Don't let the title fool you. Even though it's called Who Really Wrote The Book of Mormon? and it's published by a religious publisher, this is NOT a religious book; it's a book ABOUT a religious book. The historical mystery here makes for a fascinating tale, even for readers who have no interest in religious books and care nothing about Mormonism. Indeed, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself would have been hard-pressed to come up with a better detective story, or a more colorful set of characters to go with it.
As the story goes, on the night of the autumnal equinox in the year 1827, young Joseph Smith, Jr. encountered an angel. According to Smith, this angel, whose name was Moroni, gave him an ancient book written in strange hieroglyphics on sheets of gold. Later, after Smith had translated these hieroglyphics by miraculous means, and after this translation had been duly recorded by a carefully chosen scribe, the angel came again and took the original back. Smith's translation, which he called The Book of Mormon, was published in 1830 and shortly thereafter became the a cornerstone of a new religion. Today that religion is known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--the Mormons--and Joseph Smith is the man they revere as their prophet. The inherently theocratic nature of Mormonism coupled with its obvious financial strength and political influence in today's world, explain why it might be useful to inquire further into the obscure historical origins of a faith which few, even those who are part of it, know much about.
Did Joseph Smith really get The Book of Mormon from an angel, or did it perhaps have some other, more mundane, origin?Read more ›
I have read *ahem* my share of books on Mormon history, and this is one of the very best, hands-down.
The authors examine tax records, census records, poll tax documents, county histories, family histories, etc.--seemingly no stone is left unturned as they carefully trace which key player in the Spalding-Rigdon controversy was where and was in a position to know what.
Most discussions of the Spalding-Rigdon theory center around the Conneaut Witnesses, the people who knew Solomon Spalding and identified his story when they heard the Book of Mormon preached to them. I was amazed to learn of the hundreds of additional witnesses whose statements had remained forgotten or undiscovered until now, especially a man to whom an embittered Rigdon "spilled the beans" after his loss to Brigham Young for the leadership of the church.
The authors painstakingly trace the Spalding Manuscript from its genesis to its final incarnation as the Book of Mormon, and all the twists and turns in between. They deal with every objection to the theory ever raised since the very beginning--such as the reliability of Hurlbut, the witnesses' accuracy, and the manuscript taken from Mrs. McKinstry's trunk, for example--and thoroughly analyze and disect them point-by-point using counterexamples, eyewitness accounts, and other sources.
Mormon apologists have long been challenging critics to a) come up with a more plausible account of the creation of the Book of Mormon than their official one, and b) come up with original material. This book succeeds masterfully at both.
I'd always had nagging questions about how the Book of Mormon came to be, but this book answered each one of them clearly and decisively. In my opinion, if you only read a single book on Mormon history, this is DEFINITELY the one. Highly recommended!
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I finished the book tonight. I was enthralled with the subject matter, and I read it with enthusiasm. I am as much a product of mormonism as anyone. I challenge anyone to claim more pioneer ancestry than myself. I split with mormonism, for my own purposes, at the age of 19. I probably don't need to explain to most why I was compelled to make a decision at this point. Anyhow, I was most receptive to the material in this book. Yet, living with my parents, I hid the book in fear of sparking holy jihad if you know what I mean. To date, my doubts have mostly been gut feelings. With the reading of this book and "Losing a Lost Tribe" I am beginning a process of methodical analysis of evidence. To say that there is any fully unbiased view on this subject probably isn't realistic. Obviously, the name Cowdrey in the list of authors is a give away that perhaps at least one of these authors carries it in their blood.
To those who vehemently discredit this book, it is completely understandable and acceptable. Your right to your faith is respected by the authors of this book in the afterword. They accept that you won't be dissuaded from your beliefs, and I firmly believe that this isn't their intent.
I started this book with the full understanding that history is an imperfect science at best. With the recent explosion of multimedia access to historical information, one may deduce from study that very few things in history are known for certain. The authors concede that the challenges of mormon history, assuming a conspiracy, are daunting due to the fact that those involved wouldn't want their history known. This same type of dilemma dates even to the time of Julius Caesar.
My enthusiasm for this book is admittedly fueled by my background.Read more ›
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