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The Case Against Rigdon, Spalding, Pratt, Cowdery, et al


Glenn101

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One of the theories concerning Book of Mormon authorship is that somehow Sidney Rigdon, Parley P. Pratt, and Oliver Cowdery somehow colluded to write the Book of Mormon based upon a non-extant document authored by one Solomon Spalding. Laying aside any discussion of word print studies or even about the possibility that Spalding authored another lost manuscript, I think the evidence leans so heavily against this theory as to make it rationally untenable.

I am not debating the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon or its historicity. Nor am I debating any other theory or the relative merits of any other theory.

Here are some, but not all of the problems any proposed nineteenth century author has to overcome in order to receive any consideration for being a plausible author of the Book of Mormon.

1. Proper names in the Book of Mormon, 337 of them. 188 unique to the Book of Mormon. Check out Paul Y. Hoskisson,

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I do not suscribe to any particular theory about the Book of Mormon. I just do not know for sure, but it is not the hits that validate something it is the misses or lack thereof. If you are going to tackle all the hits you need to list all the misses at the same time to get an accurate picture.

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One of the theories concerning Book of Mormon authorship is that somehow Sidney Rigdon, Parley P. Pratt, and Oliver Cowdery somehow colluded to write the Book of Mormon based upon a non-extant document authored by one Solomon Spalding. Laying aside any discussion of word print....

I propose a website that allows people to upload text of their choosing for BoM wordprint analysis.

I, for one, would like to know which chapters of Alma I wrote. And which chapters of Mosiah my coworkers wrote.

If it could print out a certificate proving certain passages trace to someone's writing style, all the better.

Look son! You're certified as having written the psalm of Nephi!

(Statistics based on intentionally-skewed sampling can be as fun as play-dough! It's a lot like spin the bottle - only more exciting!) :P

It would make for fun apologetic counter argument.

But back to your comment - good stuff. The greatest evidence for the Book of Mormon are the results one gets from reading/pondering its message - and the lives of the people who actually take it to heart.

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it is not the hits that validate something it is the misses or lack thereof [sic, "misses" don't validate, but we know what you are insinuating]. If you are going to tackle all the hits you need to list all the misses at the same time to get an accurate picture.

There is no list of confirmed "misses", as far as I know.

Every one of the proposed misses has to be updated from time to time as new evidence comes to light. One of the more famous such misses-now-confirmed-as-hits is the use of "Alma" as a man's name. Once thought to have been a terrible anomaly, it is confirmed that Hebrew/Jewish men were named "Alma". As research (both LDS and outside the Church) advances the list of proposed and assumed misses dwindles.

Another is the Arabian Bountiful. Once upon a time, no one beyond the peninsula believed that any place in Arabia existed that had "much fruit" and the other characteristics of Nephi's Bountiful, but we now know of a fairly wide swath of the southeastern coast that meets those criteria nicely, and one that does so very nearly perfectly (I know of only one feature not explicitly discovered).

Further, this hypothetical list doesn't seem to grow. I have seen few or no additional to it as more and more critics attack the Book of Mormon.

Lehi

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Here are some, but not all of the problems any proposed nineteenth century author has to overcome in order to receive any consideration for being a plausible author of the Book of Mormon.

1. Proper names in the Book of Mormon, 337 of them. 188 unique to the Book of Mormon. Check out Paul Y. Hoskisson,

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One of the theories concerning Book of Mormon authorship is that somehow Sidney Rigdon, Parley P. Pratt, and Oliver Cowdery somehow colluded to write the Book of Mormon based upon a non-extant document authored by one Solomon Spalding. Laying aside any discussion of word print studies or even about the possibility that Spalding authored another lost manuscript, I think the evidence leans so heavily against this theory as to make it rationally untenable.

There is a lot more. If any skeptic can produce evidence that the proposed authors, any or all, could overcome those hurdles, please clue me in.

it's not obvious to me that the RPC theory is "rationally untenable" in light of your points. I believe the onus is on you to show it as rationally untenable since it is your claim.
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it's not obvious to me that the RPC theory is "rationally untenable" in light of your points. I believe the onus is on you to show it as rationally untenable since it is your claim.

The RPC theorists have produced no plausible evidence for their claims. It is not my burden to prove a theory wrong if there is nothing to refute.

But I am asking for evidence that the proposed authors could have written the Book of Mormon given the few problems that I submitted. Please reply with substantive evidence that is to the point.

Glenn

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The RPC theorists have produced no plausible evidence for their claims. It is not my burden to prove a theory wrong if there is nothing to refute.

But I am asking for evidence that the proposed authors could have written the Book of Mormon given the few problems that I submitted. Please reply with substantive evidence that is to the point.

Glenn

It's rationally tenable that an author or authors of the Book of Mormon could have made up names, kept track of most of the characters (although I believe there were some later corrections along those lines), and written some passages in a crude chiastic manner. It's also tenable that someone relying heavily on the KJV Bible would use hebrew variations of words (and they might, along the way, mistakenly use Greek and Latin variations, too). No one writes English without punctuation? Look up Jos Smith's Oct 22, 1829 letter to Oliver Cowdery. No punctuation, there, either. Now, who writes a letter to someone without punctuation - or could the letter be evidence of Hebrew origins?

Again, if you think your points are rationally untenable for a 19th c. author(s) then you have to prove it.

Since the study of languages doesn't necessarily require an adherence or devotion to a particular religion, why don't you simply show how non-LDS scholars - and specifically Hebrew scholars - view and judge the Book of Mormon claims of Hebrew origins. Have any Mormon scholars made a case for the Book of Mormon as authentic ancient Hebrew outside of the provenance of the LDS Church?

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It's rationally tenable that an author or authors of the Book of Mormon could have made up names, kept track of most of the characters (although I believe there were some later corrections along those lines), and written some passages in a crude chiastic manner.

I asked for evidence that the authors in question had shown any such ability. An assertion is not evidence. Your opinion ignores the reality of fiction writing with large character casts. I provided an example of one work with a large set of characters which took years to complete and left a paper trail. And your assertion about the names has no supporting evidence. Making up 188 unique but plausible names is no easy task. Space does not permit a full treatment of that here, but check it out. Your assertion about crude chiastic structures is correct, but there have are many well crafted, complex chiasms in the Book of Mormon, such as Alma 36. Show some evidence that any of the proposed authors had that ability or even recognized the genre before the publication of the Book of Mormon.

It's also tenable that someone relying heavily on the KJV Bible would use hebrew variations of words (and they might, along the way, mistakenly use Greek and Latin variations, too). No one writes English without punctuation? Look up Jos Smith's Oct 22, 1829 letter to Oliver Cowdery. No punctuation, there, either. Now, who writes a letter to someone without punctuation - or could the letter be evidence of Hebrew origins?

The direct quotes from the Bible are understandable for their Hebraic constructs. What is not understandable from a naturalistic standpoint is the changes to the quotation from Isaiah 48:1-12 in Nephi 20:1-12 which resulted in a chiastic structure. Again, you have produced no proof for your assertion that any of the proposed authors were capable of correctly integrating Hebraic structures in the text of the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith is not one of the proposed authors in the Rigdon/Spalding/Pratt/Cowdery theory.

Again, if you think your points are rationally untenable for a 19th c. author(s) then you have to prove it.

I have presented my evidential points. You have replied with unsupported assertions. It is logically fallacious to require proof that a theory is flawed incorrect. It is the burden of the theorists to prove or at least show with plausble evidence that their theory has some validity. That has not happened.

Since the study of languages doesn't necessarily require an adherence or devotion to a particular religion, why don't you simply show how non-LDS scholars - and specifically Hebrew scholars - view and judge the Book of Mormon claims of Hebrew origins. Have any Mormon scholars made a case for the Book of Mormon as authentic ancient Hebrew outside of the provenance of the LDS Church?

This is not on topic. We are talking about the Rigdon/Spalding/Pratt/Cowdery theory the evidence for and against it. I have presented evidence against it. So far all I have from you are unsupported assertions with no evidence.

Glenn

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I propose a website that allows people to upload text of their choosing for BoM wordprint analysis.

I second this motion - and I'll fit in some of my fiction works into it, and 'hey' looks like I wrote part X of the BoM... except I was born nearly 200 years later... it actually sounds like alot of fun XD.

It doesn't look like Jockers is going to like it if there IS a website put up.

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why don't you simply show how non-LDS scholars - and specifically Hebrew scholars - view and judge the Book of Mormon claims of Hebrew origins.

To my knowledge, Margaret Barker is the only scholar who has never yet been LDS (in this life) who has taken a serious look at the Book of Mormon. You can read one of her articles at the posted link.

http://maxwellinstit...kid=2&chapid=36

And you can read more about her work on the Book of Mormon here.

http://maxwellinstit...arker&search=Go

A few months ago, this board mentioned some MesoAmerican archaeologists who joined the Church after studying our text, but I don't remember their names.

Yours under the well-supported oaks,

Nathair /|\

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I have presented my evidential points. You have replied with unsupported assertions.

A short list of Book of Mormon anachronisms, Biblical and geographical derivations, and outright errors can be reviewed here.These are not assertions, but facts. If you care to show how they reflect an unadulterated Hebrew/Reformed Egyptian source, have at it.

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I think Roger suncinctly presents the arguments for the S/R Theory

"The way I see it, the testimony of the Conneaut 8 is the backbone of S/R. If you take away that testimony or, as Brodie attempts, make it appear unreliable, embellished or contrived, then, IMO, the whole thing becomes questionable. But there is good reason to view the Conneaut testimony as fairly reliable. It is possible Hurlbut did some mild coaching which could account for some of the similarities, but Hurlbut did not make up the S/R hypothesis, he merely picked up the ball and ran with it. And in fact the "R" portion wasn't even part of the equation when Hurlbut started running. In addition, S/R critics like Ben want to focus exclusively on the similarities in the Conneaut testimony but ignore the differences.

Next we have the Amity testimony and other later testimonies that support the original Conneaut testimonies but were not solicited by Hurlbut or Howe.

We also have gaps in the itineraries of Rigdon and Smith that make collusion a real possibility. S/R could be rendered highly unlikely by simply showing that Rigdon and Smith's paths could not have crossed prior to 1831. While the existing gaps don't prove collusion, they certainly leave the possibility open.

One key later testimony is that of Rebecca Eichbaum who essentially grew up at the Pittsburgh post office. She ought to know who regularly came to pick up mail there. Her testimony is key because it puts Rigdon in close proximity to Spalding and has Rigdon and Lambdin as close friends. Prior to the recent discovery of the mail-waiting notice that has both Rigdon and Spalding's names on it, her testimony was simply dismissed (by S/R critics) as unreliable because it was late and everyone knows an old woman could never remember that far back. Of course the mail-waiting notice shows that Eichbaum's memory was working just fine. S/R critics still try to downplay her testimony, but it is a major plus for S/R.

Then we have Spalding's Roman Story--or Mansucript Story Conneaut Creek--being re-discovered in 1884 in Uncle Dale's corner of the globe. Thinking there were no similarities between it and the BOM, S/R critics published it under the misleading title of "The Manuscript Found" and proclaimed S/R a dead theory. And until people like Vernal Holley and Uncle Dale started closely examining the parallels between it and the writings of Joseph Smith, it was essentially a theory in remission.

Another key component to me, is the fact that Smith's discovery narrative for the BOM was not written until 1838... five years AFTER Hurlbut did his muckracking. By then, Howe's book was old news. I fail to understand how critics like Ben Maguire or Chris Smith can write that off as an insignificant coincidence. It's interesting to consider that Smith may have gotten that set of parallels from a Hurlbut-supplied Spalding manuscript!

If you're looking at this from either the Official or Smith alone point of view, you have to assume those parallels are coincidence. There is no other explanation. But when you examine those parallels (which are more than just the mentioning of a lever, btw) it is difficult to think there is no connection. That such parallels should be produced by coincidence years AFTER the charge of a connection had already been made and AFTER the scuffle with Hurlbut in 1834 and AFTER Howe's book was published linking Smith to Spalding through Rigdon is absurd, in my opinion. That those specific parallels can only be explained by coincidence, is bad enough for the Official Version (since in that case Joseph's real discovery just coincidentally paralleled Spalding's fictitious one), but it's even worse from the perspective of Smith Alone, which admits that Joseph was making up a story and there never really were any genuinely ancient plates to discover. In that case, you have to assume that Joseph makes up a fictitious story about how he discovered an ancient manuscript, that just coincidentally contains striking parallels to Spalding's fictitious account of the same thing! And to make matters worse, he does this years after the testimony linking him to Spalding was on the books.

Finally, we can add to all that, Jocker's word print data, which supports the S/R premise and now even Bruce Schaalje's chart inadvertently supports predictions Uncle Dale made from an S/R framework decades ago.

Craig also has some new info that which, as Dale mentions, will offer even more support to the S/R model and I think will be forthcoming soon. So essentially we are getting data from several different areas all converging and pointing to the same conclusion.

Even Ben Maguire has stated on MAD that if the real author is among the candidate authors, then Jocker's method (NSC) is very reliable. Well unless Nephites really existed, I think it's a pretty safe bet the real author is among Jocker's candidate authors!

It's a pretty good time to be an S/R advocate. As Dale has pointed out, all the new data coming out supports S/R... even if it wasn't perceived to at first, or even designed to.

About all S/R critics have left is to insist the separation on one PCA chart demonstrates the 19th century authors could not have produced the BOM (which it doesn't) or argue that Jockers' results are flawed because we don't know if the real author is in the mix (which, of course, only works if Nephites were real), or appeal to "parallelomania" (which does not prove the parallels originated from coincidence) or simply go back to questioning why Rigdon would have needed Joseph Smith. That we seem to be at that point right now is an indication (to me), that we are indeed headed into a paradigm shift back toward S/R as the most likely explanation for the BOM."

I understand both Lester Bush and Dr Draper have written on this matter.

It would be helpful in this thread to look at the statement of both the Conneaut 8 and the Amity testimony and other later testimonies .

You have three theories:

1. Gold Plates/Stone in the Hat (LDS Church)

2. Book written by Joseph Smith using the materials available to him. (Dan Vogel, Chris Smith, Fawn Brodie)

2. Rigdon took the Spalding manuscript from the Printers shop, addedd his own material and used Joseph Smith as a front man. (For a long time the view of Dale Broadhurst, now supported by new research by Jockers, Witten and Criddle from Stanford University

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<SNIP>

You have three theories:

1. Gold Plates/Stone in the Hat (LDS Church)

2. Book written by Joseph Smith using the materials available to him. (Dan Vogel, Chris Smith, Fawn Brodie)

2. Rigdon took the Spalding manuscript from the Printers shop, addedd his own material and used Joseph Smith as a front man. (For a long time the view of Dale Broadhurst, now supported by new research by Jockers, Witten and Criddle from Stanford University

noel00,

Thank you for a well thought out, concise, and well written response.

Consideration of the weight of objective evidence and explanatory power associated with each of the three theories leaves little doubt as to the provenance of the Book of Mormon.

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...

As Dale has pointed out, all the new data coming out supports S/R...

...

I suppose that Vogel and Metcalfe would dispute that claim.

For one thing, they say that the recent discovery of the distribution

pattern for "wherefore" and "therefore" in the text, proves that

Solomon Spalding could not have contributed to the Book of Mormon.

I think that they would also argue that the many overlaps between

Joseph Smith's known biography and stories in the Book of Mormon

prove that Spalding and Rigdon could not have contributed to it.

For example, it is extremely unlikely that Spalding and/or Rigdon

could have predicted the "choice seer" and his "spokesman" which

are foretold in the Book of Mormon. A subsequent D&C section

affirms the identities of those two men, prophesied by Nephites.

So, those who accept Fawn Brodie's conclusions, would probably say

that a great deal of reliable evidence has been uncovered in the past

few decades, proving that Joseph Smith wrote the book without any help.

Craig Criddle has written a digital book -- now in pdf format --

which lays out the pro-Spalding/Rigdon arguments, but says very little

in response to Brodie, Vogel and Metcalfe.

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I think that even the much-lauded Margaret Barker accepts Brodie's

conclusions, with some conditions. If she does not, then the LDS

really ought to offer her a baptismal challenge.

UD

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A short list of Book of Mormon anachronisms, Biblical and geographical derivations, and outright errors can be reviewed here.These are not assertions, but facts. If you care to show how they reflect an unadulterated Hebrew/Reformed Egyptian source, have at it.

To be honest, I found that website rather poorly organized and hard to follow. I didn't find anything that was particulary troubling.

It might be better if you chose a specific item from that list and asked for comments on it.

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...

1. Proper names in the Book of Mormon, 337 of them. 188 unique to the Book of Mormon. Check out Paul Y. Hoskisson,

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I propose a website that allows people to upload text

of their choosing for BoM wordprint analysis.

...

Well, the new site I've already mentioned might be set up

to receive such texts --- but then those texts would have

to be forwarded to Bruce, at BYU, for word-printing. I doubt

he'd be pleased with such an imposition. And the only other

person I know, who could do the work, it Matt at Stanford.

You would at least have to pay him for his time on that.

As I read over the postings in this thread, my conclusion is

that most of them are by Mormons and for Mormon readers.

I think they are meant to be reassuring -- and to comfort

the wavering member who is in danger of losing a testimony.

The arguments I hear over and over again here, might be useful

in encouraging a disgruntled member that the 19th century BoM

authorship explanations are not worthy of further investigation.

But -- what is there in these pro-LDS arguments, that will

re-convert a "Smith-alone" or a "Smith+helpers" investigator

over to the LDS explanations.

Answer: nothing.

If Mormons are interested in advertising their conclusions to

non-LDS, they will have to do better than what I see in this

thread. If they merely wish to comfort fellow members, then

the threads arguments are sufficient for that task.

Perhaps Bruce can set up some automatic word-printing software

at a BYU web-site, that will perform word-print analysis on

various pre-1830 fiction writings in English.

If so, I have a couple of dozen texts to submit -- beginning with

Lucy Mack Smith and W. W. Phelps.

UD

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noel00, 4truth, Dale, none of your arguments adress the points I made. Dale, you keep harping on non LDS this and that. It does not matter what the source. What matters is tge quality of the work. Qualified LDS scholars have laid out the data. If it is incorrect, you should be able to find someone qualified to refute it. Some of the work should be easy. After all, the claim that there are 188 unique words in the Book of Mormon should be easy to check out. The etymologies are a little more difficult, but hey, you have the opinons of several well qualified LDS scholars to check with. They seem to have been the only ones to have done the homework.

The question of the Conneaut witnesses and the Amity witnesses are not pertinent to this discussion. The existence or no-existence of a second Spalding manuscript is not pertinent. The witnesses for the Book of Mormon translation process are not pertinent. The Jockers, Hilton, Holmes, and Rencher studies are not pertinent to this discussion. I merely presented EVIDENCE of a few of the hurdles that Rigdon, Spalding, and Pratt must have overcome in order to have authored the Book of Mormon. The author must overcome all of those hurdles, and more not listed. All you have to do is show some EVIDENCE that those people singly or collectively had the ability to do so. Assertions are not evidence.

Glenn

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noel00, 4truth, Dale, none of your arguments adress the points I made.

Then go back and present a few short sentences, showing why we

non-Mormons should accept the points you have made. Just start

with one or two major arguments, that I and others have not

acknowledged. I believe that somewhere on the web, you can

find my responses to every reasonable argument the LDS have

ever made against a possible 19th century authorship. But, if

you will tell me what it is you want me to respond to, I will

do it all over again.

Dale, you keep harping on non LDS this and that.

It does not matter what the source.

That is not quite true. Back when Scott Kenney and

Richard Van Waggoner were still loyal members of the

Church, I was able to carry on rational discussions

with them, about how the Church might be wrong or

untruthful. About 1 out of 100 LDS I converse with

are able to lay aside their testimonies and proceed

with a rational discussion. Most are not able to do

that, because their minds cannot be changed on any

single point of doctrine.

What matters is tge quality of the work. Qualified LDS scholars

have laid out the data. If it is incorrect, you should be able

to find someone qualified to refute it.

That is rather like a North Korean telling me that qualified

North Korean historians have compiled that nation's history.

That may be true -- but outside of North Korea, such histories

have no credit. Now and then a few minor points may be accepted

by non-North Korean scholars -- but not the basic scholarship.

Mormon scholarship falls into the same category. The writers

already have made up their minds that every single point of

LDS doctrine is true, and therefore all arguments and/or cited

facts must be somehow wrong, mistaken, misstated, or lies.

Some of the work should be easy. After all, the claim that there

are 188 unique words in the Book of Mormon should be easy to check

out. The etymologies are a little more difficult, but hey, you have

the opinons of several well qualified LDS scholars to check with.

They seem to have been the only ones to have done the homework.

So -- if they tell me that Kishkumen is an Assyrian name, I am

supposed to learn the Assyrian language and writing system, in

order to verify a claim that only Mormons have made?

It is better that I spend my time on productive projects. I'll

let the non-LDS experts determine if Joseph Smith could never

have copied those names from any source before 1830.

The question of the Conneaut witnesses and the Amity witnesses are not pertinent

to this discussion. The existence or no-existence of a second Spalding manuscript

is not pertinent. The witnesses for the Book of Mormon translation process are not

pertinent. The Jockers, Hilton, Holmes, and Rencher studies are not pertinent to

this discussion.

OK -- we can discuss that stuff elsewhere. No problem.

I merely presented EVIDENCE of a few of the hurdles that Rigdon, Spalding,

and Pratt must have overcome in order to have authored the Book of Mormon.

By "must," do you mean that evidence acceptable to a non-Moromon investigator

must be presented -- or that evidence that will compel a Mormon to renounce his

testimony must be presented?

If you are saying that a person like myself must accept an LDS baptism, if he

cannot convince the LDS Church that it is wrong, then I do believe you are

asking for too much.

The author must overcome all of those hurdles, and more not listed. All you have

to do is show some EVIDENCE that those people singly or collectively had the

ability to do so. Assertions are not evidence.

Glenn

So -- If I show my evidence to Art Vanick, and he agrees that it is valid,

will THAT fulfill my duty here?

Or -- must I compel a Mormon to renounce his testimony, in order to have

fulfilled my duty?

My argument is that there is sufficient evidence for a 19th century

BoM authorship, to justify an investigator pursuing such research.

The LDS argument is that there is NOT sufficient evidence for such

a theory -- and that it should not be investigated ---- that praying

to God for a testimony is preferable to studying anything controversial

about Book of Mormon origins.

I do not believe that obstacle can be overcome by my posting words here

on this message board.

But, if you are open to the experiment, tell me what words I should post.

UD

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...

2. Keeping track of characters, Over two hundred, many with the same names as other

characters. The author of the Book of Mormon does a remarkable job in this venue.

How well do our proposed authors do? Long novels such as War and Peace involving

large casts of caracters may take years to complete especially if there is historical

research to be done. Large casts of characters also require a lot of cross checking

to ensure that they are not mixed up and confused druing the course of the novel or whatever.

...

Again, this is mostly an argument against the Smith-alone authorship

theory. It works well as a counter-argument to the notion that Smith

made up the entire story in his head, and then dictated that story

as he went along -- either creating it "on-the-fly" or else thinking

it out prior to dictation, and then remembering all the details.

I concede that this is a valid argument against the Smith-alone theory.

It is not a good argument against the Smith+helpers authorship explanation.

Josephus, an ancient Jewish historian, wrote lengthy texts with complex

narratives -- obviously working from various sources, such as the Bible,

his own memory, reports he received etc. If we were told that Josephus

dictated his manuscripts, "off-the-top-of-his-head," to a scribe, we might

find that unbelievable. But, if we were told that Josephus consulted his

various sources, as he went along in his writing, then the objection is

overcome.

We can easily picture a trained historian, working from written sources,

compiling a complex, lengthy narrative. It is not so easy for us to fathom

how "automatic writing" can produce an equally lengthy and complex text --

like the "Oahspe" Bible, or other manuscripts claimed to be products of

this phenomenon.

How did Sidney Rigdon keep track of all the inter-related assertions,

quotations, facts and tenets comprising his many, many post-Nauvoo

"revelations?" How was he able to insure that his later revelations

conformed properly to all of his earlier output? Rigdon's revelations

read as though an outside entity is communicating messages to his brain.

He deemed these exterior entities to be deceased spirits, such as the

biblical Phinehas. Rigdon's revelations can be called "spirit writing,"

or, perhaps even "automatic writing."

Can I explain how one person out of a million can accomplish such things?

No ---

Can I explain how an aged scholar I met in Nepal could recite the entire

Ramayana -- in Sanskrit -- over a period of 14 nightly 4-hour sessions,

and never miss a word?

No ---

Does that mean I must accept the official LDS teachings on Mormon origins?

No ---

UD

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3. The now (for critics) infamous cry of a chiasmus, a chiamus, we don't need no stinking chiasmus. While it is true that chiasmus may be found in many types of literature and languages. Little was known of this literary device in the early 1800's and none of the proposed 19th century authors have shown any evidence that they recognized the structure nor the ability to craft complex and lengthy chapter length chiamus as can be found in the Book of Mormon. It is interesting to note that the Nephi 20:1-12 recitation of Isaiah 48:1-12 differs from the Biblical significantly. The Nehi text produces a chiamus which is absent in the Biblical text. John Welch has done a lot of work in this area.

...

I concede that this is a good argument against the Smith-alone

authorship theory.

How Smith could have constructed perfect, Hebrew-conforming

chiamus, "on-the-fly" while dictating to Oliver Cowdery, I

cannot fathom. Why Dan Vogel believes it possible, I do not know.

But, again, the objection is easily overcome when we consider

the Smith+helpers explanation.

Dartmouth College, in the late 1700s and early 1800s would be

the place to begin. The school taught both "Divinity" (ministerial

training) and Biblical Hebrew --- one of the very few colleges in

the USA then offering Hebrew courses.

In the homelitics classes English chiamus would have been taught,

as a means of organizing the delivery of an oral sermon, and as

a means of constructing the outline for a sermon. I was given

such training myself in graduate seminary. It was not called

"chiamus;" it was called "developing a biblical text to its

main point, and then working back to the text, as a conclusion."

But in Biblical Hebrew class, I was exposed to chiamus -- Again,

it was not called by that term. It was called "reverse poetic

parallelism," which is found throughout the Hebrew Bible -- usually

a couplets or paired phrases, but also as multiple verse chiamus.

Ethan Smith, Solomon Spalding -- and perhaps even Hyrum Smith --

would have had access to such instruction, or instructional

materials, during their respective tenures on the Dartmouth campus.

However, Craig Criddle attributes the famous Mosiah chiamus to

the pen of Oliver Cowdery -- who never attended college, but who

did have a mentor in the person of his Great Uncle, Nathaniel Emmons.

I have six volumes of the Great Uncle's collected sermons. Should

I search through them for at least one that begins with a text,

works forward to its central message, and then re-states the major

points in reverse order, while working back to that biblical text?

If "chiamus" is meant to convert me to the Church, it is not a very

good choice.

Translate the Book of Mormon into Biblical Hebrew (not the modern stuff)

and present its examples of chiamus to learned Jewish experts. If they

concur that the cited text must have been composed in ancient Hebrew,

I'll accept a Mormon baptism, as soon as I read their report.

UD

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...

4. Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon. An abundance of them. John A. Tvedtnes has done a lot of work in this area dating back to 1970. Could any of those proposed authors singly or in concert produced a work with authentic Hebraisms interwoven into the text? Were any of them even rudimentary Hebrew scholars?

5. Punctuation. Think about it. No one writes English without punctuation. Not even Joseph. Were any of the proposed authors knowledgable enough to know that Hebrew is written without punctuation? The smart enough to produce a draft with the sentences all run together?

...

These are both good arguments against the Smith-alone authorship theory.

Even if we really stretched our imaginations, and speculated that

Hyrum Smith studied Hebrew while attending the academy on the Dartmouth

campus, it seems almost impossible that Hyrum could have later communicated

that knowledge to his younger brother, for inclusion in the Book of Mormon.

I would say that it would have been nearly impossible for Joseph Smith

to have composed major sections of the Book of Mormon in perfect biblical

Hebrew, and then to have translated them into proper English, the preserved

most of their Hebrew "flavor."

Some of the examples Mormons have cited, Smith could have copied from

good English translations of the Bible, the Apocrypha, and Josephus --

all of which were included together in some large editions of the Bible

in the early 1800s. If he would have searched a bit further afield, the

Book of Jashur and English translations from the Mishnah and Talmud could

have furnished useful examples. But I doubt Joseph did any of that.

Ethan Smith and/or Solomon Spalding could have, however. Both Congregationalist

ministers would have been exposed to biblical Hebrew during their respective

Divinity studies at Dartmouth -- which evidently overlapped by one semester.

Ethan Smith's several books demonstrate a working knowledge of Hebrew. Although

he probably could not have written extended texts in that alphabet and language,

he knew enough about it to create verisimilitude in the "Lost Tribes" story

his grandson remembered him writing --- and giving to his schoolmate, Solomon

Spalding.

Spalding's own abilities in written Hebrew are not documented -- so I will

not assert that he had as good a command of the language as his associate,

Ethen Smith. However, either working from Ethan Smith's "Lost Tribes" story,

or writing on his own, Spalding had enough exposure to Hebrew, and enough

access to Hebrew texts translated into English, to have introduced multiple

Hebraisms in his text.

How about those chapters of the BoM that Jockers attributes to Pratt, Cowdery,

Rigdon, or Joseph Smith? Could those early Mormons have independently

introduced Hebraisms into the "Nephite Record," in ways other than simply

emulating the Bible, the Apocrypha, and Josephus? I don't know. Perhaps so.

UD

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