What is the "Spaulding Manuscript" theory?
By the 1840s, the so-called Spaulding theory had become the main secular explanation for the Book of Mormon. The Spaulding theory asserts that Solomon Spaulding's novel, Manuscript Found, served as an original source document for the Book of Mormon. The only known Spaulding manuscript was lost from 1839 until 1884 when it was found in Hawaii. Believers in the Book of Mormon felt vindicated by this discovery, and they published Spaulding's work to show the world it was not the source for the Book of Mormon. The Spaulding Manuscript is a fictional story about a group of Romans who, while sailing to England in the fourth century, were blown off course and landed in eastern North America where they had dealings with Native American tribes. It has virtually no religious content. Since 1946, no serious student of Mormonism, even those hostile to Smith's prophetic claims, has given the Spaulding Manuscript theory credibility.
Lance D. Chase -
The late author was a professor of history at Brigham Young UniversityHawaii.
- "Spaulding Manuscript," in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, ed. Daniel H. Ludlow, 4 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 3:1402–3.