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About Royal Skousen

Royal Skousen, professor of linguistics and English language at Brigham Young University, has been the editor of the Book of Mormon critical text project since 1988. In 2009, Skousen published with Yale University Press the culmination of his critical text work, The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text. He is also known for his work on exemplar-based theories of language and quantum computing of analogical modeling.

A Brief History of Critical Text Work on the Book of Mormon

I begin this brief historical account of alternative work on the critical text of the Book of Mormon by including material that I wrote in an original, longer review of John S. Dinger’s Significant Textual Changes in the Book of Mormon (Smith-Pettit Foundation: Salt Lake City, Utah, 2013). The final, shorter review appears in BYU Studies 53:1 (2014). The Interpreter recently published Robert F. Smith’s review of Dinger. In these additional comments, I especially concentrate on work done in the 1970s by Stan Larson on the text of the Book of Mormon. In the latter part of this account, I discuss the more recent work of Shirley Heater in producing The Book of Mormon: Restored Covenant Edition. Continue reading

The Original Text of the Book of Mormon and its Publication by Yale University Press

An earlier version of the following paper was presented 5 August 2010 at a conference sponsored by FAIR, the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (now FairMormon). The text of this paper is copyrighted by Royal Skousen. The photographs that appear in this paper are also protected by copyright. Photographs of the original manuscript are provided courtesy of David Hawkinson and Robert Espinosa and are reproduced here by permission of the Wilford Wood Foundation. Photographs of the printer’s manuscript are provided courtesy of Nevin Skousen and are reproduced here by permission of the Community of Christ. The text of the Yale edition of The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text (2009) is copyrighted by Royal Skousen; Yale University Press holds the rights to reproduce this text.

In this paper I discuss the work of the Book of Mormon critical text project and the attempt to restore and publish the original text of the Book of Mormon. I’ve been working on the critical text project from 1988 up to the present, and thus far ten books have been published as part of this project. Continue reading

Royal Skousen’s Analysis of 2013 Edition of the Book of Mormon

This is my analysis of the changes in the Book of Mormon text that the Church announced yesterday. I will be discussing these changes briefly in my lecture this coming Tuesday, March 5th, on the Book of Mormon editions. Actually, most of these changes appeared in the 2004 Doubleday edition, which I will be highlighting near the end of the lecture, just before I discuss the Yale edition, which most closely approximates what I believe the original dictated text to be. Continue reading

Why was one sixth of the 1830 Book of Mormon set from the original manuscript?

Abstract: Evidence from the manuscripts of the Book of Mormon (as well as internal evidence within the Book of Mormon itself) shows that for one sixth of the text, from Helaman 13:17 to the end of Mormon, the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon was set from the original (dictated) manuscript rather than from the printer’s manuscript. For five-sixths of the text, the 1830 edition was set from the printer’s manuscript, the copy prepared specifically for the 1830 typesetter to use as his copytext. In 1990, when the use of the original manuscript as copytext was first discovered, it was assumed that the scribes for the printer’s manuscript had fallen behind in their copywork, which had then forced them to take in the original manuscript to the 1830 typesetter. Historical evidence now argues, to the contrary, that the reason for the switch was the need to take the printer’s manuscript to Canada in February 1830 in order to secure the copyright of the Book of Mormon within the British realm. During the month or so that Oliver Cowdery and others were on their trip to nearby Canada with the printer’s manuscript, the 1830 typesetter used the original manuscript to set the type, although he himself was unaware that there had been a temporary switch in the manuscripts. Continue reading