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Rigdon Spalding Theory: Final Analysis [Mormonism Live 170]

In the “Rigdon-Spalding Theory: Final Analysis,” Bill Reel and RFM delve into the conclusive examination of the theory, welcoming historians and experts Dan Vogel and Bryce Blankenagel. Together, they provide valuable insights, critique, and a comprehensive perspective on the historical aspects surrounding the Rigdon-Spalding theory. The episode serves as a culmination of their exploration, offering a nuanced and expert-driven assessment of the theory and its implications on the founding of Mormonism.

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2 thoughts on “Rigdon Spalding Theory: Final Analysis [Mormonism Live 170]”

  1. Ahem, moderators! Excellent topic and discussion. But was this a “presidential” debate where the loudest mouth gets to express his views the most? Or was it a free exchange of ideas, where both sides get to express their thoughts for the full time allotted?

    Dan interrupted Bryce numerous times. And in some cases, I believe Dan ultimately prevented Bryce from making his point.

    I think Bryce was trying to make an important point on the “Book of Pukei”. I could see where Bryce was going, but Dan wouldn’t hear him out. Dan shut him down with a loud-mouthed argument that didn’t even address the point that Bryce was trying to make. Bryce was trying to point out how the Book of Pukei resembled the Book of Mormon in terms of diction, phraseology, etc, and Dan “shut him down” on the basis of genre. The fact that there were other contemporary satire books doesn’t negate Bryce’s point about writing style.

    Moderators, next time please ask Dan Vogel to let the other side finish their remarks. I enjoyed what Dan had to say, but wanted to hear more from Bryce. Frustrating not to hear his complete remarks.

  2. I agree with Timmie Tim. I’m a big fan of Dan Vogel but he really annoyed me in this episode. He’s so biased against the Spaulding theory that he came across so hell-bent proving it wrong and burying it that he kept talking over Bryce and even arguing with him. He’s acting like Bryce of the others even DISCUSSING the evidence that supports the theory is like they are arguing it’s PROOF.

    There’s obviously not enough evidence to jump to the conclusion that the Book of Mormon originated with Rigdon and Spaulding but I think there’s a lot of evidence FOR it and a lot of it is compelling enough that it should simply be dismissed as a crock, conspiracy theory that simply CANNOT be true. Not having enough evidence does not equate to not be true. I used to scoff at the Spaulding Theory and just believed the conclusions made by Mormons and historians like, Brodie, the Tanners, and Dan Vogel that it’s a silly and “disproven” theory that needs to buried and forgotten UNTIL I read Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon: The Spaulding Enigma.

    Many of my preconceived notions of the theory were blow apart and I was surprised by how much evidence there was supporting it. It’s not just a few statements by disgruntled anti-Mormons who felt Joseph Smith couldn’t have written it and so theorized it must have been Rigdon. Plus there’s enough evidence placing Rigdon at the right times and places (despite his denials), that he certainly COULD have been behind it. And the manuscript that surfaced in Honolulu doesn’t necessarily disprove the theory. There is ample evidence that there could have been another manuscript that Rigdon stole that was not “Manuscript Story.” Spaulding had SEVERAL manuscripts and stories he wrote and there is evidence that “Manuscript Found” is a different version of “Manuscript Found.” One is the more secular story while the other is the religious one written in the Biblical style, like the Book of Mormon. There’s a reason Spaulding was nicknamed “Old Came to Pass” by his friends and neighbors while Manuscript Story doesn’t contain the “And it came to pass” phrases.

    If haven’t read that book, then, in my opinion, you can’t have a strong opinion on the theory. I suggest anyone who has interest in the theory or thinks it has no merit should read it first.

    I’m not arguing the Spaulding Theory is true but I don’t think it’s as problematic as many historians like Dan Vogel make it out to be. I think when Manuscript Story was found in the late 1800’s, it was such an embarrassing incident for critics who pushed the theory and such a vindication for the Mormon church that critics and historians, both pro and con, wanted to bury it and forget about.

    But much evidence has come to light since then, like the discovery of Sidney Rigdon actually receiving mail in Pittsburg denying he was ever there at the time and evidence showing that the theory doesn’t rise or fall on the Manuscript Story discovery, that I think the theory is still plausible and even impressive.

    I don’t think it will ever be proven but I don’t think one can simply dismiss it either. I still lean towards Smith as sole author but I see no reason why there couldn’t be a connection with Rigdon and one of Spaulding’s manuscripts. There’s a lot of evidence connecting the BoM to Spaulding and the BoM doesn’t have to be 100% copied from it either. It could have been an inspired by it or modify or added onto. Maybe it was a rough outline and then Smith and Rigdon both contribute to it. I see both their influences in it just like we see with the Book of Moses and the D&C.

    And just because we don’t NEED the Spaulding and Rigdon to explain the naturalistic origins of the Book of Mormon doesn’t mean we have to dismiss it too. Just because Smith’s could have written it doesn’t mean Rigdon didn’t have a connection. And giving the Spaulding Theory some plausibility doesn’t mean it’s “proven” or that we should use it as evidence against the divine claims of the Book of Mormon. It’s just an interesting possibility and a theory that COULD be true but will probably never be proven as true.

    On a side note. I am shocked that neither RFM, Bill, or Dan knew about the 1824 pseudo-scripture, the 3rd Epistle of Peter, published by Rigdon’s friend. Whether Rigdon write it or not, he certainly must have been aware of it and read it. It’s an interesting historical tidbit related to pre-Mormonism Rigdon.

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