There are 36 thoughts on “When Hypotheses Collide: Responding to Lyon and Minson’s “When Pages Collide””.

  1. Brant, thanks for your willingness to continue this discussion.

    Your wrote, “Is it a reasonable hypothesis that there was no ending indicator for Words of Mormon in the original? Could be. Could also not be. As you know, it is speculation.”

    That’s right. We don’t know.

    “Oliver clearly knew what he had written in Words of Mormon.”

    Then why did he see it as “Chapter 2d” of Omni? You seem to be contradicting yourself here.

    “Further evidence comes from how Mormon began chapters, and Mosiah 1 is not a chapter beginning.”

    That’s correct, but the idea supports my thesis as well as yours.

    “where the printer’s manuscript had Omni chapter 1, Words of Mromon chapter 2, and our Mosiah 1 as chapter III is the most parsimonious reading of the data.”

    Well, that’s right. Oliver initially saw Omni, the Words of Mormon, and the beginning of Mosiah as chapters 1, 2, and 3 of one book–Omni. I completely agree. Then, when he realized there was no beginning to the book of Mosiah, he inserted “The Book of Mosiah” before “Chapter III” and scratched out the last “II,” making it “Chapter I.” Then he went back to the Words of Mormon, scratched out “2d,” and inserted “1.” At that point, the chapter numbers made sense for publication.

    Possibly we can agree on that. Our real difference seems to be in our ideas about where the text *before* “Chapter III” came from. You see it as a “prophetic expansion.” I see it as the end of the original Mosiah chapter 2. How shall we decide?

    On page 246 of your book “Translating the Book of Mormon” (great book, by the way), you have Joseph *supplying* the text starting with Words of Mormon verse 9 and speaking in the first person as “I, Mormon” for text you don’t believe Mormon actually wrote. How is that parsimonious?

    What actually *is* parsimonious is the idea that Oliver moved the small plates translation to the beginning of the stack, and boom, the end of Words of Mormon collides with the text at the top of page 117: “& now concerning this King Benjamin.” In this scenario, there’s no need for a theoretical “prophetic expansion.”

    “Further indications would be that in Mosiah 1, the word Chapter is inline, indicating that Oliver copied it, but the title book of Mosiah is superscripted and added later. The dictated location for the name of the book was lost, but we would expect that Oliver would put it with the retained text.”

    That’s exactly what he did. I explained previously the probable scenario of Oliver’s thinking at Omni “Chapter first,” Words of Mormon “Chapter 2d,” and Mosiah “Chapter III,” based on what is actually written in the Printer’s Manuscript. I strongly encourage you to look at the images of the manuscript that I provided above, along with my explanation for each image.

    • You stated: “Our real difference seems to be in our ideas about where the text *before* “Chapter III” came from. You see it as a “prophetic expansion.” I see it as the end of the original Mosiah chapter 2.” That is correct. I didn’t realize that we agreed on the numbering issue. The only significance of the numbering issue is that it cannot tell us how much of Mosiah was lost. The idea that it was two chapters was based on the change from III to I, but since it is in the printer’s manuscript, and explicable through the printer’s manuscript, it doesn’t say anything about what was lost.

      As for the statement that we disagree on where the ending of Words of Mormon came from, that is clearly correct. The idea that any of the text of the Book of Mormon was the result of a prophetic addition to the plate text has been quite unpopular. It is also a theme for a different discussion.

      What we agree upon is that the ending of Words of Mormon is an anomalous text. It doesn’t belong. It rather demands an explanation. As for the principle of parsimony, I find it easier to explain within the context of how Joseph translated, and with the backing of other locations in the Book of Mormon that appear to have the same features (interestingly, only occurring in the small plates translation).

      The next thing that I think that would need to be done to bolster your thesis is to examine exactly where the proposed retained text started. I had thought that it might starte at verse 10, but since verse 3 mentions Amaleki and Benjamin, verse 10 fits. Verse 11 really seems to be an ending to the small plates addition, but verse 12 is written as a continuation and a shift in topic. That fits in place, but it makes for an unusual transition if it were a retained text.

      Verse 13 seems to be the first that would be a good candidate for a retained text, but then 12 becomes a difficult verse as the ending of Words of Mormon. Anyway, I think that is the next task for you. Where would that break have taken place? Why isn’t there a more dramatic rift when two texts written about two different subjects are put together semi-randomly?

      • Thanks, Brant. Excellent–we’re actually making progress!

        You wrote, “Verse 13 seems to be the first that would be a good candidate for a retained text, but then 12 becomes a difficult verse as the ending of Words of Mormon.”

        Actually, I’ve been considering verse 12 not as the end of Words of Mormon but as the beginning of the retained text on page 117.

        “Anyway, I think that is the next task for you. Where would that break have taken place? Why isn’t there a more dramatic rift when two texts written about two different subjects are put together semi-randomly?”

        Great questions! Here are some thoughts Royal Skousen sent me about this back in 2012. These thoughts are actually included in our original article:

        =======================================
        It strikes me that it is verse 12 that does not belong to the original Mosiah chapter II, but from verse 13 to the end of the Words of Mormon could be the end of Mosiah chapter II (original chapters). It is also possible that page 117 began with verse 13. Another possibility is that the page began with something dealing with the topic of verse 12, namely, “somewhat contentions” — a very odd expression for the Book of Mormon. I don’t think we have the word “somewhat” occurring right before a noun anywhere else in the text. Maybe we would expect “they had contentions somewhat”. Moreover, there is some novelty in the first sentence of verse 12, “and now concerning this king Benjamin”. The only other time “now concerning X” is used in the text is in Alma 40 (two times), when Alma is speaking to Corianton.

        Maybe verse 12 is the basic link between the Words of Mormon and the book of Mosiah. It could have even been added by Joseph Smith to connect things up. You’ve probably already noticed the overlap between Omni 1:24 and the Words of Mormon 1:13-14, with both sounding like original abridged text (the first from the small plates, the second from Mormon’s abridgment of the large plates). It would have been from the original Mosiah chapter II.

        So you could be right. There might have been only a part of a sentence at the top of page 117 dealing with the contentions that king Benjamin had to deal with, which could have been ignored by Joseph Smith (and Oliver Cowdery) or perhaps even rewritten as verse 12 of the Words of Mormon. I guess we’ll never know on that. As far as how pages of O can end, it appears that the scribe would write to the end of the page and then continue on the next page, no matter where he was. I went through pages 3-14 of O, as a sample, and found 9 cases where the page begins with a sentence fragment but 3 cases where the page begins with a sentence (pages 5, 7, and 8 of O). So page 117 beginning with either a sentence or the end of a sentence is possible, with the latter three times more probable (as an estimate).

        So it is possible, I think, to go at least with the Words of Mormon 1:13-18 as being the ending of Mosiah chapter II.
        =======================================

        I really like Royal’s analysis here. His observations about the novelty of the phrase “& now concerning this King Benjamin” and the oddity of “he had somewhat contentions among his own People” make a pretty good case for verse 12 being the connecting link between the original Words of Mormon and the retained text from the original Mosiah II. If that’s right, then verse 12 is the “prophetic expansion” added by Joseph or Oliver that links the manuscript together.

        You wrote, “Why isn’t there a more dramatic rift when two texts written about two different subjects are put together semi-randomly?”

        The rift *is* pretty dramatic. The end of verse 11 is very typical of Mormon’s other chapter endings, which often refer to judgment: “And I know that they will be preserved; for there are great things written upon them, out of which my people and their brethren shall be judged at the great and last day, according to the word of God which is written.” (For other examples, see Mormon 3:20–22; 7:10.) He didn’t add “Amen,” but it wouldn’t have been out of place if he had.

        Following this, we switch to a completely different subject: “& now concerning King Benjamin he had somewhat contentions among his own People & it came to pass also that the armies of the Lamanites came down out of the land of Nephi to battle against his People.”

        If verse 12 was supplied by Joseph or Oliver, that would make verse 13 the beginning of the retained text at the top of page 117, just as you said: “& it came to pass also that the armies of the Lamanites came down out of the land of Nephi to battle against his People.”

        What do you think?

        • The beginning of verse 13,”& it came to pass also that,” could also have been added by Joseph and Oliver. That would make “the armies of the Lamanites came down out of the land of Nephi to battle against his People” the beginning of page 117.

      • Brant, you wrote, “As for the principle of parsimony, I find it easier to explain within the context of how Joseph translated, and with the backing of other locations in the Book of Mormon that appear to have the same features (interestingly, only occurring in the small plates translation).”

        I would be *very* interested in knowing more about this, if you’d care to share. I believe you touch on this in your book, but I need to go back and see how much.

    • Brant, you wrote, ““where the printer’s manuscript had Omni chapter 1, Words of Mromon chapter 2, and our Mosiah 1 as chapter III is the most parsimonious reading of the data.”

      Then I wrote, “Well, that’s right. Oliver initially saw Omni, the Words of Mormon, and the beginning of Mosiah as chapters 1, 2, and 3 of one book–Omni. I completely agree.”

      As I lay awake in the middle of the night thinking about this stuff, I realized that what you said isn’t precisely what I thought you said. We actually do still have some differences in our thinking about this, mainly having to do with the *timing* of what Oliver wrote. So I have a couple of questions for you that I hope will help clarify things for both of us:

      1. After he finished copying the end of Omni (“these plates are full & I make an end of my speaking”), Oliver made a long wavy line over to the right margin, and, under that, another line that went clear across the page. What do you think Oliver meant by those lines?

      2. At some point, Oliver inserted “Chapter 2d” above the line after the heading “The Words of Mormon.” At what point (that is, when) during his copying do you think he did that?

      I hope you’ll be willing to answer those two questions for me. Thanks for your patience with all of this.

  2. “how does Oliver decide to append the retained Mosiah to the end of Words of Mormon?”

    It is interesting that Words of Mormon verses 10-11 is such a perfect segue into verses 12-18 that perhaps Oliver thought it just made sense to put them together. What other option did he have? Maybe make Mosiah 1 be 7 verses long and have our current Mosiah 1 become Mosiah 2? Frankly, sticking them after verse 11 seems to be a much better solution. So much so that the vast majority of people have no problem reading verse 12 as a continuation of verse 11. It’s almost like it was planned from the beginning to fit together like a puzzle.

    • There is no question that Words of Mormon is a complicated question. The hypothesis that the retained pages were added to Words of Mormon is one way to resolve the question. The problem is that we know that at the end of chapters there was an indication that the chapter had ended. Oliver was the one who had done most of that in the extant text, so he clearly knew when a chapter had ended. Indeed, it is possible that Words of Mormon was the last thing he translated, so it would be hard to forget where the ending was.

      I do agree that verses 10-18 are a transition into Mosiah (though I can also see 10-11 as part of Words of Mormon). What I don’t see evidence for is that they were a transition that Mormon wrote as part of the book of Mosiah.

      • “it would be hard to forget where the ending was. ”
        I don’t see what Oliver knowing where the ending of Words of Mormon has to do with anything. He didn’t have that many options when deciding what to do with the seven verses. Add them to end of Words of Mormon, add them as their own chapter, or add them to the beginning of the current Mosiah 1. Apparently he chose to add them to the end of the Words of Mormon. This is all conjecture, but it seems to make so much sense to me.

        “What I don’t see evidence for is that they were a transition that Mormon wrote as part of the book of Mosiah.”
        I don’t think it is required that Mormon knew ahead of time that The Book of Lehi and most of the first 2 chapters of Mosiah would be lost. All that is really required is that God knew ahead of time that the 116 pages would be lost and what verses in the original Mosiah 2 would be retained. Then God just needs to inspire Mormon one time to add verses 10-11 to the end of Words of Mormon in order to create a nice segue into the seven verses. Since Mormon wrote both the Words of Mormon 1-11 and the last seven verses of the Book of Mosiah chapter 2, the fact that the verses flow together so nicely probably isn’t surprising, even if he had no foreknowledge that they would someday be right next to each other.

  3. Thank you, Bob Martin, for keeping this conversation going.

    I would encourage you to download this ZIP file:

    http://www.editorium.com/Page117.zip

    The ZIP file contains two images. The image titled “Page 117 clean” is a modified (Photoshopped) version of “Page 117 edited.”

    * The clean version shows what Oliver Cowdery originally copied into the Printer’s Manuscript of the Book of Mormon.

    * The edited version shows the page from the Printer’s Manuscript as it appears today, after Oliver’s changes.

    If you look at the clean version, then at the edited version, switching back and forth between the two, it becomes very clear that the text preceding “Chapter III” *must* be the end of Mosiah “Chapter II” as it appeared in the Original Manuscript (and was then copied into the Printer’s Manuscript by Oliver). But that text is what we have today as the end of the Words of Mormon.

    If you haven’t already done so, I would encourage you to download and read carefully the PDF of the article that started this whole discussion:

    https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/when-pages-collide-dissecting-words-mormon

    I hope you find this helpful. Thanks again!

    Best wishes,
    Jack Lyon

  4. I agree with Lyon and Minson that we are missing the beginning of the Book of Mosiah and that vv. 12-18 of the Words of Mormon are not of a piece with vv. 1-11. However, I agree with Gardner that the evidence marshaled by Lyon and Minson does not directly show vv. 12-18 to be part of the Book of Mosiah. I agree further with Gardner’s judgment that vv. 12-18 concern matters too important for Mormon to have treated them so briefly and that vv. 12-18 are instead a latter-day composition summarizing the part of the Book of Mosiah that was lost with the 116 pages.

    Gardner, Lyon and Minson agree that the Words of Mormon continue through v. 11. I question that view since (a) vv. 10-11 are redundant with vv. 1-9, which appear to conclude in v. 9, and (b) v. 10 appears to return to the narrative voice, possibly with a missing temporal antecedent (if “it came to pass” implies an antecedent time in relation to which the events of v. 10 have come to pass).

    But if, as Gardner asserts, vv. 12-18 are a latter-day summary, neither do vv. 10-11 appear to belong to that summary, since Mormon’s first-person prayer in v. 11 would have been written anciently by Mormon himself.

    If vv. 10-11 are not part of the Words of Mormon and are not part of the latter-day summary, could they have been part of the Book of Mosiah that appeared on page 117 of O immediately before our Mosiah 1:1?

    Consistent with vv. 10-11 being part of the Book of Mosiah, Mormon does not appear to know, when he prays in v. 11 for the preservation of the small plates, that he would be appending the small plates to his record. Had he known—that is, if v. 11 had been written at the same time as vv. 1-9—either he would not have prayed for the preservation of the small plates (knowing they would be preserved with his record) or he would have prayed for the preservation of his entire record (not just the appended small plates). That he apparently did not know in v. 11 that he would be appending the small plates suggests that the prayer of v. 11 was written as an editorial aside within the abridgment of the Book of Mosiah itself, sometime before he determined, toward the end of his project, to append the small plates to his record.

    In sum, it may be that:

    • vv. 1-9 constitute the Words of Mormon (consistent with v. 9 being a conclusion);

    • vv. 10-11 were part of the Book of Mosiah that preceded our Mosiah 1:1 on page 117 of O (consistent with the change to the narrative voice in v. 10 and Mormon’s speaking in the first-person in v. 11 while not yet knowing that he would be appending the small plates); and

    • vv. 12-18 are a latter-day insertion summarizing the missing parts of the Book of Mosiah (consistent with the brevity with which otherwise important subjects are treated).

  5. 4 gatherings x 6 sheets x 4 pages / sheet = 96 pages.
    1 gathering x 5 sheets x 4 pages / sheet = 20 pages.
    96 pages + 20 pages = 116 pages.

    Why the inconsistency? Why a 5-sheet gathering? A speculation: Joseph and Martin do not know in advance the page on which the Book of Lehi will end. So they prepare a fifth gathering of six sheets. Suppose the Book of Lehi ends on page 9 or 10 of that gathering. Martin has written on only five sheets (the right side of the front and the left side of the back of the five outer sheets). He has not written anything yet on the inner sixth sheet (which would become pages 11, 12, 13, and 14). So Martin, anxious to complete the gathering so he can take it home to show his wife, sets aside the unnecessary sixth sheet (easily done since the gathering as not been stitched yet). The gathering is now a gathering of 5 sheets, or 20 pages, with 10 or 11 pages remaining to be filled, on which Martin takes down the first two chapters of Mosiah while he continues to pester Joseph for permission to take the Book of Lehi home.

    • Bob, thanks for your excellent speculation about the 5-sheet gathering. I think you’re probably right. I would say, however, that Joseph insisted on keeping sheet number 6 because it still had empty space for more writing, even though the top of it held the last bit of the original Mosiah chapter 2.

  6. Brant Gardner wrote: “What followed, however, didn’t replicate the model of the beginning of a new book. It simply begins “The words of Mormon And now I Mormon . . . .” There was clearly a division, but not the kind of marker that Oliver had seen for a new book (which announces “The book of . . .”).”

    That’s a brilliant insight–one I’d missed.

    “It is unclear when Words of Mormon became its own book as that is not indicated in the manuscript. According to the manuscript, it might have been presented to the compositor as the second chapter of Omni.”

    Not so. The Printer’s Manuscript shows that it was presented to the compositor with the “2” crossed out and the Roman numeral “I” added. And all of that was an *insertion* above the line, indicating that it did not read that way in the Original Manuscript.

    The Printer’s Manuscript shows very clearly when the Words of Mormon became its own book. Not only is “The words of Mormon” part of Oliver’s original transcription, but so is a *long* wavy line above that title, showing that Oliver understood the break very well.

    “Oliver initially saw Words of Mormon as a chapter in Omni, and he appears to have numbered Chapter III in Mosiah following that line of reasoning.”

    No; the Printer’s Manuscript shows that Oliver initially saw the Words of Mormon as its own book, and that he copied “Chapter III” from the Original Manuscript. But “Chapter III” didn’t make sense, so he went back to the beginning of the book and *added* (above the line) “Chapter 2.d”. But then, considering the title “The words of Mormon,” he realized the “2” was wrong, crossed it out, and added “I” to form (finally) “Chapter .d I.” That’s the reconstruction that makes the most sense based on the actual text of the Printer’s Manuscript.

    In his review, Mr. Gardner is basing his arguments on what I believe is a misunderstanding–that the chapter numbers were a later addition to the Printer’s Manuscript. For the most part, that is not so. They *were* later additions to the *Original* manuscript, but they were simply copied (again, for the most part) into the Printer’s Manuscript.

    Royal Skousen’s typographic facsimile of the Printer’s Manuscript shows very clearly what was originally written, what was added, and what was deleted. For those of us who are interested in this minutiae, it’s worth taking a closer look. I believe that the evidence bears out my interpretation of what happened.

  7. Brant Gardner wrote: “Skousen’s research demonstrates that the chapter numbers are later additions to the Printer’s Manuscript. That is, the word Chapter was indicated, but not the number. At some later point, the numbers were added.”

    That’s not quite right. Skousen’s research demonstrates that the chapter numbers are later additions to the *Original* Manuscript. With some exceptions, Oliver Cowdery simply copied those numbers onto the Printer’s Manuscript. That’s why Skousen assumes that “Chapter III” was not added later but was copied: “Originally, Oliver Cowdery simply wrote Chapter III (on line 3). This chapter specification reflects the probable reading of the Original Manuscript.”

  8. In his review, Brant Gardner wrote: “since the math also suggests that the 116 pages would not completely fill five 24-page gatherings, it is also possible that there would have been blank space at the end of the fifth gathering.”

    But five 24-page gatherings would provide 120 pages, not 116 pages. And we know that 116 pages were lost because Joseph Smith says so in his preface to the 1830 edition. According to Skousen’s reconstruction, there were probably four 24-page gatherings (making 96 pages) and one 20-page gathering. Together, they add up to 116 pages.

  9. Dear Mr. Gardner:

    I somehow missed your review of my article until just now (9/16/2014). I plan to respond in some detail, but for now I’d just like to thank you for making the time and effort to write such a thoughtful and thorough review. I’ll be back in touch soon.

    Best wishes,
    Jack Lyon

  10. I like your analysis here, but I disagree with your analysis regarding whether the current first chapter of Mosiah is chapter “III” or not. Your analysis is interesting, but it neglects how Mormon begins books throughout the Book of Mormon. The beginning of Mosiah seems far too in medias res for Mormon, as he usually spends some time identifying the main record keeper for the book he’s compiling. Here, we jump right to Benjamin talking to his sons. While Lyon & Minson may not be right, I think we’re definitely missing something before “chapter III”.

    • I may not have bee sufficiently clear. I agree that there is something missing before our current Mosiah 1. What I cannot tell from the numbering is how many chapters. Based on the III, it has been supposed that there are two missing chapters. Since the III appears to represent numbering done as part of the Printer’s Manuscript and doesn’t represent a III from the Original, we cannot know how many chapters are missing. It could very well be two, but there is no evidence for how many. That something is missing is, as you indicate, quite certain.

      • Royal Skousen says, “Originally, Oliver Cowdery simply wrote Chapter III (on line 3). This chapter specification reflects the probable reading of the Original Manuscript.”

        So, Brant, why do you say that “Since the III . . . doesn’t represent a III from the Original, we cannot know how many chapters are missing”? On what evidence do you base that assertion? I’m not trying to argue; I really want to understand your thinking on this. Thanks!

        • I know what Royal said, but I decided to check it out. It is true that Oliver wrote Chapter III and crossed out two “I” to leave Chapter I. The question is why. Skousen’s assumption was that it was from copying from the original. However, we must remember that the original manuscript had already lost the 116 pages before Oliver was the scribe and before the chapters were numbered. So, where did Oliver get the numbers?

          That appears to be answered when we look at Words of Mormon. It was originally Chapter 2 (I can’t tell from the photograph if the scribbled out text was II). Why was it 2? Omni was the book of Omni chapter I (number added later). Words of Mormon comes without a break, and with no original word indicating a chapter. It was apparently not understood to be a separate but, but chapter 2 of Omni. Them Mosiah, which also didn’t have a beginning, was III. When it was realized that Mosiah, and Words of Mormon, should be separate books, both Words of Mormon and Mosiah were corrected.

          Of course, that is a particular reading of the data. Perhaps it would only explain Words of Mormon as 2, but when combined with the resulting sequential ordering without clear separation in the manuscripts, as well as the fact that the original manuscript (not extant at this point) did not appear to have chapter numbers to copy from, we have a numbering example from the printer’s manuscript that seems best explained by the printer’s manuscript. I doubt that there is any indication that the chapters were numbered after a chapter was finished. There is evidence that they were added later, and not at the time of dictation. That means that it would have been unlikely that what we have as the beginning of Mosiah 1 would have been indicated as a number prior to having finished the book of Mosiah. Thus, the numbering was not original and was the result of a reading error of Omni/Words of Mormon/Mosiah as a single book in the printer’s manuscript.

          • Brant, thanks for your thoughts on this. My response here will be lengthy, but I hope you’ll take the time to consider it carefully; I believe it will answer your questions and concerns.

            You wrote, “Skousen’s assumption was that it [the chapter number III in Mosiah] was from copying from the original. However, we must remember that the original manuscript had already lost the 116 pages before Oliver was the scribe and before the chapters were numbered. So, where did Oliver get the numbers?”

            I don’t mean to be critical, but I really don’t understand what you’re thinking here. Obviously, Oliver got the numbers from the same place he got the text that went with them–from the pages of the Original Manuscript that were still in his possession. To clarify:

            1. As is clear from the Printer’s Manuscript, the text Oliver was copying at the point we’re discussing is the material currently published as Words of Mormon verses 12-18 and Mosiah chapter 1. This part of the text was NOT lost–otherwise Oliver couldn’t have copied it and we wouldn’t have it. But we do have it, including the chapter number III right in the middle of it:

            http://www.editorium.com/MosiahIIIEdited.jpg

            2. As you know, while Joseph was dictating the text of the Original Manuscript, he and Oliver did not include chapter numbers; they simply wrote the word “Chapter” and left blank space after so Oliver could add numbers later. What you don’t seem to understand is that Oliver added the numbers in BOTH manuscripts–the Original Manuscript as well as the Printer’s Manuscript. That is why Skousen says Oliver copied the chapter number “III” from the Original Manuscript into the Printer’s Manuscript. Skousen gives other examples in his paper “How Joseph Smith Translated the Book of Mormon,” noting, “Probably the strongest evidence that the word ‘chapter’ is not original to the revealed text is that the chapter numbers are assigned later in BOTH manuscripts.” (Emphasis mine.) You can check this in Skousen’s typographic facsimile of the Original Manuscript and the JSP images of the Printer’s Manuscript.

            3. You wrote, “Words of Mormon comes without a break, and with no original word indicating a chapter. It was apparently not understood to be a separate [book], but chapter 2 of Omni.”

            You’re partly right: There was no original word indicating a chapter. But there is a *huge* break. To mark that break, Oliver included a long, wavy line at the end of Omni and then *another* line underneath that. Here’s my photoshopped version of what Oliver originally wrote:

            http://www.editorium.com/WordsOfMormonBeginningOriginal.jpg

            As you can see, there’s nothing there to indicate a problem, and in fact the long break lines (as well as the absence of the word “Chapter”) indicate that this is the beginning of a new book. So the most likely scenario is that Oliver simply kept going, as he had no reason not to. But the next break he encountered in the Original Manuscript was this:

            peace in the land ~~~ Chapter III ~~~~

            Here’s my photoshopped version of what he originally copied into the Printer’s Manuscript:

            http://www.editorium.com/MosiahIIIOriginal.jpg

            At that point, Oliver must have thought something like this: “Chapter 3? What happened to chapter 2?” He then went back to the beginning of the Words of Mormon to figure out what was going on. There was no chapter designation, so he went even further back, to this:

            The Book of Omni Chapter first ~~~~

            http://www.editorium.com/OmniBeginning.jpg

            “I see,” Oliver thinks. “The Words of Mormon must be Omni chapter 2, as it comes between ‘Chapter first’ and ‘Chapter III’.” He returns to the Words of Mormon and inserts “Chapter 2d” after the title and above the line. Here’s my photoshopped version:

            http://www.editorium.com/WordsOfMormonBeginningChapter2.jpg

            But now, where is the beginning of Mosiah? Oliver knows it *should* be there, but it seems to be missing. “Oh, of course!” he thinks. “It was lost with the 116 pages.”

            At this point, he could probably see from the Original Manuscript exactly where the problem occurred (at the beginning of page 117, the first page in that gathering), but he was copying the manuscript *for publication,* so he had to make an *editorial* decision about how to fix the problem so the chapter numbers would make some kind of sense. His solution was to go back down to “Chapter III” and insert “The Book of Mosiah” in front of it, above the line. He then crossed out the last two numbers, leaving “Chapter I”.

            http://www.editorium.com/MosiahIIIEdited.jpg

            Finally (I think), he went back to the Words of Mormon, crossed out the “2d” he’d added earlier, and inserted the number “1”:

            http://www.editorium.com/WordsOfMormonBeginningEdited.jpg

            And that is how the text has come down to us today.

            The Original Manuscript was translated and transcribed with the books in the…

            • There is certainly a lot to go through here, however, there is a big problem with the thesis that Oliver made a mistake when he was copying from the original. Accepting your hypothesis for the moment, how does Oliver decide to append the retained Mosiah to the end of Words of Mormon. He scribed Words of Mormon. He knew when the dictation ended. The retained portion was obviously on a different sheet of paper, so he had to intentionally combine two things that were physically separate, when he knew what he had written for Words of Mormon. That seems to have been near the end of his translating, and certainly not long enough that he would have forgotten what it said, or somehow missed the chapter line he would have used to indicate that it had ended.

          • The Original Manuscript was translated and transcribed with the books in this order:

            Lehi
            Mosiah 1 and 2a (end of page 116)
            —————
            Mosiah 2b (top of page 117)
            Mosiah 3
            remainder of Mosiah
            Alma
            Helaman
            remainder of Mormon’s abridgment
            —————
            1 Nephi
            2 Nephi
            etc.
            Words of Mormon

            After Martin Harris lost the 116 pages, the finished translation looked like this:

            Mosiah 2b (top of page 117)
            Mosiah 3
            remainder of Mosiah
            Alma
            Helaman
            remainder of Mormon’s abridgment
            —————
            1 Nephi
            2 Nephi
            etc.
            Words of Mormon

            Before making his copy, Oliver took the *last* part of the Original Manuscript (1 Nephi through Words of Mormon) and moved it to the *front* of the manuscript to replace the lost pages. Doing so put the books in this order:

            1 Nephi
            2 Nephi
            etc.
            Words of Mormon
            —————
            Mosiah 2b (top of page 117)
            Mosiah 3
            remainder of Mosiah
            Alma
            Helaman
            remainder of Mormon’s abridgment

            And now you can see how Mosiah 2b became appended to the Words of Mormon when Oliver copied that text into the Printer’s Manuscript:

            1 Nephi
            2 Nephi
            etc.
            Words of Mormon
            Mosiah 2b
            —————
            Mosiah 3 (renumbered as Mosiah 1)
            remainder of Mosiah
            Alma
            Helaman
            remainder of Mormon’s abridgment

            All of this is complicated, which is why it’s so difficult to explain and to understand. It involves multiple manuscripts, loss of pages, moving of pages, and corrections over the top of what was originally written. But looking closely at the JSP high-resolution images of the Printer’s Manuscript reveals what was probably Oliver’s thought process in dealing with all of this. It also reveals Words of Mormon verses 12-18 for what they really are: The end of the original Mosiah chapter 2.

            You may not know this, but I was Deseret Book’s managing editor for many years, and I have a lot of experience in preparing manuscripts for publication. I understand how they’re often cobbled together, and I also understand some of the odd things that can occur during the publishing process. From an editor’s point of view, everything I’ve outlined above makes good sense.

            However, if it still doesn’t make sense to you, I’d welcome the chance to clarify. Again, thanks for your analysis, and thanks for listening.

          • Brant, you wrote, “there is a big problem with the thesis that Oliver made a mistake when he was copying from the original.”

            “Mistake” is probably the wrong word.

            “Accepting your hypothesis for the moment, how does Oliver decide to append the retained Mosiah to the end of Words of Mormon?”

            He *didn’t* decide. It simply *happened* when he moved the small plates translation to the top of the stack.

            “He scribed Words of Mormon. He knew when the dictation ended. The retained portion was obviously on a different sheet of paper, so he had to intentionally combine two things that were physically separate, when he knew what he had written for Words of Mormon.

            *After* he figured out what was going on, that’s basically what he did. He had to solve a problem with the chapter nu*bering for publication, so he made an *editorial decision* to renumber Mosiah III as Mosiah I. Then he simply left what preceded it right where it already was.

            “That seems to have been near the end of his translating, and certainly not long enough that he would have forgotten what it said.”

            The translation (Original Manuscript) was finished in June 1829. The first 24 pages of the Printer’s Manuscript (beginning with 1 Nephi) was produced in August and taken to Grandin’s print shop. On November 6, Oliver wrote in a letter to Joseph that he had just gotten to Alma 36 (“alma commandment to his son”). So Oliver would have copied Words of Mormon sometime in September or October (I’m hoping Jack Welch might have more detailed information about this). At any rate, that’s three or four months from the end of translation to copying the Words of Mormon into the Printer’s Manuscript. We can’t know whether or not Oliver had forgotten the nature of the book during that period, but there’s no need for supposition. We can *see* that he was confused about it because he inserted “Chapter 2d” after the title “The Words of Mormon.”

            “or somehow missed the chapter line he would have used to indicate that it had ended.”

            If it was at the end of the translation (which it was), there was no need to add a chapter line to indicate that Words of Mormon had ended, and in fact the Printer’s Manuscript doesn’t show any line. (These pages in the Original Manuscript are, unfortunately, not extant.)

            • Of course it is difficult to come to a final conclusion because the original is not extant, and guesses are made. Thus, you say: “If it was at the end of the translation (which it was), there was no need to add a chapter line to indicate that Words of Mormon had ended, and in fact the Printer’s Manuscript doesn’t show any line. (These pages in the Original Manuscript are, unfortunately, not extant.)”

              The fact that there is no line in Words of Mormon in the printer’s doesn’t tell us that there was no chapter/book end in the original. In fact, we don’t have lines for chapters in the printer’s manuscript, just the continuation of the text and the word Chapter–often inline rather than superscripted. Is it a reasonable hypothesis that there was no ending indicator for Words of Mormon in the original? Could be. Could also not be. As you know, it is speculation. All of this is speculation, but built upon what evidence is available.

              My reading of the evidence suggests that the stronger hypothesis is that the ending verses of Words of Mormon were part of Words of Mormon, not the lost part of Mosiah. Our Mosiah 1 would be the retained part. In addition to the examination of the numbering (where the printer’s manuscript had Omni chapter 1, Words of Mromon chapter 2, and our Mosiah 1 as chapter III is the most parsimonious reading of the data. Further indications would be that in Mosiah 1, the word Chapter is inline, indicating that Oliver copied it, but the title book of Mosiah is superscripted and added later. The dictated location for the name of the book was lost, but we would expect that Oliver would put it with the retained text, since that was on a different gathering, and Oliver clearly knew what he had written in Words of Mormon.

              Further evidence comes from how Mormon began chapters, and Mosiah 1 is not a chapter beginning. The verses at the end of Omni are a rapid condensation of events that do not match the way Mormon told similarly important events.

    • John:
      Of course, it is always a possibility that there is direct divine intervention. In this particular case, that specific divine intervention would preclude any possibility that there was any leftover text on the remaining pages and completely remove Lyon and Minson’s argument. While possible, I think we need to look at all of the options.

  11. Am I the only one who reads articles such as these with a greater level of aggravation that we don’t have the first 116 pages?

    Nice work Brant. I hope I’m not too irreverent in saying: you flippin’ rock man!!

  12. “Mormon’s descriptions of events do not have this level of terseness until 4 Nephi, which I argue has a different structural intent than other writings, and one that does not apply to these verses.”

    Except that if Mormon took only 116 pages to cover up to Mosiah (covering roughly 470 years), surely he would have had to? Moreover, Mormon does vary significantly in the detail in which covers such events – consider his lengthy account of the war against Amalickiah and Ammoron, with his extremely brief account of the invasion of Coriantumr in Helaman 2. Furthermore, I can’t really see the need to reject Mormon’s authorship of WofM 12-18, regardless of the question of their original textual position – subjectively, they don’t seem stylistically all that different from the likes of Alma 1:1.

    • That is the reason that subjective conclusions aren’t compelling. However, I would point out that I would see the parallel better if what is proposed as the end of Mosiah X (the last chapter lost before our current Mosiah 1) were actually the beginning of Mosiah 1. Not that we have the synopsis at the beginning Alma, not the end of Mosiah. That is one of the problems with the analyzing the split between the chapters–if there were a synopsis, it would not have been at the end of the chapter. It wouldn’t have been as surprising at the beginning of a new chapter or book.

      Mormon makes a distinction between text he quotes and text he writes as the linking narrative. When he leaves a source at the end of one chapter, he places his own text at the beginning of the next. Of course, if the previous (lost) chapter of Mosiah did not contain quoted material, then this analysis wouldn’t apply. However, in that case, we wouldn’t expect the synopsis because the chapter itself would have been the synopsis.

      Complicated stuff. As I suggested, the jury is still out. I don’t know that there is a compelling resolution to the issue. I do think we need to keep working on it, so thank you for your comments. I had to think on the topic again, and that is always valuable.

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