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Book of Mormon

T. Schroeder Article
B. H. Robert's





B. H. Roberts - Schroeder Articles
on The Book of Mormon

 Introduction to Articles
for SHIELDS Web Page

 by Malin Jacobs

The most common non-LDS explanation for the Book of Mormon is the so-called Spaulding Theory, of which there at least four variations.  Anti-Mormon lawyer Theodore Schroeder wrote a long article in which he attempted to demonstrate his preferred version of the Spaulding Theory.  This article appeared serially in four issues of the AMERICAN HISTORICAL MAGAZINE in 1906 and 1907.  Brigham. H. Roberts, who was then the LDS church historian, read Schroeder's article and asked that the AMERICAN HISTORICAL MAGAZINE publish his reply.  This they did in four issues during 1908 and 1909. Roberts' article is a point-by-point reply to Schroeder.  These two articles are virtually unknown today.

There are several reasons why these articles are important:

  1. Schroeder's article makes the best case I have ever seen for the Spaulding Manuscript theory.
  2. Roberts' article thoroughly destroys Schroeder's case.
  3. As a result of Roberts' article, the AMERICAN HISTORICAL MAGAZINE (renamed AMERICANA) asked Roberts to write a history of the LDS church to be published serially in the magazine.  Roberts agreed, the magazine publication changed from bi-monthly to monthly, and Roberts' history appeared from late 1909 through most of 1916.  In the late 1920's Roberts was asked to write a multi-volume history of the LDS church to be published in time for the centennial church conference in April, 1930. This Roberts did by editing his AMERICANA history and writing new material to bring the history up-to-date from 1916 to 1930.  That work is the six-volume Comprehensive History Of The Church. Had Roberts not replied to Schroeder in 1908-1909, the Comprehensive History might not have been written.

This series was subsequently published in B.H. Roberts' Defense of the Faith and the Saints, Vol. 2, (The Deseret News, SLC, UT:1912), pp. 1-229.  B.H. Roberts introduces the subject in these words (original spellings have been retained in articles):

The following debate on the "Origin of the Book of Mormon," came about in the following manner:  The writer saw in the Salt Lake Tribune two numbers of Mr. Schroeder's article and observing the general trend of the argument felt that a prompt reply should appear in the same publication, that it might be read by the same people who would read Mr. Schroeder's article.  A letter was accordingly addressed to the Tribune, to ascertain if that paper would publish a reply to Mr. Schroeder.  The Editor answered that the Tribune was reproducing the article from the American Historical Magazine, published in New York, and that perhaps its publishers would be pleased to receive a reply to Mr. Schroeder.  If the publishers of the Historical Magazine accepted such an article, the Tribune would then be willing to reproduce it, if the Deseret News, the Mormon Church organ, would agree to publish Mr. Schroeder's article.

This suggested a too complicated arrangement to suit the writer, hence he dropped the matter with the Tribune, and took it up with the publishers of the American Magazine, who gave place to his answer to Mr. Schroeder in current numbers of that publication, 1908-9. And the writer has heard nothing from the Tribune or Mr. Schroeder since.

In the Schroeder article footnoting has been changed to endnotes for readability, but kept with each original magazine issue.