John He 編整
最近(2008年)的一個計算機分析摩門經文本支持這一理論，儘管該研究不包括小斯密約瑟的提交樣品，因為斯密約瑟的寫作純正例子尚未被發現的。2008年的計算機分析是 把摩門經純文字與，概率很高的可能的作家的文字相比，可能的作家包括斯伯丁，雷格登，和考得里奧利佛，結論是“我們的分析支持該理論認為，摩門經是由多個十九世紀的作家所寫，更確切地說，我們發現強烈支持斯伯丁–雷格登著作理論。在所有的數據中，我們發現雷格登是作為統一的力量。他的訊號主宰了摩門經，而若是其他候選人有更多的可能時，雷格登往往也是隱藏在陰影裡。“該研究並未包括斯密約瑟為一個可能的作家，理由是，因為斯密約瑟的寫作純正例子尚未被發現的，由於斯密約瑟是使用抄寫文士和合著者，目前並無文字可確定是斯密約瑟自已寫的。[Jockers et al., Reassessing authorship of the Book of Mormon using delta and nearest shrunken centroid classification, Literary and Linguistic Computing, December, 2008]
The prominence of the Rigdon and Spalding signals are significant and provide strong support for the Spalding-Rigdon authorship theory: that Rigdon acquired one or more manuscripts written by Spalding and then modified them, by incorporating his own theology, to create the 1830 version of the Book of Mormon.
Mormon prophet Joseph Smith (1805–44) claimed that more than two-dozen ancient individuals (Nephi, Mormon, Alma, etc.) living from around 2200 BC to 421 AD authored the Book of Mormon (1830), and that he translated their inscriptions into English. Later researchers who analyzed selections from the Book of Mormon concluded that differences between selections supported Smith’s claim of multiple authorship and ancient origins. We offer a new approach that employs two classification techniques: ‘delta’ commonly used to determine probable authorship and ‘nearest shrunken centroid’ (NSC), a more generally applicable classifier. We use both methods to determine, on a chapter-by-chapter basis, the probability that each of seven potential authors wrote or contributed to the Book of Mormon. Five of the seven have known or alleged connections to the Book of Mormon, two do not, and were added as controls based on their thematic, linguistic, and historical similarity to the Book of Mormon. 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of Mormon and are consistent with historical evidence suggesting that he fabricated the book by adding theology to the unpublished writings of Spalding (then deceased).
NSC has proved highly useful for authorship classification. It has a lower cross-validation error rate than delta, a lower rate of false positive assignments, and a probability-based output that enabled in-depth interpretation of the results, including speculation regarding possible connections between candidate authors. The NSC results are consistent with the Spalding-Rigdon theory of authorship. Evidence supporting this conclusion includes the prominence of signals for Spalding and Rigdon; the presence of strong Spalding signals in sections of the Book of Mormon previously linked to Spalding; the presence of a dominant Rigdon signal in most theological sections, and a strong Spalding signal in the more secular, narrative sections. Our findings are consistent with historical scholarship indicating a central role for Rigdon in securing and modifying a now-missing Spalding manuscript. The high number of Spalding-Rigdon pairings in first and second place strongly suggests that Spalding and Rigdon were responsible for a large part of the text. Pearson’s chi-square test of independence was performed and indicates that the distribution of first-place assignments is significantly different from uniform (P < 2 × 10−16). Similarly, the distribution of second-place assignments differs significantly from uniform (P < 2 × 10−16). Clearly, far more chapters are attributed to Rigdon, Spalding, and Isaiah-Malachi than might be expected due to mere chance. Other connections detected through this work are also consistent with the historical record, including the likelihood of a lesser, largely editorial role for Cowdery and a possibly minor, if unexpected, role for Pratt.
Based on this evidence, we find the original claims of Howe (1834, 1977) and the more recent assertions of Cowdrey and coworkers quite plausible; it seems likely that the 1830 version of the Book of Mormon was the creation of Sidney Rigdon, a Reformed Baptist Preacher, who had motives, means, and opportunity to carry out the project (Cowdrey et al., 2005). We acknowledge that because our samples of Rigdon prose all come after 1830, some could argue that Rigdon’s prose was influenced by the Book of Mormon and not vice versa. To raise such an objection, however, one would have to argue that Rigdon was so influenced by the Book of Mormon that he consciously or unconsciously adopted, even internalized, the most subtle and unremarkable linguistic patterns found in certain portions of the text, but not in others.
Prior exposure to the Book of Mormon most certainly did not influence Solomon Spalding who died fourteen years before it was published. Yet our data strongly support the historical claim that a lost Spalding manuscript served as a source text for the backbone narrative of the Book of Mormon. The document that we used for samples of Spalding’s writing (‘Manuscript Story’ also known as ‘The Oberlin Manuscript’) does not match the eyewitness descriptions of ‘Manuscript Found’, the draft novel that Spalding read to friends and family in Conneaut, nor does it match the Book of Mormon.49 The Spalding-Rigdon theory rests heavily on the assumption that additional Spalding manuscripts once existed, and that material from one of these manuscripts provided the narrative framework for the Book of Mormon. This additional manuscript would be the one that the Conneaut witnesses and others identified as being the ‘source’ of the Book of Mormon. While not that manuscript, the Oberlin Manuscript nevertheless provides us with a reliable sample of Spalding’s prose and the linguistic signal detected in it appears with significant regularity throughout the Book of Mormon.
Of course, we have not considered every possible candidate-author who may have influenced the composition of the Book of Mormon. We have, however, selected from among the most likely candidates, excepting perhaps Joseph Smith. In the case of Joseph Smith, we had no reliable samples of prose to test. When reliably identified materials become available, their addition to this analysis would be worth considering. An effort to compile such writings is currently underway.50
Knowledge of who likely constructed the Book of Mormon has significant implications for scholarship in Mormon history and for religious and cultural studies generally, as it addresses the foundation of an emerging world religion now estimated at thirteen million members. Our analysis supports the theory that the Book of Mormon was written by multiple, nineteenth-century authors, and more specifically, we find strong support for the Spalding-Rigdon theory of authorship. In all the data, we find Rigdon as a unifying force. His signal dominates the book, and where other candidates are more probable, Rigdon is often hiding in the shadows.