Mormon as Editor:
A Study in Colophons, Headers, and Source Indicators
Mormon as Editor: A Study in Colophons, Headers, and Source Indicators
Thomas W. Mackay
Abstract: The Book of Mormon contains various colophons and source indicators that signal documents or authors that Mormon and the writers of the small plates used, quoted, paraphrased, or summarized in composing the final text. Some of these headers have been italicized and separated out by the printer; others form an integral part of the text but could as well have been separated and italicized. Mormon’s extensive notation of sources is another set of evidence for the intricate and complex nature of the text and, simultaneously, of the magnitude of Mormon’s work as an ancient editor and historian.
The Book of Mormon is a very complex ancient text. That complexity is emphasized by various contextual source indicators or colophons for documents and authors, remnants of the materials Mormon used to compile his edited summary of Nephite history. Moreover, such indicators followed a Nephite tradition, since we find them in the account in the small plates as well. A colophon—Greek for “summit, top, finishing”—is a title or header, before or after a text, that may identify an author (such as by name, parentage, origin, education, etc.), the title of text, book, or section, and it may have an attestation of accuracy or a prayer to deity.1 This innovation of frequent headers reflects an editorial honesty, a genuine concern for credibility with the reading audience, and a sense of modesty while undertaking a divine task. We can gain a heightened appreciation for Mormon as an ancient editor and historian by examining the source indicators and colophons of the Book of Mormon and by seeing how the modern printer dealt with them.
Ancient texts did not enjoy the conveniences of modern printed books with a table of contents and index. Rolls or scrolls held less than codices—books with leaves bound at the spine. Especially when there was more than one text in a manuscript, a scribe might write incipit “here begins” [author, text] or explicit “here ends” [text or book], perhaps leaving a blank space or even a leaf before commencing the next composition. The Gospel of Mark would be entitled secundum Marcum or kata mapkon. In medieval manuscripts, at the beginning of a book there were sometimes capitula (a number with a summary phrase or sentence), corresponding to our table of contents; but often they included a bit more detail or summary of chapter contents, though they lacked any reference to the folio or page where that portion of the text began.
Moreover, scribes did not use footnotes for source indicators, although some authors, such as the Venerable Bede and Rabanus Maurus, did include an abbreviation of an author’s name as source marks in the margin when quoting at length from another writer, especially a church father.2 The practice of naming a specific source goes back to Herodotos among historians and is also found in orators (dealing with political and legal matters). There was no standard edition of ancient texts with constant page format, and in context usually only titles or book numbers were cited, though occasionally capitula or “chapters” are noted. Hence, the sparse contextual references typically mentioned an author’s name, perhaps the title of the composition, and rarely even a book number, let alone a chapter. One device that could have been used more frequently (but wasn’t) is the canons of Eusebius, a reference table for parallel passages in the four Gospels, remnants of which are the paragraph markings ¶ in our KJV Bible.3 But this system was not used even in homilies or commentaries. So there was no ancient or medieval tradition even in later Judaeo-Christian culture that demanded the notation of sources. That Mormon scrupulously names his sources is a stunning feat.4 He is not heir to an ancient Judaic tradition nor was he influenced by the Greco-Roman historical tradition. Yet, there were some precedents in Nephite record-keeping, as we can observe in the accounts from the small plates; and the printer presents italic headers for 1 Nephi, 2 Nephi, and Jacob.
In the Book of Mormon, we have a range of introductory and inserted notations: names of authors for records, speeches, and epistles that are quoted or abridged—imbedded source indicators; genealogical or other authenticating information about the authors; and brief or extended summaries of contents, including subheaders for complex inserts or documents. Nephi himself is in this tradition, a tradition that seems to be evident in what we have from Lehi, too, for he cites prophets from the brass plates.
Heir to this literary tradition, Mormon develops it, and he assiduously presents to his readers source documents and texts while retaining a unity of narrative flow by his historical account. Thus, even while transcribing a record, Mormon may paraphrase or summarize and then return to a first-person quotation. The resultant text is clearly the product of a superb ancient historian concerned about naming and adhering to his sources while presenting an edited account that exhibits his own philosophy and purpose. Some of the natural textual or literary segments also appear as chapter divisions in the first edition of the Book of Mormon, as will be noted below. The very word “chapter” is a product of medieval Latin manuscripts; that word was not a translation from the plates. Rather, whenever Joseph Smith (or Oliver Cowdery) saw a significant break in the translation from the ancient text, he added chapter indication marks in the printer’s manuscript. The printer, John H. Gilbert, observed that
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. . . . I punctuated it to make it read as I supposed the Author intended.5
So the 1830 chapters mark Mormon’s (and Nephi’s, Moroni’s, etc.) subdivisions of the ancient books and are regularly logical narrative or speech divisions, as we observe below from the present format. The present italicized headers still preserve the printer’s choice for setting the 1830 edition. In the appendix to this article I have listed the 1830 edition chapters (to which I will refer by Roman numerals in this article), with page numbers, compared to those of the current modern edition.6 Colophons and contextual comments function as text dividers and source indicators and could have been printed as italicized headers, too. Clearly, the printer’s dilemma as to how he should set the type comes from the fact that Joseph Smith’s translation preserved features of an ancient text, features unfamiliar to the modern printer. Mormon did not have footnotes, a table of contents, an index, or hypertext links to help the readers. The brilliance and precision of his mind led to him to utilize an extensive system of internal source references, while the magnitude of his mind also is evident in the scope and composition of the Book of Mormon as a whole.
The very title page of the entire Book of Mormon was translated from an original “header” to the complete volume begun by Mormon and extended by Moroni.7 Headers or colophons were a literary practice of the Nephites and effectively provide a summary of contents for a book or section.8 We find them in the small plates, where it is unlikely that Mormon would have been able to interpolate them, unless he transcribed the entire contents, which is exceedingly unlikely. The first occurs before 1 Nephi 1, written and signed by Nephi. This header is augmented by 1 Nephi 1:1–3, a contextual colophon. The very contents of 1 Nephi 9 are effectively a header for the new section—what Nephi has taken from his own records instead of from his father’s. Our 1 Nephi 10:1 begins chapter III in the 1830 edition; chapter II begins at 1 Nephi 6:1. A small conclusion note or divider is at 1 Nephi 14:30, the end of Nephi’s vision and the end of chapter III in the 1830 edition. Many subsections, especially if they are a direct quotation of discourse, psalm, or prayer, may be indicated by a brief sentence followed by “Amen,” as at 1 Nephi 9:6; 14:30; 15:36; and 22:31; also 2 Nephi 2:30; 3:25; 4:35; 9:54; 10:25; 31:21; and 33:15. In a sense, 1 Nephi 19:21 functions as a colophon in that it attests to the veracity of the previous material. Similarly, 1 Nephi 19:22–24 is effectively an introductory header to Isaiah 48–49 in 1 Nephi 20–21. In the 1830 edition, chapter IV corresponds to 1 Nephi 15; chapter V to 1 Nephi 16:1–19:21; chapter VI to 1 Nephi 19:22–21:26 (the end of the Isaiah quotation); and chapter VII to 1 Nephi 22. So the original chapter divisions support our reading and interpretation of 1 Nephi 19:21 as concluding a section and 1 Nephi 19:22–24 as introducing another.
Before 2 Nephi 1 is a brief header for 2 Nephi 1–5, but 2 Nephi 6:1 constitutes what could have been printed as a separate header for the teachings of Jacob that Nephi inserts (2 Nephi 6–10). Isaiah 50–51, quoted at 2 Nephi 7–8, is introduced by Jacob’s quoting Isaiah 49:24–26, the last three verses of the chapter (and that entire chapter Nephi had already quoted at 1 Nephi 21) with a quotation sign-off indicator at 2 Nephi 9:1 as Jacob continues with his own words in his speech. He concludes with “Amen” at 2 Nephi 9:54 and again at 10:25, possibly because 2 Nephi 10 was a continuation speech on the next (gathering) day or after a break for a meal. With 2 Nephi 11:1, Nephi himself marks the end of Jacob’s words. He introduces 2 Nephi 12–24 (=Isaiah 2–14) with 2 Nephi 11:2–8; verse 8 is the effective colophon marker for the Isaiah segment, with the sign-off at 2 Nephi 25:1. Then 2 Nephi 25:3 effectively marks out Nephi’s own prophetic response and continuation of Isaiah, differentiating at 2 Nephi 31:1 between his prophesying and his admonition or exhortation. In the 1830 edition chapter I ended with the end of our 2 Nephi 2; chapters II, III, and IV comprise respectively 2 Nephi 3, 4, and 5. Chapter V begins with 2 Nephi 6:1, where I said there was header material, and it concludes with the end of 2 Nephi 8, the two Isaiah chapters; chapter VI is our 2 Nephi 9; 2 Nephi 10 constitutes chapter VII. As I suggested, the contents reflect ancient divisions. The return to Nephi’s narrative and introduction to his extended quotation from Isaiah, that is, 2 Nephi 11, begins chapter VIII, which continues to the end of 2 Nephi 15 (end of Isaiah 5); chapter IX extends from 2 Nephi 16:1 through the end of 2 Nephi 23 (end of Isaiah 13); chapter X is 2 Nephi 24 (Isaiah 14). When Nephi resumes his narrative at 2 Nephi 25:1 we have the beginning of chapter XI; this concludes with the end of 2 Nephi 27. Chapter XII extends from 2 Nephi 28:1 through 2 Nephi 30, precisely where I noted a change in tone and content. Chapters XIII, XIV, and XV correspond to our chapters 2 Nephi 31, 32, and 33.
Before Jacob 1 there is a brief header that seems to pertain only to Jacob 1 (the 1830 chapter I), for Jacob 2:1 is another header for Jacob’s direct discourse with closure at Jacob 3:14—precisely the 1830 chapter II. Jacob 4 includes some more of his words and prophecies, leading to the great allegory of Zenos in Jacob 5. For the Zenos passage, Jacob 5:1 is the effective colophon. As with many others, it could have been printed separately as a header; or, conversely, what few separate headers or colophons we do have could have been printed with the text instead of being separated off by the chapter markings editors have added after Joseph Smith translated the ancient record. The Zenos passage was incorporated in Jacob’s own discourse, which he ends with “Amen” at Jacob 6:13. The historical account that follows, including the Sherem episode, he concludes with a true colophon attesting authorship at Jacob 7:27, followed by “Amen.” But the 1830 edition prints Jacob 4 and 5 as chapter III, while Jacob 6 and 7 are respectively chapters IV and V.
After Jacob, the small plates are kept by Jacob’s descendants, some without much to say,9 and the header system essentially ceases in that record. However, Enos uses Enos 1:1–2 as his “contextual colophon,” and he concludes with “Amen.” Jarom 1:1–2 is Jarom’s “contextual colophon,” and 1:15 signals the end of his entry. The record under the name of Omni is very complex, but, like Enos and Jarom, it has no formal colophon or header. Authorial change is recorded but little else until Amaleki. Omni writes 1:1–3; Amaron, son of Omni, writes 1:4–8; Amaron’s brother Chemish manages a single verse (1:9); and Chemish’s son Abinadom scarcely does any more (1:10–11). Of the group, Amaleki, the son of Abinadom, writes most extensively (1:12–30). Yet, the perfunctory nature of the record before Amaleki may suggest a decline in Nephite civilization before Mosiah1 led the people from the land of Nephi to the place where they discovered the people of Zarahemla—the “Mulekites”—with whom they formed an amalgamated society. Under Mosiah1 and Benjamin, the people are rejuvenated and true religion is spread by prophets.
Words of Mormon, a demarcation of the conclusion of the Small Plates of Nephi, provides an historical and editorial or literary bridge to unite and merge the contents of the Small Plates into Mormon’s extensive abridgment at the appropriate moment in Nephite history. Mormon takes pains (Words of Mormon 1:1–9) to help locate the reader in time and literary-historical composition.
We do not have an italicized header before Mosiah, perhaps because when the Lord had Joseph Smith recommence translating by using the small plates of Nephi for the early account and the large plates of Nephi only after that text ran out, Smith then picked up in the book of Mosiah where he had left off originally. Perhaps, as Tvedtnes observes, Mosiah 1 does not represent the ancient beginning of the book of Mosiah on the plates of Mormon. Tvedtnes offers as incidental evidence the fact that the printer’s Book of Mormon manuscript does not have a title for the book of Mosiah, that it was written in later.10 Actually, the original manuscript for this passage does not exist; only the printer’s manuscript is extant, and Tvedtnes has correctly described for Mosiah 1 the lack of formal header for the book. The “record of Zeniff” header before Mosiah 9 (and complemented by Mosiah 9:1) appears to encompass several matters that must have come from Alma’s records, not the royal records under Noah—clearly abridged by Mormon. The brief colophon or summary before Mosiah 23 is for the account in Mosiah 23 and 24 on Alma1 and his followers. No formal summary precedes Mormon’s continuation of historical narrative beginning at Mosiah 25. In the 1830 edition, chapter I is Mosiah 1–3; II, III, and IV are respectively Mosiah 4, 5, and 6. These chapters represent natural divisions in the speech and action. Chapter V is Mosiah 7–8, until the header for the record of Zeniff at the beginning of 1830 Mosiah chapter VI, which extends through the firsthand account, Mosiah 9 through the end of Mosiah 10. Chapter VII begins the account of Noah—probably derived from the records of Alma but perhaps integrated with records of Limhi—in Mosiah 11, breaking after Mosiah 13:24, where Abinadi completes quoting the Decalogue from Exodus. Then begins chapter VIII, enclosing Mosiah 13:25–16:15, which concludes Abinadi’s speech. Mormon’s abridgment of Alma’s records may begin with Mosiah 17:1, if not at 11:1, for the 1830 chapter IX is Mosiah 17:1 through the end of Mosiah 21; chapter X is Mosiah 22; and chapter XI is Mosiah 23 through 27. Mosiah 28 and 29 are, respectively, chapters XII and XIII—with one small difference from the modern editions: the last verse of Mosiah 28 is the beginning of XIII, and it would be consistent with Mormon’s style to conclude a section or account with Mosiah 28:19 and to use Mosiah 28:20 to introduce a new chapter; thematically it complements Mosiah 1.
Apart from a brief identification of the author, the italicized header before Alma 1 is a bare historical summary, but only for Alma 1–4. There is a new header after Alma 4 to introduce Alma 5 (a speech recorded in the first person) and perhaps also 6, Mormon’s subsequent narrative. As with Mosiah 25–29, Mormon’s historical narratives do not receive a colophon unless they are quoting fully or in close paraphrase a specific record. Before Alma 7 is another header, introducing another first-person address. Alma 8 is Mormon’s connecting account followed by another header for Alma and Amulek teaching at Ammonihah in Alma 9–14, with much of the account in first-person discourse. But there is imbedded into the text of Alma 10:1 a subheader, indicating the transition to Amulek’s speech and the response of the people, including Zeezrom the lawyer, and the extended discourse by Alma, followed by the imprisonment (Alma 10–14). Yet the narrative appears to be part of Mormon’s abridging, though not without quotes. The 1830 chapters are I = Alma 1–3, II = Alma 4, III = Alma 5, IV = Alma 6, V = Alma 7, VI = Alma 8, VII = Alma 9, VIII = Alma 10–11, IX = Alma 12, X = Alma 13–15, XI = Alma 16.
Before Alma 17 is a new italicized header for the historical flashback for the fourteen-year ministry of the sons of Mosiah2 and their companions, an account Mormon had promised at Mosiah 28:9.11 Subheaders and historical or editorial markers abound. Alma 17:18–20:30 deals with Ammon, though without formal colophon; the 1830 chapter XII includes all of Alma 17–20. Before Alma 21—but introducing another part of the ministry—is a subheader for Aaron and Muloki, and here begins chapter XIII. At Alma 22:35, Mormon states that his insert on geography and culture has ended, and he returns to abridging “the account of Ammon and Aaron, Omner and Himni, and their brethren” (the last of the 1830 chapter XIII). The conclusion to that narrative is Alma 25:17. The next verse, Alma 26:1, begins with what could be printed as a separate header for Ammon’s speech, ending with “Amen” at 26:37, the end of chapter XIV. Mormon’s narrative (his moral lessons are often prefixed by “and thus we see” as at Alma 28:13, 14) leads without any colophon or literary marker to Alma 29, which is identified as a psalm or hymn of praise by Alma2 as he reflects on the experiences of his friends (note Alma 29:13–17). He ends with “Amen,” and that is the end of chapter XV. The reprise of narrative at Alma 30 has no header. But when Alma quotes Zenos, a contextual subheader is included at Alma 33:3–4 and ends with 33:12–13. After finishing his speech with “Amen,” Alma ceases, but Mormon has a subheader at Alma 34:1 for the transition to Amulek’s discourse. In the 1830 edition, chapter XVI is the entire Korihor and Zoramite accounts, Alma 30:1–35:16, the end of the narrative sequel to Amulek’s address. The printer recognized and separated several contextual headers in Mormon’s abridgment. Hence, Mormon’s book of Alma is comparatively replete with separate italicized headers.
When Mormon weaves the instructions of Alma to his sons into his account, he provides some brief historical narrative for the setting, then adds what could be a colophon for the larger section of Alma 36–42: “And we have an account of his commandments, which he gave unto them according to his own record” (Alma 35:16). This is followed by a subheader before Alma 36–37, “the commandments of Alma to his son Helaman” (beginning of chapter XVII). Its parallel subheaders are “the commandments of Alma to his son Shiblon” before Alma 38 (marking the division between the 1830 chapters XVII and XVIII) and “the commandments of Alma to his son Corianton” before Alma 39–42, chapter XIX. Then, as elsewhere, Mormon recommences his historical narrative (Alma 43–44 = chapter XX) without subheader or other overt divider. As the major historical source shifts from Alma2 to his son Helaman1, Mormon inserts the header at the beginning of Alma 45 (=begin chapter XXI)—with other subheaders or imbedded source indicators at Alma 54:4 (for 54:5–14), 15 (for 54:16–24); 56:1–2 (for Alma 56:2–58:41); 60:1 (for 60:1–36); 61:1 (for 61:2–21); and 63:1, 10–13, 17. The 1830 chapters are XXI = Alma 45–49 (the nineteenth year of the Judges), XXII = Alma 50 (years 20–24), XXIII = Alma 51 (year 25), XXIV = Alma 52–53 (years 26–28), XXV = Alma 54–55 (the twenty-ninth year of the judges), XXVI = Alma 56–58 (Helaman’s epistle, received in year thirty), XXVII = Alma 59–60 (Moroni’s epistle to Pahoran), XXVIII = Alma 61 (Pahoran’s epistle to Moroni), XXIX = Alma 62, XXX = Alma 63.
In Helaman we have not only the italicized general header (giving briefly the identity of the author but primarily stating a historical summary or overview) before chapter 1, but also another identity-plus-contents header before chapter 7, where Nephi2, the son of Helaman2, has a dramatic encounter with the Gadianton followers—and the text includes some first-person passages (e.g., Helaman 7:13–29; 8 [especially 8:11–28]; 9 [esp. 9:21–36]). Although Samuel was mentioned in the header before chapter 7, he is noted again by a (sub)header before chapter 13. After the conclusion of his prophecies, Mormon continues his historical narrative without any introductory header. But at Helaman 16:25 we have what would have stood apart from the text in a Greek or Latin manuscript: the explicit or “here ends” notation. It could have been printed that way for the Book of Mormon, too. In the 1830 edition chapter I = Helaman 1–2, II = Helaman 3–6. The italicized header before Helaman 7 begins chapter III (concluding with the ending of Helaman 10), and it is printed in 1830 as though it were for a new book. Chapter IV is Helaman 11–12, ending with the last words of Mormon’s inserted lamentation on human frailty; it is divided from chapter V (= Helaman 13–16) by our italicized header on Samuel, similarly printed in 1830 as though a new book title.
The colophon at the beginning of 3 Nephi is purely a genealogical announcement to establish the identity and authority of the writer; it is not a summary of contents. 3 Nephi 3:1 effectively is a subheader for the epistle of Giddianhi to Lachoneus (3 Nephi 3:2–10); it also begins the 1830 chapter II. Although Mormon does not insert a literary marker, he speaks as editor in first-person discourse at 3 Nephi 5:8–26, ending with an “Amen”—the end of the 1830 chapter II. Mormon addresses his audience in an extended colophon for personal identification and for summary testimony of God’s goodness and intervention, his truthfulness, and his honoring of his covenant with all the house of Jacob (3 Nephi 25). Chapter III comprises 3 Nephi 6–7, IV equals 3 Nephi 8–10—natural subdivisions of the text. As he commences to recount the physical destruction attendant to the death and resurrection of the Lord, Mormon emphasizes the reliability of his source (3 Nephi 8:1). Then 3 Nephi 9:1 introduces the voice from heaven, and so the verse is a contextual header or literary marker, as though it were printed as other distinct headers. The narrative of chapter 10 stands on its own, yet lacking a subheader—a consistent practice I have noted. When he summarizes the Lord’s ministry, Mormon begins with a summary of contents in an italicized header before 3 Nephi 11 (for chapters 11–18 [the first day’s ministry] and 19–28 [with a subheader at 28:1 to introduce the words of Jesus]). Without marker or header (just as he had done in 3 Nephi 5), Mormon then addresses his future audience directly (chapters 29–30). This same lack of header or marker characterizes the Lord’s inclusion in his teaching to the Nephites of three chapters from the Old Testament. When the Lord quotes Isaiah 54 (3 Nephi 22) there is no subheader, but the preceding text is fashioned from Isaiah 52:11–12, and the first verse after the quotation (3 Nephi 23:1) refers to Isaiah by name. At 3 Nephi 24:1 he gives an extended contextual header to Malachi, and then quotes the last two chapters of the Old Testament (3 Nephi 24–25 = Malachi 3–4). In the 1830 edition, chapter V corresponds to 3 Nephi 11:1–13:24, a rather strange division; VI is 3 Nephi 13:25–14:27, the end of the section corresponding to Matthew 5–7. Chapter VII comprises 3 Nephi 15–16, VIII = 3 Nephi 17–18, with a natural division before the teachings of the following day. The divisions between chapters IX and XI, and between XIII and XIV seem arbitrary, and they may reflect segments of translation. I cannot posit other reasons. Chapter IX covers 3 Nephi 19–21:21; X covers 3 Nephi 21:22–23:13; XI is 3 Nephi 22:14–26:5. The division between X and XI is analogous to the division between Mosiah XII and XIII where Mosiah 28:20 commences the narrative of Mosiah 29. Chapter XII (3 Nephi 26:6–27:22) begins with Mormon’s words to his audience, explaining how the Spirit prohibited him from recording substantial teachings from the record until the Lord could prove his people, and the chapter concludes after the Lord’s definition of the gospel. In chapter XIII we have 3 Nephi 27:23–29:9, with chapter XIV being simply the two verses of 3 Nephi 30—Mormon’s plea to conclude his recording of the resurrected Lord’s teachings in America.
At the beginning of 4 Nephi is a colophon for identification and almost a generic summary: “an account of the people of Nephi, according to his record.” That record was continued by a family line of writers, the last of whom was Ammaron (4 Nephi header and 1:4, 19, 21, 47). At the end of his abridgment of the book, Mormon writes, “and thus is the end of the record of Ammaron” (4 Nephi 1:49). Perhaps Mormon was tired, perhaps he was rushed, but when we read 4 Nephi, we wish for more details, a more extensive account. Mormon knew he had but little time to complete his work. When he comes to his own record of his days, he has only a contextual colophon, which we label Mormon 1:1. With a prophetic view, he turns to his audience, our days, the “Gentiles” as he calls us, and painfully pleads that we not repeat the tragedy of the previous inhabitants of this land. Poignantly he urges us to turn from war to Christ, to know who we are, and then ends with “Amen” (Mormon 7:10). When Moroni continues his father’s record, his initial statement (Mormon 8:1) is a contextual header, noting his identity. In the 1830 division of the text, chapter I is Mormon 1–3, II is Mormon 4–5, III = Mormon 6–7, IV begins Moroni’s continuation and includes Mormon 8–9.
Perhaps Moroni’s “sign-off” at Mormon 9:37 was intended to be his last entry. But he adds a digest of the Jaredite record left by Ether, writing a header before Ether 1 and expanding it with what we label Ether 1:1–2 (there is no printed header in the 1830 edition). Thus Moroni presents a verification of his source. Explaining why he did not include all of the great revelations of the brother of Jared, Moroni recounts what the Lord revealed to him, beginning “for the Lord said unto me” and ending “Amen” (Ether 4:6–19)—a marked subsection. Thus Ether appears to be a unity, while there are several insertions by Moroni as editor. The 1830 chapter divisions have Ether 1–4 = I (with Ether 4 being Moroni’s prophecy and comment about the vision of the brother of Jared), Ether 5 = II (Moroni’s words to Joseph Smith, the future translator), Ether 6–8 = III (ending with Moroni on secret combinations, reflecting his father’s reluctance to discuss the details), Ether 9–11 = IV, Ether 12 (Moroni on faith and charity) = V, Ether 13–15 = VI. In making a “chapter” division following editorial comment on historical events or circumstances or on notable religious teachings or visions, Moroni emulates his father’s practice.
In the book of Moroni, after the first brief introductory chapter on author and historical orientation, we have what corresponds to documents in an appendix. There is no single header, but each chapter, in our format (which corresponds precisely to the 1830 format), has an imbedded contextual header that could have been printed separately: Moroni 2:1; 3:1; 4:1; 5:1; 6:1; 7:1; 8:1; and chapter nine does have its own header printed separately in italics. Several of these units end with “Amen.” Finally, for chapter 10, Moroni addresses the future audience, speaking openly and with great feeling. He closes with an exhortation, manifesting his confidence in the Lord, who will reward him as due.
It must have been indeed difficult for the modern printer to try to punctuate the text and to make various decisions on the printed presentation. Some passages were clearly headers, and they appear set apart, usually in italics, sometimes in a larger point or even in capitals. Other passages could have been treated in a similar fashion. Colophons, headers, text markers, and source indicators in the Book of Mormon are the result of its being an ancient text, and the “chapters” or segments of the ancient books generally reflect natural divisions of the text. This was an ancient Nephite literary tradition, as may be seen on the small plates, one that Mormon follows and greatly develops. Unfortunately, in its modern, translated format, the various headers are not consistently treated, nor had they always been noted originally with a single design or purpose. However, they attest to Mormon’s sense of accuracy and his concern for his audience’s comprehension. The rigors of editing the massive material did not cause Mormon to deviate from his philosophy or his purpose as an ancient prophet-historian though writing for an audience of a later era and different culture.
Appendix Comparison of Chapter Divisions
|1830 Edition||Current 1981 Edition12|
|I (italics) 13
Words of Mormon
7 (and header)
|I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX * X||574 574 575 575 574–75 576 577–80 581–83 583–85 585–88||1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10||518 518–19 519 519 519–20 520 521–25 525–27 527–29 529–31|
3. The ¶ mark itself derives from an uncial C with two vertical fill lines or areas of highlight, such as we find in Cistercian manuscripts of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, alternating blue and reddish-orange for the mark. The C is for capitulum.
4. For Mormon’s philosophy of history as he edits, see Thomas W. Mackay, “Mormon’s Philosophy of History: Helaman 12 in the Perspective of Mormon’s Editing Procedures,” in Charles D. Tate and Monte S. Nyman, eds., The Book of Mormon: The Book of Helaman and 3 Nephi 1–8, According to Thy Word (Provo: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University 1992), 129–46.
5. Memorandum, made by John H. Gilbert, Esq., 8 September 1892, Palmyra, New York, printed on three unnumbered prefatory pages to the 1958 reprint of the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon by Wilfrod** C. Wood, Joseph Smith Begins His Work.
6. Book of Mormon chapters and verses (imitating the biblical pattern developed in Paris during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries by the masters of theology, particularly Stephen Langton) were devised by Orson Pratt for the 1879 edition. In 1981, the current edition took into account some textual corrections back to the manuscripts. See Royal Skousen, “Book of Mormon Editions,” in Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., The Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1991), 1:175–76.
7. Moroni begins with “Sealed by the hand of Moroni.” See the lucid discussion by Daniel H. Ludlow, “The Title Page,” in Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate, Jr., eds. The Book of Mormon: First Nephi, The Doctrinal Foundation (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1988), 27–32. The title page is now corrected for format and paragraph division from the 1830 edition (which incorrectly divided the sentence about the book of Ether, the record of the people of Jared, to form the paragraph separation), although there still could be a division between the words of Mormon and Moroni.
8. See John A. Tvedtnes, “Colophons in the Book of Mormon,” in John L. Sorenson and Melvin J. Thorne, eds., Rediscovering the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and F.A.R.M.S., 1991), 32–37.
11. Tvedtnes, “Mormon’s Editorial Promises,” in Sorenson and Thorne, eds., Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, 29, errs in relating Mosiah 28:19–20 to this account: it pertains only to the Jaredite record Mosiah2 translated from the gold plates, comprising the book of Ether, discovered by Limhi’s scouts. Moroni answered this promise by appending a summary of Ether’s account to his father’s record.
13. An asterisk by the chapter number denotes that a header is printed in italics under the chapter number. These same headers are reproduced in the modern editions before the chapter number and are not numbered with the verses. So, there is no convenient way to cite Mormon’s summary headers unless they have been left as contextual comments.