The changes in the Book of Mormon

Although this section is only partially complete, it will eventually show every change made to the Book of Mormon since it was first published in 1830.

The purpose of this page is twofold:

  1. To demolish the Mormon urban myth that "there have been few, if any, changes to the Book of Mormon since its publication."  The vast majority of Mormons who are even aware that the book has been changed at all believe that there has been, at most, a grammatical correction here or there and/or a clarification of an ambiguity or two.  After browsing the material on this site, you'll be able to judge for yourself the accuracy of that assessment.

  2. To demolish the Mormon urban myth that "an unlearned farm boy couldn't have produced a book like the Book of Mormon."  Sure, Joseph Smith couldn't have produced the 1981 edition of the book, but Church leaders had approximately 150 years to edit out the mistakes.  After browsing the material here, you will be able to judge for yourself whether the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, which is what he really produced, was within his ability to create.
The marks in the following pages represent the changes which would have to be made to the original 1830 edition to bring it into line with the current 1981 edition.  The changes are marked in strikeout font for words and characters deleted and red font for words and characters added.  I'm currently having a problem making strikeouts show up over dashes, so when reading this, keep in mind that deleted dashes aren't marked (unless you view the source code).

The original edition wasn't separated into verses, so for convenience's sake only, verse numbers aren't marked as changes.  Chapter headings and footnotes are recent additions not found in the 1830 edition, therefore they are not included in this analysis.

The Changes in the Book of Mormon
Note how Joseph Smith was originally just the "author and proprietor," and how "translator" was added later.

I Nephi
Be sure to check out 12:18, where Joseph makes the mistake of having Nephi mention the name "Jesus Christ" a generation before that name was actually revealed, and 10:3 and 19:13, where he mistakenly prophesies future events in the past tense.  Also not to be missed are 11:18, 11:21, 11:32, and 13:40, which are the classic verses that display Joseph's initial acceptance of the doctrine of the Trinity.

II Nephi
See 30:6, which contains the infamous change from "white" to the politically correct "pure," and 25:10, wherein Joseph Smith mistakes Lehi's prophecy for Nephi's.  Of further interest is the fact that, sure enough, the passages copied straight from Isaiah didn't seem to need as many changes as the surrounding text.

Words of Mormon
III Nephi
IV Nephi
The Nature of the Changes in the Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon was dictated and transcribed without any chapter breaks, paragraph breaks, sentence breaks, or punctuation.  All of those items were added by the publisher, thus the changes in chapterization or punctuation cannot be ascribed to a faulty translation process.

Regarding the words themselves, David Whitmer and Martin Harris (two of the three Book of Mormon witnesses) described an "iron-clad" control of the translation process, claiming that the actual text was given word-for-word from God himself.  In spite of their observations, however, recent research by Royal Skousen at Brigham Young University has proven that there were a few errors on the original manuscript due to transcription mistakes (such as writing the word "and" instead of the phonetically similar word "an").  Therefore, all textual errors beyond those (such as the ambiguities, anachronisms, and grammatical errors) ought to be problematic to those who believe, as Whitmer and Harris did, that the original text of the Book of Mormon came directly from God.  Click here to see what other prominent Mormon leaders had to say about this issue.

There are those who, on the other hand, would excuse all the errors in the 1830 edition by stating that Joseph Smith simply dictated, in his own local dialect, the concepts which God merely inspired him to say while a scribe wrote his words.  Unfortunately, this theory is fundamentally flawed since its proponents must entirely dismiss the Urim & Thummim or "seer stone" and its function in the translation process.

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