When Hypotheses Collide: Responding to Lyon and Minson’s “When Pages Collide”

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Abstract: At the end of 2012, Jack M. Lyon and Kent R. Minson published “When Pages Collide: Dissecting the Words of Mormon.” They suggest that there is textual evidence that supports the idea that Words of Mormon 12-18 is the translation of the end of the previous chapter of Mosiah. The rest of the chapter was lost with the 116 pages, but this text remained because it was physically on the next page, which Joseph had kept with him.

In this paper, the textual information is examined to determine if it supports that hypothesis. The conclusion is that while the hypothesis is possible, the evidence is not conclusive. The question remains open and may ultimately depend upon one’s understanding of the translation process much more than the evidence from the manuscripts.

Jack M. Lyon and Kent R. Minson published “When Pages Collide: Dissecting the Words of Mormon” at the end of 2012. They conclude:

Without the benefit of Royal Skousen’s landmark publications on the original Book of Mormon text, scholars have previously described Words of Mormon verses 12–18 as a “bridge” or “transition” that Mormon wrote to connect the record of the small plates with his abridgment from the large plates. Based on the now-available documentary evidence, that analysis can be seen as faulty—an attempt to explain what should never have needed explaining. There is no “bridge” [Page 106]between the small plates and the rest of the Book of Mormon. There is only the Words of Mormon itself (consisting of verses 1–11), where Mormon simply explains why he is including the small plates with the rest of the record. The verses that follow (12–18) belong in the book of Mosiah. ((Jack M. Lyon and Kent R. Minson, “When Pages Collide: Dissecting the Words of Mormon,” BYU Studies 51/4 (2012): 134.))

That is an important suggestion. If correct, it fully supports their conclusion that “this paper provides a new explanation of what may have occurred—one that makes sense based on the documentary and textual evidence. This may seem like a small matter, but it could have important ramifications for study and scholarship.” ((Lyon and Minson, “When Pages Collide,” 134–35.)) Most important is their assertion that “based on the now-available documentary evidence, that analysis [that words of Mormon verses 12–18 are a bridge between the text from the small to the text from Mormon’s plates] can be seen as faulty.” Having suggested that their conclusion is based on Skousen’s meticulous work on the Book of Mormon manuscripts, it is critical to understand how, and if, Skousen’s information leads to that conclusion.

Lyon and Minson argue that verses 12–18 physically existed as part of the Original Manuscript and immediately preceded what we have as Mosiah chapter 1. These verses would have been the last text of the previous chapter that happened to have been written on the hypothetical page 117 of the translation prepared by Joseph Smith and Martin Harris (the completed 116 having been lost). Thus, rather than a bridging synopsis, the text would represent text that was originally intended to be the conclusion to the lost chapter preceding our current Mosiah chapter 1.

[Page 107]On the other hand, I have suggested that verses 12–18 form an inspired recapitulation of the missing material, but are not representative of any text from the original plate text or dictation. ((Brant A. Gardner, The Gift and Power: Translating the Book of Mormon (Provo, UT: Greg Kofford Books, 2011), 245–46.)) Before examining the evidence, we should note that our separate interpretations probably arise from our differing ideas about the nature of the Book of Mormon translation. Lyon and Minson more closely follow Skousen’s often-articulated position that “Joseph Smith received an English-language text word for word, which he read off to his scribe.” ((Royal Skousen, “Some Textual Changes for a Scholarly Study of the Book of Mormon,” BYU Studies 51/4 (2012): 99. See also Royal Skousen, “Translating the Book of Mormon: Evidence from the Original Manuscript,” in Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited: The Evidence for Ancient Origins, ed. Noel B. Reynolds (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1997), 64, and Royal Skousen, “How Joseph Smith Translated the Book of Mormon: Evidence from the Original Manuscript,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 7/1 (1998): 24.)) I suspect that their preference for Skousen’s translation theory informs their disagreement with my suggestion: “Gardner is correct in his assessment that the ‘material so precisely fits’ with the remaining text of Mosiah, but, in our view, he is incorrect in his conclusion of what that means. The documentary and textual evidence supports the simpler explanation outlined in this paper.” ((Lyon and Minson, “When Pages Collide,” 136, n. 19.)) If they are correct that “the documentary and textual evidence supports the simpler explanation,” then my hypothesis was incorrect. The critical part of the argument is the suggestion that there is textual evidence in Skousen’s work that inevitably leads to their simpler explanation.

Lyon and Minson use D&C 10:41 to demonstrate that Joseph did not turn over everything that had been translated to Martin Harris: “Therefore, you shall translate the engravings which are on the plates of Nephi, down even till you come to the reign of king Benjamin, or until you come to that which you have translated, which you have retained.” The dictated [Page 108]manuscript was written on prepared gatherings, typically consisting of 12 pages folded over to create a set of 24 pages. Lyon and Minson suggest that Martin was given complete gatherings, and any text that had already been dictated and written on the next incomplete gathering represents that which was retained. This makes sense because the evidence shows that the gatherings were created prior to the scribe writing upon them. ((Royal Skousen, ed., The Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2001), 1:31. More information on the gatherings is found on pp. 34–36. Skousen notes that while the gathering was created before text was added, the text was added prior to the time the gatherings were stitched together (p. 34).)) Thus they suggest that “what he had retained was the end of Mosiah chapter 2 (which is now Words of Mormon verses 12–18) and perhaps more.” ((Lyon and Minson, “When Pages Collide,” 127.))

That Martin received only the gatherings that were completed, and that if there were any text already begun on the next gathering it would have been retained, is eminently reasonable. Unfortunately, it cannot be asserted from that possibility that there actually was text retained on the 117th page (the next page of the next gathering). If we assume a completely regular 24-page gathering, Skousen suggests that the lost 116 pages extended through part of five gatherings. ((Skousen, Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon, 35.)) Dividing 116 pages by 24 gives us 4.83 gatherings. That is close to a full set of five 24-page gatherings and makes it reasonable to hypothesize that Martin received complete gatherings.

However, 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. Because the evidence suggests that the gatherings were created prior to use, any blank space diminishes the probability that there was a text fragment retained on page 117. If there were blank space as suggested by the less-than-full [Page 109]usage of the pages in the gathering, there wouldn’t be any text on the next gathering as it should have been simply continued in the fifth gathering.

While the empty space would preclude Lyon and Minson’s hypothesis, it is correct only if all of the gatherings were uniformly 24 pages. The lack of the Original Manuscript for this section makes it difficult to come to a firm conclusion. However, the extant gatherings of the Printer’s Manuscript did not always contain precisely 24 pages. Lyon and Minson’s hypothesis is still possible, but not inevitable.

If Martin had received completely full gatherings, and there was some text already translated and recorded on the sixth gathering, then only serendipitous coincidence would have placed the next chapter at the beginning of the next page. Oliver Cowdery conserved paper by continuing subsequent chapters on the same page and typically right after the end of the previous chapter. This continues to leave room for Lyon and Minson’s suggestion that verses 12–18 were at the top of page 117 of the original and preceded the recording of “Chapter” on that same page. ((Lyon and Minson, “When Pages Collide,” 131, argue, after presenting the verses in question and the indication of the “Chapter” for what we have as Mosiah 1, that “Somewhere in that text is the end of the Words of Mormon and the beginning of page 117.”)) So far, the textual evidence at least leaves the door open for their solution, but does not conclusively support it.

At this point, we turn to a different type of textual evidence. In this case, we are examining the text on the manuscript, although it must be emphasized that the Original Manuscript is not extant for this crucial juncture. Accepting that when Joseph began translating again, he picked up in the book of Mosiah rather than starting with 1 Nephi, then the earliest extant translated text does not appear until Alma 10:31. ((Skousen, Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon, 35.)) [Page 110]Therefore, the evidence comes from the Printer’s Manuscript, which was the copy Oliver made to deliver to the compositor.

Lyon and Minson cite Skousen’s analysis of an anomaly at the beginning of what we have as Mosiah Chapter 1. It is sufficiently important to repeat:

Originally, Oliver Cowdery simply wrote Chapter III (on line 3). This chapter specification reflects the probable reading of the Original Manuscript, which is no longer extant for any of the book of Mosiah. Chapter III implies that the beginning of the current book of Mosiah was indeed the beginning of chapter 3 of Mosiah in the original Book of Mormon text. The 116 lost pages containing the book of Lehi probably included part of the original first two chapters of the book of Mosiah.” ((Royal Skousen, ed., The Printer’s Manuscript of the Book of Mormon, (Provo, UT: FARMS), 2.1.41 (no printed number, text accompanying plate 3). ))

Clearly, something was wrong with the Chapter III and it was later corrected to Chapter I. The question is what caused the numbering anomaly. Skousen suggests that there were two missing chapters of Mosiah, a proposition Lyon and Minson accept. It is a proposition that I had also accepted until this exercise forced me to directly consider this issue. It is absolutely important to emphasize that all of this information comes from the Printer’s Manuscript and not from the Original. Were this information in the Original Manuscript the conclusions could be different.

First, 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:

[Page 111]“Chapter” is assigned to small books that contain only one section (such as Enos, Jarom, and Omni). And the chapter numbers are added later, in heavier ink and more carefully written (sometimes with serifs). In one place in the printer’s manuscript the added number is in blue ink rather than the normal black (now turned brown).

And sometimes the inserted chapter numbers are incorrect. For instance, at the beginning of 2 Nephi (see the above transcription), the initial “Chapter” is assigned the number VIII as if it were the next chapter in 1 Nephi (which in the original text contained seven chapters). Moreover, in numbering the chapters in Mosiah in the printer’s manuscript, Oliver accidentally skipped one number when he came to chapter 8 and incorrectly listed it as “Chapter IX.” This misnumbering then continues through to the end of Mosiah. ((Royal Skousen, “Critical Methodology and the Text of the Book of Mormon,” FARMS Review 6/1 (1994): 138.))

This misnumbering directly impacts our understanding of the change from Chapter III to Chapter I. Lyon and Minson note an anomaly: “Oliver’s editing on other nearby pages also shows his confusion about what was going on in the manuscript at this point. For example, after he had written the phrase ‘The Words of Mormon,’ he inserted ‘Chapter 2.d’ (meaning ‘Chapter Second’) above it, indicating that he may initially have seen the Words of Mormon as a second chapter in the book of Omni. If so, that could also explain the ‘Chapter III’ at the beginning of the book of Mosiah.” ((Lyon and Minson, “When Pages Collide,” 132.)) While I will suggest that this is precisely so, Lyon and Minson reach a different conclusion with the following justification: “One must keep in mind, however, that ‘Chapter 2.d’ is a supralinear addition, while ‘Chapter [Page 112]III’ is not, indicating that ‘Chapter III’ was part of the original manuscript. In addition, if Oliver had simply been continuing the number in the printer’s manuscript, he likely would have written ‘Chapter 3.d’ rather than ‘Chapter III.'” ((Lyon and Minson, “When Pages Collide,” 132–33.))

The first problem with their conclusion is that it makes a statement about what must have been in the Original Manuscript solely on the basis of the type of numbering, Arabic or Roman. Unfortunately, the data do not support that conclusion. Oliver’s previous numbering in the Printer’s Manuscript indicates that he was very comfortable alternating between the use of Roman numerals and 2d, 3d, 4th-style notations. The first chapter in both 1 and 2 Nephi is “Chapter first,” but the third chapter in 1 Nephi and the second of 2 Nephi begin with Roman numerals. ((Skousen, Printer’s Manuscript, 69, line 36 has Chapter 2nd for the second chapter of 1 Nephi. The third chapter begins on page 78, line 13, and has “Chapter III.” The first chapter of 2 Nephi is “Chapter 12st” on page 143, line 25. The second chapter, page 154, line 11, is “Chapter II.” Thus the mixing of the two styles is common and not indicative that Chapter III must have been copied from the Original Manuscript.)) The single chapter books (Enos, Jarom, and Omni) are all introduced as “The Book of . . . Chapter first.” ((Skousen, Printer’s Manuscript, Enos, 270, line 10; Jarom, 274, line 4; and Omni 276, line 11.)) Thus we cannot hang much weight on the thread of the change in numbering style. Oliver was not sufficiently consistent that “Chapter III” must represent anything that was in the Original Manuscript. In fact, if he had been copying from the Original, the format could easily have been Arabic numerals as that is what we find for 1 Nephi chapters 2 and 3. ((Skousen, Original Manuscript, 81, 95. It is interesting that chapter confusion again occurs between 1 and 2 Nephi, with overwritten chapter numbers and then supralinear “second” to mark the “second” book of Nephi, followed by the supralinear “chapter I.”))

Oliver’s after-the-fact numbering of Chapter III was likely occasioned by his previous numbering in Omni. The beginning [Page 113]of the book of Omni has “The Book of Omni Chapter first.” ((Skousen, Printer’s Manuscript, 1:276.)) Although Oliver was familiar with that use for single chapter books, he was faced with a second textual issue as he looked at what was written for the end of Omni and the beginning of Words of Mormon. At that point, Skousen indicates a line, an unusual marking, but certainly making an apparent difference between the end of Omni 1 and what followed. 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 . . . .” ((Skousen, Printer’s Manuscript, 281, lines 22–23. Punctuation and capitalization as in the typescript, but supralinear additions are left out.)) There was clearly a division, but not the kind of marker that Oliver had seen for a new book (which announces “The book of . . .”). Therefore his initial solution was to call it a chapter (even seen in the Original Manuscript when 1 Nephi ended and 2 Nephi begins—it was originally marked as a Chapter rather than a new book). 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. ((This may have some interesting ramifications for the way the plate text constructed books and chapters. The evidence here was that there was a marked break to separate Words of Mormon, but that Mormon did not consider it a “book” and therefore marked it differently. ))

The best we can say from the textual evidence is that the seam between the small plates translation, Words of Mormon, and the beginning of Mosiah was no more clear for Oliver than it is for us. When he attempted to make sense of it, 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. Remembering that this evidence is from the Printer’s Manuscript, Oliver’s choice makes sense if he was numbering the chapters in the Printer’s Manuscript rather than copying the chapter numbers from the Original. Skousen’s evidence is [Page 114]that the numbers were added to the Printer’s Manuscript after the copy had been made, and the evidence suggests that Oliver did. When Oliver inserted the chapter numbers after making the copy, he didn’t see the typical indication of a new book and therefore numbered Mosiah as though it were a continuation of Omni. The title “Book of Mosiah” is written supralinearly and therefore indicates a later addition. Having cast Words of Mormon as chapter two of Omni, he wouldn’t have realized his mistake immediately, though he certainly did after reading through the text in Mosiah. ((My reconstruction of the process, from this evidence, is that Oliver wrote the text indicating books and chapters. However, they were all in continuous text. In order to number them, Oliver had to review and read the text. Therefore, he would have numbered Chapter III based on what he had done previously, but then discovered that he was reading Mosiah and therefore returned to make the change, at which time he would also have inserted the supralinear “The book of Mosiah.”))

This explanation of the textual timeline is at least as viable as that presented by Lyon and Minson. With the evidence that Oliver numbered the chapters in the Printer’s Manuscript only after the copy was completed and the later supralinear addition of the label “Book of Mosiah,” I suggest that it is actually more likely. The textual evidence of the chapter numbering does not provide evidence to support Lyon and Minson’s conclusions. Thus, what would be their strongest textual support for their hypothesis does not, in fact, support their conclusion.

The final question Lyon and Minson address is the probability that some text existed on page 117 prior to the beginning of the full chapter in Mosiah. They quote an email exchange with Royal Skousen in which Skousen indicates, “As far as how pages of O [original manuscript] 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 [Page 115]begins with a sentence.” ((Lyon and Minson, “When Pages Collide,” 131.)) This strongly suggests that there would have been text on the retained page 117 that preceded the word “Chapter.” It is also possible that by sheer serendipity there was a clean division between what Martin took and the beginning of page 117, but it would seem that having some remaining text is much more likely, supporting Lyon and Minson’s hypothesis.

It is entirely plausible that there was text retained prior to where we have the beginning of Mosiah Chapter 1. However, their conclusion was that there was textual evidence for this, and there is not. It is plausible without specific support. Without any actual textual evidence to determine whether or not verses 12–18 of Words of Mormon represent that proposed text, we are left with only the content of the verses themselves. Who wrote them? I don’t believe that Skousen’s textual evidence tells us. We have to make some educated deductions from what is available. I list verses 11–18 of Words of Mormon to include the text Lyon and Minson consider to be the retained transition (12–18).

11 And they were handed down from king Benjamin, from generation to generation until they have fallen into my hands. And I, Mormon, pray to God that they may be preserved from this time henceforth. 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.

12 And now, concerning this king Benjamin—he had somewhat of contentions among his own people.

13 And it came to pass also that the armies of the Lamanites came down out of the land of Nephi, to battle against his people. But behold, king Benjamin gathered together his armies, and he did stand against [Page 116]them; and he did fight with the strength of his own arm, with the sword of Laban.

14 And in the strength of the Lord they did contend against their enemies, until they had slain many thousands of the Lamanites. And it came to pass that they did contend against the Lamanites until they had driven them out of all the lands of their inheritance.

15 And it came to pass that after there had been false Christs, and their mouths had been shut, and they punished according to their crimes;

16 And after there had been false prophets, and false preachers and teachers among the people, and all these having been punished according to their crimes; and after there having been much contention and many dissensions away unto the Lamanites, behold, it came to pass that king Benjamin, with the assistance of the holy prophets who were among his people—

17 For behold, king Benjamin was a holy man, and he did reign over his people in righteousness; and there were many holy men in the land, and they did speak the word of God with power and with authority; and they did use much sharpness because of the stiffneckedness of the people—

18 Wherefore, with the help of these, king Benjamin, by laboring with all the might of his body and the faculty of his whole soul, and also the prophets, did once more establish peace in the land. (Words of Mormon 1:11–18)

Although Lyon and Minson are willing to suggest the entire block of verses from 12–18 appeared at the top of page 117, ((Lyon and Minson, “When Pages Collide,” 131.)) they note Skousen’s opinion: “It strikes me that it is verse 12 that does not belong to the original Mosiah chapter II, but [Page 117]from verse 13 to the end of Words of Mormon could be the end of Mosiah chapter II (original chapters).” ((Lyon and Minson, “When Pages Collide,” 131; quoting from an email exchange.)) Skousen is open to at least this verse not being part of the translation from the plates: “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.” ((Lyon and Minson, “When Pages Collide,” 131.)) While Skousen and I disagree on the nature of the translation, in at least one verse we agree that we may have text in our current Book of Mormon that was not translated from the plates. What, however, of the rest of the verses?

Admitting that it is certainly possible that they represent the text at the top of page 117, I nevertheless cannot see it as the probable source. First, the serendipity of retaining only a few verses that happen to synopsize major content as being the very text that happened to be copied onto page 117 is almost as unlikely as beginning that page precisely at a chapter beginning. Even if we would not have a sentence fragment, we would have had a conceptual fragment. The sentence or sentences should have been chapter conclusions, not a summary. This is easily checked by examining the chapters that Mormon wrote. Mormon does not end chapters with a synopsis of what he has just written. It places too heavy a burden on the hypothesis to take something otherwise unattested in Mormon’s writings and posit them as authentic to his original. ((Lyon and Minson, “When Pages Collide,” 131. Skousen notes some anomalies in the construction of these verses. He notes that “‘somewhat contentions'[is] 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.” I don’t know that this allows us to come to any conclusions, but it does suggest that there is something anomalous in the text, an anomaly I would extend to the ultimate source of the text, which I have suggested is prophetic rather than a translation from the plate text.))

[Page 118]The final bit of “evidence” upon which my skepticism relies is admittedly highly subjective. In my view, this simply isn’t the way Mormon would have written this information. 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. ((Brant Gardner, “Mormon’s Editorial Method and Meta-Message,” FARMS Review 21/1 (2009): 99–104.)) These verses describe nothing short of the crucial events that led up to Benjamin’s speech. They deal with an external war with the Lamanites, an internal civil war, and a religious crisis. Compare the treatment in this synopsis with similar topics in the book of Alma. These are things that Mormon cares about deeply. They are an important part of the story of the struggle of faith that he is building. I suggest that it is so completely incongruous for Mormon to have written this synopsis that we must look to another source. This is a synopsis of material that should have been in the missing text from the beginning of Mosiah. ((The missing text may or may not have been two chapters. The reason for assuming that there were two chapters is related to the change in numbers, but that may be related to the Printer’s Manuscript chapter numbers rather than the original. It is clear that text is missing, but I can no longer confidently say that it is two chapters.)) It is not the way Mormon wrote about those topics. It is not the way Mormon closed chapters. If we are looking at textual evidence, the evidence of how Mormon constructed his chapters argues against his authorship of these verses.

These verses are worth examining to determine their relationship to the text on the gold plates. Lyon and Minson read these verses as text from the Original Manuscript and therefore part of the translation and thus Mormon’s words. Reviewing the evidence they present, I do not find that the textual evidence is any help in solving the question. Looking at the verses themselves, I cannot see Mormon’s hand in them. That is, of course, a subjective judgment. Consequently, there is unlikely to be any [Page 119]firm conclusion on this matter. If one’s preferred understanding of the translation of the Book of Mormon suggests that our English Book of Mormon is, using Skousen’s terminology, a tight translation of the original, then one would support a reconstruction that allows these verses to be seen as part of that tight translation. If, on the other hand, one believes that the translation was less rigidly connected to the plate text, then there is room for these verses to be the inspired recapitulation of information that had been irretrievably lost. Lyon and Minson’s suggest that “based on the now-available documentary evidence, that analysis [that words of Mormon verses 12–18 are a bridge between the text from the small to the text from Mormon’s plates] can be seen as faulty.” The evidence is not as conclusive as their statement suggests. The question is still open. ((Lyon and Minson, “When Pages Collide,” 134.))

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About Brant A. Gardner

Brant A. Gardner (M.A. State University of New York Albany) is the author of Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon and The Gift and Power: Translating the Book of Mormon, both published through Greg Kofford Books. He has contributed articles to Estudios de Cultura Nahuatl and Symbol and Meaning Beyond the Closed Community. He has presented papers at the FairMormon conference as well as at Sunstone.

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.”

    • I’ve created an animated GIF of the relevant lines on the first page of Mosiah in the Printer’s Manuscript. I’ve photoshopped those lines to show Oliver’s original writing, contrasted with the edited version of what he wrote:

      http://www.editorium.com/MosiahEditing.gif

      You will, of course, draw your own conclusions, but I do believe this clarifies things.

  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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