against me any time in my life. I never made at any time or place any statement or even suggested a fear of being killed, in connection with the case,..."

    William Kaye, the second handwriting expert, examined the documents in the Church archives and the Spalding manuscript in Ohio, and in a letter dated Sept. 8, 1977, he stated:

    "While a detailed report would require many more hours of writing and comparison studies... my present opinion stands on my hours of examination to this point. There are many similarities in regard to certain letters and words that are present in the Solomon Spalding manuscript and in the Book of Mormon manuscript.

    "It is my considered opinion and conclusion and I believe that my examination to this point of the original documents concurs with my first report (which was based on photocopies originally provided me) and shows unquestionably that the questioned handwriting in the above named Mormon documents and the known handwriting in the above named Spalding documents undoubtedly have all been executed by the same person." Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? p. 187)

    From Mr. Kaye's statement, it would appear that his examination was not complete at the time he wrote the letter, but it certainlt gives the impression that he is standing by his original statements.

    One week after Mr. Kaye issued his statement, a big blow fell on the researcher's case. This was the final opinion of the third handwriting expert, Howard C. Doulder. In a letter dated Sept. 15, 1977, Mr. Doulder stated:

    "Examination of the original documents in comparison to machine copies and photographs examined during February 1977





    now showed in detail pen-lifts, line quality, letter design, terminal spurs, connecting strokes, letter spacing and the alignment of writing, plus other features needed to determine identification.

    "As I stated in my report dated March 4, 1977 of some writing similarities and letter characteristics appeared both in the manuscript and the Book of Mormon. I now contribute these similarities to the writing style of that century.

    "I have found writing and letter dis-similarities that are variations of the same writer.

    "it is my conclusion the handwriting in the name of Solomon Spalding is NOT the author of the unidentified pages, (listed as Q-l thru Q-9 in this report of the Book of Mormon." (Ibid., page 186)

    It would appear that Mr. Doulder's report produced great consternation among the researchers. The Los Angeles Times, Sept. 24,1977, reported the following:

    "A handwriting expert,... said Friday certain disputed pages in the Book of Mormon and a novel by a 19th-century minister-novelist were written by 'different authors.'...

    "The four-page finding of Howard Doulder, submitted, Sept. 15 but made known only Friday, appears to throw doubt upon the claims of three Southern California researchers who hired the handwriting experts....

    "Doulder, formerly supervisor of the U. S. Treasury Department's Crime Laboratory in Chicago, said he had since examined originals of the Spalding novel... and the Book of Mormon pages,...

    "Doulder said he personally submitted his final report to researcher Cowdrey on Sept. 15.

    "But Cowdrey, in a phone interview Friday, said he had not seen Doulder's report, He and Davis both deferred comment to Gretchen Passantino, secretary to Walter Martin, head of the Christian Research Institute. Martin helped finance the handwriting investigation....

    "Davis, saying he had been told 'not to say anything now' about Doulder's report, added: 'I kind of expected he (Doulder) would go negative on the thing because there have been so many death threats.'

    "Asked if his life had been threatened during his investigation of the Mormon manuscripts, Doulder replied: 'Not at all.'" (Los Angeles Times, Sept. 24, 1977)

    When we first saw photographs of the documents before the discovery was announced, Sandra suggested that what the handwriting experts thought were similarities between the two manuscripts were probably just traits that were common to the writing of the time. Howard Doulder now seems to be of the same opinion:

    "The findings of handwriting expert Howard Doulder directly contradict the final report submitted by expert William Kaye earlier this month.... Doulder's findings state that the two works could not have been written by the same person....

    "The researchers remained unmoved by the opposing viewpoints also. 'Of course we stand behind Kaye's decision because it coincides with our research,' researcher Howard Davis said....

    "In his study, Doulder noted differences in the Book of Mormon and the Spalding manuscript which he said led to his
    conclusion. The letters 'k' weren't comparable, and he said the ampersands (&) were as different as 'black and white.'...

    "Kaye based his study of the two manuscripts on similarities and dissimilarities of mannerisms and characteristics, including the comparison of hundreds of 'd's' from both works....

    "Doulder said he found similarities also, in the letter 'g and the words 'the' and 'that.' But he attributed them to the writing style of the century rather than to the same hands." (Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, Oct. 1, 1977)

    The researchers claim that Doulder's second opinion contradicted his own first report." (Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? p.175) Now, while it is true that at first Mr. Doulder gave an opinion supporting the Spalding theory, we must remember that he had only examined photocopies of the documents and he made it very plain that this was not a final verdict. In a report dated March 4, 1977, Doulder stated:

    "Because I have examined machine copies and photographic enlargements and NOT the originals, I can only tender an qualified opinion....

    "A positive conclusion can be rendered only after an examination of all the original documents." (Ibid. p. 180)

    If a medical doctor were to tell a man he believed he might have a certain disease, but a biopsy and further examination revealed that this was incorrect, would the man rely upon the preliminary opinion? Certainly not, and we feel it would be wrong to rely on Doulder's preliminary opinion, based only upon photocopies, when his examination of the original documents revealed just the opposite.

    The researchers have used the statements of the handwriting experts in a very clever way. They have photographically printed both the preliminary statements and the later statements. To the uncritical reader it would appear that they have five statements supporting their conclusion and only one against it. Actually, what they have is four preliminary statements (Henry Silver gave two preliminary opinions) and only two later opinions by those who have examined the original documents. What it boils down to, then, is that they have only one favorable statement by a handwriting expert made after he had seen all the documents. Two of the three handwriting experts no longer support their conclusions, yet in the face of this the researchers boldly assert: "What is the verdict on the handwriting? The overwhelming weight of evidence shows that the unidentified section of The Book of Mormon is in the actual handwriting of Solomon Spalding." (Ibid., p. 176)

    Although we do not profess to be handwriting experts, we certainly cannot agree with the researchers on this matter. We feel that the evidence is strongly against their theory.

    Dean C. Jessee, a Mormon scholar who has done a great deal of handwriting research in the Church Historical Department, has written an excellent article showing that Spalding could not possibly be the author of twelve pages of the Book of Mormon (see Deseret News, Church Section, August 20, 1977, pp. 3-5). The researchers, however, dismiss Jessee's article by saying: "if Kaye could find similarities among 2500 letter 't's,' then we need not take Jesse's small study seriously. Handwriting examination should be left to the experts." (Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon, pages 229-230)



    The researchers do devote Appendix 5 to Jessee's study, but they fail to respond to some of his best arguments on the handwriting. According to The New Messenger & Advocate, "Ronald Jackson, a Utah handwriting expert and paleographer, examined the writing and concluded that Spaulding was not the author of the twelve pages. Jackson points out that Spaulding used the German 'S' (which looks like an f) while the Book of Mormon manuscript does not. Also the characters r, p, t, g, m and c differ in the two manuscripts, as does the use of capital letters, punctuation and abbreviation." (The New Messenger & Advocate, Sept. 1977, p. 18.

    We presume that Mr. Jackson worked from photocopies, and therefore his work would not carry as much weight as that done by Mr. Kaye and Mr. Doulder.

    Martin's Support

    Although Wayne L. Cowdrey, Howard Davis and Donald R. Scales did the research for Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? we feel that the moving force in getting national publicity for the book has been Dr. Walter Martin, Director of the Christian Research Institute. Dr. Martin has even written a Forward for this book in which he states:

    "After extensive research into the 'foundation stones' of the Mormon Church 25 years ago, I was convinced that I knew the true source of The Book of Mormon,... Although some agreed with me, most thought that my assertion of Spalding's part in the mystery of Mormonism was the assertion of one naive of the facts. For 25 years I have known that the Spalding source could be proved if one only had the time and the dedication to ferret it out. Wayne Cowdery, Don Scales and Howard Davis have had that dedication, and this book it the result."

    On page 152 of this book, the researchers pay this tribute to Dr. Martin:

    "Walter Martin, one of America's most knowledgeable comparative religion professors, investigated the roots of Mormonism 25 years ago and was convinced by much of the same evidence already presented in this book that Spalding was the original source of The Book of Mormon,... It was always his contention that if someone had the necessary time and determination, all of the missing pieces would be found, including all or part of Spalding's original manuscript. Martin's conviction has been publicly stated in all of his books that deal with Mormonism (see especially The Kingdom of the Cults), and it was his conviction that first aroused our interest in the Spalding/Rigdon thesis and solidified our determination to find the missing pieces of the whole picture."

    In a speech given August 20, 1977, Walter Martin made this statement: "... we are subsidizing and have subsidized and will continue to subsidize what these guys are doing... I believe that it is worth while putting an investment in the lives of these boys.... we have invested thousands of dollars already and we are going to go right on doing it."

    In a speech given July 10, 1977, Dr. Martin went so far as to say that those who opposed the researchers would have to answer to God:

    "... the whole Mormon religion rests on the validity of
    the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. If Smith lied, and all the evidence now says he did; if the documents were Solomon Spalding's, and they most certainly are, then the only possible conclusion is that there was no Angel Moroni... there was only Joseph in quest of a quick buck.... I'm not concerned to be right. I'm concerned that if they can bury this, and buy it and frighten people out of it, then nobody is safe with any information anymore, anyplace. And I say it publicly, the Mormon Church has more power than the president of the United States.... Somebody with a lot of money and a lot of position manipulates. Mr. Silver is a classic illustration... these young men have taken on a massive organizational structure and system... I am going to stay with them and back them and stand against this evil because if they are snuffed out in terms of presenting the truth, nobodys going to be able to present the truth anymore.... if Christians don't think it is important enough to stand with these guys, then they are to stand before the Lord for it.... Where do you stand? That's the question. Do you stand with the Lord against evil or do you say well let's not rock the boat? I mean, why get involved in this? Let's just love everybody, be positive and preach Jesus. God will take care of everything. Hypocrite! God never said that. God said put up a good fight for the faith... Do we care about the Mormon people so that they will know the truth and come to the Lord Jesus?... the only way we can do it is by standing with these fellows.... I'm glad Wayne Cowdrey... Don Scales and Howard Davis are willing to carry the ball for the Christian church. My plea is that we get on the line with them... Pray for Time magazine. They are going to be under tremendous pressure. Pray for Christianity Today. All the might of the Mormon conglomerate empire and all the angles that can be played will be played."

    As we listen to Walter Martin's plea for support and his warning that those who oppose it are working against the Lord, we cannot help but think of another plan he had to bring the Mormon Church to its knees. A few years ago Walter Martin filed a "multi-million dollar civil suit" against the Mormon Church because a member of the Church had made false statements about him which had subsequently been printed on Church equipment. Through this suit, Dr. Martin hoped to gain access to many of the historical records suppressed by the Mormon Church. When he asked us if we would give testimony concerning the documents for him, we had to decline, stating that we did not agree with the suit. Dr. Martin argued that his suit was the plan God was going to use to bring the truth about Mormonism to light. He claimed that one of the most famous lawyers in the United States would eventually take over the case and that it would receive a great deal of publicity throughout the nation. Our response was that we still could not agree with the plan and didn't want to be involved in it.

    We have no idea how many thousands of dollars have been spent on this law suit, but it must amount to a considerable sum. For all this investment little seems to have been accomplished, and it now appears that the suit is in serious trouble. The San Jose Mercury News for July 30, 1977, reported: "Martin filed a $11 million suit against the Mormon Church and individual Mormons in Orange County last year, claiming slander, libel and defamation of character. The suit against the church (but not the individuals) was tossed out by the court, action he is appealing."

    The identification of Spalding handwriting in the Book



    of Mormon pages was to be brought to light during the suit, and it was supposed to deal a devastating blow to the Mormon Church. When the plans for the suit did not go as expected, the information was given to the press. We are sorry to see so much time and money used for such a futile pursuit.

    The Great Document Switch?

    The fact that the California researchers have a tendency to jump to wild conclusions without carefully examining the evidence is clearly demonstrated by what happened after William Kaye examined the Book of Mormon manuscript in Salt Lake City. Before leaving Salt Lake City, Mr. Kaye was very disturbed because the researchers or Walter Martin had set up a press conference to be held as soon as he returned to Los Angeles. He claimed that he could not make a meaningful statement until he made a thorough study of the matter, which might take weeks to complete. Mr. Kaye's inability to make an immediate decision confirming the theory together with his statement that the documents he had seen were not laminated apparently led the researchers to the erroneous conclusion that the Mormon leaders held switched the documents to confuse the investigation. One would think that since Mr. Kaye had been "accompanied by one of Mormonism's long time critics, Jerald Tanner" when he made his examination of the documents (Salt Lake Tribune, July 9,1977), the researchers would have checked here before making any accusation. Instead, however, they went immediately to the press with a completely irresponsible statement. In an article entitled, "RESEARCHERS OF MORMONS CRY 'TRICKERY'," we find the following:

    "Researchers challenging the authenticity of the Mormon Church' s founding scriptures have charged that a handwriting expert was tricked into looking at the wrong documents during his visit to the Salt Lake City archives....

    "The three were anxiously awaiting the arrival Thursday afternoon of examiner William Kaye before a press conference at Los Angeles International Airport where details of Kaye's trip were to be announced.

    "That anticipation flared into anger when the handwriting expert claimed he had been shown a stack of fragile and antique papers rather than the laminated documents viewed by examiner Henry Silver and Cowdery.....

    "He was deliberately tricked,' Davis said....

    "The researches contend that Kaye was shown the wrong documents in an effort to destroy his credibility and confuse his results when copies of the alleged scriptures are forwarded in the next 10 days." (Torrence, Calif. S. Bay Breeze, July 8, 1977)

    In a speech given July 10. 1977, Walter Martin emphatically affirmed that the Mormon Church had switched documents:

    "Mr. Kaye... went to Salt Lake to look at the same documents Mt. Silver did. When he got there, they didn't show him the document. They showed him another one and they lied to him, point-blank, outright, till Mr. Kaye refused to discuss it with them any further and left. We hope to get Mr. Kaye back in there again... This is how desperate it has become. You switch documents on an expert and make a fool of yourself, because the expert had five copies of the original documents in his brief case, and he knew they gave him the wrong documents.
    That is a very important point.... What we have to see is this, and I hope we can, that you are going to run square into people putting documents in front of you and saying this is it and lying through their teeth. Somebody says, 'Do you have to say that?' Yes,... here is a church knowing what they have got and now lying to cover it up. Now, of course it's a beautiful lawsuit for the Mormons unless I'm telling the truth, and I'm willing to wager legally, of course, that I'm telling the truth,..."

    Because of Walter Martin's statements made in this speech we feel that a second statement is necessary to clarify the issue.

    SECOND STATEMENT BY JERALD TANNER. In my first statement (see page 5 of this book) I explained that it would have been impossible for the Mormon Church to have switched documents as I was familiar with the writing of the "unknown scribe." In fact, we had published a photograph of his writing in Mormonism -- Shadow or Reality? p. 166. It was this very photograph which first gave the researchers the idea that Spalding's handwriting was in the Book of Mormon manuscript.

    At any rate, the speech Dr. Martin gave on July 10, 1977, would lead a person to believe that Mt. Kaye knew immediately that the documents had been switched: "You switch documents on an expert and make a fool of yourself, because the expert had five copies of the original documents in his brief case, and he knew they gave him the wrong document." Now, if Mr. Kaye knew that the documents had been switched, he certainly said nothing to me about the matter. In fact, everything he said both during and after our visit to the Mormon archives indicated just the opposite -- i. e., that he was well satisfied that he had examined the original documents. Walter Martin gives the impression that Mr. Kaye left the Historical Department because of a dispute over the documents being switched: "... Mr. Kaye refused to discuss it with them any further and left." Actually, we examined the documents for about an hour and a half, and after we left Mr. Kaye commented about the fine treatment he had received. If he knew he had been "lied to," he gave no indication of this to me. Everything he said led me to believe that he felt he had examined the original documents.

    In any case, Mr. Kaye was sent back to Salt Lake City, and, after examining the Book of Mormon manuscript for the second time, it was apparently decided that the documents had not been switched after all. In their book Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? p.176, the researchers indicate that Mr. Kaye "made two trips to the Mormon originals in Utah," but they tell nothing about the reason he made the second trip nor do they mention their charge that the documents had been switched. Some may argue that it is best to forget this whole tragic affair, but I think it sheds a great deal of light on the atmosphere in which Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? was produced.

    Jerald Tanner [signature]

    It seems ironical that in proclaiming there was another (forged) copy of the Book of Mormon manuscript pages the researchers should provide us with an example of exactly the type of thing Fawn Brodie believes happened at the time the Spalding theory was born. She says that when Spalding's manuscript was finally located by Hurlbut, it seems likely that these witnesses had so come to identify the Book of Mormon



    with the Spaulding manuscript that they could not concede having made an error without admitting to a case of memory substitution which they did not themselves recognize." (No Man Knows My History, pp. 447-48) Mrs. Brodie believes that because of their inability to admit they held made a mistake they put forth the idea that Spalding had written a second manuscript.

    The California researchers likewise became so zealous to establish their theory that they put forth the idea that there was another copy of the Book of Mormon manuscript which had been forged by the Mormon Church. There was, of course, not evidence to support such a charge and the researchers did not even mention the matter in Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?

    Ignoring the 1831 Revelation

    On page 5 of this book we indicated that a manuscript copy of a revelation given in June, 1831, provides devastating evidence against the idea that Solomon Spalding wrote twelve pages of the Book of Mormon. This revelation appears in the Doctrine and Covenants as Section 56, Fortunately, we have now been able to obtain photocopies of this revelation which we have included in this book, The reader will notice that the handwriting in this revelation looks more like the writing in the Book of Mormon manuscript than the handwriting of Solomon Spalding. It would appear that the researchers are unable to deal with this objection, and therefore they have almost completely ignored it. According to Sandi Weisel, "one of the researchers" has gone so far as to suggest "that Section 56 could be [a] forgery." (Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, Sept. 17, 1977)

    We do not think there is the slightest possibility that this document is a forgery, and such a suggestion seems just as fantastic as the idea that the Mormon Church forged another copy of the Book of Mormon pages. Since the researchers did not even come up with the theory concerning handwriting until February, l976, this would mean that any forgery would have to hove been made after that time, The paper the revelation was written on, however has the appearance of being very old, and it was given to the researchers own handwriting expert, William Kaye, for examination. Mr. Kaye is supposed to an expert in detecting forgeries. Also, it is interesting to note that a number of years before the researchers came up with their idea, Earl Olson wrote an article which stated that the handwriting in Section 56 had been written by an unknown hand. (Brigham Young University Studies, Summer 1971, page 332)

    In their book Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? the researchers are almost totally silent concerning the 1831 revelation. Although they do not suggest it is a forgery in their book, they brush it aside in one paragraph of less than 100 words. We do not see how it is possible to skirt around this important issue in such a manner.

    The researchers claim that the spelling in Spalding's Manuscript Story and in the 12 pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript proves that one author wrote both documents. In a tape entitled, "Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?" Howard Davis said that they made a study of the way the unidentified scribe spelled words and then "tabulated all of the misspelled words in the known production of Solomon Spalding, The Manuscript Story, and they were identical." In another speech given July 10. 1977, Dr. Davis boldly asserted: "Even the spelling errors are the same in both productions. Any fool can see that after about two hours of study."
    We certainly cannot agree with Dr. Davis on this matter. There may be a few cases where the same errors are made, but to say that "all of the misspelled words... were identical" is certainly an overstatement. For instance, Dean C. Jessee points out that the word were is spelled "ware" by the unidentified scribe in the Book of Mormon, whereas it is correctly spelled in Spalding's manuscript. Actually, we feel that an extremely strong case can be made against the claim that Solomon Spalding wrote the Book of Mormon pages by comparing misspellings in these pages with there found in the 1831 revelation. Below is a comparison of six words which are misspelled in both the 1831 revelation and the Book of Mormon pages written by the unidentified scribe.

    1 -- Both make the error of leaving the final letter l off the word shall.

    BOOK OF MORMON MANUSCRIPT: "... We shal obtain the land of promise and ye shal know... (Printed with spelling corrected as I Nephi 7:13)

    1831 REVELATION MANUSCRIPT: " And his reward shal be with him & he shal reward everyone..." (Printed with spelling corrected as Doctrine and Covenants 56:19)

    2 -- Both add an extra p in the word upon.

    BOOK OF MORMON MANUSCRIPT: "...they did lay their hands uppon me..." (I Nephi 7=16)

    1831 REVELATION MANUSCRIPT: "...the day of visitation & of wrath uppon the nations..." (Doctrine and Covenants 56:1)

    3 -- Both omit the final f in the word off.

    BOOK OF MORMON MANUSCRIPT: "... the bands ware loosd from of my hands..." (I Nephi 7:18)

    1831 REVELATION MANUSCRIPT: "...shal be cut of out of my church..." (Doctrine and Covenants 56:10)

    4 -- Both spell the word many as menny.

    BOOK OF MORMON MANUSCRIPT: "... and i saw menny that they did tumble to the earth,..." (I Nephi 12:4)

    1831 REVELATION MANUSCRIPT: "... as menny as will go..." (Doctrine and Covenants 54:7)

    5 -- Both spell concerning as conserning.

    BOOK OF MORMON MANUSCRIPT: " .. he Spake unto me conserning the elders..." (I Nephi 4:22)

    1831 REVELATION MANUSCRIPT: " ... which i have given him conserning the place..." (Doctrine and Covenants 56:8)

    6 -- Both omit the letter a in heaven:

    BOOK OF MORMON MANUSCRIPT: "... out of heven came & he came down..." (I Nephi 12:6)




    view enlargement of document



    1831 REVELATION MANUSCRIPT: "... though the heven & earth pass away..." (Doctrine and Covenants 56:11)

    If the researchers could provide evidence like this in support of their theory we would be very impressed. Instead, they are on the defensive. For example, in the paragraph in which they mention the 1831 revelation we find this statement "... Spalding often spells 'dwel' without the final 'l' as 'dwel'. The twelve pages and the 1831 document spell 'shall' as 'shal', again dropping the final l." (Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon, p. 229)

    We feel this is a very poor argument. The researchers seem to be unable to find any place where Spalding omits the last letter of the word "shall," and therefore they turn to the word "dwell." We have checked the Book of Mormon manuscript and found that in the section written by the unidentified scribe the word "dwell" appears only once (I Nephi 10:21) and it is spelled correctly. It appears, then, that in trying to produce evidence to support their argument the researchers have only succeeded in weakening it.

    After obtaining photocopies of the 1831 revelation, we made a careful study of it and became even more convinced that our original statement concerning its importance was correct. We were surprised at the number of times the ampersand (&) was used in the revelation (the word "and" is only written out twice), but, as we indicated before, it is "identical to the one found occasionally in the Book of Mormon manuscript." The ampersand found in Spalding's manuscript is completely different from that found in either of these two documents,

    Like the Book of Mormon manuscript, the 1831 revelation lacks capitalization on many of the names and proper nouns. The reader may remember that the Book of Mormon manuscript speaks of "the god of abraham and the god of isaac And the god of jacob" (see page 6 of this book). In the 1831 revelation (lines 13-15) we read: "...i revoke the commandment which was given unto my servant seely griffen & newal Knights in consequence of the stifneckedness of my people which are in thompson..."

    The capital letters which do appear in the Book of Mormon manuscript and the 1831 revelation resemble each other, but they differ greatly from those found in Spalding's manuscript.

    The reader will notice also, that in both the Book of Mormon manuscript and the 1831 revelation the word "I" is not capitalized in most cases. Spalding, on the other hand, used the capital "I" in his manuscript.

    It is very interesting to note that the Book of Mormon manuscript and the 1831 revelation are written without punctuation, whereas Spalding's manuscript contains punctuation. The reader should especially note Spalding's use of dashes to separate thoughts.

    Taken all together, the evidence provided by the 1831 revelation makes a devastating case against the idea that Solomon Spalding wrote 12 pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript.

    John L. Smith, who has written a great deal against the Mormon Church, has examined the documents in the Mormon archives and has come out against the new theory:

    ".... a new effort has been made to associate the BOOK OF MORMON with the reputed work of one Solomon Spaulding...

    "In my thinking their effort only adds more confusion to
    the circumstantial evidence supporting this theory.... I visited the LDS Historical Department and was shown the documents in question. I must confess that I am convinced that the current claim that Spaulding was the writer of the contested twelve pages of the BOOK OF MORMON is in error. Even an amateur such as I could see that the specimen of Spaulding's handwriting and the twelve pages did not match." (The Utah Evangel, October-November 1977, p. 1)

    In his new book The Mormon Papers, the non-Mormon writer Harry L. Ropp tells that the revelation and the Book of Mormon pages appear "remarkably similar":

    "I have examined firsthand the pages of the manuscripts In question ... in Salt Lake City. ... Though I am not a specialist in handwriting analysis, even to the untrained eye the Book of Mormon manuscript and the 1831 Doctrine and Covenants manuscript are remarkably similar! If the manuscript of Doctrine and Covenants 56 was in fact written in 1831 (after Spaulding's death) and if it and the Book of Mormon manuscript are found to be in the same handwriting, then the new theory of Davis, Cowdrey and Scales could not be supported.

    "Because this 1831 document has not yet been examined by the experts, we urge Christians to suspend judgment until all the evidence is in. Making claims that could later be proven false by the LDS Church could be very detrimental to Christian witnessing. On the other hand, if the 1831 document is not genuine or is shown to be in another hand, this new evidence would be a very powerful argument against the credibility of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith's claim to be a prophet of God." (The Mormon Papers, 1977, Appendix D)

    Edward E. Plowman, the man who wrote the article for Christianity Today which brought world-wide attention to the new Spalding theory, came back to Salt Lake City and was permitted to see the 1831 revelation. After his examination, Mr. Plowman told us that he believed the 1831 revelation was in the same hand as the 12 pages of Book of Mormon manuscript. In an attempt to counteract the favorable publicity that the researchers were receiving, Mr. Plowman wrote another article in which he stated:

    "Three California researchers have suffered some setbacks ... analyst Henry Silver, 86, dropped out of the case without offering a final opinion....

    "Silver is involved in another handwriting case involving the Mormon church. He is one of several analysts who have ruled that the so-coiled Mormon will of Howard E, Hughes was indeed written by Hughes.

    "Several other experts disagree with Silver on the will. One of them is William Kaye, the second of the three analysts hired by Martin and the three researchers. Kaye studied handwriting samples of the minister-novelist -- Solomon Spalding... and the twelve Book of Mormon manuscript pages... Early last month he reported that the comparison he made 'shows unquestionably' that the written materials 'have all been executed by the same person.'

    "Two weeks later, the third expert Howard C. Doulder, arrived at an opposite conclusion.... that Spalding 'is not the author' of the disputed Book of Mormon pages,...

    "Meanwhile, Mormon archivists have assembled a large amount of evidence -- some of it impressive -- to rebut the






    Spalding theory. They scored a coup of sorts when they discovered that a manuscript page from another Mormon book, Doctrine and Covenants, is apparently in the same handwriting as that of the 'unidentified scribe' in the Book of Mormon manuscript, It is dated June, 1831 -- fifteen years after Spalding's death.... The average layman can readily note the striking dissimilarities between Spalding's specimens and the others....

    "Among Mormonism's critics are Jerald and Sandra Tanner, ex-Mormons who now operate a Salt Lake City publishing firm that specializes in anti-Mormon research. Tanner made a fresh study of the Spalding theory after the researchers' claims were publicized, managed to accompany Kaye to the Mormon archives to examine manuscript pages and produced a book, Did Spalding write the Book of Mormon? The volume's answer: no. Adding insult to injury, it contains some of the same photocopy reproductions of handwriting samples as the Cowdrey-Davis-Scales book to make its point, and it came on the market earlier.

    "Why do handwriting experts differ among themselves? And why do they sometimes reach conclusions that are contrary to what seems obvious to an ordinary person? Observers point out that 'experts' can be found on both sides in most important court cases involving handwriting analysis. Often it is a case of one analyst emphasizing similarities and the other pointing out dissimilarities.... everyone seems to agree that handwriting analysis is not an exact science." (Christianity Today, Oct. 21, 1977 pp. 38-39)

    We thought that the mounting evidence against the new theory might cause the researchers to abandon their project. Instead, however, they have gone ahead with their book and have continued to assert that twelve pages of the Book of Mormon were actually written by Solomon Spalding:

    "... to our knowledge no one has previously compiled the volume or weight of evidence that we have, and no one has previously produced this added proof: The Book of Mormon (or Manuscript Found) in Solomon Spalding's own hand- writing." (Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? page 27)

    "Our thesis, on the basis of overwhelming evidence, has traveled from hypothesis to substantiated history. The Book of Mormon was not translated from golden plates through miraculous power but was the revised edition of Solomon Spalding's second novel, Manuscript Found...

    "Much of this evidence has been available before, but to our knowledge it has never before been fully analyzed or integrated evidence which provides a clear look into the actual roots of Mormonism.

    "However, during the past three years we have uncovered still more evidence that confirms our thesis. We have actually found part of Spalding's novel, in his own handwriting, paralleling The Book of Mormon word for word!" (Ibid., pages 147-148)

    "... we have actually found twelve pages of the original Book of Mormon rendered in Solomon Spalding's own handwriting!" (Ibid., p.167)

    Although the researchers maintain that they have "actually found twelve pages of the original Book of Mormon" in Spalding's own hand, they try very hard to convince the reader
    that they have proven the Spalding theory even without the handwriting evidence: "Even if there were no evidence that the handwriting in The Book of Mormon was that of Spalding, our thesis would still be proved from the abundant amount of evidence presented in the first six chapters of this book and its appendixes." (Ibid., p. 230)

    We feel that the researchers are subtly preparing the public so that credence will still be placed in their book even if the case for the handwriting completely fails. According to Edward Plowman, after the handwriting expert Howard Doulder came out in opposition to the theory, Donald Scales "pointed out that he and his colleagues had concluded that Spalding was 'the true author of the majority of the Book of Mormon fully two years before we had any handwriting evidence, and our case is neither made nor broken on the basis of the handwriting question.'" (Christianity Today, Oct. 21,1977, p.38)

    David Merrill claims that "Davis tends to downplay the importance of the handwriting samples to the Spalding thesis. 'The handwriting experts are just the icing on the cake,' he said." (Sunstone, November-December, 1977, p. 29)

    The researchers would have us believe that the handwriting is only the "icing on the cake," but we cannot help but remember that publicity which brought world-wide attention to their book was based on the handwriting issue. The Los Angeles Times for June 25, 1977, pointed out that the idea that Spalding wrote the Book of Mormon only "rested on circumstantial evidence" until the researchers made the claim that twelve pages of the Book of Mormon were actually penned by Spalding. If the handwriting case fails, we are left with only what we had before the researchers came on the scene -- i.e., "similarities of style, subject matter and testimonies of perhaps biased persons" (Ibid.)

    It is very interesting to note that in a speech given July 10,1977, Dr. Walter Martin, the chief supporter of the California researchers, frankly admitted that the only way the researchers could prove their case was on the basis of the handwriting:

    "Solomon Spalding was a Congregationalist minister who liked to write religious novels in Biblical language. We ready know he wrote one called 'Manuscript Story.'... He wrote another one called Manuscript Found.' That was the one that became the basis for the Book of Mormon. The Mormons deny this. The only way to prove it is to get hold of Solomon Spalding's handwriting and to contrast it with the Book of Mormon manuscripts. Howard Davis did that."


    The same advertisement says that this is "THE MOST IMPORTANT DISCOVERY IN 20th CENTURY CHURCH HISTORY."

    Now that the handwriting case seems to be disintegrating, the researchers are trying desperately to save it by providing a great deal of circumstantial evidence. Most of this material comes from the writings of Howe, Deming, Shook, Patterson, Wyl and Dickinson. The book Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? is actually just a rehash of old material. A statement on the cover of the book says that it contains



    "A Startling New Discovery." If the handwriting analyses had checked out, this statement would certainly be true. As it is, however, we are left with little more than a reorganization of material which was printed widely and widely circulated during the 19th century.

    More Old Testimony

    On page 68 of her book, No Man Knows My History, Fawn Brodie says that "Through the years the 'Spaulding theory' collected supporting affidavits as a ship does barnacles, until it became so laden with evidence that the casual reader was overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the accumulation."

    The California researchers have gathered a large number of these statements and arranged them in such a manner that it will be very impressive to the uncritical reader. The researchers claim that "The weight of such testimony is too much for the thin foundation of The Book of Mormon. Even if no portion of Spalding's second manuscript still existed today, the objective student of history must acknowledge that Joseph Smith derived The Book of Mormon from Spalding's second novel." (Who Really Wrote the Book Of Mormon? p. 165)

    We do not agree with this conclusion at all. The statements printed by Howe in Mormonism Unvailed in 1834 (see pages 8-14 of this book) remain the strongest evidence for the Spalding theory, but even these describe events that had happened about twenty years before, Most of the affidavits and statements which the researchers add to this collection are much further removed from the events they describe. For instance, one of the statements was written by Abner Jackson. The researchers claim that "Rev. Jackson's statement is one of the most complete, lengthy, and well-documented among the many similar affidavits concerning the Spalding/Rigdon thesis. On the strength of his testimony alone, the probable truth of the thesis is truly astounding." (Ibid., p. 65)

    An examination of this statement reveals that it was not written until "December 20, 1880," which is over sixty years after the events described. For affidavits and statements which were written at least 50 to 70 years after the events described see Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? pp. 69-73, 76, 78, 86,104,121,125,127,130,134,136,156,158 and 218.

    The researchers rely heavily on statements made by Spalding's daughter, Mrs. M. S. McKinstry in the 1880's (see pp. 51-55, 158-159). Besides being many years removed from the incidents she describes, it should be noticed that Mrs. McKinstry was a very young girl at the time she heard her father read the manuscript. Fawn Brodie has already pointed out this problem:

    "When Spaulding's daughter was seventy-four years old, she was interviewed, and stated that she remembered vividly hearing her father read his manuscript aloud, although she was only six years old at the time. 'Some of the names that he mentioned while reading to these people I have never forgotten. They are as fresh to me as though I heard them yesterday. They were 'Mormon,' 'Maroni,' Lamenite,' 'Nephi!' One is led to doubt the reliability of this memory, however, by another statement in this interview: 'In that city {Pittsburgh} my father had an intimate friend named Patterson, and I frequently visited Mr. Patterson's library with him, and heard my father talk about books with him.' Patterson, it will be remembered, denied knowing Spaulding at all.

    "Spaulding's daughter remembered seeing the manuscript
    in her father's trunk after his death, and stated that she had handled it and seen the names she had heard read to her at the age of six. She admitted, however, that she had not read it." (No Man Knows My History, p. 451)

    The California researchers try to show that Sidney Rigdon stole Spalding's manuscript from Patterson's Print Shop in Pittsburgh and that Rigdon visited Joseph Smith in Palmyra, New York, before the Book of Mormon was printed. Fawn Brodie gives this information about a possible connection between Smith and Rigdon:

    "The tenuous chain of evidence accumulated to support the Spaulding-Rigdon theory breaks altogether when it tries to prove that Rigdon met Joseph Smith before 1830. There are ambiguous references to a 'mysterious stranger' said to have visited the Smiths between 1827 and 1830. But only two men ever claimed that this was actually Rigdon. Abel Chase on May 2, 1879 (fifty-two years after the event) stated that in 1827 -- 'as near as I can recollect' -- when he was a boy of twelve or thirteen, he saw a stranger at the Smith home who was said to be Rigdon. And Lorenzo Saunders on January 28, 1885 (fifty-eight years after the event) stated that he had seen him in the spring of 1827 and again in the summer of 1828. Yet Saunders himself admitted his recollection came only after thirty years of puzzling over the matter and hunting for evidence. And it is highly probable that both men were actually remembering Rigdon's first appearance in Palmyra in late 1830. No other of Joseph's neighbors ever made any effort to connect the Ohio preacher with the Book of Mormon events. And an early historian of western New York, writing in 1851, said: 'It is believed by all those best acquainted with the Smith family and most conversant with all the Gold Bible movements, that there is no foundation for the statement that the original manuscript was written by a Mr. Spaulding of Ohio.'" (No Man Knows My History, p. 453)

    The researchers have produced other witnesses who claim that Rigdon visited Smith at Palmyra, but their statements are far removed in time from the events they relate. For instance, Mrs. S. F. Anderick's affidavit is dated June 24, 1887. We would ask the researchers why the affidavits collected by Hurlbut in Palmyra in 1833 do not mention Rigdon being with Joseph Smith before the Book of Mormon appeared? Since these early affidavits by Joseph Smith's neighbors are silent regarding this, we can only conclude that they knew nothing about the matter. Any statements given at a later date, therefore, carry very little weight.

    On page 119 of Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? we find a very surprising assertion:

    "1829 (June/July) Gap in Rigdon's o. i. David Whitmer (founding Mormon)
    testifies that Smith and Rigdon were

    As soon as we read this statement we became suspicious that the researchers had nothing to back it up. When an inquiry was made, one of the researchers claimed that this statement had appeared in the book by mistake and that it would be corrected in the next printing. David Whitmer had not actually said Rigdon was present, but in a book by Preston Nibley, Whitmer had described a stranger and the description



    seemed to fit Rigdon! This story is found in The Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, pp. 70-71:

    "When I was returning to Fayette, with Joseph and Oliver, all of us riding in the wagon,... a very pleasant, nice-looking old man suddenly appeared by the side of our wagon and saluted us with, 'Good morning, it is very warm,' at the same time wiping his face or forehead with his hand. We returned the salutation, and, by a sign from Joseph, I invited him to ride if he was going our way. But he said very pleasantly, 'No, I am going to Cumorah.'... as I looked around inquiringly of Joseph, the old man instantly disappeared, so that I did not see him again.

    "J. F. S. Did you notice his appearance?

    "D. W. I should think I did. He was, I should think, about 5 feet 8 or 9 inches tall and heavy set, about such a man as James Vancleave, here, but heavier; his face was as large, he was dressed in a suit of brown woolen clothes, his hair and beard were white, like Brother Pratt's, but his beard was not so heavy. I also remember that he had on his back a sort of knapsack with something in, shaped like a book. It was the messenger who had the plates, who had taken them from Joseph just prior to our starting from Harmony."

    Since Sidney Rigdon was only 36 years old at the time, we do not think that he could be described as an "old man." At any rate, David Whitmer (one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon) would never have testified that Smith and Rigdon were together in 1829. In his booklet, An Address To All Believers in Christ, p, II, David Whitmer plainly stated:

    "Neither Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris or myself ever met Sydney Rigdon until after the Book of Mormon was in print. I know this of my own personal knowledge being with Joseph Smith, in Seneca County, N. Y., in the winter of 1830, when Sydney Rigdon and Edward Partridge came from Kirtland, Ohio, to see Joseph Smith, and where Rigdon and Partridge saw Joseph Smith for the first time in their lives.

    "The Spaulding manuscript story is a myth; there being no direct testimony on record in regard to Rigdon's connection with the manuscript of Solomon Spaulding."

    If the researchers had been able to back up their assertion that David Whitmer testified Smith and Rigdon were together in 1829, we would have been very impressed. As it is, however, we are only left with statements which were made by other people many years after the events described. We do not think that this testimony is of any real value.

    The reader will remember that A. B. Deming once boasted that he had "taken statements from fifteen persons" who I claimed Hurlbut had Spalding's "Manuscript Found" -- i.e., the manuscript that was supposed to resemble the Book of Mormon. The California researchers claim, however, that "Further evidence has convinced us that, in reality, Hurlbut never received the copy of the manuscript {i. e., the "Manuscript Found"} from the trunk in Harwick,... (Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? p. 55)

    We feel that the researchers are right about this matter, but, then, how do they explain the fact that "fifteen persons" made statements that Hurlbut had the manuscript. They would have to admit that these people had a faulty memory concerning the matter. We think that this is correct, and that this also explains the other affidavits and statements which the researchers
    put so much stock in. It is interesting to note that the statements claiming that Hurlbut had the "Manuscript Found" are about twenty years closer to the event than some of the statements which the researchers rely on.

    On page 155 of their book, the researchers claim that there is an affidavit which shows that Spalding wrote a second manuscript and that this affidavit was published by Howe in 1834:

    "One affidavit which clearly shows that Spalding abandoned his first attempt and began his second novel, Manuscript Found, reads as follows: '... 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'."

    The reference given is to page 288 of Mormonism Unvailed. A photograph of this is found on page 13 of this book. The reader will note that this is not an affidavit -- i. e., a sworn statement -- but only a statement by the author of the book. This is made clear when we include the first part of the sentence: "This old M. S. has been shown to several of the foregoing witnesses, who recognize 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."

    After quoting this statement from Howe's book, Fawn Brodie remarked: "This surmise may have been true, though there was no signed statement swearing to it. But it seems more likely that these witnesses had so come to identify the Book of Mormon with the Spaulding manuscript that they could not concede having made an error without admitting to a case of memory substitution which they did not themselves recognize." (No Man Knows My History, pp. 447-448)

    Actually, even the eight statements about Spalding which appear in Mormonism Unvailed are probably not affidavits. Both Mormon and anti-Mormon writers have referred to these statements as affidavits, and we are guilty of the same mistake. An examination of them, however, shows that they do not purport to be sworn statements. Some of them are undated, and the others only mention the month and year they were given (see pages 8-13 of this book). The fact that many affidavits concerning Joseph Smith's money-digging activities appeared in Mormonism Unvailed seems to have led scholars to the erroneous conclusion that the Spalding statements are also affidavits.

    Other Problems

    Almost all writers who have espoused the Spalding theory claim that there were two manuscripts that Spalding wrote concerning the ancient inhabitants of America -- i.e., "Manuscript Story" and "Manuscript Found." The California researchers feel that there were three manuscripts -- one copy of Manuscript Story" and two copies "Manuscript Found." The reason that they are forced to this conclusion is that some of the witnesses they use claim they saw "Manuscript Found" after Rigdon was supposed to have stolen it from the printing office. Some anti-Mormon writers free themselves from this snare by claiming that Rigdon did not actually steal the manuscript, but only made a copy. The California researchers, however, cannot escape the dilemma in this manner because they claim that pages of Spalding's manuscript which are in his own handwriting showed up in the Mormon Church archives. Their theory makes it absolutely essential that Rigdon stole the actual pages of the manuscript. To get around this they propose



    that there was a "second copy" of "Manuscript Found." Although the researchers put a great deal of stock in statements reported to have been made by Spalding's widow and his daughter, they claim that these two women "were mistaken in thinking that the manuscript was returned by Mr. Patterson. Spalding had a second copy in his own possession in addition to the copy lost at the print shop in Pittsburgh. It was this second copy that Mrs. Davison and Mrs. McKinstry were familiar with." (Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? p. 56)

    We have a difficult time accepting that here was more than one manuscript, but the researchers find no problem in increasing the number to three. They believe that one was stolen by Rigdon. The second one was lost sometime "before Hurlbut's trip in 1834,.." (Ibid., p. 55) The third manuscript was given to Hurlbut and is the manuscript we reproduce as Part 2 of this book. We feel that it is much more reasonable to believe there was only one manuscript. Solomon Spalding may have written manuscripts on other subjects -- his daughter claimed he wrote one entitled "The Frogs of Wyndham'." -- but since the manuscript we published purports to be a translation of "twenty eight sheets of parchment" found near Conneaut, Ohio, we conclude that it is the long lost "Manuscript Found."

    Van Hale, a scholar who has done a great deal of research on the teachings of Joseph Smith, pointed out a very serious problem in the researchers' use of a statement made by Redick McKee in 1886. Although indicating it with ellipses marks, the researchers have omitted a portion of McKee's statement that is very damaging to their argument that Rigdon actually stole and retained Spalding's manuscript. In Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? p. 83, we find McKee quoted as follows:

    "Mr. Spaulding told me that while at Pittsburg he frequently met a young man named Sidney Rigdon at Mr. Patterson's bookstore and printing-office, and concluded that he was at least an occasional employee. He was said to be a good English and Latin scholar and was studying Hebrew and Greek with a view to a professorship in some college. He had read parts of the manuscript and expressed the opinion that it would sell readily. While the question of printing was in abeyance Mr. S. wrote to Mr. P. that if the document was not already in the hands of the printer he wished it to be sent out to him in order that he might amend it by the addition of a chapter on the discovery of valuable relics in a mound recently opened near Conneaut. In reply Mr. P. wrote him that the manuscript could not then be found, but that further search would be made for it. This excited Mr. Spaulding's suspicions that Rigdon had taken it home...."

    An examination of photographs of the original document, located in the Chicago Historical Society, reveals that immediately following the statement that Spalding was suspicious "that Rigdon had taken it home," Mr. McKee plainly says the manuscript was later discovered and sent to Spalding:

    In a week or two it was found in the place where it had originally been deposited, and sent out to him. The circumstances of this finding increased Mr. S's suspicions that Rigdon had taken the manuscript and made a copy of it with a view to ultimately publishing the story as the product of his own brain." (Letter of Redick McKee to A. B. Deming, dated Jan. 25, 1886)
    If the researchers had included McKee's statement that the manuscript was later "found" and "sent out" to Spalding, it would have tended to weaken their theory that Rigdon actually gave Joseph Smith Spalding's original manuscript and that part of it later turned up in the Historical Department of the Mormon Church. In any case, Mr. McKee's statement is probably not too reliable anyway. It was written over seventy years after the events it describes. A statement which McKee wrote in 1869 -- seventeen years before the 1886 statement -- mentions nothing about Spalding being acquainted with Rigdon in Pittsburg; in fact, it doesn't even mention Rigdon. This statement is reproduced on pages 76-78 of Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?

    After we first published Did Spalding Write the Book of Mormon? in July, 1977, we hoped the researchers would respond to some of the criticism we put forward. Instead, there has been complete silence. The researchers were probably referring to us when they wrote: "There are other amateurs who have tried their hands at identifying this handwriting who ore no better qualified than Jessee. Both Jessee and these other self-styled experts are not experts at all, and their opinions are just that -- opinions. They are worth nothing in a court of law." (Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? p. 229)

    The absence of any reference to Did Spalding Write the Book of Mormon? is especially interesting in light of the fact that five of the six footnotes used in Chapter 2 of Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? are to our book Mormonism -- Shadow or Reality? The quotations which the researchers use deal with matters which they agree with and are, of course, in no way related to the Spalding theory. While we are happy that they used this material, we feel that they should have at least referred to the criticism of their work which we published in Did Spalding Write the Book of Mormon? Sending a picture of a jackass does not solve the problems.

    One serious problem that the researchers completely ignore is that mentioned on page 7 of this book: "...Wesley P. Walters... pointed out a very important item. The handwriting just before and just after the 'unknown' hand has been identified as that of Joseph Smith's scribes, and since Spalding died in 1816, it is rather difficult to believe that his handwriting would appear in the middle."

    On page 7 of this book, we offer the following criticism of the researcher's theory: "Another serious problem confronting those who believe that Spalding actually wrote 12 pages of the manuscript of the Book of Mormon is that it would make him responsible for all the words that appear on these pages. Since the style is completely different than that found in Spalding's extant manuscript (see Part 2 of this book), we are inclined to feel that he could not be the author."

    Dean Jessee has also commented concerning this matter. The researchers admit the style is different but claim that Spalding deliberately changed his style:

    "13. Although Jessee is right in stating that the style in Manuscript Story is different from that in The Book of Mormon, he does not mention, as we have, that the witnesses (not removed from the scene by 147 years, as Jessee is) declared that Spalding altered his first plan (Manuscript Story), and changed his style (Manuscript Found)." (Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? p. 230)



    We find it hard to believe that Spalding could have altered his style to such an extent.

    Another criticism which we offer on page 7 of our book has to do with the religious material in the Book of Mormon: "The 12 pages of the Book of Mormon in the "unknown" hand present a serious problem for those who accept the affidavits of Solomon Spalding's brother and some of his friends. Most of these affidavits claim that Spalding's work did NOT contain the religious material found in the Book of Mormon."

    The researchers try to explain this problem away on page 288 of their book:

    "10. The eight witnesses' declaration the Manuscript Found was The Book of Mormon 'except for the religious matter' does not preclude numerous references to religion in Manuscript Found, since some changes in religious matters were undoubtedly made to Spalding's manuscript after it was taken from Patterson's print Shop."

    We do not feel that this is an adequate answer to such a serious weakness in their thesis. As we pointed out before, the twelve pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript which the researchers claim are in Spalding's hand are just filled with religious material such as Lehi's dream of the Tree of Life (see I Nephi 4:20 to I Nephi 12:8). In the past, advocates of the Spalding theory said that the religious material was added by Rigdon or Smith. The California researchers, however, cannot legitimately make such a claim because the pages' which they attribute to the hand of Solomon Spalding are filled with religious material. The researchers seem to be oblivious to the fact that in stating the religious material might have been added after the manuscript was stolen they are undermining their entire theory on the handwriting.

    In Appendix 8 of their book, the researchers list a number of parallels "between The Book of Mormon and Manuscript Story," and on page 254 they state: "in this brief appendix we have listed only a few of the parallels we found, but a forthcoming book will fully detail the similarities."

    There are, of course, some interesting parallels between "Manuscript Story" and the Book of Mormon. In 1958, James D. Bales listed 75 parallels between the two manuscripts (see The Book of Mormon? pp. 142-146). A. Dean Wengree[n] informs us that "There is in 'special collections' at Brigham Young University Library a paper written by M. D. Bown... the paper contains a presentation of 100 similarities between the 'Manuscript Story' and the Book of Mormon." ("An Analysis Of 'One Hundred Similarities Between The Book of Mormon And The Spaulding Manuscript'," unpublished paper by A. Dean Wengreen, p. 1) Mr. Wengreen lists the 100 parallels, gives a brief criticism and then concludes that "As one reads the two books, the great differences become very apparent. They just don't convey the same message or reflect the same tone or atmosphere. I felt this -- in spite of the many apparent parallels between the two works... a non-Mormon, or someone not too familiar with the Book of Mormon itself, may be lead [sic] to believe that the parallels indicate a close association, or that one was influenced by the other, but it seems impossible to me that one at all familiar with the Book of Mormon could take that point of view." (Ibid., pp. 10-11)

    We tend to agree with Mr. Wengreen, and believe the parallels between View of the Hebrews (published in 1825) and the Book of Mormon are more significant. In Mormonism --
    Shadow or Reality? pp. 82-84 we show that even the Mormon historian B. H. Roberts was concerned about the similarities and prepared a list of 18 parallels between the two books, Recently same new evidence concerning B. H. Roberts' interest in View of the Hebrews has came to light, It has been discovered that Roberts wrote a manuscript of 291 pages entitled, "A Book of Mormon Study." In this manuscript 176 pages were devoted to the relationship of View of the Hebrews to Book of Mormon. The manuscript was never published and remained in the family after his death. Only a few scholars have been allowed access to it. Michael Marquardt was given the privilege of reading the manuscript and has told us of its contents. In this manuscript Roberts conceded that a man with Joseph Smith's imagination could have used View of the Hebrews to produce the Book of Mormon.

    While we believe View of the Hebrews may have had an influence on Joseph Smith, we are convinced that there is another book which played a far more important role -- i. e., the King James Version of the Bible (see Mormonism -- Shadow or Reality? pp. 72-81)

    In a letter dated May 27, 1978, we received the following criticism: "I am greatly concerned about your rejection of Solomon Spaulding as being the true source for the Book of Mormon.... it is Satan that has divided you and the three California researchers.... Satan is letting this disputed 12 pages by the unidentified scribe be the deciding factor in whether or not Spaulding is the true author of the Book of Mormon. This should not be the case because regardless of whether or not it is Spaulding's writing, there are lust too many evidences elsewhere which already prove Spaulding to be the true author.

    "In your book... you quote from two sources which state that there is no similarity or resemblance in names or persons between Manuscript Story and Book of Merman. I have found this to be incorrect. Please look over the following names very carefully: M. S. p. 110 HELICON -- HELAMAN in B. M.; M. S. p. 111 SAMBAL -- SAM in B. M.; M. S. p. 105 COMO -- COM in B. M.; M. S. p. 111 LAMESA -- LEMUEL in B. M.; M. S. p. 108 HEMOCKS -- HEM in B. M.; M. S. p. 93 HAMELICH -- AMALICKIAH in B. M.; M. S. p. 92 LABANKO -- LABAN in B. M,; M. S. p. 39 HADORAM -- HELORUM in B. M.; M. S. p. 67 LIMNER -- LIMHER in B. M.; M. S. p. 71 RAMBOCK -- RAMAH in B. M.; M. S. p. 91 RAMOFF -- RAMATH in B. M.; M. S. p. 95 HAMBOON -- HAMATH in B. M.; M. S. p. 100 LAMOCK - LAMAH in B. M.; M. S. p. 100 MOONROD -- NIMROD in B. M.;

    "Now those similarities are going to have to be explained if Spaulding is not the true author of the historical portion of the Book of Mormon...."

    Although some of the names listed above are somewhat similar, we do not find any that are spelled exactly the same. When we turn to the Bible, however, we find exact equivalents for six of the names: LEMUEL (Proverbs 31:1), LABAN (Genesis 24:29), RAMAH (Joshua 18:25), RAMATH (Joshua 19:8), HAMATH (Numbers 13:21), NIMROD (Genesis 10:8). It would appear, then, that it is far more likely that Joseph Smith borrowed his names from the Bible than from Manuscript Story.

    On pages 190-199 of their book, Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon, the California researchers use Dee Jay Nelson and Wesley P. Walters as witnesses against the truthfulness of Mormonism. It is interesting to note, however, that



    both these scholars reject the idea that Spalding actually penned 12 pages of the book of Mormon manuscript. In fact, Wesley P. Walters, one of the mast noted researchers on Mormonism, has come out with a very critical review of Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? He has provided us with a copy (a version of which is published in Contemporary Christianity, Winter 1977-78) from which we extract the following:

    "This work brings together a great deal of painstaking research, collecting evidence from hard-to-find books and old newspapers to build a circumstantial case far the 140 year old theory that the Book of Mormon is traceable to a now-missing manuscript written by a Congregational minister named Solomon Spalding.... The case is built entirely upon circumstantial evidence from testimonies of persons who had knowledge of events at various stages in the proposed chain linking Spalding to Rigdon to Smith. In general, the later the testimony, the more detailed and specific it becomes in affirming these connections, the witnesses' memory apparently improving with age.

    "A new feature in the research team's presentation of the theory is that there were two lost manuscripts of Spalding's novel instead of one. According to the older theory it was thought that Rigdon had simply copied the manuscript left by Spalding at the printer's and that it had subsequently been returned to the Spalding household where his wife and daughter reported seeing it in the family trunk after his death in 1816. On the basis of a very late testimony... the authors of this book maintain that there was a second copy of Spalding's work, one which had been prepared for the printer and which, according to Miller, needed only a title page and a possible preface to ready it for publication. They further maintain that Rigdon actually stole this copy from the printer's office and gave it to Joseph Smith...

    "This theory seems apparently confirmed with the sensational discovery by the researchers that twelve pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript appear to be in the handwriting of Spalding himself.... When looked at carefully, however, this discovery raises so many knotty problems and conflicts in regard to the theoretical reconstruction in the first part of I their book, that it actually tends to discredit it.

    "In the first place the handwriting experts themselves are now divided on the matter of whether it is really Spalding's handwriting. Of the three experts employed, Howard Doulder has reversed his preliminary judgment after careful examination of the original documents; Mr. Henry Silver has withdrawn from the case without rendering a final opinion; and only Dr. William Kaye has issued a final report affirming the handwriting as that of Spalding. While the handwriting appears quite similar to Spalding's there seem to be some obvious differences to anyone who looks at it carefully. Furthermore, the manuscript of one of Joseph's revelations is in the handwriting of a scribe whose writing, to the layman's eye, looks more like the Book of Mormon portion attributed to Spalding than the undisputed samples of Spalding's handwriting itself. This shows that someone whose handwriting was very much like Spalding's was one of Joseph's scribes in the 1830 period...

    "According to the older Spalding theory, based on the extant testimony, while Spalding's novel may have had same religious content, it is Rigdon who is credited with adding most of the religious material. If one looks at the content of the alleged Spalding portion [of the Book of Mormon], however,
    he notices that nearly the entire material is religious in nature. It speaks of there being a 'church' at Jerusalem about 600 B. C., writes approving of being a 'visionary man', portrays New Testament Christianity as being well known in the Old Testament period, and even depicts Christianity as being established in America before the arrival of Europeans. These are some of the main features of early Mormonism, and if regarded as Spalding's work it would make Spalding rather than Smith or Rigdon the originator of the religious aspects of Mormonism. This is not the impression one gets from reading the early descriptions by witnesses who claimed to have heard Spalding's alleged manuscript read.

    "More significant yet is a major problem the authors fail to mention in their book. If the book of Merman manuscript does contain the actual handwriting of Spalding, then the facts preclude identifying that manuscript with the printer's copy stolen by Rigdon. This is evident from the fact that the twelve manuscript pages attributed to Spalding are part of twenty pages on identical paper stock. The four pages that precede the 'Spalding' block of material and the four that follow are in the known handwriting of identified scribes of Joseph Smith, Jr. This would mean that at least eight pages without text were sent to the printer by Spalding along with his manuscript. What is even more inexplicable is that two of the four pages immediately before the twelve 'Spalding' pages have page-titles, summarizing the page's content, in the same apparent Spalding hand, while the content of the pages themselves is written in the known handwriting of those serving as Joseph's scribes in 1829. Why would Spalding send a printer blank pages with page-titles at the top of two of these, followed by twelve pages of manuscript, the first page of which starts in the middle of a sentence (viz., 'and i commanded him in the voice of Laban...' = I Ne. 4:20c)? This makes no sense at all and can hardly be regarded as a printer's copy. Moreover, Joseph Smith must be regarded as having composed and dictated the material on the blank pages sent by Spalding, and as having done this in the same vocabulary and style as the 'Spalding' portion. Furthermore he succeeded in filling these blank pages with no indication of either crowding or coming up short and even connected smoothly into the incomplete sentence of Spalding without a hint of discontinuity. Anyone that clever could just as easily have composed the entire content himself. In any event, the fragmentary nature of the alleged Spalding material makes it impossible to connect this with any printer's copy that might have been stolen by Rigdon.

    "There is one final consideration that is really fatal to the identification of the twelve pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript as being the actual writings of Spalding himself. When Joseph was producing the Book of Mormon he met with a very disastrous event. Mrs. Harris, the wife of his financial backer, managed to get hold of 116 pages of the opening portion of the Book of Mormon manuscript and never returned them to Joseph Smith. Had Joseph been dictating from a manuscript provided for him by Rigdon, it should have been easy for him simply to have read off the same portion again. Likewise, even if he had read his translation from the words God had caused to appear on his Seer Stone (as the early Book of Mormon witnesses described his translating process), it should also have been no problem far God to restore the lost pages in identical words However, it seems more likely that Joseph had simply dictated his material as it came to his mind. This meant that he could not reproduce word-for-word what



    he had already dictated on those missing 116 pages. The way out of this embarrassing predicament was given in a 'revelation' in which he was informed that there was a second set at plates and that the Lord knew that those who had taken the 116 pages had altered the words so that, even if Joseph had been able to give the identical wording, they now would not agree with his original copy (it is not explained how such changes could be made on a pen and ink page of that period without being detected). Therefore, the Lord instructed him to take the second set of plates that had been provided for just that situation and translate the material covering the same period from them. References to that second set of plates appear, therefore, in the part of the book of Mormon which replaced the purloined manuscript, explaining that it was for 'a wise purpose' that this second set was being made, One of the passages mentioning this second set of plates that rescues Smith from his problem occurs right in the middle of the section said to be in the handwriting of Spalding (=I Ne. 9).This makes sense if Smith dictated it, but there is no explanation why Spalding should introduce a second set of plates into his story where it serves no purpose.

    "The writers have failed to explain how these facts correlate with the theory they present in the first part of their book. How can the preoccupation with religious topics in these twelve pages be explained when Spalding's novel was said by the earliest witnesses to have had little religious content? How can twelve manuscript pages preceded by blank
    pages with only page-titles over two of them be considered a part of a completed printer's copy?... Why should Spalding introduce, with no apparent need for it in the plot, a second set of plates, just where Joseph would need so badly a second set of plates to avoid being discredited by his inability to reproduce the identical wards of the missing 116 pages? Until the researchers can provide same reasonable and satisfying correlations, backed by some kind of dependable evidence, their book will continue to make interesting reading but their proof must be regarded as highly questionable."

    We feel that Wesley Walters' arguments against the new Spalding theory are irrefutable, and we cannot understand how the California researchers can continue to cling to their idea in the face of Walters' criticism and the evidence we present in this book. Although we have received some sharp criticism because of our stand on the Spalding matter, we feel that it is based an very strong evidence and that it would be dishonest far us to compromise our position just to discredit the Mormons. We firmly believe that all work against Mormonism should be based an reliable evidence which will meet the test of time. In the end, anything less than this only tends to strengthen the Mormon position and makes it more difficult to deal with Church members. Bringing out the truth should be our objective. Jesus himself said: "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:22)


    Dean C. Jessee
    “‘Spalding theory’ re-examined”
    Deseret News, Aug. 20, 1977

  • Cover

  • Page 3  Introduction

  • Page 4  Manuscripts raise doubts

  • Page 5  Evidence hurts Spalding theory

    Vol. 128.                       Salt Lake City, Utah,  Saturday, August 20, 1977.                       No. 58.


    [ 3 ]

    'Spalding theory' re-examined

    Editors note: In recent weeks three southern California researchers have claimed that 12 pages of the Book of Mormon was written by Solomon Spalding, a Congregationalist minister and writer who died more than 10 years before Joseph Smith received the gold plates. The Spalding controversy by no means is new. As early as 1834, the Spalding Theory was advanced by critics of the Book of Mormon seeking to discredit the Prophet and cast doubt on the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon.

    The Church News asked Dean Jessee, a senior researcher for the Historical Department to comment on this latest attempt to revive the Spalding theory. On the next three pages are his explanations and evidences, putting to rest once again the notion that Spalding wrote any portion of the Book of Mormon.

    Throughout his life, Joseph Smith gave but one explanation for the origin of the Book of Mormon: that he was directed by a divine messenger to an ancient record engraved upon gold plates buried in the hill not far from his Manchester, N.Y., home, and that he translated the writings thereon "by the gift and power of God."...

    (Contents copyright © 1977, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
    Reproduction of text truncated to abide by "fair use" limitations.
    Consult on-line Deseret News files for full article.)

    [ 4 ]

    Manuscripts raise doubts about story

    ...That the Spalding theory has not found its final resting place became clear when the Los Angeles Times on June 25, 1977, announced that three California researchers, Wayne Cowdrey, Howard Davis, and Donald Scales, had found evidence that Solomon Spalding had written a portion of the original Book of Mormon manuscript and that handwriting experts had substantiated their conclusion.

    The implication of this announcement was that if Spalding (who died in 1816) wrote part of the Book of Mormon manuscript, Joseph Smith could not have translated it from ancient records by the gift and power of God, as he claimed.

    The portion of the surviving Book of Mormon manuscript in question comprises 12 pages of the text covering I Nephi 4:20 to I Nephi 12:8. Since handwriting samples of all those known to have served as clerks to Joseph Smith in transcribing the Book of Mormon have not been found, these 12 pages were designated as having been written by an unidentified scribe when a study was made of the manuscript in 1969. (See Exhibit B)

    Exhibit B: Lower-case names ("laban") and personal pronouns ("i") can be
    seen in challenged portion of Book of Mormon manuscript;
    note absence of punctuation.

    Since then, external evidence has pointed to Martin Harris as the probable writer of the pages in question, but samples of his early handwriting have not been located to substantiate this.

    That the announcement of a handwriting connection between Solomon Spalding and the Book of Mormon is premature, if not absurd, is clear from events that have taken place since the original announcement, and from evidence that was apparently ignored by advocates of the handwriting connection.

    1. Contrary to published reports, the conclusion of handwriting authorities has not been final.

    The announcement of a handwriting connection between the Book of Mormon manuscript and Solomon Spalding received unwarranted prestige and credibility from the assertion that three renowned handwriting experts, Henry Silver, William Kaye, and Howard Doulder, had independently examined the two documents and concluded that Spalding was indeed the writer of both.

    In the weeks following the announcement all three experts visited the Church archives in Salt Lake City to study the handwriting of the Book of Mormon manuscript. The fact of their coming indicated that final conclusions had not been reached, and each of them confirmed this verbally. Since then, Henry Silver has withdrawn from further involvement in the issue after stating that he had been misrepresented in published statements on the subject.

    2. The resurrection of the Spalding theory, even with its new handwriting twist, raises the same objections that made the original Hurlbut version so untenable. These include such problems as the reliability of the original source material in the face of Hurlbut's extreme bias against Joseph Smith; the failure of Sidney Rigdon to ever contradict Joseph Smith's claim of the divine origin of the Book of Mormon, especially after Rigdon's rejection by Joseph Smith and excommunication from the Church; and the problem of literary style when comparing the Book of Mormon with Spalding's writings and assuming that the latter wrote the former.

    Beyond this, the present version of the Spalding theory presents a new problem by contradicting the earlier one. An important point mentioned in all of the Hurlbut affidavits (obviously prompted by Hurlbut himself to soften the lack of similarity he found between the Spalding manuscript and the Book of Mormon was that Spalding provided the "historical part" of the Book of Mormon and that Joseph Smith or Sidney Rigdon supplied the religious part. By attributing 12 pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript to Spalding the present advocates wipe away this distinction made by Hurlbut's witnesses.

    As James Fairchild pointed out, the contrast between the Book of Mormon and the Spalding manuscript must have been very striking for Hurlbut, to have all eight of his witnesses, after 22 years, remember that precise detail.

    In reality, the religious message of the Book of Mormon is so tightly interwoven with its history that it would be inconceivable to assume that the two themes were produced separately, and later interpolated. Further, it is unlikely that the strong-minded and erudite Sidney Rigdon, who was 12 years Joseph Smith's senior, would have accepted the servile task of weaving Joseph's religious ideas in with Spalding's historical novel, and ever after remain silent about it.

    Exhibit C: Manuscript of D&C 56 is apparently from same hand.

    [ 5 ]

    Evidence hurts 'Spalding theory'

    3. The unidentified scribe of the 12 Book of Mormon pages also wrote the manuscript of Section 56 of the Doctrine and Covenants. (See Exhibit C)

    The same handwriting characteristics that identify the Book of Mormon clerk are also present in the Section 56 manuscript. (Note Exhibits B, C, D.) This forces the conclusion that if Spalding wrote the 12 pages of the Book of Mormon, he also regulated Mormon church affairs in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1831. His death in Pennsylvania in 1816 renders this miraculous.

    4. handwriting differences do not support the allegation that Solomon Spalding wrote 12 pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript.

    The science of handwriting identification rests upon the fact that a person's writing, like his speech, is an habitual skill that is performed unconsciously, and changes but very gradually under normal circumstances. Each person's handwriting has certain characteristics that individually or in combination render his or her handwriting unique.

    In addition to the formation of letters, these characteristics include many other aspects of writing such as slant, size, proportion, pen-lifts, compactness, arrangement, shading and rhythm. Recognizing that any handwriting in the same language will have similarities, the question of whether or not two documents were written by the same individual must focus upon the nature and quality of differences.

    The examination of a person's standard handwriting determines the range of acceptable differences which must serve as the yardstick for measuring questioned samples. The handwriting of both Spalding and the writer of the 12 Book of Mormon pages contains numerous peculiarities that are outside of the range of acceptable diversity for the other. The combination of these differences renders each manuscript unique. Some of the more obvious differences are as follows:

    A. The formation of the capital letters A, C, D, E, H, I, K, L, N, P, S, T, U, W, the lower-case letters c, s, r, x, the combination "wh" and the ampersand (&). (See Exhibit D.)

    The personal pronoun "I" is frequently written with a small "i" by the Book of Mormon writer, a peculiarity that never occurs with Spalding.

    Unlike the Book of Mormon scribe, Spalding uses the ampersand (&) almost exclusively in the place of "and."

    The old form "f" is used extensively by Spalding for his lower-case, single "s," a peculiarity that does not occur in the Book of Mormon.

    Spalding's lower-case "c" is written like an undotted "i." It has no curve to it, unlike that of the Book of Mormon writer.

    B. The two manuscripts do not show the same continuity and flow in their word formation. The Book of Mormon writer's habit of lifting his pen from the paper in the formation of words occurs with more frequency and in different places than does Spalding's. (See Exhibit D)

    C. A comparison of the penmanship of the two manuscripts shows that Spalding's Dartmouth College education made him a better penman than the Book of Mormon clerk. However, if Spalding is accepted as the author of the 12 Book of Mormon pages, it is impossible to explain the deterioration of his penmanship following the writing of his earlier "Manuscript Story."

    D. Spalding shows greater skill as a penman than does the Book of Mormon scribe:

    Both writers misspell different words and the Book of Mormon scribe misspells more simple words. For example, the Book of Mormon scribe consistently writes the words, "shal," "uppon," "menny," and "ware" (were), which are spelled correctly by Spalding.

    Word divisions from one line to the next show less understanding of the convention of hyphens, and involve more single syllable words on the part of the Book of Mormon writer than with Spalding: "uppon," "inheritance-e," "wa-s," "m-e," "kne-w," "M-ultitude," "mist-t," "ma-le."

    The Book of Mormon scribe frequently begins a new line with a capital letter even though it is in the middle of a sentence, a trait completely absent in Spalding's writings.

    The capitalization of names and proper nouns is neglected much more often by the Book of Mormon writer than by Spalding. (sam, laman, lemuel, israel, jerusalem, egipt, etc.)

    Punctuation habits in the two manuscripts are drastically different. Spalding punctuates freely, and frequently uses dashes as a form of punctuation. The Book of Mormon clerk uses no punctuation at all.

    This raises a question with the two-manuscripts theory. If the "Manuscript Story" represents an early version of Spalding's novel and the Book of Mormon his later, polished version, why is the punctuation less correct in the final draft? Here would be a case of the college graduate Spalding carefully punctuating his rough draft, but leaving his final manuscript for the unlearned Joseph Smith to punctuate.

    5. Differences in literary style between the Spalding manuscript and the 12 pages of the Book of Mormon do not lend themselves to the theory of single authorship of the two documents.

    Spalding's writings contain more complicated and a wider variety of sentence structure than does the Book of Mormon; his vocabulary is more complex and word choices more descriptive; his verb forms are more varied; his tenses more complicated and he makes extensive use of metaphors and of participial constructions, many of which leave a dangling modifier.

    On the other hand, the Book of Mormon scribe uses less complicated sentences and words; his verb forms are less complex; he uses few participial phrases; his tenses are predominantly simple present and past; his symbolism does not include metaphors and he makes extensive use of the same transitional words and phrases.

    It is unlikely that a writer of Spalding's imagination and ability would consider the stylistically simple Book of Mormon prose as a sequel to his "Manuscript Story."

    6. The similarity of paper and ink on the pages that precede and follow the writing of the unidentified scribe does not support the theory that Spalding wrote the 12 pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript.

    The handwriting of Joseph Smith's known clerks appears on the pages immediately preceding and following those of the unidentified scribe (See Exhibit B). If the 12 pages of the unidentified scribe were actually written by Solomon Spalding some 123 years before the material that precedes and follows it, there would be some indication of this in the paper quality or size, the ink color or tone, or the folded or torn edges of the paper, but in each of these instances, before and after the section in question, the match is perfect: the paper and ink are the same.

    7. The writer on the 12 pages wrote on other pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript besides the 12, AFTER Joseph Smith's scribes had completed the text of those pages.

    For the purposes of reference, if the surviving pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript were numbered consecutively, the 12 pages written by the unidentified scribe would comprise numbers 5 to 16.

    In addition to writing those 12 pages, the same writer added summary headings on pages 2 and 3 and a chapter heading on page 24, AFTER the text of those pages was written by Joseph Smith's clerks Oliver Cowdery and John Whitmer. Page two is titled "Nephi goeth up to Jerusalem to bring the records of the Jews," and page three, "The brethren of Nephi Smite him with a Rod." It would have been impossible for these summary headings to have been written prior to the content of the pages they summarize.

    Also, on page 24, "Chapter 5th" has been inserted by the same writer at the close of a sentence in the text written by John Whitmer. It would have been impossible for the unidentified scribe to have written the chapter heading in the right place on the page before the text around it was written.

    These insertions indicate that the writer of the 12 pages of I Nephi must have been with Joseph Smith and his clerks sometime after they wrote the text of pages 2, 3, and 24, about 1829. Here again, Solomon Spalding's death in 1816 bars him from the picture....

    (Contents copyright © 1977, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
    Reproduction of text truncated to abide by "fair use" limitations.
    Consult on-line Deseret News files for full article.)

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    last revised: May. 17, 2006