Question: Why do some critics think that Sidney Rigdon was the author of the Book of Mormon?

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Question: Why do some critics think that Sidney Rigdon was the author of the Book of Mormon?

The theory that Sidney Rigdon was the author of the Book of Mormon was only advanced when it became apparent that Joseph Smith was incapable of having written it

Initial reaction to the Book of Mormon attributed the authorship to Joseph Smith himself, and reviewers were quick to criticize the book's problems of style, and simply declared it an obvious, amateurish forgery.

It seems to have soon become clear, however, that Joseph truly was incapable of writing such a book. As a result, Sidney Rigdon, an experienced minister, was soon blamed for the book, with Joseph as a willing fellow-con:

[1 September 1831] ...the money diggers of Ontario county, by the suggestions of the Ex-Preacher from Ohio [i.e., Rigdon], thought of turning their digging concern into a religious plot, and thereby have a better chance of working upon the credulity and ignorance of their associates and the neighborhood. Money and a good living might be got in this way....

There is no doubt but the ex-parson from Ohio is the author of the book which was recently printed and published in Palmyra, and passes for the new Bible. It is full of strange narratives—in the style of the scriptures, and bearing on its face the marks of some ingenuity, and familiar acquaintance with the Bible. It is probable that Joe Smith is well acquainted with the trick, but Harris the farmer and the recent coverts, are true believers....

They were called translations, but in fact and in truth they are believed to be the work of the Ex-Preacher from Ohio, who stood in the back ground and put forward Joe to father the new bible and the new faith.[1]

Sidney's involvement would later be added to the Spalding theory, though this theory poses major historical problems which have led even most present-day critics to likewise abandon it.

Notes

  1. “Mormon Religion—Clerical Ambition—Western New York—The Mormonites Gone to Ohio,” Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer (New York City, New York) 7, no. 1331 (1 September 1831). off-site