PREFACE TO THE BOOK OF MORMON
The Restoration Edition
The Book of Mormon is a sacred, ancient record that was translated by the gift and power of God into English in 1830 by Joseph Smith Jr. The objective of this Restoration Edition has been to recover the text of the Book of Mormon back to what Joseph Smith intended it to be before his death. Joseph spent considerable time updating his original manuscript text, attempting to correct mistakes that were made in the initial 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon; those efforts continued throughout his life but were never completed. In an 1842 journal entry he wrote:
‹Saturday› January 15. Commenced reading the Book of Mormon at page 54 [1 Nephi 6:3]. ‹American› stereotype edition, (the previous pages having been corrected) for the purpose of correcting the [stereotype printing] plates, or some errors which escaped notice in the first edition.
Variations found in this edition of the Book of Mormon are due to corrections guided by resources that include Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon, 2nd Edition, Royal Skousen, 2017.
The Lord has also directed that several passages in the Book of Mormon be clarified, as explained by Denver Snuffer in an email dated 10 April, 2017:
I had a troubled night. Apparently, although Joseph’s work was directed by the Lord, in some of the details there remained ambiguities and Joseph did not live long enough to be able to correct them.
It is still my position that I have no right to change anything Joseph did (nor do we or the people have any right to do so). However, from last night it is apparent that the Lord has retained the right to correct (and therefore change) anything.
I have been reminded again that I ought to fear the Lord, and not man. Therefore I am providing changes to the text of several passages that we are expected to include….
Almost all changes to the Book of Mormon are made to quotes from the Lord. I assume He knows what He meant, and therefore can clarify for us what He intended to communicate.
I know of no way to justify these other than to say: they came from the Lord. Had Joseph lived long enough, he would have taken care of these.
I do not know if these are the only edit changes we will receive through direct revelation. I also do not know if we are going to succeed in recovering a body of scriptures which He will ultimately approve as His authorized finished text. It is possible this only means that He wants us to have a better text and knows we won’t make these changes unless He directs them to be made.
I have learned a great deal from participating in this effort. It is a godly effort and I am grateful for being involved. But I personally feel entirely unequal to this effort and I am now left to wonder how many other errors we will leave in place, despite our very best efforts.
The standard for scriptures should be perfection. Nothing less than perfection can be the goal. I have been reminded again that I am not that.
It is also obvious that what has been left to us from Joseph’s work is far less than a perfect preservation of what Joseph received from the Lord. Now I realize that Joseph’s work on the texts was also never finished. In this world perfection will elude us, even if we earnestly labor for it.
Those changes are found in the following passages:
Other notable differences that make this Restoration Edition the most accurate Book of Mormon available in print include the following:
- The foundational text used as the basis for this edition was Joseph Smith’s last personally-updated version (1840).
- Archaic language was not updated in this particular work, and some of the more archaic terms (a journeying, shew, drave) have been restored. They may seem like mistakes in the text but are, instead, faithful to what Joseph gave us and which he did not change.
- Some personal names have been corrected to reflect the spelling in the original manuscripts (e.g., Parhoron, Morionton).
- Chapter divisions were determined by Joseph Smith during the translation process and were transcribed in the original manuscripts.
- Traditional versing has been entirely removed from this collection.
- Since all Book of Mormon punctuation was originally provided by John H. Gilbert (the compositor of the first printing, an employee of E. B. Grandin’s Print Shop) and because the use of punctuation may influence meaning or interpretation, punctuation has been minimized and, where needed, corrected to conform with what Joseph Smith taught and to allow for an unrestricted text with greater possibilities for interpretation and understanding, as guided by the Lord.
- There is no consistency in capitalization throughout the text of the original and printer’s manuscripts, so we have made the following changes:
- When referring to God, all personal pronouns have been rendered in lowercase letters to help reduce the historically-perceived distance between God and man.
- A significant number of titles have been rendered in lowercase to avoid elevating some men and positions above others.
- Words that can convey multiple meanings are largely rendered in lowercase, even when one meaning would demand capitalization, such as earth.