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A study of the similarities between Spaulding's Manuscript Story and the Book of Mormon would not be complete without comparing the style of writing in the two works.
Mormon writer Helen Hinckley Jones, commenting on the authorship of the Book of Mormon, said: "Every writer has a style of writing just as he has his own fingerprints" (Improvement Era, Nov. 1960).
The first one-fourth of Spaulding's Manuscript Story (pp.1-33) was written in the first person, the remainder in the third person. The same is true of the Book of Mormon. Except for quotes, the first one hundred thirty-three pages were written in the first person, the remainder (except Mormon and Moroni, two of the last three books in the five hundred and twenty-two page work) [were written] in the third person. The change occurs in about the same [relative] place in the story outlines for both texts.
The Book of Mormon is written [almost] entirely in "King James Bible language." At times, the author used short Old and New Testament phrases and word combinations, suggesting [his] knowledge of both the Old and New Testaments -- knowledge that could have been acquired during years of work in the ministry. The Book of Mormon groups words that are so alike they are redundancies. Such expressions as "quake and tremble," "goodness and mercy," "visions and dreams," "Messiah and Redeemer," are used extensively throughout. Longer redundancies are also used extensively. These include such verses as "they profaned not; neither did they blaspheme" (Jarom 1:5), "they shall be gathered home to the lands of their inheritance, and be established in all their lands of promise" (2 Nephi 9:2). These lines [emulate and] typify the Hebraic [poetic parallelism] style of writing
The style of writing in Solomon Spaulding's Manuscript Story is [often] similar to that of the Book of Mormon. While Spaulding did not use King James wording exclusively, the religious parts of his manuscript were written in this style [of parallelism]. Short Old and New Testament quotes are used at random. He also used redundancies, such as "surprise and astonishment," "sleep and rest," "benevolent and good," "contention and strife." A longer example of Spaulding's repetitiousness reads: "your transgressions will flee away like shadows and your sins will be carried by the smoke into the shadows of oblivion" (Manuscript Story p. 12). If "And it came to pass" was added to the Spaulding writings, many lines would read like Book of Mormon verses.
One of the more obvious writing style similarities in the two works is found where each account tells of the ordeals experienced by the voyagers after they have landed in America. Fabius (the writer of the Spaulding record) and his party find themselves in the unknown new world among savages, not knowing which way to travel to return to their native land. The writing style used by Fabius, in describing his feelings of despondency over his situation, differs from the usual Spaulding style. He launches into [a] Bible-quoting discourse, beginning in a negative fashion and working his way to an optimistic approach that carries with it the hope that eventually they will find their way back to the land of their birth with God's help.
In the Book of Mormon, Nephi, the writer of the Nephite record, also finds himself in a seemingly hopeless situation after he arrives in America. His father, Lehi, had just passed away; his brothers had rebelled against him; and he was also in a strange unknown new world. Nephi expresses his feelings of despondency as does his
counterpart Fabius. His writing style also changes into heavy Bible-quoting phrases and gets underway in a negative tone, but culminates with the hope that God will help him overcome his difficulties .
Spaulding's Fabius sprinkles Old and New Testament phrases throughout his lament: "They pour upon my soul like a flood and bear me down like the weight of a miIlstone; 'O that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears' (cf. Jer. 9:1); then my intolerable burden should be poured forth in a torrent and my soul set at liberty' (cf. Heb. 13:23); behold 'the light springs up' (cf Matt. 4:l6) and beams upon my soul; she brings in her train Hope -- that celestial Godes (sic), that 'sure and strong anchor' (cf. Heb. 6:19) will point out a safe road to our nativity" (Manuscript Story p. 16).
The Book of Mormon Nephi also uses Old and New Testament verses in his lamentation: "O wretched man that I am" (cf. Rom. 7:24); "my heart sorroweth because of my flesh, my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities . . . nevertheless I know in whom I have trusted . . . he hath preserved me upon 'the waters of the great deep' (cf. Is. 51:10); why should my heart weep and my soul linger in 'the valley of death' (cf. Ps. 23:4); my soul will rejoice in thee my God, and the 'rock of my salvation' (cf. Ps. 62: 2); 'may the gates of hell' (cf. Matt. 16:18) be shut continually against me; because that my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite' (cf. Ps. 51:17); O Lord wilt thou encircle me round 'in the robe of thy righteousness' (cf. Is. 61:10); yea I know that 'God will give liberally to him that asketh'" (cf. James 1: 5; 2 Nephi 4:17, 35).
When we compare the statements of the two voyagers, the similarity of literary style becomes obvious. Each account is written with a combination of Old and New Testament verses that are unlike the preceding and following lines. This block of Bible quotes is found in the same [relative] place in each story outline, in similar plot situations, and adds additional strength to the possibility of a connection between the Spaulding Manuscript Story and the Book of Mormon.
An additional similarity in the literary style of the two works (and possibly the most important) is the use of chiastic sentence structure. An example of chiasmus writing is: "He went to the country; to the town went she." A chiasmus may be expanded to include any number of terms written in one order and then [similarly restated] in the exact reverse order.
The Book of Mormon is replete with verses of this kind, but they are far more complex. Many books within the Book of Mormon are heavily laced with chiastic phrasing: and may have been an attempt by the author to imitate the chiastic writings in the Holy Scriptures. The Bible book of Isaiah is quoted extensively in
2 Nephi within the Book of Mormon, suggesting that the writer had opportunity to study closely the style of writing used. The chiastic style in Isaiah 2:7-20 is obvious.
Isaiah writes: "Their land is full of silver and gold . . . their land is also full of idols; they worship the works of their own hands . . . enter ye into the rock and hide ye in the dust, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty. The lofty looks of man and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day."
Isaiah then repeats in reverse the thoughts he has just presented: "And the loftiness of men shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day . . . and they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and the caves of the earth, for the fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty . . . in that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one to worship . . ."
In the Spaulding manuscript, the first noticeable phrases that display repetition of lines in reverse order appear on pages 4 and 5, in the description of the stormy sea voyage. On pages 11 and 12 the author again writes in this style. Spaulding's chapter on Religion (pages 27 to 32) contains the most concentrated block of chiastic phrasing found in his story. Most of the chapter is written in this Hebraic style. A good example is found on pages 28 and 29.
Spaulding began by saying: "There is an intelligent omnipotent Being who is self existent and infinitely good and benevolent . . . from his own spiritual substance he formed seven sons . . . (then Spaulding repeats in reverse) into each body he infused a particle of his own spiritual substance . . . man in his first creation was inclined to benevolence and goodness. There is also another great intelligent being who is self existent . . . but not of omnipotence."
Mormon scholar John Welch notes that chiastic writings were "totally unknown to Joseph Smith and universally unrecognized by the world until the present decade."10 The discovery of sentence structure in the Spaulding manuscript that is chiastic in nature presents an additional similarity between his manuscript and the Book of Mormon and adds substantially to the possibility that a major portion of the Book of Mormon may have been Spaulding's work.
The writers of both the Book of Mormon and Manuscript Story employed the use of many original proper names and seemed to favor those derived from names previously used in the text. Examples of such names invented by Spaulding are: Ulipoon, Hamboon, Lakoon[rod], Taboon, Haloon, Ramock, Ranbock, Kelsock, and Hanock. Examples in the Book of Mormon are: Tabaloth, Hagoth, Limhah, Limnah, Limner, and Limhi.
10 John W. Welch, "Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon,"The New Era, Feb. 1972.
Both authors confuse the reader by contradicting themselves occasionally.
From the Book of Mormon:And now when Alma heard this, he turned him about, his face immed- iately towards him, and he beheld with great joy and he beheld that their afflictions had truly humbled them and that they were in a preparation to hear the word. (Alma 32:6)
Identical or [very] similar word combinations, redundant sentences, parallelism, contradictory thoughts [evidenced] in sentence structure, idecision in the use of words, poor sentence composition, the use of lengthy [run-on sentences], biblical [and classical style] metaphors, and the use of King James Bible English by both Spaulding and the Book of Mormon author, all [strengthen the] argument that Spaulding may have been the author of the Book of Mormon.
AND THEIR EFFECT ON SPAULDING
Much has been written about how the revivals in New York State may have influenced young Joseph Smith as the writer of the Book of Mormon.11 The fact that Solomon Spaulding may have had just as much or more exposure to revivals, appears to have been overlooked by researchers. The New England revivals occurred several years after the beginning of what has been called the "Second Great Awakening" which originated in Tennessee and Kentucky in 1800. The fervor of the great revival spread from Kentucky into southwestern Pennsylvania where Solomon Spaulding lived from 1812 to 1816. During the last two years of that period, he lived in Amity, a town in Washington County. Campbellism had originated, in 1809, in the nearby [county seat] of Washington.12
In her research, Fawn Brodie found that: "There are no detailed descriptions of the revivals in Palmyra and Manchester between 1824 and 1827, when they were at their wildest and we cannot be certain that they matched in pathological intensity the famous revivals that had shaken Kentucky at the turn of the century."13
11 Fawn M. Brodie, No Mon Knows My History, 1945, pp. 14,15. Note [the references] to the Kentucky revival when telling of the influence revivals had on Joseph Smith.
12 George T. Chapman, D.D., Sketches of the Alumni of Dartmouth College, 1867. [See also the ironic reference to this strange 1814-1816 proximity of Spalding and the Campbells in William H. Whitsitt's Sidney Rigdon, the Real Founder of Mormonism, unpublished MS, p. 189, copy in Dale R. Broadhurst Papers, Special Collections, University of Utah Marriott Library. Solomon Spalding may have spent the winter of 1813 or 1814 among the Campbellites of Washington, PA, see Gerald Langford's "The Richard Harding Davis Years" NY, Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1961, p. 4.]
13 Fawn M. Brodie, No Mon Knows My History, 1945, p. 14.
William Tucker related the following Kentucky revival experience of the former Unitarian, Barton Stone, who [later] affiliated with Alexander Campbell:
Barton Stone decided to attend a camp meeting in Logan County in the spring of 1801. The extraordinary response of the people astounded him. He saw religion at fever pitch; many people 'got religion' on the spot. Stone carefully observed the physical demonstrations that accompanied the conversion experience, A number of the affected fell to the ground, as if dead, and lay motionless for several hours before gaining full consciousness. As they shouted for joy for their deliverance from the devil, others were caught up in a frenzy and praise God for the gift of salvation. l4
[Critics of Mormonism] see a resemblance between published Kentucky revival experiences and the account of a revival written by Alma in the Book of Mormon: l5
. . . for he (Ammon) expounded unto them the plan of redemption, which was prepared from the foundation of the world; and he also made known unto them concerning the coming of Christ, and all the works of the Lord did he make known unto them. (And) . . . the king believed all his words. And he began to cry unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, have mercy. . . And now, when he had said this, he fell unto the earth, as if he were dead. (Alma 18:39-42)
Tucker goes on to explain the spread of the revival from Kentucky into Washington County, Pennsylvania:
14 E. William Tucker, Journey in Faith: A History of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), p. 7.
15 Fawn M. Brodie, No Mon Knows My History, 1945, p. 14.
Like fire in 'dry stubble driven by a strong wind,' the Second Awakening moved across the Kentucky frontier. The full range of religious expressions which Stone had observed in Logan County jarred central Kentucky as thousands participated in camp meetings . . .
THE BOOK OF BOOK MORMON?
On August 17, 1809, the "Christian Association of Washington" was founded in Washington, Pennsylvania, by a Presbyterian (seceder) minister, Thomas Campbell, and his associates.17 Thomas Campbell's son, Alexander, soon joined his father in his ministry and quickly obtained a reputation that has been described as "a history of broils, strifes, and contentions which were self-inflicted." 18 "Alexander . . . was the leader of the immersion of the Campbellites and their followers . . . and came to the definite conclusion that infant baptism was a human invention."19 Thus began the controversial theological doctrine, taught by Campbell, which was debated in revivals throughout the [Ohio] Western Reserve.
Alexander Campbell became the "Goliath of Campbellism,"20 ready for combat with any who would enter into the arena of debate. Campbell wrote: "We are fully persuaded that a weeks debating is worth a
16 E. William Tucker, Journey in Faith: A History of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), pp. 77,73. The Westminster Confession of Faith is seen by [some critics of Mormonism] as [having been] a possible source [for some of the textual] material in the Book of Mormon. [Calvinist preachers like Ethan Smith, Solomon Spalding, Alexander Campbell, Walter Scott, and Sidney Rigdon would have been well acquainted with the Westminster Confession, the Philadelphia Confession, etc., as these were used by many Calvinists as the theological backbone of their faith].
17 Bob L. Ross, Campbellism: Its History and its Heresies, 1976, p. 6.
18 Ibid, pp. 13-14.
20 Ibid, p. 14.
years preaching21 In 1831, after years of controversial dialogue with the clergy in the Washington -- Pittsburgh area, and, after reading the Book of Mormon and [at first announcing] it was written by Joseph Smith Jr., Campbell wrote:
This prophet Smith, through his stone spectacles, wrote on the plates of Nephi, in his Book of Mormon, every error and almost every truth discussed in New York for the last ten years. He decides all the great controversies; -- infant baptism, ordination, the trinity, regeneration, repentance, justification, the fall of man, the atonement, transubstantiation, fasting, pennance, church government, religious experience, the call to the ministry, the general resurrection, eternal punishment, who may baptise, and even the question of free masonry, republican government, and the rights of man.22The fact that Campbell recognized that the Book of Mormon author had written about every error and almost every truth discussed for the last ten years is significant. These same controversies rocked the Kentucky believers at the turn of the century. [Campbell must have recognized at once the correspondence of the book's special interests and doctrines with the previously unique religious teachings then being spread by himself, Walter Scott, and Sidney Rigdon; however, for some unknown reason, he reserved his crediting of Rigdon with the Book of Mormon authorship for several more years].
Washington, Pennsylvania, was the birthplace of [American] Campbellism in 1809. Solomon Spaulding lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from 1812 to 1814, and in Amity, Washington County, Pennsylvania from 1814 to 1816. Amity was less than ten miles from Washington where Campbellism originated. Living in the area and being a trained minister, Spaulding would likely have had more than a casual interest in the [recent] revival activities and [local news of the then evolving] Campbellite movement. [His direct and inferred statements on manufactured religion, ersatz scriptures, priestly dishonesty, and the gullibility of the pious indicate that he] would have been knowledgeable, and capable of incorporating [interesting early] Campbellite concepts into [his sometimes satirical and subtly anti-religious] writings.
Anti-Mormon researchers Jerald and Sandra Tanner write: "After examining a reprint of the Christian Baptist, a seven-volume work by Campbell, we feel that there may be some relationship between Alexander Campbell's teachings and the Book of Mormon." The Tanners list several Campbellite concepts that are also found in the Book of Mormon23
Alexander Campbell also taught that the Catholic Church was the "Babylon" of the revelation of St. John,24 a concept that the Book of Mormon [appear to teach and which was current in early Mormonism]. LDS General Authority Bruce R. McConkie stated:
21 Robert Richardson, Memoirs of Alexander Campbell, Vol. 1, pp. 276,277.
22 Alexander Campbell, The Millennial Harbinger, Feb. 1831, p. 93. [It is puzzling that Campbell did not care to compare the obvious parallels in the Book of Mormon with the recent (1825-1829) religious innovations of his own sect. He also avoided mentioning his prior associate, Sidney Rigdon, in the 1831 article and its subsequent reprints. Years later, in 1844, Campbell would claim to have known that Rigdon was preparing just such a book. However, that later claim is nowhere documented in his 1831 statement.]
23 Tanner and Tanner, Mormonism Shadow or Reality, 1987, pp. 63-68. [While the Tanners accept the general argument that Disciple practices and doctrines are reflected in certain parts of the Book of Mormon, they avoid acknowledging the inferences of writers like Daniel Kidder, Clark Braden, William H. Whitsitt, Joseph W. White, Richard S. VanWaggoner, and others, that radical Campbellite preacher Sidney Rigdon greatly influenced the earliest Mormon doctrines and likely had a pre-publication knowledge of the Book of Mormon teachings.]
24 Parry E. Gresham, Sage of Bethany, p. 78.
It is also to the Book of Mormon to which we turn for the plainest description of the Catholic Church as the great and abominable church. Nephi saw this 'church which is most abominable above all other churches' in vision. He 'saw the devil that he was the foundation of it'; and also the murders, wealth, harlotry, persecutions, and evil desires that historically have been part of this Satanic organization (1Ne. 13:1-10)25
In 1834, E. D. Howe published Mormonism Unvailed . . . a full detail of the manner in which the famous Golden Bible was brought before the world. To which are added, inquiries into the probability that the historical part of the said bible was written by one Solomon Spalding, more than twenty years ago . . . 26
In his book, Howe gives the statements of John Spaulding, the brother of Solomon Spaulding; Henry Lake, a business partner; John N. Miller, an employee of Spaulding's; Aaron Wright, a friend; Oliver Smith, Spaulding's landlord; Nahum Howard, another friend; and Artemas Cunningham, a person from whom Spaulding had borrowed money; and others.27 These people all state that they were well acquainted with Solomon Spaulding and [they also] connect Spaulding's writings, in one way or another, to the Book of Mormon.
While there may have been, as Brodie states, "a little judicious prompting" on the part of Philastus Hurlbut, who had collected the statements, E. D. Howe vouches for the veracity of the witnesses:
He (Hurlbut) finally came to me to have the evidence he had obtained published. I arranged to pay him in books which sent to him at Conneaut O. Before publishing my book I went to Conneaut and saw most of the witnesses who had seen Spaulding's Manuscript Found and had testified to its identity with the Book of Mormon as published in my book and was satisfied they were men of intelligence and respectability and were not mistaken in their statements.28Philastus Hurlbut, a former Mormon, had previously done missionary work with Orson Hyde in Pennsylvania and Ohio in 1833.29
25 Brue R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, I958, p. 130.
26 E. D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, Painesville, Ohio, 1834, Title Page.
27 Ibid, pp. 278-290.
28 E. D. Howe Letter, in: Mormon Collection, Arthur P. Deming MSS, Chicago Historical Society.
29 Orson Hyde Letter to G. J. Adams, in: Journal History of the Church, LDS Church Archives, microfilm copy in Special Collections, University of Utah Marriott Library; printed in George J. Adams, A Few Plain Facts . . . Bedford, Eng., 1841.
Hyde had preached from the Book of Mormon in New Salem (later known as Conneaut), Ohio, the former residence of Solomon Spaulding.30 Former friends and relatives of Rev. Spaulding had alerted Hurlbut to a possible connection between Spaulding's writings and the Book of Mormon. In 1839, Matilda Spaulding Davison, the widow of Solomon Spaulding, [was cited as providing this information:]
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 [in first printing: "woman"] 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.31Concerning the same event at Conneaut, Rev. Abner Jackson states: "When it (the Book of Mormon) was brought to Conneaut, and read there in public, old Esquire Wright (Aaron Wright) heard it and exclaimed,'Old come to pass has come to life again."32
The affidavits show that there was a solid basis for Hurlbut's solicitation of statements from the Conneaut witnesses. The Mormons had used the Book of Mormon text in their meetings to gain converts in Conneaut, and the friends and relatives of Spaulding recognized the historical parts of the book as being Spaulding's work.
Solomon Spaulding's reputation as a writer of fiction was well known among his friends and relatives.33 On the other hand, there are no recorded witnesses to the boyhood years of Joseph Smith Jr., who tell of his being engaged in writing the Book of Mormon. [The research and writing of] a work of 588 pages of history and religious doctrine would have taken considerable time and effort to accomplish. It seems unlikely that Smith could have written such a work in secret.
By his own admission, Smith lamented his inability to convey his ideas in writing. According to Dean Jessee:
31 Matilda Spaulding Davison Statement, as reported by A. Ely, D.D., Pastor, Congregational Church, in Monson, MA, and D. R. Austin, Principal of the Monson Academy, April 1839. Published in the form of a letter in the Boston Recorder, April 19, 1839; widely reprinted in various sources, including the New Hampshire Patriot & State Gazette, Concord, NH, May 6, 1839.
32 Abner Jackson's Statement, Washington Reporter, Washington, PA, Jan. 7, 1881.
33 George T. Chapman, D.D., Sketches of the Alumni of Dartmouth College, 1867.
He wrote, that because indigent circumstances required the exertions of his father's entire family to sustain themselves, he had been deprived of the benefit of an education, being instructed merely in 'reading writing and the ground rules of arithmetic,' which constituted his 'whole literary requirements.'
In July 1832, Joseph Smith began writing his personal history, but discontinued the task in November the same year. He began a second record in the form of a diary, but left most of the writing to his scribes. The historical record shows that Joseph Smith struggled with his writing endeavors, even shrinking from the responsibility of writing his own history, while Solomon Spaulding was known to be a writer of fiction.
The spring 1980 Issue of BYU Studies featured a paper entitled "Who Wrote the Book of Mormon? An Analysis of Wordprint," by Wayne A. Larson, Alvin C, Rencher, and Tim Layton. Their purpose was to show by "stylistic wordprint" that there were 24 different authors in the Book of Mormon. They state that multiple authorship would be strong evidence for Joseph Smith's account for the origin of the Book of Mormon and that all writers have "linguistic fingerprints," a "subconscious pattern," which uniquely characterizes the author's writings. They quote Douglas Chretien, another writer on the subject: "The conscious features of style can be imitated . . . but the unconscious and subconscious features surely can not, and a test of authorship, if it is to be reliable, must be built on them." The BYU researchers state that "for a given author these habits are not affected by the passage of time, change of subject matter or literary form" and that authors differ in their rate of usage of prepositions and conjunctions without conscious effort.
34 Dean Jesse, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, compiled and edited by Dean Jesse, 1984, Preface.
The frequency of commonly occurring noncontextual words was used by the BYU researchers to determine the wordprints of Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Solomon Spaulding, and others. These wordprints were then compared with Book of Mormon author wordprints using the current edition of the Book of Mormon.
Three different standardized statistical tests were applied to the writings, which the researchers called "multivariate analyses of variance, cluster analyses, and classification analyses." [The methodology, process, and results for] all the tests [they conducted] were explained in detail. The words used in the tests were "42 infrequently occurring" noncontextual words, "38 frequently occurring" noncontextual words, and the following "10 most frequently used" noncontextual words: and, the, of, that, to, unto, in, it, for, and be.
The researchers concluded that in all three tests the results were the same. "The Book of Mormon authors . . . do not resemble any of the nineteenth century authors" and [that their findings] "should discredit the theories that Joseph Smith, Solomon Spaulding or others wrote it."
They also concluded that "the implications for translation are that the process was both direct and literal and that each individual (Book of Mormon) author's style was preserved. Possibly it was given to Joseph Smith word for word."
The BYU researchers admit, however, that the texts used in their test "contain the that's, and's etc. of Bible phraseology" and that [future researchers would] ". . . need to determine what differences are introduced by using the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon rather than the present edition."
Study Results Questioned
By their own rules for wordprint testing, the results of the BYU wordprint test are nullified. [This is the case] because "conscious" words were [selected and] used for their tests. Critics believe that the Book of Mormon was consciously written in King James English to make the text appear to be an ancient record. If this is so, the Bible phraseology in the text was consciously included [and, probably, many non-biblical words were consciously excluded]. The words of the commonly used Bible phrase, "And it came to pass that . . ." were included [by] the BYU [researchers in their testing process without any attempt on their part to account for the inevitable data skewing which must result from their occurances in the Book of Mormon text]. These six words alone alter the test results considerably. [The Book of Mormon text includes a large number of these repetitious, archaic or pseudo-archaic formulae, most of which are presumed to have been conscious introductions into its narrative.]
To make a true[ly useful] wordprint test on the Book of Mormon, the researcher would need to refrain from [including repetitious biblical and archaic] words and phrases phrases which may have been consciously used by the author to make the record appear ancient. It would also be necessary [that the researcher make use of] only the original, unaltered version of the [Book of Mormon text, as preserved in the "Printer's Manuscript"] of the work.
The modern edition of the Book of Mormon contains over 3,900 grammatical corrections that have been made since the first edition was published.35 For example the word and has been deleted seven times on page 440; the word that has been deleted 77 times in the book of 1 Nephi; the word which was used for who; is was used for are; was was used for were, etc. Therefore, the use of the modern edition text of the Book of Mormon, [along with the inclusion of the Mormon text's gross repetition] of biblical expressions in the material used by the BYU researchers, makes their test a misrepresentation of a truly unconscious wordprint.*
A [similar] study, more carefully performed [with more rigorous controls and making use of] the first edition text might indeed reveal wordprints pointing to Spaulding or someone else. In the next section I present my own admittedly less "scientific" comparison.
The following table represents the results of my personal study of the [works] of four nineteenth-century writers compared with [certain texts] taken from the Book of Mormon. Only words thought to be [unconsciously selected] words of the authors were used in the study: the, of, to, in, it, for, be, but, this, and is. A total of 116,000 words of text were used in the study: 54,000 from the Book of Mormon and 62,000 from the four nineteenth-century writers.
[My tabulation shows] the average number of times each selected word was used in the Book of Mormon compared with that of four nineteenth-century writers. [The names of the two authors whose word counts showed the least average difference with Book of Mormon word counts (Solomon Spaulding and Oliver Cowdery) are printed in color.]
35 Tanner and Tanner, 3,913 Changes in the Book of Mormon
* Several critiques and reports on Book of Mormon wordprints have appeared since the publication of the 1980 BYU Studies article, some of which debate the validity of these wordprints in authorship studies.
Separate tests were made on the writings of Mormon. Mormon's writings, called the "Book of Mormon," were compared with his abridgment of the wars in the Book of Alma, his chapters on Christian theology (also found in the Book of Alma) and his abridgement of 3 Nephi. These writings, [when] compared with Mormon's "Book of Mormon," show that there is an average variance in Mormon's writings of 3.0 [noncontextual] words per thousand words of text. A comparison was then made of the wordprints of the writings of Nephi and Moroni to Mormon's "Book of Mormon." It was found that Nephi's wordprint varied from Mormon's by 3.4 [noncontextual] words per thousand and Moroni's by 3.2 [noncontextual] words per thousand. The small wordprint variances between the writings of Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni suggest [that they may be the work of] a common author. The available samples taken from the writings of Lehi were thought to be too small to reflect a true wordprint.
Wordprints from the four nineteenth-century writers were tabulated from the following works: 10,000 words from Joseph Smith's personal writings36 and 12,000 from his diaries recorded in the handwriting of his scribes,37 8,000 words from the of writings of Sidney Rigdon, 7,000 from the writings of Oliver Cowdery, 38 and 25.000 words from the writings of Solomon Spaulding.39
Two tests were made on Joseph Smith's writings. The test made on the 10,000-word block in his own handwriting, when compared with the combined Book of Mormon [texts,] resulted in an average difference of 8.1 [noncontextual] words per thousand words of text; while the wordprint by his scribes averaged [a difference of] only 4.9. The difference between the two samples of Smith's work suggests that [either] the work done by scribes was not a word for word transcription from Smith's dictation or that [perhaps] he was not the author of the [10,000-word] work.
Two separate tests were also made on the Spaulding manuscript to determine the accuracy of the research and the consistency of Spaulding's writing. The results of the first test of 10,000 words, paired with those of the second test of 15,000 words, showed an average difference of only 1.3 words per thousand words of text.
It became evident [to me], as this study progressed, that the larger the block of words [I] used, the more uniform the wordprint results became, and when [I made use of texts with] less than 6,000 words (as in the writings of Lehi) the authorship [characteristics] of the given work could [nolonger be uniformily] determined.
The minimal variance of the average wordprints of Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni suggests [to me] that these three works were [probably] written by the same person. [My finding] differs from the conclusion [reached by] the BYU researchers: that there were 24 different authors in the Book of Mormon.
A comparison of the wordprint in the text relating to the religious parts of the Book of Mormon to that of the [more typically] historical parts, shows they were probably both written by the same person. [If this finding is correct, it would dispel the traditional] assumption that Sidney Rigdon may have added [some or all of] the religious parts to the text.
The 8.1 average [noncontextual word] variance between Smith's wordprint and the combined Book of Mormon wordprints shows that Joseph Smith, jr. was the least likely of the four nineteenth-century writers tested to have been the author of the Book of Mormon.
The 1.8 average difference, per thousand words of text, between Spaulding's wordprint and the combined Book of Mormon wordprint falls well within the variance of Mormon's writings and shows that Spaulding was most likely [of all the tested writers, to have been] the author of the Book of Mormon.
36 From Joseph Smith's 1832 account of his life, from his [autograph] diaries, and letters to his wife and others.
37 From writings of Smith's scribes (to determine if Smith dictated [the non-autograph] parts of his diaries).
38 From the writings of Rigdon and Cowdery [as printed] in the LDS Messenger and Advocate, vols. 1-3.
39 From a transcript of Spaulding's [untitled MS in the Archives of] Oberlin College in Ohio.
last revised: May 12, 1999