Here we have a post from Steve Benson on the origins of the book of mormon. It is further evidence against the Mormon church. Here is the post:
Stephen Van Eck, in his article, “The Book of Mormon: One Too Many M’s,” writes that Oliver Cowdery admitted to his law firm colleague, Judge W. Lang, that the Book of Mormon was a hoax, manufactured from Solomon Spaulding’s unpublished novel, “Manuscript Found”:
” . . . W. Lang, whose law firm the excommunicated Oliver Cowdery joined . . . wrote, ‘The plates were never translated and could not be, and were never intended to be.’ (This suggests that Cowdery still believed that there were actually plates.)
“‘What is claimed to be a translation is “The Manuscript Found” worked over by C.’ (Cowdery) ‘He was the best scholar among them.’. . . .
“‘Rigdon got the original at the job printing office in Pittsburgh . . . Without going into detail or disclosing a confidential word, I can say to you that I do know, as well as can now be known, that C. revised the manuscript and that Smith and Rigdon approved of it before it became the Book of Mormon.’
Eck concludes from Lang’s confession the following:
“Apparently Cowdery had admitted the hoax to Lang, but took all the credit for it.
“This is not consistent with Cowdery being the servile follower of Smith that he had been. Had Cowdery given Smith the completed manuscript, furthermore, losing the first 116 pages of the dictated ‘translation’ would have scarcely been a problem. Cowdery, despite his apparent boasting to Lang, can be considered a collaborator at best, but a conspirator at least.”
Lang made the above-mentioned claim that Cowdery had knowingly participated in the Book of Mormon production hoax in letter Lang wrote to Thomas Gregg of Hamilton, Illinois in 1881.
Below are relevant, expanded excerpts from text of Lang’s letter to Gregg:
“TIFFIN, O., NOV. 5, 1881.
“DEAR SIR: — Your note of the 1st inst. I found upon my desk when I returned home this evening and I hasten to answer. Once for all I desire to be strictly understood when I say to you that I cannot violate any confidence of a friend though he be dead.
“This I will say that Mr. Cowdery never spoke of his connection with the Mormons to anybody except to me. We were intimate friends.
“The plates were never translated and could not be, were never intended to be. What is claimed to be a translation is the ‘Manuscript Found’ worked over by C. [Cowdery] He was the best scholar amongst them. Rigdon got the original at the job printing office in Pittsburgh as I have stated.
“I often expressed my objection to the frequent repetition of ‘And it came to pass’ to Mr. Cowdery and said that a true scholar ought to have avoided that, which only provoked a gentle smile from C.
“Without going into detail or disclosing a confided word, I say to you that I do know, as well as can now be known, that C. revised the ‘Manuscript’and Smith and Rigdon approved of it before it became the ‘Book of Mormon.’ I have no knowledge of what became of the original. Never heard C. say as to that.”
(quoted in Charles A. Schook, “The True Origin of The Book of Mormon” [Cincinnati, Ohio: The Standard Publishing Co., 1914], pp. 56-57); for the full text of the letter, see: http://solomonspalding.com/docs2/1914Shk1.htm#pgvii)
About a year after I published the above on this blog, I submitted it to reddit. As a result of the renewed interest, I came across the following from Craig Criddle, who has done some recent research into the Book of Mormon’s Origins. Everything above this update is from Steve Benson, everything below it is from “Craig C” at exmormon.org :
The probability is high that Cowdery was a co-conspirator in the production of the Book of Mormon.
The Stanford text analysis of the Book of Mormon implicated Cowdery:
“Our results indicate that likely nineteenth century contributors were Solomon Spalding, a writer of historical fantasies; Sidney Rigdon, an eloquent but perhaps unstable preacher; and Oliver Cowdery, a schoolteacher with editing experience. Our findings support the hypothesis that Rigdon was the main architect of the Book of Mormon and are consistent with historical evidence suggesting that he fabricated the book by adding theology to the unpublished writings of Spalding (then deceased)..”
Besides the testimony of Lang there are the comments of Lorenzo Saunders, a neighbor of the Smith’s, in 1885 and 1887 implicating both Oliver Cowdery and Sidney Rigdon in the production of the Book of Mormon.
In his 1885 statement, Saunders said:
“As respecting Oliver Cowdery, he came from Kirtland in the summer of 1826 and was about there [i.e. the Smith’s farm] until fall and took a school in the district where the Smiths lived and the next summer he was missing and I didn’t see him until fall and he came back and took our school in the district where we lived and taught about a week and went to the schoolboard and wanted the board to let him off and they did and he went to Smith and went to writing the Book of Mormon and wrote all winter. The Mormons say it wasn’t wrote there but I say it was because I was there. I saw Sidney Rigdon in the spring of 1827, about the middle of March. I went to Smiths to eat maple sugar, and I saw five or six men standing in a group and there was one among them better dressed than the rest and I asked Harrison Smith who he was and he said his name was Sidney Rigdon, a friend of Joseph’s from Pennsylvania.
I saw him in the Fall of 1827 on the road between where I lived and Palmyra, with Joseph. I was with a man by the name of Ingersol. They talked together and when he went on I asked Ingersol who he was and he said it was Rigdon. Then in the summer of 1828 I saw him at Samuel Lawrence’s just before harvest. I was cutting corn for Lawrence and went to dinner and he took dinner with us and when dinner was over they went into another room and I didn’t see him again till he came to Palmyra to preach. You wanted to know how Smith acted about it. The next morning after he claimed to have got plates he came to our house and said he had got the plates and what a struggle he had in getting home with them. Two men tackled him and he fought and knocked them both down and made his escape and secured the plates and had them safe and secure. He showed his thumb where he bruised it in fighting those men.
After [he] went from the house, my mother says ‘What a liar Joseph Smith is; he lies every word he says; I know he lies because he looks so guilty; he can’t see out of his eyes; how dare [he] tell such a lie as that.’ The time he claimed to have taken the plates from the hill was on the 22 day of September, in 1827, and I went on the next Sunday following with five or six other ones and we hunted the side hill by course [i.e. “in a search pattern”] and could not find no place where the ground had been broke. There was a large hole where the money diggers had dug a year or two before, but no fresh dirt. There never was such a hole; there never was any plates taken out of that hill nor any other hill in country, was in Wayne county. It is all a lie. No, sir, I never saw the plates nor no one else. He had an old glass box [i.e. a box used for holding plates or panes of glass] with a tile in it, about 7×8 inches, and that was the gold plates[;] and Martin Harris didn’t know a gold plate from a brick at this time.
Smith and Rigdon had an intimacy but it was very secret and still and there was a mediator between them and that was Cowdery. The manuscript was stolen by Rigdon and modelled over by him and then handed over to Cowdery and he copied them and Smith sat behind the curtain and handed them out to Cowdery and as fast as Cowdery copied them, they was handed over to Martin Harris and he took them to Egbert Granden [sic], the one who printed them, and Gilbert set the type.”
Lorenzo Saunders, Letter to Thomas Gregg, 28 January 1885 , Charles A. Shook, The True Origin of the Book of Mormon (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Co., 1914, p. 132-33). Cited in: Dan Vogel, ed., Early Mormon Documents, 3 vols. (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1996-2000, 3:177-79.