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Oliver Cowdery Forgery (Part 3)

We’re going to talk about an Oliver Cowdery forgery, unrelated to the Hofmann forgeries, and find out how Jerald Tanner concluded this Cowdery document was fake.  It was good training when Mark Hofmann was peddling fake documents.

Sandra:  Oliver Cowdery supposedly wrote a little pamphlet, “A Defense in a Rehearsal of My Grounds for Separating Myself from the Latter Day Saints,” (long title.) Anyways, there was this Cowdery pamphlet where he talks about, and I think it’s the priesthood restoration, that when the angel came, he sounded very much like the voice of Sidney Rigdon.

And so this would raise questions about the whole scenario of how the Book of Mormon really came about. Was it a conspiracy of Rigdon and Smith or something, you know? And so, here is this BYU professor challenging us that, “I don’t think you can prove the Cowdery defense is a legitimate pamphlet by Cowdrey.”

So Jerald got into a real study of that and finally concluded that Anderson was right. The document, you can’t find anyone mentioning the document before around 1900. And it seemed odd that David Whitmer, Cowdery’s brother-in-law wouldn’t have mentioned such a pamphlet when Whitmer wrote “An Address to All Believers in Christ” in 1887. Whitmer didn’t mention this. And so, we couldn’t. We did a lot of research trying to figure out if the Cowdery pamphlet could have been printed at the date it said in the town it said. I went up to the U and did research on printing presses in this town at the time period and, you know, a lot of minutiae. Anyways, Jerald finally concluded that Anderson was right. There is no evidence that the Cowdery pamphlet goes back to Cowdery.

In doing that research. He had looked at that on wording in the Cowdery pamphlet and he noticed that there were phrases in it that were just like phrases in–Cowdery did a series of letters in the Messenger and Advocate back when he was a faithful Mormon, and Jerald says somebody used the Cowdery letters from the Messenger and Advocate to make this pamphlet. They’ve tried to imitate Cowdery’s writing style by taking phrases from these letters. Although they were in a different context, but the phrasing of Cowdery from these letters to make this document. So, he’d already been down this trail before on trying to figure out through analysis of the content of whether it could really be a forgery or something that the author would have really written. And so, when he looks at the Salamander Letter, he says, “These are phrases. It’s too pat. There are phrases here that are lifted from E.D. Howe from this other early book to make something sound like it’s Martin Harris, but it’s too pat in the picking up of phrases.”

We also talk about the term “anti-Mormon.”

GT:  a lot of people call you an anti-Mormon. What do you think of that term?

Sandra: I don’t like the term because I think it implies an animosity towards the whole group. It’s like saying you’re anti-black would imply against blacks in general. I don’t see myself as anti-Mormon. I’m not against the Mormon people. I mean that’s my family. I still have Mormon family that are active, so I don’t see myself as anti-Mormon. I’m anti-Mormonism.

Check out our conversation with Sandra Tanner….  Don’t forget to check out part 1 and part 2!

Jerald Tanner discovered a forged Oliver Cowdery document from the early 1900s.
Jerald Tanner discovered a forged Oliver Cowdery document from the early 1900s.


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