Question: What do most critics think of the Spalding theory of Book of Mormon origin?

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Question: What do most critics think of the Spalding theory of Book of Mormon origin?

Many critics of the Book of Mormon reject the Spalding theory as unworkable

  • Davis H. Bays, The Doctrines and Dogmas of Mormonism Examined and Refuted, (St. Louis: Christian Publishing, 1897), 22, 25
[This theory is] "erroneous, and it will lead to almost certain defeat.... The facts are all opposed to this view, and the defenders of the Mormon dogma have the facts well in hand.... The Spaulding story is a failure. Do not attempt to rely upon it — it will let you down."
  • Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History (New York, A. A. Knopf, 1945), 453
"The tenuous chain of evidence accumulated to support the Spaulding-Rigdon theory breaks altogether when it tries to prove that Rigdon met Joseph Smith before 1830."
  • Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Did Spaulding Write the Book of Mormon? (Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1977).
  • "...Mormon archivists have assembled a large amount of evidence -- some of it impressive -- to rebut the Spalding theory. They scored a coup of sorts when they discovered that a manuscript page from another Mormon book, Doctrine and Covenants, is apparently in the same handwriting as that of the Unidentified Scribe in the Book of Mormon manuscript. It is dated June, 1831 -- fifteen years after Spalding's death.... The average layman can readily note the striking dissimilarities between Spalding's specimens and the others...." — Edward E. Plowman, Christianity Today (21 October 1977): 38-39.

One might ask the question: If Mormonism's most prominent critics find the Spalding theory unworkable, then what motivates those who tenuously hold to this theory and continue to pursue it? Those that continue to promote this theory have not effectively dealt with the major objections highlighted by other anti-Mormon critics. [1]


  1. Matthew Roper, "The Mythical "Manuscript Found" (Review of: Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? The Spalding Enigma)," FARMS Review 17/2 (2005): 7–140. off-site, p. 21, note 62.