Welcome to the New Spalding Studies' FAQ
(Includes Important Updates of Sept. 1, 1999 & Sept. 1, 2003)
(Supersedes News & FAQ page at old site)
(go directly to News & Notes)
Q: When was The Spalding Studies site started?
A: The Spalding Studies Home Page's original files were uploaded to the web server at the beginning of May of 1998. The introductory "front page" and the linkages between files were put on-line May 20, 1998. In Oct. of 2000 the "new" site was initiated at SolomonSpalding.com. Since that time, most of the on-line material at the original Spalding Studies Home Page has been gradually moved over to the new site.
Q: What is this site all about anyway?
A: The best way to determine that is to take a quick look for yourself at the introductory "front page" and the sub-pages links on its sidebar menu. Briefly stated, this web site is devoted to the life and works of the would-be early American author, Solomon Spalding (1761-1816). For further details, see the answer to the final question in this FAQ series.
Q: Who was Solomon Spalding?
A: Solomon Spalding (sometimes called "the Rev. Solomon Spalding") was an early would-be American author who was born in Ashford, CT in 1761. He served in the Revolutionary War, attended Dartmouth College, was ordained as an Evangelist in CT by the Congregationalists, and died in Amity, PA in 1816. He married Matilda D. Sabin in 1795 and the couple moved to Cherry Valley, NY where Spalding dabbled in retailing, served briefly as the headmaster of the local academy, and did a bit of preaching for the Presbyterians. In 1809 he and his family moved to Conneaut, OH, where he engaged in land sales and wrote at least one short romance novel. He also wrote other unpublished books during his lifetime, but only the one romance from Conneaut has survived as a holograph manuscript. In 1812 he moved to PA, where he died in 1816.
Q: Why are people interested in Solomon Spalding?
A: In 1832 Mormon elders Samuel Smith and Orson Hyde visited Conneaut, OH, the place where Spalding had written his one surviving manuscript. When Hyde preached from the Book of Mormon, Nehemiah King, an old associate of Spalding's, felt that the Mormon text resembled that of his old friend's novel. From subsequent developments in the region the claim emerged that Solomon Spalding had written a substantial portion of the Book of Mormon. His name was later mentioned in this connection in numerous articles and books, (beginning in 1834 and continuing down until today). Besides this alleged notoriety, Spalding is of interest as being a very early American author who lived in the same region of the country and wrote during the same general time period as did James Fennimore Cooper.
Q: Does the Mormon Church operate or sponsor this home page?
A: The Spalding Studies site and its sister sites are entirely privately funded and operated. The Site Host is Dale R. Broadhurst of Hilo, Hawaii. While he was an active member of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for much of his life, that group of "Mormons" has had no direct connection with the web site -- neither is the LDS Church of Salt Lake City, UT, the Community of Christ of Independence, MO, nor any professional society, publisher, etc.
Q: Are the Site Host and the persons posting these files anti-Mormons?
A: The Spalding Studies site is nonsectarian and essentially non-political in religious matters. While individual contributors to various sections of this home page and its sub-sections come from a variety of religious backgrounds and represent different personal philosophies, the basic purpose of this home page is neither "pro-Mormon" nor "anti-Mormon." For further details, see the answer to the final question in this FAQ series.
Q: Hasn't the Site Host made anti-Mormon statements on-line?
A: Site Host Dale R. Broadhurst has engaged in numerous on-line discussions regarding Mormonism over the past several years. Some of his early remarks were made while he was a member of the RLDS (CoC) Church and were voiced in support of that group's religious tenets, over and against the LDS Church, etc. To whatever extent any particular religious organization might be thought of as being less "Mormon" than the late 20th century RLDS, perhaps some of Mr. Broadhurst's remarks might be considered "anti-Mormon." He does not, however, consider himself an opponent of any of the current Latter Day Saint groups.
Q: Didn't the Site Host quit Mormonism over the the "Spalding Issue?"
A: Mr. Broadhurst left Community of Christ (previously called the RLDS Church) for a number of personal reasons, none of which were specifically based upon the claims that Solomon Spalding wrote portions of the Book of Mormon. It might be safely said, however, that had Mr. Broadhurst felt the book to be what CoC implicitly proclaims (by publishing it to the world as holy writ) he probably would not have left that religious group.
Q: Hasn't the "Spalding Authorship Theory" been shown to be a hoax?
A: There is no one, precisely agreed upon definition of what constitutes the Solomon Spalding Authorship "Theory" for the Book of Mormon. That "theory," is comprised of a complex set of facts, allegations, deceptions, mistakes, misunderstandings, and personal beliefs which has grown up over the years since the early 1830s. While certain elements of the "theory" have been effectively refuted or severely questioned by various authority figures, historians, and writers, the original Spalding authorship claims and the resultant "theories" constitute an historical phenomenon, not a deliberate, anti-Mormon hoax. The basic claims for a Spalding authorship have never been unequivocally refuted by any writer or ecclesiastical authority -- and many substantiating pieces of evidence appear to have been systematically ignored by those who have attempted to brand the matter an intentional hoax or an unfortunate mistake of the past.
Q: Did Solomon Spalding write the Book of Mormon?
A: Although much has been offered in the way of "evidence," that allegation has never been proven to be a correct one. Those who maintain a testimony of the divine origin of the book and of its historicity have never accepted any role for Spalding in its composition as a Latter Day Saint scriptural work. Numerous informed persons who do not accept the book as scripture generally concur with this negative opinion. Few well-informed people today support the old Spalding allegation, although some people hold open the possibility that some of Spalding's ideas and language were somehow reflected in certain parts of the Book of Mormon.
update: Sept. 1, 1999: In 1999 the Site Host announced his support of a limited version of the Spalding authorship claims for the Book of Mormon. Because of this development, the last sentence above can be changed to read: "Although many informed historical scholars and laypersons today still generally do not support the old Spalding allegation, the Site Host feels that some of Spalding's writings were incorporated into certain parts of the Book of Mormon prior to its publication in 1830."
update: Sept. 1, 2003: In 2003 Mr. Broadhurst announced his discontinuation of support for the publication of the Book of Mormon, as sacred scripture, by Community of Christ. It is his studied opinion that much of the book is the product of an early 19th century writer (such as Ethan Smith, Solomon Spalding, etc.) and that the validity of the contents of the two witness statements included in the book are not well supported by any evidence offered by contemporary Latter Day Saints.
Q: Hasn't the Site Host for Spalding Studies come out in support of the theory?
A: Mr. Broadhurst presented professional papers in the early 1980's, demonstrating that the thematic and vocabulary parallels in Spalding's writings and the Book of Mormon alone are strong enough to provide a basis for the so-called "theory." Providing a possible basis for a theory is not the same as providing proof for a theory. however. Mr. Broadhurst advocates the possibility that elements of Spalding's ideas and language are reflected in certain parts of the Book of Mormon. In attempting to account for this oddity he has offered several speculative suggestions, some of which are mutually exclusive of one another. His role model in providing this "devil's advocate" approach has been that demonstrated by Brigham H. Roberts in regard to the Ethan Smith Theory for Book of Mormon origins.
update: Sept. 1, 1999: The Site Host has announced his support of a limited portion of the Spalding authorship claims for the Book of Mormon. After years of researching the subject, he has come to the inescapable conclusion that some of Spalding's writings furnished the foundation for certain parts of the Book of Mormon.
Q: Why does the Book of Mormon resemble Spalding's known writings?
A: There is no single, well agreed upon measure of how much resemblance actually exists. Certainly there was enough general similarity between the two writings to get the Spalding claims started in the first place. Serious investigators have compiled lists of the similarities -- but, again, there seems to be no consensus regarding their possible relevance in the compilation of the Book of Mormon. Some readers say that the apparent similarities may be due to coincidence, because both the Book of Mormon and Spalding's preserved writings deal with somewhat similar happenings in American prehistory. Others says that some textual parallels in the two works may arise from the fact that the idiomatic English of Joseph's day was practically the same as that of Spalding's period. No one has been able to demonstrate what, if any, thematic correspondence in the texts might have arisen as a consequence of Smith's "seer's powers" or Spalding's possible visionary experiences. The question still begs for an answer, but the simplist answer might be that both works shared a common author.
Q: What is the Site Host's current opinion regarding the theory? (revised: Sept. 1, 2003)
A: I (Dale R. Broadhurst) believe that some of Spalding's unpublished writings were incorporated into certain parts of the Book of Mormon prior to its publication in 1830. Indeed, it seems most probable to me that Solomon Spalding's reported pseudo-history of the ancient Americas provided the original foundation for the LDS book.
The Spalding-Rigdon authorship claims have been around for almost as many years as has the Book of Mormon itself, but they have yet to be either firmly established or well refuted. However, a substantial amount of available "evidence" in this matter has yet to be put before the interested public. There is still much for historians to examine and consider, even after decades of research and reporting. It is my personal opinion that the necessary and sufficient evidence required to establish at least one particular version of the Spalding-Rigdon authorship thesis, as historical fact, is today available to the careful and dedicated student of this subject. In saying this I am not maintaining that undeniable proof has established the validity of any particular set of these old authorship claims -- but, rather, that enough evidence to provide for a "provisional proof" can be collected and articulated. It is my hope that the bulk of this evidence can be brought before the public in a useful way in the near future. It is likely that publication of the new book, The Spalding Enigma, will greatly facilitate this daunting task.
Q: If the Spalding theory is so problematical, why devote a web-site to it?
A: The Spalding Studies Home Page is not exclusively "devoted to" the Spalding "theory" for the origin of the Book of Mormon. Here is an early statement explaining its purpose on the web (as originally posted in May of 1998):
Since the earliest days of the Latter Day Saint Restoration Movement in the late 1820's, non-Mormons have been curious about who might have written the text for the Book of Mormon. The Mormons' answers, that the book was written by ancient, pre-Colombian Israelites living in the Americas, was an unconvincing explanation to the unconverted. Many theories were put forward concerning the authorship of the book. But despite the efforts of many to offer these various explanations still remain little more than speculation.In promoting its purpose to "inform" and "support" the student of history, literature, and religion, the Spalding Studies web site publishes ideas, opinions, and possibilities as offerings for further discussion. Some of what appears here may appear irrelevant or irreverent to the casual visitor. Readers are invited to sample a number of those electronic offerings before making up their minds as to the usefulness of the material made available here. And, of course, quality feed-back and contributions will be gladly accepted (and published if the contributor so desires).
Q: What are the implications of the Site Hosts new views?
(added Sept. 1, 1999, rev. 2003)
A: My primary concern at this point is in maintaining the integrity of this web site and its contents. If additional evidence continues to accumulate in support of certain of the traditional claims of the Spalding authorship theory, I am worried about how that information can be conveyed and reflected upon here without my being pressured to turn the site into an anti-Mormon establishment. My secondary concern is that provisional information and viewpoints made available here will be quoted out of context and be put to use to further some people's refractory anti-"Mormon" polemics.
In the long run, the major implications are that the preponderance of the reliable evidence could show that the traditional doctrines of the "Latter Day Saint restoration" churches, in regard to the origin of the Book of Mormon, are in error. If this realization becomes a popular one and is given careful consideration by the leaders of those organizations, I believe that those established doctrines will eventually have to be modified. This may become more of a disruptive problem for the leaders of the LDS Church than for those who head up the RLDS (CoC) Church and some of the other, smaller restoration religious entities. I belueve that, sooner or later, it will become a problem as well as a challenge -- not only for members of these churches, but also for the historians, theologians, and students of contemporary religious society.
Part Two: News and Notes
(go back to Part 1: FAQ)
Statement on Spalding-BoM Textual Resemblance
Announcement of On-line Spalding Ms Concordance
The Spalding Studies Home Page: General Site Update
The SSHP: Recent Changes & Future Plans
MAJOR CHANGE IN SITE HOST'S VIEWS
The SSHP Site Overhaul and Update
The New Spalding Book
Transfer of This Site to a New URL
"In accordance with your request we are enclosing a withdrawal certificate
from this church for you. We are sorry that you desire to take this step..."
Some remarks revelant to the request