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No Major Changes in Book of Mormon

I sometimes read the words of skeptics of the Book of Mormon regarding purported changes since the original 1830 printing, although I do not often purposefully look for objections to our LDS scriptures. Comparing the original version to the 1986 edition reveals that the critics’ declarations about “thousands” of changes are misleading. The vast majority of changes have been in spelling, punctuation, and general English improvement, including eliminating a number of unnecessary “it came to pass” phrases that are awkward in English but probably normal in Hebrew.

I found an online source for the 1830 Book of Mormon. I chose page 200 at random, looking at the first complete paragraph on that digitized-page. Compare it with the 1986 version (Mosiah 19:1-3).

1830 edition:

And it came to pass that the army of the king returned, having searched in vain for the people of the Lord. And now behold, the forces of the king were small, having been reduced, and there began to be a division among the remainder of the people.

1986 edition (verses 1-2):

Identical to the above, including punctuation.

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1830 edition:

And the lesser part began to breathe out threatnings against the king, and there began to be a great contention among them.

1986 edition (verse 3):

Identical to the above, except that the 19th-century spelling “threatnings” is now spelled “threatenings.”

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Similar passages in the Book of Mormon show similar results, when comparing the original printing with the modern editions. There have been a very few other changes which can be explained but nothing that I know of that would lead any objective person to suspect that they might be evidence for covering up any non-Divine origin.

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Changes in the Middle of the Book of Mormon

The changes made to the text of the Book of Mormon, over the century and a half from its first publication to its modern version, are not from any attempt to hide a non-Divine origin. This is a true book of scripture; almost all changes seem to be easily explained within this context.

Let’s compare the mid-point of the Book of Mormon, 1830 version with the modern version. If I have calculated correctly, the middle is around the end of Chapter 22 of Alma, around verse 32 (recent-version versification). I choose thus, to demonstrate that my choice is random, not from any knowledge of any verse that better proves my point.

1830 Edition

And now it was only the distance of a day and a half’s journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful, and the land Desolation, from the East to the West sea; and thus the land of Nephi, and the land of Zarahemla, was nearly surrounded by water; there being a small neck of land between the land northward, and the land southward.

Modern Version

And now, it was only the distance of a day and a half’s journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea; and thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward.

Differences

Let’s look at the differences in the wording. Notice “was” is replaced by “were,” after “nearly surrounded by water.” I believe this kind of correction is common, for the farm boy Joseph Smith had little education before the translation of the Book of Mormon. There’s no change here that was intended to hide a non-Divine origin.

Let’s look at the differences in punctuation. One comma was added, another comma replaced a semi-colon, and four commas were subtracted: no change to hide a non-Divine origin.

Let’s look at the differences in capitalization. “East” and “West” are no longer capitalized: no hiding a non-Divine origin.

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Objective Examination of the Book of Mormon

Where is any significant change in the above text [3 Nephi 11:3]? I have compared other verses of the 1830 version with the newest edition of the Book of Mormon and have found mostly similar variations: spelling and capitalization and grammar corrections.

Beginning With the end of the Book of Mormon

“Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ . . .”

Objective Examination of the Book of Mormon

An Amazon.com comment from a Michael Tweedy, in response to my comment “A Spiritual Book of Scripture, nonfiction” (May 29, 2011). Much of Tweedy’s writing is critical to policies and beliefs and biases of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with only limited relevance to the main question: “Is the Book of Mormon of Divine origin?” I will not, therefore, provide a link to his comments, for they are entirely negative and without an adequately objective perspective.

He starts with the following:

“Stories for children is, at best, all the Book of Mormon is good for. But far better-written stories are to be found in any Caldecott or Newbery award-winning books.”

Tweedy seems, in the first sentence, to be friendly (offering it to children), but in the second sentence offers a way for us to keep it away from children. He wants everybody to avoid the Book of Mormon. He devotes many lines of writing to try to discredit the “Mormon church” and the idea that there is anything special about the Book of Mormon. To summarize his apparent point: Don’t even begin to read it.

I suggest a far different approach: Read the book. At least examine some part of it by opening the cover and turning a few pages.

Tweedy mentions “4,000 corrections, many of them significant,” but does not mention even one of them. Nor does he mention what he means by “significant.” To mention one correction and its significance, of course, he would need to go into detail, subjecting his reasoning to scrutiny. I continue to give examples of corrections in the Book of Mormon, for looking at the details makes it obvious that there was never any program to fix up a non-Divine origin: It is a translation from ancient records, and has stood the test of time: almost two centuries of testing.

Let’s look at one passage, and see the significance of the changes:

From 1830 version, according to “Uplifting Publications”

And it came to pass that while they were thus conversing one with another, they heard a voice, as if it came out of Heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice, it did pierce them that did hear, to the centre, insomuch that there were no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake;

From the newest edition of the Book of Mormon:

And it came to pass that while they were thus conversing one with another, they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake . . .

Where is any significant change in the above text? I have compared other verses of the 1830 version with the newest edition of the Book of Mormon and have found mostly similar variations: spelling and capitalization and grammar corrections. Even the uncommon exceptions have obvious (or not-so-obvious, on occasion) explanations that fit perfectly with a Divine origin of the book.

We must be objective in examining the passages, searching for the truth.

Changes in the Book of Mormon

Of the more than 1,000 changes made in the Book of Mormon in the 1837 (by Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdrey), many were grammatical. In Third Nephi, an example is “Our Father which art . . .” being revised to “Our Father who art . . .”