Book of Mormon/Authorship theories

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Attempts to explain Book of Mormon authorship by non-miraculous means

This page is a summary or index. More detailed information on this topic is available on the sub-pages below.


Secular authorship theories for the Book of Mormon

  • An overview of secular authorship theories for the Book of Mormon
    Brief Summary: An overview of the various authorship theories that critics have created to explain the existence of the Book of Mormon. (Click here for full article)
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  • Spalding manuscript
    Brief Summary: Some claim that Joseph Smith either plagiarized or relied upon a manuscript by Solomon Spaulding to write the Book of Mormon. There is a small group of critics who hold to the theory that the production of the Book of Mormon was a conspiracy involving Sidney Rigdon, Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery and others. These critics search for links between Spalding and Rigdon. Joseph Smith is assumed to have been Rigdon's pawn. (Click here for full article)
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  • View of the Hebrews
    Brief Summary: Some claim that a 19th century work by Ethan Smith, View of the Hebrews, provided source material for Joseph Smith's construction of the Book of Mormon. Critics also postulate a link between Ethan Smith and Oliver Cowdery, since both men lived in Poultney, Vermont while Smith served as the pastor of the church that Oliver Cowdery's family attended at the time that View of the Hebrews was being written. (Click here for full article)
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  • Epilepsy
    Brief Summary: Some have claimed that Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon while under the influence of an "epileptic fit," thus perpetuating a fraud without knowing it. (Click here for full article)
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  • Automatic writing
    Brief Summary: Some attempt to explain the complexity of the Book of Mormon through appeals to "automatic writing" or "spirit writing." (Click here for full article)
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  • The Golden Pot
    Brief Summary: Former LDS Church Education System (CES) teacher Grant Palmer argues that Joseph Smith developed his story of visits by Moroni and the translation of a sacred book from The Golden Pot, a book by German author E.T.A. Hoffmann. (Click here for full article)
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  • An analysis of early critical reaction
    Brief Summary: Early critical reaction to the Book of Mormon is instructive, both because of what it did say (e.g., Joseph Smith could not have produced it unaided) and what it did not say. (Click here for full article)
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  • Early claims about Joseph Smith as author
    Brief Summary: Some early claims assumed that Joseph was clearly the Book of Mormon's only author; others assumed that it was clear he could not have written it. (Click here for full article)
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