Defending the Faith: Joseph Smith's account of the Restoration is difficult to counter

Published: Thursday, April 26 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

A tortured historical narrative was fashioned, purporting to explain how Sidney Rigdon, for whatever reason, stole the Spalding manuscript and used it to make Joseph Smith a "prophet." Little or no evidence supports the story, quite a bit of evidence (including very sophisticated recent statistical analysis) renders it deeply improbable and only desperate necessity would ever have given rise to it in the first place. But the Spalding theory nonetheless limps on in certain circles.

Even so, it doesn't even begin to explain the Witnesses, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and a host of other matters.

Daniel C. Peterson is a professor of Islamic studies and Arabic at BYU, where he also serves as editor in chief of the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative and as director of advancement for the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. He is the founder of He blogs daily at

Get The Deseret News Everywhere