UTLM source books list
Welcome to this very special anniversary edition of the Naked Mormonism Podcast. My name is Bryce Blankenagel, and thank you for joining me.
Today we have a very special episode planned. I want to start off by thanking all of the listeners for staying with me through a year of research, development, production, and listening. I've learned a lot, and have had some very memorable moments while producing this podcast. I know this isn't much of a milestone episode, but it feels significant to me, and I feel like having a small celebration, which will be embodied in this really special edition episode.
On this episode, we aren't going to be taking on the historical timeline of Joseph Smith and the Mormon church like we do in regular episodes, rather, we will be focusing on one topic, for the purpose of deconstructing it as logically as possible. The topic we'll be addressing on this episode is the Book of Mormon as a whole. Now, I know that a lot of people that listen to this show, probably understand the history of the church up to this point, and know the society that the Book of Mormon came out of. However, there are a lot of things in the Book of Mormon that I haven't directly addressed yet. In fact, I've been purposefully neglecting the entire topic of the Book of Mormon itself, for the purpose of compiling it all into one episode, which is what we're going to try and tackle today.
There won't be any roundup, listener mail, or patreon shout outs this episode, it's going to be just straight up analysis. We are going to try and focus on the facts as much as possible. This is going to be as objective as we possibly can be, without any pro-Mormon or anti-Mormon slant. Let's just talk about the Book of Mormon standalone, and see how it holds up to a skeptical analysis. So, let's just dive right in.
This show will be broken up into 3 main portions, and we'll examine the facts, and discuss the pro, and anti-Mormon arguments for each of the points. I'll try to keep my own bias absent, or disconnected from the analysis as much as possible, because we just want to talk about the facts of the Book of Mormon today. These three categories will break down as follows: historical context, authorship, and claims.
We have a lot to talk about, and I'm not really sure how to get started, so let's just start out by talking talking about the first category, the historical context. We won't be talking about the Book of Mormon itself for a minute here, because we need to set the stage of the timeframe it was produced in.
When you consider the Book of Mormon, and Joseph Smith, there's no way to fully understand them without understanding the burned over district in New York, from whence the Book of Mormon came. This requires a little bit of a step back in time, and some historical empathizing. The problem with any historical narrative is knowing where to pick up the story, because all history is interconnected. With the history of the church, you can start with publishing the Book of Mormon, but it would be remiss of us to ignore the first vision accounts. We can back it up further, and say that the history of Mormonism starts with the birth of Joseph Smith on December 23, 1805, but that would be entirely negligent of the time frame and mindset that the Smith family was privey to in the burned over district. If we go back further, we can talk about the protestant religious revivals that were happening throughout the early American settlements, but that tells us nothing about how or why Protestantism exists, or what drove people to start their own religions in the wake of the Catholic control over European nations.
Like I said, it's hard to decide where to pick up a historical narrative with everything so tightly intertwined.
So, for the purposes of this episode, we're going to take a step back in time to the settling of America, and how important religious liberty was to some very important individuals at the time. We can start off with talking about the Puritanical expansion of protestant Christians coming over the Atlantic ocean seeking religious asylum. Most of the settlers of America in the 17th century were European citizens that had been under the rule of governments that were deeply tied with Roman Catholocism. Most of these Protestant settlers hated the Catholic church, and it's authoritarian absolutist rule, especially with the Anglican church that was established as the church of England, whcih made it the church of the entire British Empire. Now, when we look at the United Kingdom today, it's vastly different than it was in the 17th and 18th centuries. Britain is a hollow shell of what it used to be, in terms of landmass, population, and controlled territories.
We're talking about a time when most of Africa was under British rule, all of India, most of the European nations that we consider soveriegn today, all of which were under the rule of the British Monarchy. That's how people were able to get the ships and funding necessary to brave the Atlantic Ocean, and come settle the New World. The British Navy during these times was not to be trifled with. In fact, they had the absolute largest and most powerful navy in existence, bar none. They were one of the wealthiest empires spanning thousands of miles, and controlling most of the territory with naval superiority. Not one single nation or empire could contend with the British Navy, which gave them a monopoly of the waters, and put them at the forefront of the ever expanding global trade industry.
Well, this massive superiority allowed them the resources necessary to expand their empire to the Americas. The first European settlers made their way to Plymouth Massachusettes in 1620, and began settling the territory. Things did not go well. A lot of people died from starvation, dysentery, small pox, and other unpleasant diseases. Thanks to the Native Americans, the Europeans were barely able to survive, and slowly propogate. By this time, most of the Natives had died off from diseases brought over from earlier exploratory groups. The Natives didn't have the immune system that the Europeans had been cultivating for tens of thousands of years, and they simply weren't prepared for the onslaught of microorganic warfare that Europe wasn't even aware it was waging upon the Natives. Some estimations say that hundreds of thousands of Natives were killed, some put that number into few millions category. Some of the highest estimations say that somewhere between 25, and 30 million Native Americans died from old world diseases before the settlers could even make their way out across the plains to the west coast. Wherever that number really lies, doesn't really matter, because all that matters is the aftermath of these millions of dead people. Joseph Stalin is quoted with saying something along the lines of, "One death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic". Well in the case of the Native Americans, that's all they were. Millions of people killed, that didn't die through traditional warfare, just a statistic to us now.
This was truly the largest absentee genocide in all of human history. Historians debate about the largest military genocide, or which was the most powerful of all armies throughout antiquity. The Huns were pretty amazing, conquering most of Eastern Europe, and Asia in the first century. Before that, the Romans under Alexander the great killed a lot of people. After both of those, the Kahn army is supposedly responsible for killing somewhere between 10 and 30 million people throughout all of their conquests under Gengis Kahn in the mid 13th century. Those are some baffling numbers. Most of those people died by the sword or spear as well. Now imagine all of the people that were killed by those armies, all being combined into one statistic on one landmass, and they were all slain by an invisible enemy. Estimates of life lost throughout the entire second world war, sit somewhere between 50 to 60 million people, most of which were Russians. Most of those deaths were from artillery and bombing, a lot were done by chemical warfare on the front lines, now imagine that many people dying from the flu bug, or small pox, or measels, or any number of other old world diseases that the Native Americans weren't equipped to handle.
The average large sports stadium can house anywhere from 25 to 50 thousand people. If you watch any major sporting event, a person can scarcely wrap their mind around how many people that really is. It just looks like a sea of faces with different colored clothes spotted throughout masses. Now imagine a stadium ten times the size of that, 500,000 people. No single person can comprehend how many people that really looks like. Now imagine that stadium of 500,000 people, all dying in one or two months time. The largest gatherings of people we have on record are hindu gatherings at the river Ganges for their ceremonial bathing. If you haven't seen pictures of these gatherings, I would recommend checking them out, because it's a truly incomprehensible amount of people. The third largest of these was in 2004, called the Simhastha Kumbh Mela during which something like 30 million Hindus gathered in one place for ceremonial washing in the Ganges river. You can't see that many people in any photo, because the space they take up is just simply too great. But you can see thousands of photos of different areas, that are just people, almost shoulder to shoulder, for square miles, as far as the photo has resolution to show.
I really hope you look up some of these pictures, because the number of dead Native Americans doesn't truly come into perspective, unless you can actually see what that many people alive looks like. It's completely incomprehensible to see that many faces, and imagine them all dead from horrible, and painful diseases. Something like 95% of all the Native Americans died without ever having met a European.
Now, let's consider the practical logistics of the problems these bodies create. We are one of the very few species that disposes of our dead, and it's a practice that has many evolutionary benefits. Let's face it, a person won't catch a disease from a dead body, if the body is covered in dirt, or buried in a hole in the ground, so we bury our dead. Well, if 95% of a Native American tribe dies, it's incumbent upon the remaining 5% to either bury the dead, and move on with life surviving, or vacate the area, and leave the problem for someone else. Well, both of these happened to the luck, or dismay of the European settlers.
As people began moving out to the west, and settling everywhere along the way, they would come upon these Native American equivalent of ghost towns, that were littered with dead bodies, either being eaten by wildlife, or decomposing in the noonday sun. Keep in mind, this was quite some time before Louis Pasteur and his pre-modern idea of germ theory was popularized, or even conceived, which happened in mid to late 1800's. So, when the settlers would happen upon these native civilizations that had been completely abandoned littered with bodies that could be two weeks old, or 2 centuries old, they would understandably have some questions. Questions like, who were these people? Why did they leave? What killed them? Why didn't they bury the bodies? And I'm sure there are some questions I can't even imagine.
While some of these civilizations were abandoned, or every person in the tribe had died, there were plenty more where the majority of the tribe died off, but the remaining alive decided to stay where they were, and bury the bodies in mass graves. We've uncovered a lot of mass graves in our time during recorded history. Some of the more recent date back just a few years to Rwanda. Others date back to Jewish mass graves during the holocaust. Well, most of these graves are underground, and require digging to reach. However, some are just thousands of human bodies, piled on top of each other, and a bunch of dirt thrown on top of them, making large mounds or hills filled with really cool stuff for archeaologists to find.
Well, herein lies another problem, because now we have a bunch of post enlightenment Europeans digging through dirt piles, uncovering skeletons decorated in various Native American garb, and they're trying to apply post-hoc reasoning to the existence of these mounds that were essentially mass graves. They were finding all kinds of trinkets, and drawings, and leather pouches with prized possessions in them, and all manner of curious workmanships. The most amazing things that blew the Europeans collective mind, were the ruins. Throughout both American continents, there were massive ruins of pyramids, temples, and buildings of gathering, worship, and inhabitation. While most Native tribes were hunter-gatherer type tribes, there were some larger cities that were much more modern, wherein empires were established, agriculture was produced en mass, and people exchanged things with a fairly modern bartering commodity system. Look at the Aztec, or Myan empires, they were not so different from us, we just have a lot less hard evidence about their day-to-day life as opposed to the evidence we have for other groups of people like, say, the Roman empire.
Let me clarify really quickly, best estimations put North American native populations topping out around 8 million people, the 30 million number we talked about earlier includes both American continents, and that's where a lot of this archeaological research was going on. Archeaologists, and anthropologists were discovering abandoned ruins, and mass graves all over both American continents, and they were coming up with all kinds of ideas about how they could have gotten there, and why they were abandoned. Most people that were studying the ruins and whatnot at the time, had the writings of historians, and Spanish conquistadors to go off of, but they had the same blind spot that we deal with today. When it comes to chronicling the ancient civilizations before the Aztec empire, it becomes very challenging, very quickly. They didn't particularly have any writing that was standardized like it was in many places in the old world. There are heiroglyphs in caves and on major rock formations, but those are often times pictographic, and tell a story in a way that can't be deciphered into typical linguistic fashion, or if there is some kind of language recording events, it's long dead, and anybody that spoke or wrote it died off centuries before the European settlers could get to them.
If we look at it objectively, we have about 400 years of recorded history dealing with various Native American tribes on record, and those we have record of constitute a very small portion of the actual tribes that existed. Our best estimations put the Natives coming over here around 15,000 years ago on a land/ice bridge through the Bering Strait. That means, we have European recordings of the existence and dealings of Native American tribes for about 2.5% of the time of their actual existence here, and those recordings only chronicle the most influential, or largest of the tribes. If we extrapolate it out, in all of our post-modern studies and archaeology, we know about the existence of a very small percentage of the Native Americans, and of those, we know about less than 1% of their actual day-to-day lives through first hand experience that was recorded by post enlightenment scholars and historians.
Consider the state that the Native American tribes were in at the time European settlers encountered them. For the last little while we've been talking about the massive amount of death that was happening throughout both American continents due to old world diseases. Most of these Natives were too busy burying their dead, or trying to find somewhere to live without thousands of dead bodies surrounding them. They didn't really have the time or infrastructure built to recover from such a travesty. We're talking about 95% of all Native Americans dying in a period of about 200 years. Consider how messed up Europe was during the black plague, and they only lost 60% of their population, not 95% like the Native Americans. Imagine being an alien race and landing in Europe in 1355, a mere 2 years after the plague had wreaked most of it's havoc. What would Europe look like? Would that be a proper snapshot of what Europe was like before the plague, or would everything be in a perpetual state of strife, and unrest? Piles of burned bodies would be everywhere, infrastructure would be in shambles, education wouldn't be a priority for anybody, the place would be an utter mess. If you were that alien race, you would be positing all kinds of crazy theories that would explain why the place was such a mess, even though you wouldn't be able to look back in time to know the truth.
Well, when humans don't know something, or can't look back in time somehow, they guess, and this hole in recorded history falls prey to that human failing. People were coming up with all kinds of crazy theories about how the Natives got there, and who built the cities and mounds. A lot of people sincerely believed that white people came over and ruled the Natives, and directed them to build everything that the European settlers were finding. They sincerely thought that the Natives were far too savage to actually be able to do all this amazing work and architecture without the help of an enlightened group of white people.
A compounding factor to these proposed theories is the belief structure that most of these new settlers held. The people that settled the American continent were almost exclusively followers of Judeo-Christian religious sects, most being protestant, escaping the catholic regime that dominated Europe. Well, something that is pervasive in Judaism, and Christianity, is finding the lost tribes of Israel. A lot of Christian religions will spread to a new area, and claim that the people there are descendants of the lost tribes of Israel. Currently, Mormonism is doing this with their proselyting campaigns in Asia, primarily with Russian converts.
Well, when Christians came over and settled both American continents, a lot of them thought that these people must be the lost tribes of Israel. This is made abundantly apparent by the books that were coming out of the colonies in reaction to the evidence that they were uncovering across the entire new world. These are some books that talk about theories of where the Native Americans came from, along with their date and place of publishing
Adair, James, The History of the American Indians, London, 1775.
- Adair’s evidence for the Indian-Israelite theory consists of twenty-three parallels between Indian and Jewish customs. For example, he claims the Indians spoke a corrupt form of Hebrew, honored the Jewish Sabbath, performed circumcision, and offered animal sacrifice.
Boudinot, Elias, A Star in the West; or a Humble Attempt to Discover the Long Lost Ten Tribes of Israel, Trenton, 1816.
- He relies heavily on evidences compiled by James Adair. He also mentions the Indians’ lost book of God.
Cusick, David, Sketches of the Ancient History of the Six Nations, Lewistone, NY, 1827.
- Records Indian fables, which he believes, support the mound builder myth. One fable, for example, speaks of the descendants of two brothers continually at war with the other until one group is finally destroyed in North America.
Israel, Manasseh ben, The Hope of Israel, London, 1652 and 1792.
- Includes story of a remnant of the ten tribes of Israel being discovered in Peru.
Priest, Josiah, The Wonders of Nature and Providence, Displayed, Albany, 1825 and 1826.
- A compilation of many previously published works, includes an extract from Francisco Clavigero's History of Mexico recounting the ancient Mexican traditions of idolatry and human sacrifice and a portion from Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews detailing evidence that Indians were of Hebrew origin.
Smith, Ethan, View of the Hebrews; or the Tribes of Israel in America, Poultney, VT, 1823 and 1825.
- Ethan Smith's is by far the most important and interesting work dealing with the origin of the American Indians and the mound builders. Suggests that the first settlers of the New World were the lost ten tribes of Israel. Includes extracts from von Humboldt's description of Mexican antiquities, Atwater's description of the mounds, and evidence from Adair and Boudinot to connect Indians with the lost ten tribes. He also mentions the Indian legend of the lost book of God, which would one day be returned.
Thorowgood, Thomas, Jews in America, or , Probabilities That the Americans are of that Race, London, 1652.
- He mentions the notion that the gospel was anciently preached in America. Emphasized the millennialistic nature of his Indian-Israelite identification and the importance of the Indians' conversion to Christianity.
Yates, John and Joseph Moulton, History of the State of New York, 1824.
- They describe mounds and fortifications in their state and neighboring states, as well as the ruins of an ancient city near Palenque. According to them, these mounds, part of a great chain running down through Mexico and into South America, were built by a separate race of white-skinned people who were destroyed by the Indians. They mention the discovery of hieroglyphic writing and mammoth bones, and include reports that Indians in certain locales possessed the signs and tokens of Freemasonry.
We opened this episode by talking about three portions that the show will be broken up into. The first is historical context relating to Joseph Smith, and the prevailing social and political views during his life. Well, this list of books takes us from the first category of this episode, being the historical context, and throws us into the authorship of the Book of Mormon portion.
If any listeners are familiar with the Book of Mormon, hopefully you will have recognized some of the themes described in the books listed here. I should say that most of these books are archived, and can be found in pdf format online. If you question any of the synopses that were given, feel free to check out the books for yourself, and challenge the parallels that are drawn.
A lot of parallels to the Book of Mormon were just listed, and it should be noted that every one of those books were published before the Book of Mormon came along, and were used for casual reading, and school textbooks alike because they encapsulated the prevailing theories to explain the Native Americans, and the ruins they left behind up to that point.
We can look at the list and see the recurring themes, but there are a few that stick out to anybody that researches Mormon history from both the pro, and anti Mormon side. One that sticks out the most is "The View of the Hebrews; or the Tribes of Israel in America" by Ethan Smith, published in Poultney, VT 1823.
I'm going to read an excerpt from UTLM.org on an article that deconstructs the Book of Mormon quite well. This passage is in reference to Ethan Smith's book.
"LDS General Authority B. H. Roberts wrote extensively about the parallels between View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon (see Studies of the Book of Mormon). Rev. Robert Hullinger gave the following summary of B. H. Robert's parallels:
According to Roberts's later studies, some features of View of the Hebrews are paralleled in the Book of Mormon. (1) Indians buried a book they could no longer read. (2) A Mr. Merrick found some dark yellow parchment leaves in "Indian Hill." (3) Native Americans had inspired prophets and charismatic gifts, as well as (4) their own kind of Urim and Thummim and breastplate. (5) Ethan Smith produced evidence to show that ancient Mexican Indians were no strangers to Egyptian hieroglyphics. (6) An overthrown civilization in America is to be seen from its ruined monuments and forts and mounds. The barbarous tribes—barbarous because they had lost the civilized arts—greeting the Europeans were descendants of the lost civilization. (7) Chapter one of View of the Hebrews is a thirty-two page account of the historical destruction of Jerusalem. (8) There are many references to Israel's scattering and being "gathered" in the last days. (9) Isaiah is quoted for twenty chapters to demonstrate the restoration of Israel. In Isaiah 18 a request is made to save Israel in America. (10) The United States is asked to evangelize the native Americans. (11) Ethan Smith cited Humboldt's New Spain to show the characteristics of Central American civilization; the same are in the Book of Mormon. (12) The legends of Quetzacoatl, the Mexican messiah, are paralleled in the Book of Mormon by Christ's appearing in the western hemisphere. . . . Roberts came to recognize that, at least in the case of Ethan Smith's book, such works were widely available (Joseph Smith's Response to Skepticism, by Robert N. Hullinger, Signature, 1992, pp. 183-184).
For more information the similarities between the Book of Mormon and View of the Hebrews, see Joseph Smith and the Origins of the Book of Mormon, by David Persuitte."
If you happen to question the historian that conducted the study, I would just encourage you to look up B. H. Roberts. He was a believing member of the church, one of the quorum of the twelve, and quite revered as a historian. This is a excerpt taken from Wikipedia about his scholarship related to the Book of Mormon, and the View of the Hebrews.
"Although Roberts continued to testify to the truth of the Book of Mormon, a foundational work of Mormonism, he also wrote three studies, unpublished until 1985, that wrestled with Book of Mormon problems. The first, "Book of Mormon Difficulties: A Study," was a 141-page manuscript written in response to a series of questions by an inquirer, referred to Roberts by church president Heber J. Grant. When Roberts confessed that he had no answer for some of the difficulties, and the general authorities chose to ignore them, Roberts produced "A Book of Mormon Study," a treatise of more than 400 pages. In this work he compared the Book of Mormon to the earlier-published View of the Hebrews, written by Ethan Smith, and found significant similarities between them. Finally, Roberts wrote "A Parallel," a condensed version of his larger study, which demonstrated eighteen points of similarity between the two books, and in which he reflected that the imaginative Joseph Smith might have written the Book of Mormon without divine assistance. "
I would encourage anybody doubting him to look up any of the works listed to criticize his scholarship. He's one of the most renowned believing Mormon scholars out there, and what he writes about definitely needs to be wrestled with by any other believing Mormon.
So, let's talk about the View of the Hebrews and Ethan Smith. First thing to point out is the time and location of the publication of this book. It was published in Poultney Vermont, in 1823. In order to understand this fully, we need to bring up our buddy Oliver Cowdery. Cowdery was living in Poultney at this time. This was 6 years before him and Joseph would reportedly meet up to translate the Book of Mormon in April of 1829. While location doesn't necessarily imply correlation, there are some other factors worth considering, like the fact that Ethan Smith was the pastor over Cowdery's church when he published the book. It's hard to believe that Cowdery didn't know about the View of the Hebrews while he was attending Ethan Smith's congregation.
This leads a lot of people to believe that The View of the Hebrews was a source text for the book of Mormon. Another connection that wasn't listed in the similarities is the extensive quoting from Isaiah. That is present in Ethan Smith's book, and the Book of Mormon in multiple places. While these are fairly strong connections, the theory has one point where it fails. This is a point that other books actually surpass it in correlation to the Book of Mormon, and we'll talk about the point very soon. But first, we need to talk about another authorship theory, and it's strength.
Most people that follow this show from the beginning probably espouse the Solomon Spaulding Manuscript Found authorship theory of the Book of Mormon. Well, it's not hard to do given the available evidence which we'll discuss momentarily. But, I will start out by saying, most scholars, both believers, and non believers don't agree with this theory for lack of evidence. I'll say right at the outset that it posits the existence of a book that we don't have, and the entire theory is contingent upon that manuscript existing, and coinciding timeframes between a man named Solomon Spaulding, and Sidney Rigdon.
If you're looking for a proper deconstruction of the theory, listen to episode 14 and 15, and you'll become much more familiar with all of the evidence available in favor of the theory. For this episode, we'll just briefly cover it, and move on to bigger and better things.
Where the theory first gained traction was in the book Mormonism Unveiled by Eber D. Howe, published in 1834. This was one of the earliest full book publications that was considered anti-Mormon. Howe was a war of 1812 army veteran turned editor of the Painsville Telegraph newspaper. He was considered a vitriolic skeptic of religion in general, and honestly he had a bit of an axe to grind against the church. The reason was because his wife, sister, and and niece all converted to early Mormonism, spurring him to investigate Mormonism. Here enters a man named Doctor Philastus Hurlbut. Hurlbut wasn't a doctor, he was named Doctor at birth, but it's not like the title of Doctor really held much merit back then anyway.
Hurlbut converted to Mormonism in 1833, and was recruited as a missionary to proselyte in a town named Conneaut Ohio. This was the town in which Solomon Spaulding was living before he died in 1816. Hurlbut ran into a problem when he went preaching Mormonism here, and we'll read some quotes from affidavits that Hurlbut collected later that year before we talk about what happened to him. These affidavits are taken from Mormonism Unveiled by E. D. Howe.
This is from a man named Aron Wright
"In conclusion I will observe that the names and most of the historical part of the Book of Mormon is as familiar to me as most modern history [if] is not Spaldings writings copied it is the same as he wrote and if Smith was inspired I think it was by the same Spirit that Spalding possessed which he confessed to be the love of money,"
This is from a man named John Spalding, Solomon Spaulding's brother.
""He then told me had he been writing a book, which he intended to have printed, the avails of which he thought would enable him to pay all his debts. The book was entitled the ‘Manuscript Found,’ of which he read to me many passages. It was an historical romance of the first settlers of America, endeavoring to show that the American Indians are the descendants of the Jews, or the lost tribes. It gave a detailed account of their journey from Jerusalem, by land and sea, till they arrived in America, under the command of NEPHI AND LEHI. They afterwards had quarrels and contentions, and separated into two distinct nations, one of which he denominated Nephites and the other Lamanites. Cruel and bloody wars ensued, in which great multitudes were slain. They buried their dead in large heaps, which cause the mounds so common in this country."
This is from a man named Henry Lake who was a close acquaintance of Spalding.
“This book [‘Manuscript Found’] represented the American Indians as the descendants of the lost tribes, gave an account of their leaving Jerusalem, their contentions and wars, which were many and great. One time, when he was reading to me the tragic account of Laban, I pointed out to him what I considered an inconsistency, which he promised to correct; but by referring to the Book of Mormon, I find to my surprise that it stands there just as he read it to me then.... I was astonished to find the same passages in it that Spaulding had read to me more than twenty years before, from his ‘Manuscript Found."
This was a very close friend of Spalding's, Oliver Smith.
“All his [Solomon Spaulding’s] leisure hours were occupied in writing a historical novel, founded upon the first settlers of this country. He said he intended to trace their journey from Jerusalem, by land and sea, till their arrival in America, give an account of their arts, sciences, civilization, wars and contentions. In this way, he would give a satisfactory account of all of the old mounds, so common to this country.... Nephi and Lehi were by him represented as leading characters, when they first started for America"
Like I said, hearing those affidavits, it's kind of hard to disagree with the Solomon Spalding theory of authorship. What's more, we have some other evidence that put Spalding, and Rigdon in the same place at the same time. One is a testimonial of seeing Rigdon and Spalding at the same publishing house/bookstore in Ohio. The other shows an unclaimed mail list in Conneaut with the names of Sidney Rigdon and Solomon Spalding on the same list, meaning they used the same post office.
The only reason we draw connections to Sidney Rigdon and Solomon Spalding is to support the claim that Rigdon, and Joseph met up before 1829, and collaborated to write the Book of Mormon. There are a couple of testimonies that place Rigdon and Smith in the same place at the same time, and once again, I'll just refer you to episode 15 to get the entire rundown of those connections.
So let's go back to Doctor Philastus Hurlbut. He was called as a missionary to Conneaut, where he preached the Book of Mormon, and repeatedly ran into people that would tell him they were familiar with what he was preaching. So, Hurlbut went back to Kirtland to confront Joseph with these problems, and ask for an explanation as to why they were saying these damning things about the Book of Mormon. Joseph responded by excommunicating Hurlbut, and Hurlbut took that as enough of a reason to investigate the problems further. At that point, he went back to Conneaut, and collected the affidavits we read earlier, among many others, and gave them to Eber Howe for use in Mormonism Unveiled, which was published less than 6 months after these affidavits were collected.
The evidence to support the Spalding Manuscript Found theory relies heavily on testimony, which we know to be one of the least reliable sources of historical evidence. The extant theory that isn't testimonial, only goes as far as placing Spalding and Rigdon in the same place at the same time. We don't have the actual manuscript in our hands, because the theory posits that Rigdon took the only existing manuscript from the publisher after Spalding died.
Situations like this, no matter how believable or not, are not what historians like to align with. They like cold hard evidence that doesn't rely on fallible persons testimony to posit the historical theory. Well, there are some other books that we can look at, and they have only recently come into view with the help of large data analysis, and literary criticism. There is a lot of really good evidence to discuss, and we'll get to it soon. But for now, let's move onto the believers perspective of how the Book of Mormon came about.
True believing Mormons understand that the Book of Mormon came about with a very set sequence of events. These events reportedly started in 1820, and by September of 1827 Joseph pulled the plates out of the ground where they had been kept in a stone box for almost 1500 years, along with the Urim and Thummim, a breastplate, and possibly the sword of Laban. Once the plates were out of the ground, Joseph got them home, and translated them with the help of a few scribes. This led to the Book of Mormon being published in March of 1830, and the establishment of the Church of Christ in April of that same year.
We've covered all of this in great detail, so I won't rehash it now, but let's take a step back and ask where the plates came from, and why they were buried in a box. We've covered this as well, so bear with me for a minute as I set up the scene once again. In order to understand how the plates got there, we need to go back to about 2500 b.c.e. Iraq. That puts us in Babylon, right before the tower of Babel fell, with our focus on the Jaredites. These were ancient hebrews that were so righteous that god didn't confound their language, rather, he sent them to America to settle the promised land. The Jaredites spend 344 days locked up in postdiluvian submarines with lots of animals, crossing the Atlantic ocean. Once they arrived, they settled and exterminated themselves with dozens of conflicts. They recorded their history on a set of metal plates, and left them in plain sight for somebody to find. Flash cut to 600 b.c.e., and Lehi's family comes over to America, after attaining a set of brass plates with the old testament on them, and they settle down. A few years after settling, and some wars, a scouting party finds the plates left behind by the Jaredites, and brings them to the Nephite leader for translation and safekeeping.
Just to be clear, this is our second set of plates we're talking about. There were the plates of the Jaredites, and the brass plates that Lehi's family brought over from Jerusalem, that's two full sets of metal plates with religious inscriptions on them. During the time that the Nephites and Lamanites were fighting and building and destroying civilizations, they were recording their own history on sets of plates. This time frame spans from 600 b.c.e. - 130 b.c.e. The Nephites recorded everything they did on a set of plates that were referred to as the small plates. The name is a bit of a misnomer, because we aren't just talking about a few leaves of metal here, these were entire books compiled together, engraved by scribes for hundreds of years, chronicling everything from their military tactics, to the animals they kept and bred, to the names of the judges that were ruling over the land. This was a lot of plates, all being stored away for safe keeping. For clarification purposes, the small plates made up the first few books of the current book of Mormon, listed as follows: 1st Nephi, 2nd Nephi, Jacob, Enos, Jarom, and Omni.
Then, a man comes along named Mormon around 385 c.e., and he is tasked with gathering all of the plates listed up to this point, and abridging them into a single volume on gold plates. The next book in the current Book of Mormon is called Words of Mormon, and basically what it does, is tell us the difference between the small and the large plates, and tells why Mormon is recording things as he's recording them. This is the transition period between the small and large plates in the abridging process for Mormon.
Then, the book of Mormon moves into the abrigement of the large plates, which make up the books: Mosiah, Alma, Helaman, 3rd Nephi, and 4th Nephi. Then, according to the Book of Mormon, Mormon is about to die in a battle so he hands off the plates to his son Moroni, but not before writing his own memior entitled the Book of Mormon. This isn't the entire Book of Mormon that we've been talking about, it's just little 18 page book in the Book of Mormon, called the Book of Mormon. Mormon writes this memior, hands the entire work he's doing with the gold plates, off to his son Moroni.
At this point, Moroni takes the plates of the Jaredites from 2500 b.c.e., that were almost 2900 years old by this point, and translates them into the second to last book in the Book of Mormon, called the book of Ether. Then Moroni adds his own book, along with a promise about faith to finish up the last 12 pages of the book of Mormon, and then the entire tome of history known as the gold plates is done. Moroni takes the completed work to the hill Cumorah where some 2 million people have just died in a massive battle in current day Manchester New York, and buries them in a stone box for Joseph to find around 1400 years later.
This is where Joseph was led to dig the plates out of the ground, so he could begin the work that god had set out for him to perform in restoring the original gospel. Keep the idea of all of these plates in mind for when we move onto the third portion of the show talking about claims in the book.
For now, let's talk about the authorship from Joseph's perspective. In 1828, Martin Harris begins scribing for Joseph, and after 3 months of hard work, and 116 pages of completed first draft manuscript, Martin takes the manuscript home with him to show it to his wife, and possibly some other people. Martin reportedly loses the manuscript, and the gift of translation is taken away from Joseph until Oliver Cowdery comes along in spring 1829. Once Cowdery arrives on scene, Martin Harris is cut out of the authorship process, and everything kicks into high gear. In the time from May to August in 1829, Joseph and Oliver translate the entire text of the Book of Mormon, and send it to the printer for publishing.
Before talking about the printers manuscript, we need to discuss the order that the books in the Book of Mormon were written in once Oliver and Joseph teamed up. They didn't just start at the beginning with the first book of Nephi, and go straight through to the Book of Moroni and call it a day.
What actually happened was they young men started out writing 3rd Nephi, or what was called the large plates. That was the first set of books written. Then, they moved on and included the book of Ether, and the final Book of Moroni, and then they went back and authored from the beginning, starting with 1st Nephi, and ending with the book of Omni. Then, they wrote the transition book called The Words of Mormon, in order to smooth the transition from the small plates to the large plates. After all this, it was done and was sent off to the printer for publishing.
One may ask why the book was written in such odd order. Well, from the believing Mormon side, this really isn't discussed much. Most believing members understand the translation process as being much more straight-forward than that.
And that's it for this episode. Hopefully everybody noticed the never before seen title name of the episode. This episode title was preceded by CC meaning clean cut, just like the missionaries. Any episode that you see in the episode list from now on that is labeled with "CC" won't be explicit, and won't be offensive to believing Mormon ears. One of the main criticisms leveled against this show is it's entire blindspot in audience of believing members. Let's face it, when you follow the tenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, any swearing or vulgarity turns you off immediately. In answer to this criticism, I say that I enjoy being able to relax and rant about things I'm passionate about, without censoring myself. I don't create this show for the listening audience, I create it to help with my own catharsis for the anger I feel for being lied to by the church. I also want any guests to feel able to open up, and not feel constrained by censorship.
Well, I have to listen to criticisms about the show, because often times the criticism points out a weakness that needs to be addressed. Well, this is how I'm going to address the criticism that the show turns people off with the cursing and vulgarity. Any episodes that starts with "CC" in the title will be an episode that tries to take on one major problem in the church, without any information or words that will turn off true believing members.
Interview with David Michael
had abundance of curious workmanship therein, such as surpassed the comprehension of all the wise men of the east, from the beginning to this day. - Late War
For the savages put the burning brand to the houses, from which they could not flee, and burnt them alive therein. And the flames and the smoke arose! and their cries and their groans reached the high chancery of heaven, Where they will stand recorded, until the coming of that Day for which all other days were made. - Late War
And **it came to pass that one **other ship also did sail forth; and whither she did go, we know not. And it came to pass that in this year there were many people who went forth into the land northward. -BoM, but this is in the Late War - It came to pass, that one of the strong ships of the king had approached the country of the south, - Late War
And thus we did go forth with all our might against the Lamanites, who were in the city of Manti – BoM, but this is in the Late War - Lo! we are stronger than the host of Columbia; therefore, let us go with all our might against their chief city, and make capture thereof
And it came to pass, that a great multitude flocked to the banners of the great Sanhedrin - Late War
the fourth day of this seventh month, which is in the tenth year of the reign of the judges. - BoM, But, this is from the Late War - the fourth day of the seventh month, which is the birth day of Columbian Liberty and Independence
But if, peradventure, we should be overcome, even then shall not the sacredcause of LIBERTY perish, neither shall the people of Columbia be disheartened. - Late War
Now these wonderful torpedoes were made partly of brass and partly of iron, and were cunningly contrived with curious works, like unto a clock; and as it were a large ball. - Late War, but this is in the BoM - And it came to pass that as my father arose in the morning, and went forth to the tent door, to his great astonishment he beheld upon the ground a round ball ofcurious workmanship; and it was of fine brass. And within the ball were two spindles
And **it came to pass that in the same year that the people of **Nephi had peace restored unto them, - BoM, but this is from the Late War - But **it came to pass, in the same year, that the people of **Columbia were revenged of the evil:
Then shall thy name be proclaimed with the sound of the trumpet throughout all the earth ; and thou shalt be a prince and a ruler over this people. - Late War. But this is in the BoM - ...on the morrow I shall proclaim unto this my people out of mine own mouth thatthou art a king and a ruler over this people, whom the Lord our God hath given us.
And so the judgment** of the Lord fell upon them** for their unrighteousness, and for their wicked and murderous deeds. - Late War
**Nevertheless, it came to pass that **Pahoran was appointed by the voice of the people to be **chief **judge and a governor over the people of Nephi. - BoM
sent a proclamation throughout ... the land; ... And it came to pass that thousands did flock unto his standard [of liberty] ... they ... went down with their armies – BoM
Copyright Ground Gnomes LLC subject to fair use. Citation example: "Naked Mormonism Podcast (or NMP), Ep #, original air date 11/15/2015"