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Two voices in the Book of Mormon


robuchan

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I'm very curious about the Spalding-Rigdon theory.

Plus

1. I think the latest Stanford study is somewhat compelling.

2. No other theory is satisfactory to me.

3. Romantic and mysterious--would make a good movie.

4. Two voices, explained below

(I know it's not much)

Minus

1. Psychology of keeping the conspiracy secret is nearly impossible to explain.

But anyway, here's something to add to the discussion about the two distinct voices I observe in the Book of Mormon.

Thomas Donofrio lays the groundwork for this but doesn't connect the dots

http://www.mormonthink.com/influences.htm

In this article, various source material is looked at with unique vocabulary, phrases, and ideas compared to the Book of Mormon.

Donofrio doesn't do this, but I divide the source material into two areas.

1. Spalding source material. Here you have (from the Donofrio article) Mercy Otis Warren, David Ramsay, and George Washington along with various other founding fathers. This is source material for the BOM historical narrative covering the plot and story line in the BOM with the war and freedom themes. This is the more consistent voice, heavier in Mosiah, Alma, Helamon.

2. Rigdon source material. Here you have (again from Donofrio article) Jonathon Edwards, Whitefield, Edwards Jr. This is source material for the doctrinal discourses of the BOM. This voice is lighter and comes and goes when various BOM prophets go into preacher mode. King Benjamin's address, end of Moroni, end of 2 Nephi, etc.

I'd be very curious in the future to see Spalding-Rigdon theorists break up the BOM into Spalding pieces and Rigdon pieces and analyze them separately as far as source material and word print studies.

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The Stanford study has absolutely no value for me. I understand it. The method is fatally flawed.

I have responded to Donofrio's theory. He has no method. When he summarized his arguments against my position, all he said was, and I quote: "I know it when I see it". That is hardly the kind of process I would put my faith behind.

The word print studies generally look at the text divided up into chapters (modern chapter divisions). This seems to be a narrow enough slice to answer your suggestion I would think, don't you?

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I'd be very curious in the future to see Spalding-Rigdon theorists break up the BOM into Spalding pieces and Rigdon pieces and analyze them separately as far as source material and word print studies.

I have no dog in this hunt, but this article did lead me to discover the existence of LDS member Grant H. Palmer and his theories on the origins of Mormonism, and also the existence of a 1823 book called "Views of the Hebrews" that said the American Indians were descended from the lost ten tribes of Israel six or seven years before those eleven witnesses ever saw the golden plates with "spiritual eyes".

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A little while ago we discovered a fascinating parallel between the Book of Mormon and the Spaulding manuscript that (to my knowledge) has been overlooked by critics and apologists alike. This should come in handy for people uninterested in plowing through all of the old research on the Spaulding story.

The striking parallel is found during the mud sliding race in Spaulding's manuscript:

In making this decent, six young women & five young men by a surprizing dexterity in whirling their bodies as they dcended cleared themselvs from the quagmire
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The biggest problem I have with this theory is that we should expect some similarities in writings from the same time period. I believe one anti site even got things from history books of the time period and matched them to the BoM. For instance, I found some similarities in style in some of Stephen King and L. Ron Hubbard's works (I used to read a lot of scifi and horror in high school). Now, could we expect 150 years from now for people to claim Stephen King had a part in founding the Church of Scientology?

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I just think that it's interesting that Rigdon's and Spalding's names both appear on a document from the same post office--a post office at which Spalding allegedly left a manuscript.

These connections are probably some of the greatest evidence for the theory. I heard the Smith family lived close to Spalding at one time as well. It's highly probably that Rigdon and Spaulding knew each other.

Here's a post I posted awhile back that tells antimormon A True Ott's (Alma Ott) view on the Spaulding Theory:

http://www.mormonapologetics.org/topic/41934-new-twist-on-the-spaulding-theory/page__p__1208615396__hl__a%20true%20ott%20twist%20spaulding%20theory__fromsearch__1entry1208615396

This post is interesting because Ott implicates Spaulding and Rigdon as well as the Jesuits and accounts for the reason Manuscript Story is different from the BoM.

The post office thing really made me doubt Mormonism first time I heard about it. That's why I think more research should be done in this area to prove once for all whether or not Spaulding and Rigdon wrote it. Ott makes a lot of accusations and I'm not sure if he has any proof to back up his story, like the name of the Jesuit priest.

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The word print studies generally look at the text divided up into chapters (modern chapter divisions). This seems to be a narrow enough slice to answer your suggestion I would think, don't you?

True, good point. And maybe I don't know enough about word print study methodology, but many chapters are split between historical (Spalding) and religious (Rigdon). I wonder if it would be more statistically significant to come up with 30 pages of pure historical narrative and 15 pages of pure doctrinal preaching and analyze them as separate works.

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I just think that it's interesting that Rigdon's and Spalding's names both appear on a document from the same post office--a post office at which Spalding allegedly left a manuscript.

Oh..... that is good. THis theory must be true then. What a wonderful leap you just made.

Beside LoaP already confirmed that the "Manuscript Found" is really the source for the BoM.

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Who wrote "The Bible" really?

Does it matter? Nobody even has a clue and nobody cares. It works and gives us a method of living which has led to American civilization which is, considering the world's history, not perfect, but about the best thing we have come up with yet.

The BOM takes this farther in the right direction as far as I am concerned. That, and the spirit's confirmation works fine for me, dummy that I am.

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The "two voices" idea is just dumb to me....

Just reading the book you can see a voice of the original author of each book, you can see the voice of the editor, the compiler, the translators voice, etc.

Let's ignore the Spalding/historical narrative voice and focus on the Rigdon/evangelical voice.

I'm just a noob critic, so I may not get this right, but I'm not an idiot, and I think there's something to this if you look at it closely.

1. Combine the great doctrinal discourses in the BOM. I'll quickly throw out a group, though this is obviously not exhaustive. 2 Nephi 2, 2 Nephi 9, 2 Nephi 31, Mosiah 2-5, Mosiah 16, Alma 5, Alma 7, Alma 34, Alma 40-41, Ether 12, Moroni 7, Moroni 10. This set of verses spans multiple BOM voices, yet they are all extremely consistent. They read like one voice.

2. Take these chapters as one doctrinal work and compare them to doctrine in various time periods. Anything resemble it in Israel 600 BC? or any other time prior to the ministry of Christ? Nope, nothing even close. What about early Christianity? Not really. What about modern Christianity? Not so much. What about modern LDS teachings? No, you get some crossover but a typical general conference is much more doctrinally diverse. What about 1840's Mormonism? Not even close. What about early 1800's American Christianity? Bullseye.

3. Then, this is where I think it gets interesting. If you only had to choose as possible authors between Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon as the author of this work, who would you choose? This is a very limited theology. Joseph was always interested in the grander scheme. The magical, mystical things in his younger years and then after the organization of the church, quickly into the cosmos and exaltation of man and the unique doctrines. Joseph wan't interested in the finer arguments within the Christian community. Rigdon definitely was.

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True, good point. And maybe I don't know enough about word print study methodology, but many chapters are split between historical (Spalding) and religious (Rigdon). I wonder if it would be more statistically significant to come up with 30 pages of pure historical narrative and 15 pages of pure doctrinal preaching and analyze them as separate works.
I think what you propose would be rather difficult - not because you couldn't do it, but because there wouldn't necessarily be an easy way of demonstrating that you hadn't rigged the experiment by using such a subjective selection process.

The reason why they like to use the chapters broken up in the current format is simply that they are reasonably small chunks of text (without being too small), and for all intents and purposes, the sizes of the textual units are predetermined from a presumably non-biased source (non-biased as far as these kinds of investigations go). Mormons also see a two voice authorship in the Book of Mormon btw. Mormon/Moroni wrote the majority of the text, while Nephi wrote most of what's left (Jacob, Enos, Jarom, and Omni don't make a statistically huge piece of the pie).

If you were really going to go after these pieces, by the way, using a method like Criddle, et al., I would want to see a different method of choosing the test vocabulary. Instead of using their schema, I would be interested in seeing say the 100 most frequently used words in the 1830s (its not that different by the way from the 100 most common words used today) - but this would certainly take out much of similarity in language caused by shared content (warfare for example) which would tend to cloud the question in normal word print studies, where the interest is primarily in non-contextual words. Essentially what you would be doing is proposing that there are two different authors (based on content), and then separating the text into these two authors, and seeing if the footprint for each of the unknown authors is significantly different enough to warrant such a conclusion. You might also need to take other authors and propose the same kinds of tests to see if it has the similar results when we know that there is one (or two) authors.

In any case, this brings up the major underlying problem with the Criddle study. While it can tell you which of the proposed test authors is most like the unknown author, it cannot really tell you how close they are themselves. Since each author is reduced to a series of vectors (words with frequencies), how do you propose to determine when a proposed author is close enough, or when it is most likely that none of the proposed test authors is close enough to make any kind of conclusive arguments about authorship? Would you call the Criddle study dead, for example, if I could find an author that more closely resembled the Book of Mormon than either Spaulding or Rigdon (or Joseph Smith for that matter ....)

Ben M.

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I think what you propose would be rather difficult - not because you couldn't do it, but because there wouldn't necessarily be an easy way of demonstrating that you hadn't rigged the experiment by using such a subjective selection process.

The reason why they like to use the chapters broken up in the current format is simply that they are reasonably small chunks of text (without being too small), and for all intents and purposes, the sizes of the textual units are predetermined from a presumably non-biased source (non-biased as far as these kinds of investigations go). Mormons also see a two voice authorship in the Book of Mormon btw. Mormon/Moroni wrote the majority of the text, while Nephi wrote most of what's left (Jacob, Enos, Jarom, and Omni don't make a statistically huge piece of the pie).

If you were really going to go after these pieces, by the way, using a method like Criddle, et al., I would want to see a different method of choosing the test vocabulary. Instead of using their schema, I would be interested in seeing say the 100 most frequently used words in the 1830s (its not that different by the way from the 100 most common words used today) - but this would certainly take out much of similarity in language caused by shared content (warfare for example) which would tend to cloud the question in normal word print studies, where the interest is primarily in non-contextual words. Essentially what you would be doing is proposing that there are two different authors (based on content), and then separating the text into these two authors, and seeing if the footprint for each of the unknown authors is significantly different enough to warrant such a conclusion. You might also need to take other authors and propose the same kinds of tests to see if it has the similar results when we know that there is one (or two) authors.

In any case, this brings up the major underlying problem with the Criddle study. While it can tell you which of the proposed test authors is most like the unknown author, it cannot really tell you how close they are themselves. Since each author is reduced to a series of vectors (words with frequencies), how do you propose to determine when a proposed author is close enough, or when it is most likely that none of the proposed test authors is close enough to make any kind of conclusive arguments about authorship? Would you call the Criddle study dead, for example, if I could find an author that more closely resembled the Book of Mormon than either Spaulding or Rigdon (or Joseph Smith for that matter ....)

Ben M.

Thanks. I wouldn't call the study dead if you could find an author that more closely resembled BOM than Spaulding, Rigdon, or Smith. I think the whole field of word print study, textual analysis and comparison and all that is a huge area that is only now beginning to be tapped, and believe in the end it will be the key to unravel the mystery of where the BOM came from.

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I have no dog in this hunt, but this article did lead me to discover the existence of LDS member Grant H. Palmer and his theories on the origins of Mormonism, and also the existence of a 1823 book called "Views of the Hebrews" that said the American Indians were descended from the lost ten tribes of Israel six or seven years before those eleven witnesses ever saw the golden plates with "spiritual eyes".

Palmer is such a great scholar that he uncritically quotes the 1922 B.H. Roberts Study that compared the Book of Mormon with View of the Hebrews, and completely ignores the single most important study on the topic, John W. Welch's 1985 paper, "Answering B. H. Roberts Questions and an 'Unparallel'"", which shows how unkind time has been to Roberts' questions, and how consistently the Book of Mormon both ignores and contradicts Views. Palmer should not be read in a vacuum. He consistently ignores important scholarship, important sources, and consistently suppresses information in his own sources that contradict his thesis. His one sentence dismissal of Richard L. Anderson's Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses, for example, falls far short of responding to Anderson's case. Palmer favors anomalous, late, hostile accounts over first-hand accounts from the witnesses. There are some essential responses to Palmer at FARMS and FAIR. Plus, you can get the book, Opening the Heavens from FARMS, which includes the original source documents that Palmer is allegedly introducing his readers to, but actually isn't. See, for instance, the first paragraph of the 1832 account, compared to Palmer's claims about priesthood. It's just sad.

And not so incidentally, in the Book of Mormon, the lost 10 Tribes are lost, and are expressly not the Book of Mormon peoples. Many readers, including Harvard's Harold Bloom, assume otherwise, but in so doing only demonstrate that they have not bothered to read closely.

And the difference between Lehi's and Mulek's people and the Lost 10 tribes consistitutes a difference that makes a difference. The lost 10 tribes would not be affected by the Deuteronomist Reform. In Jerusalem of 600 BCE, that was a huge, distinctive process.

Kevin Christensen

Pittsburgh, PA

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I just think that it's interesting that Rigdon's and Spalding's names both appear on a document from the same post office--a post office at which Spalding allegedly left a manuscript.

Could you please provide a reference for the manuscript allegedly being left at the post office as well as the date of the document you mention above (the notice in the Commonwealth), and then explain why you would find it interesting that both Spalding and Rigdon had letters waiting for them at the one post office that serviced the sizable area around Pittsburg in which they both lived?

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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Personally, I find the Spalding-Rigdon theory the most convincing of the lot.

That said, whatever theory you come up with, it always has to compete with the current official story of an angel appearing to Joseph Smith telling him where to find ancient gold plates which he then translated from an unknown language by means of looking at a magic stone in a hat (I say "current official story" because the magic stone in the hat has only relatively recently become known in somewhat wider circles, although I am pretty sure that there are plenty of LDS still unaware of this little tale).

So, is the Spalding-Rigdon story more likely to be true than the official one? I'd say...

Here's more on my opinion on the historicity of the BoM (should anyone be interested).

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Persoanlly, i think it one of the weakest. Beyond the unwieldiness of the conspiracy, would anyone care to explain why there is no contact with Rigdon until after the church was organized?

I agree. I think it is a very poor theory with many many holes. Most of the theory involves bald assertions, such as "Such and such book was probably at dartmouth and Rigdon probably reasearched it on his way passing through".

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Could you please provide a reference for the manuscript allegedly being left at the post office as well as the date of the document you mention above (the notice in the Commonwealth), and then explain why you would find it interesting that both Spalding and Rigdon had letters waiting for them at the one post office that serviced the sizable area around Pittsburg in which they both lived?

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

So strange huh? Thye must both be in on it.

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