Last week, I posted about how the LDS Church releasing the Printer’s Manuscript of The Book of Mormon may show inconsistencies between Joseph Smith’s first Book of Mormon and his 1840 “Nauvoo Edition”, the last one to be modified by Mormon Founder, Joseph Smith.
Developments from the past few days have virtually guaranteed that these differences will include the expected noteworthy change of the doctrine that Jesus Christ is both the Father and the Son figures of the Godhead, which was Joseph Smith’s doctrine prior to resurrecting the failed Mormon experiment in the new Church in Illinois in the 1840’s.
Modern Edition, lds.org
On Thursday, August 20th, the Church’s top historian on the preservation of The Joseph Smith Papers, Royal Skousen, and his colleagues will take the pulpit in the Assembly Hall at Temple Square and explain “insights from the Printer’s Manuscript” that are likely to be preparation for the onslaught of criticism surrounding the document.
“If there are faults, they are the mistakes of men.”
If this precursor video is any indication, it is a fair bet that the Church’s only official apologists will use this time to try to make a case to not read too deeply into differences between the Printer’s Manuscript and the extant editions of The Book of Mormon. Specifically, Skousen highlights that the original “dictation manuscript” that the Printer’s Manuscript was copied from has been almost entirely destroyed, making it impossible to compare them, now.
This Original (Dictated) Manuscript, according to Skousen, had audible errors where Cowdery and other scribes had misheard Smith (talking into his hat) and then wrote the text wrong. Furthermore, visual errors were made, he claims, in the copying of the text of the original manuscript to the Printer’s Manuscript, which is mostly preserved.
Never mind that this “audible error” of God and Jesus only being distinct “because of the flesh” is repeated frequently throughout the text and that it was consistent with Joseph Smith’s teachings in Lectures on Faith from five years before the “Nauvoo Edition” and with both versions of the First Vision story that Smith had published until that point.
Notice the description of the “Lamb of God” as both “the Eternal Father” and “the Saviour of the world”.
1 Nephi 13:40-42 lds.org
“repeated to brother Joseph to see if it was correct”
Let us review the process by which Joseph Smith was recorded to have used his seer stone to translate The Book of Mormon. According to David Whitmer, one of Smith’s closest accomplices and one of the 11 “Witnesses” whose testimony is printed in every copy of the book:
“I will now give you a description of the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated. Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man.” (Address to all Believers in Christ, by David Whitmer, page 12.)
But among the few pieces of the Original Manuscript that survive, 1 Nephi 11 is included and it reads the same, word-for-word with the printer’s manuscript and the 1830 print edition. In fact, it has been a matter of public record for some time that both the Original and Printer’s Manuscripts coincide with E.B. Grandin’s printed edition, with the exception that Grandin punctuated the print version (after some convincing the Mormons that books printed in English should be punctuated, whatever the policy was for “reformed egyptian”).
But this will be the first time that the transferred document will be available to the public, which apparently has the Church worried enough to send their top man out of the Tabernacle to appease the masses.