Conjectural Emendation in the Book of Mormon

An Overview of Conjectural Emendation in the Critical Text Project

Critical texts have previously been prepared for important religious, historical, and literary works, but until fairly recently, not for the Book of Mormon. A critical text shows all the substantive changes that a written work has undergone, from its original version to its present editions. When referring to a critical text, the term means that notes accompany the text so that the reader can see how the work has changed over time and thus judge between alternative readings.

There are two main goals for the critical text of the Book of Mormon. The first is to determine, to the extent possible, the original English-language text of the book. The second purpose is to establish the history of the text, including both accidental errors and editorial changes that the book has undergone as it has been transmitted down through time in its many editions.

In my work on the critical text of the Book of Mormon, I normally rely on the earliest extant sources in determining the reading of the original text. I also look at usage elsewhere in the text to see if it will support the earliest reading or an alternative one. Sometimes the earliest extant reading will contain an unusual word or involve an awkward expression. In such cases, I look for linguistic evidence, both historical and dialectal, in support of such usage. Where appropriate, I consider evidence from biblical language, either from the King James Bible or from the original Hebrew and Greek that underlie the biblical translation. For a brief discussion of these points, along with some examples, see the section entitled “Textual Variants” in the introduction to volume 4 of the critical text, Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon.1

After investigating these linguistic sources, I occasionally find cases where the earliest reading is problematic and sometimes even impossible. In instances of this kind, scribes, typesetters, and editors have typically emended the text by conjecture. Each of these cases must be thoroughly investigated to determine whether the conjectural emendation is most plausibly the correct one. But in some cases, neither the earliest reading nor its subsequent conjectural emendation may be acceptable. Such a situation may lead to the possibility of further conjectural emendation.

As an example of an early attempt to emend an impossible reading, consider the following reading from the original manuscript:

1 Nephi 7:5 (lines 5—6 on page 10 of the original manuscript)
hole
the lord did soften the hart of ishmael and also his ^hole

Here scribe 3 first wrote hole, then inserted the same word, hole, above the line, so that the corrected text reads “and also his hole hole.” Clearly, this reading is unacceptable. When Oliver Cowdery copied this sentence into the printer’s manuscript, he interpreted “his hole hole” as “his household,” which is one possible conjecture. But usage elsewhere in the Book of Mormon text suggests that the correct emendation should be “his whole household.” For example, all other Book of Mormon instances of household involve a universal quantifier, either all or whole or the negative equivalent, none. Consider ten cases in positive clauses where we find either all or whole as the universal quantifier:

“all his household” 1 Nephi 5:14, 2 Nephi 4:10, 2 Nephi 4:12, Alma 23:3, Ether 9:3, Ether 10:1, Ether 13:20, Ether 13:21
“all your household” Alma 34:21
“his whole household Alma 22:23

The example in Alma 22:23 (“his whole household”) suggests that the original text in 1 Nephi 7:5 also read “his whole household.” Such a conjectural emendation would explain why scribe 3 ended up repeating hole in the original manuscript: hole and whole are homophones while hole and -hold are nearly identical in pronunciation.

It is instructive here to consider what I would do if the original manuscript were not extant for this passage. If this were the case, the earliest textual source would be the printer’s manuscript, with its reading “Ishmael and also his household.” Without the unacceptable reading of the original manuscript (“Ishmael and also his hole hole,” with its repeated occurrence of hole), I would not be justified in emending the text of 1 Nephi 7:5 since there is nothing inherently wrong with “Ishmael and also his household.” In fact, the plausibility of the current reading explains why no edition of the Book of Mormon has ever emended Oliver Cowdery’s phraseology here in 1 Nephi 7:5 to read “Ishmael and also his whole household” (or “Ishmael and also all his household”). If the original manuscript were not extant here, I would simply have to say that, except for this one case, all the Book of Mormon instances of household have a universal quantifier. Just because an earliest reading is unique within the text is no excuse for an emendation. Statistically, there will always be unique readings in any text of sufficient length.

The crucial restriction on conjectural emendation is that there must be something actually wrong with the earliest extant reading. The initial motivation for proposing a new conjectural emendation is that none of the readings (either the earliest reading or subsequent emendations) make sense, after taking into account evidence from the history or dialects of the English language or, when appropriate, evidence from the King James Bible and from Hebrew and Greek, the original languages of the biblical scriptures. And before accepting a proposed conjectural emendation, we must consider whether there is scribal evidence in the manuscripts or from manuscript transmission in general that would explain how the earliest textual reading might have been derived from the proposed conjectural emendation. In other words, the emendation must be supported by evidence from linguistic usage as well as scribal practice elsewhere in the manuscripts.

Throughout my work on the Book of Mormon critical text project, I have tried to credit those who have suggested conjectural emendations. When a suggested change has already appeared in print, I cite the earliest published source that I can find for that suggestion. In many cases, various individuals have communicated their suggestions directly to me. It is amazing how it has helped to have others looking for problematic readings in the text—difficult readings that I have been oblivious to until they were pointed out to me. Of course, some of these suggested emendations have turned out to have insufficient evidence to support their adoption. In other cases, further investigation of a problematic reading has sometimes led me to propose an alternative emendation. In volume 4 of the critical text, I discuss all of these cases of proposed changes and credit those who first suggested them to me. For a list of the proposed conjectural emendations for approximately the first half of the Book of Mormon (up through Alma 21), see the appendix to this article; except for Alma 21, this list derives from the conjectures that have been discussed in parts 1—3 of volume 4, published from 2004 through 2006.

One important aspect of conjectural emendation is that this process is sometimes more frequent than one might expect, although compared with other changes in the text, it is relatively infrequent. For instance, based on work on the critical text project thus far, about 95 percent of the changes proposed to the standard text are based on the earliest textual sources, mostly the two manuscripts. So relatively speaking, the effects of conjectural emendation are limited, accounting for about 5 percent of the changes. Even so, one must recognize that the text has been subjected to conjectural emendation from the earliest stages of textual transmission, especially by the scribes as they copied from the original manuscript (O) to the printer’s manuscript (P) and by the 1830 compositor as he attempted to set the type from his copytext, usually the printer’s manuscript P (but from Helaman 13 through Mormon 9, the original manuscript O). The 1830 compositor, John Gilbert, was frequently confronted with difficult readings, usually errors made in copying from O into P. The majority of his conjectural emendations appear to be correct, often because the emendation to the difficult reading was quite obvious, such as his decision to change “fasting and proping” (the reading in P for Omni 1:26) to “fasting and praying” (the 1830 edition).

In the following analysis, I give the statistics for the number of conjectural emendations made at various stages in the history of the Book of Mormon text. (These numbers are based on only those conjectural emendations that have been proposed for the first half of the Book of Mormon, up through Alma 21.) For each source, I specify how many of these emendations have been accepted and how many have been rejected in the critical text project:

accept reject
1840 emendations made by Joseph Smith
appearing in the edition only 1 1
in other printed editions
LDS textual tradition
1841 British 2
1849 3
1852 2 1
1879 2
1902 1
1906 1
1911 1
1920 1 7
1981 5 1
RLDS textual tradition
1858 Wright 2
1874 1
1892 1
1908 1
1953 1 1

And as part of this project, I have considered quite a number of additional emendations, some proposed by others (a few in print but most by private communication) and many by me. Overall, I have accepted about one third of these more recently proposed conjectural emendations. Again, these statistics cover the first half of the text (up through Alma 21):

accept reject
conjectural emendations
suggested by 24 individuals 14 37
suggested by me 42 78

The high number of conjectural emendations in this project is largely the result of using the computer to analyze thousands of textual variants. Textual variants frequently suggest the possibility of alternative readings, based on conjecture. If we consider all these conjectural emendations as a whole, we first observe that the process is not rare. Overall, about 40 percent of these proposed emendations have been accepted in the critical text project. Some textual sources for emendation have not fared as well as others. For instance, Oliver Cowdery’s conjectural emendations in the original manuscript are generally unacceptable (with an acceptance rate of only 21 percent). Most of the conjectural emendations in the 1920 LDS edition are rejected in the critical text project (7 out of 8), while the rate of acceptance is quite high for the 1830 edition (60 percent), the 1837 edition (50 percent), and the 1981 edition (83 percent).

The Archaic Vocabulary of the Original Text

One finding that has complicated the application of conjectural emendation to the Book of Mormon text is that the vocabulary of the original Book of Mormon appears to derive from the English of the 1500s and 1600s, not from the 1800s. Lexical evidence suggests that the original text contained quite a few words with meanings that were lost from the English language by 1700. On the other hand, I have not been able thus far to find word meanings in the text that are known to have entered the English language after the early 1700s.

In the following sampling, I list some of the clearest examples in the Book of Mormon of this archaic vocabulary from the 1500s and 1600s. (In this discussion, I exclude, of course, archaic words such as besom ‘broom’ that are found in Book of Mormon quotations from the King James Bible.) For each word and its meaning, I provide citations from the original text of the Book of Mormon and corresponding citations from the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and include the range of dates for citations in the OED with this meaning. In some instances, the word can be found with that meaning in the 1611 King James Bible (as in the first two examples listed below). Some of the other words appear to predate 1611 by a few decades. The difficulty of these archaic words has sometimes resulted in accidental changes during the early transmission of the Book of Mormon text. Other times, editors and typesetters have consciously replaced an archaic word with a more recognizable alternative.

to require ‘to request’
Enos 1:18 (unedited)
and the Lord said unto me
thy fathers have also required of me this thing
OED, with citations from 1375 to 1665
William Shakespeare, Henry VIII (1613)
In humblest manner I require your Highnes, That it shall please you.
King James Bible
Ezra 8:22
For I was ashamed to require of the king
a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way
to cast arrows ‘to shoot arrows’
Alma 49:4 (unedited)
the Lamanites could not cast their stones and their arrows at them
Alma 49:19 (unedited)
and thus were the Nephites prepared to destroy all such
as should attempt to climb up to enter the fort by any other way
by casting over stones and arrows at them
OED, with citations from about 1300 to 1609
John Wycliffe’s 1382 translation of 2 Kings 13:17
Helise seyde, kast an arowe; and he kest.
(in the King James Bible: “Then Elisha said, Shoot. And he shot.”)
King James Bible
Proverbs 26:18
As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death.
to counsel ‘to counsel with’
Alma 37:37 (edited to counsel with in the 1920 LDS edition)
counsel the Lord in all thy doings
Alma 39:10 (edited to counsel with in the 1920 LDS edition)
and take it upon you to counsel your elder brothers in your undertakings
OED, with citations from 1382 to 1547
John Hooper (1547)
Moses . . . counselled the Lord
and thereupon advised his subjects what was to be done.
but if ‘unless’
Mosiah 3:19 (edited to unless in the 1920 LDS edition)
for the natural man is an enemy to God and has been from the fall of Adam
and will be forever and ever but if he yieldeth to the enticings of the Holy Spirit
OED, with citations from 1200 to 1596
Philip Sidney, Arcadia (1580)
He did not like that maides should once stir out of their fathers houses
but if it were to milke a cow.
to depart ‘to part, divide, separate’
Helaman 8:11 (changed to parted in the 1830 edition)
God gave power unto one man even Moses
to smite upon the waters of the Red Sea and they departed hither and thither
OED, with citations from 1297 through 1677
John Wycliffe’s 1388 translation of Isaiah 59:2
Ê’oure wickednesses han departid bitwixe Ê’ou and Ê’oure God
(in the King James Bible: “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God”)
John Maundeville (about 1400)
þe ʒerde of Moyses, with þe whilk he departid þe Reed See
(meaning ‘the rod [yard] of Moses with which he parted the Red Sea’)
William Tyndale’s 1526 translation of Romans 8:39
To departe us from Goddes love
(in the King James Bible: “to separate us from the love of God”)
The Book of Common Prayer (1548—49)
Till death vs departe
(changed in 1662 to “Till death us do part“)
Geneva Bible, 1557 translation of John 19:24
They departed my rayment among them
(in the King James Bible: “They parted my raiment among them”)
extinct, referring to an individual’s death
Alma 44:7 (unedited)
and I will command my men that they shall fall upon you
and inflict the wounds of death in your bodies that ye may become extinct
OED, with citations from 1483 through 1675
from a 1675 English translation of Machiavelli’s The Prince
The Pope being dead and Valentine extinct
to raign, a shortened form of arraign
Alma 11:44 (changed to arraigned in the 1830 edition)
but all things shall be restored to its perfect frame
as it is now or in the body
and all shall be brought and be raigned before the bar of Christ the Son
and God the Father and the Holy Spirit
OED, with citations from 1444 through 1581
Henry Brinklow (1542)
The day whan ye shal be reygned at the judgemente seate of God.

Conjectural Emendations Based on Archaic Vocabulary

If the original vocabulary of the Book of Mormon text dates from Early Modern English, one might wonder if there are any archaic word meanings that were unrecognizable to Joseph Smith and his scribes, thus leading them to misinterpret and change the language during the early transmission of the text. Two possibilities have arisen thus far. The first one deals with the word ceremony in Mosiah 19:24: “and it came to pass that after they had ended the ceremony, that they returned to the land of Nephi.” The problem with this passage is that the word ceremony seems out of place. The larger context implies that their discourse was simply over:

Mosiah 19:22—24
and it came to pass that
they were about to return to the land of Nephi
and they met the men of Gideon
and the men of Gideon told them of all that had happened
to their wives and their children
and that the Lamanites had granted unto them
that they might possess the land by paying a tribute to the Lamanites
of one half of all they possessed
and the people told the men of Gideon that they had slain the king
and his priests had fled from them farther into the wilderness
and it came to pass that after they had ended the ceremony
that they returned to the land of Nephi
rejoicing because their wives and their children were not slain
and they told Gideon what they had done to the king

The OED lists no meaning for ceremony that would work reasonably well for this passage except to assume that the conversation itself is a ceremony or that it involved some kind of ceremonial aspect in, for instance, recounting the execution of king Noah.

I have had a number of my students and research assistants try to find another word that might work better in Mosiah 19:22—24, one that would perhaps sound or look like ceremony. The idea behind this approach is that such a word might have been miscopied or misheard as ceremony. The most plausible suggestion proposed thus far comes from Renee Bangerter in her 1998 BYU master’s thesis,2 where she proposes that the original word in Mosiah 19:24 might have been sermon. Although the current meanings for this word will not work in this passage, Bangerter notes that the OED gives the earliest meaning for sermon as ‘something that is said; talk, discourse,’ which would exactly fit the context described in Mosiah 19:22—24. This meaning is, however, obsolete; the last citation in the OED with this meaning dates from 1594: “Desiring Don Infeligo with very mild sermon to be friends with Medesimo again.” The last citation with this meaning found on Literature Online comes from Giles Fletcher and dates from 1593: “Out of my braine I made his Sermon flow.”3

In part 3 of volume 4 of the critical text, Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon (published in August 2006), I discuss under Mosiah 19:24 how sermon could have accidentally been replaced by ceremony. Basically, I propose the following scenario: the scribe for the original manuscript (which is unfortunately not extant here) spelled sermon as cermon, which was then misread as ceremony (and spelled as cerimony) when Oliver Cowdery copied the word from the original manuscript into the printer’s manuscript. Such a conjectural emendation is permissible if the vocabulary for the original Book of Mormon text dates from the 1500s and 1600s.

One argument that has been frequently made in support of ceremony here in Mosiah 19:24 is that in many cultures conversation is ceremonial, so the conveying of information between these two parties in Mosiah 19:22—23 could have been a ceremony. But by this standard, every event in the Book of Mormon could be shown to be ceremonial, cultic, or ritualistic in some way—whether launching ships, engraving scriptures, preaching, fighting battles, planting crops, taking journeys, or dying: anything can be explained as a ceremony. Yet it should be noted that the Book of Mormon otherwise lacks words like ceremony, rite, and cult. The word ceremony occurs nowhere else in the Book of Mormon text. And although the scribal spelling rites has been maintained in a few places in the text, it is virtually certain that in every case the original text read rights rather than rites, including two places in the current LDS text, Alma 43:45 and Alma 44:5. (These last two cases will be discussed in part 4 of volume 4 of the critical text, to appear in 2007.)

Besides the general proposal that conversation is a ceremony, some scholars have found different ceremonial aspects that could be linked to the conversation described in Mosiah 19:22—23. John Sorensen, for instance, has argued that the reference to a ceremony in verse 24 has something to do with the earlier killing of king Noah, described in verses 19—21: “Mosiah 19:24 speaks of a ‘ceremony’ in connection with the slaying of king Noah by his rebellious subjects, but there is no hint of the nature or purpose of that ceremony.”4 John Tvedtnes, on the other hand, has argued that the ceremony referred to in Mosiah 19:24 is “one of purification associated with the onset of the fall festivals of the month of Tishre, at which time citizen-soldiers in the ancient Near East returned home to engage in the fall harvest.”5

There is a more general problem with searching for cultural arguments as evidence for strange readings in a text—namely, there is no limit on the use of such arguments. If we hunt long enough, we can always find some culture somewhere with a practice that will support virtually any given reading (although for Book of Mormon work we might prefer that the evidence come from Mesoamerica or the Middle East). As an example, consider the case of Mosiah 17:13, where all the (extant) textual sources read “and scourged his skin with fagots.” Although the textual and linguistic evidence is very clear that in Mosiah 17:13 scourged is a mishearing for scorched (see the discussion for that passage in part 3 of volume 4), yet some have defended the current reading scourged by hunting for examples of people being beaten with burning sticks or of people being beaten prior to being burned at the stake.6 In my own textual analyses of the Book of Mormon, I avoid using cultural evidence simply because it can always be found. In some cases, specific evidence from the Mosaic law and its practice may be appropriate, as in the discussion regarding whether striped, the spelling in the printer’s manuscript for Alma 11:2, should be read as stripped or striped. But even there that evidence is restricted to practices that are explicitly referred to in the biblical text.

I have also found that the original text of the Book of Mormon always makes linguistic sense, although not necessarily for modern-day speakers of English. There are Hebrew-like constructions that seem strange, even unacceptable, in English, yet these constructions make sense from the point of view of Hebrew. There is vocabulary that is strange today but would have been understandable to English speakers living in the 1500s and 1600s. And the biblically styled language of the text seems to date from this same time period, yet it does not imitate the specific language of the King James Bible. (Of course, the biblical quotes in the Book of Mormon do follow the King James text for the most part.) So when we run up against otherwise inexplicable cases like ceremony in Mosiah 19:24, the most probable explanation is that ceremony stands for some kind of error providing the error can be explained as textually derivable from an appropriate emendation, one that is consistent with language elsewhere in the Book of Mormon. The proposed sermon does fit if we allow the possibility that the original vocabulary of the Book of Mormon derives from the 1500s and 1600s, not the 1800s.

The Pleading Bar of God

A second possible misinterpretation deals with the expression “the pleasing bar of God,” as found in Jacob 6:13 (and similarly in Moroni 10:34 as “the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah”). In part 2 of volume 4 of the critical text (this part was published in August 2005), under Jacob 6:13, I argue that “the pleasing bar” is actually a mistake for “the pleading bar.” An abbreviated description of the evidence for emending the text to “the pleading bar” was initially presented in 2004.7 This conjectural emendation was first proposed by Christian Gellinek in 2003. There are no uses of the term “the pleasing bar of God” anywhere on the Internet except in citations from the Book of Mormon, yet there is clear evidence that the legal term pleading bar was used in the 1600s. And as might be expected, no instances of pleading bar have thus far been found during the 1800s, in either England or the United States. But such a conjectural emendation is consistent with the hypothesis that the vocabulary of the Book of Mormon dates from Early Modern English.

Part of the argument here relies on the evidence from the manuscripts that at least Oliver Cowdery and maybe even Joseph Smith (as he dictated the text) tended to replace unfamiliar vocabulary with words they were familiar with, even if the resulting phraseology did not make much sense. In every case, there is considerable phonetic similarity between the words that were mixed up:

weed (O, P) instead of reed (1830 and all subsequent editions)
1 Nephi 17:48
and whoso shall lay their hands upon me shall wither even as a dried reed
bosom (O, P) instead of besom (1830 and all subsequent editions)
2 Nephi 24:23 (Isaiah 14:23 in the King James Bible)
and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction
wrecked (P, all early editions, and all RLDS editions) instead of racked (1879 and all subsequent LDS editions)
Mosiah 27:29
my soul was racked with eternal torment
arrest (O, P, 1830 edition) instead of wrest (1837 and all subsequent editions)
Alma 13:20
behold the scriptures are before you
if ye will wrest them / it shall be to your own destruction
Alma 41:1
for behold some have wrested the scriptures
and have gone far astray because of this thing
drugs (O, P) instead of dregs (1830 and all subsequent editions)
Alma 40:26
and they drink the dregs of a bitter cup
fraction (O, P) instead of faction (1830 and all subsequent editions)
Alma 58:36
behold we fear that there is some faction in the government

Notice that some of these earliest readings will work: “wither even as a dried weed,” “my soul was wrecked,” “the drugs of a bitter cup,” and “there is some fraction in the government.” Yet in each case the phonetically similar word introduced into the printed edition works much better and more consistently with usage in the English language. Relying on Oliver’s excessively elevated and ornate writing style in the Messenger and Advocate from October 1834, one might deduce that Oliver would never have made such mistakes. But the evidence from the Book of Mormon manuscripts (dating from 1829, over five years earlier) directly contradicts such an assumption. Oliver’s language ability may have improved over the years. To be sure, the 1830 typesetter exceeded Oliver’s language abilities at the time of the printing of the 1830 edition. Note that the 1830 typesetter is the one responsible for correcting most of the above misinterpreted phrases, but not all: even he left unchanged “my soul was wrecked” and “some have arrested the scriptures.” The important point here is that Oliver twice accepted the implausible phraseology “to arrest the scriptures” (in Alma 13:20 and Alma 41:1) instead of the correct “to wrest the scriptures.” In a similar way, he could have twice misinterpreted the phrase “the pleading bar” as “the pleasing bar” (in Jacob 6:13 and Moroni 10:34).

And these are not the only conjectural emendations that reject a workable but strange reading in the manuscripts, as in the following examples from 1 Nephi (all of which are extant in the original manuscript):

earliest reading emended reading
1 Nephi 7:1 that might raise up seed that they might raise up seed
1 Nephi 7:22 offer sacrifice and offer burnt offerings offer sacrifice and burnt offerings
1 Nephi 12:1 and beheld the land / the land of promise and beheld the land of promise
1 Nephi 17:53 but I will shock them but I will shake them
1 Nephi 18:15 had much swollen exceedingly had swollen exceedingly

(Interestingly, Oliver Cowdery himself made the first three of these emendations when he copied the text from O into P; I am responsible for the fourth one, while Joseph Smith made the last one in his editing for the 1837 edition.) When we compare each of these earliest readings with usage elsewhere in the Book of Mormon text as well as in the King James Bible or more generally in the English language, including Early Modern English, we discover that these earliest extant readings are probably not the original readings, even though these earliest readings will, in some sense, work.8

Just like the use of the word ceremony in Mosiah 19:24, one could argue that “the pleasing bar of God” is perfectly fine and should be left alone. Yet this phraseology is inconsistent with respect to the many references to being judged at “the bar of God” found throughout the Book of Mormon text. I repeat them here because it is important to realize that none of these passages refer in a positive way to the day of judgment; they are either negative or neutral:

negative
2 Nephi 33:15
for what I seal on earth shall be brought against you at the judgment bar
Jacob 6:9
know ye not that if ye will do these things
that the power of the redemption and the resurrection which is in Christ
will bring you to stand with shame and awful guilt before the bar of God
Alma 5:22
how will any of you feel if ye shall stand before the bar of God
having your garments stained with blood and all manner of filthiness
neutral
2 Nephi 33:11
and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar
Mosiah 16:10
even this mortal shall put on immortality
and this corruption shall put on incorruption
and shall be brought to stand before the bar of God
to be judged of him according to their works
whether they be good or whether they be evil
Alma 11:44
but all things shall be restored to its perfect frame
as it is now or in the body
and all shall be brought and be raigned before the bar of Christ the Son
and God the Father and the Holy Spirit
Alma 12:12
and Amulek hath spoken plainly concerning death
and being raised from this mortality to a state of immortality
and being brought before the bar of God
to be judged according to our works
Mormon 9:13
and they shall come forth both small and great
and all shall stand before his bar
being redeemed and loosed from this eternal band of death
Moroni 10:27
for ye shall see me at the bar of God

There is nothing here to suggest anything pleasing about the bar of God. In fact, we get the same result when we look at the two cases in the current text of pleasing bar. One passage is negative, the other neutral:

negative
Jacob 6:13
finally I bid you farewell
until I shall meet you before the pleasing bar of God
which bar striketh the wicked with awful dread
neutral
Moroni 10:34
and now I bid unto all farewell
I soon go to rest in the paradise of God
until my spirit and body shall again reunite
and I am brought forth triumphant through the air
to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah
the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead

The first example comes after a long passage (Jacob 6:5-12) in which Jacob warns the unrepentant of God’s coming judgment.

Of course, one can always find some source that will support the notion that the day of judgment will be pleasing, at least to the righteous. One example is C. S. Lewis’s claim in Reflections on the Psalms that the Psalms support an interpretation of the day of judgment in which we will be more like plaintiffs than defendants. C. S. Lewis provides evidence from the Psalms for his interpretation, citing examples like “when God arose to judgment to save all the meek of the earth” (Psalm 76:9, the King James Bible). But more importantly, C. S. Lewis does not ignore opposing evidence. For instance, he also cites those passages in the Psalms that support the traditional Christian view of the day of judgment, such as “and enter not into judgment with thy servant / for in thy sight shall no man living be justified” (Psalm 143:2, the King James Bible). And C. S. Lewis is rightly concerned that the positive view of the day of judgment might be misused: “All this of course has its spiritual danger. It leads into that typically Jewish prison of self-righteousness which Our Lord so often terribly rebuked.”9 To be sure, there is no need here for C. S. Lewis to emphasize the supposed Jewish nature of this self-righteousness; it seems to be endemic to the whole human race! But ultimately, the use of C. S. Lewis’s writings is irrelevant in determining the text of the Book of Mormon. As with the example of ceremony in Mosiah 19:24, we can always find some cultural evidence in support of our interpretation of the text. There will always be evidence that for some the day of judgment will be “a resounding triumph.”

In the Book of Mormon text, on the other hand, we have a strong and consistent image of the day of judgment as a trial before the bar of God. Nor is there any reason from the text itself to assume that these references to the bar of God are merely figurative or metaphorical. Note, in particular, the use of the very legalistic word arraign (originally raign in the Book of Mormon text) in Alma 11:44: “and all shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ.” In fact, the legal interpretation should also be applied to the proposed “the pleading bar of God.” The term pleading here does not refer to making a plea for mercy. As lawyers know, the word pleading refers to making one’s case in court (originally oral, now written) and neutrally refers to the arguments and evidence both for and against a person. (See the earliest definitions in the Oxford English Dictionary for the noun pleading as well as for the noun plea and the verb plead.)

Another legal aspect to the judgment of God is found in two separate statements in the Book of Mormon—namely, that Christ’s twelve apostles in Jerusalem and the twelve Nephite disciples or ministers will play some role in judging the house of Israel:

1 Nephi 12:8—10
and the angel spake unto me saying
behold the twelve disciples of the Lamb
which are chosen to minister unto thy seed
and he saith unto me
thou remembereth the twelve apostles of the Lamb
behold they are they which shall judge the twelve tribes of Israel
wherefore the twelve ministers of thy seed shall be judged of them
for ye are of the house of Israel
and these twelve ministers which thou beholdest shall judge thy seed
Mormon 3:18—19
yea behold I write unto all the ends of the earth
yea unto you twelve tribes of Israel
which shall be judged according to your works by the twelve
whom Jesus chose to be his disciples in the land of Jerusalem
and I write also unto the remnant of this people
which shall also be judged by the twelve
whom Jesus chose in this land
and they shall be judged by the other twelve
whom Jesus chose in the land of Jerusalem

Here the references to the twelve apostles judging the twelve Nephite ministers imply that the judgment being referred to is individual, not collective. Although the specific role of the twelve in that judgment is not spelled out, it is clearly referred to. One should not automatically dismiss the idea that the twelve may play a role in the day of judgment.

The Book of Mormon also refers to the day of judgment as occurring before the judgment seat of God (12 times), as in “that ye may be found spotless at the judgment seat of Christ” (from the title page of the Book of Mormon). Interestingly, references to the bar of God in the Book of Mormon are restricted to the day of judgment, while the judgment seat as a place of judgment is also used to refer to secular governing (45 times), as in the statement that Kishcumen “murdered Parhoron as he sat upon the judgment seat” (Helaman 1:9).10 There is biblical evidence in support of being secularly judged before the judgment seat (10 times in the New Testament), as in Pilate’s judgment of Christ in Matthew 27:19: “when he was set down on the judgment seat / his wife sent unto him.” The use in the Book of Mormon of “the bar of God” seems real enough even though it may not represent an ancient system of judgment (unlike the references to the judgment seat).

Now let us turn to the question of external evidence for the phrases “the pleasing bar of God” and “the pleading bar of God.” One thing is quite clear: in judicial contexts there is irrefutable linguistic evidence for pleading bar, but none thus far for pleasing bar (except in the current Book of Mormon text). To be sure, there is evidence for pleasing bar alone, as in “the most aesthetically pleasing bar in Manchai” and “a visually pleasing bar at the side of the screen.”11 Of course, these examples are not evidence for “the pleasing bar of God.”

There are two Internet citations that refer to a seventeenth-century English courtroom, now a museum, in Fordwich, England (near Canterbury). This courtroom dates from the time of Charles II (reigned 1649—60). The citations clearly identify what the pleading bar is:

The tour ended at the town hall. Mr. Tritton said: “That was the most interesting part of the day. The people who made the film reproduced the court room back at their studio. They had the jury bench, the pleading bar, everything, right down to the smallest detail of King Charles II’s coat of arms.”

At the head of the stairs, Sgt. Bassett ducks under a beam inscribed ‘Love and honour the truth.’ In real life the court’s pleading bar, where prisoners stood while on trial, is at the head of the stairs. It does not obstruct anyone entering the room, nor bear an inscription—though the motto ‘Love and honour the truth’ is prominent under King Charles II’s Coat of Arms, displayed on the ceiling above the panelled rear wall.12

On the first floor is the Court Room where all criminal cases in Fordwich were tried until 1886. The accused would stand flanked by the Town Constables, at the “pleading bar” situated at the head of the stairs. (Hence the expression “prisoner at the bar”). The Judge or chief magistrate was the Mayor for the time being and he sat in the chair at the north end of the room, flanked by six Jurats on each side, seated on the “bench.” The Mayor’s seat and bench together with the paneling are early Tudor in origin.13

One could dismiss these citations to pleading bar as somehow errors, especially since they are not found in legal documents dating from the 1600s. Yet the term pleading bar does exist in literary references that do date from the early 1600s.14 In the first case, there is no doubt that the whole passage refers metaphorically to a courtroom:

John Harington, Orlando Furioso (1607), book 27, stanza 46, lines 369—72:

If you deny my claim, here I will prove it,

This field the court, this list my pleading bar,

My plea is such, as no writ can remove it,

My judge must be the sequel of the war.15

(Here list specifies an area set aside for jousting or other combat.) The second citation is found in a play that was apparently written no later than 1634:

John Webster, Appius and Virginia, act 5, scene 1

Fortune hath lift thee to my Chair,

and thrown me headlong to thy pleading bar.

Of particular interest here is the evidence that John Webster was no novice in legal matters. Scholars have argued that he was admitted to the Middle Temple (one of the English courts of law) on 1 August 1598. Moreover, he is considered the primary author of a play that deals with legal issues, The Devil’s Law Case; or, When Women Go to Law, the Devil Is Full of Business (published in 1623). Thus it is not surprising that there is a metaphorical reference to pleading bar in his play Appius and Virginia, first published in 1654 (after Webster’s death) and attributed to Webster (the title page refers to Webster as the sole author, although he may have had collaborators, a common enough practice even today).16

Now one may claim that the term pleading bar cannot be found in judicial records dating from Early Modern English. This may be so—although there are a lot of legal records to be checked, most of which have never been electronically transcribed. There might be a good reason for why the term might be missing from legal records—namely, legal records refer to the specifics of cases, not to the structure of the courtroom, neither to its furniture nor to the placement of that furniture. The claim that pleading bar does not exist in judicial records is meaningless unless one has already established that in general there are references in those records to the courtroom structure and its furniture. More likely, the term pleading bar would appear in histories commenting on specific cases, or in literary works that use the term metaphorically, as we have seen.

But if we look long enough, maybe we can find the term pleading bar in an actual legal source from the 1500s and 1600s. Quite recently, with the kind help of Frank Kelland, a reference librarian at the Howard W. Hunter Law Library at Brigham Young University, I have been able to locate such an instance of the term pleading bar—namely, in the Law Notes Collection deposited in the Department of Special Collections, the Kenneth Spencer Research Library, at the University of Kansas. These seventeenth-century notes are written in the secretary script, a court-derived script common in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.17 These notes have the manuscript number MS P367 and are identified as a quire of twelve leaves containing a list of headings written in English for the most part and with notes below each heading written in “law French.” The bibliographic citation states that “each heading is followed by a number of phrases—legal apothegms, definitions, judgements—each with a citation either to a statute or to what is apparently a page number. Crowding and blanks indicate on-the-spot compilation.” The word apothegm here refers to “a short, pithy, and instructive saying or formulation.”18 And at the top of the eighth leaf, we have a heading with the term “Pleading bar & trav’s.” The last word, trav’s, is Law French for travers and means “denial in pleading.”19 Thus the heading is equivalent to pleading bar and denial. On the twelfth leaf, the date is given as “21 Ja. 15″ (presumably 21 January 1615). The University of Kansas bibliographer states that this quire “may have been tipped into a printed book.” In other words, the quire seems to have served as an index for an unidentified law book, especially since the headings are arranged alphabetically and the reference citations were added as they were found in the book. The law book itself was probably in French.

In my mind, the linguistic use of pleading bar as a legal term is established. This is not the relevant issue. Rather, the issue is whether the original Book of Mormon text referred to “the pleasing bar of God” or to “the pleading bar of God.”

One may then ask, “Why should the Lord give a revealed text to Joseph Smith that he, Joseph Smith, could not fully understand?” Frankly, I do not know the answer. But the evidence is mounting that despite the strangeness of it all, the revealed text was not fully comprehensible to readers in the 1800s (nor to readers today). This is not just an issue of the archaic vocabulary. There are also the non-English Hebraisms in the original text (such as the repeated use of the if-and construction originally in Helaman 12:13—21), constructions that were generally removed by Joseph Smith in his editing for the second (1837) edition. So why did the Lord reveal such a Hebraistic text? We do not know why, but we do know that he did do it! And why did the Lord allow the text to be given in nonstandard English? We do not know why, but it was! And why did the Lord choose to have the biblical quotations based on the King James Bible when some of its language was unrecognizable to Joseph Smith and his scribes (as in the indecipherable “the besom of destruction”)? If one assumes that the Lord would only reveal a perfectly understandable text, then we must assume that all of these strange linguistic uses must be mistakes that Joseph or his scribes introduced into the text.

The point is this: we go where the evidence leads us. And we consider all the evidence, not picking and choosing only those interpretations that support our own conceptions. We may have our own views of what may happen at the day of judgment, but we shouldn’t let those views determine how we establish the Book of Mormon text. Just because we may think that the day of judgment will be a positive experience (for us, at least), this does not mean that the Book of Mormon text must agree with us.

There are other examples where our interpretation of the text has been influenced by our conceptions of what the Lord will and will not do. Consider B. H. Roberts’ claim that the Book of Mormon text could not have been given word for word directly by the Lord since the resulting text was in ungrammatical English:

If the Book of Mormon is a real translation instead of a word-for-word bringing over from one language into another, and it is insisted that the divine instrument, Urim and Thummim, did all, and the prophet nothing—at least nothing more than to read off the translation made by Urim and Thummim—then the divine instrument is responsible for such errors in grammar and diction as occur. But this is to assign responsibility for errors in language to a divine instrumentality, which amounts to assigning such errors to God. But that is unthinkable, not to say blasphemous. Also, if it be contended that the language of the Book of Mormon, word for word, and letter for letter, was given to the prophet by direct inspiration of God, acting upon his mind, then again God is made responsible for the language errors in the Book of Mormon—a thing unthinkable.20

According to this view, it is tantamount to blasphemy to think that God would make a grammatical error in English. Of course, what B. H. Roberts was really claiming here was that if God had given the text word for word, it would have been in his, B. H. Roberts’, correct English!

A similar example of letting our own conceptions determine our interpretation is found in the assumption that Joseph Smith must have read from an actual copy of the King James Bible when he translated the biblical quotations in the Book of Mormon, mainly because in those passages the Book of Mormon text follows the King James text:

There appears to be only one answer to explain the word-for-word similarities between the verses of Isaiah in the Bible and the same verses in the Book of Mormon. When Joseph Smith translated the Isaiah references from the small plates of Nephi, he evidently opened his King James Version of the Bible and compared the impression he had received in translating with the words of the King James scholars. If his translation was essentially the same as that of the King James Version, he apparently quoted the verse from the Bible.21

The unstated assumption here is that if the Lord himself had chosen the translation for the biblical quotations, he would have used his own translation or one that would have directly reflected what was on the plates, rather than following an outdated, awkward, and occasionally mistranslated King James text. But perhaps the Lord himself decided to use the King James text as the base text but allowed for the occasional alteration, just as when Moroni cited the Bible to Joseph Smith, sometimes in agreement with the King James text and other times differently (as explained in Joseph Smith—History 1:36—40).

Clearly, making conjectural emendations is often a difficult task. Sometimes the correct reading is obvious: “it came pass” is undoubtedly an error for “it came to pass.” But in many instances, no clear-cut decision is possible, although a text must be chosen when one decides to publish an edition of the Book of Mormon or to translate it into another language. There are degrees of uncertainty, and some conjectures are more conjectural than others. For me, pleading bar makes perfectly good sense, pleasing bar does not. Others are welcome to their own views.

Appendix: Substantive Conjectural Emendations (from the title page through Alma 21)

In the following, I provide a list of substantive conjectural emendations for the first half of the Book of Mormon text (up through Alma 21). I exclude here cases of emendation involving punctuation or grammar.

There are five columns: (1) the passage from the Book of Mormon in which the emendation occurs; (2) the earliest or standard reading; (3) the proposed conjecture; (4) the source for the conjecture (that is, who proposed it first); and (5) whether the conjecture is accepted in the critical text project.

Two-symbol abbreviations are used for the names of the books; basically, for single-word books, the first and last letter are used to represent the book (thus jb = Jacob, es = Enos, jm = Jarom, oi = Omni, mh = Mosiah, aa = Alma); for other books, symbols for each key word are used (thus 1n = 1 Nephi, 2n = 2 Nephi, wm = Words of Mormon).

The numbers following the books’ names stand for the chapter and verse. I assign two numbers each to the chapter and verse, with a leading zero when necessary, thus 1n0205 stands for 1 Nephi 2:5. I use 00 to stand for an original preface, thus 1n0100 stands for the preface to 1 Nephi that is found just prior to chapter 1 of 1 Nephi.

I use bold in the readings to show where the conjectural emendation occurs. If the conjecture involves a fairly long addition to the text, I use NULL to mean that the words are not found in the earliest or standard reading.

In giving the source for the emendations, I use O to stand for the original manuscript, P for the printer’s manuscript. O* and P* stand for original or initial readings in the two manuscripts, while Oc and Pc stand for corrected readings in the two manuscripts. If the change first appears in an edition, I give the year for that edition. If an R follows the year, this means that edition is an RLDS edition; the 1858 edition is followed by W to indicate that it was the 1858 Wright edition, a privately printed edition that serves as part of the RLDS textual tradition.

Sometimes conjectures can be identified with specific individuals, in which case I give their name. Certain two-letter abbreviations are used for the following individuals who are responsible for a large number of conjectures: OC = Oliver Cowdery, JG = John Gilbert, JS = Joseph Smith, and RS = Royal Skousen. Some of the manuscript scribes are unidentified, so they are represented by the symbol S followed by a number: S3 in O and S2 in P.

passage earliest or standard reading conjecture source critical text
3witness we beheld and bear record we beheld and bare record 1874R accept
1n0100 I Nephi wrote this record One Nephi wrote this record Karl Franson
1n0205 nearer the Red Sea near the Red Sea RS
1n0316 the commandment the commandment of the Lord OC: Oc
1n0409 and beheld his sword and I beheld his sword OC: P accept
1n0411 the Spirit saith and the Spirit saith OC: Oc accept
1n0433 go down in the wilderness go down into the wilderness RS accept
1n0508 yea and also know yea and I also know OC: P accept
1n0701 that might raise up seed that they might raise up seed OC: P accept
1n0705 and also his hole hole and also his household OC: P
1n0705 and also his hole hole and also his whole household RS accept
1n0717 my faith which is in me my faith which is in thee OC: Oc
1n0719 to lay hands upon me to lay their hands upon me RS
1n0720 that they had done against that they had done against me OC: Oc accept
1n0722 offer sacrifice and offer burnt offerings offer sacrifice and burnt offerings OC: P accept
1n0811 and beheld that it was most sweet and I beheld that it was most sweet OC: P
1n0812 that it was desirous that it was desirable JS: 1837
1n0820 a straight and narrow path a strait and narrow path 1981
1n1106 the Most High the Most High God OC: Oc
1n1136 the pride of the world the pride of the world and it fell OC: Oc
1n1201 and beheld the land the land of promise and beheld the land of promise OC: Pc accept
1n1204 that it rent the rocks rent the rocks S3, Oc
1n1204 that it rent the rocks and the rocks that they rent OC: Oc
1n1223 a dark and loathsome and a filthy a dark and a loathsome and a filthy RS
1n1324 the gospel of the Land the gospel of the Lord OC: P
1n1324 the gospel of the Land the gospel of the Lamb RS accept
1n1332 that state of awful woundedness that state of awful blindness JS: 1837
1n1332 that state of awful woundedness that state of awful wickedness RS accept
1n1412 their dominion … were small their dominions … were small JS: 1837 accept
1n1427 the name and apostle of the Lamb the name of the apostle of the Lamb OC: P accept
1n1428 which I saw which I saw and heard OC: P
1n1429 and I bear record and I bare record RS
1n1528 also from the saints and also from the saints OC: Oc accept
1n1530 the justices of God the justice of God OC: P accept
1n1533 to be judged of their work to be judged of their works 1830 accept
1n1534 that there cannot and there cannot OC: Oc
1n1535 the devil is the preparator of it the devil is the father of it JS: Pc
1n1535 the devil is the father of it the devil is the foundation of it JS: 1837 accept
1n1535 the devil is the preparator of it the devil is the proprietor of it Renee Bangerter accept
1n1535 the final state of the souls of man the final state of the souls of men OC: P
1n1535 the final state of the souls of man the final state of the soul of man RS accept
1n1607 the elder daughter of Ishmael the eldest daughter of Ishmael 1830 accept
1n1621 having lost their springs having lost their spring 1953R
1n1703 and provide ways and means and provide means OC: P
1n1703 he did provide ways and means he did provide ways OC: P
1n1721 which time we might have enjoyed in the which time we might have enjoyed RS
1n1743 I know not but they are … I know not but what they are … RS
1n1748 wither even as a dried weed wither even as a dried reed 1830 accept
1n1753 but I will shock them but I will shake them RS accept
1n1806 with all our loading with all our lading RS
1n1815 had much swollen exceedingly had swollen exceedingly JS: 1837 accept
1n1902 at that time which I made them at that time when I made them OC: Oc
1n1910 yieldeth himself yieldeth himself up RS
1n1910 and according to the words according to the words JS: 1837 accept
1n1913 and power and glory and the power and glory 1920
1n1920 NULL I should have perished also JS: 1837
1n1923 in the books of Moses written in the books of Moses OC: Oc
1n2001 NULL or out of the waters of baptism JS: 1840; 1920
1n2011 how should I suffer my name … I will not suffer my name … OC: Oc
1n2107 to servant of rulers to a servant of rulers RS accept
1n2111 make all my mountains away make all my mountains a way JS: 1840 accept
1n2124 or the lawful captive or the lawful captives 1830
1n2125 the captive of the mighty the captives of the mighty 1830
2n0120 keep his commandments keep my commandments OC: Oc
2n0124 whose views have been glorious whose visions have been glorious RS
2n0211 neither holiness nor misery neither happiness nor misery Corbin Volluz accept
2n0214 and now my son and now my sons 1830 accept
2n0222 which they were in which they were 1920
2n0226 by the punishment of the law by the punishment of the Lord 1908R
2n0312 the fruit of my loins the fruit of thy loins 1837 accept
2n0314 the fruit of thy loins the fruit of my loins 1837 accept
2n0318 I will raise up I will raise up one RS accept
2n0320 their cry shall go their cry shall go forth RS accept
2n0415 and writeth them and I writeth them RS
2n0426 hath visited me hath visited men JG: 1830
2n0511 we did reap again in abundance we did reap grain in abundance Stephen Carr
2n0706 I gave my back to the smiter I gave my back to the smiters RS accept
2n0711 all ye that kindleth fire all ye that kindle a fire RS accept
2n0804 for a light thing of the people for a light of the people JS: 1837 accept
2n0815 the Lord thy God the Lord thy God that divided the sea Stan Larson
2n0819 these two sons these two things John Tvedtnes
2n0823 unto the hand of them into the hand of them 1830 accept
2n0905 it should be among them he should be among them RS
2n0913 the grave deliver up the body the grave deliver up the bodies 1953R accept
2n0915 insomuch as they have become … inasmuch as they have become … RS
2n0916 their torment is a lake of fire their torment is as a lake of fire JS: 1837
2n0922 at the great and judgment day at the great judgment day RS
2n0941 his paths are righteousness his paths are righteous 1837
2n1003 for it behooveth our God for thus it behooveth our God 1830
2n1014 he that raiseth up a king he that riseth up as a king RS
2n1023 this way of everlasting death the way of everlasting death 1830 accept
2n1209 the mean man boweth down the mean man boweth not down JS: 1837
2n1402 and excellent and comely excellent and comely 1830 accept
2n1605 woe me woe is unto me JS: 1837
2n1609 they understand not they understood not 1837
2n2506 made mention unto my children made mention RS accept
2n2508 in the last days in the last day JG: Pc
2n2513 he is laid in a sepulchre he has laid in a sepulchre RS
2n2520 and also give him power and also gave him power 1830 accept
2n2609 the Son of righteousness the Sun of righteousness Sidney Sperry accept
2n2702 visited with the Lord of Hosts visited of the Lord of Hosts JG: 1830 accept
2n2706 and shall be the words of them and they shall be the words of them JG: 1830 accept
2n2812 false teachers and false doctrine false teachers and false doctrines RS accept
2n2823 and death and hell and the devil and the devil Nathaniel Skousen accept
2n2904 do they remember the travels do they remember the travails Stan Larson; 1981 accept
2n3017 which is sealed upon earth which is sealed on earth RS
2n3109 the straightness of the path the straitness of the path 1981 accept
2n3309 and walk in the straight path and walk in the strait path 1981 accept
jb0116 to search much gold and silver to search for much gold and silver RS
jb0211 get thou up into the temple get thee up into the temple RS
jb0212 and all manner of precious ores and for all manner of precious ores 1902, 1911 accept
jb0218 seek ye for the kingdom of God seek ye first the kingdom of God Mark Skousen
jb0234 ye have come unto great condemnation ye have come under great condemnation Joanne Case
jb0305 their filthiness and the cursings their filthiness and the cursing 1920 accept
jb0411 and obtained a good hope and having obtained a good hope RS accept
jb0501 which spake unto the house of Israel which he spake unto the house of Israel 1879 accept
jb0508 I take away many … I will take away many … RS accept
jb0513 in the nethermost part in the nethermost parts RS accept
jb0524 behold that I have nourished also behold that I have nourished it also 1830 accept
jb0529 let us go down in the vineyard let us go down into the vineyard 1830 accept
jb0537 thou beheldest thou beholdest 1830 accept
jb0544 thou beholdest thou beheldest OC: Pc
jb0545 thou beholdest thou beheldest OC: Pc
jb0545 and the part thereof and a part thereof 1830
jb0547 I have digged it I have digged about it JS: 1837 accept
jb0574 and the Lord had preserved and the Lord had observed Paul Huntzinger
jb0574 and the Lord had preserved and the good the Lord had preserved Paul Huntzinger accept
jb0575 and hath brought and it hath brought David Calabro accept
jb0601 this prophet Zenos the prophet Zenos RS
jb0613 the pleasing bar of God the pleading bar of God RS
jb0701 some years had passed away after some years had passed away OC: Oc, Pc
jb0701 some years had passed away some years had passed away and RS accept
jb0704 he was learned that he had … he was learned in that he had … James Siebach
jb0704 he was learned that he had … he was learned so that he had … RS
jb0708 poured in his Spirit into my soul poured his Spirit into my soul Joanne Case
es0103 and the words which … and I pondered the words which … Lyle Fletcher
es0103 and the words which … and I remembered the words which … Lyle Fletcher accept
es0113 some future day at some future day 1830
es0118 thy fathers have also required of me thy fathers have also requested of me Joanne Case
es0121 and flocks of herds and flocks of birds George Talbot
es0121 and flocks of herds and flocks and herds RS
jm0112 destroyed upon the face of the land destroyed from off the face of the land RS
oi0110 behold I Abinadom I am … behold I Abinadom am … JS: 1837
oi0118 they are written but not in these plates they are written but not upon these plates RS
oi0126 fasting and proping fasting and praying 1830 accept
wm0105 I chose these things I choose these things 1852 accept
wm0115 and they punished and they had been punished Stan Larson
mh0102 which was delivered them which was delivered unto them RS
mh0411 which was spoken by the mouth … which was spoken of by the mouth … RS
mh0414 and save the devil and serve the devil OC: Pc accept
mh0502 a mighty chance in us a mighty change in us OC: Pc accept
mh0718 in this wise on this wise RS
mh0813 for that he had not ought for that which he had not ought RS
mh0817 things which has past things which are past 1920
mh0817 things which has past things which is past David Calabro
mh0817 things which has past things which has passed RS accept
mh0904 near to the land of our fathers near the land of our father s RS
mh1005 spin and toil and work and work spin and toil and work RS accept
mh1012 a wild and ferocious and a bloodthirsty a wild and a ferocious and a bloodthirsty RS
mh1012 and they were also wronged and that they were also wronged RS
mh1016 they were wrath with him they were wroth with him 1830 accept
mh1109 with gold and silver and with … with gold and with silver and with … RS
mh1123 and turn the Lord their God and turn unto the Lord their God OC: Pc
mh1123 and turn the Lord their God and turn to the Lord their God RS accept
mh1202 and prophesying saying and prophesy saying 1837 accept
mh1202 smitten on the cheek smitten on the cheeks RS
mh1205 shall be driven before shall be driven forth Joanne Case
mh1229 hath cause send me hath cause to send me 1830 accept
mh1502 he dwelleth in flesh he dwelleth in the flesh RS
mh1503 thus becoming the Father and Son thus becoming the Father and the Son RS
mh1509 taken upon himself their iniquity taking upon himself their iniquity Lyle Fletcher
mh1509 taken upon himself their iniquity and taken upon himself their iniquity RS
mh1509 taken upon himself their iniquity having taken upon himself their iniquity RS accept
mh1516 that art still publishing peace that are still publishing peace 1830 accept
mh1601 he stretched forth his hands he stretched forth his hand 1830
mh1603 carnal sensual devilish carnal sensual and devilish David Calabro
mh1607 or have broken the bands of death or broken the bands of death RS accept
mh1710 yea and will suffer yea and I will suffer JG: 1830 accept
mh1710 yea and I will suffer even until death yea and I will suffer even unto death RS accept
mh1713 and scourged his skin with fagots and scorched his skin with fagots RS accept
mh1807 after many day after many a day RS
mh1807 after many day after many days 1830 accept
mh1828 to those priests that stood in need and to those priests that stood in need 1830
mh1903 to breathe out threatening to breathe out threatenings 1830 accept
mh1924 after they had ended the ceremony after they had ended the sermon Renee Bangerter accept
mh1924 after they had ended the ceremony after they had ended the testimony Don Brugger
mh1926 made oath unto the king made an oath unto the king RS
mh2019 and now behold and tell the king and now behold tell the king RS
mh2106 to murmur with the king to murmur to the king Karl Franson
mh2118 and secure their grain and secured their grain 1849
mh2118 and secure their grain to secure their grain RS accept
mh2128 king Benjamin had a gift king Mosiah had a gift 1837
mh2208 and our children our flocks and and our children and our flocks and RS
mh2312 bound with the bands of iniquity bound with the bonds of iniquity RS
mh2317 except it were by him from God except it were given him from God Karl Franson
mh2401 and the land of Shilom and in the land of Shilom 1830
mh2411 and put guards over them and he put guards over them 1830
mh2506 and he also read the account of Alma and he also read the account of Alma
and his brethren and all their afflictions Ellis Harris accept
and he also read the account of Ammon
mh2609 Alma did know concerning them Alma did not know concerning them OC: Pc
mh2623 for it is I that hath created them for it is I that hath created him Richard Tripp
mh2633 the people of that church the people of the church Ross Geddes
mh2638 sufferings all manner of afflictions suffering all manner of afflictions 1830 accept
mh2711 behold the angel of the Lord appeared behold an angel of the Lord appeared Joanne Case
mh2716 that their prayers may answered that their prayers may be answered 1830 accept
mh2719 he could not move his hands he could not move his limbs Ross Geddes
mh2729 my soul was wrecked my soul was racked 1879 accept
mh2730 but now that they may foresee but now I know that they may foresee David Calabro accept
mh2803 the very thoughts the very thought RS
mh2804 and suffering much fearing suffering much and fearing 1920
mh2810 which would accept of the kingdom which would accept the kingdom RS
mh2817 from that time until the creation from that time back until the creation 1920
mh2907 which will cause wars which would cause wars 1830
mh2907 yea and destroy the souls yea and destroying the souls Paul Thomas
mh2919 must unavoidably remained must unavoidably remain S2: P*; 1849
mh2919 must unavoidably remained must unavoidably have remained 1858W
mh2919 must unavoidably remained must have unavoidably remained RS accept
mh2921 ye cannot death an iniquitous king ye cannot remove an iniquitous king S2: Pc
mh2925 choose you … judges choose ye … judges RS
mh2930 and I commanded you and I command you JG: 1830
mh2932 that this inequality should be no more that this iniquity should be no more RS
mh2933 the trials and troubles a righteous king the trials and troubles of a righteous king 1830 accept
mh2936 contentions and bloodshed contentions and bloodsheds RS
mh2942 appointed to be the chief judge appointed to be the first chief judge 1837
mh2946 being sixty and three years being sixty and three years old 1830 accept
aa0115 they carried him upon the top they carried him up on the top RS accept
aa0124 they were remembered no more they were numbered no more RS accept
aa0125 they bore with patience they bare with patience RS
aa0126 and the priest not esteeming himself and the priest also not esteeming himself Alison Coutts
aa0129 whatsoever they stood in need whatsoever they stood in need of RS
aa0130 that was hungry or that was hungry 1830 accept
aa0132 and in envyings and strife and in envyings and strifes John Gee
aa0204 and privileges of the church and the privileges of the church RS accept
aa0211 Amlikites Amlicites 1830 accept
aa0222 to watch camp of the Amlicites to watch the camp of the Amlicites 1830 accept
aa0225 they obtain possession of our city they will obtain possession of our city RS
aa0227 as the sands of the sea as the sand of the sea David Calabro
aa0238 by those beasts and also the vultures by those beasts and also by the vultures RS
aa0238 heaped up on the earth heaped upon the earth 1892R
aa0238 heaped up on the earth heaped up upon the earth RS
aa0305 save it were skin save it were a skin RS accept
aa0316 and again will I set a mark and again I will set a mark 1830 accept
aa0405 three thousand five hundred souls three thousand and five hundred souls David Calabro
aa0408 their own wills and pleasure their own will and pleasure 1830
aa0503 the land was called the land of … the land which was called the land of … 1830
aa0504 delivered out of the hand of … delivered out of the hands of … 1830
aa0507 in the midst of darkness in the mist of darkness John Tvedtnes
aa0511 did he not speak the word of God did he not speak the words of God JS: 1837
aa0511 and my father Alma believed them and my father Alma believe them 1830
aa0511 and my father Alma believed them and my father Alma believed him RS
aa0525 such an one can have place in … such an one can have a place in… 1858W
aa0535 ye shall not be put down ye shall not be hewn down 1830
aa0535 ye shall not be put down ye shall not be cut down RS accept
aa0548 yea the Son of the Only Begotten yea the Son the Only Begotten JS: 1837 accept
aa0704 yea hath given unto me yea he hath given unto me RS
aa0712 how to suffer his people how to succor his people 1837 accept
aa0727 your women and your children and your women and your children RS
aa0727 from this time forth and forever from this time henceforth and forever RS
aa0820 I know that thou will be a blessing I know that thou wilt be a blessing 1841
aa0821 and set before Alma and set it before Alma RS
aa0922 they having been waxed strong they having waxed strong 1920
aa0928 the power and captivation of the devil the power and captivity of the devil Ross Geddes
aa1002 I am the son of Gidanah I am the son of Giddonah 1830
aa1007 and thou shall receive him and thou shalt receive him JS: 1837
aa1019 the people should cause iniquity the people should choose iniquity JG: 1830 accept
aa1020 repent ye repent repent ye repent ye RS
aa1022 by pestilence and the sword by pestilence and by the sword RS
aa1028 the people cried out … saying the people cried out … OC: Pc
aa1101 should receive wages should receive his wages RS accept
aa1121 and this Zeezrom began to question and thus Zeezrom began to question RS accept
aa1121 and this Zeezrom began to question and now this Zeezrom began to question RS
aa1136 I speak as though I had authority I spake as though I had authority 1830
aa1142 which is called temporal death which is called a temporal death 1830
aa1144 and shall be brought and all shall be brought Ross Geddes accept
aa1144 and be raigned before the bar of Christ and be arraigned before the bar of Christ JG: 1830
aa1210 until they knew them in full until they know them in full 1830 accept
aa1214 for our words will condemn us for our works will condemn us RS accept
aa1214 yea all our work will condemn us yea all our works will condemn us 1837 accept
aa1227 but behold behold it was not so but behold it was not so JG: 1830 accept
aa1301 I would cite your minds forward I would cast your minds forward RS
aa1301 I would cite your minds forward I would cite your minds back Douglas Stringer
aa1309 thus they become high priests forever thus they became high priests forever RS
aa1309 the Son of the Only Begotten the Son / the Only Begotten JS: 1837 accept
aa1312 many / an exceeding great many many / exceeding great many OC: Pc
aa1312 many / an exceeding great many an exceeding great many RS
aa1314 this same order which I have spoken this same order of which I have spoken 1906 accept
aa1316 now their ordinances were given… now these ordinances were given … 1830 accept
aa1316 look forward on the Son of God look forward to the Son of God RS
aa1320 ye will arrest them ye will wrest them JS: 1837 accept
aa1405 their lawyers and judges of the land their lawyers and the judges of the land RS accept
aa1405 their lawyers and judges of the land the lawyers and judges of the land David Calabro
aa1418 questioned them about many words questioned them with many words Douglas Stringer
aa1420 will ye stand again will ye stand against RS
aa1501 they departed they departed out of the land Paul Huntzinger
aa1501 came out even into the land of Sidom came out over into the land of Sidom Paul Huntzinger
aa1603 and taking others captive and taken others captive 1852
aa1605 whether … they should go whither … they should go JS: Pc; 1981 accept
aa1611 Desolation of Nehors Desolation of the Nehors RS
aa1611 Desolation of Nehors Desolation of Nehor’s RS
aa1611 Desolation of Nehors the Desolation of Nehors RS
aa1619 and the resurrection of the dead and also the resurrection of the dead 1830
aa1708 to preach the word to preach the word of God OC: Pc
aa1711 good examples unto them in me good examples unto me JS: Pc
aa1718 he departed from them and he departed from them OC: Pc
aa1726 the water of Sebus the waters of Sebus RS accept
aa1727 scattered the flock scattered the flocks 1830 accept
aa1731 we will reserve the flocks we will preserve the flocks 1849
aa1731 we will reserve the flocks we will restore the flocks RS accept
aa1738 save it were their leader save it were their leader with his sword JS: 1837
aa1802 and had learned of the faithfulness and he had learned of the faithfulness OC: Pc accept
aa1819 Ammon answered and said unto him and Ammon answered and said unto him RS
aa1819 and he answered unto him and he answered and said unto him 1830
aa1836 and which had been spoken which had been spoken 1837 accept
aa1837 and their travel and their travail Stan Larson; 1981 accept
aa1901 and lay it into a sepulchre and lay it in a sepulchre 1830
aa1906 the light of everlasting light the light of everlasting life JS: Pc; 1852 accept
aa1923 Mosiah trusted him unto the Lord Mosiah entrusted him unto the Lord RS
aa2102 Amalekites Amlicites Lyle Fletcher accept
aa2103 in wickedness and their abominations in wickedness and abominations RS
aa2103 in wickedness and their abominations in their wickedness and their abominations RS
aa2103 in wickedness and their abominations in wickedness and in their abominations RS
aa2105 there arose an Amlicite and began … there arose an Amlicite and he began … RS
aa2105 there arose an Amlicite and began … there arose an Amlicite which began … RS
aa2113 fled … unto the regions round about fled … into the regions round about 1841
aa2121 for that his father had granted … for his father had granted … RS

 

Notes

I wish to thank Don Brugger, David Calabro, Ross Geddes, and Grant Hardy for helpful criticisms of an earlier version of this paper.

1.     Royal Skousen, Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2004), part 1, 3–6.

2. Renee Bangerter, “Since Joseph Smith’s Time: Lexical Semantic Shifts in the Book of Mormon” (master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1998), 16–18.

3. See lion.chadwyck.com (accessed 13 June 2005).

4. John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America: Visualizing Book of Mormon Life (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1998), 189.

5. See John A. Tvedtnes, The Most Correct Book: Insights from a Book of Mormon Scholar (Salt Lake City: Cornerstone, 1999), 186.

6. For one example, see Brant Gardner’s “Scourging with Faggots,” Insights 21/7 (2001): 2–3.

7. Royal Skousen, “The Pleading Bar of God,” Insights 24/4 (2004): 2–3.

8. See the discussion under each of these passages in part 1 of volume 4 of the critical text.

9. C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1958), 17.

10. The earliest textual sources, the original and printer’s manuscripts, suggest the spellings Kishcumen and Parhoron.

11. Gleaned from www.google.com (accessed 15 May 2006).

12. “Report of Fordwich Trip,” Kent Messenger, “Extra,” 10 September 1999 at www.powell-pressburger.org (accessed on 23 October 2003).

13. Fordwich Town Hall Web site (updated on 23 July 2003) at www.canterbury.gov.uk (accessed on 23 October 2003).

14. Found on Literature Online at lion.chadwyck.com (accessed 13 June 2005).

15.   Sir John Harington’s Translation of Orlando Furioso by Lodovico Ariosto, ed. Graham Hough (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1962), 318.

16. For further discussion of Webster’s possible legal background, see Clifford Leech, John Webster: A Critical Study (New York: Haskell House, 1966).

17. See D. C. Greetham, Textual Scholarship: An Introduction (New York: Garland, 1994), 201–2, 248–49.

18. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed., s.v. “apothegm.”

19. See J. H. Baker, Manual of Law French, 2nd ed. (Hants, England: Scolar Press, 1990), 207.

20. See B. H. Roberts, “Translation of the Book of Mormon,” Improvement Era, April 1906, 428–29.

21. See Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976), 141.