Changes in the Book of Mormon

“I went to Provo to a quarterly Stake Conference. Heard Joseph F. Smith describe the manner of translating the Book of Mormon by Joseph Smith the Prophet and Seer, which was as follows as near as I can recollect the substance of his description. Joseph did not render the writing on the gold plates into the English language in his own style of language as many people believe. But every word and every letter was given him by the gift and power of God. So it is the work of God and not of Joseph Smith, and it was done in this way … The Lord caused each word spelled as it is in the book to appear on the stones in short sentences or words, and when Joseph had uttered the sentence or word before him and the scribe had written it properly, that sentence would disappear and another appear. And if there was a word wrongly written or even a letter incorrect the writing on the stone would remain there.”

– Journal of Oliver B. Huntington, p. 168 of typed copy at the Utah State Historical Society

092-092-joseph-smith-translating-book-of-mormon-fullWhat a glowing testimony about the inerrancy of the Book of Mormon. With the above description, you would expect to find that the Book of Mormon does not have a single mistake in it.  Joseph Smith said that the Book of Mormon is “the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book” (History of the Church, 4:461).

However, changes to the Book of Mormon have been made. In fact, over 3,913 changes have been made. said, in 1983 the following:

Over the years, a few hundred deletions have also been made, primarily to improve the book grammatically. The most commonly eliminated have been the words that (188 times), the (48 times), it came to pass (46 times), a and and (40 times), and had (29 times).

Additions have been less numerous, probably less than one hundred. For example, of was added 12 times, and, is, and the 7 times. Some additions simply result from rearranging parts of a sentence or returning words inadvertently dropped in earlier editions. These are not “true” additions.

In a few places, however, Joseph Smith did intentionally add to the text to clarify a point. An illustration of this is the added words the son of in 1 Nephi 11:21, 32, and 13:40. The text would be correct with or without the additional words, but the addition helps the reader avoid misunderstanding.

In fact, the additions made to 1 Nephi 11:21, 32 and 13:40 are very significant. The original text says “the Eternal Father” and the edited text says “Son of the Eternal Father”. That is a huge change.

Overall, even though the Book of Mormon has only been around for 184 years, it has had 3,913 parts changed in it. The New Testament, though it has been around for 2,000 years, has only had 40 parts edited.

Basically, every 69 words has a changed word, deleted word, added words, etc. According to the same measurements, the New Testament has had a change or slight error every 4,531 words.

Think about that . . . every 69 words there was a serious error . . .

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