Joseph Smith's reference library

Table of Contents

Introduction

Critics who attempt a naturalistic explanation of Joseph Smith's production of the Book of Mormon often resort to claiming that Joseph gleaned a certain idea from a book or other source in his New England environment.

There is little or no evidence of Joseph having contact with such books, but this page attempts to lay out all the books which critics have suggested were in young Joseph's "reference library."

(If you add to thist list, please include a specific record to a specific critical work. Do not simply list works "off the top of your head" or by memory. We want this to be well-documented.)

Kabbalistic texts

Magical texts

Miscellaneous

Work Claim made Notes/remarks

*

  • E.T.A. Hoffmann, The Golden Pot [Der golden Topf]

*

  • John Milton's defense of polygamy
  • George D. Smith, Nauvoo Polygamy: "...but we called it celestial marriage" (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2008), 530-531. ( Index of claims , (Detailed book review))
  • George D. Smith, "Strange Bedfellows: Mormon Polygamy and Baptist History," Free Inquiry 16/2 (1996): 41-45; reprinted in Freedom of Conscience: Baptist/Humanist Dialogue, ed. Paul D. Simmons (Prometheus Books, 2000), 207-16, see footnote #69 at pp. 377-78.
  • N/A

Pamphlets and newspapers

Religious texts

Work Claim made Notes/remarks

*

  • King James version of the Holy Bible
  • Of this claim, at least, we are certain. Though, whether Joseph had a Bible during the translation of the Book of Mormon is not clear. Substantial evidence suggests that he may not have.

*

  • The Apocrypha

*

  • Ethan Smith, View of the Hebrews
  • Richard Abanes, Becoming Gods: A Closer Look at 21st-Century Mormonism (Harvest House Publishers: 2005). 60-61, 360n59-63. ( Index of claims ) (Sources: Tanner, Persuitte)
  • Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church (New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003), 69 ( Index of claims ) (Sources: Persuitte)
  • John Ankerberg and John Weldon, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Mormonism (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1992), 279–80, 301–2
  • Peter Bartley, Mormonism: The Prophet, the Book, and the Cult (Dublin: Veritas, 1989), 28–29.
  • Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1945), 46–47. ( Index of claims )
  • Maurice C. Burrell, Wide of the Truth: A Critical Assessment of the History, Doctrines and Practices of the Mormon Religion (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1972).
  • Marvin W. Cowan, Mormon Claims Answered, (Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1997 [original self-published, 1975]), ???.
  • Charles A. Crane & Steven A. Crane, Ashamed of Joseph : Mormon Foundations Crumble (Joplin, Mo. : College Press Pub. Co., 1993), 123–5
  • Ed Decker and Dave Hunt, The God Makers (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1984),. (Detailed review)
  • Ronald Enroth, A Guide to Cults and New Religions (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity , 1983).
  • Gordon H. Fraser, Is Mormonism Christian? (Chicago: Moody Press, 1957).
  • Ralph L. Foster, The Book of Mormon on Trial (Salt Lake City: n.p., 1963).
  • G. T. Harrison, Mormons Are Peculiar People (New York: Vantage, 1954).
  • Mervin B. Hogan, " "A Parallel': A Matter of Chance vs. Coincidence," Rocky Mountain Mason (January 1956): 17–31.
  • Harold H. Hougey, "A Parallel"?The Basis of the Book of Mormon (Concord, CA: Pacific, 1963).
  • Robert N. Hullinger, "The Lost Tribes of Israel and the Book of Mormon," Lutheran Quarterly 22:3 (August 1970): 319–29.
  • Larry Jonas, Mormon Claims Examined (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 1961).
  • Wesley M. Jones, A Critical Study of Book of Mormon Sources (Detroit: Harlo Press, 1964).
  • Thomas O'Dea, The Mormons (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957).
  • Brigham D. Madsen, ed., B. H. Roberts: Studies of the Book of Mormon (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1985), ???.
  • Richard N. and Joan K. Ostling, Mormon America: The Power and the Promise, (New York:HarperCollins Publishers, 2000), 29. ( Index of claims )
  • Grant H. Palmer, An Insider's View of Mormon Origins (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2002) 58–64. ( Index of claims )
  • David Persuitte, Joseph Smith and the Origins of The Book of Mormon (2nd edition), (McFarland & Company, October 2000), ( Index of claims )
  • John A. Price, "The Book of Mormon vs. Anthropological Prehistory," The Indian Historian 7:3 (Summer 1974): 35–40.
  • Leslie Rumble, "The Book of Mormon," The Homiletic and Pastoral Review 60:4 (January 1960): 338–45.
  • James M. Sire, Scripture Twisting: 20 Ways the Cults Misread the Bible (Downers Grove: Intervarsity, 1980).
  • George D. Smith, "Defending the Keystone: Book of Mormon Difficulties," Sunstone 6 no. (Issue #3) (May–June 1981), 45–50. off-site
  • George D. Smith, "'Is There Any Way to Escape These Difficulties?' The Book of Mormon Studies of B. H. Roberts," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 17 no. 2 (Summer 1984), 94–111.
  • George D. Smith, "Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon," Free Inquiry 4:1 (Winter 1983): 21–31.
  • Simon Southerton, Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 2004) 153. ( Index of claims )
  • Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Mormonism—Shadow or Reality?, 5th edition, (Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1987).
  • Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Changing World of Mormonism (Moody Press, 1979), 126–8.( Index of claims )
  • Dan Vogel, Indian Origins and the Book of Mormon: Religious Solutions from Columbus to Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Book, 1986), 48–49, 68 (the argument is suggested more than stated outright.
  • I. Wiley Woodbridge, The Founder of Mormonism (New York, 1902), 124–126.

*

  • The Westminster Confession

*

  • Josiah Priest, The Wonders of Nature and Providence Displayed

*

  • The works of William Shakespeare (Hamlet)
  • (See also entries for Josiah Priest, The Wonders of Nature and Providence Displayed)
  • Alexander Campbell, Delusions (Boston: Benjamin H. Greene, 1832), 13; originally published in Millennial Harbinger 2 (7 February 1831): 85–96. off-site O. Cowdery reply #1 #2 Full title

Romances

Work Claim made Notes/remarks

*

  • Solomon Spalding's unfinished novel/romance.
  • This was the standard explanation for the Book of Mormon during the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth. Advocates have included:
  • Henry Caswall, The Prophet of the Nineteenth Century, or, the Rise, Progress, and Present State of the Mormons, or Latter-Day Saints : To Which Is Appended an Analysis of the Book of Mormon (London: Printed for J. G. F. & J. Rivington, 1843), 13–25. off-site
  • Rev. John A. Clark, Gleanings by the Way, (Philadelphia: W.J. and J.K. Simon; New York: Robert Carter, 1842), 246–254 off-site.
  • Eber D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed (Painesville, OH, 1834). (Affidavits examined)
  • William Alexander Linn, The Story of the Mormons (New York: Macmillan, 1902), ??.
  • Stenhouse, "Tell It All", 267.
  • Wilhelm Wyl, Mormon Portraits Volume First: Joseph Smith the Prophet, His Family and Friends (Salt Lake City: Tribune Printing and Publishing Co., 1886), 20, 118, 122–124, 238–243.
  • Pomeroy Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress: of Mormonism.... (New York: D. Appleton, 1867), 111–128.

*

  • Solomon Spalding's "second" manuscript
  • Since the first Spalding manuscript was discovered and found to be of little help in explaining the Book of Mormon, critics have tried to posit the existence of a second manuscript. There is, however, no evidence for a second manuscript (and evidence that Spalding had not finished his first manuscript, which makes the existence of a second even less likely.
  • This theory is convenient for the critics: since the manuscript is not available (since it likely never existed), they can make any claims they like about its contents without fear of contradiction.

Critics who have made this claim include:

  • *George B. Arbaugh, Revelation in Mormonism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1932).
  • Howard A. Davis, Wayne L. Cowdrey, and Walter Martin, Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? (Santa Ana, Ca.: Vision House Publishers, 1977), 1–. Analysis
  • Wayne L. Cowdrey, Howard A. Davis, and Arthur Vanick, Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? The Spalding Enigma. (St. Louis: Concordia, 2005), 1–. Analysis
  • Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults (Revised) (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1997), 213, n15-16. ( Index of claims )