DAN VOGEL DISCUSSES THE SPALDING/RIGDON THEORY

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beastie
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Post by beastie »

At the end of the day, he was unsuccessful as was Joseph Smith. One was murdered and the other had a failed enterprise. Was the book of Mormon story a con? Or was it real? Ahhh...that is the question, isn't it? The book failed both men in the end and yet, it has been successful for countless of millions. Now that is an enigma, con or no con.


No enigma. Just look at the world around you. Unless you want to argue that every piece of literature that has been "successful" in that high numbers of people view it as God-given and providing some special insight is just that (ie, being God-given and having special insight), then the answer is already obvious. Human beings, in their drive to find meaning and purpose, can find "success" even in theologies and texts that just about everyone else views as having little to verify it and even of being patently ridiculous. (see scientology for a good example, IMO)

To put it more bluntly and possibly offensively, although that is not my intent, human beings, in their drive to find meaning and purpose and God, can make a silk purse out of many a pig's ear.
We hate to seem like we don’t trust every nut with a story, but there’s evidence we can point to, and dance while shouting taunting phrases.

Penn & Teller

http://www.mormonmesoamerica.com

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Uncle Dale
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The STIGMA of Solomon Spalding

Post by Uncle Dale »

beastie wrote:
I'm not convinced that we can ever find the smoking gun, so to speak, nor do I completely understand
why we have to (except if one hopes to convince true believers, which I view as largely impossible and
not of particular interest to me in the first place).



Yes, I think we do need to find the proverbial "smoking gun." Allow me to explain.

Nobody will ever "convince true believers" of anything new. Even their topmost leaders are in a difficult
position when it comes to that sort of thing. Major shifts in religious paradeigms are measured in decades
and not in hours or days. A few "true believers" may turn apostate at any moment, of course, but they do so
largely for unseen reasons, and not because Solomon Spalding suddenly makes sense to them.

The big problem is that the "true believers" and their spokespersons have been able to convince the writers
of encyclopedias and American church history reference books that the "Spaulding Lie" was long ago disproved
and that even the "Gentiles" (i.e. Fawn Brodie, Sandra Tanner, Dan Vogel, etc.) have accepted that fact. The
Mormons do not take the trouble to formulate their own anti-Spalding arguments very often any more. Rather,
they point to the oft-requoted boilerplate of James H. Fairchild, Lewis L. Rice, Whitney R. Cross, or any other
non-member who can be held up as being some sort of "expert" on the subject.

The tactic has worked wonderfully --- today the advocate of the Spalding-Rigdon authorship explanation gets
much the same reception before a learned audience as does the vocal advocate for a flat earth, or the odd
character who is out to tell the world about his theory regarding the little green men from Mars.

In order for Spalding proponents to get past this carefully crafted smoke-screen, they really do need to come up
with something equivalent to a smoking gun.

The rise and fall of the 1977 "Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon" volume illustrates my point well -- after
many halcyon years of disregard, the old authorship theory was temporily revived with that book and the flurry
of news reports surrounding its strange new premise. The story went as far as it did, because public interest in
the Mormon Church (along with public suspicion) had been greatly aroused by the ongoing news stories of LDS
intolerance of Black members' full rights within the Church, and the ersatz Howard Hughes "Mormon will." Once
that "background noise" died down (with the will being pronounced a forgery in 1978 and the SWK revelation
on Blacks in the priesthood that same year), public interest in things Mormon also faded away and the Spalding
authorship claims faded from the public eye as well.

If we go back and look at the over-all LDS reaction to that 1977 book, almost the entire response can be typified
as an appeal to Gentile authority. The Church leaders were happy to see non-Mormon handwriting experts fail
to issue any final, formal reports backing the book's innovative allegations. The Mormon-directed periodicals
were happy to quote worn-out anto-Spalding conclusions offered by dead Gentiles. The scholars were happy to
find out that their great Fawn Brodie had been correct all along.

Today Richard L. Bushman can get a lengthy Joseph Smith biography published by a noted Gentile publisher,
in which he can firmly state, "on further consideration the experts [non-LDS handwriting experts] backed off,
and the theory assumed the status of an historiographical artifact without credibility among serious scholars."

In other words, were a Spalding advocate to now approach the Alfred A. Knopf company with a newly-written
book on the topic, the editors there would consult Bushman and quickly inform the hopeful writer that he/she
could not possibly be a "serious scholar." If the writer argued back, those same editors (or editors at almost
any other book or journal publishing concern) would ask: "Where is the scholarly literature to support your
book's assertions? Who are the learned academics recommending its publication? What new arguments have
you made, and where are your scholarly credentials to back them up? Show us your smoking gun?"

Absent a new frenzy of public interest in the Mormon Church, surpassing that of 1976-78, the would-be book
author cannot expect the general readership of America or of the world to "trump" the "experts" and thus
generate enough curiosity to gain newsworthiness in the popular media nor in the scholarly literature.

Time Magazine published an illustrated article on Howard Davis and Solomon Spalding in 1977 -- in 2007 not
even Publisher's Weekly can be talked into running a review of Davis, Cowdery and Vanick's new book.

That is greatly due to the stigma of Solomon Spalding -- and it is a circular, self-feeding stigma. The encyclopedia
article writer looks to the scholarly literature -- the learned editors look to the scholars and academics -- the
writers look to published sources like Brodie, Bushman and Vogel -- the small segment of the public audience
that has any interest in the matter buys those books -- and perhaps nowdays glances at WikiPedia for more info.

All of this makes the "smoking gun" a near-essential requirement for Spalding advocates. They must break
through the several layers of smokescreen that continues to obscure the subject. And, like the little boy who
cried "wolf!" they cannot resort to temporary publicity-seeking with some half-baked, sensational pronouncement.
Any true "smoking gun" must be establishec by meticulous, methodical evidence, presented in reputable media
and made plausible by supporting facts -- not by hype and "little green men" sort of speculative assertions.

The "smoking" gun need not be a confession in the certified hand-writing of Joseph Smith, Jr. -- signed, sealed,
notarized and delivered to the county recorder -- but it must have about that same level of impact upon the
supposedly "objective" non-Mormon "experts." Only when they are convinced that the Spalding stigma has
been removed, will the encyclopedia writers begin to re-write their Mormonism articles. And only when such
reputable reference sources are updated and in the hands of new investigators of the LDS Church will the LDS
themselves begin to respond in a serious way.

Uncle Dale

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Post by beastie »

Dale,

I get your point in terms of the necessity of a smoking gun in order to get the attention of a larger audience. I was thinking more in terms of private conclusions about the origins of the Book of Mormon. I'm perfectly content to consider Rigdon a potential originator without the smoking gun. But yes, clearly, to "startle" the larger audience enough to reconsider the theory, a smoking gun would be needed.

I have found your posts on FAIR very persuasive, Dale, although I have always found Dan's writings to be very persuasive. as well. It was largely your writings on FAIR that resulted in my own attempts to reconcile the two seemingly opposing viewpoints. Parts of Dan's argument regarding the "voice" of Joseph Smith are just too strong to discard, IMO. The text really does echo his own life in many ways. That's why, in the end, even with my revised viewpoint that it is entirely possible Rigdon was involved, as well, I've had to kind of meld the two together, and come up with (what appears to be quite reasonable to me) the possibility that they both had input in the creation of the text.

I'm so glad you all were willing to discuss this here. It helped me to see my own areas of weaknesses in background and understanding, for one thing, and I will have to consider myself a fence-sitter on the subject (not an unusual position for me, since I'm also a fence sitter on the Pious Fraud theory, although I tend to lean a bit towards the PF side of the fence).
We hate to seem like we don’t trust every nut with a story, but there’s evidence we can point to, and dance while shouting taunting phrases.

Penn & Teller

http://www.mormonmesoamerica.com

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Post by Uncle Dale »

beastie wrote:Dale,

I get your point in terms of the necessity of a smoking gun in order to get the attention of a larger audience. I was thinking more in terms of private conclusions about the origins of the Book of Mormon. I'm perfectly content to consider Rigdon a potential originator without the smoking gun. But yes, clearly, to "startle" the larger audience enough to reconsider the theory, a smoking gun would be needed.

I have found your posts on FAIR very persuasive, Dale, although I have always found Dan's writings to be very persuasive. as well. It was largely your writings on FAIR that resulted in my own attempts to reconcile the two seemingly opposing viewpoints. Parts of Dan's argument regarding the "voice" of Joseph Smith are just too strong to discard, IMO. The text really does echo his own life in many ways. That's why, in the end, even with my revised viewpoint that it is entirely possible Rigdon was involved, as well, I've had to kind of meld the two together, and come up with (what appears to be quite reasonable to me) the possibility that they both had input in the creation of the text.

I'm so glad you all were willing to discuss this here. It helped me to see my own areas of weaknesses in background and understanding, for one thing, and I will have to consider myself a fence-sitter on the subject (not an unusual position for me, since I'm also a fence sitter on the Pious Fraud theory, although I tend to lean a bit towards the PF side of the fence).



Yes, you've summed things up quite well.

My own work remains unpublished, because I have undergone a very slow conversion to the Spalding-Rigdon
authorship claims that spanned three decades -- and because during almost all of that time I was under some
Reorganized LDS constraints, which effectively kept me from publishing.

Looking back, I'm glad of that now. Had I rushed into the literature with any of my early reports, the results
would not have been positive ones.

But now, with Vogel and Bushman published, the waters have cleared and the murk has settled into solidifying
strata --- the time for a new paradeigm is ripe. That is why I am finally working in the 1820-1830 Rigdon book.

My views do not conflict with Vogel's, except in his own way of thinking. I am perfectly willing to picture Joseph Smith as
having interjected a good deal of material into a fluid, pre-existing "one true church" scheme. I am content to
give him top billing in the finalization of the Book of Mormon text. None of that presents major problems to me. Even if the
majority of sentences in that final text were dictated to Oliver Cowdery, that is not a road-block for me.

The story of Sidney Rigdon's 1820-30 religious career has never been told in detail. The reading public and the
scholars are largely unaware of where he was, what he was doing, and why he was acting as he did during
that period. So far as I know, nobody has ever before put forth a plausible scenerio for Rigdon's writing a lengthy
pseudo-historical, pseudo-scriptural thesis for the "restoration" of Apostolic Christianity. Nobody has ever taken
the time to match his religious activities and religious views to any sort of time-line for the compilation of the
Book of Mormon.

My providing that "plausible scenerio" would not be the "smoking gun" we are looking for -- but it may offer up
the first really useful road-map for future investigators who wish to search for that smoking gun.

If we begin with the 1824 pseudo-scriptural "Third Epistle of Peter" and end with the 1829 finalized Book of Mormon text,
that allows for five to six years of Rigdon's alleged holy writ fabrications. Where was he then? What were his
religious views? What did people say about him? How loyal was he to the Campbellite cause? How did he differ
from his fellow Campbellites? What were his stated goals? What was it in Mormonism that so closely matched
(or fulfilled) his expectations and desires? How could he have turned a pseudo-historical "romance" into a text
purporting to be a revelation from God? How might he have worked with a young Joseph Smith to finalize that revelation?
Why would they do such a thing? What were their immediate and long term goals? How is any of this intent
and process reflected in the words of the Book of Mormon itself?

These are the sorts of questions I wish to address -- even if nobody is listening. And, perhaps with some
plausible answers in place, future investigators can locate and publicize the necessary evidence to make the
Spalding-Rigdon-Smith theory hold together.

I am still hopeful.

Uncle Dale

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Post by why me »

beastie wrote:
At the end of the day, he was unsuccessful as was Joseph Smith. One was murdered and the other had a failed enterprise. Was the book of Mormon story a con? Or was it real? Ahhh...that is the question, isn't it? The book failed both men in the end and yet, it has been successful for countless of millions. Now that is an enigma, con or no con.


No enigma. Just look at the world around you. Unless you want to argue that every piece of literature that has been "successful" in that high numbers of people view it as God-given and providing some special insight is just that (ie, being God-given and having special insight), then the answer is already obvious. Human beings, in their drive to find meaning and purpose, can find "success" even in theologies and texts that just about everyone else views as having little to verify it and even of being patently ridiculous. (see scientology for a good example, IMO)

To put it more bluntly and possibly offensively, although that is not my intent, human beings, in their drive to find meaning and purpose and God, can make a silk purse out of many a pig's ear.

But I am not sure that what you wrote has much to do with smith and rigdon. If it was a con, the con did not work. It failed. It took BY to make the con work, and most likely he didn't see the con. Both sidney and smith failed in their endeavor, if it were a con. And joseph sacrificed his children, his life and parts of his marriage. And sidney, lost his reputation. And yet, both stuck with the so called con if it were a con.

Bushman in part 4 of his interview with John speaks about the book of Mormon and how the book can be interpretated by critics and believers. But he also claims that the book is very complicated in design. And this is the enigma too. The book is a complicated book with people constantly finding new insights in it. It would be quite an accomplishment for smith and for sidney. But in the end, they failed. And if it were a con, I can say with conviction, that they, for all their intelligence, were not very adept. And they were failures.

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Post by Uncle Dale »

why me wrote:If it was a con, the con did not work. It failed....



Perhaps you are putting too much emphasis on the "fraud" half of "pious fraud."
By the same token, we might say that if Islam was a con, it too has failed.

Have you never in your life known of a person who lied, or cheated, or fabricated things, in order to promote
a version of religion which that person fully believed in?

If not -- then good for you. Unfortunately I spent many years in a church where I saw that happening on an
all too frequent basis. True, the examples I might cite were generally little cons and small lies, but some were
truly significant ones, reaching back to Saint Emma herself.

The remnant of Sidney's church are the Monongahela Mormons (or Bickertonites) -- a sect with several dozens
of branches and several thousands of members. Were you to go to one of their prayer meretings; or attend a
wedding or a funeral in one of their chapels; or observe their baptisms and ordinations -- then you might not be
so quick to call President Rigdon a total failure. His seemingly dwindling flock later managed to become the
third largest Latter Day Saint denomination (larger than the FLDS and larger than the Temple Lot group).

Do these folks know that the key person in their history was a con man? Yes, it seems so -- at least they know
this at about the same level that the RLDS know enough to throw the Book of Abraham in the trash as a Joseph Smith fraud, and the
Temple Lot Saints know enough to throw the 1835 Kirtland D&C in the trash as a Rigdon fraud.

The Rev. Dr. William H. Whitsitt, once President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary at Louisviile, had to
struggle with Rigdon's con-man activities in writing his 1880s Sidney Rigdon biography. Whitsitt came to the
conclusion that Rigdon truly believed he was doing God's work, in a world where every other church was lost in
hopeless apostasy. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king (and prophet), we might say. And in the
land of the utterly lost, even a prophet with a phoney road-map can lead his followers to a better place.

I think that the Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonite) actually became a better legacy than Rigdon deserved.

And, if the LDS Church is also Rigdon's unacknowledged legacy..... well, we can cross that bridge when we come
to it, I suppose.

UD

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Post by CaliforniaKid »

Dear friends,

I apologize for presuming to interject myself into this conversation at this point, after so many relevant aspects of the Spalding theory have been discussed by persons far more knowledgeable than myself. However, I felt it was important to interject some brief comments on some points that thus far have been largely neglected.

Dr. Shades wrote:Finally, another bit of evidence that Smith was unfamiliar with his own book's contents is that he placed the Hill Cumorah virtually in his own backyard, when according to the book's internal geography it should've been in Canada, not the United States.


According to the testimony of Peter Ingersoll, Joseph Smith told him that he had found a Golden Bible in Canada. This may reflect an early variant of Smith's claims that he later gave up on. In any case, the Book of Mormon actually does not require that the hill Joseph Smith found the plates in be the Hill Cumorah. Mormon buried some of his plates in the Hill Cumorah and then passed the rest on to his son Moroni, who may have buried these in a completely different hill. That's how Sorenson arrives at his Two Cumorahs theory.

It should also be noted that Joseph Smith was not the one who placed the Hill Cumorah in New York. I have not read so many early Mormon documents as Dan, but when I looked into this question some time ago, I learned that the earliest known reference to tis hill as Cumorah comes from Oliver Cowdery. I was unable to find any place where Smith referred to this hill as Cumorah save one (D&C 128:20), late in his life, by which time he may have resigned himself to the prevailing view held by his followers that this hill and Cumorah were one and the same. (Of course, the fact that this one reference is canonized means that Mormons who want to propose a LGT still need to reckon with it.)

Someone also mentioned the internal consistency of Book of Mormon geography. I'm not convinced that the geography is internally consistent. The Book of Mormon speaks of a "narrow neck" and a "narrow passage," which I suspect are supposed to refer to the same thing. The apologists who construct Book of Mormon geographies take them as referring to different things, because to read it as I do with lead to internal inconsistency. If the narrow neck and the narrow passage are the same, then a lot of Book of Mormon locations are suddenly up in the air, like for example the locations of Zarahemla (which the Times and Seasons later placed in Guatemala, north of Panama, which it identified as the narrow neck) and the Hill Cumorah.

All this is to say that I don't think issues of geography provide us with any definite answers as to Book of Mormon authorship.

[*]Speed of translation of Book of Mormon vs. Book of Abraham. It's hardly arguable that Smith produced the text of the Book of Abraham essentially by himself, much like the "Smith-as-sole-author" adherents believe he did with the Book of Mormon. Yet Smith had the Book of Abraham manuscripts in his possession since Kirtland, but never finished the translation (and didn't even start on the Book of Joseph). So Smith is a painstakingly slow translator. Yet years earlier, when Cowdery shows up on Smith's doorstep, voila! Smith finishes the bulk of the Book of Mormon in c. 60 days. Why so quickly in this case, if he didn't have a manuscript off which to read?


As best we can tell, Smith only spent a total of maybe ten days on his Book of Abraham translation, much of which was dedicated to the production of the GAEL-- which is a pretty considerable collection of papers. Between 1835 and 1842, Smith doesn't seem to have worked on the Book of Abraham at all. He apparently finished the second half of the book in two afternoons between March 1, 1842 and March 15, 1842. Again, I don't think there's enough information on the "speed of translation" to make meaningful comparisons between the Book of Abraham and Book of Mormon. If anything, the fact that Smith was capable of producing the Book of Abraham speaks to his ability to produce a lengthy theological/narrative text, whose midrashic content is very similar in character to the book of Moses, Book of Mormon, and the JST (Anthony Hutchinson wrote a great article in Dialogue about the evolution of Joseph Smith's midrash on the Genesis creation narratives in his various dictated revelations, including the books of Moses and Abraham. They approach Genesis in a very similar way, though Joseph's theology has obviously evolved in the interim.) This actually is the strongest reason to reject the Spalding-Rigdon theory in my opinion. By the time we acknowledge that Smith must have made substantial insertions into the Book, that he later produced very similar texts without Rigdon's input, etc., Spalding-Rigdon seems to be-- as DV put it-- an unnecessary hypothesis.

I find Shades' initial list of reasons to accept the Spalding-Rigdon theory uncompelling. However, there are other reasons that I think are much more interesting:

1) The story of how Solomon Spalding discovered his ancient manuscript in a stone box bears some important similarities to Joseph Smith's dicovery of the Book of Mormon in a stone box.

2) Uncle Dale has discovered some consecutive pages in the Manuscript Story that are very similar to consecutive pages in the Book of Mormon, and one page has something like 98% of the same vocabulary. That's pretty good, I'd say.

3) The late John L. Hilton concluded on the basis of his wordprint studies (whose methodology appears to me, at least, to be sound) that neither Joseph Smith, nor Solomon Spalding, nor Oliver Cowdery were the author of the Book of Mormon. I should point out that Hilton's sample sizes were very small, and therefore measure the authorship of only a couple portions of the Book of Mormon. But at least for these two or three portions, he seems to have sorely afflicted the theory that Joseph Smith was the author. There is an important omission from the Hilton study: Sidney Rigdon. If Oliver Cowdery, Solomon Spalding, and Joseph Smith were not the authors of this portion of the Book of Mormon, Sidney Rigdon seems the next likely choice. And if Uncle Dale is to be believed, his friends in California have obtained some very promising results by comparing Sidney Rigdon's wordprint to the Book of Mormon. I look forward to the publication of that study.

Uncle Dale also mentioned at one point in this thread that some simpler conspiracy theories might have Joseph conspiring with Alvin, Hyrum, or Lucy. In my opinion these options leave out the more likely conspirator: Joseph's father!

Here is a letter I addressed to Jerald and Sandra Tanner in May 2005, which they published in the Messenger:

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Tanner,

I recently did some research for an article on my website about seer stones, and came across what I think is good evidence that the Book of Mormon, Joseph's receiving revelations through a seer stone, and indeed the whole Restoration may been been Joseph Smith, Sr.'s idea! If you are interested, indulge me for a few minutes by reading the quotations below.


1. Joseph Smith, Sr., was present, and sworn as a witness. He confessed at great length all that his son had said in his examination. He delineated his characteristics in his youthful days-his visions of the luminous stones in the glass--his visit to visit to Lake Erie in search of the stone--and his wonderful triumphs as a seer. He described very many instances of his finding hidden and stolen goods. He swore that both he and his son were mortified that this wonderful power which God had so miraculously given him should be used only in search of filthy lucre, or its equivalent in earthlytreasures and with along-faced, "sanctimonious seeming," ****he said his constant prayer to his Heavenly Father was to manifest His will concerning this marvelous power. He trusted that the Son of Righteousness would some day illumine the heart of the boy, and enable him to see His will concerning Him.**** These words have ever had a strong impression on my mind. They seemed to contain a prophetic vision of the future history of that mighty delusion of the present century, Mormonism. The "old man eloquent" with his lank and haggard visage--his form very poorly clad-indicating a wandering vagabond rather than an oracle of future events, has, in view of those events, excited my wonder, if not my admiration.

William D. Purple's account of the 1826 trial
(http://www.whichprophets.com/purple.htm)

2. At a time when the money digging ardor was somewhat abated, the elder Smith declared that his son Jo had seen the spirit, (which he then described as a little old man with a long beard,) and was informed that he (Jo) under certain circumstances, eventually should obtain great treasures, and that in due time he (the spirit) would furnish him (Jo) with a book, which would give an account of the Ancient inhabitants (antideluvians) of this country, and where they had deposited their substance, consisting of costly furniture, &c. at the approach of the great deluge, which had ever since that time remained secure in his (the spirits) charge, in large and spacious chambers, in sundry places in this vicinity, and THESE TIDINGS CORRESPONDED PRECISELY WITH REVELATIONS MADE TO, AND PREDICTION MADE BY THE ELDER SMITH A NUMBER OF YEARS BEFORE.

Palmyra Reflector, [edited by Abner Cole] February 14, 1831

3. Barnes Frisbie, the historian of Middleton, Vermont, knew better and noted that the rodsmen who flourished at Wells, Middleton, and Poultney at the turn of the century were a religious group. They saw themselves as the children of Israel and believed in impending judgments. They were primitivists who hoped for the restoration of the true church and for healing gifts. ...When their leaders prophesied an earthquake in 1802 which did not occur, many fled to Lawrence, New York. Frisbie insisted that Oliver Cowdery's father was a member in Orange County.

Marvin S. Hill, Secular or Sectarian History?, Reconsidering No Man Knows My History: Fawn M. Brodie and Joseph Smith in Retrospect. Newell G. Bringhurst, ed. Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 1996, p. 70.

Hill seems to think that Joseph Smith and his father may have been in some way affiliated with this group, or may at least have held similar religious views. [Joseph Smith's mother wrote]

About this time my husband's mind became much excited upon the subject of religion; yet he would not subscribe to any particular system of faith, but contended for the ancient order, as established by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and his apostles... [after having a dream on the subject] my husband seemed more confirmed than ever in the opinion that there was no order or class of religionists that knew any more concerning the kingdom of God, than those of the world, or such as made no profession of religion whatever.

Lucy Mack Smith, Biographical Sketches, ch. 14.

We know, from elsewhere, that Joseph Sr. wanted his son Alvin to be a preacher. Could he have had similar—but higher—ambitions for another son, who seemed to have the miraculous gift of seeing in a stone? If Joseph Sr. was a religious rodsman of the sort described by Hill, and if the comments of Purple and Abner Cole can be trusted, then it may well have been Joseph Smith Sr. who suggested that his son might one day restore the church by receiving divine revelation through his stone and even by finding an ancient Indian record...

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Post by Uncle Dale »

CaliforniaKid wrote:
3) The late John L. Hilton concluded on the basis of his wordprint studies (whose methodology
appears to me, at least, to be sound) that neither Joseph Smith, nor Solomon Spalding, nor
Oliver Cowdery were the author of the Book of Mormon....



See also --

"A Multivariate Technique for Authorship Attribution and its Application to the Analysis of
Mormon Scripture and Related Texts." by David I. Holmes, Senior Lecturer in Statistics
at Bristol Polytechnic, pub. by Oxford Univ. Press for the Assoc. for History and Computing.

Holmes compared fourteen large blocks of text from the Book of Mormon with known writings
of Joseph Smith, Jr. from 1828-33, samples from the early D&C revelations, etc. Holmes found
that the claim of multiple authorship for the Book of Mormon was false.

However, the major reason why Holmes came to this conclusion is because he assumed that the
"prophetic voice" used in the Book of Commandments/Doctrine and Covenants was Smith's voice
when in reality it may have been that of some other person (such as Rigdon's). The frequent
occurrence of that same prophetic voice throughout the Book of Mormon convinced Holmes that
there was a single author and that Smith had to be that author. Holmes himself admitted that Smith's
"normal voice" was unlike the "prophetic voice," and that the normal Smith voice did not match up
well at all with any large segments of the Book of Mormon text. Moreover, Holmes (like Hilton)
did not test any text from Rigdon. -- If they had done so, they would likely have had a very different
result: the prophetic voice" would have clustered with Rigdon; the Alma voices would have clustered
with Spalding, the Jacob voice would have clustered with Cowdery.....

Or so I am informed by people using computers to examine the 1830 Book of Mormon text right now.

If both Hilton and Holmes avoided Rigdon, I think there is much room for a re-examination here.

The question asked of the computer program should not be not "who wrote the book," but rather,
"What parts of the book's text best match Rigdon and which parts least match Rigdon?" -- and so on
for Smith, Cowdery, Spalding, Pratt, etc. That would be a good beginning, I think.

UD

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Dan Vogel
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Post by Dan Vogel »

Durn. I thought that reading the exchange of such well informed individuals debating the issue would help clarify it in my mind, and I think I've ended up even murkier!!!


Well, Beastie, let's keep at it. This is a big subject. While I've been away, I have been working on a post that will deal with showing from the original Book of Mormon MS that it was dictated just as the eye witnesses testified, and not copied from another MS as the Spalding advocates claim. I think the combination of evidence from eye witnesses and the original MS is a serious challenge to the Spalding theory. I was about half finished when I lost the file due to a computer glich.

As I have discussed, the claim that there was a second Spalding MS is very problematic.

There is also no credible evidence that Rigdon and Smith met before December 1830, and plenty of testimony to the contrary.

Perhaps at some point we can discuss the content to the Book of Mormon, comparing what Spalding advocates find supportive with possible reflections from Joseph Smith's life.

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Uncle Dale
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Post by Uncle Dale »

Dan Vogel wrote:
There is also no credible evidence that Rigdon and Smith met before December 1830,
and plenty of testimony to the contrary.



What would you consider to be "credible evidence" of such a meeting -- as, say compared to
"compelling evidence" or "conclusive evidence"???

I would say that "credible evidence" might consist of basically the same allegation, made by two or more
independent early sources. For me, "credible evidence" would be assertions, or news items, or public
records, or some such sources, which have a strong enough probability to warrent follow-up research.

For me, "compelling evidence" would consist of something like a pre-1830 hotel ledger, or transport way-bill,
or Justice of the Peace's docket, which placed the two men in the same town (or better yet, the same building)
at the same time.

For me, "conclusive evidence" would consist of something like a personal journal entry, or a letter, or
perhaps a court record (certifiably pre-December 1830), which documents the two men being in exactly
the same place at the same time. Such evidence would not necessarily need to say that the two men had
met -- but something like a donation list, drawn up at an 1829 Rochester camp-meeting which listed the
names of Sidney Rigdon, Joseph Smith, Jr. and Joseph Smith, Sr., for example.

Going back to the category of "credible evidence" --- if I had that sort of report or document in hand, I would
attempt to raise its historical value to the level of "compelling evidence" by locating one or more supporting
sources. Again, no single record or document would have to say that the two men actually met -- and what I
call supporting evidence might not even give both of their names.

Let me give you an example, and you can tell me how you yourself would go about following up the leads:

1a. If Rev. Lawrence Greatrake's 1826 pamphlet, "Letters on the Religious Notions of A. Campbell and Others,
as exhibited in their Writings, Orations &c. Addressed particularly to the Baptists Composing the Mahoning
Association, by a Regular Baptist," (Ravenna, Ohio; Office of the Western Courier, 1826) made mention of
the (then) Baptist minister, Rev. Sidney Rigdon, preaching heretical doctrine in Auburn, Bainbridge, Mantua,
Hiram, etc., Ohio -- and in one or more of these places, keeping company with a crystal gazer and con man.

1b. If an 1840s issue of the Chardon, Ohio Geauga Democrat (aka Geauga Republican) published
an article on the early history of Auburn, Ohio pioneers, mentioning Porter Rockwell's Stafford relatives as
having lived in Auburn since the early 1820s and of Rockwell and his friend, Joe Smith, having been seen in
that same vicinity, c. 1826, could be located and authenticated.

1c. If one of more 1820s newspaper articles detailing treasure-seeking going on in the Auburn-Bainbridge area,
in much the same manner as at Newport (Albion), New York in 1825: "A few days since was discovered in this
town, by the help of a mineral stone, (which becomes transparent when placed in a hat and the light excluded
by the face of him who looks into it, provided he is fortune's favorite..." etc. could be located and authenticated.

To me, at least, three pieces of evidence of that nature, when added together, would constitute sufficient new
source material, to be called "credible evidence" --- Not "compelling evidence" I supppse -- but evidence of a
sort, nevertheless -- and evidence sufficient to warrant further careful investigation, as well as reassessment of
corroborative, restrospective testimony from a later date.

If I could document such evidence as in my example (or something very similar), and manage to get my report
published in a reputable media outlet (say "Geauga Magazine," published in Mentor, Ohio) .............
would that be enough for you to revise your current statement, about "no credible evidence"???

And, if so, how would you go about verifying the composite picture provided by the evidence?

Dale

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Dan Vogel
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Post by Dan Vogel »

Dale,

Let me give you an example, and you can tell me how you yourself would go about following up the leads:

1a. If Rev. Lawrence Greatrake's 1826 pamphlet, "Letters on the Religious Notions of A. Campbell and Others,
as exhibited in their Writings, Orations &c. Addressed particularly to the Baptists Composing the Mahoning
Association, by a Regular Baptist," (Ravenna, Ohio; Office of the Western Courier, 1826) made mention of
the (then) Baptist minister, Rev. Sidney Rigdon, preaching heretical doctrine in Auburn, Bainbridge, Mantua,
Hiram, etc., Ohio -- and in one or more of these places, keeping company with a crystal gazer and con man.

1b. If an 1840s issue of the Chardon, Ohio Geauga Democrat (aka Geauga Republican) published
an article on the early history of Auburn, Ohio pioneers, mentioning Porter Rockwell's Stafford relatives as
having lived in Auburn since the early 1820s and of Rockwell and his friend, Joe Smith, having been seen in
that same vicinity, c. 1826, could be located and authenticated.

1c. If one of more 1820s newspaper articles detailing treasure-seeking going on in the Auburn-Bainbridge area,
in much the same manner as at Newport (Albion), New York in 1825: "A few days since was discovered in this
town, by the help of a mineral stone, (which becomes transparent when placed in a hat and the light excluded
by the face of him who looks into it, provided he is fortune's favorite..." etc. could be located and authenticated.


Credible evidence is a combination of--

1. Credible sources.

You haven't given us enough information to make that determination. You need to quote the source and convince us that the source contains reliable information. I suspect that 1b will cause you the most difficulty.

2. Credible and responsible use of each source.

Again, not enough information, and you have made no effort to convince us that you are handling the sources responsibly.

3. Making credible connections between the three sources.

You have only implied certain connections, but you have not established the three sources relate to the same thing. I suspect you will have difficulty connectig 1a and 1c with 1b .

Dale, it would be helpful if you gave us more information and committed yourself to an argument that we could test.

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My take on Spaulding's influence.

Post by Tom Donofrio »

Hello everyone.

I have research on the web at

www.mormonstudies.com/early1.htm

where I itemize language and themes from histories of the American Revolution and show their duplication in the Book of Mormon.

I realize it is difficult to prove absolutely that these sources were consulted in the construction of the Book of Mormon. I also recognize that there is a mathematical probablility that some of the parallels could be accidental.

Nevertheless, the fact that they exist at all does not help the case for the Book of Mormon being of divine origin.

Spaulding fought in the Revolution. Later in life he left Conneaut Ohio because of the war of 1812. No doubt he was distraught over the thought that he may have wasted his life in the service the country only to see it threatened again.

Spaulding's Conneaut Creek story is not so much an attempt to recreate actual Indian history as it is a retelling of the causes of the Revolution. His indians act out themes and borrow verbiage from Mercy Otis Warren's history of the American Revolution.

Warren was a pious lecturer, warning America sermon style that if they did not remember God (in 1805) that they would lose their freedom.

Spaulding would have been more passionate on the subject than Joseph Smith. There is a greater chance of Spaulding having been exposed to more Revolutionary writers than Smith.

If Smith was lifting from a Spaulding manuscript, and that manuscript was full of Revolutionary borrows, Smith would have had to read the same sources as Spaulding in order to recognize them. So too for Sidney Rigdon.

If Smith or Rigdon did not recognize the borrows due to ignorance then they had no reason to alter the wording to guard against regonition later.

One might ask why Joseph Smith would be so cavalier in his plagiarism. The answer is he was probably too uneducated to notice that what he thought was original by Spaulding was actually Spaulding's liberal appropriation of Mercy Warren, David Ramsay and George Washington.

Unwittingly, Smith passes the borrows along oblivious to their ability to convict him later.

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Post by Uncle Dale »

Dan Vogel wrote:Dale,

Credible evidence is a combination of--

1. Credible sources.

You haven't given us enough information to make that determination. You need to quote the source and
convince us that the source contains reliable information. I suspect that 1b will cause you the most difficulty.

2. Credible and responsible use of each source.

Again, not enough information, and you have made no effort to convince us that you are handling the
sources responsibly.

3. Making credible connections between the three sources.

You have only implied certain connections, but you have not established the three sources relate to the
same thing. I suspect you will have difficulty connectig 1a and 1c with 1b .



This is very discouraging, Dan. Your reply, while technically correct perhaps, has the same effect as all of
the instances in which RLDS have tried to tell me that there is no use in our investigating the claims for
Joseph Smith's alleged secret polygamy at Nauvoo, because none of the evidence rises to the level of proof.

Thus, when I would point out the accounts of women who testified that they had been plural wives of Joseph Smith, etc.,
my RLDS superiors would always tell me that there was no way to know if the testimony was "credible." For
me, that word meant "sufficiently probable to warrant careful investigation;" but for them it meant sufficiently
probable to warrant their losing their RLDS testimonies -- which would have to happen, before they could
deem any such "Reorganization-attacking" evidence worthy of their serious consideration.

Of course I will have "great difficulty connecting" the bits and pieces of history (or alleged history) I've been
able to assemble from a distance, sitting nearly paralyzed and without ten bucks in my pocket, here in Hawaii.
All I can do is to sift through what I do have available to me, and try interest a few other people in chasing
down some very obscure published and manuscript sources for closer scrutiny.

My theory, that Sidney Rigdon was writing a lengthy religious manuscript while living in southern Geauga Co.,
Ohio, is not something I dreamed up -- it was brought together as a possibly true scenerio by my consulting a
number of independent reports from different sources; and each time I looked more closely into where Rigdon
actually was, what he was known to have been doing, and what people were saying about him, the more
"credible" that scenerio has become in my own mind, at least. That is to say, each hitherto unknown or unexamined
piece of evidence that has come my way has added to that picture of Rigdon as a manuscript-writer, rather than
detracted from it. I suspect that any additional independently derived source material I can locate will also fit in
with the scenerio I have described, and will not automatically prove it wrong.

Dale, it would be helpful if you gave us more information and committed yourself to an argument that we could test.



I am a little reluctant to start laying out the sources and possible inter-connections my research associate and I
have so far assembled. I have made promises to that second person, not to "give away" the basis for our projected
papers, and not to divulge hitherto unknown sources before we can obtain certified copies of important documents,
etc. However, if you are ever at the Ohio Historical Society Library in Columbus, I can provide you with the catalog
number for Lawrence Greatrake material which the Library has not cataloged under his name, as author. There are
reportedly two items in a single folder (or in consecutively numbered folders) -- one a full pamphlet and the other a
single sheet comprising four pages of a dis-assembled tract or pamphlet. The pages are too fragile to photocopy and
no microfilm exists. They will have to be inspected in person.

Beyond that, perhaps we should confine our discussion here to published material or material generally known to
scholars, and get back to our potential examination of the alleged 1825-26 presence of Joseph Smith in Auburn, Ohio later on.

There are plenty of other things we can discuss -- in the meanwhile I will contact my co-writer to get some advice.

Dale

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Re: My take on Spaulding's influence.

Post by Uncle Dale »

Tom Donofrio wrote:
If Smith was lifting from a Spaulding manuscript, and that manuscript was full of Revolutionary borrows, Smith
would have had to read the same sources as Spaulding in order to recognize them. So too for Sidney Rigdon.

If Smith or Rigdon did not recognize the borrows due to ignorance then they had no reason to alter the wording to
guard against recognition later.



Yes, I understand your point, Tom. However, getting from that observation to anything like a convincing
demonstration of the same Revolutionary War textual material being duplicated in both Spalding's writings and
in the Book of Mormon is a tough row to hoe.

You and I have talked about this before -- I still have the rough draft of your lengthy report (almost a book) on my
desk here as I'm typing this posting. I would like to web-publish it, and I'm working towards that end. However
there are numerous difficulties in presenting your findings as anything more than interesting speculation. Perhaps
some folks already know that Ben McGuire has offered his objections to your conclusions, here:
http://solomonspalding.com/SRP/parallels.htm

Somehow we need to get past the points he raises -- either that, or simply present your work as a theory
which has not yet been adequately tested. I would really like to see some sort of quantification of your textual
parallels -- as well as some graphics showing their patterns of occurrence in the various texts you've worked with.

Probably we can come up with something worthy of placing on the web, but I think it is going to take some time.

There are numerous similarities between the Book of Mormon war stories and Spalding's war stories, but we need
to locate and quantify what parallels are truly unique to the two texts before our talking about them means much
of anything. That, and we also need to demonstrate their patterns of occurrence, as I said. The parallels you have
found with Ramsay and Otis then need to be factored into the Book of Mormon/Spalding comparison. At the end of the day, I
need to be able to see which textual parallels are common to the Book of Mormon, Spalding and pre-1830 Revolutionary War
accounts, as well as which Rev. War parallels are only common to one or the other of Spalding and the Book of Mormon and your
several sources. That is a difficult task, even though you have made a good start.

There are, for example, several parallels in Spalding and the Book of Mormon of "bloodless stratagems," that is, war and battle
tactics which a wise leader conceives as a near-miraculous plan to defeat the enemy without any loss of life. The
whole subject of battle trickery was a topic of debate during Revolutionary War times -- but the idea of a bloodless
stratagem that ended a raging conflict would have generally been considered impractical and ridiculous. Spalding
copied at least part of his idea for these absurd sort of battle tactics from Plutarch's life of Orsiris -- probably the
similar stratagems in the Book of Mormon are modeled upon a classical source as well (although the Bible has a few interesting
stories of its own) and thus have considerable thematic overlap with Spalding "built in."

I presume that these bloodless stratagem stories are NOT much to be found in your Revolutionary War sources --
even Washington's crossing of the Delaware resulted in hostile combat. So perhaps we will be able to factor out
those sorts of passages in the Book of Mormon and Spalding, as NOT being copied from Revolutionary War accounts.

At any rate, such analysis is tedious work and it does not lend itself well to quantification -- it's going to take a while.

Uncle Dale

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Post by beastie »

I've gotten behind again and am catching up.

Dan, you asked for more details about Rigdon lying about when he first heard of the Book of Mormon.

here is the evidence from Van Wagoner that I found pretty compelling, although I don’t remember Van Wagoner noting its significance.

On page 133, Van Wagoner quotes Rigdon:

“I testify in the presence of this congregation, and before God and all the Holy Angles up yonder, (pointing towards heaven), before whom I expect to give account at the judgment day, that I never saw a sentence of the Book of Mormon. I never penned a sentence of the Book of Mormon. I never knew that there was such a book in existence as the Book of Mormon, until it was presented to me by Parley P. Pratt, in the form that it now is.”

Van Wagoner states that this was his stance until his deathbed, repeated by his children as well.

However, earlier in his book, Van Wagoner said, on pages 55, 56, and 61, that several witnesses stated that the publication of the “Golden Bible” was talked about quite a bit in the news, and that “there can be little doubt that Rigdon, an enthusiastic reader of newspapers, was aware of the book before it was placed in his hands.” Both Eliza Snow and Orson Hyde were members of Rigdon’s congregation, and stated that they had been aware of the oncoming “Golden Bible” and its possible religious significance in “breaking up all our religion, and change its whole features and bearing” before 1830. Rigdon’s brother in law stated in 1841 that he knew that Rigdon told him “there was a book coming out (the manuscript of which had been found engraved on gold plates) as much as two years before the Mormon book made its appearance in this county or had been heard of by me.”

Anyway, there are more statements on pages 55, 56, and 61 that demonstrate it is highly likely Rigdon knew about the Book of Mormon, and its possible impact, long before Parley P. Pratt placed it in his hands. I think you have the book so I won’t quote anymore from it.

I think this is significant for two reasons:

1) Rigdon lied about when he first saw the Book of Mormon. There is a reason he lied. What would it matter if he had known about the book from newspaper accounts like so many others? It seems an odd thing to lie about.

2) Contemporary witnesses immediately suspected Rigdon was involved in the creation of the Book of Mormon. I think this is due to the similarity between the preaching in the Book of Mormon and what Rigdon had already been preaching – some of which is quite different than what smith would later embrace as theology.
We hate to seem like we don’t trust every nut with a story, but there’s evidence we can point to, and dance while shouting taunting phrases.

Penn & Teller

http://www.mormonmesoamerica.com

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Rigdon's Conversion

Post by Dan Vogel »

CONVERSION OF SIDNEY RIGDON

If Rigdon aided Joseph Smith in writing the Book of Mormon and his conversion to Mormonism was a sham, it was aided by a rather fortuitous event--the conversion of Parley P. Pratt. Note the following chronology of events leading to Rigdon's conversion, largely taken from the The Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, ed. Parley P. Pratt, Jr. (New York: Russell Brothers, 1874; rept. 1976). Page numbers herein cited are to the reprint; here is a link to the first edition.

http://contentdm.lib.BYU.edu/cgi-bin/docviewer.exe?CISOROOT=/NCMP1847-1877&CISOPTR=2912

9 September 1827. Parley P. Pratt marries Thankful Halsey in Caanan (New York).

October 1827. The Pratts move to northern Ohio.

Circa. April 1829. Pratt hears Sidney Rigdon preach.

About this time one Mr. Sidney Rigdon came into the neighborhood as a preacher, and it was rumored that he was a kind of Reformed Baptist, who, with Mr. Alexander Campbell, or Virginia, a Mr. Scott, and some other gifted men, had dissented from the regular Baptists, from whom they differed much in doctrine. At length I went to hear him ... (31)


August 1830. Pratt sells his farm and with his wife starts on his mission to preach the gospel. While traveling up the Erie Canal on his way to Caanan (New York), Pratt stopped in a small town near Rochester (New York) to preach. It was there that he heard about the Book of Mormon.

We visited an old Baptist deacon by the name of Hamlin. After hearing of our appointment for evening, he began to tell of a book, a STRANGE BOOK, a VERY STRANGE BOOK! in his possession, which had been just published. This book, he said, purported to have been originally written on plates either of gold or brass, by a branch of the tribes of Israel; and to have been discovered and translated by a young man near Palmyra, in the State of New York, by the aid of visions, or the ministry of angels. I inquired of him how or where the book was to be obtained. He promised me the perusal of it, at his house the next day, if I would call. I felt a strange interest in the book. I preached that evening to a small audience, who appeared to be interested in the truths which I endeavored to unfold to them in a clear and lucid manner from the Scriptures. Next morning I called at his house, where, for the first time, my eyes beheld the "BOOK OF Mormon," ...(36-37)


Late August 1830. Parley P. Pratt arrives in Manchester and speaks with Hyrum Smith; both men then walk to Fayette, arriving the same evening.

Circa 1 September 1830. Parley P. Pratt is baptized in Seneca Lake, confirmed, and ordained an elder by Oliver Cowdery.

19 September 1830. Parley P. Pratt baptizes Orson Pratt at Canaan (New York.

10 October 1830 (?). Ezra Thayre visits Joseph Smith in Manchester (New York); Parley P. Pratt baptizes Ezra Thayre and Northrop Sweet.

17 October 1830. Oliver Cowdery, Parley P. Pratt, Ziba Peterson, and Peter Whitmer sign "Missionaries Covenant" in Manchester (New York).

17-21 October 1830. Oliver Cowdery, Parley P. Pratt, Ziba Peterson, and Peter Whitmer depart Manchester (New York) in "late" October 1830.

Circa Early November 1830. Oliver Cowdery, Parley P. Pratt, Ziba Peterson, and Peter Whitmer arrive in the Mentor (OH) area.

... Thence [from Buffalo] we continued our journey, for about two hundred miles, and at length called on Mr. [Sidney] Rigdon, my former friend and instructor, in the Reformed Baptist Society. He received us cordially and entertained us with hospitality.

We soon presented him with a Book of Mormon, and related to him the history of the same. He was much interested, and promised a thorough perusal of the book.

We tarried in this region form some time, and devoted out time to the ministry, and visiting from house to house.

At length Mr. Rigdon and many other became convinced that they had no authority to minister in the ordinances of God; and that they had not been legally baptized and ordained. They, therefore, came forward and were baptized by us, and received the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. ... (47-48)


Circa 8 November 1830. Sidney Rigdon is baptized in Mentor (OH).

In a letter dated 12 November 1830, Kirtland, Ohio, Oliver Cowdery states:

... seventeen went immediately forward and were baptized, between eleven and twelve at night, and on the 6th there was one more, on the 7th nine in the day time and at night nineteen, on the 8th three, on the 9th three, on the 10th at night one, on the 11th one, on this day another, making in the whole fifty five, among whom are brother Sidney Rigdon and wife.

--(Newel Knight, Journal, circa 1846, private possession).


Circa 7 December 1830. Sidney Rigdon and Edward Partridge arrive at Fayette (New York), and Joseph Smith receives a revelation for each of them.

Now, it seems to me that Spalding advocates, in addition to asserting that Rigdon pretended his conversion, would by necessity also have to include Parley P. Pratt in their conspiracy theory. And thus we add yet another layer of improbability.
Last edited by Dan Vogel on Mon Feb 12, 2007 5:23 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Uncle Dale
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Re: Rigdon's Conversion

Post by Uncle Dale »

Dan Vogel wrote:CONVERSION OF SIDNEY RIGDON

If Rigdon aided Joseph Smith in writing the Book of Mormon and his conversion to Mormonism was a sham, it was

aided by a rather fortuitous event--the conversion of Parley P. Pratt....

Now, it seems to me that Spalding advocates, in addition to asserting that Rigdon pretended his conversion,
would by necessity also have to include Parley P. Pratt in their conspiracy theory. And thus we add yet another
layer of improbability.



I'm not sure there is any more "layer of improbability" here, than there is with the fact that some early Mormon
leaders close to Joseph Smith were able to keep secret the exact time and circumstances when they first were taught polygamy
as a secret Priesthood doctrine. Yes, some of those people later gave retrospective accounts of their being officially
taught "the principle," but not until they had been released from their promises of silence in the 1850s. Had the LDS
Church been able to keep polygamy a secret for another decade, then no doubt another ten years would have
passed before those same early Mormons would have divulged all of their secrets.

The same may be the case for Pratt -- that is, he may have been sworn to secrecy for certain activities he engaged
in on behalf of his religion. Besides which, he could also have been a dupe to some extent. What I hear you saying,
is that by the time Pratt's autobiography came out (after his death, when nobody could ask for details) he would have
been totally honest regarding all secretive actions he had taken in the past ---- or, that if he were not being totally
honest, he would have been suffering some sort of inexplicible mental block, of not realizing from later events that he
had indeed been duped.

From my experience with the RLDS, I know that certain church members can keep secrets, or even tell lies, when they
truly feel such unethical acts will ultimately help the institution. I thus do not think we can expect all Latter Day Saint
family histories and autobiographies to be fully honest, even in cases where continued dishonesty is illogical and should
serve to awaken the deceiver to the fact that he/she might also have been deceived by church leaders.

I believe that Pratt had met Rigdon before early 1829 -- that Pratt had become a "Rigdonite" (his term) by the time he
became on ostensible "Reformed Baptist." For a likely embellished and purposefully obscured account from Pratt's own
hand, regarding his conversion to pre-Mormon Rigdonism, see his "Angel of the Prairies" story here:
http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/1880PrtA.htm

See also Theodore Schroeder's interpretation of a possible historical reality within the fictionalized story, here:
http://www.solomonspalding.com/docs/1901schr.htm#pg26b

I think that it is important for us to recall that Sidney Rigdon had theologically broken away from his fellow Reformed
Baptist ministers (like Campbell, Scott and Bentley) in 1829 and that the rift had become permanent and unrepairable
by 1830. That is why Pratt and others called their group "Rigdonites" rather than "Campbellites." The Rigdonism of
1830 was a pentecostal variety of Reformed Baptist religion which professed latter day miracles, visitations of divine
messengers, visions, revelations, etc.

Lyman Wight's preserved journal extract says in 1829 he accepted the "Rigdonite doctrine;" while a Dec. 1830
newspaper reported: that Parley P. Pratt "has been a resident of the township of Russia, Lorain co., Ohio, for three
or four years last past, until August last, when he was authorized to preach by the sect called Rigdonites."

In his 1838 pamphlet, Pratt says:
http://www.solomonspalding.com/docs/prt1838b.htm#pg40c

"About A. D. 1827, Messrs. A. Campbell, W. Scott, and S. Rigdon, with some others, residing in Virginia, Ohio, &c.,
came off from the Baptists, and established a new order, under the name of reformed Baptist, or disciples, And they
were termed by their enemies, Campbellites, Rigdonites, &c.... Mr. Rigdon in particular held to a literal fulfilment
and application of the written word... an understanding of the prophesies, touching the great restoration of Israel..." (Benjamin Winchester, who had lived with Pratt at Kirtland uses these words of description also).

Rigdonism was the religion to which Pratt his loyality in 1830 -- not to its more austere and logical Campebllite roots.
Pratt says in his autobiography: "I then unfolded to him the gospel and prophecies as they had been opened
to me, and told him that the spirit of these things had wrought so powerfully on my mind of late that I could not rest;
that I could no longer be contented to dwell in quiet and retirement on my farm, while I had light to impart to mankind."

The question must here be asked, who was Pratt's religious superior during the late summer of 1830? I do not think we
can say it was Alexander Campbell nor some pastor of the Grand River Baptist Association. By this time the member
congregations of that organization that had embraced Arminianism and primitive church restorationism had been
excommunicated. Pratt's closest coreligionists were the Reformed Baptists of Mentor and Kirtland, who were supported
by the (then) disintegrating Mahoning Association. In other words, Pratt's religious superior was Sidney Rigdon.

Pratt next says that he set about making "preparations for a mission which should only end with my life." While he uses
a very generalized description for his intended activities, he was at that time preparing to go on a proselyting mission
as a Rigdonite elder. There can be no other logical explanation of his activities.

Then Pratt says "In August, 1830, I had closed my business... launched forth into the wide world, determining first to
visit our native place, on our mission." Although he includes his wife in his hyperbolic description, her role on the
"mission" was merely that of a wife-supporter, the "mission" was that of Parley P. Pratt, not his wife's preaching tour.

In short order Pratt leaves his wife and begins his mission within walking distance of the Cowdery family home on the
Arcadia-Lyons segment of the Erie Canal. Before he can preach a single sermon or baptize a single new Rigdonite, he
encounters the Book of Mormon and becames an almost instant convert.

Here is how Pratt himself retrospectively described the scenerio, in 1838:
http://www.solomonspalding.com/docs/prt1838b.htm

"I became acquainted with Mr. Rigdon, and a believer in, and a teacher of the same doctrine.
After proclaiming those principles in my own neighborhood and the adjoining country, I
at length took a journey to the State of New-York, partly on a visit to Columbia, Co., N. Y.,
my native place: and partly for the purpose of ministering the word. This journey was
undertaken in August, 1830. I had no sooner reached Ontario Co. N. Y., than I came in
contact with the "Book of Mormon..."

Sidney Rigdon was even more specific in his 1843 account:
http://sidneyrigdon.com/Rigd1843.htm#p289 ---

"elder Parley Pratt had been a preacher in the same church with elder Rigdon, and resided
in the town of Amherst, Lorain county, in that state, and had been sent into the State of
New York, on a mission
, where he became acquainted with the circumstances of the coming
forth of the Book of Mormon..."

Why is Rigdon more specific about Pratt being SENT on a Rigdonite mission, than is Pratt himself?
Was it not because Rigdon had sworn Pratt to secrecy about the details of that mission, but that
Pratt had not the power to make Rigdon keep the secret? Who sent Pratt on his mission? It certainly
was not Alexander Campbell -- who had no use for latter day visions and American restorations
of Israel (as did the break-away Reformed Baptists, Rigdon and Pratt).

Under what logic might we discount the probability that this Rigdonite elder was sent exactly where he suddenly got off
the boat, by a prophetic prediction implanted in his mind by the visionary Sidney Rigdon? If Pratt's thinking and religious
credulity had been shaped by the "Angel of the Prairies" to be looking for something like the Gold Bible (which had
already been advertised in Ohio newspapers and was known to his fellow Rigdonites like Eliza Snow and Orson Hyde)
then he certainly would have fallen under its spell, like clockwork.

But my suspicions are that Pratt is not totally forthcoming in his autobiography. By the time it was published in 1874,
Rigdon was on his deathbed and Pratt himself was 17 years in the grave. How can we trust such an account as being
100% truthful? Read Rigdon's own 1844 spring conference talk at Nauvoo, to see the importance of church SECRECY
during the very period that Pratt became a Mormon. We simply cannot expect him to be fully open about all of his
motives and preconditioning in 1830.
http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/RigWrit/1844Conf.htm

It should also be recalled that Sidney Rigdon's 1844 excommunication at Nauvoo was based largely upon reports
of his secret plotting and manipulations with Mormons then under his influence. In his church court trial and in
contemporary reports written by J. M. Grant and Orson Hyde, numerous accusations are made in regard to Rigdon's
deceitfulness, lying in the name of the Lord, secret religious plotting, etc. Since some of this testimony was given
by his own Ohio congregation members, and since their cited instances stretched back almost to the period of
Rigdon's Mormon conversion, we have there good examples of believers close to Rigdon who had witnessed his
secretive bad behavior for many years, but had kept their mouths shut, for one reason or another.

To all of this should be added the special observation, that Parley P. Pratt served for a few years as sort of the Mormon
guardian against the Spalding authorship claims. He not only responded to Howe and Hurlbut in the 1838 pamphlet
already quoted from above, but he also scripted the first Mormon reply to Spalding's widow a few months later, where
he takes some pains to speak in the place of Sidney Rigdon (then preocupied establishing Nauvoo) as though he knew
Rigdon's every argument on the subject, saying: "The sect was founded in the state of New York while Mr. Rigdon
resided in Ohio, several hundred miles distant. Mr. Rigdon embraced the doctrine through my instrumentality. I first
presented the Book of Mormon to him." Pratt continued in this defender role, being the chief Apostle overseeing the
New England area Mormon missionary efforts, when he no doubt sent Elder Jesse Haven to interview Spalding's widow,
under the plausible "cover" of being an interested Christian. Again, not long after that, Pratt was present at the
Philadelphia conference where the Spalding claims seems to have come up -- at least Rigdon was there and Joseph Smith reportedly
went from there to Washington, D. C. and issued curses against advocates of the claims. From there Pratt went to
England and published the first Mormon tract addressing the Spalding claims -- and was met at that time there by his
Philadelphia conference host, Benjamin Winchester, who, in turn, went back to America and published the first Mormon
anti-Spalding tract in the USA. Pratt was clearly an anti-Spalding partisan entrusted with considerable power to act on
his own, in behalf of the Church, in combatting the problem.

Pratt knew more than he was telling and cannot be relied upon. Since he took it upon himself to offer up such a stern
defense of Rigdon, I can only conclude that when Rigdon was converted to Mormonism, that he and Pratt had planned
the meeting and its outcome in advance, and that when any of us say that Rigdon knew of the Book of Mormon before
1830, we must also admit that Pratt knew he knew -- and that Pratt very likely knew also.

Lastly, I doubt very much that Pratt was the only person Rigdon could have sent to New York -- though he was perhaps
the best choice. Other Reformed Baptists fell under Rigdon's visionary influence and converts like Orson Hyde, Lyman
Wight, Father Morley, F. G. William, Edward Partridge, Oliver Snow etc. might have "done in a pinch." Darwin Atwater,
another of Rigdon's parishoners criticized Rigdon's religious hobbies and later reported: "In all my intercourse with
him afterward he never spoke of antiquities, or of the wonderful book that should give account of them, till the book
of Mormon really was published. He must have thought I was not the man to reveal that to. "

If Pratt was the best choice, I cannot prove that point -- I can only speculate. Perhaps Pratt (a fair writer on his own)
was somehow involved in the final composition of the Book of Mormon, though his rather ate appearance on the scene
appears to argue against that. Perhaps as a reported tin-wares peddler in western New York he was acquainted with
Oliver Cowdery, a reported pamphlet peddler. At any rate the two men had the energy and stamina to walk most
of the way to Indian Territory, from Palmyra, loaded down with peddler's packs full of Gold Bibles. I see Pratt as a
low-level member of the Gold Bible Company -- who probably never knew the secrets of the book's origin, but really
did not care, so long as he was able to carve out a position of authority for himself in the new organization.
Or so it seems to me.

UD
Last edited by Uncle Dale on Tue Feb 13, 2007 8:21 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Rigdon's Conversion

Post by Uncle Dale »

Dan Vogel wrote:CONVERSION OF SIDNEY RIGDON

17-21 October 1830. Oliver Cowdery, Parley P. Pratt, Ziba Peterson, and Peter Whitmer depart Manchester
(New York) in "late" October 1830.

Circa Early November 1830. Oliver Cowdery, Parley P. Pratt, Ziba Peterson, and Peter Whitmer arrive in the Mentor (OH) area.


... Thence [from Buffalo] we continued our journey, for about two hundred miles, and at length called on Mr. [Sidney] Rigdon, my former friend and instructor, in the Reformed Baptist Society. He received us cordially and entertained us with hospitality. We soon presented him with a Book of Mormon, and related to him the history of the same. He was much interested, and promised a thorough perusal of the book.

We tarried in this region form some time, and devoted out time to the ministry, and visiting from house to house.

At length Mr. Rigdon and many other became convinced that they had no authority to minister in the ordinances of God; and that they had not been legally baptized and ordained. They, therefore, came forward and were baptized by us, and received the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. ... (47-48)


Circa 8 November 1830. Sidney Rigdon is baptized in Mentor (OH).

In a letter dated 12 November 1830, Kirtland, Ohio, Oliver Cowdery states:

... seventeen went immediately forward and were baptized, between eleven and twelve at night, and on the 6th there was one more, on the 7th nine in the day time and at night nineteen, on the 8th three, on the 9th three, on the 10th at night one, on the 11th one, on this day another, making in the whole fifty five, among whom are brother Sidney Rigdon and wife.

--(Newel Knight, Journal, circa 1846, private possession).






I think that some additional entries should be made in the chronology presented here.

First of all, do we know of any earlier travels of Parley P. Pratt to the Lyons-Arcadia-Palmyra area? Just because
Pratt himself does not specify such previous travels does not mean that he had none. So, I leave open a few slots
before the summer of 1830, where we one day might confirm chronologically that Pratt was indeed a tinwares peddler,
who had contacts up and down the Erie Canal in western New York.

The next missing entry for the chronology would be the date when Pratt and Cowdery made their decision to take
a "long-cut" on their assigned travels to Indian Country, west of the Missouri, and to pass through Mentor, Ohio.
Certainly there is no indication that they departed the Mormons of western New York with the express intention of
passing though the Lake Erie south shore country. So, at what point did the four missionaries make the decision to
route their journey through Mentor, and for what purpose? I suggest that it was a decision made before they ever
departed on their mission, and that they may have agreed to have a shipment of Gold Bibles sent to Fairport (just
north of Painesville), so that they could refresh their supply, to make up for any they had sold upon the way.

At any rate, I believe that the four missionaries walked from Buffalo, along the Lake Erie shore, to Fairport or to
Painesville, but that they did not make too great a show of their presence along the way, until they were in Painesville.
That would account for the lack of newspaper notices of their passage westward, I think. But at Painesville that quiet
passage westward became much more publicized, with the following mention in the newspaper there:

http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/dbroadhu/OH ... htm#110030
"About a couple of weeks since, three men... appeared in our village, laden with a new revelation, which they claim
to be a codicil to the New Testament. They preached in the evening in the Methodist Chapel, and from certain
indications, conceiving they might do more good otherwheres, departed for Kirtland, where is a "common stock
family," under the charge of Elder Rigdon, a Campbellite leader of some notoriety....Immediately after their arrival
here, Elder Rigdon embraced the new doctrine and was baptised... We are told that the [whole] number baptised
into the new order, is rising to one hundred."

I estimate that Cowdery and Pratt preached Mormonism in Painesville on Wed. Oct. 27th, and that while they were
thus engaged in proselytizing, their other two companions (Peter Whitmer & Ziba Peterson) were making preparations
to go to Kirtland. If Cowdery and Pratt departed Painesville on the early evening of the 27th, they could have arrived
in Mentor before the Rigdon family retired for the night. Whitmer and Peterson, walking a longer distance, but starting
earlier, may have arrived at the Morley farm in Kirtland in time for dinner. Richard S. Van Wagnor also concludes
that Whitmer and Peterson separated from the group and went to Kirtland (though this doesn't preclude a short stop
for Whitmer and Peterson at Rigdon's along their way to the Morley "family").

But as I said, we need to flesh out the chronology a little, so let's backtrack from October 28th and estimate this:

c. late Oct. 1830 The four missionaries to the Lamanites pass through Ashtabula Co., Ohio, the first county in
that state after the Pennsylvania line, and the county immediately eastward from what was then Geauga Co., Ohio,
where Fairport, Painesville, Mentor and Kirtland and Chardon were located.

Also this, should be added:

Oct. 16, 1830 (Sat.) Rigdon was either in Ashtabula, Ohio, or sent a message there, saying that he would
"preach at the Town House" in Ashtabula township, on Friday the 22nd.

Oct. 22, 1830 (Fri.) Sidney Rigdon evidently preached in Ashtabula township, in the Town House.If Rigdon did
preach there, and then stayed for the night, he probably returned to the Painesville-Mentor area on the 23rd or 24th
(in time for Sunday services), he may well have traveled the same road, going in the same direction, as the four
Mormon missionaries, then on their way across Ashtabula County, heading for Mentor. This is most a intriguing
coincidence, and it is made even more intriguing by the fact that no similar preaching notices for Sidney Rigdon's
religious meetings are known to have been published in any other newspaper. Could the publication of the notice
have been a pre-arranged "signal" by which Rigdon was able to alert one or more of the traveling four missionaries
as to his exact whereabouts, a week before they were scheduled to arrive in the Mentor area. Was Rigdon able to
thus secretly meet with one or more of the four missionaries, and thus give instructions for the group to soon afterward
break into two sets of two preachers, one directed to his house in Mentor and the other to his church in Kirtland?

The possibility of Rigdon's having met secretly with one or more of the traveling missionaries may be given some
slender support by the recollection of Esak Rosa's son, in 1894, that "Rigdon whom he [Esak Rosa] had seen at Mentor
and Painesville, [was also] preaching Mormonism in Rochester, N. Y. This he stated was several months before
Mormons preached in Ohio. He said Rigdon used to meet Joseph in Ashtabula." Esak was editor of Howe's 1834 book.
http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/dbroadhu/IA ... #061891B-f

c. Oct. 24, 1830 (Sun.) Sidney Rigdon was likely in Mentor for Sunday meeting of his congregation. If Rigdon
alternated each Sunday, between his flocks in Mentor and Kirtland, his next scheduled appearance in Kirtland must
have been Sunday, Oct. 31st -- (note by the 31st, 17 of Rigdon's Kirtland followers were already Mormons).

c. Oct. 25-27, 1830 (Mon-Tues.) Pratt, Cowdery, Whitmer and Peterson arrive in Painesville and secure the
Methodist chapel there for a preaching service (probably conducted on the 27th before nightfall).

Oct. 27, 1830 (Wed.) Pratt, Cowdery, Whitmer and Peterson arrive in Mentor. According to one of Rigdon's
Mentor congregation (and the son of Rigdon's landlord, who lived next door) "The whole matter of Rigdon's conversion
to Mormonism was so secret, so sudden and so perfectly unexpected, that it was to us like a clap of thunder out of a
clear sky. The four Mormons came to Mr. Rigdon's Wednesday evening (I think). Then Thursday morning he came to
my father's with the wonderous announcement."
http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/dbroadhu/Utah ... htm#051679

Oct. 27, 1830 (Wed.) Pratt, Cowdery spend the night with Rigdon -- probably Whitmer and Peterson went on
to Kirtland. Sophia Munson later recalled: "I was quilting at his house until 1 o'clock at night the day the four
Mormons came to convert Rigdon. I heard some of their conversation in the adjoining room."
http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/dbroadhu/CA ... 010088-4b1

Oct. 28, 1830 (Thr.) Pratt and Cowdery remain with Rigdon, while Whitmer and Peterson are already in Kirtland
and are probably at the Morley farm. Lyman Wight would have been their chief "contact" there. Wight had a couple of
years before lived within walking distance of Dr. Warren Cowdery, in Allegany Co., New York, when Warren was the only
doctor in the area. If Wight did not know Oliver, he surely knew Warren, and thus was meeting friends of friends.

Oct. 29-30, 1830 (Fri.-Sat.) Whitmer and Peterson proselytize among Rigdon's congregation in Kirtland and are
joined there by Oliver Cowdery (while Pratt evidently stayed with Rigdon in Mentor). Cowdery baptises 17 of the
Rigdonites into the new Mormon dispensation.

Oct. 31, 1830 (Sun.) Rigdon arrives in Kirtland for his Sunday preaching engagement, and there finds some
flock already baptized Mormons.

Nov. 6-11 An additional 38 Rigdonites are baptized as Mormons, including Rigdon and his wife.

This was indeed a speedy doubling of the size of the Church of Christ, founded only 7 months before. I can only
conclude that despite his public show of unhappiness over the proselytizing, that Rigdon had pre-approved the
conversion and baptism of his communal "family" in Kirtland, before Peterson and Whitmer ever arrived there to
preach the Mormon gospel. And, like members of the Clapp family and other "Reformed Baptists" stated, Rigdon's
own conversion to Mormonism occurred with lightning speed -- and was a fact well before his Nov. 8th baptism.

Dale

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How Sincere was Rigdon in his Mormon Conversion?

Post by Uncle Dale »

I once tried to engage Sandra Tanner is a conversation regarding Rigdon's Mormon conversion at
the beginning of November, 1830. She sold me a couple of books, chatted about other topics, but would
not say anything about Rigdon, other than "I'm sure he was a sincere convert."

I wanted to ask her whether she thought that he retained that same honest, Christian sincerity throughout
the rest of his life, or whether he was "fibbing" in professions like his joint vision with Smith of the three
degrees of glory, etc. But, like I said, it was a topic that she felt no interest in discussing.

So -- I am curious to hear what people think of Rigdon's Mormon conversion. I'll list four possibilities, and perhaps
folks can do a little bit of reading on the subject and voice their opinions, as to whether any of them are likely.


a. Rigdon was an intellectual convert -- he heard the Mormon gospel and accepted its doctrines

b. Rigdon was an emotional convert -- he read the Book of Mormon and felt a "burning in his bosom," etc.

c. Rigdon was an opportunistic convert -- he may not have agreed with all of Mormonism, but "knew a good thing."

d. Rigdon was a convert before he ever read the Book of Mormon -- Mormonism was the same as Rigdonism.


There are several different sources on Rigdon's conversion -- but you do not have to read all of them to form
at least a general opinion of why he became a Mormon and remained one through many trials and tribulations.

I have my own ideas (pulled together from a number of historical sources) -- but I'd like to hear other ideas as well.

Uncle Dale

marg

Re: How Sincere was Rigdon in his Mormon Conversion?

Post by marg »

Uncle Dale wrote:
a. Rigdon was an intellectual convert -- he heard the Mormon gospel and accepted its doctrines

b. Rigdon was an emotional convert -- he read the Book of Mormon and felt a "burning in his bosom," etc.

c. Rigdon was an opportunistic convert -- he may not have agreed with all of Mormonism, but "knew a good thing."

d. Rigdon was a convert before he ever read the Book of Mormon -- Mormonism was the same as Rigdonism.


# 4 but in order to respond in greater detail I'd need time, a day at least. In essence I don't think Rigdon was a religious follower, having been thrown out of a Baptist group for having different ideas. He was opinionated and not particularly open to persuasion. His eagerness to join so quickly bascially within a day, having only read the Book of Mormon in the evening and without having spent much time in evaluation leads one to question why would he act so fast. What was his primary motivation, what were his rewards? He already had a congregation, actually I believe 2 so why give them up to another authority unless he was offered a position within the new sect. And why would he be offered a position by them so soon as they had only just presented the Book of Mormon to him. So with the speed of events being so quick, it appears it was all planned out well in advance.

marg

Re: Question-Begging Speculations as Evidence for Spaulding?

Post by marg »

Dan Vogel wrote:
Shades: See-saw Smith/Rigdon power struggle. You mentioned that the Book of Mormon contains an overwhelming amount of correspondences to Smith's life and times. This means that, if the Spalding/Rigdon Theory is true, Smith inserted his own interpolations and perhaps story arcs into the Book. Now, chances are good that Smith would only do such a thing because he couldn't stand playing second fiddle to anyone else ("Why does Sidney think he's such a grand scriptorian? Watch me make this book even better!") Is there any evidence that Smith didn't like playing second fiddle? Yes, as evidenced by the near-constant power struggle, especially in the early years, between Smith and Rigdon.


With this concession, the Spaulding theory becomes the unnecessary hypothesis. The simplest explanation is that Joseph Smith wrote the entire book. If Joseph Smith has the ability to rewrite Spaulding and make the story his own, then obviously the Spaulding theory is no longer needed to explain how the ignorant farm boy came up with the Book of Mormon.


Dan,

How do you jump to a conclusion that the Spalding theory become unnecessary given what Shades said? It is a lot easier to make changes here and there to a finished fictional work, than it is to create such an entire piece of work from nothing but imagination.

You say.."the simplest explanation is that Joseph Smith wrote the entire book". Sure that is the simplest explanation as long as you dismiss all the Spalding witnesses who by the way were not anti Mormon, they had no particular interest in Mormonism one way or another. Even Spalding’s wife didn’t guard her husband’s work from being taken by Hurlbut. So the evidence is not that they conspired against Mormons. I believe all the witnesses stated that what Hurlbut gave Howe was not the manuscript they were aware of contained in the Book of Mormon. If you find any of the Spalding witnesses not credible, what's your reasoning?

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