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Yale University Press
The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text

The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text

by Joseph Smith, Royal Skousen


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Based on the earliest sources available, this corrected text represents the most accurate and readable edition of theBook of Mormonever published

First published in 1830, the Book of Mormon is the authoritative scripture of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its estimated 13 million members. Over the past twenty-one years, editor Royal Skousen has pored over Joseph Smith's original manuscripts and identified more than 2,000 textual errors in the 1830 edition. Although most of these discrepancies stem from inadvertent errors in copying and typesetting the text, the Yale edition contains about 600 corrections that have never appeared in any standard edition of the Book of Mormon, and about 250 of them affect the text's meaning. Skousen's corrected text is a work of remarkable dedication and will be a landmark in American religious scholarship.

Completely redesigned and typeset by nationally award-winning typographer Jonathan Saltzman, this new edition has been reformatted in sense-lines, making the text much more logical and pleasurable to read. Featuring a lucid introduction by historian Grant Hardy, the Yale edition serves not only as the most accurate version of the Book of Mormon ever published but also as an illuminating entryway into a vital religious tradition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300142181
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 09/22/2009
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 848
Sales rank: 523,450
Product dimensions: 7.50(w) x 9.30(h) x 2.40(d)

About the Author

Royal Skousen is a professor of linguistics and English language at Brigham Young University and the leading expert on the textual history of the Book of Mormon. This is the tenth book in his ongoing Critical Text Project.

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The Book of Mormon

The Earliest Text


Copyright © 2009 Royal Skousen
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-300-14218-1

Chapter One

The Book of Nephi, His Reign and Ministry

An account of Lehi and his wife Sariah and his four sons, being called, beginning at the eldest, Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi.

The Lord warns Lehi to depart out of the land of Jerusalem because he prophesieth unto the people concerning their iniquity and they seek to destroy his life.

He taketh three days' journey into the wilderness with his family.

Nephi taketh his brethren and returns to the land of Jerusalem after the record of the Jews.

The account of their sufferings.

They take the daughters of Ishmael to wife.

They take their families and depart into the wilderness.

Their sufferings and afflictions in the wilderness.

The course of their travels.

They come to the large waters.

Nephi's brethren rebelleth against him.

He confoundeth them and buildeth a ship.

They call the name of the place Bountiful.

They cross the large waters into the promised land etc.

This is according to the account of Nephi, or in other words, I Nephi wrote this record.

1 | 1 I Nephi having been born of goodly parents,therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father. And having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days, yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days. 2 Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians. 3 And I know that the record which I make to be true. And I make it with mine own hand, and I make it according to my knowledge.

4 For it came to pass in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah -my father Lehi having dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days-and in that same year there came many prophets prophesying unto the people that they must repent or the great city Jerusalem must be destroyed.

5 Wherefore it came to pass that my father Lehi, as he went forth, prayed unto the Lord, yea, even with all his heart, in behalf of his people. 6 And it came to pass as he prayed unto the Lord, there came a pillar of fire and dwelt upon a rock before him, and he saw and heard much. And because of the things which he saw and heard, he did quake and tremble exceedingly.

7 And it came to pass that he returned to his own house at Jerusalem. And he cast himself upon his bed, being overcome with the Spirit and the things which he had seen. 8 And being thus overcome with the Spirit, he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the heavens open and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God.

9 And it came to pass that he saw one descending out of the midst of heaven, and he beheld that his luster was above that of the sun at noonday. 10 And he also saw twelve others following him, and their brightness did exceed that of the stars in the firmament. 11 And they came down and went forth upon the face of the earth. And the first came and stood before my father and gave unto him a book and bade him that he should read. 12 And it came to pass that as he read, he was filled with the Spirit of the Lord. 13 And he read, saying: Woe woe unto Jerusalem, for I have seen thine abominations. Yea, and many things did my father read concerning Jerusalem, that it should be destroyed and the inhabitants thereof; many should perish by the sword and many should be carried away captive into Babylon.

14 And it came to pass that when my father had read and saw many great and marvelous things, he did exclaim many things unto the Lord, such as: Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God Almighty. Thy throne is high in the heavens, and thy power and goodness and mercy is over all the inhabitants of the earth. And because thou art merciful, thou wilt not suffer those who come unto thee that they shall perish. 15 And after this manner was the language of my father in the praising of his God, for his soul did rejoice and his whole heart was filled because of the things which he had seen, yea, which the Lord had shewn unto him.

16 And now I Nephi do not make a full account of the things which my father hath written, for he hath written many things which he saw in visions and in dreams. And he also hath written many things which he prophesied and spake unto his children, of which I shall not make a full account. 17 But I shall make an account of my proceedings in my days. Behold, I make an abridgment of the record of my father upon plates which I have made with mine own hands. Wherefore after that I have abridged the record of my father, then will I make an account of mine own life.

18 Therefore I would that ye should know that after the Lord had shewn so many marvelous things unto my father Lehi, yea, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, behold, he went forth among the people and began to prophesy and to declare unto them concerning the things which he had both seen and heard. 19 And it came to pass that the Jews did mock him because of the things which he testified of them, for he truly testified of their wickedness and their abominations. And he testified that the things which he saw and heard, and also the things which he read in the book, manifested plainly of the coming of a Messiah and also the redemption of the world. 20 And when the Jews heard these things, they were angry with him, yea, even as with the prophets of old, whom they had cast out and stoned and slain. And they also sought his life that they might take it away. But behold, I Nephi will shew unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord is over all them whom he hath chosen because of their faith to make them mighty, even unto the power of deliverance.

2 | 1 For behold, it came to pass that the Lord spake unto my father, yea, even in a dream, and saith unto him: Blessed art thou Lehi because of the things which thou hast done. And because thou hast been faithful and declared unto this people the things which I commanded thee, behold, they seek to take away thy life. 2 And it came to pass that the Lord commanded my father, even in a dream, that he should take his family and depart into the wilderness. 3 And it came to pass that he was obedient unto the word of the Lord; wherefore he did as the Lord commanded him.

4 And it came to pass that he departed into the wilderness. And he left his house and the land of his inheritance and his gold and his silver and his precious things and took nothing with him save it were his family and provisions and tents, and he departed into the wilderness. 5 And he came down by the borders near the shore of the Red Sea, and he traveled in the wilderness in the borders which was nearer the Red Sea. And he did travel in the wilderness with his family, which consisted of my mother Sariah and my elder brethren, which were Laman, Lemuel, and Sam.

6 And it came to pass that when he had traveled three days in the wilderness, he pitched his tent in a valley beside a river of water. 7 And it came to pass that he built an altar of stones, and he made an offering unto the Lord and gave thanks unto the Lord our God.

8 And it came to pass that he called the name of the river Laman, and it emptied into the Red Sea. And the valley was in the borders near the mouth thereof. 9 And when my father saw that the waters of the river emptied into the fountain of the Red Sea, he spake unto Laman, saying: O that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness. 10 And he also spake unto Lemuel, saying: O that thou mightest be like unto this valley, firm and steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord.

11 Now this he spake because of the sti>neckedness of Laman and Lemuel. For behold, they did murmur in many things against their father because that he was a visionary man and that he had led them out of the land of Jerusalem, to leave the land of their inheritance and their gold and their silver and their precious things, and to perish in the wilderness. And this they said that he had done because of the foolish imaginations of his heart. 12 And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father. And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them. 13 Neither did they believe that Jerusalem, that great city, could be destroyed according to the words of the prophets. And they were like unto the Jews which were at Jerusalem, which sought to take away the life of my father.

14 And it came to pass that my father did speak unto them in the valley of Lemuel with power, being filled with the Spirit, until their frames did shake before him. And he did confound them that they durst not utter against him; wherefore they did do as he commanded them.

15 And my father dwelt in a tent.

16 And it came to pass that I Nephi being exceeding young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore I cried unto the Lord. And behold, he did visit me and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers. 17 And I spake unto Sam, making known unto him the things which the Lord had manifested unto me by his Holy Spirit. And it came to pass that he believed in my words. 18 But behold, Laman and Lemuel would not hearken unto my words. And being grieved because of the hardness of their hearts, I cried unto the Lord for them.

19 And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Blessed art thou Nephi because of thy faith, for thou hast sought me diligently with lowliness of heart. 20 And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper and shall be led to a land of promise, yea, even a land which I have prepared for you, a land which is choice above all other lands. 21 And inasmuch as thy brethren shall rebel against thee, they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. 22 And inasmuch as thou shalt keep my commandments, thou shalt be made a ruler and a teacher over thy brethren. 23 For behold, in that day that they shall rebel against me, I will curse them even with a sore curse, and they shall have no power over thy seed except they shall rebel against me also. 24 And if it so be that they rebel against me, they shall be a scourge unto thy seed to stir them up in the ways of remembrance.

3 | 1 And it came to pass that I Nephi returned from speaking with the Lord to the tent of my father. 2 And it came to pass that he spake unto me, saying: Behold, I have dreamed a dream in the which the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brethren shall return to Jerusalem. 3 For behold, Laban hath the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of my forefathers, and they are engraven upon plates of brass. 4 Wherefore the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brothers should go unto the house of Laban and seek the records and bring them down hither into the wilderness.

5 And now behold, thy brothers murmur, saying it is a hard thing which I have required of them. But behold, I have not required it of them, but it is a commandment of the Lord. 6 Therefore go, my son, and thou shalt be favored of the Lord because thou hast not murmured.

7 And it came to pass that I Nephi said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them. 8 And it came to pass that when my father had heard these words, he was exceeding glad, for he knew that I had been blessed of the Lord.

9 And I Nephi and my brethren took our journey in the wilderness with our tents to go up to the land of Jerusalem. 10 And it came to pass that when we had gone up to the land of Jerusalem, I and my brethren did consult one with another. 11 And we cast lots which of us should go in unto the house of Laban. And it came to pass that the lot fell upon Laman. And Laman went in unto the house of Laban, and he talked with him as he sat in his house. 12 And he desired of Laban the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, which contained the genealogy of my father. 13 And behold, it came to pass that Laban was angry and thrust him out from his presence, and he would not that he should have the records. Wherefore he said unto him: Behold, thou art a robber and I will slay thee. 14 But Laman fled out of his presence and told the things which Laban had done unto us. And we began to be exceeding sorrowful, and my brethren were about to return unto my father in the wilderness.

15 But behold, I said unto them that as the Lord liveth and as we live, we will not go down unto our father in the wilderness until we have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us. 16 Wherefore let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord. Therefore let us go down to the land of our father's inheritance. For behold, he left gold and silver and all manner of riches, and all this he hath done because of the commandment. 17 For he knowing that Jerusalem must be destroyed because of the wickedness of the people 18 -for behold, they have rejected the words of the prophets-wherefore if my father should dwell in the land after that he hath been commanded to flee out of the land, behold, he would also perish; wherefore it must needs be that he flee out of the land. 19 And behold, it is wisdom in God that we should obtain these records that we might preserve unto our children the language of our fathers, 20 and also that we may preserve unto them the words which have been spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets, which have been delivered unto them by the Spirit and power of God since the world began, even down unto this present time.

21 And it came to pass that after this manner of language did I persuade my brethren that they might be faithful in keeping the commandments of God. 22 And it came to pass that we went down to the land of our inheritance, and we did gather together our gold and our silver and our precious things. 23 And after that we had gathered these things together, we went up again unto the house of Laban. 24 And it came to pass that we went in unto Laban and desired him that he would give unto us the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, for which we would give unto him our gold and our silver and all our precious things. 25 And it came to pass that when Laban saw our property-that it was exceeding great-he did lust after it, insomuch that he thrust us out and sent his servants to slay us that he might obtain our property. 26 And it came to pass that we did flee before the servants of Laban, and we were obliged to leave behind our property, and it fell into the hands of Laban.


Excerpted from The Book of Mormon Copyright © 2009 by Royal Skousen. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Introduction, by Grant Hardy....................xxix
Half Title....................3
Title Page....................5
1 Nephi....................72
2 Nephi....................155
The Words of Mormon....................192
3 Nephi....................642
4 Nephi....................647

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The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Vincent_Broman More than 1 year ago
Skousen's "critical edition" of the Book of Mormon attempts to answer this text critical question: __exactly__ how did the original text of the Book of Mormon read, as Joseph Smith saw it in his mind's eye, before he dictated it to his scribes, and before copying errors and editing introduced any later changes. The spelling and punctuation are modernized by Skousen, since they do not come from Joseph Smith anyway, but all the rest is unvarnished and plain, and scrutinized with amazing care for the details. The text is printed in sense lines and paragraph sections, with the original chapter breaks marked, with Orson Pratt's chapter/verse numbering system relegated to the margin. This makes the text easier to read and follow, and is much better than the verse paragraphs printed in the Church editions. The printing is large and clear, but the book is very hefty, so hefty as to discourage carrying it around. (I do, anyway. :-) I've put in some study, but not a huge amount of study of Skousen's introductory volumes that analyze the individual variants and issues. I'm convinced that Skousen really knows text criticism, that he has marshaled all the evidence that we are likely to ever possess about the early manuscripts and printings, and that he has analyzed it with admirable thoroughness. There are details here and there that I'm not entirely convinced of, like distinguishing "straight and narrow" from "strait and narrow", but overall this gets my respect. Notable variants are listed in an appendix, but are not marked in the text in any way. Those familiar with text criticism of the Bible might wonder whether there any explosive Book of Mormon issues uncovered, like the missing ending of Mark, the Trinitarian intrusion in 1 John, the story of the Adulteress, the Greek chapters of Daniel, and the like. Disappointingly, it's all about lesser details, which wouldn't affect any doctrines you might hear preached over a pulpit, but could adjust your picture of events and of the authors involved, and it does clarify some of the evidences bearing on the Book's origin, such as the signs of the text being a translation from a Semitic language, instead of being composed in English. I'd have given this five stars if it were more portable or if it came out with an e-reader format, and if variants were marked somehow in the text.
Truth1 More than 1 year ago
The Book of Mormon is not supported by ancient history, archeology, or DNA testing (unlike the Bible); but it is an interesting read. Being a born-again Christian, and thus convicted of the truth of the Bible and the amount of evidence that supports it, my opinion is naturally biased. However, I am also a fan of religious literature, therefore the Book of Mormon, and the history surrounding it, are of considerable interest to me. I should also mention that I am a historian who is particularly fond of 19th century history in general. Not all chapters of this tome are of equal interest to me. Alma, in particular, is too long and drags on endlessly. The Book of Mormon is not without it's flaws, apart from being untrue it's theology also differs with that of the Bible, which teaches grace based salvation (Ephesians 2:8,9); whereas the Book of Mormon teaches a works based form of salvation (2 Nephi 25:23). I could go on and on about contradictions between the two and problems with the Book of Mormon's own theology, but I won't as there are plenty of resources on the internet that cover these issues. The other thing about this book, which many people have noticed, is that too many paragraphs begin with "And it came to pass that..." which gets pretty redundant after a while. This book however does have a well structured and coherent format, that holds up better than many religious books out there. The Book of Mormon is interesting, it reads like a King James Bible (using the same kind of Middle English diction as that of the KJV). The story basically involves a remnant of Israel who traveled to the New World (the Americas),and set up shop. These people eventually divided into two rival groups, the Nephites and the Lamanites. The two peoples constantly battle throughout the book (which reads like a combination of Judges, 1st, 2nd, Kings/Chronicles, and parts of Genesis and Exodus). There are also parts taken out of Isaiah, the Gospels, and some of Paul's epistles; like Romans. The gospel is also featured throughout the book, even in the parts that supposedly predate Jesus Christ. Jesus makes an appearance in 3 Nephi (arguably the high point of the book). Despite it's flaws, I still enjoyed this book. This version is the original 1830 Book of Mormon and it differs in some passages compared to the modern version. Royal Skousen has done a fine job of presenting a classy and scholarly edition of this book. The print and margins are large. The binding, materials, and construction are top notch. The preface and background information provided, are excellent and are of particular interest to both Mormon and religious scholars interested in the Book of Mormon. The jacket is really boring though. I think that the publishers could have made it a little more interesting. All in all I liked it, even though I look at it as fiction and not truth as Mormons do.