Book of Mormon—Transmission from Translator to Printed Text

George A. Horton Jr.

 George A. Horton Jr., “Book of Mormon—Transmission from Translator to Printed Text,” in The Book of Mormon: The Keystone Scripture, ed. Paul R. Cheesman (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1988), 237–55.

George A. Horton Jr. was an associate professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University when this was published.

Translator to Scribes

After completing the translation of the sacred Nephite history, the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “Through the medium of the Urim and Thummim I translated the record by the gift and power of God.” [1] He gave no other explanation of the process.

During the translation, as many as eight people may have served as scribes. [2] Some of them, and others then and now, have tried to explain how the translation took place, but the question remains unresolved. In an interview with one of her sons, Emma Smith, who acted as scribe for brief periods, [3] said: “When [I was] acting as his scribe, your father would dictate to me hour after hour; and when returning after meals, or after interruptions, he would at once begin where he left off, without either seeing the manuscript or having any portion of it read to him. This was a usual thing for him to do.” [4]

Regarding the translation, Oliver Cowdery wrote:

Near the time of the setting of the Sun, Sabbath evening, April 5th, 1829, my natural eyes, for the first time beheld this brother. . . . On Monday the 6th, I assisted him in arranging some business of a temporal nature, and on Tuesday the 7th, commenced to write the book of Mormon. These were days never to be forgotten—to sit under the sound of a voice dictated by the inspiration of heaven, awakened the utmost gratitude of this bosom! Day after day I continued, uninterrupted, to write from his mouth, as he translated with the Urim and Thummim . . . the history, or record, called “The Book of Mormon.” [5]

Oliver was the scribe for most of the Book of Mormon as we now have it, except for a few pages. [6] To view the pages of the remaining original manuscript is to be convinced that it has been transcribed from dictation.


Upon completion of the translation, precautions were taken to protect the manuscript, and a “printer’s” second copy was made by Oliver Cowdery. [7] The typesetting started in August 1829, and the book was published in March 1830.

John H. Gilbert, the non-Mormon typesetter who worked for E. B. Grandin (a Palmyra, New York, printer), said:

When the printer was ready to commence work, Harris was notified, and Hyrum Smith brought the first installment of manuscript, of 24 pages, closely written on common foolscap paper—he had it under his vest, and vest and coat closely buttoned over it. At night Smith came and got the manuscript, and with the same precaution carried it away. The next morning with the same watchfulness, he brought it again, and at night took it away. This was kept up for several days. . . . On the second day—Harris and Smith being in the office—I called their attention to a grammatical error, and asked whether I should correct it? Harris consulted with Smith a short time, and turned to me and said: “The Old Testament is ungrammatical, set it as it is written.”

After working a few days, I said to Smith on his handing me the manuscript in the morning: “Mr. Smith, if you would leave this manuscript with me, I would take it home with me at night and read and punctuate it.” His reply was, “We are commanded not to leave it.” A few mornings after this, when Smith handed me the manuscript, he said to me: “If you will give your word that this manuscript shall be returned to us when you get through with it, I will leave it with you.” I assured Smith that it should be returned all right when I got through with it. For two or three nights I took it home with me and read it, and punctuated it with a lead pencil. . . . Every Chapter, if I remember correctly, was one solid paragraph, without a punctuation mark, from beginning to end.

Names of persons and places were generally capitalized, but sentences had no end. The character or short & was used almost invariably where the word and occurred, except at the end of a chapter. I punctuated it to make it read as I supposed the Author intended, and but very little punctuation was altered in proofreading. [8]

In review:

  1. The text had been dictated by Joseph to eight different scribes—Oliver Cowdery being the main one.
  2. The scribes seem to have written just what they heard, no more and no less.
  3. There does not appear to have been any explanatory conversation between the translator and his scribes.
  4. Capitalization, spelling, and punctuation were apparently not specified during the dictation process.
  5. Whatever the process of translation, it allowed for human errors to appear in the grammar of the scribal copy.
  6. Joseph had little to do with the supervision of the typesetting, proofreading, or printing of the first edition. [9]

Printed Editions

A quick review of some of the more important recent editions of the Book of Mormon [10] gives some insights as to why new editions were deemed necessary of what Joseph had called the “most correct of any book on earth.” [11] For example, as soon as the first edition was out, the readers could not avoid noticing many typographical, spelling, and grammatical errors.

On 25 June 1833, Joseph wrote to W. W. Phelps (a printer), “As soon as we get time, we will review the manuscripts of the Book of Mormon, after which they will be forwarded to you.” [12] However, due to the pressure of other matters, the second edition did not appear until 1837, having been prepared by the Prophet with the assistance of Oliver Cowdery. Over one thousand corrections were made, and some minor clarifications were added, the majority having to do with grammar. By 1837 the Prophet, who had had limited formal schooling, was reading Greek, learning Hebrew, and studying grammar. [13] This edition was followed in 1840 by a third edition. Appearing on the title page of the third edition [14] (1840) are the words “Carefully Revised by the Translator.” It appears that improving the printed copy continued because on 15 January 1842, Joseph recorded in his journal, “I commenced reading the Book of Mormon, at page 54, American stereotype edition [the third] (the previous pages having been corrected), for the purpose of correcting the stereotype plates of some errors which [had] escaped notice. . . . [15]

The first European edition in English (1841) followed the 1837 edition and consequently did not contain the changes Joseph had made in 1840. Later American editions (beginning in 1871) were taken from the first European edition and consequently they continued the lack of corrections.

In 1879, President John Taylor assigned Orson Pratt to prepare a new edition which would include a redivision of chapters (increasing the number from 114 to 239), reversification, and scriptural cross-references. He was followed after the turn of the century by a committee, serving under the chairmanship of James E. Talmage, which prepared the 1920 edition with double-column pages, revised references, a pronunciation guide, an index, and many grammatical improvements. [16] This latter edition was the most commonly used edition in the Church for over half a century. As work was under way for the new LDS edition of the King James Version of the Bible, it was felt that additional work should be done on the Book of Mormon. Consequently, with further corrections growing out of research over the last twenty-five years, [17] the 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon was prepared under the supervision of the Scriptures Publication Committee by direction of the First Presidency.

Transmission Problems

In examining the process of transmission from the original translator to the printed text of later editions, let us briefly consider problems so common that the publishing world has identified most of them with technical names. They include orthography, haplography, dittography, homoeoteleuton, homoeoarchton, and other simple problems. Only one or two brief examples will be considered in each category.

1. Orthography (spelling): One of the first things a modern reader notices about the first edition of the Book of Mormon is some of its “unusual” spellings. The common assumption is that Oliver Cowdery was poorly educated even though he was a schoolteacher. However, an examination of this supposition raises questions about the historical development of the English in our English Bible and also the status of American English in 1829.

a. Spelling in the King James Version. We have long been aware that the spelling of words in our English Bible has undergone many changes through the centuries. For example, the word “sins” was “synnes” in the 1611 King James Version and later became “sinnes” before the present spelling was adopted. Moreover, the word “majesty” was spelled “maiestie” then “majestie” before being spelled as it is now. [18] Further, a selection of words from the first nine verses of Hebrews 1 in the 1611 edition includes such spellings as “diuers,” “sonne,” “heire,” “brightnesse,” and “oyle.” [19]

b. Status of American English in 1829. Many changes were taking place in the English language used in the United States during the early 1800s. Many people were pressing for a variety of English that would be uniquely American. At the forefront of this movement was Noah Webster, publisher of the Compendious Dictionary of the English Language in 1806 and his famous American Dictionary of the English Language in 1828. The introduction to the latter indicated that there were five different English dictionaries on the market at the time. Some examples of spellings found in those dictionaries are as follows: [20]





































When Webster’s dictionary was published in 1828, that made six dictionaries [21] that were in use at the time though we don’t know whether Oliver Cowdery had access to any of them during the translation of the Book of Mormon. We might well ask, “Did he use a dictionary?” And if he did, “Which one (or ones) did he use?”

Seven of Webster’s proposed new American spellings were later adopted. For example, he changed the following in some contexts: “our” to “or,” “l” to “ll,” “x” to “ct,” “re” to “er,” “c” to “s,” “dge” to “dg,” and “ck” to “c.” But Webster used and recommended many other spellings that were not adopted such as ake, beleeve, breth, hed, iland, iz, korus, lauf, mashine, munth, rong, thum, tung, wimmen, and yeer. These last recommendations reveal a common tendency of the time: of relying heavily on phonetic or sound spellings. Some of this tendency can be detected in Oliver’s spelling.

c. Spelling of important contemporaries. Since the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon had so many “unusual” spellings, it could appropriately be asked whether Oliver’s contemporaries were spelling words in the same manner—approximating sounds. Consider the following: Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–81) wrote ancles, cieling, sithe, choaked, chrystal, musquito, and canvass, etc. Washington Irving (1773–1859) used all of the following variations: smoak, smocke, schmoke, and smoke. He used received and recieved in the same sentence. He also used such short forms as tho, brot, and thro. President Andrew Johnson (1808–75) used whent, som, allways, determin, yealding, desid, decission, rediculous, anxus, immaganable, propper, among others. [22]

One author has said: “One immutable fact about a living, spoken language is that it inevitably changes. The written language changes more slowly than the spoken language, but even that changes. Therefore, no one can make an absolutely authoritative statement about the correctness of spelling, punctuation, or even, in some cases, grammar and idiom.” [23]

d. Oliver Cowdery’s spelling. Considering Oliver’s situation, we should remember that he had to write what he heard. Let us put ourselves in his place for a minute and imagine that we have just heard Joseph use the word straight. How would we spell it? There are two possibilities even with today’s standardized spellings. From fragmentary evidence, it appears that Oliver spelled that spoken word s-t-r-a-i-t nineteen out of twenty-two times. But for some reason most of these were changed, perhaps by John H. Gilbert, who offered to improve the manuscript and “correct it.” So it was that straight dominates the 1830 through the 1879 editions, all following the 1837 edition. In 1920, six instances were changed to strait, and four additional places were corrected back to strait in the 1981 edition, which makes its usage in those instances harmonious with the King James Version and its underlying Greek.

There were other words that Oliver may have been hearing for the first time, and in some of those instances it appears that Joseph Smith corrected them in later editions.

Many of the words that we thought Oliver had misspelled are actually legitimate English variants and can be found in the Oxford English Dictionary. This means that they were used by other writers of the time of the translation of the Book of Mormon. For example, the spellings adhear, adultry, ancles, babtized, befal, burthensome, condescention, devlish, fraid, journied, moulten, nought, phrensied, and written—all indicate that Oliver was not really an unlearned schoolteacher as some have thought.

e. Middle English Inflections. Another area of spelling that has received attention in later editions of the Book of Mormon is the use of Middle English inflections and related forms. These reflect the influence of the King James Version and Elizabethan English, both of which were popularized by early English versions of the scriptures. The endings have been dropped from many words such as the following: answereth, ascendeth, avengeth, beareth, becometh, causeth, dieth. Changes have also been made in the following: art, hath, shew, thee, thine, thou, ye, and so forth. [24] Other spelling changes will be considered in the next category.

2. Typography (setting of the type): There were numerous misspellings in the first edition from inaccuracies which are common to typesetting. Examples that seem to fall in this category might include the following: aaswer, acccording, amog, armss, because, beold, bgan, daghter, destoy, expdient, govereor, hia, irsael, khown, mekness, mnltitude, opon, plaees, prohesy, rufused, seeen, sould, theit, and utttered.

Oliver’s handwriting also presented a challenge. His r (which looks like a “Palmer r”) and his n are difficult to distinguish from each other, as are his b and l. For example, in the 1830 edition Gadianton was once called “the nobler” rather than “the robber.” In a similar way, the typesetter apparently elsewhere mistook Oliver’s rm for un. In 1 Nephi 13 there are several instances in which the original manuscript read formation, but the typesetter apparently thought the printer’s copy said foundation and supplied what seemed to be a “missing” d to make it read foundation. This was finally corrected in the 1981 edition.

3. Simple omissions (e.g., of letters, syllables, words, or lines): Simple omissions of short words and accidental skipping of single letters are the most frequent unintentional errors made by scribes or typesetters such as John Gilbert. [25] An example of this was the accidental omission of a single letter leaving three letters that just happen to form another word. This came at Alma 48:21, where the last r had been left off the word year, found in the original manuscript. [26]

A rather vital letter was dropped from the word immortality (1830) so that it read immorality (1837). It was fortunately corrected in the 1840 edition.

4. Homoeoteleuton (accidental omission due to similar endings): An example of sentences being dropped due to similar endings is found in Alma 32:30. Note how much was in the original and printer’s manuscripts [27] and the commonalities in the first and last parts of the verse by comparing the original verse with that found in most other editions not including the 1981, where the omission is restored: [28]

Original MS & 1981 Edition

But behold, as the seed swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, then you must needs say that the seed is good; for behold it swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow. And now, behold, will not this strengthen your faith, Yea, it will strengthen your faith: for ye will say I know that this is a good seed; for behold it sprouteth and beginneth to grow.

Most Other Editions

But behold, as the seed swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, then you must needs say t hat the seed is good; for behold it swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow.

A second example is found at 3 Nephi 10:4 in the 1837 edition, where the printer skips from one occurrence of the phrase “of Israel” to a second occurrence, thereby unintentionally eliminating eight words. [29]


O ye people of these great cities which have fallen, which are a descendant of Jacob’ yea which are of the house of Israel; O ye people of the house of Israel, how oft have I gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and have nourished you.


O ye people of these great cities which have fallen, which are a descendant of Jacon’ year who are of the house of Israel, how oft have I gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and have nourished you.

5. Homoeoarchton (accidental omission due to similar beginnings): In the first edition, the printers skipped from one “f” to another in the the same word, which shortened “genealogy of his forefathers” to read “genealogy of his fathers” in 1 Nephi 19:2. The longer word is supported by the original manuscript, the printer’s copy, and the 1840 edition. [30]

6. Haplography (omission of adjacent letters, syllables, words, or lines):

This is a case of accidentally dropping one of two adjacent t’s at Alma 51:10, which changed “that this promise” in the original manuscript to “that his promise” in the printer’s manuscript. All the printed editions have followed the error.

7. Dittography (accidental addition of letters or words): An instance of accidental repetition occurs at 3 Nephi 22:4 (the italicized words were those accidentally repeated): “for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.” This is a quotation from Isaiah 54:4, and it has been pointed out that not only does the KJV Isaiah not have these added words, but those words appeared first in the 1837 edition, and that they were not in the corrected printer’s copy. Also, the added words do violence to the poetic parallelism found in Hebrew poetry. [31]

8. Contextual assimilation (mistakenly influenced by the context): At 2 Nephi 4:26 in Nephi’s Psalm, the 1830 printer’s alteration of “me” (which is the reading in the printer’s manuscript) to “men” may have been unconsciously influenced by the earlier occurrence of “men” on the same line. However, Larson has said that “It should be pointed out that the presence of a printer’s line under ‘me’ may indicate that he paused and pondered concerning the very closely written words ‘me in’ and then consciously decided that ‘me in’ was Oliver Cowdery’s scribal error for ‘men in.’ Whatever the reason for the change, the correct text is ‘me,’ with Nephi marveling at the Lord’s love for him.” [32]

9. Mishearing of a homophone (similar sound but different spelling): Malachi 4:2 is quoted in 3 Nephi 25:2; however, in the latter case “Sun of righteousness” has been changed to read “Son of Righteousness” (emphasis added). A question naturally arises as to whether this is a calculated change on the part of Joseph or Oliver. Whatever the case, if the extant Hebrew text for Malachi is correct, “the Hebrew word used is shemesh, meaning ‘sun,’ and not the quite different ben, which is the word for ‘son.’ Also, the Hebrew text says literally ‘the sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in her wings,’ so that the feminine pronoun ‘her’ agrees with the feminine gender of shemesh in this passage.” [33] Unless we find an explanation that it was a calculated change, it appears that the variation constitutes a simple problem of homophones.

Two other examples are interesting. Oliver wrote wrecked instead of racked, as it now appears (Mosiah 27: 29), and arrest instead of wrest (Alma 13:20).

10. Misreading of a Word (mistaking of similarly shaped letters): Instances of this were already discussed in the section dealing with the typesetter’s reading of Oliver Cowdery’s handwriting. Consider another case in which Oliver apparently misread the original manuscript wording “he drove out the man” and copied it as “he drew out the man” (Alma 42:2). The latter rendering has remained in all the printed texts. Again, the typesetter apparently misread Oliver’s final r of the word mediator in the printer’s copy and set it as mediation (2 Nephi 2:27), [34] which was corrected in 1981.

Now let’s consider the changes that have been made to correct and improve the text in the various editions.

Textual Revision

As early as the second edition there were over a thousand changes made personally by the Prophet Joseph to improve the grammar. [35] The most frequent change, occurring 707 times, was a shift from which to who. Later editors, especially the committee chaired by James E. Talmage, also made similar improvements.

When all of the grammar changes found in each edition from the first edition to that of 1981 are totaled; the most frequent are the following: [36]

891 which to who

45 were to was

177 exceeding to exceedingly [37]

19 that to who

162 was to were

11 mights to might

74 is to are

11 them to those

66 which to whom

10 straight to strait

54 they to those

10 done to did

Similar changes have occurred in the King James Version of the Bible. [38] Turning to deletions, it is interesting that some readers have been critical of the repetitive use of the expression “and it came to pass,” an authentic expression carried over from the Semitic. In Hebrew, the expression is a conjunction plus a form of the verb to be. [39] Nevertheless, the entire expression except the “and” was eliminated in forty-six places for the 1837 edition, probably by Joseph Smith himself. Other deletions include the following:

188 that

14 he

48 the

13 of

40 a/ and

11 to/ thereof

29 had

10 &c [40]

16 for


Some of the changes were additions which might be considered in three categories:

(1) Addition of words to improve grammar:

12 of

4 had/ he/ in/ to

7 and/ is/ the

3 all/ be/ letter l with

6 that


5 not


(2) Replacing (adding back) words dropped through transmission errors: An example already mentioned consisted of the restoration of the sentences that were omitted from Alma 32:30 of the original manuscript.

(3) Intentional additions to improve clarity: The most dramatic instance of clarifying a text is found at 1 Nephi 11:18, 21, 32 and 13:40, where the words “the son of” have been added before the names God and “the Eternal Father.” Joseph Smith personally made these corrections in the 1837 edition. Given the fact that these texts are clearly talking about Jesus, the Son of God, the addition of “the son of” was appropriate to give additional clarity for the reader.

Other intriguing clarifications can be found in 1 Nephi 8:4 (1837), where “in my dream” is added, and in 1 Nephi 20:1 (1840), with the addition of “or out of the waters of baptism.”

One of the more interesting textual changes relates to the changing of “white” (1830, 1837) to “pure” (1840) in 2 Nephi 30:6. Although this correction was made by Joseph Smith, it was not picked up in subsequent American editions, which followed the earlier Liverpool printings based on the 1837 edition. This was corrected again in the 1981 edition.

Perhaps the most difficult change to understand occurs at both Mosiah 21:28 and Ether 4:1. The first edition had “Benjamin” where “Mosiah” now appears. Since King Benjamin would not likely have still been living at the time of the text, the Prophet changed the 1837 edition reading of Mosiah 21:28. The change in Ether was made in the 1849 edition. We can only speculate about who made the original “error.” Dr. Sidney B. Sperry asked, “Was it an inadvertent slip of the tongue on the part of Joseph Smith as he dictated his translation to Oliver Cowdery, or did he translate correctly enough an original error on the part of Mormon, the abridger of the Book of Mormon? The last of these suggestions is probably the correct one.” [41]

Some Conclusions

  1. The Book of Mormon has been subject to problems in its printing, as have other books.
  2. The English language in America was not standardized in 1829.
  3. The original grammar was Joseph’s; the spelling was Oliver’s; the punctuation was John H. Gilbert’s.
  4. The Prophet-Translator initiated the majority of changes in the first few editions.
  5. There is a difference between word changes and idea changes—the basic meaning of the text has not been changed.

Based on his letter to W. W. Phelps in 1833, his 1837 and 1840 editions, his statement in 1842, and his 1842 edition (all previously referred to), it is clear that had Joseph lived longer, he would likely have continued to correct the text of the Book of Mormon to produce a book without human errors. It has been in this same spirit that corrections have been made in succeeding editions.

Some of the sharpest detractors of the Book of Mormon translation have confessed that “as we stated earlier, most of the 3,913 changes which we found were related to the correction of grammatical and spelling errors and do not really change the basic meaning of the text.” [42] This reminds us of a statement the Prophet Joseph made when he was criticized in 1834 for “glaring errors” in a published revelation. He replied that shades of meaning or literary mechanics were not as important as the general message: “We did not think so much of orthography [spelling], or the manner, as we did the subject matter, as the word of God means what it says.” [43]

“The Most Correct Book”

Even before the 1981 edition was published, a careful student of the original manuscript and printer’s copy said, “A great value of these early manuscripts is that for the most part they substantiate the correctness of the present Book of Mormon text—fully 99.9% of the text is published correctly.” [44]

Notwithstanding the fact that this sacred Nephite witness of Jesus Christ already towers far above many of the other scriptures in the integrity of its text, still the Church has endeavored to make it even more correct, as is shown by the following statement about the 1981 edition: “Some minor errors in the text have been perpetuated in past editions of the Book of Mormon. This edition contains corrections that seem appropriate to bring the material into conformity with prepublication manuscripts and early editions edited by the Prophet Joseph Smith.” [45] The changes and corrections are not only correct but appropriate. [46]

When Joseph Smith said “the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth,” it seems evident that he was not talking about grammar, [47] punctuation, or spelling. He was referring to the clarity and depth of doctrine, to the mission and message of the book, to the spirit of inspiration that it fosters, to the divine desire that it sparks in the soul to make the “mighty change,” and to the abiding love of the Lord that it brings into our hearts. All of these correct things help make the Book of Mormon just exactly what the Prophet said it was: “The most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” [48]

The Lord himself has similarly testified with a solemn oath—a “And he [Joseph] has translated the book, even that part which I have commanded him, and as your Lord and your God liveth it is true” (D&C 17:6).


[1] Wentworth Letter, Times and Seasons 3 (1 March 1842): 707.

[2] Paul R. Cheesman, The Keystone of Mormonism (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1973), pp. 55–56, lists Martin Harris, Emma Smith, Samuel Smith, Reuben Hale, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, John Whitmer, and Christian Whitmer as one time or another scribes.

[3] By 14 June 1828, at least 116 manuscript pages had been completed with the help of Martin Harris, Emma Smith, and Reuben Hale as scribes. These pages were subsequently lost and never recovered. See Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed: B. H. Roberts, 2d ed., 7 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1948–51), 4:461, 537; cited hereafter as HC.

[4] Joseph Smith III, “Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” The Saints’ Herald 26 (1 October 1879): 290.

[5] Messenger and Advocate 1 (1834): 14.

[6] There are a total of 144 pages of original manuscript extant, plus eight readable sheets and about 50 fragments of pages; Oliver Cowdery’s handwriting has been identified on 124 pages (Cheesman, p. 64).

[7] It was decided “First, that Oliver Cowdery should transcribe the whole manuscript. Second, that he should take but one copy at a time to the office, so that if one copy should get destroyed, there would still be a copy remaining. Third, that in going to and from the office, he should always have a guard to attend him, for the purpose of protecting the manuscript. Fourth, that a guard should be kept constantly on the watch, both night and day, about the house, to protect the manuscript from malicious persons.” (Preston Nibley, Joseph Smith, the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1946], p. 93).

[8] Quoted in Wilford C. Wood, Joseph Smith Begins His Work (Salt Lake City: Wilford C. Wood, 1958), introductory pages.

[9] Ibid. According to Gilbert, Joseph was in Grandin’s shop on only one occasion for fifteen to twenty minutes.

[10] Compare the following: Stanley R. Larson, “A Study of Some Textual Variations in the Book of Mormon Comparing the Original and the Printer’s Manuscripts and the 1830, the 1837 and the 1840 Editions” (Master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1974); Jeffrey R. Holland, “An Analysis of Selected Changes in Major Editions of the Book of Mormon-1830–1920” (master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1966); The Book of Mormon Critical Text: A Tool for Scholarly Reference, vols. 1 and 2 [1 Nephi-Alma] (Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1984, 1986).

[11] HC 4:461, 28 November 1941.

[12] HC 1:363.

[13] HC 2:390, 474, 3:26.

[14] By now, Oliver Cowdery had been excommunicated and had taken the printer’s manuscript with him.

[15] HC 4:494.

[16] “Dr. Talmage was a stickler for good English. . . . He knew as well as anyone the imperfections of the literary dress of the First Edition of the Nephite record and took a prominent part in correcting many of them in a later edition of the work.” Sidney B. Sperry, Problems of the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1964), p. 190.

[17] Research before 1981 includes the following: Master’s theses by Jeffrey R. Holland and Stanley R. Larson (see note 10); Richard P. Howard, Restoration Scriptures: A Study of Their Textual Development (Independence, Mo.: Herald Publishing House, 1969); Hugh G. Stocks, “The Book of Mormon, 1830–1879: A Publishing History” (Master’s thesis, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, UCLA, 1979). Other studies and articles before and after the 1981 edition include: James Wardle, Selected Changes in the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Modern Microfilms, 1963); Sperry, Problems of the Book of Mormon; Janet Jenson, “Variations between Copies of the First Edition of the Book of Mormon,” BYU Studies 13 (Winter 1973): 214–22; Stan Larson, “Changes in Early Texts of the Book of Mormon,” Ensign, September 1976, pp. 77–82; “Early Book of Mormon Text: Textual Changes to the Book of Mormon in 1837 and 1840,” Sunstone 1 (Fall 1976): 44–55; “Textual Variants in Book of Mormon Manuscripts,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 10 (Autumn 1977): 8–30; “Conjectural Emendation and the Text of the Book of Mormon,” BYU Studies 18 (Summer 1978): 563–69; George A. Horton, Jr., “Changes in the Book of Mormon and How to Handle Them,” A Symposium on the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1982), pp. 36–39; “Understanding Textual Changes in the Book of Mormon,” Ensign, December 1983, 24–28; Hugh G. Stocks, “The Book of Mormon in English, 1870–1920: A Publishing History and Analytical Bibliography,” (Ph.D. diss., University of California at Los Angeles, 1986); F.A.R.M.S. staff, The Book of Mormon Critical Text: A Tool for Scholarly Reference, 3 vols. (Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1984–87); Lamoni Call, 2000 Changes in the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Modern Microfilm Co., n.d.); Jerald and Sandra Tanner, 3,913 Changes in the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Modern Microfilm Co., n.d.).

[18] Sir Frederic Kenyon, Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1958), Appendix II.

[19] Kenyon, Our Bible, Appendix II.

[20] Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language, 2 vols. (New York: S. Converse, 1828), vol. 1, introduction.

[21] There was at least one more available, with variant spellings: H. J. Todd’s [Samuel] Johnson’s and [John] Walker’s English Dictionaries, Combined, ed. J. E. Worchester [Cambridge, 1927].

[22] Elinore Hughes Partridge, “Nineteenth-Century Spelling: The Rules and the Writers,” Ensign, August 1975, pp. 79–80.

[23] Partridge, “Nineteenth-Century Spelling,” p. 76.

[24] Middle English has apparently been retained in the Book of Mormon in passages in which Deity or a heavenly messenger is speaking, or for the sake of euphony.

[25] Stanley R. Larson, “Scribal Scars on the Sacred Scriptures,” A Symposium on the Gospels, Brigham Young University, 22 February 1985, p. 5; F.A.R.M.S. staff, The Book of Mormon Critical Text: A Tool for Scholarly Reference, 3 vols.

[26] The word yea instead of year appeared in the printer’s copy and all editions until 1841. A “secondary conflation” of “year, yea” has continued from 1849 to the present, though this is clearly an error.

[27] Both of the manuscripts for this verse are extant. Larson, “A Study of Some Textual Variations,” p. 155.

[28] An exception was the RLDS edition which followed the 1840 third edition; but since the missing words were not in that edition, it was evident that the RLDS made use of the printer’s manuscript also. See “Modern Pedigree of the Book of Mormon” in The Book of Mormon Critical Text, p. viii.

[29] There were over two thousand revisions marked in the printer’s copy in preparation for the 1837 edition, but this was not one of them. Howard, Restoration Scriptures, p. 41.

[30] The 1981 edition did not restore the original word.

[31] Larson, Master’s thesis, p. 276.

[32] Larson, Master’s thesis, p. 82.

[33] Larson, Master’s thesis, pp. 229–30. However, there is always the remote possibility that the existing Malachi text could have been changed by biblical scribes in an attempt to make the genders agree.

[34] “Proposed Changes in the Book of Mormon,” no author given, unpublished manuscript, 1980, p. 25. [Used by the Scriptures Publication Committee of the Church.]

[35] Howard, Restoration Scriptures, pp. 41–42.

[36] Counting was done without a calculator and is subject to error.

[37] Of the 225 acknowledged changes in the 1981 edition, 132 add ly to the word exceeding.

[38] A comparison of the current text of the King James Version with the 1828 text (e.g., the H. & E. Phinney edition, which the Prophet used in the work of the Joseph Smith Translation) reveals such word changes as of to from, which to where, am to is, be to are, to to unto, and aught to ought (the last, for example, is in Matthew 5:23 and Mark 11:25).

[39] Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon, trans. Samuel Prideaux Tregelles (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1980), pp. 221–22.

[40] Refer to the last paragraph of John H. Gilbert’s statement as in note 9.

[41] Sperry, Problems of the Book of Mormon, p. 203. See, however, Hugh Nibley, Since Cumorah: The Book of Mormon in the Modern World (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1967), p. 7.

[42] Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Changing World of Mormonism (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), p. 131.

[43] Letter to William Edward, et al., 30 March 1834, from Oliver Cowdery’s letter book, pp. 30–36, quoted in Dean Jessee, Journal of Mormon History 3 (1976): 28–29.

[44] Stanley R. Larson, “Textual Variants in Book of Mormon Manuscripts,” Dialogue, 10 (August 1977): 8.

[45] The Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981), introductory pages.

[46] Horton, “Changes in the Book of Mormon and How to Handle Them,” pp. 36–39.

[47] Part of the definition for the word correct from Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language is as follows: “Literally, set right; conformable to truth, rectitude or propriety, or conformable to a just standard; not faulty; free from error. . . . Correct manners correspond with the rules of morality and received notions of decorum. Correct principles coincide with the truth.”

[48] HC 4:461.