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Hofmann’s Last Bomb Blew the Lid Off Mormon History


In 1985 Mark Hofmann’s last bomb blew himself up with his own pipe bomb.  Shannon Flynn, a good friend of Mark Hofmann describes what bystanders did to save Hofmann’s life.  It’s a pretty interesting story.

When Mark had been blown up, he was lying in the street, and I’ll give another little strange [story.]  This whole thing is just too weird.   There were some people in the area that saw that happen.  Several of them ran over to him.  There was a fellow by the last name of Christensen who saw that and went over.  Mark’s shirt was torn a bit and he could see garments, so he knew that guy [Mark] was a member [of the LDS Church], pulled out a little vial of oil and gave him a blessing that he would live.  Well he did live.  I’ll let you all think about that one.

What do you think about blessing a criminal to live?  Did God honor that blessing?

But that bomb didn’t just severely injure Hofmann, it blew the lid off Mormon history.  We’ll talk about the Salamander Letter and the magical world view, and how that really changed things for Mormon history.

As an example, the Salamander letter, people said that’s going to ruin the church.  That completely goes against the standard history of the church.  It did go against the basic juvenile understanding that most members have of the church, but that particular concept of salamander or toad, he actually took from Mormonism Unvailed.[1]  The concept of Joseph being prevented by that, he took it from a Jesse Knight diary.  At the end of the day, it was new information, more, but down the same track.

It would not, and in fact it has been proved, I mean it isn’t a real letter, but I mean my heavens, Michael Quinn some years later with Mormonism and the Magic World View, he confirmed every bit of it, every bit of it; not the particular animal, but confirmed every bit of it.

in 1986 or 1987, Curt Bench put together this Errata for Dean Jesse’s book The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith to alert readers to 6 Hofmann forgeries. The 2nd edition, published in 2002 has these forgeries removed.

[1]Mormonism Unvailed was the first anti-Mormon book, written in 1834 by E.D. Howe.  Dan Vogel has written an annotated copy of the book, complete with footnotes reverencing Howe’s claims.  See

It turns out that home of Hofmann’s forgeries ended up in some scholarly books.  Dean Jessee published a book called The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith in 1984 that unfortunately contained some Hofmann forgeries.  In 2002, Jessee published a 2nd edition of The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith that removed these forgeries.  Second edition is available at  .  You can listen to Curt Bench’s interview discussing the errata at

FAIR Mormon notes one of these forgeries was in both Dean Jessee’s book, as well as Michael Quinn’s book, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Signature Books, 1994).  Jessee had included (and Quinn referenced Jessee’s book) that a Hofmann forgery was incorrectly included where Joseph allegedly wrote a letter to Jonathan Dunham asking the Nauvoo Legion to rescue Joseph from Carthage Jail.  FAIR notes “Deseret Book and Dean Jesse had also released an errata sheet for his Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, which was available by DATE. [citation needed].”  Date is probably around 1986-1987 when Hofmann was sentenced to jail.  See,_head_of_the_Nauvoo_legion,_to_rescue_him%3F retrieved 5 October 2017)

What are your thoughts regarding Hofmann’s forgeries?  Are you surprised that Quinn’s book still contained the forgery as late as 1994?  What do you think God’s reaction was to the blessing Hofmann received?

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Hofmann’s Best Fake: Fooling Lie Detector Test

In 1985 Mark Hofmann blew himself up with his own pipe bomb.  Police immediately suspected him as the prime suspect in a rash of bombings in 1985.  In this next conversation we’ll talk about how his lawyers tried to get Mark to take a polygraph test.  He passed with flying colors.  How was Mark successful in fooling lie detector?  Shannon Flynn will tell us how.

A good examiner will get a person really stressful so that they react strongly, physically when they are telling an untruth.  When you hear about that sweating, that galvanic skin response, that’s one of them.  They will test for that.  They’ll test your breathing rate.  They’ll test your pulse.  When I had mine there were six different indicators going on.  When Mark did his there were just four because it was being done remotely.

I mean the way he was able to beat the polygraph, he had very competent examinations and reads and they all showed him to be telling the truth.  The way that those polygraphs work is, they work on what is known as the zero-null system.  In other words they put up a scale.  Zero is the center, then it goes -1, -2, -3, -4, all the way to -15, whatever, and then +1, +2, +3, whatever.  When a test is scored, they will give a number, but the number will be +1, or -3, or +10.  Generally between -5 and +5 is a null reading.  They can’t tell.  They person has been messing with the test or the examination wasn’t done well.  They can’t tell so it will be towards the center of that.

But then when you get to -10, -11, -12, very untruthful and easily seen; +10, +12, +15, very truthful.  Mark scored a +14.  I scored a +12.  That really bothered those examiners when they found out he had beat that test, it just really bothered them.  It turns out the main person up at the University of Utah, David Raskin was able to arrange an interview with Mark when he was in prison about two years, a year and a half, two years afterwards, because he wanted to find out how in the world he was able to do that.  This is what Mark told him.

Don’t forget to learn about Hofmann’s coin forgeries, cheating people, and his Million-dollar Con.  Check out our conversation…..


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Mark’s Million-Dollar Con

In LDS circles, Mark Hofmann is most well-known for the Salamander Letter, a forgery that threatened the founding stories of the LDS Church.  What gets lost on the conversation is an even more audacious forgery, Oath of a Freeman.  In 1985, Mark Hofmann attempted a Million-dollar con.  Shannon Flynn describes this document.

It is the first known printed document in what is now the United States of America.  A printing press was brought from England over to America, and it was operated by a guy named Stephen Crane.  He was the first professional printing press printer in the United States.  The first item that he printed was a single sheet of paper called the Oath of a Freeman.  The fourth one is actually known, and there are copies available, and it is called Bay Psalm Book.

The Oath of a Freeman is very interesting because what it does is it was printed for the Massachusetts Bay Colony and it is a way for the people that were participating in that Massachusetts Bay Colony that religious organization to essentially sign an oath of fidelity to the new group, and say I’m here, and I’m part of this group.  It starts out, “I,” and then the letters “ab,” which are supposed to be for your name, and you say, “I will follow the rules of the group.”  I’m just paraphrasing it.  You can find it and read it.  The interesting part was it said nothing about England.  So it turns out in a strange way, it is the first seed of revolution.

Shannon describes how Mark made the document, planted it, and then tried to sell it to the Library of Congress for $1.5 million documents.  It was the most expensive document at the time, although the LDS Church just purchased the Printer’s Manuscript from the Community of Christ for $35 million.  Don’t forget to learn how he started forging coins to this audacious forgery.  Check out our conversation…