I was pleased to find a copy of John Hilton’s article, “On Verifying Wordprint Studies: Book of Mormon Authorship” on the Web, as printed in BYU Studies, 30 (Summer 1990):89-108. Since it’s on a BYU site, I’m assuming that it’s there with permission. The article is essentially the same as Chapter 9 of one of my favorite books, Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited, ed. by Noel B. Reynolds (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1997), pp. 225-253.
Hilton’s work was based on the primitive Book of Mormon text obtained from the printer’s manuscript, the 1830 printed text, available portions of the original manuscript, and the first edition printed by Wilford C. Wood. Editors prepared a composite file based on the oldest sections available to make the best possible primitive text that they could. In the study, quotations from KJV passages were excluded so that the analysis would be based on the texts allegedly created by Nephi, Alma, and others.
His project included cooperation with non-LDS people to help craft a solid statistical approach to compare texts of various authors.
The conclusions are noteworthy. It is highly probable that the authors of text ascribed to Nephi and Alma were two different people, and these two people are very unlikely to include any of Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, or Solomon Spaulding. Critics are encouraged to reproduce the work or to critique what they have written.
Oh, there will be instant fame and glory to the first commenter who can quote the sentence or two in Hilton’s article and give the page number that mentions the most beautiful and amazing woman in Wisconsin. (And the Midwest, and perhaps even all of North America . . . . OK, let’s be honest: the world!)
2012 Update: Since publication of Hilton’s study, there have been efforts to refute his conclusions and show that Joseph Smith or Sidney Rigdon may have been the authors of the Book of Mormon. For details on what these authors did and what serious errors affect their work, and for the latest contribution on wordprint analysis, see “Stylometric Analyses of the Book of Mormon: A Short History” by G. Bruce Schaalje, Matthew Roper, and Paul Fields,
Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture, vol. 21, no. 1 (2012), pp. 28-45. There is strong evidence that Joseph Smith was not the author of the Book of Mormon, and neither was Sidney Rigdon nor Oliver Cowdery. Who then, was the author? Why, Somebody Else, of course. Or several somebodies.