There are 11 thoughts on “Changes in The Book of Mormon”.

  1. Brother Skousen, is it possible that the phrase “pains of hell” might have been dictated as “chains of hell” in Jacob 3:11, Alma 14:6, and Alma 26:13? Its usage makes sense in Alma 36:13, and “pains of hell” per se is certainly a reasonable term for the Book of Mormon, but in the other cases (Jacob 3, Alma 14, Alma 26), it is used with language that is also used with “chains” in other contexts, such as “loosed” from or “encircled about” by chains. Alma 26:13’s “loosed from the pains of hell” is followed in Alma 26:14 by “loosed {these} our brethren from the chains of hell,” where {these} is your suggested correction based on the Original Manuscript.

    If that happened, I think it would have been the result of mishearing or miswriting, though it’s not an extremely easy mistake to make. While the Original Manuscript apparently is missing for Jacob 3 and Alma 14, Alma 26 is within one of the main sections where the Original Manuscript is said to be extant, though with some gaps. Alma 26:14 is obviously extant since you have used it to make a correction. But is Alma 26:13 with “pains of hell” one of the gaps? Could you confirm that “pains of hell” is present in Alma 26:13 so we at least know it was not a copying mistake. Based on the Yale edition’s Appendix of notable corrections, I see multiple corrections based on the Original Manuscript in each of chapters 22, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29, and 30, all the chapters around 26, but only 1 correction in Alma 26, suggesting that perhaps this chapter might be less represented in the Original Manuscript.

    Contrary to my proposal. Psalm 116:3 has “pains of hell gat hold upon me” and the “sorrows of death compassed me,” which are somewhat related to the encircling, binding action of chains, making the usages of “pains of hell” in question not really unreasonable. It’s just that “chains” in the context would seem more appropriate and would be more consistent with Book of Mormon usage elsewhere.

  2. I’ve had a conversation with an individual who says there are wording changes which change the doctrines presented in the Book of Mormon from the 1829 version to later versions. These changes are best summed up as going from a trinitarian view of God and Jesus to the individual beings we teach now. How would you address those assertions? I personally don’t have a problem with the changes, but this person does and this individual means a lot to me. I’d like to appeal to someone who knows better than me about this.

    Thanks in advance and thanks for the article.

    • These matters are susceptible to extensive argumentation and it will almost always be difficult to be conclusive rationally. The author of this piece, whose opinion we should certainly consider, says that changes were never doctrinal. He views them as clarifications. These issues deserve long, careful study before reaching conclusions.

  3. I’m most intrigued by the change from “Jesus Christ” to “the Messiah” in 1 Nephi 12:18. I always thought that was an inspired change since the latter fits Nephi’s context better. Maybe that implies the original text was an error that Joseph felt needed addressing. Dr. Skousen considers it a simple clarification instead and since he’s far more informed on the issue, I don’t mind trusting his judgment at all. Are there treatments or discussions about that particular change that can help my understanding along?

    • The following was sent in by Royal Skousen. It is a copy of pages from his book on the variants in The Book of Mormon that deals with this particular verse. Some formatting changes have been made to accommodate this forum.

      1 Nephi 12:18
      This passage contains the first occurrence of the name Jesus Christ in the Book of Mormon text (excluding the title page, which was written by Moroni about a thousand years later). This entire passage from verses 16 —18 in 1 Nephi 12 is a direct quote of the angel’s words to Nephi (verse 16 begins “and the angel spake unto me saying”, and verse 19 follows the quote with “and while the angel spake these words”). The next time the text uses the name Jesus Christ is much later, after Nephi has finished quoting Isaiah 2-14 in 2 Nephi 12-24:

      2 Nephi 25:19
      for according to the words of the prophets
      the Messiah cometh in six hundred years
      from the time that my father left Jerusalem
      and according to the words of the prophets
      and also the word of the angel of God
      his name should be Jesus Christ the son of God

      Here Nephi specifically refers to the fact that the angel of God revealed the name of the Messiah and that his name would be “Jesus Christ the Son of God”. And Jesus Christ is precisely what the angel in 1 Nephi 12:18 gives as the name of the Lamb of God. Also later on in the text, Nephi’s
      brother Jacob indicated that an angel had told him that the name of the Savior would be Christ:

      2 Nephi 10:3
      wherefore as I said unto you
      it must needs be expedient that Christ
      — for in the last night the angel spake unto me that this should be his name—
      that he should come among the Jews

      We note here that Jacob did not get the name from Nephi himself—Jacob had not yet even been born when Nephi had his vision of the tree of life. Apparently Nephi hadn’t told the name to Jacob. Like Nephi, Jacob got the name Christ (the Greek form of Messiah) from an angel. Note, however, that Jacob does not mention Christ’s personal name, Jesus.
      These distinctions are important in evaluating Joseph Smith’s editing of 1 Nephi 12:18 for the 1837 edition. When he got to this passage in the printer’s manuscript, Joseph crossed out Jesus Christ and supralinearly inserted Mosiah, his spelling for Messiah. The s in the name Mosiah can be pronounced as an /s/ or a /z/. (Both pronunciations are listed, for instance, in the pronounc¬ing guide at the end of the 1981 LDS edition; in the 1920 LDS edition, only the /s/ pronunciation is given.) Joseph Smith apparently pronounced Mosiah with the /s/, along with a reduced schwa vowel /a/ for the first vowel; thus for him Mosiah and Messiah were homophonous (both pronounced as /masai.a/. In any event, Joseph intended Messiah, which is what was set in the 1837 edition (plus the addition of the expected definite article the).
      But this editing causes a real difficulty— namely, the first reference to the full name Jesus Christ (that is, with the personal name Jesus) is now in 2 Nephi 25:19! The only other possible source for his name must now come from when the angel told Jacob that the Messiah’s name would be Christ, which is not the same as Jesus Christ. Thus we see that the original use of Jesus Christ in 1 Nephi 12:18 is crucial to understanding the later reference in 2 Nephi 25:19. The critical text will, of course, restore the name Jesus Christ in 1 Nephi 12:18, not only because it is the earliest reading but also because it is necessary.
      One possible reason behind Joseph Smith’s editing in 1 Nephi 12:18 is that prior to that point Messiah was the name the text had used to refer to Christ (besides descriptive expressions like the Son of God, the Lamb of God, the Redeemer, and the Savior). The designation Messiah was used right at the beginning of 1 Nephi by Lehi (in 1 Nephi 1:19) and then eight times in 1 Nephi lo). Perhaps the sudden appearance of the complete name Jesus Christ in 1 Nephi 12:18 seemed odd, so Joseph replaced it with Messiah.
      The same basic points, although from a different viewpoint, are discussed by Brent Metcalfe on pages 427-433 of his article “The Priority of Mosiah”, New Approaches to the Book of Mormon: Explorations in Critical Methodology, edited by Brent Lee Metcalfe (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1993), pages 395-444.
      Summary: Restore the name Jesus Christ in 1 Nephi 12:18; the later use in 2 Nephi 25:19 of Jesus Christ as the name given by the angel of God depends upon the original reading in 1 Nephi 12:18 (and not upon Jacob’s statement in 2 Nephi 10:3).

  4. Have you ever thought about making the Yale Edition available as a digital book? Or even it’s own app? It sure would be easier to carry on my phone.
    In general though – I really enjoy the formatting. Isaiah has never been more clear to understand.

    • Royal Skousen writes:
      The Yale edition is available electronically in a pdf format (Kindle) and is downloadable to any electronic device that doesn’t have too small a screen.

      Check Amazon for the e-book.

  5. The one thing I never heard before is that the chapters from the first edition did not line up with the chapters we have now. I always heard that there were chapter divisions in the original, but no one ever mentioned that the chapters were changed by Orson Pratt.

    Is there some place (website) that gives a breakdown of how the original chapters align with the current ones? About 98% of the sites I could find with the 1830 text were all anti-Mormon sites and they don’t really make it convenient to search. Is there any other way of getting the chapter alignment without looking through images of the 1830 edition page by page?

  6. Dear Brother Skousen, I love the Book of Mormon, and I do appreciate the great work that you have done to bring it even more alive for me. Thank you! Your work has helped me to see and love my Savior even more fervently by peeking at Him even a little bit through the eyes of the ancients as they worshipped Him, as seen through your reconstructed version of the 1830 Ed. The Holy Spirit first bore witness to me of Christ and His ancient American prophets at my first reading of the 1920 edition at age 17 (I’m 80 years old now!) The Spirit still bears record to me while reading the most current on-line version. Your 1830 reconstruction adds a wonderful dimension to my total understanding. God bless you for your labors, and my very best wishes to you! Clyde B. Russell

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