Question: What do the Hurlbut affidavits say about the Spalding manuscript and the Book of Mormon?

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Question: What do the Hurlbut affidavits say about the Spalding manuscript and the Book of Mormon?

Hurlbut's affidavits regarding the Spalding manuscript consist of interviews with family and associates of Solomon Spalding

Claimant Claims

Artemas Cunningham

  • Claimed to have "partially examined" the "Mormon Bible."
  • Claimed that Spalding's manuscript was called "Manuscript Found."
  • Claimed "to remember the name of Nephi" as the "principal hero."

Nahum Howard

  • Claimed to have "lately read the Book of Mormon."
  • Claimed that it was the same as Spalding wrote, "except the religious part."'

Henry Lake

  • Claimed to have recently "commenced reading [The Book of Mormon] aloud."
  • Claimed that Spalding's work frequently used the words "it came to pass."

John Miller

  • Claimed to have "recently examined the Book of Mormon."
  • Claimed that the Book of Mormon was "mixed up with scripture and other religious matter, which I did not meet with in the "Manuscript Found."
  • Claimed that "Nephi, Lehi, Moroni" were the "principal names" in Spalding's book.

Oliver Smith

  • Claimed that "Nephi and Lehi were by [Spalding] represented as leading characters."
  • Claimed that Spalding included "no religious matter" in his book.
  • Claimed that "I obtained the book [of Mormon], and on reading it, found much of it the same as Spalding had written."

John Spalding

(Brother of Solomon Spalding)

  • Claimed to have "recently read the Book of Mormon."
  • Claimed that Spalding's book was entitled The Manuscript Found.
  • Claimed that the book attempted to show that the American Indians are the descendents of the Jews.
  • Claimed that the leaders of the group were called "Nephi" and "Lehi."
  • Claimed that the book described two nations called the "Nephites" and the "Lamanites."
  • Claimed that the people described in Spalding's book buried their dead in large mounds.
  • Claimed that many sentences in Spalding's book began with "it came to pass."

Martha Spalding

(wife of Solomon Spalding)

  • Claimed that she had "read the Book of Mormon."
  • Claimed that the Book of Mormon was based upon Spalding's story.
  • Claimed that "the names of Nephi and Lehi are yet fresh in my memory, as being the principal heroes of his tale."
  • Claimed that Spalding's characters separated into two nations, "one of which was called Lamanites and the other Nephites."
  • Claimed that Spalding's tale told of the dead "being buried in large heaps was the cause of the numerous mounds in the country."
  • Claimed that Spalding's manuscript used the words "it came to pass."

Aaron Wright

  • Claimed that the Book of Mormon following the Spalding story, "excepting the religious matter."
  • Claimed that "the names more especially are the same without any alteration."

Commentary

Most of the Spalding-related affidavits make very similar claims, such as the repeated statements that "Nephi" and "Lehi" figured prominently in Spalding's story

Most of the Spalding-related affidavits make very similar claims, such as the repeated statements that "Nephi" and "Lehi" figured prominently in Spalding's story and that the person making the claim had "recently" read the Book of Mormon and recognized it as being similar to Spalding's work. The recovered Spalding manuscript, however, bears no resemblance to any of these claims. For this reason, critics who support the Spalding theory have assumed the existence of a second Spalding manuscript, despite absolutely no evidence to support this.

The Spalding theory requires that Sidney Rigdon secretly meet Joseph Smith before the organization of the Church

The Spalding theory requires that Sidney Rigdon secretly meet Joseph Smith before the organization of the Church, and provide him with the Book of Mormon manuscript. John Stafford, oldest son of William Stafford was asked about this:

Q — If young Joseph — Smith , Jr. — was as illiterate as you say, Doctor, how do you account for the Book of Mormon?
A — "Well, I can't; except that Sidney Rigdon was connected with them."
Q — Was Rigdon ever around there before the Book of Mormon was published?
A — "No; not as we could ever find out. Sidney Rigdon was never there, that Hurlbut, or Howe, or Tucker could find out."
Q — Well; you have been looking out for the facts a long time, have you not, Doctor?
A — "Yes; I have been thinking and hearing about it for the last fifty years, and lived right among all their old neighbors there more of the time."
Q — And no one has ever been able to trace the acquaintance of Rigdon and Smith, until after the Book of Mormon was published, and Rigdon proselyted by Parley P. — Pratt, in Ohio?
A — "Not that I know of.""
— John Stafford, cited in William H. Kelly, "The Hill Cumorah, and the Book of Mormon," Saints' Herald 28 (1 June 1881): 167.[1]

See also:

  • 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

Notes

  1. Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 2:123–124.)