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Lecture on the History of the Text of the Book of Mormon
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Post contributed by BMC Team
January 10, 2020
The cover of Part 4 of Volume 3 of the Critical Text Project: The History of the Text of the Book of Mormon. Photograph by Jasmin Gimenez Rappleye.
The cover of Part 4 of Volume 3 of the Critical Text Project: The History of the Text of the Book of Mormon. Photograph by Jasmin Gimenez Rappleye.

On Wednesday, January 15, 2020, Royal Skousen will be presenting a lecture on the history of the text of the Book of Mormon at Brigham Young University. Royal Skousen is a professor of Linguistics at Brigham Young University and has spent years studying the text of the Book of Mormon to look for variants and textual patterns. This lecture will particularly explore the King James Quotations in the Book of Mormon, as well as spelling in the Book of Mormon manuscripts and printed editions. Details are as follows:

Title: The History of the Text of the Book of Mormon: Presentation on Parts 5 and 6 of Volume 3 of the Critical Text Project of the Book of Mormon

Presenter: Royal Skousen, with introduction by Stanford Carmack

Time: Wednesday, January 15, 2020, 7:00 p.m.

Location: Gordon B. Hinckley Alumni and Visitors Center, Brigham Young University, 450 E 1230 N St, Provo, UT 84606

This lecture will focus on the release of Skousen’s two newest installments in The Critical Text Project. Royal Skousen notes that there is some interesting evidence for the use of Early Modern English in the Book of Mormon found in the form of quotations from the King James Bible. Some of the important questions he will explore include:

  • What counts as a literal biblical quotation in the Book of Mormon?
  • Are all the biblical quotations from the King James Bible?
  • What edition of the King James Bible does the Book of Mormon cite from?
  • Did Joseph Smith hand over a marked-up Bible to Oliver Cowdery when he came to the biblical quotations in the Book of Mormon?
  • When Joseph Smith produced his “New Translation” of the Bible in 1831-33 (now known as the Joseph Smith Translation), did he hand over a copy of the 1830 edition to the scribe to correct the biblical text from?
  • Are there any significant differences in the biblical quotations in the Book of Mormon?
  • How much of the textual differences in the biblical quotations rely on the use of italics in the King James Bible?
  • Do anachronistic elements show up in the King James biblical quotations?
  • How do we deal with the problem of more than one Isaiah?

The second part of his presentation will focus on spelling errors and tendencies in the Book of Mormon manuscripts and printed editions. From the misspellings in the Book of Mormon, readers can learn about details such as Joseph Smith’s pronunciation of names and the pronunciations of Joseph Smith’s scribes like Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris. Royal Skousen comments:

Many will naturally suppose that nothing of any importance can come out of studying misspellings in the Book of Mormon, but they would be mistaken. One purpose of this book, dedicated entirely to the spellings in the manuscripts and the editions, is to show the numerous ways in which spelling issues have had an important impact in the critical text project of the Book of Mormon.

A recording of this lecture may be posted online in the future. Parking is available in the large lot east of the Hinckley Center (Lot 16) after 6 pm. The lecture is free and open to the public.

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