Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who are we? -- We are the Spalding Research Associates, a group of part-time researchers and writers living primarily in southern California. The back cover of our 2005 book, Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? - The Spalding Enigma, provides this brief attribution: "Wayne L. Cowdrey, Howard A. Davis, and Arthur Vanick have conducted extensive research into the origin of The Book of Mormon. As members of Spalding Research Associates, they have investigated documents in historical societies, libraries, and consulted with regional historians...."

  • Are we Mormons? -- Although one of our number was briefly a member of the LDS Church, we are not "Mormons" by belief nor by religious affiliation. Neither do we consider ourselves to be "anti-Mormons." We come from diverse backgrounds and maintain personal and research contacts among an equally diverse set of people, including members of both of the major "Latter Day Saint" churches, etc.

  • How do you respond to your critics? -- Our 2005 book, Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? - The Spalding Enigma, was written over a lengthy period, during which time we tried to locate and and take into consideration various criticisms voiced since the 1977 appearance of our first book on the subject. Hopefully our 2005 book corrects any past mistakes and invalid conclusions. It is our intention to let the scholarship of Enigma speak for itself, without our having to engage in endless debates over our conclusions. We will, however, continue to correct any errors or deficiencies others may find in Enigma. See our Updates section, below on this web-page.

  • Enigma Updates

  • The Missing Index -- Our 2005 book, Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? - The Spalding Enigma, was published without its Index. This deficiency can perhaps be corrected, if there is enough popular demand for the publication of a second edition. In the meanwhile, we have decided to post at this web-site an html version of the Index. When the file is ready we will provide a link here.

  • The Review by FARMS -- We were pleased to see the review of our 2005 book, written by Matthew P. Roper and published in FARMS Review 17:2. While we respect Elder Roper's opinions, his obvious in-depth study of the Spalding-Rigdon authorship theory, and his gentlemanly style of reporting, we naturally have come to mutually exclusive understandings of practically every major point he raises in his 133 page "The Mythical 'Manuscript Found.'" In a few instances this review does appear to add information that is lacking in our book. We are appreciative of any new historical facts, errors in our text, or other useful discoveries the reviewer thus brings to our attention. As time and circumstances permit, we may post to this web-site a few of our reasons for continuing to disagree with writers who defend the traditional Mormon viewpoint. As an aid in any future reference to "The Mythical 'Manuscript Found,'" we are placing an outline of its contents here:

  • The Mythical "Manuscript Found"


    I.  Overview of the Spalding-Rigdon Theory  007-010
        A. The Spalding authorship claims  007
        B. Spalding-Rigdon Theory falls on hard times  008
          1. The 1884 Spalding Manuscript discovery
          2. Fawn Brodie's 1945 Book
          3. Smith as sole author theories
        C. The Theory's Comeback: Internet & 2005 Book  009-10
          1., etc.
          2. The Spalding Enigma
          3. LDS/RLDS have always been critical of naturalistic theories
          4. Enigma authors haven't dealt effectively with objections
          5. Facts do not support Spalding advocates
    II.  Mormonism Unvailed - the 1834 Eber D. Howe Book
    Genesis of the Spalding-Rigdon Theory  010-016
        A. Purpose and Authorship of the 1834 Book  011-14
          1. D. P. Hurlbut employed by anti-Mormons
          2. Book of Mormon a work of fiction?
          3. E. D. Howe the primary author, not Hurlbut
          4. Mormon leaders' reaction to Howe
          5. Hurlbut's bad character reported
          6. Hurlbut's payment compromised
          7. Spalding claims vs Smith authorship claims
        B. Disagreement on Smith as sole author theory  015-16
          1. Enigma writers and the Tanners
          2. Dale R. Broadhurst and the Tanners
          3. Dan Vogel and the Spalding-Rigdon theory
    III.  The Two Spalding Manuscripts Claims: Fact or Fabrication?
    Is the "Manuscript Found" on file at Oberlin College?  016-052
        A. Spalding's writings described by former associates  016-20
          1. General features of the "Manuscript Found"
          2. Names in the "Manuscript Found"
        B. The 1833 quest to recover "Manuscript Found"  020-21
          1. D. P. Hurlbut locates a manuscript in New York
          2. E. D. Howe describes the Spalding "Roman" story
          3. Disagreement over story retrieved by Hurlbut
        C. The question of multiple Spalding fictional stories  021-22
          1. Spalding Enigma argues for multiple manuscripts
          2. James H. Fairchild's 1884 report on manuscript(s)
          3. Early testimony on the number of manuscript(s)
          4. Spalding family recollections of manuscript(s)
        D. Evidence for a second Spalding fictional story  023-25
          1. Aron Wright's first statement reviewed
          2. Howe's report of a second manuscript reviewed
          3. Aron Wright's second statement considered
          4. Howe does not cite Aron Wright's second statement
          5. Wright's second statement late, with nothing new
          6. Wright's second statement a collusion with Hurlbut?
        E. Unfinished Tale: help or harm to Spalding claims?  026-28
          1. Spalding Enigma's views on "Manuscript Story"
          2. Witness testimony fits "Manuscript Story"
          3. "Manuscript Story" needs polish to be publishable
          4. Paper Dreams: problems with foolscap
          5. Witness testimony fits "Manuscript Story"
        F. Malleable Memory: the Reviewer's explanations  028-52
          1. Howe's suspicious behavior with "Manuscript Story"
          2. Enigma says Hurlbut never got "Manuscript Found"
          3. Genuine but vague memories of "Manuscript Story"
          4. Remembering things that were never there
          5. Problems with the lost tribes of Israel
          6. Geography, mounds and missionaries
    IV.  Hurlbut: A Man, a Legend, a Way of Life: A Bad Character?
    First Investigator of the Spalding Claims  052-084
        A. Hurlbut joins and is cut off from the Mormons  052-64
          1. Early background of D. P. Hurlbut
          2. Hurlbut the ex-Mormon agitator
          3. An adulterer or merely a fornicator?
          4. Hurlbut's later difficulties
        B. The Clapp-trap: Rigdon's righteous indignation?  064-67
          1. Rigdon's 1839 Quincy Whig allegations
          2. the Hurlbuts' trouble in Mentor: 1835 or 1836?
        C. The Garrit Brass Death: Was Hurlbut involved?  067-70
          1. the 1837 Painesville Republican report, etc.
          2. Hurlbut's capacity for violence reviewed
        D. Hurlbut's likely influence on the testimony  070-84
          1. a prejudice against Mormon missionary preaching?
          2. witnesses sought notoriety with their statements?
          3. John and Martha Spalding -- the first witnesses?
          4. the unidentified Mr. Jackson
          5. Orson Hyde investigates the Spalding claims (1834?)
          6. language common to the witnesses' statements
    V.  Beyond the Reach of D. P. Hurlbut's Influence
    Additional Testimony and Opinions  084-091
        A. Spalding Family Testimony  084-86
          1. Josiah Spalding's 1855 statement
          2. John, Martha, Matilda & Josiah's agreement
        B. Religious Material and the Book of Mormon  086-91
          1. problems with a non-religious "Manuscript Found"
          2. non-Mormons point out the problems
    VI.  Questions of the Alleged Authors' Style and Ability
    Literary Qualifications of Smith & Spalding  092-099
        A. The Joseph Smith Enigma  092-96
          1. Smith was incapable of writing the BoM
          2. Spalding theory concocted to explain complex BoM
        B. Spalding's Literary Abilities  096-99
          1. Spalding could not have changed his writing style
          2. "Manuscript Story" was Spalding's first and only fiction
          3. Spalding's writings no resemblance to the BoM
    VII.  Theories Implicating Sidney Rigdon:
    Rigdon's History and Motives Examined  100-123
        A. Early BoM critics didn't claim Rigdon as author  100-02
          1. Rev. Campbell pointed to Smith, not Rigdon
          2. Other early critics did not point to Rigdon
          3. James G. Bennett first claims "Ringdon" author
        B. Spalding Enigma says Rigdon was BoM co-author  102-09
          1. Did Spalding's widow name Rigdon as BoM editor?
          2. McKinstry connects Rigdon with Spalding manuscript?
          3. Did Spalding speak to Amity witnesses about Rigdon?
          4. Did Rigdon frequent Pittsburgh bookstores?
          5. Rebecca Johnston Eichbaum recollections
          6. Did Rigdon receive mail at Pittsburgh PO?
        C. Red Herring or wishful thinking: Rigdon's Denial  109-13
          1. Which Patterson did Spalding's widow speak of?
          2. Did Rigdon know Joseph Patterson?
        D. Rigdon the prime mover of a BoM conspiracy?  113-23
          1. The relationship between Smith and Rigdon
          2. Testimony of Rigdon's family members
          3. No good reason to view Rigdon as a BoM conspirator
    VIII.  The Little Known Oliver Cowdery
    A Link Between Rigdon and Smith?  123-130
        A. Was young Oliver Cowdery a journeyman printer?  123-28
          1. Spalding Enigma says Cowdery was the link
          2. Mistaken Identities: Oliver & Franklin
        B. Cowdery's early New York activities disputed  128-30
          1. When was Oliver Cowdery first in New York?
          2. Orsamus Turner's account: a dubious foundation
    IX.  Other Enigmas: Errors and Misperceptions
    The Reviewer Points Out Various Problems in Enigma  130-138
        A. Readers may be Misled by Authors' Statements  130-33
          1. The Nephite Record and Manchester caves
          2. The curtain that wasn't there: BoM translation
          3. The amount of time spent on BoM translation
        B. BoM Witnesses and the "Eye of Faith"  134-38
          1. Spalding Enigma claims no physical witness
          2. The eye of faith and spiritual eyes explained
    X.  The Reviewer's Conclusion & Appendix
    Still an Unsolved Enigma -- Study Materials  138-140