Based upon the theory that all authors are unique in the frequency of their use of certain words, studies of word frequencies in the Book of Mormon have been conducted to draw conclusions regarding its authorship. A number of questions have been raised. Was Solomon Spalding the author, or Sidney Rigdon, or Joseph Smith, or was it the work of multiple authors? The authors of one article assert that the statistical odds that Joseph Smith, Spalding, or Rigdon wrote the Book of Mormon are less than one in one hundred billion. However, a string of significant uncertainties exists regarding every point germane to wordprint analyses in general that undermine the very merit of Book of Mormon wordprint studies. Is it likely that an ancient author’s “wordprint” could survive the original Hebrew abridgment, then translation into an unknown hieroglyphic, and then translation by a yet unsettled process (word-for-word, thought-for-thought, or some other?) into a particular nineteenth-century, grammatically flawed, American English? Did Joseph Smith play a role in word choices, or was he simply a reader? Is the range of Joseph Smith’s wordprint so narrow as to exclude him as the author of or contributor to the wording of the Book of Mormon? This paper will consider these questions and more.

Van Hale