excerpts – Significant Textual Changes in the Book of Mormon
In March 1830, the first edition of the Book of Mormon appeared in the English language in Palmyra, New York. Initially considered a monetary failure, the Book of Mormon has since been published in close to a hundred languages, in thousands of printings, and in excess of 150 million copies. Regarded by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and of other Restoration churches as scripture, the Book of Mormon has nonetheless seen thousands of changes made to its English text over the course of its production and publication history.
The present volume tracks the most significant of these changes by manuscript and published edition, using the 1830 first English printing as its base text, thereby affording readers the opportunity of seeing what changes were made, in which text, and when. It does not propose corrections or emendations. Nor does it discuss the meaning or significance of the changes.1
By the “most significant” textual changes, I mean those changes that alter or could be interpreted as altering the meaning of the English text in the slightest way. I have also included changes that could give researchers insight into the “translation” process that resulted in the English text of the Book of Mormon. Deciding what is “most significant” is obviously a subjective process, but in this I elected to err on the side of including more, rather than less, so that readers can make their own judgment as to what may be important.
While word changes, word deletions, and significant variant spellings are signaled in the text, changes in punctuation for the most part have not been noted. This was done for two main reasons. First, much of the punctuation was added by John Gilbert, who typeset the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, and I decided to focus on changes made by the LDS Church in subsequent printings. Second, changes in punctuation rarely affected the meaning of the words. In cases where such changes might, however slightly, affect the text, they are pointed out. Words that have changed in the text are bolded, with accompanying footnotes showing the change and when the change occurred. When words have been added to–or are absent from–the 1830 text, the character [_] is inserted where the word(s) would be added to the text with a footnote again identifying the new word(s) and when it (they) appeared. Occasionally, punctuation is followed by a footnote. Only if the punctuation is bolded is it included in the change. Footnotes only show when a change was made, so if the last time a change was made was in, say, the 1837 edition, then all editions after 1837 also feature the same change to the text. Thus, by consulting the footnotes, readers can easily determine how the text reads for each succeeding major LDS English edition of the Book of Mormon.
The major LDS English-language editions of the Book of Mormon that are tracked in this work are the 1830, 1837, 1840, 1841, 1849, 1852, 1879, 1888, 1902, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1911, 1920, and 1981 editions. The RLDS/Community of Christ editions and non-authorized LDS editions, such as the 1858/1859 James O. Wright editions, are not included. Because some of these LDS editions were reviewed for the purpose of making changes to the text, a discussion of these major sources may prove helpful. Because it is sometimes difficult to tell which changes were intentional and which were strictly mistakes, and also because it is impossible to know what the editors of the later editions of the Book of Mormon intended in every instance, all changes have been included.
Major LDS English Editions
1830 Palmyra, New York, First Edition
In March 1830, some 5,000 copies of the first edition of the Book of Mormon were printed in Palmyra, New York, by local publisher Egbert B. Grandin. In July 1829, Joseph Smith (1805-44), who in April 1830 would found the Church of Christ (later Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), had finished translating/dictating the original text of the Book of Mormon. According to Smith, the Book of Mormon is a set of ancient records recorded on golden plates in a language sometimes described as “reformed Egyptian” recounting the history of some of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas.
While Smith himself left virtually no description of the translation/dictation process, his early associate David Whitmer (1805-88) wrote of the process the year before his death:
Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man.2
Whitmer was not heavily involved in the production of the Book of Mormon, and his recollections
were recorded many years after the fact. Fortunately, Smith’s intimate and principal Book of Mormon scribe Oliver Cowdery (1806-50) described the process as well:
These were days never to be forgotten–to sit under the sound of a voice dictated by the inspiration of heaven, awakened the utmost gratitude of this bosom! Day after day I continued, uninterrupted, to write from his mouth, as he translated with the Urim and Thummim, or, as the Nephites would have said, “Interpreters,” the history or record called “The Book of Mormon.”3
This translation/dictation was recorded during the period 1828-29 in manuscript form, which is now called the Original Manuscript. Approximately 28 percent of the Original Manuscript, most of which is owned today by the LDS Church (Salt Lake City, Utah), has survived.4 The scribes for the Original Manuscript included Cowdery (primary), Smith, and two unidentified others.
Beginning in August 1829, after Smith contracted with Grandin to publish the book, a copy of the Original Manuscript was made by Cowdery (aided by Hyrum Smith [1800-44]–Joseph’s older brother–and an unknown third scribe), as a backup and to give to the printer so that the book could be typeset. Today owned by the Community of Christ (formerly Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Independence, Missouri), this copy is now referred to as the Printer’s Manuscript, of which virtually 100 percent has survived. In copying the Original Manuscript for the printer, Cowdery was able to stay ahead of the printing process, except for a few passages of the Book of Mormon (i.e., Helaman 13-Mormon 9), for which the Original Manuscript was used by the printer.5 While this first printed edition of the Book of Mormon was intended as a faithful reproduction of the original translation/dictation manuscript, even at this early stage changes and mistakes occurred.
During the typesetting of the first edition, John H. Gilbert, an employee of Grandin who did the typesetting, made corrections to the text when he saw what he believed were grammatical errors; he also supplied almost all of the text’s punctuation and paragraphing.6 Besides these “corrections,” other changes were made during the printing process, such as correcting spelling and capitalization errors. When an error was found during the printing process, it was usually corrected, leading to different states of the 1830 edition.7 Nearly seven months later in March 1830, the first printed copies of the Book of Mormon were completed and began to appear for sale in Palmyra, New York.8
1837 Kirtland, Ohio, Second Edition
In 1837, LDS Church members Parley P. Pratt (1807-57) and John Goodson (1814?-74?) republished the Book of Mormon in Kirtland, Ohio. Though it took seven years for a second printing, Church leaders had discussed republication as early as 1833. On June 25, 1833, the First Presidency (composed of Smith and two counselors) wrote a letter to Church printer W. W. Phelps in Missouri regarding the reprinting of the Book of Mormon, and stated: “As soon as we can get time, we will review the manuscripts of the Book of Mormon, after which they will be forwarded to you.”9 Other printing-related projects and the subsequent destruction of the LDS Church-owned printing press in Independence, Missouri, by angry non-Mormons delayed the printing of a second edition of the Book of Mormon.
The second edition was financed by Pratt and Goodson, who were given permission to publish up to 5,000 copies; however, it is likely that only 3,000 were actually printed.10 Though published in the United States, many copies of the 1837 edition were taken to England, where they were distributed or sold by LDS proselyzting missionaries. This printing filled a need on both continents.
With this second edition, like virtually every edition that followed, changes were made to the text of the volume. As indicated by the letter to Phelps, Smith, and others–mostly Cowdery–worked to make the second edition of the Book of Mormon more closely follow the original manuscripts.11 Smith and Cowdery checked the 1830 edition against the Printer’s Manuscript in the winter of 1836 and into early 1837, marking up the Printer’s Manuscript in the process. As a result, Smith authorized more than 2,000 changes, mostly grammatical, to the text. The preface to the 1837 edition states: “Individuals acquainted with book printings, are aware of the numerous typographical errors which always occur in manuscript editions. It is only necessary to say, that the whole has been carefully re-examined and compared with the original manuscript” (p. v).
1840 Nauvoo, Illinois, Third Edition
With the increase in LDS Church membership, especially the influx of British converts to the Church’s new headquarters in Nauvoo, Illinois, the Church again found itself in need of a new edition of the Book of Mormon. On December 29, 1839, the Nauvoo Stake High Council, led by Smith, discussed the publication of another edition of the Book of Mormon. The council minutes state:
Voted that the Editors of the periodical be
notified ^directed^ to incert in their next periodical that 10-000 copies of the hym Books ^be printed^ also that Book of Mormon be printed in this place under the inspection of the Presedency as soon as monies can raised to defray the expense givn by the direction of the high Council at Nauvoo.12
In 1840, Ebenezer Robinson (1816-91) and Don Carlos Smith (1816-41), Joseph Smith’s younger brother, contracted with publishers Shepard and Stearns of Cincinnati, Ohio, to publish 2,000 copies of the Book of Mormon. In preparing this edition, Joseph Smith again compared previous editions with the original manuscripts, correcting numerous errors. In fact, the title page of this third edition states that it was “carefully revised by the translator.” These errors were corrected to produce an edition that most closely follows the original translation/dictation manuscript of the Book of Mormon by Smith. The 1840 edition is significant for three reasons: First, it was the last edition published to have been edited and prepared by Joseph Smith. Second, it was the smallest printing of an English language Book of Mormon. Third, it was the first edition to employ a new technology in printing: stereotyping.
The process of stereotyping is relatively simple:
In stereotyping, the printer sets the text in type, presses a mat into the type, pours metal into the wetted mat, and produces a metal plate. After the type is salvaged, the plate continues to exist. Stereotyping separates the typesetting process from the printing process. Stereotyped plates last a long time, provide economies of scale, permit identical printings of the same edition, and permit printing by different printing companies.13
This process significantly reduced the time it took to print the Book of Mormon. While the typesetting and printing of the 1830 edition took six months, and the 1837 edition took three months, with stereotyped plates, the Church avoided the lengthy process of typesetting and could publish any number of copies of the Book of Mormon virtually at will.14
1841 Liverpool, England, Edition
The 1841 edition of the Book of Mormon was published under the direction of LDS Church Apostles Brigham Young (1801-77), Heber C. Kimball (1801-68), and Parley P. Pratt in Liverpool, England. It was published in a run of 4,050 copies by the publishing house J. Tompkins of Liverpool. This edition closely resembles the 1837 edition (but incorporates British spellings), and has even been called “a faithful reprint” of the second edition.15 Though Joseph Smith did not have editorial control over this edition, it was published with his permission.
In 1839, while in New York, Pratt wrote to Smith seeking permission to publish another edition of the Book of Mormon. Later that year, Hyrum Smith answered Pratt in regard to republishing the Book of Mormon in New York:
You express a desire to have the Book of Mormon etc. printed in New York etc. etc. and have taken some steps towards accomplishing that object. As respects this matter I would say, that it is one of great importance, and should be properly considered. Not only is the city of New York destitute of this Book, but there is truly a famine throughout the Union, and another large Edition is certainly required, But, at the same time I cannot give any encouragement for the publication of the same, other than at this place or, where it can come out under the immediate inspection of Joseph and his Counselors, so, that no one may be chargeable with any mistakes that may occur; I want the Books we print here should be a standard to all nations in which they may be printed, and to all tongues into which the same may be translated.16
However, Pratt was given permission to publish an edition in Europe:
As to publishing the Book of Mormon in Europe and other nations, I should entirely acquiesce to your proposition. I do not know of any more suitable ^persons^ for attending to that business than the Twelve. If it should be deemed wisdom to have the same published in England or elsewhere soon, you will be further advised on the subject.17
In early 1840, Young, Kimball, and Pratt were placed in charge of producing a European edition of the Book of Mormon. This included obtaining the copyright, finding a publisher, and arranging the financing.18 In June 1840, they found a printer, John Tompkins, of Liverpool who was willing to publish the Book of Mormon in a printing of 3,000 or 5,000 copies. It was decided that Tompkins would publish 5,000 copies, and printing started in July 1840. In February 1841, the first copies of the 1841 edition of the Book of Mormon were completed and the copyright was secured on February 8, 1841.19 Though Tompkins was paid to print 5,000 copies of the book, only 4,050 were produced.
Because this is a nearly faithful reprint of the 1837 edition of the Book of Mormon (except for the British spellings), it does not include Joseph Smith’s changes to the 1840 edition. However, it is still significant in the publishing history of the Book of Mormon as it was the first edition to include an index as well.20
1849 Liverpool, England, Edition
By December 1848, the 1841 British edition of the Book of Mormon had evidently sold out. The Millennial Star, an LDS periodical published in England, stated, “The ‘BOOKS OF MORMON’ are all sold. The next edition will appear in May , and, perhaps sooner.”21
The February 15, 1849, issue of the Star announced that the new edition of the Book of Mormon would be printed in a run of 5,000 copies. Three months later, the May 15, 1849, Star reported that “The Book of Mormon is now ready for sale.”22
The 1849 edition of the Book of Mormon was basically a reprinting of the 1841 edition with some minor textual changes made by Church Apostle Orson Pratt (1811-81). For some reason, he did not incorporate many of the changes Joseph Smith had made to the 1840 edition, leaving the texts of the European editions of the Book of Mormon different from their American counterparts.
1852 Liverpool, England, Edition
During the Latter-day Saints’ exodus from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the west in 1846-47, the 1840 stereotype plates of the Book of Mormon were lost. This necessitated the production of a new set of plates from which to print the Book of Mormon. Though there was a printing press in the Deseret territory as early as 1849, since 1842 the Church had all printings of the Book of Mormon published in England and shipped to the United States through the 1870s.23
LDS Apostle Franklin D. Richards (1821-99) was put in charge of obtaining the new plates while he was presiding over the Church mission in England. In 1851, he contracted with printer and typesetter William Bowden of London to make new plates and to print 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon. By April 1852, the Book of Mormon was printed and being sold.
The 1852 edition of the Book of Mormon appears in two states, as the plates were corrected during the printing process. Thus, some early copies of the 1852 Book of Mormon have errors subsequently corrected later in the print run.24 In making the plates for the 1852 edition, Richards used both the 1840 Nauvoo edition and the 1841 Liverpool edition, and the 1852 edition seems more closely to follow the 1840 edition, though it does not incorporate many of the significant changes.25 The 1852 edition also for the first time has numbered paragraphs.
1879 Liverpool, England, Edition
During the 1870s, the Latter-day Saints’ printing press in Salt Lake City determined to become the main publisher of the Book of Mormon for the Church and consequently arranged to have the 1852 stereotype plates shipped there. However, it was found that the plates had been used so much that they were worn down and a new set of plates would have to be made.26
In the meantime, a new printing technology had recently emerged in England, making printing plates last even longer. This new process was called electroplating. This meant, however, that new plates would have to be made, and Orson Pratt used this opportunity to create an edition of the Book of Mormon unlike all preceding others. Besides making some textual and stylist changes, Pratt divided the different books of the Book of Mormon into shorter chapters, introduced verses, and supplied some footnoting, thus giving the text of the Book of Mormon a more Bible-like appearance.27
1888 Salt Lake City, Utah, Edition
The 1888 edition of the Book of Mormon was published by George Q. Cannon’s Juvenile Instructor Office. Cannon (1827-1901) was an LDS Church apostle and member of the Church’s First Presidency. This was a large-type edition of the Book of Mormon, so the 1879 plates could not be used. This was the first edition of the Book of Mormon for which the type was set in Utah.28 It was, however, a reprint of the 1879 edition and any textual variations found in this edition were strictly accidental.
1902 Kansas City, Missouri, Edition
In the early 1900s, the LDS Church began to expand its missionary programs, and these proselytizing activities were given considerable autonomy from the central Church headquarters in Salt Lake City. One way these missions showed that autonomy was by undertaking their own publishing ventures. The first of these was begun by the mission president of the Southwestern States Mission (renamed the Central States Mission in 1904), James G. Duffin (1860-1921), who published a missionary edition of the Book of Mormon for use throughout the mission.29
Originally, Duffin’s mission was going to use the 1879 plates to print the Book of Mormon, but instead created its own set of plates. The typesetting, electrotyping, printing, and binding were all done by the company Burd and Fletcher of Kansas City. The quality of the plates and the printing was not good, but 10,000 copies were printed. The plates were not used again.30
1905 Chicago, Illinois, Edition
Following the lead of the Southwestern States/Central States Mission, the Chicago Mission obtained permission to become the publisher of the Book of Mormon for all of the Church’s missions in the eastern United States.31 Because the Kansas City plates were of such poor quality, a new set of plates was created by Henry C. Etten & Co., a printer in Chicago. The initial 1905 printing was done in the amount of 10,000 copies, but the plates were used in subsequent years and over 200,000 copies of the Book of Mormons were printed using them.32
1906 Salt Lake City, Utah, Edition
This edition used the 1879 electroplates as its guide, but it was not printed from the 1879 plates. The 1906 Salt Lake City printing was another large-type edition. Again, any changes in this edition of the Book of Mormon were not intentional, as no committee or individual was officially assigned the task of making changes.33
1907 Salt Lake City, Utah, Edition
This edition, also known as the “vest pocket” edition, was a pocket-sized edition. Consequently, the 1879 electroplates could not be used to print it. Like the 1906 edition, any variations in the text were unintentional.
1911 Chicago, Illinois, Edition
The 1911 Chicago edition was a reproduction of the 1905 Chicago edition, though not a reprinting. The 1911 edition was a large-type edition, and thus the 1905 plates could not be used.
1920 Salt Lake City, Utah, Edition
The 1920 edition of the Book of Mormon was necessary because after forty years of use, the 1879 electroplates were worn out. The Church’s First Presidency reasoned: “So many imprints have been taken from the several sets of old plates that all of these have become defectively worn, and the preparation of a new set of electrotypes was deemed imperative.”34 Church officials used this opportunity to make some significant changes to the text of the Book of Mormon.35
In March 1920, Apostle George F. Richards (1861-1950) was appointed by the First Presidency to chair a committee to revise and make corrections to the text of the Book of Mormon. Other members of this committee included Apostles Anthony W. Ivins (1852-1934), James E. Talmage (1862-1933), who undertook most of the work of the actual revision, and Melvin J. Ballard (1873-1939).36 The committee met numerous times over the following months, and added three additional members to the Quorum of the Twelve by June 1920, including Joseph Fielding Smith (1876-1972).37 The committee continued to meet until the 1920 edition of the Book of Mormon was published in December 1920.38
The committee used the original manuscripts to try to make the English text of the Book of Mormon as correct as possible. The committee also formatted the book in double columns and added chapter headings/summaries and footnotes. This edition features numerous changes to the text that were identified and approved by committee members.
1981 Salt Lake City, Utah, Edition
In the early 1970s, the First Presidency, realizing there were still some errors in the Book of Mormon, established the Scriptures Publication Committee. This committee was composed of members of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles and was headed by Elders Thomas S. Monson (b. 1927), Boyd K. Packer (b. 1924), and Bruce R. McConkie (1915-85). They also enlisted the help of some faculty members at LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. The committee attempted to create a Book of Mormon text that most closely resembles the original manuscripts. Committee members worked on the project for several years. The end result appeared as the 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon and featured, in addition to other changes and innovations, new chapter summaries and notes.39 The introduction to the 1981 edition states:
Some minor errors in the text have been perpetuated in past editions of the Book of Mormon. This edition contains corrections that seem appropriate to bring the material into conformity with prepublication manuscripts and early editions edited by the Prophet Joseph Smith.
This is the most current version of the Book of Mormon text published today by the LDS Church in English.40
Major Studies of the Textual Changes
Since the publication of the Book of Mormon in 1830, numerous studies and articles have tracked changes in the book’s text. While these studies have been undertaken from a variety of perspectives, four deserve special mention: Jerald and Sandra Tanner’s 3,913 Changes in the Book of Mormon (1965); Jeffrey R. Holland’s 1966 master’s thesis, “An Analysis of Selected Changes in Major Editions of the Book of Mormon, 1830-1920”; Stanley R. Larson’s 1974 master’s thesis, “A Study of Some Textual Variations in the Book of Mormon: Comparing the Original and the Printer’s Manuscripts and the 1830, the 1837, and the 1840 Editions”; and Royal Skousen’s six-volume “Critical Text of the Book of Mormon” Project (2001-2009).41
Jerald and Sandra Tanner’s 3,913 Changes in the Book of Mormon was the first publication to identify thousands of changes to the text of the Book of Mormon between the 1830 and 1920 editions. However, the work did not compare the texts of any of the intervening editions, nor provide any information as to when the changes occurred, nor discuss the significance, if any, of the changes. Instead, the book’s intent was to demonstrate that claims regarding the “correctness” of the book’s English text are wrong.42 Though admittedly polemical, the Tanners’ book showed the considerable number of changes the Book of Mormon printed text had gone through.
The next year, as a graduate student at Brigham Young University, Jeffrey R. Holland produced an important master’s thesis entitled “An Analysis of Selected Changes in Major Editions of the Book of Mormon–1830-1920.” For the first time, Holland (who was later named an LDS Church apostle) carefully compared six major printed English editions of the Book of Mormon published from 1830 to 1920: the 1830, 1837, 1840, 1852, 1879, and 1920 editions.43 Holland’s scope was “limited to ‘selected changes’ defined as major modifications in format and the addition, deletion, or change of words within the text which could alter the meaning of the passage.”44
After a detailed comparison of the changes made in the six editions, Holland analyzed what he identified as the 156 most significant textual changes.45 Holland’s conclusions, which are reflected in the present volume as well, show that the majority of the changes occurred in the 1837 and 1920 editions of the Book of Mormon.46 Holland’s approach was scholarly; he did not offer any apologies or justifications for the changes, but simply presented the variations as fact.
In 1974, the second major study of textual variations in the text of the Book of Mormon was produced by Stanley R. Larson, another graduate student at Brigham Young University. His master’s thesis was entitled “A Study of Some Textual Variations in the Book of Mormon: Comparing the Original and the Printer’s Manuscripts and the 1830, the 1837, and the 1840 Editions.” Larson compared the three earliest printed editions of the Book of Mormon (which had previously been treated in Holland’s analysis) to the Original and Printer’s Manuscripts. Larson’s presentation enabled readers to see if the changes in the 1837 edition were made by Joseph Smith to conform the text to the original manuscripts or were made for other reasons.
Besides pointing out changes in the different manuscripts and texts, Larson took a stand on the nature of the changes, suggesting that “the great majority of such changes are trivial, and that they were usually made to achieve better English grammatical euphony.”47 Larson’s analysis of the changes showed that the major changes occurred where the Original Manuscript differed from the Printer’s Manuscript and where the Original Manuscript, Printer’s Manuscript, and 1830 first edition all differed from the 1837 second edition.48 At the time, Larson’s work–like Holland’s–was ground-breaking, and influenced some of the changes to the text of the Book of Mormon that appeared in the 1981 edition published by the LDS Church.
In 1988, twelve years after the appearance of Larson’s study, Royal Skousen, a professor of linguists at Brigham Young University, began work on the ambitious Book of Mormon Critical Text Project.49 A critical text, according to Skousen, “shows all the substantive changes that a document has undergone, from its original version to its present editions.”50 The goal of Skousen’s undertaking was primarily two-fold: First, “to determine … the original English-language text of the book … the text that Joseph Smith received by means of the interpreters or the seer stone”; and second, “to establish the history of the wording of the text, including both accidental errors and editorial changes.”51
Skousen’s analysis remains the most comprehensive work ever attempted on the history and development of the Book of Mormon’s English text. Skousen compared every edition of the Book of Mormon–including LDS, RLDS/Community of Christ, unauthorized editions, the Original Manuscript, and the Printer’s Manuscript–carefully tracking every change made to the book’s text. He offered explanations for each change and proposed emendations to the text in accord with what he believes was the original authorial intent.52 Skousen also published for the first time accurate typographical facsimiles of both the Original and the Printer’s Manuscripts, thus allowing readers themselves to compare the earliest manuscripts to the printed editions.53 The importance of Skousen’s work cannot be overstated.
The 1830 Edition of the Book of Mormon
Used in This Book
The version of the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon reproduced in the present volume is that printed in 1958 under the title Joseph Smith Begins His Work: Book of Mormon 1830 First Edition Reproduced from Uncut Sheets (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press for Wilford C. Wood). The originals of these uncut sheets are now owned by the LDS Church. As Larry W. Draper, a curator at the Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, points out:
the unbound sheets are not proof sheets (as has been claimed). Except for the last sheet (gathering 37), there is no evidence that these sheets were used as proof sheets. Nor is there any evidence that they were the first copies to come off the press (as had also been claimed). Rather, the evidence shows that these sheets are “throwaways”–that is, sheets that had flaws which made them unacceptable for a bound book, and they were therefore removed from the pile of usable sheets.54
Drawing on Janet Jenson’s research into the various states of the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, it seems likely that this “uncut sheets” edition was assembled mostly from sheets printed toward the latter half of the printing process. Evidently, only about 25 percent of the known typesetting errors occurring throughout the printing of the first edition are found in the “uncut sheets” edition. This suggests that these “uncut sheets” probably came from later in the printing process and thus are from a more correct printed state of the first edition.55
The present volume would not exist without the pioneering work of Jeffrey Holland, Stan Larson, and Royal Skousen. My debt to each is considerable. Others who helped with this project include Curt A. Bench, Christopher Bench, Thomas Kimball, and Gary James Bergera. I also thank Mark Scherer and Lacklan MacKay at the Community of Christ Library and Archives for showing me original pages from the Book of Mormon printer’s manuscript. In addition, the Smith-Pettit Foundation gave me the opportunity to work on this project. Finally, my children, Ainsley, Owen, and Emmie, as well as my wife, Jessica, allowed me to work on this volume when I am sure they would have rather had me helping with baths, making school lunches, reading to them, and putting them to bed. Hopefully, one day when they are older, this volume will be of some interest to them, as I hope it is to the present reader.
1. Not every single typographical error/misspelling in the text of the 1830 first edition reproduced here but corrected in subsequent printed editions is signaled in a footnote. Attention is drawn to those changes deemed as “significant” by the experts consulted for this study.
2. David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ (Richmond, MO: Author, 1887), 12.
3. Messenger and Advocate 1 (Oct. 1834): 14-16.
9. Church Historian’s Office, Manuscript History of the Church, June 25, 1833, A-1, 310, CR 100 102, Church Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City. Also in Joseph Smith et al., History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., ed. B. H. Roberts (Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1973), 1:363; hereafter History of the Church.
12. In John S. Dinger, ed., The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2011), 351.
14. Ibid., 124-25. The 1830, 1837, and 1840 editions of the Book of Mormon, retypeset, were published together in three parallel columns per page in 2008. See The Parallel Book of Mormon: The 1830, 1837, and 1840 Editions, introduction by Curt A. Bench (Salt Lake City: The Smith-Pettit Foundation, 2008).
40. The only significant textual change to the Book of Mormon since 1981 was not to the text of the book per se, but to the 1981 introduction. Here in 2007, in describing the remnants of the peoples of the Book of Mormon narrative, the sentence, “After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians,” was altered to read: “After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians.” (The words affected by the change are in bold type here.)
41. Other works discussing changes in text of the Book of Mormon include Lamoni Call, 2000 Changes in the Book of Mormon … (Bountiful, Utah, 1898; rpt. 1963); James D. Wardle, Selected Changes in the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, 1963); and Richard P. Howard, Restoration Scriptures: A Study of Their Textual Development (Independence, Missouri, 1969), 23-69, and the 2nd ed., Revised and Enlarged (Independence, Missouri, 1995), 9-48.
42. Jerald and Sandra Tanner, 3,193 Changes in the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1965), 1.
46. See ibid. Holland found that the 1837 edition accounted for 55.8 percent of the changes, the 1840 edition for 8.6 percent of the changes, the 1852 edition for 8.6 percent of the changes, the 1879 edition for 3.4 percent of the changes, and the 1920 edition for 20.1 percent of the changes.
47. Stanley R. Larson, “A Study of Some Textual Variations in the Book of Mormon: Comparing the Original and the Printer’s Manuscripts and the 1830, the 1837, and the 1840 Editions,” M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, Apr. 1974, 2.
49. Bridging the gap between Larson and Skousen was Robert F. Smith’s Book of Mormon Critical Text: A Tool for Scholarly Reference, 3 vols. (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1984-87).
52. See Royal Skousen, ed., Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon. Part One: 1 Nephi 1-2 Nephi 10 (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2004), Part Two: 2 Nephi 11-Mosiah 16 (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2005), Part Three: Mosiah 17-Alma 20 (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2006), Part 4: Alma 21-55 (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2007), Part 5: Alma 56-3 Nephi 18 (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2008); and Part 6: 3 Nephi 19-Moroni 10 [and] Addenda (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2009).
53. See Skousen, The Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon, and Royal Skousen, ed., The Printer’s Manuscript of the Book of Mormon: Typographical Facsimile of the Entire Text in Two Parts. Part One: Copyright, 1830 Preface, 1 Nephi 1-Alma 17:26 (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2001), and Part Two: Alma 17-Moroni 10 (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2001). I rely on Skousen’s readings of the original and printer’s manuscripts. Skousen also produced a version of the Book of Mormon that he believes most accurately reflects the original “translated” English text: The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009). Photographic and facsimile reproductions of the Original and Printer’s Manuscripts are scheduled to appear as part of the Joseph Smith Papers Project (Church Historian’s Press, forthcoming).
54. Larry W. Draper, “Book of Mormon Editions,” in Uncovering the Original Text of the Book of Mormon: History and Findings of the Critical Text Project, ed. M. Gerald Bradford and Alison V. P. Coutts (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2002), 40.