Solomon Spalding wrote an unpublished manuscript that Sidney Rigdon got ahold of before Spalding's death. A list of 70 parallels between this manuscript and the Book of Mormon is available.
Ethan Smith was Oliver Cowdrey's paster and published a book just before the Book of Mormon which contained so many elements found in the Book of Mormon that church historian BH Roberts petitioned the Bretheren for an explanation and got shut down. Elements included a Breastplate and Urim & Thummum, Isaiah quoted for 24 chapters, and Ancient Americans arriving from the Middle East.
Indian spiritual leader named Handsome Lake had a vision where he was visited by three ancient indians (three Nephites) who told him to tell his people to embrace the white man and their language to preserve the indian culture. Handsome Lake was a Seneca native, and lived near Joseph Smith.
The first professor of Dartmouth College, founded to bring Christianity to the American Indians, was John Smith--first cousin to Joseph Smith's father. While at Dartmouth, Professor John Smith taught noteworthy students Solomon Spalding and Ethan Smith about how ancient indians traveled from Africa to settle the Americas. He also preached many fundamental concepts later incorporated into Mormonism. Hyrum Smith attended a Dartmouth prep-school from 1811-1814.
Mentor to Sidney Rigdon's ministry for 10 years, Alexander Campbell was a prominent minister who taught many concepts later incorporated into the Book of Mormon. Rigdon and Campbell disagreed on some topics, and Rigdon's position is favored in the Book of Mormon.
In 19th Century New England, a cold war existed between some Christian sects and the Masonic brotherhood. The Book of Mormon is filled with passages warning against "secret combinations." Martin Harris even declared the book the "anti-Masonic Bible."
Although Joseph Smith resisted Masonry at first, he eventually married the wife of the famous murdered mason William Morgan and then embraced the organization after the saints were kicked out of the State of Missouri. At that point he realized the great advantage it would bring his organization and he started cranking out Master Masons by the thousands.
Surrounding Masonic Lodges were upset at this and Joseph proceeded to plagiarise the Masonic Temple ceremony to create the Mormon Temple Ceremony. In the end it was a group of masons who were tried for Joseph's death. Although acquitted, the masons tried were all promptly promoted within thier lodge.
The Book of Mormon was produced just 54 years after the Revolutionary War. A contemporary topic of 19th Centry New England was wether a free state or a royal leadership struture was better for a country. The Book of Mormon carefully validates the American position with tales about ancient Native Americans who were forced to make the same decision.
The "Faith, Repentence, Baptism, Holy Ghost" formula was developed and made famous by the Mahoninng Baptist minister Walter Scott, around 1827. He was able to drastically increase baptism rates after sermons using this approach. Sidney Rigdon adopted this aproach and converted 800 people during the next six months, in the Mentor, Painsville, Kirtland, Ohio region, which includes Harmony, PA. This formula appears in the Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 31-32, and 3 Nephi 27. (More here)
The allegory of the Tame and Wild Olive Trees was taken from two different sources in the Bible. Isaiah 5 (vineyard) and Romans 11 (Paul speaking to the Gentiles about olive trees). Unfortunatly, the creator of the Book of Mormon didn't understand that vineyards grow grapes, not olives.
Joseph never told anybody about his First Vision experience until 15 years after it happened. The modern narative the church has taught its members about Joseph praying, seeing personages in the woods, and then returning to tell his mother what happened is false. In addition, the original account written in Joseph's journal-with his own handwriting-which says there was only one personage was torn from his journal and hidden from the body of the church in a vault for decades. The various versions collected over the years have glaring inconsistencies.
(view versions here)
Joseph Smith's concept of God changed during early Mormonism. The original Book of Mormon described Jesus as the Eternal Father, whch matched Joseph's original First Vision description of only seeing 1 personage. 15 years later the Book of Mormon was reprinted with some of the references changed to Jesus being the SON of the Eternal Father. This change correspends with changes in the First Vision account over the years. Strangly, not every reference was changed, and some parts of the Book of Mormon still describe Jesus as the Eternal Father.
Thomas Stuart Ferguson: Laywer, and an FBI agent, was responsible for getting BYU to start a Department of Archeaology (now Anthropology). As president of the New World Archeaology Foundation, in 1952, he was given funds by the LDS Church to study Ancient America and produce evidence supporting the Book of Mormon. In 1975 he wrote a 25 page paper stating he found no evidence and had wasted 25 years of his life.
Dr. David Bokovoy, one of the foremost scholars on the Old Testiment, describes how claims about the Brass Plates, and Isaiah passages within the Book of Mormom are not credible.
(watch MormonStories interview)
The Book of Momon was a production engineered to unite the Christian sects by answering the religious questions of the 1800's, clearing up loose ends in the Bible, bringing Christianity to the Native Americans, validating the newly-independent American anti-Royaltiy philosophy, and addressing the issues with the growing concerns of secret Masonry alliances in New England. It is a masterful work of fiction.
(See how it was created here.)