Gadianton The Nobler, Reflections on Changes in The Book of Mormon

Introduction to Textual Variants
Part II

Typographical errors are not the only source of textual variants, typographical practices also contribute. Take a piece of paper and fold it horizontally in the middle, then fold it again vertically in the middle. This gives you 8 pages. Go through and write the page number on each page. Now unfold the sheet and look where the page numbers are.

If you held the sheet facing you to make the first fold page 1 will be the lower right hand corner on the back, page 8 in the lower left hand corner, with page 5 upside down above page 8 and page 4 upside down above page 1. On the other side of the sheet you’ll have 2 and 7 in the lower left and right respectively and 3 upside down above 2 with 6 upside down above 7.

Folding the sheet twice produces a quarto, but the Book of Mormon was printed as an octavo, meaning the printer folded the sheet a third time, to produce a signature of 16 pages. Or, depending on the size of the sheets he was using Egbert Grandin may have used two sheets to produce a signature 7 1/2″ x 4 1/2″. Continue reading “Gadianton The Nobler, Reflections on Changes in The Book of Mormon”

Gadianton the Nobler, Reflections on Changes in the Book of Mormon

Introduction to Textual Variants
Part One

One of the more disheartening things when you’re looking through back issues of Time and Newsweek from the 1970-71 school year to find the story about the Pakistani soldiers who came into a Bangladeshi village searching for blood donors–they simply strapped the young men down and drained all their blood (it would make a great poem)–is to see how many pages have been razor bladed or torn out, even at (that trope of Mormon essay writing) a university with a strict honor code meant to remind students and faculty of what it means to be the Lord’s students.

Librarians, faced with such desecration, such danger to their collections, sometimes talk about closing the stacks, so that patrons have to fill out a request for the item like that American kid found out in 1970-71 at the University of Oulu, Finland library, whose father was teaching across the street in the English Department, which had just moved from over the sausage factory to over the cable factory.

Continue reading “Gadianton the Nobler, Reflections on Changes in the Book of Mormon”

Gadianton the Nobler, Reflections on Changes in the Book of Mormon

Part III: Poetry, Style and Literary Craft in the Book of Mormon

Often in Family Home Evening we would read from different translations of the Bible. Someone would have the KJV, someone else The Jerusalem Bible, another The Revised Standard or New English Version. We would take turns reading and the others would follow along in their translations, and sometimes comment on what we read. Shortly after my brother Kevin returned from his mission he read The Book of Mormon in Finnish and we followed along in English.

When we read Nephi’s lament at the death of Lehi in 2 Nephi 4 my father told us this was a psalm, and the only psalm in The Book of Mormon. I had begun noticing a lot of poetry in the Bible, partly because The Jerusalem Bible and others format the poetry as poetry, but thought there was not much in The Book of Mormon, except Alma’s “Oh, that I were an angel.” I know now there is a great deal more poetry in the Book of Mormon than Nephi’s psalm. Indeed, every time a writer says “Oh,” it is likely the start of a poem. Even without looking at chiasmus there is a lot of lyric poetry, including the Zoramites’ prayer on the Rameumptom and Nephi’s prayer on the garden tower. Continue reading “Gadianton the Nobler, Reflections on Changes in the Book of Mormon”

Gadianton the Nobler, Reflections on Changes in the Book of Mormon

Overview
Part II: Joseph as Translator & Writer

In the First Part I mentioned the Book of Mormon’s strong oral rhythm. Thinking about the oral rhythm has influenced several of my conclusions, my overview. I may add other topics, and make digressions and side trips from time to time, but the oral rhythm is not the first thing I plan to write about. Dennis Clark’s suggestion that we think about Joseph Smith as a translator is well taken.

Like any good translator Joseph chose a diction and style, and the changes he made in the 2nd and 3rd editions tell us something about his choices. The most common changes he made in the 2nd and 3rd editions were saith to said, which to who/whom, and hath to has. Though he didn’t convert other -th endings to -s, he did drop instances of “it came to pass.” Continue reading “Gadianton the Nobler, Reflections on Changes in the Book of Mormon”

Gadianton the Nobler, Reflecting on Changes in the Book of Mormon

Overview
Part I: An Oral Document
In August 2005 when Pres. Hinckley made his invitation (which morphed to a commandment in some minds) to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year we found Rex Campbell’s narration of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants and Pearl of Great Price and started listening. Earlier that year (I think) at the Association For Mormon Letters symposium my brother Dennis Clark had suggested after a session on scripture that we might well consider the Book of Mormon as oral literature since Joseph dictated the translation. He also suggested, though maybe at a different time, that we ought to think about Joseph as a translator like any other translator, someone who knew the language he was translating from.

Ironically, while listening to Campbell’s narration I didn’t think a lot about
the Book of Mormon as an oral narrative. I didn’t start thinking about that
until I had started my second reading of Deseret Book’s 1980 1st Edition facsimile. Continue reading “Gadianton the Nobler, Reflecting on Changes in the Book of Mormon”