Forgeries/Mark Hofmann/Known forged documents/Further Reading

Further reading

Further reading

FairMormon Answers articles

Forgeries related to Mormonism

Throughout the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, many individuals have forged revelations and historical documents. Their motivations were varied, and included lust for power or money, and a desire to embarrass the Church and its leaders. This article examines some of the more prominent forgeries in Church history, in chronological order.

Documents

Ang Aklatan

Summary: "The Aklatan is a book which was [purportedly] translated by Elisha M. Enoc from a set of copper sheets he discovered after having a vision. The Aklatan contains a record of the ancient history of the Philippines, Taiwan, and Borneo. It also contains a record of God’s works among these ancient people. There are many prophecies about our day in the Aklatan."[1] Given the obvious parallels with the nature of the Book of Mormon, some have asked about it.

Oliver Cowdery's 1839 Defence in a Rehearsal of my Grounds for Separating Myself from the Latter Day Saints

Summary: Although this document purports to have been published in 1839 by Oliver Cowdery, the earliest copies in existence are dated 1906. The document was "discovered" by the Reverend R. B. Neal, who was a leader in the American Anti-Mormon Association. No references to this document exists prior to 1906. This document was believed to be authentic for many years, until it was discovered that it consists primarily of a selection of Cowdery's phrases taken from various issues of the Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate that were removed from their original context and placed in a different context. A number of talking points appear to have been reworded from David Whitmer's 1887 An Address to All Believers in Christ. Historians now agree that this document is a forgery.

Mark Hofmann

Summary: Gordon B. Hinckley, then a member of the First Presidency, purchased several apparently nineteenth-century documents from Mark Hofmann. They later turned out to be forgeries. Critics say that if Gordon B. Hinckley were a true prophet, he would not have been fooled into buying the forgeries.

Church reaction to Hofmann forgeries

Summary: Did the Church acquire the "Salamander letter" with the intent of 'suppressing' it? The reality is that the historical record is clear that the Church did nothing to hide the Hofmann "Salamander Letter," even though to some it appeared to pose problems for the Church's story of its origins.

Metinah Papers

Summary: The Mentinah Papers claim to be a history of a people called the Nemenhah. They claim to be translations of papers found in the mountains around Manti, Utah (Sanpete County) in the 1800s. They claim that they have been translated by wise men speaking languages descended from the languages at the time of the Book of Mormon. The papers have never been made publicly available, but the translations have been published both on the internet and in book form. As genuine records from a people connected to the Nephites, the papers cannot be taken seriously. In addition to the numerous points in which they are not consistent with the Book of Mormon, there are theological or procedural problems. If there were to be such scripture revealed at this time, it would come through the proper channels of priesthood authority. It would come from the current Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, not from obscure individuals who claim support from unnamed apostles.

"Lost 116 pages"

Summary: The author claims to have been commanded to translate the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon, as well as the lost 116 pages. As part of his 'prophetic call,' the author produced what he claims is a translation of the lost 116 pages, or "Book of Lehi." This portion of Mormon's abridgement (from Lehi to King Benjamin, roughly) was lost by Martin Harris after the manuscript was loaned to him by Joseph Smith (See D&C 3, D&C 10).


Artifacts

Bat Creek stone

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Burrows Cave

Summary: The Burrows Cave collection is a group of "artifacts" supposedly found in a Cave in Illinois, named after Russell Burrows, the person who initially found the cave. To this day, Burrows Cave enthusiasts have never demonstrated the existence of the cave. The artifacts contain many obvious hallmarks of modern manufacture, including the so-called "mystic symbol" found on artifacts in the Michigan artifacts collection. This is offered as evidence that the hoaxers deliberately meant to associate these artifacts with the Michigan collection. Some LDS people have fallen prey to those who push these artifacts as genuine.

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Kinderhook Plates

Summary: A set of small plates, engraved with characters of ancient appearance, were purported to have been unearthed in Kinderhook, Illinois, in April 1843. The so-called "Kinderhook plates" have been something of an enigma within the Mormon community since they first appeared. While there are faithful LDS who take a number of different positions on the topic of these artifacts, most have concluded that they were fakes. This article summarizes some key information that critics often exclude from their discussion of the Kinderhook plates, and the extent of Joseph Smith's involvement.

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Jordan Lead Codices

Summary: The Jordanian lead codices are a collection of metal books bound by rings that were discovered in Jordan as reported in the news media in March 2011. They created some excitement in the Mormon community as they appeared to be an analog to the Book of Mormon plates. But, it was soon reported by scholars that the Jordan lead codices were forgeries.


Personalities

Terrill R. Dalton, Geody M. Harman and the Church of the Firstborn and the General Assembly of Heaven

Summary: In about 1999, in Magna, Utah, Terrill Dalton supposedly started having intense spiritual manifestations. At first he claimed to have knowledge of the time of the Second Coming of Jesus, and his claims were not very spectacular. But from about 2001 to 2002, he started claiming that he was going to be the prophet of the Church, but kept those claims to himself mostly, and he was forming a secret group of followers over the Internet. Finally, in 2004, Dalton was excommunicated from the Church. He and his partner, Geody M. Harman (another former member of the LDS Church), claimed to be the Two Witnesses that are to be slain in Jerusalem at the Second Coming of Christ. They formed the Church of the Firstborn and the General Assembly of Heaven. Dalton's claims got more and more grandiose. In 2005, he claimed to have secret meetings with President Gordon B. Hinckley, and that President Hinckley considered him a "secret prophet." He claims to be the incarnation of the Holy Ghost, as well as the Father of Jesus Christ, and has the keys to time travel. Thus he claims that he is able to be in spirit form as the Holy Ghost, as well as the Holy Ghost incarnate at the same time, because he went back in time to be born. This group has come up with a bunch of fraudulent writings purporting to be Holy Scripture, such as the Sacred Stone, The Record of Romanicus, and so forth. Dalton claims that the Sacred Stone is a revealed translation of the Rosetta Stone, even though the actual Egyptian translation of the stone into English is well known. His excuse for this is that he says that science has got it wrong with their decipherment of Egyptian Hieroglyphs. He uses the Book of Abraham Translation controversy as an excuse for his frauds. Dalton and Harman moved their group from Magna, Utah to Idaho in 2009, and then later to Montana. Now Dalton and Harman are facing charges of sexual assault. [2]

Ben Fuchs

Summary: On 14 January 1976, President Spencer W. Kimball and other Church leaders were told that a London man named Ben Fuchs had informed some LDS missionaries that he had artifacts which belonged to the Church. Investigation showed that Fuchs had some small and large ring-bound brass plates (weighing about 150 lbs), some strange spectacles, and a sword with gems in the hilt. Fuchs claimed he had received the items from his grandfather, who had gotten them from South America. Fuchs said that he was to give the plates to the church whose missionaries came to his door and said certain words. Fuchs and his family were baptized, and eventually came to Salt Lake City where they were sealed. Paul Cheesman of BYU retrieved the artifacts, and studied them closely. Anomalies in Fuch's story became evident, and the supposedly ancient 'plates' were determined to be of modern manufacture. The 'gems' in the sword hilt were made of glass. Fuchs "seemed motivated by material gain" and was excommunicated. [3]

Bishop John H. Koyle and the Dream Mine

Summary: This mine has been alternately called the Dream Mine, or the Relief Mine. Bishop John H. Koyle of Salem, Utah claimed that in 1894, an angel appeared to him and showed him a Nephite gold mine, just to the east of Salem. He claimed that he was commanded to tunnel into that mountain. Many years were spent in vain searching for the Nephite Gold, and he gathered a following. Koyle claimed that the purpose of the gold in the mine was to save the Church in some future time of need. He claimed to have prophetic gifts and revelations. Even at one point, Elder James Talmage warned Koyle and his followers that they had been deceived, and that by virtue of the fact that he was a geologist, he said there were no precious metals in the side of that mountain where they were digging. Koyle fooled many people into buying stock in the mine. He was persuaded to sign a statement in 1947 that was published in the Deseret News in which he repudiated his claims. His followers claim that he signed it under duress. Later, he backtracked from that statement, and was excommunicated in 1948. Some people still believe in that mine to this day, and some even still own stock in the mine. No gold has ever been found in that mountain, just as Elder Talmage stated it would not be, according to his knowledge, expertise and training, as well as his apostolic calling. [4]

Christopher Marc Nemelka

Summary: Former employee of Church security (and sometime self-professed atheist) Christopher Marc Nemelka has announced that he has been called to translate the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon plates. He has also produced a text purporting to be from the large plates of Nephi, which was lost by Martin Harris as the well-known "Lost 116 pages."

William Saunders Parrot

Summary: In the 19th century, forged metal plates and took them to Salt Lake City. His intent was to prove that Mormonism was a fraud. His daughter, F. Phyllis Parrot, donated the plates to the Bath library in England in 1975. Mr. Parrot also wrote two anti-Mormon pamphlets. Future forger Mark Hofmann displayed great interest in the plates during his LDS mission to England. [5]

FairMormon web site

Forgery FairMormon articles on-line
  • George Throckmorton and Steve Mayfield, "Salamander Letters" (2006 FAIR Conference presentation) FairMormon link

Video


Mythmaking and the Hofmann Case, George Throckmorton, Steve Mayfield, 2006 FAIR Conference

External links

Forgery on-line articles
  • Utah History Encyclopedia, "Mark Hofmann" off-site
  • Richard Lloyd Anderson, "The Alvin Smith Story: Fact and Fiction," Ensign (August 1987), 58. off-site
  • Dallin H. Oaks, "Recent Events Involving Church History and Forged Documents," Ensign (October 1987), 63. off-site

Printed material

Forgery printed materials
  • Linda Sillitoe and Allen Roberts, Salamander: The Story of the Mormon Forgery Murders, 2nd. ed., (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1989). ISBN 0941214877
  • Richard E. Turley, Victims: The LDS Church and the Mark Hofmann Case (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992). ISBN 0252018850.  (Key source)

Notes

  1. "About," Ang Aklatan: A Book About the History and Future of the Maharlika (accessed 14 June 2014). http://angaklatan.wordpress.com/about/about/
  2. Link to Terrill Dalton's Scriptures off-site and also a KSL article off-site
  3. See Linda Sillitoe & Allen Roberts, Salamander: The Story of the Mormon Forgery Murders, 213–214.
  4. Salt Lake Tribune article on the Dream Mine off-site
  5. Linda Sillitoe & Allen Roberts, Salamander: The Story of the Mormon Forgery Murders, 212.