Things To Act
Friday, October 22, 2004
Textual Changes in the Book of Mormon
Royal Skousen's 12 Answers at Times and Seasons brought up a lot of information about the critical text project of the Book of Mormon, some of which I had seen previously in his class on the critical text project at BYU. There is a lot of interesting data that, on many points, is quite convincing as to what the original text actually said. On other points, it is possible to disagree (after looking at the evidence, of course) with some of his conjectured emendations.

Today I spent the bus ride to my office reading 3 Nephi 18; after arriving, I pulled up the Church's website to continue looking at a few things. I noticed that the word "Disciples" has been capitalized every time it occurs in the chapter online, while such capitalization is not present in the physical book. Strangely, the word is not capitalized in the rest of 3 Nephi, or in 4 Nephi or Moroni 2 in other references to the twelve chosen Nephites. In 1 Nephi 12:8, though, the words "Twelve Disciples" have been capitalized online, while they are not in the print edition.

Now curiosity leads me to ask: Why the change? Why the inconsistent application of the change to clear references to the Nephite Twelve? The word "disciples" may also refer to non-apostolic followers of Christ later in the book; for example, perhaps in 4 Nephi 1:46. There may then be a reason for capitalizing sometimes and not other times. But making such a change in only one chapter, and then switching back, seems slightly strange. Are there supposed to be differences between the print and online editions? (This brings to mind a story from class: apparently in Mormon 8:28, the words "shall rise" were added to make some sense from a previously ungrammatical sentence--but they were added by a mission president in the eastern United States who had an edition of the Book of Mormon printed, and somehow made their way from there into all future editions printed by Salt Lake. According to Dr. Skousen, as I remember it, the people he works with in Salt Lake were very interested by this.)

If Dr. Skousen offers his BYU class again, comparing the online Book of Mormon text with the 1981 print edition would be an interesting project for a student.

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