One of the really surprising things is that in many cases, over 100 I've discovered, the original text was without exception in its phraseology; that over time we'd had occasional errors, one or two in a given phrase, so that the current text has what I call wrinkles in it. They don't prevent you from understanding and reading but if you look at these phrases you discover the original was astoundingly systematic. And I wanted to give a few examples of these.
In a sense this is... we have to be grateful for the mistakes people have been making because these mistakes then allow us to discover how systematic the text originally was. The next twelve or so (overheads) will just be examples that I'll go over briefly.
In referring to the present time the Book of Mormon always says 'this time,' it's in the singular, it is never in the plural, even though we say in these times: original text is 61 to 0, however the current text is 60 to 1. The one mistake in 1 Nephi 10:19 "as well in this time as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come" notice the past and the future are in the plural and because of those occurrences of the plural nearby the 1830 printer accidentally set the present in the plural but the Book of Mormon never does this.
The next one, the word 'whatever' never occurs in the original text, it's only 'whatsoever': original text 74 to 0, current text 72 to 2. We have them both; the 1830 printer put in 'whatever,' once in Jacob and elsewhere in Helaman. These are just accidental errors; notice he didn't replace all 74, he just accidentally replaced two.
The next one, people in the Book of Mormon do 'iniquity' they never do 'iniquities' in the plural: the original text 22 to 0, now it's 21 to 1. Jacob 2:35 "ye have done greater iniquity than the Lamanites" accidentally changed to the plural by the 1830 printer.
The next one, to have hope, the Book of Mormon in the original text has the main verb 'have' followed by the direct object 'hope'--18 to 0, there is one occasion where this is actually due to editing by Joseph Smith, he changed it to 'to have hoped' he made the 'have' into what we call an auxiliary verb, the perfect, and he basically made the noun into a verb. He did this in Jacob 5:46 he left all the other examples. This is an example of his own editing showing that he is not the author of the text. He himself did not realize how systematic the original text was.
The next one, 'if it so be that': 38 to 0. Changed in two cases to 'if it be so that' mixing up the order, occurs in the 1852 and the 1849 editions.
The Nephites and the Lamanites, the 'the' is always repeated: 15 to 0. But, in the 1830 edition, in one place the additional 'the' was dropped so the current text reads "and I saw wars between the Nephites and Lamanites". This is the kind of expression which we might expect.
The Book of Mormon only has, originally, 'to observe to keep the commandments' never 'to observe the commandments': 11 to 0. But, in the 1837 edition the words 'to keep' were accidentally dropped out in one case.
'To set a mark upon' someone, never 'to set a mark on' someone, that's what we really expect in modern day English: 9 to 0 in the original, it's now 8 to 1, an 1837 change.
'Thus ended a period of time', they are all in the past tense. We have four places now where it's in the present 'Thus endeth a period of time' and these are in the accounts in Alma--one in the 1830, 1837 for another one, two of them in 1849. It gives a sort of immediate presence in the accounting but the actual text never does this.
In the Book of Mormon you only 'meet' people, you never 'meet with,' meeting with people sounds like a modern-day bureaucratic system. In any event this one accidentally occurred--1830 edition--Alma is traveling and he... the sons of Mosiah are coming back from their missionary labors with this difficult problem that the... their converts are being murdered. In any event he 'met' the sons of Mosiah on the road he didn't 'meet with' them.
'Conditions' never 'condition', there is no singular condition in the original text, it's always plural: 14 to 0. We have two in the current text: "and we will guard them from their enemies by our armies on conditions that they will give us a portion of their substance" this was changed in the 1920 edition, it was a conscious change, it is marked in the Committee copy. The other one in the 1830 is an accident. We in English expect the singular; it's actually a tribute to the typesetters that they have kept 12 of them because it's so unusual in English to have this plural use for us at least today.
And finally, 'into' one's hands never 'unto' one's hands: the original text was 56 to 0, the current one is 55 to 1. This is one that the 1920 Committee copy isn't marked, it is a typo by the typesetters in Chicago. "Therefore they yielded up the city into our hands" is the original and it was misread as 'unto' so "therefore they yielded up the city unto our hands". When you think about it, it is a little strange it's just a misreading.
Well, these are twelve examples. There are over 90 more, probably over a hundred. I haven't really counted them but it's amazing to me how systematic the text was. And even Joseph Smith couldn't understand how systematic it was.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Royal Skousen's recent "Changes in the Book of Mormon" at FAIRLDS.org, the transcript of a 2002 presentation, makes an interesting point about the systematic phraseology used in the original Book of Mormon text:
Posted by Jeff Lindsay at 11:18 AM