Welcome to MormonLeaks
MormonLeaks is a authorship research project that seeks to reconstruct the authentic narrative of the origins of the Mormon canon by combining macro-analytic computing tools with contemporary historical evidence.
The historical records reveal a small pool of candidate authors collaborating in Western New York and Northern Ohio to create the Mormon scriptures. Joseph Smith, Jr., Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery, and Parley Pratt are implicated as responsible for the majority of the authorship. Writings in the style of the King James Bible attracted religious curiosity, and authors started using this “Style of Antiquity” to easily establish truth claims in a language that was both familiar and authoritative. Our team of candidate authors borrowed liberally from the Bible, as well as contemporary works such as View of the Hebrews, The Late War, The Pilgrim’s Progress, and many others.
The narrative complexity in the Book of Mormon involves multiple internal editors and more than two dozen prophet characters. We assume multiple contemporary authors were involved in writing and editing the texts. In addition, we address persistent reports of plagiarism, cover-ups, and fraud.
The forerunner to the Book of Mormon, “Manuscript Found”, was a story penned by Solomon Spalding. Witnesses described it as a Biblical-style fiction that traced the origin of Native Americans to migrations from the Middle East. Spalding submitted his manuscript to a Pittsburgh print shop for publication. Impoverished and unable to pay the printing costs, Spalding died with his manuscript unpublished and seemingly forgotten.
We present our investigation of this 19th century authorship mystery to you in slideshow fashion. The narrative has been divided into eight episodes similar to chapters in a book. Each episode assumes familiarity with the previous one, but of course you can skip around the episodes at your leisure.
We invite you to join us!
Contributors to this site are not paid to do so. Rather, we work for free on new and cutting-edge research that we believe is vital to the general public — both for Mormons and non-Mormons alike. We are in no way affiliated with or represent any group or party promoting or denouncing Mormonism. Our goal is to shed new light on historical and textual claims widely represented as truth within the Mormon community. We believe that the time has come for a candid conversation about the origins of the Mormon scriptures and the rise of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
The narrative presented here is a naturalistic perspective that, to the best of our knowledge, is consistent with existing historical and textual evidence. Our aim is to create an account that integrates as much evidence as possible into a narrative with explanatory and predictive power. While we are not aware of errors of fact, we recognize that errors are possible, and we welcome corrections. We also anticipate that new evidence will come to light. Corrections and additional information may require fine-tuning of the narrative or even significant changes. We reserve the right to to do so.