We’re excited to finally bring on Bryce Blankenagel of the Naked Mormonism Podcast to Mormon Stories! His preparation, thorough research, and absolute brilliance are on display as Bryce gives us the context surrounding the Solomon Spaulding Manuscript Theory of The Book of Mormon—even including some of the apologetic arguments against the theory. Bryce concludes the interview with his personal take on the veracity of the theory. Tune in!

Part 1 – Bryce provides some of his Mormon background, then gives us context surrounding the Solomon Spaulding Manuscript Theory of The Book of Mormon:

Part 2 – Bryce focuses on the apologetic arguments surrounding the Spaulding Manuscript Theory of The Book of Mormon:

Part 1

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Part 2

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  1. Mitch April 29, 2019 at 2:40 pm - Reply

    Wow! That was one of the most though promoting Mormon Stories to date! Please give us more of these! Terrific!

  2. Benjamin Sanders April 29, 2019 at 4:48 pm - Reply

    Amazing exposé and good historical references… A case can be made that the Spaulding Theory is much more plausible than the correlated narrative. Episodes like this keep me glued to this podcase, not an exaggeration…

  3. Donny Helvey April 30, 2019 at 8:40 am - Reply

    Great job guys!! Loved every minute of it!

  4. Vickie Duncan April 30, 2019 at 10:48 am - Reply

    i love this…for when I first studied and in depth with different people who were and are in ‘the know’ even in masonry and apologists comprehensions…I always found that the Spaulding theory…to me..had bigger credibility than what has been avowed. Knowing that I am not a scholar an value scholarship…I still could never shake the feeling that Spaulding had some very valid places in the Book of Mormon ….and I do understand the differences between the Manuscript Found and the Creek papers.

    The very fact that it is hard to find actual writings of Joseph Smith to even compare speak volumes to me. I thank you for this info. All I know in my own surety is that Joseph Smith did NOT transcribe anything…that for all its worth in spiritual idealizations…the Book of Mormon is written in the 19th century….a story…that perhaps Spaulding should get some credit for. Yes….sad but true…the most correct book on earth is by several different authors…none of which is a farm boy named Joseph Smith.

  5. James April 30, 2019 at 11:28 am - Reply

    I have read a lot, a hell of a lot, and listened and watched a lot, of Richard Bushman. I then read both ED Howe and Bennett. Bushman’s analysis seems alot more accurate then Bryce’s, and that’s an understatement. I would be interested to know how Bryce would or could debunk Richard’s research and conclusions.

  6. Dan Vogel May 1, 2019 at 8:51 pm - Reply

    Bryce, interesting presentation. Thanks for at least being uncommitted on the Spaulding theory. I have a few comments that might help weaken its appeal.

    1. The Spaulding theory thrived because the manner of Joseph Smith’s dictating with his head in the hat was not widely known. When Howe’s book was published in 1834, Charles Anthon’s report that Harris said Joseph Smith worked from behind a curtain encouraged the view that Smith could have simply read Spaulding’s manuscript from behind the curtain. But Harris’s description only applied to a short period before serious translation began, not for the current text of the Book of Mormon.

    2. The 1831 accounts connecting Sidney Rigdon with Joseph Smith were based on theory, not on testimony. They were attempting to explain the Book of Mormon assuming Joseph Smith wasn’t smart enough. They were wrong.

    3. The Spaulding witnesses who said the Book of Mormon reads the same (except for the religious parts) were unaware that they were reading a rewrite that had replaced the lost beginning of the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith had originally dictated Mormon’s abridgment of the book of Lehi. Hence, it would not have been written with Nephi speaking in the first person, but with Mormon speaking to the reader. None of the first Spaulding witnesses mentioned that they remembered the name Mormon.

    4. The Spaulding witnesses confined their comments to parts of the Book of Mormon they read, never volunteering information of other parts.

    5. Rigdon only learned of the Book of Mormon through Parley P. Pratt, who brought Cowdery and the other missionaries to Kirtland, Ohio, on their way to Missouri in November 1830. Pratt only learned of the Book of Mormon by accident.

    6. No one talked of two manuscripts until it was discovered the Manuscript Story wasn’t the source of the Book of Mormon. When their memories didn’t match the manuscript, the only explanation was that there must have been another manuscript. The two titles are not significant. The Manuscript Story at Oberlin College shows evidence that it is a second draft; possibly the first was titled Manuscript Found.

    • Don May 3, 2019 at 8:58 am - Reply

      Thank you for saving me three hours, Mr. Vogel!

    • Ryan May 3, 2019 at 4:16 pm - Reply

      “No one talked of two manuscripts until it was discovered the Manuscript Story wasn’t the source of the Book of Mormon. When their memories didn’t match the manuscript, the only explanation was that there must have been another manuscript.”

      This is a key reason that I find the Spaulding Theory lacking. Rather than concluding that the witnesses’ memories were flawed, the theory’s proponents conclude that there must have been another manuscript! The primary reason to conclude the latter, rather than the former, is to preserve the theory.

      It’s far more easier for me to believe that the witnesses prior memory was tainted when they read the Book of Mormon years later (much like a crime witness participating in a suggestive photo lineup of potential suspects) than to believe in this conspiracy theory.

    • Gabriel von Himmel May 6, 2019 at 2:32 pm - Reply

      And it came to pass, it will all be sorted out in the end.
      Bryce did a masterful job at unparsimoniously circumscribing the ambiguity of the science of mormon thinking.
      Being a strong believer of freedom from religion is confirmed by the fallacy of believing too much too often when supernatural visions raise their whipy misshapen heads –– occam’s razor is of no use when indemnifying the peculiar aspects of Mormonism Branding

      In the last decade, Mormons have made great strides in fleshing out the grifting nature of belief before understanding. Thanks you Bryce for the deep dive into ambiguity.


    • J. Snow January 8, 2021 at 1:05 pm - Reply

      If we are not to believe in a lost Spaulding manuscript, then why should we accept reasoning based upon the content of the lost 116 pages?

  7. Bill May 5, 2019 at 11:21 am - Reply

    Question number 1 did the Spaulding manuscript exist before the Book of Mormon number 2 were the people who signed the affidavit s credible and did any have non religious gains to make by singing them hurlbutts Ferver and his arrest and his then disappearance make this the epic mystery of the 1830 s BYU should do a movie sticking to testimony on both sides we as L d s people deserve more than anonymous essays and apologetic scholarship we need more know your religion classes and we deserve truth

    • Coriantumr May 6, 2019 at 10:52 am - Reply

      Well said Bill. It appears that a cottage industry has sprung up off the conundrum of Church History. The sad thing is that the alternatives and the mainstreamers are equally on it………… Your suggestion of a BYU film or short film by NON LDS students is a good one.

  8. Mark Blanchard May 7, 2019 at 12:38 pm - Reply

    I came to the presentation a non-believer in the Spalding-Rigdon theory and I left it with my feelings unchanged. An interesting, if untenable set of what-ifs, maybes, coulda-shouldas, and isn’t-this-odds. Nothing more. But it was a fun listen.

  9. FRED October 29, 2019 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    I believe Joseph Smith was just authoring a fictional book (like thousands have always done) about two subjects of intense interest at the time – the origin of the Indians and religion – to earn money. The ideas he used were floating around out there. The only thing he without doubt plagiarized were his quotes from the 1769 version (including its errors) of the KJV. After all, he did unsuccessfully try to sell the copyright.

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