Hidden? If you’ve already heard all this....e-mail me and tell me.
I find that MOST people have not heard this, especially Latter-day Saints.
I’ve promised FACTS, not speculation. Here they are. You be the judge.
(Reference notes taken from "Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon"
by Cowdery & Scales, unless otherwise stated.)
1. FACT: A Rev. Solomon Spalding (sometimes spelled Spaulding in records), a retired Congregational minister, wrote a fiction novel (then called a romance, though this did not indicate that it was a love-story). The novel was called Manuscript Found, but has since at times been referred to as Manuscript Story. The story was written around 1812 and was inspired by the excavation of a nearby Indian mound, and was about the migration of a group of Israelites to the new world.
2. FACT: The manuscript was read to Spalding’s friends, relatives, neighbors, and parishioners between 1812 and 1815.
3. FACT: Spalding died in 1816. The manuscript had previously been taken to a print shop for possible publication. The shop was in Pittsburgh and was owned by Mr. R & Mr. J Patterson. Their printer, a Mr. J.H. Lambdin was often seen by townsfolk with Sidney Rigdon.(pg. 95-96)
4. FACT: Spalding before his death told a minister friend named Joseph Miller (see page 100) that "Rigdon had taken it, or was suspected of taking it." Spalding’s widow also (see page 94) stated as early as 1820 that she believed Sidney Rigdon had copied the manuscript (remember, this was years before the Book of Mormon was published).
5. FACT: Oliver Cowdery’s law partner (Cowdery was one of the original three witnesses to the Book of Mormon) in Tiffin Ohio, Judge W. Lang, stated, "Rigdon got the original (Manuscript Found) at the job printing office in Pittsburgh."
6. FACT: A Dr. J. Winter testified that he saw Rigdon with the manuscript, and Rigdon told him that a Presbyterian minister had brought "this" to the printers to see if it would pay to publish it. (page 105)
7. Mrs. Amos Dunlap was the niece of Rigdon’s wife. She stated that as a child she visited the Rigdon family (around 1826-27). "During my visit Mr. Rigdon went to his bedroom and took from a trunk which he kept locked a certain manuscript. He came out into the other room and seated himself by the fireplace and commenced reading it. His wife at that moment came into the room and exclaimed, "What! you’re studying that thing again? Or something to that effect. She then added, "I mean to burn that paper." He said, "No, indeed, you will not. This will be a great thing someday." (pg, 107)
8. Harvey Baldwin tells that his father heard Rigdon preach in the church in Bainbridge and visited Rigdon’s home several times. When he would arrive at the Rigdon home, he would often find Rigdon in a room by himself, and each time Rigdon would hurriedly put away books and papers he was examining, as if he did not wish them to be seen. (pg. 108)
9. FACT: Martin Harris, one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon, was snowbound in a hotel in Mentor Ohio, with a man named R.W. Alderman. Alderman states that he learned from Harris then that "Rigdon had stolen a manuscript from a printing office in Pittsburgh, Pa., which Spalding....had left to be printed....Jo (Smith) and Rigdon did (print it), as the Book of Mormon." (pg. 145)
10. FACT: Sidney Rigdon, during the 4-year period between 1823 and 1827, was a minister, who kept an official itinerary record, and in it were many gaps. He apparently made numerous trips from his home in Bainbridge, Ohio, to Palmyra NY (250 miles) where Joseph Smith lived, being gone for weeks at a time. (Ref. pages 118-120)
11. FACT: Although Rigdon denied having known Smith before the Book of Mormon was introduced (around 1829) he was seen at Joseph Smith’s home and reported to be with Smith by all of the following according to their testimony: (see pages 125-on)
Able Chase, an acquaintance, a teenager at the time - "I saw a stranger there who they said was Mr. Rigdon. He was at Smith’s several times, and it was in the year of 1827 when I first saw him there, as near as I can recollect."
Mr. Gilbert, proofreader for the Book of Mormon - he states that in a conversation with a Mr. Lorenzo Saunders, who knew the Smiths well, Saunders said "he knows that Rigdon was hanging around Smith’s for eighteen months prior to the publishing of the Mormon Bible."
Mrs. S.F. Anderick, a neighbor stated (pg. 134) "Several times while I was visiting Sophronia Smith at old Jo’s house, she told me that a stranger who I saw there several times in warm weather and several months apart, was Mr. Rigdon."
Daniel Hendrix, acquaintance of Joseph Smith and Rigdon: he related hearing Joseph Smith tell people in 1828 about the "bonanza he had found....golden tablets". "For the first month or two at least Joe Smith did not say himself that the plates were any new revelation or that they had any religious significance, but simply said that he had found a valuable treasure in the shape of a record of some ancient people....He (Rigdon) and Joseph Smith fell in with each other and were cronies for several months. It was after Rigdon and Smith were so intimate that the divine part of the finding of the golden plates began to be spread abroad.... Smith and Rigdon had hard work to get funds together for the new Bible."
Mr. Pearne, former neighbor of Smiths told others he saw Smith and Rigdon together before the Book of Mormon was published (pg. 143).
Mrs. Eaton, interviewed Smith’s neighbors regarding Rigdon, and concluded that a stranger came to the Smith’s home in the summer of 1827, whose name was Sidney Rigdon. (pg. 145)
12. FACT: Rigdon was a Campbellite Minister in 1827-29, who had been excommunicated from being a Baptist minister because of teaching heretical beliefs. During this time period before the Book of Mormon came out, his congregation heard him often preach about a coming new revelation (page 108) that would make the Bible outmoded, and he even seemed to know it would speak of America’s ancient inhabitants, solve the mystery of the mounds, there would be the return of miracles, and a new system of sharing all things in common, and more. (pages108-116) Some state this information was given as early as 1827, and was detailed enough that they concluded that he must have known all about the Book of Mormon when he preached these things.
13. FACT: Rigdon himself told a man named James Jeffries the following information, according to Jeffries: "He and Joe Smith used to look over the M.S. and read it on Sundays. Rigdon said Smith took the MS. and said, "I’ll print it," and went off to Palmyra, New York." (pg. 104)
14. FACT: An acquaintance of both Rigdon and Smith named Dr. J.C. Bennett stated the following in 1842:
"I will remark here...that the Book of Mormon was originally written by the Rev. Solomon Spaulding, A.M., as a romance, and entitled the "Manuscript Found," and placed by him in the printing-office of Patterson and Lambdin, in the city of Pittsburgh, from whence it was taken by a conspicuous Mormon divine, and re-modeled, by adding the religious portion, placed by him in Smith’s possession, and then published to the world as the testimony exemplifies. This I have from the Confederation, and of its perfect correctness there is not a shadow of doubt." (the Confederation refers to the inner circle of Smith’s friends).
15. FACT: Sarah Pratt, the wife of an early Mormon leader, read this view of Dr. Bennett’s in a book he wrote, and said the following:
"This certifies that I was well acquainted with the Mormon Leaders and Church in general, and know that the principle statements of John C. Bennett’s book on Mormonism are true."
16. FACT: (While the above could be referred to as a hostile witness, consider the following:) Isaac Butts who knew Rigdon from 1820 on, stated that when he came back to Ohio after Mormonism had made converts there, people he had known earlier in New York WHO WERE CONVERTS to the church told him that they had seen Sidney Rigdon much with Joseph Smith BEFORE THEY WERE CONVERTED. (Rigdon supposedly was converted about the same time as they were). (pages 142-43)
17. FACT: David Whitmer, the 3rd witness to the Book of Mormon did not believe the "Spalding theory", but stated in his booklet, "An Address to All Believers in Christ", that the story had been printed in the Encyclopedia Britannica and the American Cyclopaedia.
He believed Rigdon and Smith first met in the winter of 1830. But he also states that Rigdon and Smith immediately became intimate, and Rigdon was given the position of first councilor and vice president of the church by the end of 1830. (The Bible prohibits putting a novice into leadership so quickly.)
Whitmer states that the whole idea of the Priesthood was not a part of the original church nor in the original revelations (compare early sections of the 1830 Book of Mormon with their counterparts in the Book of Commandments to see this is true), but it "all originated in the mind of Sidney Rigdon." (Who is in control here?) Elder was the highest office of the church originally, and about two thousand had been baptized into the church by men who held only that office. Whitmer outlines other doctrinal problems in his booklet, and states "If you believe my testimony to the Book of Mormon;...then I tell you that in June, 1838, God spake to me again by his own voice from the heavens, and told me to "separate myself from among the Latter Day Saints.""
18. FACT: The manuscript of "Manuscript Found" was FOUND in Hawaii in 1884, and is now at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio.
19. FACT: The manuscript body is handwritten by Spaulding, and is 116 pages long (does that number ring a bell?). The Book of Mormon is about 538 pages long. ( There would have been over two years of time that Rigdon and Smith had to collaborate on and expand the manuscript, according to the above-mentioned records and testimony).
20. FACT: There are many parallels between the two documents:
Both have the same content or story line. The Book of Mormon has much more religious or doctrinal content. Both documents purport to give a condensed history of the extinct inhabitants of ancient America.
Both manuscripts describe in similar terms how the author came by the ancient records upon which the story is based. Spaulding says the records are found in an artificial cave on the top of a mound near his home. A lever is used to lift the heavy stone which covers the entrance to the cave. The Book of Mormon says the records were in a stone box buried in the ground near the top of a hill not far from his home. He, too, uses a lever to lift a large stone that serves as a cover to the box.
Both tell that the author encounters supernatural difficulties in removing the records from their hiding place.
Both relate that the author made a "translation of the Old World language used in the records and that this translation is a condensation of earlier civil and sacred records.
Both state that the condensed version thus produced will be reburied along with the original so that it will remain preserved to come forth in the future when the Gentiles (Europeans) inhabit America.
Both describe a sea voyage with a great storm which causes them to pray for deliverance; both describe light and dark-skinned people, the same arts and sciences being known to the ancient people, a God-person who is white, the use of seer stones, a war to the death between two nations who were once brothers, and a final battle fought on a hill.
Even in some details we see resemblance: Both Spalding and Smith have the group of travelers of about the same number; both find America teeming with wild beasts; both groups appoint judges, have all things in common, and urge each other not to intermarry with the natives. In both accounts, the native Americans wear animal skins about their loins, shave their heads and paint them red, and carry slings, bows and arrows as weapons.
Both writers make the same mistake of stating that the planets revolve about the sun, long before such knowledge would have been known by humans. Both stories describe modern horses, domesticated mammoths or elephants, the use of steel, and the cultivation of wheat in ancient America, even though there is no archaeological evidence of any of this.
Theological concepts that are similar are presented in the same order.
The first quarter of Spalding’s manuscript is written in the first person, and the rest in the third person. The Book of Mormon follows that pattern, and the change occurs at the same place in both stories.
To quote Vernal Holley, who wrote Book of Mormon Authorship: A Closer Look, page 38:
Identical or similar word combinations, redundant sentences, parallelisms, contradictory thoughts in sentence structure, indecision in the use of words, poor sentence composition, the use of lengthy runs, biblical-like metaphors, and the use of King James Bible English by both Spaulding and the Book of Mormon author are all further arguments that Spaulding may have been the author of the Book of Mormon."
21. FACT: In 1839, Spaulding’s widow, Matilda Spaulding Davison, made this statement:
"After the ‘Book of Mormon’ came out, a copy of it was taken to New Salem, the place of Mr. Spaulding’s former residence, and the very place where the "Manuscript Found" was written. A Mormon preacher appointed a meeting there and in the meeting read and repeated copious extracts from the "Book of Mormon." The historical part was immediately recognized by all the older inhabitants, as the identical work of Mr. Spaulding in which they had been so deeply interested years before." (New Hampshire Patriot and State Gazette, Concord, N.H., May 6, 1839)
22. FACT: Eleven of Spaulding’s relatives and friends, a former employee and landlord, and others all gave signed statements of their belief that Spaulding’s writings were connected with Smith’s Book of Mormon (E.D. Howe, Mormonism Unveiled, Painesville, Ohio, 1834).
23. FACT: Many of Smith’s neighbors, in their testimony about him, also stated that he was lazy, was a liar, and in the mid 1820’s often engaged in digging at nighttime for buried treasures, using a seer stone or peep-stone. Court records show he was convicted of being a "glass-looker" (he was charging for fortune-telling about treasures that did not materialize when dug for) in 1826. It is also a fact that as soon as he had a good number of converts, he led them to sell their homes and farms and give the money to the church (him) and go to Ohio. (OPINION: It would appear that Smith found the treasure that enabled him to live the rest of his life without having to do any manual labor.)
24. Before his death, Rigdon’s final words on this subject were, "My lips are forever sealed." (Think, dear reader....innocent people have nothing to hide!)
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While I understand the Mormon person’s NEED to discredit all of the above, I would suggest that it is simply unreasonable to suggest that EVERY ONE of the above people whose testimony is mentioned above conspired against Joseph Smith in an ORGANIZED way to create such a dovetailed story of fraud, and he ALONE is to be believed. May I suggest that God has not asked us to make a PERSON the object of our faith.
While there are many differences between Spalding's book and the Book of Mormon, it is also true that Sidney Rigdon's pastor wrote a book called View of Hebrews, and it presented the same ideas regarding the Indians being Jews, and the idea of a "restored" church was being taught in Smith's day as well. Some have found correlation between Marco Polo's writings, and at the website exmormon.org there is a great discussion of books Smith used that contributed to the material in the Book of Mormon.
I will not state any further editorial conclusions about the Book of Mormon’s origin, but offer a final thought: You may have had a good FEELING, or have felt your life is better because of the Book of Mormon. If that is so, it is because I believe its original authors chose to model it after some BIBLICAL CONCEPTS. To whatever extent we follow God’s truths (and simply do right), we will be blessed and will feel better about ourselves. But that does not qualify it as "divine" or a "new revelation" any more than any other inspirational book is. And in my article, "Facts and Feelings: Evaluating the Book of Mormon" (click here to read it), I show that even though this book urges people to do right, there are also in it many teachings that CONTRADICT the Bible. And that means it must not be given a higher status of trustworthiness than it deserves. God wants us to worship in spirit and IN TRUTH. John 12:48 says we will be judged by the words of Christ... not by those of any other human (prophet)! He commands us to TEST the spirits and the prophecies (II Thess 5:21, I John 4:1). It’s time to get back to the Bible.