On Doctrine and Covenants Language and the 1833 Plot of Zion

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Abstract: Contrary to the generally accepted view, it seems likely that much of the wording of the Doctrine and Covenants was transmitted to Joseph Smith as part of the revelatory process. Apparent bad grammar and a limited reading of “after the manner of their language” (D&C 1:24) have led to the received view that “the language of the revelations was Joseph Smith’s.”1 This judgment, however, is probably inaccurate. Abundant cases of archaic forms and structures, sometimes overlapping with Book of Mormon usage, argue for a different interpretation of “after the manner of their language.” Scholars have chosen, for the most part, to disregard the implications of a large amount of complex, archaic, well-formed language found in both scriptural texts. As for the 1833 Plot of Zion, transmitted words in Doctrine and Covenants revelations, a key statement by Frederick G. Williams, and a small but significant amount of internal archaic usage mean that the layout, dimensions, and even some language of the city plat were specifically revealed as well.

The impetus for this study was a desire to determine whether one could reasonably take the mile measurement of the June 1833 Plot of Zion as conveying an archaic sense that had become obsolete long before the 1830s. Because the city plat was given around the same time as sections 93 to 98, an analysis of Doctrine and Covenants language was determined to be essential to the task.

One item of archaic vocabulary in the Doctrine and Covenants is the adjective strange in “strange act” (D&C 95:4; 101:95). This is a biblical phrase (Isaiah 28:21), and different modern versions of the Bible translate the Hebrew adjective in this Isaiah passage as ‘alien,’ ‘unusual,’ ‘extraordinary,’ ‘strange,’ ‘disturbing,’ ‘mysterious,’ or ‘unwonted.’2 According to the Oxford English Dictionary, some of these are obsolete [Page 298]meanings, and ‘extraordinary’ seems to be a good fit for the Doctrine and Covenants usage, which corresponds to definition 8 in the OED (2nd edition): “†8. Of a kind that is unfamiliar or rare; unusual, uncommon, exceptional, singular, out of the way. Obs.” We note that the sections containing the archaic phrase “strange act” were revealed in June 1833 and December 1833,3 around the same time the city plat was revealed. That is one small point in favor of the possibility of archaism in plot language. (An appendix contains the plot description, laid out in sense lines.)

Frederick G. Williams, the scribe for the draft of the Plot of Zion,4 wrote the following on the manuscript of the closely affiliated Plan of the House of the Lord: “NB5 For your satisfaction we inform you that the plot for the City and the size form and dime[n]sions <of the house> were given us of the Lord.”6 Here Williams asserts that the details of the plot and the plan were revealed. On the basis of evidence given in this paper, we can reasonably conclude that the various measurements of the city plat and the temple plan set down in writing in 1833 were tightly controlled.7 One of the purposes of this paper is to show that in some detail. However, one cannot determine by scholarly means that the plot description was tightly controlled throughout. A considerable portion of its wording could have been under loose control or even no control as part of this particular extra-canonical revelatory process.

As mentioned, one possibility of tight control in the delivery of the Plot of Zion is the term mile. It is used at the very beginning of the plot description and does not correspond to the English statutory mile in effect in 1830s America.8 A simple calculation from specified plot dimensions leads to that conclusion. The question boils down to whether the mile of the plot was an error or whether it could be an obsolete 16th-century measurement, which fits the plot description. (This is given a fuller treatment in the last section of this paper.)

It is reasonable to consider tightly controlled elements in the Plot of Zion since there are substantive linguistic reasons for taking a goodly portion of the Doctrine and Covenants to be revealed words.9 Frederick G. Williams was also involved, at the time he drafted the plot, with scribing dozens of revelations that would later become part of the Doctrine and Covenants. Indeed, the Plot of Zion was set down in writing between the time that sections 93 and 94 were revealed to Joseph Smith, with Williams acting as scribe.10 Moreover, some language of the Doctrine and Covenants is found in the plot description, and D&C 94:2 states that the Lord revealed the pattern of the city.11

Outline of Article

[Page 299]This paper first discusses aspects of revelatory translation. In order to do this, I focus on the form and structure of the language, an almost entirely neglected field of inquiry. My focus on these aspects of the language doesn’t mean I think they are more important than the content. It’s just that the study of the form and structure of the language is the most effective way to determine whether ideas or words were transmitted to Joseph Smith.

Next I examine various types of language found in early manuscripts and printings that would later become sections of the D&C, showing how they are likely to be instances of tightly controlled language. The primary sources used in this study are given at the end of this article. These recently created digital databases have dramatically improved the analysis of revelatory language, greatly increasing our knowledge and understanding of it.

Doctrine and Covenants language is directly relevant to the 1833 Plot of Zion, since some contemporary revelations refer to the plot, and some of the language is found in the plot. These linguistic facts, together with the above supporting statement written down by Frederick G. Williams, mean that it is not a stretch to think that parts of the plot description could have been tightly controlled in the revelatory process.

After attempting to establish that words were transmitted to Joseph Smith as part of Doctrine and Covenants revelations, I then discuss some of its questionable grammar. This has a bearing on plot language, since it also contains some suspect grammar. In addition, there is a tendency to wrongly think that “bad grammar” in the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants means the language could not have been rendered into English by the Lord.12 Rather, we find that the apparently poor grammar fits literate writings of earlier English, at times in arcane ways, actually strengthening the argument for tight control.

Finally, I discuss some of the archaic and modern language found in the Plot of Zion. Terminology, phraseology, and syntax are briefly noted, as well as some rather unique design elements of the community plat and the temple plan.

On Revelatory Translation and Tight Control

Those who are opposed to tight control in relation to the Book of Mormon tend to misunderstand or misrepresent what it might mean in terms of Book of Mormon translation. The view of tight control does not declare that there was a 16th-century translator of the text (or a 17th-century [Page 300]translator, etc.). The position of tight control is that the Lord rendered the ancient Nephite record into English or had it done, and then transmitted this translation to Joseph Smith. The process of rendering the plate text into English is unknowable without specific revelation on the matter. Furthermore, tight control can involve modern English vocabulary and syntax as well as Early Modern English (1500–1700), and even some late Middle English.13 Tight control, however, is typically established by a subset of Early Modern English that had become obsolete or very rare by the 1820s14 and by systematic archaic usage that fits the Early Modern English era exclusively.15 That the language of the Book of Mormon is not a monolithic variety of English does nothing to weaken the evidence that the Lord caused words to come to Joseph Smith, words that he then relayed to scribes.

To a more limited degree, this type of analysis can be carried out in relation to Doctrine and Covenants language. Especially important to consider in this regard are the early revelations, given before or concurrently with the Book of Mormon dictation. Forms and syntactic structures that were obsolete, archaic, or rare in early 19th-century English point to a tightly controlled revelatory process, especially because receipt of the early revelations matched that of the Book of Mormon. The majority of the language, however, encompasses usage that persisted for centuries.

In the case of the Book of Mormon, abundant manuscript evidence and textual evidence strongly support the view that words were transmitted to Joseph Smith. For some, the question arises whether the revelatory process could have involved a mixture of tightly controlled and loosely controlled language. This is theoretically possible, but there are substantial problems with such a view.

The main issue is that one cannot reliably distinguish between tight and loose control in the original manuscript and in the text.16 For example, suppose the “they was” of 1 Nephi 4:4 is taken to be loosely controlled language.17 Immediately after “they was,” we encounter two instances of did-periphrasis. This prevalent Book of Mormon usage is only a systematic fit with mid-16th-century patterns, patterns that Joseph was almost certainly unaware of in the 1820s.18 If we accept a mixture of tightly and loosely controlled revelatory language for “they was yet wroth and did still continue to murmur,” we must accept that the translation process switched between transmitted ideas and words in the same sentence, in this case and in many others like it — thousands of times. The same issue exists with the thousand or so instances of [Page 301]personal which (for example, “Adam and Eve, which was our first parents” [1 Nephi 5:11]). If the systematically extra-biblical and archaic relative-pronoun usage of personal which was tightly controlled,19 while the verb agreement was loosely controlled,20 then again the view must be that there was a mixture of transmitted words and ideas within the same sentence, in this case and in many others like it.

Suppose, then, we stipulate that there was less frequent changing of the translation process. In other words, lengthier passages were tightly and loosely controlled. Less frequent but continual switching is unlikely, however, for at least a couple of reasons. First, the longer the passage, the more likely we are to encounter extra-biblical, archaic usage. There are probably more than 4,000 instances of such usage in the earliest text, out of approximately 250,000 words (excluding lengthier biblical passages). That means we can find stretches of 100 words or so without potential cases of extra-biblical archaism, but not many of them. Second, when we consider the original manuscript and its 75,000 extant words, there is no original manuscript evidence that the dictation changed character repeatedly — that is, there is no convincing evidence of indecision over lexical or syntactic choice, since such corrections are extremely minimal in occurrence. It is a uniformly dictated text with dictation-type errors. If Joseph had been periodically and repeatedly responsible for lexical and syntactic choice under loose control, the rate of scribal correction would have been higher. That is because a human trying to accurately convey a divine revelation would have changed his mind about how to express revealed ideas to a noticeable degree.

Another important item to consider is biblical passages. The dictation witnesses, the unchanging manuscript character at transitions between non-biblical and biblical passages (for example, 1 Nephi 19–20 and 1 Nephi 21–22) and the more than 800 word and constituent differences between King James and Book of Mormon versions indicate that a Bible was not used in the dictation (the figure of more than 800 differences derives from careful comparative work carried out by Royal Skousen). But the otherwise close match with King James passages points to words, not ideas, being sent to Joseph Smith during the dictation. Otherwise the differences in wording between the two texts would have been much greater than they are. In other words, 800+ differences are more than one reasonably expects from copying but fewer than what are reasonably expected from memory.

Consistent tight control is also likely to have been the case in contemporary Doctrine and Covenants revelations, and there is no [Page 302]compelling reason that it could not have been the case in many later revelations.

Editing and Grammar in the Doctrine and Covenants

The Book of Mormon is of primary importance in determining the nature of the revelatory process between the Lord and Joseph Smith. That is because there is no critical text of the Doctrine and Covenants at this time, and its textual history is complex and difficult. A wide variety of emendations have been made through the years, and a large number have a difficult textual history. Some edits have obscured various archaic features of original revelatory dictations, and some of these have involved questionable grammar and nearby variation, but others have not. In many cases it is hard to be certain of original readings for Doctrine and Covenants passages. Also, some early manuscripts have been lost. This state of affairs hampers us in analyzing its language. Nevertheless, the Joseph Smith Papers project and website are helpful resources, as citations throughout this paper show.

In general, the Doctrine and Covenants is not as consistently archaic as the Book of Mormon. For example, there are fewer instances of archaic vocabulary, and the relative pronoun who is generally used in the Doctrine and Covenants (after human antecedents), while the Book of Mormon favors which.21 Also, there is less archaic verbal {-th} morphology in the Doctrine and Covenants than in the Book of Mormon.22

First we take a look at language that has not tended to be edited out, that has been generally regarded as acceptable. Then we consider a few items of suspect grammar. These have usually been edited to conform to generally acceptable modern standards. The language to be considered includes:

Acceptable Grammar

  • save it be/was/were
  • dual-object command syntax
  • if there shall come
  • dual-object cause syntax
  • if it so be
  • expedient in me
  • of which hath been spoken[Page 303]

Suspect Grammar

  • you ~ thou switching
  • exceeding used with adjectives
  • you ~ ye switching
  • the {-th} plural
  • subjunctive ~ indicative variation
  • the {-s} plural
  • plural was

Acceptable Grammar and Its Implications

We begin by considering various types of language found in the Doctrine and Covenants that are uncommon or rare in the textual record but which have probably been viewed as unobjectionable and have not been edited out.

The presence of archaic, well-formed, extra-biblical language scattered throughout Doctrine and Covenants revelations casts doubt on the following conclusion by Bushman: “The revealed preface to the Book of Commandments specified that the language of the revelations was Joseph Smith’s.”23 Although it is hard to pinpoint what exactly Bushman means by this statement when read in isolation, we can gather from the context that he concluded that much of the wording of the revelations came from Joseph’s own language, influenced by his exposure through the years to the King James Bible.

Bushman refers to “the simple language of Joseph Smith” (173) and on the following page indicates the possibility that “Joseph’s human mind” may have “introduced errors” as well as mentioning “human language coming through the Prophet.” But he concludes this section on revelatory language with this sentence: “The words were both his and God’s.” From all this it seems most likely to me that Bushman meant that the language of these revelations was in the main loosely controlled, with God’s language (King James idiom) often coming through because of Joseph’s familiarity with the Bible.24 In essence, Bushman seems to believe that in many instances the Lord gave Joseph Smith ideas that he put into his own words. But his statements don’t appear to rule out the possibility of occasional tight control. However, the relative degree of tight and loose control is not discussed.

The principal reason for judgments such as Bushman’s has been bad grammar. And more often than not verb agreement peculiarities prompt a conclusion of loose control. But this ignores a large amount [Page 304]of textual evidence that informs us that the phrase “after the manner of their language” (D&C 1:24) certainly must also encompass complex, well-formed language that was rare, archaic, even obsolete by the 1820s. Therein lies the difficulty: the revelations are full of archaic, literary language mixed with occasional doses of bad grammar. Because of these facts, any explanatory view of revelatory language must account not only for bad grammar but also for archaic, literary language.

During the revelatory process, Joseph would have recognized the archaic language, since it seems to have been filtered for recognition and even sometimes for plainness,25 but in case after case the textual record tells us that it is very likely he would not have produced the wording from ideas.

The phrase “after the manner of their language” doesn’t force the conclusion that faulty verb agreement — from a modern, prescriptive perspective — was the result of Joseph putting ideas into his own words. First, some questionable subject–verb agreement could just as well have been archaic language (such as plural subjects used with singular verb inflection — treated below). Second, we cannot rule out the possibility that the Lord might have tailored some of the language to fit Joseph’s American dialectal usage.26 Nor can we conclude from tight control in relation to the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants that the Lord favors Early Modern English in an absolute sense.27 Both scriptural texts contain modern language as well as many archaisms, and they contain plenty of “good” grammar as well as some “bad” grammar.28

In summary, rare, archaic, obsolete usage in Doctrine and Covenants revelations indicates tight control. In isolation, modern usage, nonstandard grammar, or common archaisms (for example, high frequency biblical language) could be either tightly or loosely controlled language. But in the Book of Mormon, nonstandard grammar is very weak evidence for loose control: in many cases it actually turns out to be evidence for tight control (as shown by non-superficial analysis). And nonstandard grammar in the Doctrine and Covenants that precedes in time or is co-extensive with Book of Mormon language should be considered in the same light. Tight control is able to cover all instances, but loose control fails to convincingly explain the presence of rare, archaic, obsolete language, as the following discussion attempts to demonstrate.

Summary of Findings in the Domain of Acceptable Grammar

Some rare, archaic grammar first appears in the Doctrine and Covenants before or close in time to when it was first dictated in the [Page 305]Book of Mormon (not counting the lost 1828 dictation). Here is a list that shows the acceptable grammar discussed in this section, along with its earliest use in the Doctrine and Covenants and in the Book of Mormon (assuming that the dictation began with Mosiah):29






dual-object cause syntax

D&C 5:3

March 1829

Mosiah 6:7

dual-object command syntax

D&C 5:2

March 1829

Mosiah 2:30

save it be

D&C 6:12

April 1829

Mosiah 29:21

of which hath been spoken

D&C 8:1

April 1829

Helaman 16:16

save it was

D&C 9:7

April 1829

Alma 49:4

finite suffer syntax with shall

D&C 10:14

ca. April 1829

Mosiah 13:3

save it were

D&C 18:35

June 1829

Mosiah 18:19

if it so be that . . . should

D&C 18:15

June 1829

1 Nephi 19:19

it behooveth <dative>
that . . . should

D&C 21:10

6 April 1830

3 Nephi 21:6

there shall a <np> be
<past participle>

D&C 21:1

6 April 1830

expedient in <np>
that . . . should

D&C 30:5

September 1830

if there shall
<intransitive verb>

D&C 94:9

2 August 1833

“I have caused him that he should enter . . . ” (D&C 5:3) was dictated before “king Mosiah did cause his people that they should till . . . ” (Mosiah 6:7). This syntax was either obsolete or very rare by the modern period (after the year 1700).

“I have commanded him that he should stand . . . ” (D&C 5:2) was dictated before “and hath commanded me that I should declare . . . ” (Mosiah 2:30). This archaic syntax is biblical: “And commanded them that they should take nothing . . . ” (Mark 6:8). Original instances were rare by the early 19th century.

Of the three non-biblical save phrases “save it be/was/were,” indicative past-tense “save it was” (D&C 9:7) was probably dictated before the earliest Book of Mormon appearance. The first instances of subjunctive present-tense “save it be” were dictated close in time to each other. Subjunctive past-tense “save it were” (D&C 18:35) was dictated more than a month after the first Book of Mormon occurrence.

[Page 306]Rare “of which hath been spoken” (D&C 8:1) was dictated before Helaman 16:16.

“I will not suffer that Satan shall accomplish . . . ” (D&C 10:14) may have been dictated months before (in 1828) or close in time (in April 1829) to “God will not suffer that I shall be destroyed at this time” (Mosiah 13:3).

Rare “if it so be that . . . should” (D&C 18:15) was dictated close in time to structurally identical 1 Nephi 19:19.

“Wherefore it behooveth me that he should be ordained” (D&C 21:10) was dictated almost 10 months after “it behooveth the Father that it should come forth from the Gentiles” (3 Nephi 21:6).

The archaic expression exemplified by “there shall a record be kept” (D&C 21:1) is not found in either the Book of Mormon or the King James Bible. This phraseology is akin to Shakespeare’s “There shall not a maid be / married” (Second Part of Henry the Sixth 4.7.121–122).

The archaic expression exemplified by “it is expedient in me that thou shalt open thy mouth” (D&C 30:5) is not found in either the Book of Mormon or the King James Bible. An example with should has been found in the 17th century. Similar expressions without an in-phrase are fairly common in the Book of Mormon; the King James Bible has one of these.

Archaic “if there shall come” (D&C 94:9) is not found in either the Book of Mormon or the King James Bible, but it is Early Modern English usage.

While there is close-in-time production of identical archaisms, there are archaic Doctrine and Covenants structures whose dictation preceded that of the same archaic Book of Mormon structures. Thus there is no compelling reason to attribute close-in-time Doctrine and Covenants archaisms to Book of Mormon usage. While there might have been influence in some cases, there is no conclusive evidence against the occurrence of separately revealed, tightly controlled wording.

Save it be/was/were”

There are 11 instances of “save it be/was/were” in the Doctrine and Covenants (sections 6, 9, 18, 33, 58, 61, 68, and 104; 1829–1834). This compact phraseology is rare in the textual record before 1830 and particularly suited to poetic use. As of this writing, I have encountered no American instance before the time of the Book of Mormon’s publication.

Nine of the eleven instances take the present-tense subjunctive form “save it be.”30 In writings published before 1830, the short phrase “save it be” has currently been verified in the works of three late 17th-century Scottish authors31 as well as once each in the 19th-century works of an English clergyman (who was also a translator and a botanist) and an Irish literary enthusiast.32

[Page 307]The earliest use of “save it be” in the Doctrine and Covenants can be seen in the 1833 Book of Commandments:

Book of Commandments 5:5 (D&C 6:12) [April 1829]33

Make not thy gift known unto any,
save it be those which34 are of thy faith.

The revelation was probably set down in writing before Alma 58:31, which reads identically in part: “all save it be those which have been taken prisoners.” Even considering this evidence in isolation, we can reasonably assert that this five-word phrase was very likely tightly controlled in both instances. Had it not been tightly controlled, we would probably read the three-word phrase “except those who” in both Book of Commandments 5:5 and Alma 58:31.35

Interestingly, the nine instances of “save it be” in the Doctrine and Covenants are roughly equal to the number currently verified in the earlier textual record. This means there are no writings that employ this rare phrase in any frequency close to what is found in Doctrine and Covenants revelations.36

The phrase “save it was” is found in D&C 9:7.37 This phrase is even rarer in the pre-1830 textual record than “save it be.” William Tyndale employed the phrase as part of his glossary to the book of Exodus in 1530.38 There is also an instance in a 1607 poetic translation of Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso,39 and another 17th-century example found in EEBO or in Literature Online (LION).40 “Save that it was” is the phrase encountered in the textual record more often, but neither the Doctrine and Covenants nor the Book of Mormon ever employs this short phrase type with the complementizer that.

The phrase “save it were” is found in D&C 18:35.41 This might be even rarer in the pre-1830 textual record than “save it was.” Currently we know of an obscure poetic instance by a Scotsman in 164642 and an occurrence in an old Scottish folk song, published occasionally beginning no later than 1751.43

In summary, the phrase type “save it be/was/were,” as found 11 times in the Doctrine and Covenants (and 128 times in the Book of Mormon), is very likely to be tightly controlled revelatory language.

Dual-Object command Syntax44

Because the original production of dual-object syntax45 after the verb command was rare by the 1820s,46 instances of this construction found in the Doctrine and Covenants are likely to be examples of tightly [Page 308]controlled language. The most complex case of this syntactic structure found in the revelations is the following:

D&C 124:38 [19 January 1841; scribed by Robert B. Thompson]47

for, for this cause I commanded Moses that he should build a tabernacle, that they should bear it with them in the wilderness, and to build a house in the land of promise, that those ordinances might be revealed which had been hid from before the world was;

Moses is the first object after the verb commanded, and then there are two that-clauses (which are also grammatical objects), followed by an infinitival complement.48 There is a switch from co-referential Moses ~ he (he refers to Moses), to partially distinct Moses ~ they (Moses is part of they),49 and then to infinitival “I commanded Moses . . . to build.”50 The complexity of the above structure and the rarity of mixed complementation in the textual record increase the likelihood that the wording here was tightly controlled.

There are other examples of dual-object command syntax in the Doctrine and Covenants, including D&C 5:2;51 5:4;52 19:25, 26, 28; and 76:115.53 The last one in this list is noteworthy in that the command syntax is part of a relative clause, and it doesn’t employ a complementizer that:

D&C 76:115 [16 February 1832; copied between 16 February and 8 March 1832, handwriting of Frederick G. Williams and Joseph Smith, Jr.]54

Which he commanded us we should not write while we were yet in the Spirit,

Similar syntax can be seen in Alma 63:12 and Helaman 6:25,55 but the following is a precise match, since it also involves a dual-object structure in a relative clause:

1650, EEBO A40026, George Foster, The Pouring Forth of the Seventh
and Last Vial upon All Flesh and Fleshlines
, page 57

by his longing desire after the fruit which I had commanded him he should not eat of,

The “which . . . commanded us we should not” of D&C 76:115 exactly parallels Foster’s “which . . . commanded him he should not.” Both phrases have the relative pronoun which, repeated pronominals, and negation after should.56

Most complementation after the verb command in the Doctrine and Covenants, however, is infinitival. I haven’t carried out an extremely careful tally, but a preliminary estimate yields a rate of 76% infinitival.57 This marks the text as distinct from the systematic usage of the Book [Page 309]of Mormon, which is only 21% infinitival. However, part of this large difference stems from the fact that there are many passive command verbs in the Doctrine and Covenants.

Interestingly, almost all cases of finite complementation in the Doctrine and Covenants are dual-object constructions, which is the more archaic variety that had become rare by the 19th century. Therefore, the Doctrine and Covenants is an interesting hybrid of syntactic structures in this regard: it is somewhat biblical in its complementation distribution (not modern), and quite archaic in its heavy use of dual-object finite command syntax.

If there shall come”

The phrase “if there shall come” is marked as archaic in two ways: by the use of existential there with the intransitive verb come, and by the future subjunctive marker shall being used after the hypothetical if. The co-occurrence of these archaic elements in one short phrase makes it rare in the modern era. Surprisingly, there are no instances of the phrase “if there shall” in either the Book of Mormon or the King James Bible. The Doctrine and Covenants has one instance of this:

D&C 94:9 [2 August 1833; scribed by Frederick G. Williams]58

but if ther shall come into it any unclean thing my glory shall not be there and my presence shall not come into it.

The EEBO database currently contains 21 examples of this four-word phrase.59 Significantly, neither Google Books nor LION provides examples from the 18th or 19th centuries at this time.60 Here are the two earliest-dated examples from EEBO:

1534, EEBO A13615, Nicolas Udall (translator), Terence’s Flowers for Latin speaking, page 14

If there shall come more hurt or displesure vnto vs bothe than profyte therby.

1583, EEBO A67922, John Foxe (editor), Book of Martyrs, page 481

First of al, if there shall come such one (saying expresly that he is Christ) what Christian would be seduced by him, though he shuld do neuer so many miracles:

Thus the phrase “if there shall come” is language characterisitic of the Early Modern English era, not yet verified in the late modern textual record before 1833, when section 94 was revealed. Consequently, by [Page 310]1833 it was very rare syntax, and even if textual attestations are found in the future, the wording in this case was likely to be tightly controlled.61 Loose control might have given us “if any unclean thing come(s),” “if there come(s) any unclean thing,” or “if any unclean thing shall come.” In fine, there were five possibilities that were more likely than the one that the Doctrine and Covenants has in section 94, revealed just after the Plot of Zion.

Dual-Object cause Syntax and Related Structures62

Besides having two instances of dual-object command syntax, section 5 of the Doctrine and Covenants has one instance of dual-object cause syntax:

D&C 5:3 [March 1829; copied about April 1829; handwriting of Oliver Cowdery]63

nevertheless I have caused him that he should enter into a covenant with me

This currently reads: “And I have caused you that you should enter . . . ”64

I haven’t found this redundant syntactic structure in the modern period yet, and I have looked for it several times. In contrast, as of this writing I have been able to verify about 30 Early Modern English examples of this construction.65 Here is one that is very close to the original language of D&C 5:3 (accidentals regularized):66

1550, EEBO A22686, Nycolas Lesse (translator), Augustine’s A Work of the Predestination of Saints

Their works and deeds do not cause him that he should perform that which he hath promised.

In the 19th-century textual record, virtually all causative constructions involving the verb cause and taking verbal complements were infinitival. Finite complementation was very uncommon by this time (probably less than 0.25%, and perhaps less than 0.1%).67 As a result, had the language of D&C 5:3 not been tightly controlled, it almost certainly would have read differently, something like “I have caused him to enter into a covenant with me” or “I have made him enter.” Even if we suppose that Joseph might have opted for finite complementation here, it is extremely unlikely that the superfluous object him would have been used, since dual-object syntax with the verb cause was obsolete or very rare by this time.68

Next we consider finite complementation with the auxiliary shall, which is rarely found in the early 19th-century textual record.69 This [Page 311]formal language involves future subjunctive marking in the that-clause (shall). The usage rate of this syntax diminished century by century from the 16th century on. Yet there are two of these rare constructions among the earlier revelations found in the Doctrine and Covenants, both beginning with “I will cause”:

D&C 9:8 [April 1829; copied by John Whitmer about March 1831]70

and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you;

D&C 21:8 [6 April 1830; copied by John Whitmer about March 1831]71

and I will cause that he shall mourn for her no longer;

This particular construction is absent from the King James Bible, and it was very likely to be tightly controlled language when we consider it along with the obsolete dual-object cause syntax found in D&C 5:3 and the nearby co-occurrence of rare phraseology such as “save it was” in D&C 9:7 and “there shall a record be kept” in D&C 21:172 and “it behooveth me that he should be ordained by you” in D&C 21:10.73 In other words, there is a slight possibility that Joseph Smith would have produced this syntax on his own, if we consider it in isolation, but that view is even less likely once we take into account other nearby or related Doctrine and Covenants language.

Very similar to D&C 9:8 and 21:8 is the following language, involving the verb suffer:

D&C 10:14, 43 [about April 1829; parts may date as early as summer 1828; copied by John Whitmer about March 1831]74

I will not suffer that Satan shall accomplish his evil design in this thing

I will not suffer that they shall destroy my work

This suffer syntax with finite complementation containing the auxiliary shall was also rare language in the spring of 1829.75 It is properly classified as archaic, literary usage.

There is one other instance of finite cause syntax in the Doctrine and Covenants that is very similar to the above. In the following example the auxiliary of the that-clause is should, for which there is matching King James language (but only two instances):76

D&C 29:41 [September 1830; copied by John Whitmer about March 1831]77

Wherefore I the Lord God caused that he should be cast out from the Garden of Edan from my presence

Even though the auxiliary should in this syntax was relatively more frequent in contemporary texts than the auxiliary shall, this usage of D&C 29:41 was quite uncommon by the early 19th century.78

[Page 312]Elsewhere in the Doctrine and Covenants, infinitival cause syntax occurs slightly more than 20 times.79 In the case of revelatory language, the finite rate of the Doctrine and Covenants is approximately 15%, which is extremely high for the modern period and very rare in the 19th century, but much lower than the extraordinary 56% finite complementation rate after the verb cause in the Book of Mormon.

If it so be”

The 1611 King James Bible consistently employs the distinctive, emphatic hypothetical phrase “if so be” 18 times.80 In contrast, the earliest text of the Book of Mormon consistently employs the four-word phrase “if it so be” 42 times.81 This categorical difference indicates tight control of this phraseology in the Book of Mormon, since it is reasonable to assume that biblical influence would have prompted at least a few instances of “if so be” in the Book of Mormon under loose control (or no use at all of this archaic hypothetical). The very rare usage of the subjunctive auxiliaries shall and should in complementary that-clauses after “if it so be,” found seven times in the Book of Mormon, cements this view.82

Interestingly, the only 16th-century Bible that has “if it so be” is the 1568 Bishops’ Bible, which has a single example of this: “And yf it so be that he fynde it” (Matthew 18:13).83 This archaic phrase can be found in Chaucer’s writings more than a dozen times, and was used at approximately 30 times the rate in the 16th century versus the 17th century.84 “If so be” was the more frequent phrase throughout the Early Modern English period, but was heavily dominant by the 17th century. Consequently, “if it so be” is clearly a phrase that is characteristic of the late Middle English period and the first half of the Early Modern English period.85 This phrase can be found in the 19th century in novel production, but instances are very uncommon.86

The Doctrine and Covenants has three examples of this archaic phrase, each time followed by a that-clause. Two of these have following finite verbs whose grammatical mood cannot be determined:

D&C 27:2

it mattereth not what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink when ye partake of the sacrament, if it so be that ye do it with an eye single to my glory

D&C 61:22[Page 313]

And it mattereth not unto me, after a little, if it so be that they fill their mission, whether they go by water or by land;

In both these passages the nonbiblical, archaic phrase “it mattereth not” precedes the usage.87 The subjunctive was often employed after “it mattereth not what” in the Early Modern English era, and D&C 27:2 has two instances of future subjunctive shall after this phrase. This is formal auxiliary usage in this context. That syntax, along with closely occurring “if it so be,” points to tight control in this verse. But the third case of “if it so be” is from an early June 1829 dictation. The surrounding language strongly suggests tight control.

The earliest extant version of this case of “if it so be” in the Doctrine and Covenants reads as follows:

Book of Commandments 15:17 (D&C 18:15)88

And if it so be that you should labor in89 all your days, in crying repentance unto this people, and bring save it be one soul only90 unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father?

The Book of Mormon has one example of matching syntax: “if it so be that they should obtain these things” (1 Nephi 19:19). Both passages would have been dictated at roughly the same time, and it’s possible that D&C 18:15 was written down before 1 Nephi 19:19. As a result, one cannot make the case that this Doctrine and Covenants language depended on the matching Book of Mormon language.

The co-occurrence of the auxiliary should (functioning as an archaic subjunctive marker) in the that-clause of the non–King James phrase “if it so be” is very rare in English of any time period.91 To date I have found only one matching example:

1481, EEBO A69111, translation of Cicero’s Cato On Old Age

But if it so be that my soul should die with my body together

Spelling and morphology modernized.

Modern instances of the syntax “if it so be that <subject> should <infinitive>” may be found going forward, but probably few of them. As discussed before, “save it be” is also a rare phrase, and it is used almost immediately after “if it so be that . . . should.” The co-occurrence of these linguistic elements in D&C 18:15 makes tight control extremely likely in this revelatory instance. In other words, it is extremely unlikely [Page 314]that Joseph Smith would have produced the combined wording of this passage from his own language or experience.

Expedient in me”

The phrase “expedient in me” is an example of language that we can find in the Book of Mormon once, without a verbal complement: “ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me” (Moroni 7:33). Also, the Book of Mormon has many cases of “expedient that S,” where S stands for sentence. These Book of Mormon sentences usually contain the auxiliary verb should. (Generally speaking, sentences have finite verbs, and these finite verbs can be non-main verbs such as should and shall.) The Doctrine and Covenants has more than 10 examples of “expedient in me that S” with should, as well as one with shalt. Doctrine and Covenants usage is thus derivable from the Book of Mormon, but the syntax “expedient in <noun phrase> that S” is very rare in the general textual record outside of the Doctrine and Covenants.

There are 20 instances of the phrase “expedient in me” in the current Doctrine and Covenants,92 and most of these are followed by dependent that-clauses.93 In contrast to Doctrine and Covenants usage, the few relevant examples seen in the greater textual record are almost always infinitival — that is, of the form “expedient in <an agency> to <infinitival verb phrase>.”

In the Doctrine and Covenants, the prepositional phrase “in me” always refers to the Lord, who is distinct from the entity that is the subject of the complement clause (the that-clause). This is apparently what makes the language rare.

The Oxford English Dictionary may not have a definition for the preposition in that is directly on point, and there are several possible meanings that we could assign to in as used in this construction.94

We can profitably contrast typical Doctrine and Covenants usage with the way Joseph Smith employed it in a 1 September 1842 letter that he wrote:

D&C 127:195

I have thought it expedient and wisdom in me to leave the place for a short season, for my own safety and the safety of this people.

This is probably Joseph’s own language, and it shows an awareness of language he frequently received by revelation, but he employs it somewhat differently. Elsewhere in the Doctrine and Covenants the verb think and the in-phrase are not used together.96 And in the letter the me of the [Page 315]phrase “in me” is the same as the understood subject of the infinitival complement. In other Doctrine and Covenants instances, the Lord is the one who deems something suitable or proper to the circumstances of the case,97 but humans are to take action or refrain from some action.

We find that the three-word phrase “expedient in me” is textually rare, currently attested in a single 17th-century translation out of Latin: “all things are lawful for me . . . but are not all expedient in me, making me better” (1646, EEBO A25854,; paraphrasing 1 Corinthians 6:12). Not too much should be made of this, however, since we can find examples of “expedient in him/them” in later language as well (see note 102).

As mentioned, most of the time a that-clause follows “expedient in me” in the Doctrine and Covenants. The one case with an accompanying infinitival verb phrase is the following:

D&C 72:2 [4 December 1831; scribed by Sidney Rigdon]98

for verily thus saith the Lord it is expedient in me for a Bishop to be appointed unto you

Here the preposition for immediately follows the phrase “it is expedient in me,” and there is an accompanying infinitival verb phrase after the noun phrase “a bishop.” If this passage had been phrased in the usual way, it would have read: “it is expedient in me that a bishop should be appointed unto you.” The phraseology with for is less archaic than the 17 instances of “it is expedient in me” immediately followed by dependent that-clauses.99 So in its overall usage of this construction the Doctrine and Covenants is clearly more archaic than modern. Here are two examples that employ an auxiliary — shalt and should — after the subject of the that-clause:

D&C 30:5 [September 1830; scribed by John Whitmer]100

for the time has come, that it is expedient in me, that thou shalt open thy mouth to declare my Gospel

D&C 64:18 [11 September 1831; scribed by John Whitmer]101

& now verily I say, that it is expedient in me that my servent Sidney (Gilbert) after a few weeks, should return upon his business,

The manuscript reads should; the current LDS text has shall here.

The D&C 30:5 example is the earliest one found in this body of scripture. It was dictated more than a year after Moroni 7:33, the lone Book of Mormon example, which, however, has no dependent that-clause or infinitival complement.

The particular syntax in question — “it <be verb form/phrase> expedient in <agentive np>” — is neither common nor rare in the [Page 316]textual record, but what is rare is the co-occurrence of an in-phrase and a dependent that-clause. The closest match found to date with this fairly common Doctrine and Covenants language is the following:

1634, EEBO A23187, Meric Casaubon (translator), Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations

It was expedient in nature that it should be so, and therefore necessary.

In every other instance encountered thus far — either before or after the year 1700 — the agent of the in-phrase is the same as subject of the complement, and an infinitival verb phrase is used.

The date distribution of the above 1634 example and the seven infinitival examples isolated for this study102 suggests that this language was somewhat more characteristic of the 17th century than of the 18th century,103 but nevertheless the usage clearly persisted into the 19th century.

When we consider cases of “it <be verb form> expedient” without an in-phrase, we encounter hundreds of examples in the textual record with complementary that-clauses. The favored auxiliary in that-clauses after this impersonal expression is should, followed distantly by shall.104 That same tendency is reflected in both the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. The latter has 12 instances of should (as in D&C 64:18, shown above) and only one of shalt (D&C 30:5, shown above).105 I haven’t yet found a precise match with D&C 30:5 in the textual record,106 but the 1634 Casaubon example is structurally the same, differing only in the tense of the auxiliary.

As indicated, Joseph could have derived this syntax from analogous Book of Mormon usage. The other possibility (because of how uncommon this linguistic structure is in the written record) is that “expedient in me that <subject> should/shall” was tightly controlled revelatory language. We do not expect that Smith would have formulated it this way and in such a consistent manner from his own language. It is likely he would have expressed it another way from revealed ideas, and varied the language. Even under analogy, we expect that the language would be more variable than it actually is, similar to the idiosyncratic usage found in D&C 127:1. Consequently, no matter if we choose to think of this particular language as modern or archaic, it was most likely to have been the result of wording that was tightly controlled in its delivery.

Of which hath been spoken”

Section 8 originally had one example of this archaic, little-known phraseology:

[Page 317]D&C 8:1 [April 1829; copied by John Whitmer about March 1831]107

those parts of my Scriptures of which hath been spoken

The 1833 Book of Commandments 7:1 reads “those parts of my scripture of which have been spoken”; the current reading is “those parts of my scripture of which has been spoken.”

We see that hath was first changed to have for the 1833 Book of Commandments, and then later (after 1844) to has. Thus it is possible, if not likely, that the phraseology dictated one month later (for which the manuscripts are lost) read the same, since later editing followed the same path:108

Book of Commandments 10:9 (D&C 11:19)
[May 1829; cop
ied by John Whitmer about March 1831]109

those things of which have been spoken

This currently reads “those things of which has been spoken.”

The Book of Mormon has two instances in the body of the work (Helaman 16:16; Ether 13:15) and one in each of the witness statements.110 In three of these the antecedent is in the plural, as is the case in the above Doctrine and Covenants excerpts. These may be cases of the {-th} plural.111

Alexander Campbell criticized the Book of Mormon for employing “of which hath been spoken,” giving three examples of it.112 Campbell may have thought Smith had invented the phraseology in order to sound old. This is not dialectal speech, however, but formal in nature; it is uncommonly found in the Early Modern English era, as in these five examples:

1630, EEBO A01972, William Gouge [1578–1653]
An exposition on the whole fifth chapter of S. Johns Gospell

The parts are, 1. A Preface, Verily, etc.] of which hath been spoken before, . . .

The meanes are expressed in these words, (the whole armour of God) of which hath been spoken before, vers. 11.

1657, EEBO A57385, Francis Roberts [1609–1675] The mysterie and marrow of the Bible

Divine and Humane, and amongst Divine, both of Works and Faith do concur, That they are Compacts or Agreements. Of which hath been spoken sufficiently heretofore.

[Page 318]1683, EEBO A54597, John Pettus (translator) [1613–1690] | Lazarus Ercker [d. 1594] Fleta minor the laws of art and nature, in knowing, judging, assaying, fining, refining and inlarging the bodies of confin’d metals

FLUSS (of which hath been spoken) is made thus, Take one part of Salt-peter and two parts of Argol

1685, EEBO A42965, Thomas Godwin [d. 1642]
Moses and Aaron civil and ecclesiastical rites

First, he consulted with his arrows and staves, of which hath been spoken immediately before;

The 1683 example is a bare use without any accompanying adverb, similar to what is found in the Book of Mormon.113 In addition, two or three of the above examples may have plural antecedents, as we encounter in both the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants.

Significantly, section 8 was set down in writing before Helaman 16:16, and so archaic “of which hath been spoken” in D&C 8:1 preceded its use in the Book of Mormon.

Suspect Grammar

Now that it has been established that it is reasonable to accept tight control for a variety of Doctrine and Covenants language, we extend our view to examine some questionable grammar. This is the aspect of these revelations which has led commentators to conclude that the wording was Joseph Smith’s. They did so without researching earlier English, which was extremely difficult to do until recently. We will see that the “bad grammar” of the Doctrine and Covenants only strengthens the claim of tight control; it does not diminish it.

Close Pronominal Variation: you ~ thou

First we consider the following revelation addressed to Martin Harris:

D&C 19:26 [summer of 1829; copied by John Whitmer]114

And again, I command you that thou shalt not covet thine own property, but impart it freely to the printing of the Book of Mormon,

Here the doubtful language is the immediate pronoun switch from you to thou (and continuing with thine). There are several of these close switches in this section alone.115 This may have been thought to be a mistake on the part of Joseph Smith, and so you was later changed to thee a few times in this section, since the addressee (Harris) is a single person.

As discussed in the prior section, dual-object syntax after the verb command116 was rare by the 1820s, and so the you after the verb command [Page 319]was probably tightly controlled language. If the wording hadn’t been tightly controlled here, we would expect no you here, only “I command that thou shalt.” There would have been only one pronoun, and therefore no grammatically suspect shift in pronominal form.

Interestingly, the immediate pronoun switching of D&C 19:26 can be found in various Early Modern English texts, as in the following examples (the spelling has been regularized):

1623, EEBO A16053, James Mabbe (translator), Mateo Alemán’s The Rogue, or the Life of Guzmán de Alfarache, page 353

And in case I should go hence, I will so far befriend you, that thou shalt be ranked like a rogue, according as thy villanies deserve,

before 1647, EEBO A30582, Jeremiah Burroughs, Gospel Remission (1668), page 59

and therefore I beseech you look up higher than for such signs as reason may reach unto, and beg of God to reveal this unto you, that thou mayest have the witness of the Spirit of God to testify unto thee that thy sins are pardoned.

In the 1623 example, the pronominal switch involves the same auxiliary we see in the revelation given during the summer of 1829: “thou shalt.”117 And in the Burroughs example, there are two instances of you followed closely by thou and a continuation of thou forms, similar to the use of thine in D&C 19:26. The close switch is even found in the current King James Bible:

Ezekiel 36:13

Because they say unto you, Thou land devourest up men, and hast bereaved thy nations;

Another biblical verse is worth pointing out as well, since it has “command you” followed closely by thou:

Deuteronomy 12:32

What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

The Doctrine and Covenants usage in question can be viewed as a compact form of the language of Deuteronomy 12:32.

Therefore the questionable pronoun variation found in D&C 19:26 and elsewhere in these revelations and in the Book of Mormon118 is actually biblical and not rare in the Early Modern English textual record. Its usage in the Doctrine and Covenants certainly does not argue against [Page 320]tight control of the language or convincingly point to it being Joseph Smith’s language.

The Adverb exceeding Used with Adjectives

Another type of edited Doctrine and Covenants language worth considering is the two instances of “exceding angry,” originally found at D&C 87:5 and 88:87 (scribed in late December 1832 by Frederick G. Williams).119 This can only be a minor point, however, since by late 1832 frequent Book of Mormon usage could have influenced Joseph Smith to adopt the typical morphological form of the Book of Mormon in these Doctrine and Covenants revelations.120

The Google Books Ngram Viewer currently indicates that in the 1830s the short adverbial form without {-ly} in the phrase “exceeding angry” occurred less than 15% of the time in the textual record. But this same abbreviated form had been dominant in the 17th century and before. Consequently, we might expect that at least one of these would have been “exceedingly angry” had the dictation not been tightly controlled here.121 A contemporary example of the modern morphological usage is the phrase “excedingly fateagued,” found in a July 1833 letter scribed by Williams, but probably representing the language of Sidney Rigdon.122 Because this letter contains an instance of exceedingly used with a following adjective, it strengthens the possibility of tight control over the morphology of the adverb in the Doctrine and Covenants bigram “exceeding angry.”123

The 15% textual usage rate of “exceeding angry” in the 1830s agrees with the general rule of this decade that exceeding used before all adjectives was the less-common form (20%), slowly diminishing in rate decade by decade. The crossover for exceeding(ly) with adjectives, in terms of textual attestation, occurred in the 1770s.124 In other words, during the decade of the 1770s “exceedingly <adjective>” finally surpassed “exceeding <adjective>” in frequency of use in the textual record.125

In summary, two instances of “exceeding angry” in sections 87 and 88 are consistent with tight control but may also be ascribed to the influence of frequent Book of Mormon usage. If so, “exceeding angry” in Doctrine and Covenants revelations could be a case of indirect tight control.

Close Pronominal Variation: ye ~ you

Just as we see very often in the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants switches between subject you and subject ye. This was quite [Page 321]common during the Early Modern English period and close switching of subject you and subject ye is not hard to find in the original 1611 King James Bible (discussed below).

In terms of the history of English usage, we find that subject you had overtaken subject ye by the 1570s as the clearly favored form in textual use.126 Yet despite the pronoun ye being quite archaic, it is familiar to many because of its prevalence in older biblical versions.127 In Early Modern English there is plenty of evidence for nearby variation of subject you and subject ye; here are examples from the Doctrine and Covenants, the Book of Mormon, and a 17th-century sermon:

D&C 98:14 [6 August 1833; copied about 6 August 1833, handwriting of Frederick G. Williams and Joseph Smith, Jr.]128

I will prove you in all things whether you will abide in my covenant even unto death that ye may be found worthy

The ye was changed at some point to you. There is also an instance of object you in this verse, shown in italics here.

Alma 5:20

Can ye think of being saved when you have yielded yourselves to become subjects to the devil?

The subject you in this passage has remained in the text; grammatical editing in the Book of Mormon has been uneven.

1617, EEBO A17051, Robert Bruce [1554–1631] The way to true peace and rest

and if ye find these in any measure, though never so small, you have the right faith in your hearts;

Significantly, the original 1611 King James Bible has 44 instances of subject you in the two-word phrase “that you.”129 (This 2-gram can no longer be found in modern versions of the King James Bible; a sampling showed them to be edited out by 1769.) There are many other cases of subject you to be found in the 1611 King James Bible besides these. Because there are so many instances of subject you in this Bible, there are also cases where subject ye is employed close to subject you. As a result, a number of 1611 King James Bible examples straightforwardly dismiss the view that nearby subject ye ~ you variation is ill-formed or inappropriate for a scriptural text. Here is one such example:

Job 19:3 [original 1611 spelling retained]

These tenne times haue ye reproched me: you are not ashamed that you make your selues strange to me.

The two instances of you were changed at some point to ye.

[Page 322]In view of this textual evidence, we see that the pronominal editing in D&C 98:14 has had the effect of making this passage less like Early Modern English and the 1611 King James Bible, and more like modern English.

This same variation occurred in early Doctrine and Covenants revelations as well, as the following examples show:

D&C 6:30130 – blessed are ye, for you shall dwell with me in glory:

D&C 17:7–8131 – wherefore you have received the same power . . .
and if ye do these last commandments of mine

Another item directly relevant to this discussion is the multiple occurrences of singular ye in manuscripts of early revelations. This questionable pronominal usage most likely represents tightly controlled Early Modern English usage,132 lending support for viewing ye ~ you variation in the same way. Consequently, what looks at first blush to be a minor grammatical error by Joseph Smith might actually constitute further evidence of tight control in the revelatory process.

The {-th} Plural133

Elsewhere I have treated this topic in some depth, showing that the present-tense {-th} plural of the Book of Mormon is not a case of conscious overuse since there is very little of it after pronouns, and much heavier rates of use after relative pronouns and conjunctions, matching Early Modern English tendencies.134

By the 19th century, the {-th} plural was very rare, restricted to the archaic auxiliary verbs hath and doth. An early Doctrine and Covenants revelation (given July 1828) has an example with plural hath following the relative pronoun who: “the Lamanites . . . who hath been suffered to destroy their Brethren” (D&C 3:18).135 In contrast to its considerable presence in the Book of Mormon, there are far fewer examples of the {-th} plural in the Doctrine and Covenants. Here are two possible cases with main verbs (which makes the usage anomalous for the 1830s):

D&C 93:33, 37 [6 May 1833; scribed by Frederick G. Williams]136

and spirit and element inseperably connected receiveth a fulness of Joylight and truth forsaketh that evil one

These are examples with grammatical subjects made up of conjoined singular nouns. Although the nouns are fairly concrete in verse 33, in verse 37 they are not. And conjoined singular abstract nouns often did not (and do not) resolve to plural in English.

[Page 323]Nevertheless, based on textual evidence, even “light and truth” may be viewed as sufficiently distinct so that we can assume plural number resolution, and later editing has treated the phrase in this way, changing forsaketh to forsake (and receiveth was changed at some point to receive as well). Indeed, here is an excerpt with plural are after the subject phrase “light and truth”:

1660, EEBO A62877, John Tombes, True old light exalted above pretended new light

Light and truth are either the same, or very like, and helpfull to each other, Psal. 43. 3.

Psalm 43:3 reads, in part: “O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me.”

This 1660 example clearly shows plural construal of the complex subject “light and truth,” and in Psalm 43:3 they are given their own possessive pronouns and referred to with the plural pronoun them.

More to the point, here are two Early Modern English examples with conjoined “truth and light” that could contain instances of the {-th} plural, similar to the language of D&C 93:37:

1618, EEBO A05105, Richard Dolman (translator), Pierre de la Primaudaye’s The French academie

and taught by the soueraigne doctor and supreme brightnes from which all truth and light doth issue.

1656, EEBO A44342, Thomas Hooker, The application of redemption by the effectual work of the word, and spirit of Christ

But now in a Godly man whose understanding is turned from darkness to light, when the truth and light of it hath by the spirit of bondage been set on upon the mind and Conscience, you shal see day breaking as it were,

In summary, “light and truth” may be a complex plural subject in D&C 93:37, and “spirit and element” is probably a complex plural subject in D&C 93:33. From that perspective, their predicates contain main verbs carrying {-th} plural inflection. This could be tightly controlled language, just as it almost certainly is in the Book of Mormon (because of the deep match with 16th- and 17th-century inflectional tendencies).

Subjunctive ~ Indicative Variation

According to the current Joseph Smith Papers transcription of the manuscript found in Revelation Book 2, the following passage contained nearby variation in grammatical mood after the time conjunction until:

[Page 324]D&C 98:44 [6 August 1833]137

untill he repent and rewards138 thee four fold in all things

Indicative rewards was edited for the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants to subjunctive reward,139 since it is under the same uncertain future time condition as subjunctive repent. Here are two 17th-century examples of this close variation after the same time conjunction:

1662, EEBO A67153, Abraham Wright, A practical commentary or exposition upon the Pentateuch

So hard a thing it is to perswade sinners to beleeve that God is so just, or his Judgements so infallible, or their sins so destructive, until the Floud come, and a second Deluge, a Deluge of Fire sweeps them away, as that first of Waters did their unbeleeving fore-fathers.

1669, EEBO A23716, Richard Allestree, Eighteen sermons

yet he reckons of all this as if he had said nothing till he speak Plagues and commands afflictions; Psal. 50. 21.

Unlike the doubtful case of subjunctive ~ indicative variation in D&C 98:44, a solid example of such contextual variation is found in the following early revelation:

D&C 3:4 [summer of 1828]140

yet if he boast in his own strength & Sets at naught the councils of God & follows after the dictates of his will & carnal desires he must fall to the Earth & incur the vengence of a Just God upon him

Subjunctive boast has been changed to indicative boasts.141

Here are similar examples after the hypothetical if,142 as found in the Book of Mormon, the 1539 Great Bible, and the 1611 King James Bible:

Helaman 13:26

if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord

This reading persists in the current LDS text; it is natural language variation.

1539, Great Bible, James 1:23 [EEBO A10405, (1540)]

For yf any man heare ye worde, and declareth not the same by hys workes,143

The indicative verb in the conjoined predicate is the same as the one in Helaman 13:26.

1611, King James Bible, 1 John 4:20

If a man say, I loue God, and hateth his brother, he is a lyar.

[Page 325]The language of 1 John 4:20 may be the only example of variable grammatical mood after a single instance of the hypothetical in the King James Bible,144 but there are a few of these in the Book of Mormon. In the King James Bible, the phrase “I love God” interrupts the syntactic conjunction of say and hateth, just as “a deluge of fire” does in the 1662 example after the time conjunction until. The intervention of extraneous elements may explain the nearby variation in grammatical mood.

In any event, we can see that this kind of subjunctive ~ indicative variation is attested in earlier English, and this may be a source of the variation found in D&C 3:4 (and in D&C 98:44, if subjunctive ~ indicative variation was in fact original to the revelation).

The {-s} Plural

Linguists have called the use of is, has, and other present-tense verb forms ending in the verbal suffix {-s}, when used with plural grammatical subjects, the {-s} plural.145 For example, in Early Modern English, when the agreement controller is plural things,146 we quite often see the use of singular verb inflection. (Nevertheless, it was the less-common option overall in the textual record.) EEBO has hundreds of examples of “things that is” and “things which is.” These can be found throughout the Early Modern English period, but the usage rate may have been two to three times greater in the 16th century than in the 17th century. Here are two examples from the 16th-century Great Bible, with the original spelling retained:

1539, Great Bible, Proverbs 21:7; Jeremiah 15:19 [EEBO A10405, (1540)]

The robberyes of the vngodly shall be theyr owne destruccyon, for they wyl not do the thynges that is ryght.

and yf thou wylte take out the thynges that is precious from the vyle,

The 1611 King James Bible does not have things in either case. It has quite different language: “because they refuse to doe iudgement” (Proverbs 21:7) and “if thou take forth the precious from the vile” (Jeremiah 15:19).

There are more than a dozen occurrences of “things that/which is” in the earliest text of the Book of Mormon, all edited out. Here are two found in early Doctrine and Covenants revelations:147

D&C 11:14 [May 1829; handwriting of Hyrum Smith]148

By this shall you know all things whatso Ever you Desire of me which is Pertaining unto things of rightousness

Book of Commandments 15:20 (D&C 18:18) [June 1829]149

and you shall have the Holy Ghost which manifesteth all things which is expedient unto the children of men.

[Page 326]Therefore, we can take “things which is” to be a feature of Doctrine and Covenants revelations as well as a feature of the earliest text of the Book of Mormon.

According to the Joseph Smith Papers historical introduction, D&C 18:18 was dictated in Fayette “within the first few days of June 1829.” Hence, it likely would have been first set down in writing very close in time to the dictation of the following Book of Mormon verse:

Moroni 10:23150

If ye have faith, ye can do all things which is expedient unto me.

These passages contain the same six-word phrase “all things which is expedient unto.” There is one other case of “expedient unto” in the Book of Mormon, which was probably dictated after Moroni 10:23 and D&C 18:18:

2 Nephi 2:27151

Wherefore men are free according to the flesh, and all things are given them which is expedient unto man.

The syntactic variation seen above — “things are” ~ “things . . . which is” — is similar to what we read in the following excerpt:

1661, EEBO A44790, Francis Howgill, The glory of the true church

and that all that come to the beginning again, to union with God, must die to all these things which is got and entred into the hearts of men since the transgression, and while these things are loved they alienate the mind from the Living God,

We see that when the verb be occurs immediately after things, both in the 1661 example and in 2 Nephi 2:27, its form is are, but when the verb be occurs after “things which,” its form is is.152 Another similar match with Early Modern English possibilities is the following:

Alma 9:16153

For there are many promises which is extended to the Lamanites,

1671, EEBO A59163, Henry Carey (translator),
Jean-François Senault’s The Use of Passions

there are some errors, which is easilier perswaded unto than to some truths.

[Page 327]The point of presenting these cases of plural is ~ are variation is that we encounter this sort of matching frequently in the Book of Mormon. This kind of linguistic evidence (and much more) leads to the conclusion that Early Modern English competence was involved in the elaboration of the Book of Mormon and that the delivery of the text was tightly controlled. From that it is likely that either D&C 11:14 and 18:18 were also given word for word, or that Joseph Smith followed Book of Mormon usage like Moroni 10:23 very closely, so that the Doctrine and Covenants language was effectively controlled by way of this Book of Mormon language. Either way we choose to look at it, it boils down to tight control for this questionable Doctrine and Covenants verb agreement.

This then informs our view of the following language, which in section 20 may have been a case of Oliver Cowdery borrowing directly from Book of Mormon phraseology:

D&C 20:17 [about April 1830; some parts could have been revealed as early as the summer of 1829]154

Wherefore, by these things we know that there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the Maker of heaven and earth, and all things that in them is;

The distinctive six-word phrase “all things that in them is” can be found four times in the earliest text of the Book of Mormon, at 2 Nephi 2:14, 3 Nephi 9:15, Mormon 9:11, and Ether 4:7. (Alma 11:39 is a fifth case, but it has which instead of that; Mosiah 13:19 is a biblical case because it has Tyndale’s phraseology—“and all that in them is”—which carried through to the 1611 King James Bible.) So the language of these Book of Mormon verses could have served as a source for D&C 20:17.

Nevertheless, when we examine these passages we find that there are some clear differences between them. In the Book of Mormon passages plural heavens is used in all but Alma 11:39 (the one with which), and Maker155 is not used in any of them to describe God. Those facts, then, make a word-for-word borrowing from the Book of Mormon less likely in this case, but still possible.

The {-s} plural used in this same Decalogue language is attested in the textual record, though it is not found in 16th-century Bibles or in the 1611 King James Bible. Here is an example that is nearly identical to D&C 20:17 and the five Book of Mormon instances:

1665, EEBO A35520, Thomas Curwen et al., An Answer to John Wiggan’s Book

Thou art worthy Lord God of Heaven and Earth, who hath made the Heavens and the Earth, Sea, and all things that is in them: but this thou will sure say was confusion,

[Page 328]EEBO contains at least two similar examples from the 16th century, with therein used for the phrase “in them.”156 Strong supporting evidence throughout the Book of Mormon leads one to take its five instances of “all things that/which in them is” to be tightly controlled. This combined with “things which is” — found at least in D&C 11:14 and 18:18 — points to direct or indirect tight control of plural is in D&C 20:17.

Also worth noting is the archaic time conjunction “after that,” originally found in the phrase “For after that it truly was manifested” (D&C 20:5),157 as well as the {-th} plural found in “those scriptures which hath been given of him” (D&C 20:21), part of the Painesville Telegraph version, which might have preserved the original language of the revelation in these instances.158

In view of all this, ascribing this verb agreement peculiarity of Doctrine and Covenants revelations to Joseph’s dialect is a doubtful enterprise.

Plural was159

Joseph Smith certainly employed plural was as part of his speech and writing. It was part of his dialect. The early 1832 History written in his hand (two-thirds) and in the hand of Frederick G. Williams (one-third) gives direct evidence for this:

1832 History [written down around the summer of 1832]160

and he revealed unto me that in the Town of Manchester Ontario County N.Y. there was plates of gold upon which there was engravings which was engraven by Maroni & his fathers the servants of the living God in ancient days

Before this we read “there were many things,” so there is verb agreement variation, which we can take to have been part of Joseph’s language as well. Of note is that the Book of Mormon uses only standard plural forms with engravings and the past participle engraven: “engravings <relative pronoun> are/were/have” and “which are/were engraven.” This tends to reinforce a view that the above nonstandard verb agreement was due to Joseph’s dialect.

There is also plural was in Doctrine and Covenants revelations, as this example from an early revelation shows:

D&C 3:12–13 [received during the summer of 1828, after the loss of the 116 manuscript pages]

thou deliveredest up that which was Sacred into the hands of a wicked man who has Set at naught the Councils of God & hath broken the most Sacred promises which was made before God

[Page 329]Earlier in this section, there is also an original instance of were after plural which: “the Promises which were made to you” (D&C 3:5). So just as in Joseph’s own language, this section has fairly close variation of nonstandard (from a modern perspective) plural was and standard were.

In D&C 3:13 we also note the use of archaic, biblical “set at naught” and the nearby variation of has and hath (has ~ hath variation is not found in the King James Bible, since it never employs has). But nearby has ~ hath variation was typical of earlier writings and can be seen in these 17th- and 18th-century examples with very similar phonology and structure:

1680, EEBO A65829, Anne Whitehead [1624–1686]
An epistle for true love, unity, and order in the Church of Christ, against the spirit of discord, disorder and confusion

which the Lord by his Power has set up, and hath given Wisdom according to true Knowledge, to act in the Church of Christ:

1727, ECCO–TCP, Daniel Defoe, An essay
on the history and reality of apparitions

Now I know of a surety, that the LORD has sent his Angel, and hath deliver’d me.

This is a close quotation of Acts 12:11, which has “hath sent.”

As shown, both textual examples are solid matches with the variable form of the auxiliary have found in D&C 3:13. These examples inform us that we cannot be sure that the nearby morphological variation is a case of Joseph failing to be consistent. It could have been tightly controlled language that merely reflected earlier tendencies.

As for plural was in D&C 3:13, we cannot tell in isolation whether it is revealed archaic language or Joseph’s dialectal usage. Despite the inherent difficulty in deciding between loose and tight control for plural was here and elsewhere in the Doctrine and Covenants, the earliest text of the Book of Mormon sheds light on this issue, and other linguistic evidence from section 3 does so as well.

I have shown elsewhere how nearby was ~ were variation in the Book of Mormon is very similar to earlier English usage.161 For example, Mosiah 24:15 contains the exact distribution of variable forms that we find in the writings of the Scottish reformer John Knox and in the writings of quite a few others from the Early Modern English period:

Mosiah 24:15162

the burdens which was laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light;

The change from was to were was made for the 1837 edition, marked in the printer’s manuscript by Joseph Smith; see under Alma 46:33 in [Page 330]Royal Skousen, Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon, 2nd edition (Provo, UT: FARMS and BYU Studies, 2017).

1560, EEBO A04920, John Knox [1505–1572] An answer to a great nomber of blasphemous cauillations written by an Anabaptist

That place of Paule proveth not that all the Israelites, which was called from Egypt, were within gods holie election to lief everlasting in Christ Jesus.

There is also the following match to consider, not involving variation:

1 Nephi 5:11163

and also of Adam and Eve, which was our first parents

The change from “which was” to “who were” was made for the 1837 edition, marked in the printer’s manuscript by Joseph Smith.

1566, EEBO A06932, Thomas Becon [1512–1567] A new postil conteinyng most godly and learned sermons vpon all the Sonday Gospelles

not after the maner of Adam and Eue, which was made of the grounde

The 5-gram “Adam and Eve which was,” where which and was refer to both Adam and Eve, is unlikely to be found in the modern era.

The archaic, systematic implementation of plural was in the Book of Mormon, along with plenty of supporting lexical and syntactic evidence, points to Early Modern English competence and tight control over this syntax in the Book of Mormon. And it is interesting to consider that by the summer of 1828 Joseph had probably dictated several instances of tightly controlled plural was as part of the early translation that was subsequently lost.

The internal evidence for treating plural was in section 3 and elsewhere as archaic, tightly controlled language is found particularly in verse 15. The original language of this verse contains an interesting vocabulary item as well as some odd syntax:

D&C 3:15 [copied about March 1831 in Revelation Book 1 by John Whitmer]

for thou hast suffered that the council of thy directors to be trampeled upon from the beginning

Plural directors reads in the singular in the current LDS text.

Plural directors is found twice in the earliest text of the Book of Mormon at Alma 37:21, 24;164 the term there refers to the Nephite interpreters.165 It is likely that directors in D&C 3:15 also refers to the same sacred objects, whether they are called directors, interpreters, or Urim and Thummim. The use of the verb suffer with a following complementizer that also suggests tight control; in addition, the archaic [Page 331]lexical choice of the verb suffer, instead of allowed or permitted, may be a further indication of tightly controlled archaism.166

As for the curious syntax, there’s a switch from a that-clause after the verb suffer to an infinitive, the same type of language that Joseph dictated the following year for the Book of Mormon more than once.167 The following passage involves the same governing verb suffer:

Mormon 6:6

And knowing it to be the last struggle of my people and having been commanded of the Lord that I should not suffer that the records which had been handed down by our fathers, which were sacred, to fall into the hands of the Lamanites

Thomas More also used this variety of suspect grammar in the 16th century after the verb think,168 and the following EEBO excerpt is a good match:

1598, EEBO A02364, translation of Jacques Guillemeau’s The French Chirurgery

which was alsoe an occasione of his resanation, because he suffered, that the tronchone of the Launce, which stucke clean through his heade, to be with force, and violence drawne therout.

Of course in all three cases the auxiliary should could have been used in place of infinitival to. Another point of similarity between D&C 3:15 and the 1598 EEBO excerpt is that both end with a phrasal verb in the passive: “to be trampled upon” and “to be drawn out.”

In summary, D&C 3:15 vocabulary and syntax, as well as the Book of Mormon’s varied, archaic use of plural was, argue for treating plural “which was” in D&C 3:13 as revealed archaic language, not as emanating from Joseph’s dialect.

Summary of Suspect Grammar

The exact syntax “<command verb form> you that thou” is not found in either the Book of Mormon or the King James Bible; it is only found in the Doctrine and Covenants. The questionable pronominal switch, however, is attested in earlier English with other verbs and in other contexts. This switch is found in the Book of Mormon, and even in the King James Bible (Ezekiel 36:13), which contains similar language at Deuteronomy 12:32: “I command you . . . thou shalt.” It is likely that this Doctrine and Covenants syntax is tightly controlled language — the dual-object construction is somewhat creative, well-formed, and archaic.

[Page 332]The 2-gram “exceeding angry” is not strong evidence of tight control because of extensive Book of Mormon usage, which may have influenced the morphology in later Doctrine and Covenants revelations.

Subject ye ~ you variation in early revelations such as “blessed are ye, for you shall dwell with me in glory” (D&C 6:30) may indicate tight control as it matches earlier King James usage that had been edited out by 1769. Had Joseph Smith closely followed either his own dialect or a 1769 King James Bible, there would be little nearby variation. Nevertheless, if he mixed modern you with biblical ye, we do get Doctrine and Covenants usage.

The {-th} plural with main verbs such as “spirit and element inseparably connected receiveth a fulness of joy” (D&C 93:33) also indicates tight control, since it was very rare by May 1833. While this language might have followed Book of Mormon usage, the {-th} plural of section 3, received in 1828 (“the Lamanites . . . who hath been suffered to destroy their brethren”), supports the view that D&C 93:33 could be independent of Book of Mormon influence.

Subjunctive ~ indicative variation is scriptural and a natural linguistic phenomenon. The D&C 3:4 example after the hypothetical — “if he boast . . . and sets . . . and follows” — preceded all Book of Mormon examples. Because this nearby variation in grammatical mood is probably tightly controlled in the Book of Mormon, there is no reason it could not have been in Doctrine and Covenants revelations.

The {-s} plural seen in early Doctrine and Covenants revelations (of the form “things which/that is”) could have been tightly controlled. Examples of “things which is” occur sufficiently early in the Doctrine and Covenants so that their independence of rather frequent Book of Mormon usage is possible. The Decalogue-like phrase “all things that in them is” is a creative modification of biblical language, incorporating the Early Modern English plural is.

Plural was occurs early in the Doctrine and Covenants, just after Joseph had dictated the lost 116 pages (which probably had examples of it as well). The D&C 3:13 instance of plural was precedes published Book of Mormon language and is therefore independent. The Book of Mormon and internal evidence argue for taking the case of plural was at D&C 3:13 to be tightly controlled. There is no compelling reason why this also could not have been the case in later Doctrine and Covenants examples such as “things which was” at D&C 35:18 (7 December 1830), “glories which was” at D&C 66:2 (29 October 1831), and “even things [ which were from the beginning before the world was ] which was ordained of the Father” at D&C 76:13 (7 February 1832).

The Challenge

In general, tight control of Doctrine and Covenants language also provides greater clarity with respect to the challenge found in section 67:

D&C 67:6–7 [about 2 November 1831;
copied about November 1831 by John Whitmer]169

now seek ye out of the Book of commandments even the least that is among them & appoint him that is the most wise among you or if there be any among you that shall make one like unto it then ye are Justified in saying that ye do not know that [it] is true but if you cannot make one like unto it ye are under condemnation if you do not bear [record/testimony] that it is true.

[Page 333]It is possible that this challenge would not have been made if Joseph Smith had been in control of the wording of these revelations from received ideas. At this time there were certainly a number of church members who were better educated and more literate than Joseph was and were able at that time to “express beyond his language,” all things being equal.170 But because the Lord was probably in charge of the wording of the revelations, any such persons were unable to surpass the revelatory language. Indeed, if we exclude the content from consideration, who among the challengers would have been able to readily produce, by dictation, some of the obscure, archaic language discussed throughout this paper?

Grandstaff asserts that “Section 67 was not given because the elders criticized Smith’s grammar.”171 Nonetheless, it is interesting that section 66, given to McLellin days before section 67, probably contained a clear case of bad grammar.172 Therefore McLellin could have very recently formed doubts about the source of revelatory language because a revelation containing “glories which was” was addressed to him personally and he was a school teacher and thus probably held strict views on grammatical usage. These facts are certainly worth bearing in mind in relation to the challenge of section 67.

Analysis of Some Language of the Plot of Zion

The tight control of Doctrine and Covenants language combined with Frederick G. Williams’s apparent upright character and general trustworthiness, as well as his lack of experience in city planning,173 constitute the strongest evidence that various details of the Plot of Zion were revealed and tightly controlled. (An appendix contains the plot description, laid out in sense lines.)

As mentioned briefly in the introduction, an August 2, 1833, revelation to Joseph Smith states that a “pattern”174 had been given for laying out a foundation for a city (see D&C 94:1–2).175 Because of the likelihood of tight control, the import of this Doctrine and Covenants reference should be taken seriously. In D&C 94:4, dimensions are specifically given [Page 334]for an inner court (55’ × 65’), indicating that dimensions could have likewise been specifically given for the Plot of Zion as well.176 Because of substantial evidence for tight control in this and other close in-time revelations, we can reasonably take plot measurements to have been revealed by the Lord. Moreover, Frederick G. Williams wrote on the temple plan that the city plot was revealed (see the text accompanying note 11).

Nevertheless, there is a clear, uncorrected error in the original plot description of June 1833, which argues that this item was not tightly controlled. And so other parts of the plot description could have been under loose control (or even no specific control).177 In this particular case, a narrow 4 × 20 rod building lot (66’ × 330’) is wrongly indicated to be ¼ of an acre. Yet a simple calculation tells us that this is too small by a factor of 2, and so it is no surprise that this fraction was corrected to ½ in the Letterbook 1 copy.178 However, before the incorrect figure of ¼ of an acre was written down, the governing dimension for a typical square or block had already been given as 10 acres and 40 square rods. This twice-specified areal measurement, along with the transparent 10 × 2 lot layout within a block, controls the size of individual building lots being one-half of an acre. Thus the mistake of “¼ of an acre,” uncorrected on the original plot manuscript, is not specific evidence that the block area of 40 square rods (10 acres) was not tightly controlled, or that other independent plot dimensions such as street width (8 rods) were not specifically revealed.

In this same vein, there is a somewhat confusing note given on the back side of the plot that acknowledges a scribal error, and that the order of two multi-word constituents should be switched where indicated by two dotted symbols (the note calls the symbols stars; see the end of the appendix). But this same note also indicates how to group these constituents so that this error may actually provide evidence for word and constituent control in the plot specification.

The beginning of the plot description reads: “This plot containes one mile square.” This language could be either archaic or modern, but plot used in this context in 1830s America was much less common than plat,179 and “mile square” was much less common than “square mile.”180 Had the language at the outset been loosely controlled, Williams might have written “this plat contains 1.44 square miles” instead of “this plot containes one mile square.” Also, this measurement was not corrected in Letterbook 1, unlike the ¼ acre ~ ½ acre variant.181

The Mile

[Page 335]The one square mile reference is the most interesting part of the opening sentence of the plot description: either it is an obvious error (as shown by the plot draft and its description),182 or it corresponds to an archaic measurement of the past. We have considered one item of archaic vocabulary (strange in “strange act”), and we have seen that the Doctrine and Covenants has archaic grammar that corresponds with 16th- and 17th-century usage. In like manner, there is phraseology in the referred-to plot description that is possibly archaic, such as “according to wisdom” (see below), and there are other potential archaisms, as discussed below. Consequently, it is not out of the question that the term mile as used in the plot might be a 16th-century measurement.

The mile referenced in the plot draft and description is apparently 6,336 feet. This plot dimension corresponds to the Saxton mile, in use in England before a statutory decree of 1593.183 That distance is determined by the language and the ground-plan of the plot in the following way:

First, measuring north to south (from left to right on the plot), the distance is 8 streets, each one having a width of 8 rods, and 7 blocks, each one having a width of 40 rods. Taken together, those give a distance of 344 rods. In addition, the ground-plan of the plot indicates two easements: an easement of 40 rods on the north and an easement of 40 rods on the south. Half of each of those easements belongs to the Plot of Zion, in accordance with common approaches under property law.184 Thus the total north–south measured distance of the plot is 384 rods. Because a rod is equivalent to 16.5 feet, that means that one side of the plot of Zion is 6,336 feet.

Second, measuring east to west (from top to bottom on the plot), the distance is 8 streets, each one having a width of 8 rods; 6 blocks having a width of 40 rods; and 1 block having a width of 60 rods. The Plot of Zion is silent on the matter of the east and west easements, but to make a square for the entire plot, as indicated by the first sentence of the plot description, each of the easements on the east and on the west must be 20 rods in width. As a result, half of the total east–west easement width of 40 rods is 20 rods, giving a square for the Plot of Zion of 384 × 384 rods, or 6,336 × 6,336 feet, as shown in the figure below.

Wherefore, the mile of the Plot of Zion is exactly 1.2 of a statute mile. Hence the community plat is 1.44 square statute miles in area.[Page 336]

Unusual Features Found in the City Plat and the Temple Plan

This short section lists a number of features of the Plot of Zion and the Plan of the House of the Lord that appear to be rare or unique for 1830s America. Some of these are consistent with centuries-old usage. (It is expected that these items will be discussed and documented in another paper.)

City Plat

  • narrow building lots: 66 feet wide
  • high-density living in half-acre lots:
    15 to 21 persons in several apartments
  • the placement of east instead of north at the top of the plat drawing
  • 24 central buildings can provide seats for the entire community

Temple Plan

  • two inner courts of 55 × 65 feet, one above another
  • inner-court size allows seating on two-foot-wide chairs
  • curtains divide the house into four parts185
  • “14 feet high between the floors”; “each story to be 14 feet”186

[Page 337]It is worth noting that the Kirtland Temple, as built, represents only about one-third of the prescribed plan. For example, the outer courts were left out of the temple as was space for pulpits. The builders put all the functions into the specified inner-court space; that may have been as much as they were able to build or could visualize building at the time. Also, the hanging chambers — mentioned not only in the temple plan but also at D&C 95:17 — were not implemented in the construction. These were to be located in the upper part of the inner courts.

According to wisdom”

The three-word phrase “according to wisdom” occurs twice in the Doctrine and Covenants, and once in the plot description:

D&C 63:44 [30 August 1831; copied about 30 August 1831 by Oliver Cowdery]187

Behold, these things are in his own hands, let him do according to wisdom.

D&C 96:3 [4 June 1833; copied between 6 June and 30 July 1833 by Orson Hyde]188

and again let it be divided into lots according to wisdom for the benefit of those who seek inheritances as it shall be determined in council among you.

1833 Plot of Zion

the ground to be occupied for these must be laid off according to wisdom

This 3-gram is rare in the modern era before the 1830s, and is principally found in the 17th-century textual record.189 The 1560 Geneva Bible is the one Early Modern English Bible with this exact phrase,190 and the 4-gram “do according to wisdom,” found in D&C 63:44, occurs in this 17th-century example:

1638, EEBO A18610, William Chillingworth,
The religion of protestants a safe way to salvation

For first, this is most certain, that we are in all things to doe according to wisdome and reason rather then against it.

King James usage always has a determiner between according to and wisdom,191 and that is the more typical textual usage.

The subject matter of the D&C 96:3 passage with “according to wisdom” is similar to that of the June 1833 Plot of Zion, and laying off lots is also mentioned twice at D&C 104:36, 43 (April 1834). The phrasal verb “lay off” as used in this context is modern in origin, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. But the general sense may have arisen in the 17th century.192 And it is probably tightly controlled language in [Page 338]D&C 104, and so even though it could correspond to modern usage, it could have still been tightly controlled in the plot description.

The {-s} Plural in Plot Language

There are two possible occurrences of the {-s} plural in the plot description:193

all the squares in the plot containes ten acres each

and the next the lots runs from the east and west to the middle line

In the first case, the intervening singular noun plot may make this a case of proximity agreement.194 The adjacency of singular plot to the verb containes makes the apparent non-agreement sound less jarring to the modern ear.

Here are some 17th-century examples of the {-s} plural with the verbs contain and run, a usage which may account for the suspect verb agreement found in the plot description (since it may be an archaism):195

1605, EEBO A21691, L. T. A. [fl. 1592] Falshood in friendship,
or vnions vizard: or wolues in lambskins

All the forepart and exteriour shew of thy body is fayre, yet semblable to painted and guilded Sepulchers, that containes within them nothing but loth-some smels and rotten bones:

1605, EEBO A20836, Michael Drayton [1563–1631] Poems

the riuer of Yarmouth runs, hauing West and South thereof a wood, and a little Village called Thorpe, and on the North, the pastures of Mousholl, which containes about sixe miles in length and breadth.

Pastures seems to be the antecedent of which, but it is not certain. This describes land in the Norwich area of Norfolk, England.

1656, EEBO A92204, Robert Read, The Fiery Change

though he be present in body, he is absent in minde, and either his minde wanders, & his thoughts runs out into the world,

1683, EEBO A58408, John Reid, The Scots Gardener

Plant no Trees deep; (albeit some deeper than other) when their Roots runs near the surface, there they receive the beneficial influence of Sun and Showres,

The {-s} plural form containes196 occurs both times in the above examples after a relative pronoun, which is the grammatical subject, and is unmarked for number. The {-s} plural and the {-th} plural were more often found after opaque relative pronouns in Early Modern English.197

[Page 339]An opposing kind of agreement phenomenon found in the plot is the phrase “none of these temples are,” with plural are being used despite the word controlling agreement being none. If we consider, however, that in present-day English one says “zero feet,” etc., then we can see that any prescriptive rule against plural are in this kind of grammatical structure is artificial. In this particular case, both early and late modern English have strongly favored the use of are after the 4-gram “none of these things.”198

Some Semantic Usage

There is one term of measurement used in the plot description whose usage is found both early and late, but which is more characteristic of the Early Modern English period: perch. Like rod, perch signifies 16.5 feet. The plural form perches is used six times in the Plot of Zion, while rods is used only once (at the outset).

In all of EEBO (Phases 1 and 2) there are 46 instances of the two-word phrase “perches long/wide,” compared with only 16 of “rods long/wide” (75% perch).199 In contrast, the Google Books Ngram Viewer currently shows that in 1833 “rods long/wide” was used approximately 95% of the time, and “perches long/wide” only 5% of the time.200

I have ruled out other potentially archaic semantic and morphological usage, determining that they do not strongly point to archaism. The following may or may not represent archaic language. These include range used to mean ‘row’ (as in “the middle range of squares”),201 stand in the phrase “the houses stand on one street,”202 the adverb alternate used instead of alternately in the phrase “laid off alternate,”203 and painted in “painted squares” meaning ‘colored.’204 Also, “inside of np” used in “the circles inside of this square” still fits the 1830s well, since it was more common in the early 19th century than “inside np,” which grew dominant in the 20th century.205

Summary of Plot of Zion Language

To be sure, we can take the pattern and measurements of the 1833 Plot of Zion to be revealed because of supporting declarations made in section 94 and by the scribe Frederick G. Williams. The term mile was probably tightly controlled since it has an obsolete meaning of 1.2 statute miles. Also, the opening sentence “this plot containes one mile square” could have been revealed word for word. The term perch could have been tightly controlled since it fits the earlier period better than the 19th century. There is some verb agreement that might have been tightly [Page 340]controlled since there is archaic matching of the syntax in question. However, loose control in these potential cases of the {-s} plural is also possible.

One mistake — “¼ of an acre” — may indicate lack of control with this dependent dimension (or scribal error), but another scribal mistake at the end of the plot description (on the back side) may indicate word and constituent control. One directive, “of which we send you the draft,” could be uncontrolled language, while another directive, “let every man live in the city for this is the city of Zion,” could be from the Lord (see note 177). Finally, the phrase “according to wisdom” is either tightly controlled language in the plot description or indirectly controlled by way of Doctrine and Covenants language. Beyond these items, it becomes more difficult to make definitive statements.


Primary Sources

The Joseph Smith Papers project and website (www.josephsmithpapers.org) and the Yale edition of the Book of Mormon were essential to this study: Royal Skousen, editor, The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009) (bit.ly/2ocoerM). Directly related to the latter is Royal Skousen, Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon (Provo, UT: FARMS and BYU Studies, 2004–2009); Royal Skousen, Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon, 2nd edition (Provo, UT: FARMS and BYU Studies, 2017); and Royal Skousen, Grammatical Variation [Parts 1 and 2 of The History of the Text of the Book of Mormon] (Provo, UT: FARMS and BYU Studies, 2016). LDS View provided access to the current LDS text of the scriptures (ldsview.wordcruncher.com; Salt Lake City: Intellectual Reserve, 2001–).

The principal English textual source used in this study was the Early English Books Online database (EEBO; eebo.chadwyck.com). It currently contains close to 60,000 transcribed texts printed between the years 1473 to 1700. The publicly searchable portion of EEBO (Phase 1 texts) is to be [Page 341]found at <quod.lib.umich.edu/e/eebogroup>. Other important textual sources include Literature Online (LION; literature.proquest.com), Google Books (books.google.com), and Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO; quod.lib.umich.edu/e/ecco). The full database of ECCO is available through some public libraries, as is the Oxford English Dictionary (www.oed.com).

Mark Davies initially provided me with a very useful corpus and interface: Early English Books Online, 400 million words, 1470s–1690s (2013–) (corpus.byu.edu/eebo). I have mainly derived Early Modern English examples from a 700-million-word WordCruncher corpus that I made from almost 25,000 EEBO Phase 1 texts (www.wordcruncher.com; Provo, UT: BYU, 1991–). This corpus is precisely searchable, making it a valuable resource for discovering Early Modern English usage. In addition to ECCO, the Google Books database was essential for the modern period, as well as the associated Ngram Viewer.


The 1833 Plot of Zion Description

The margin notes from the front side of the plot are rewritten below in sense lines:

East side of the plot

Explanation —
this plot containes one mile square
all the squares in the plot containes ten acres each
being 40 rods square
you will observe that the lots are laid off alternate in the squares
in one square running from the south and North
to the line through the middle of the square
and the next the lots runs from the east and west to the middle line
each lot is 4 perches in front and 20 back
making ¼ of an acre in each lot
so that no one street will be built on intirely through the street
but one square the houses stand on one street
and on the next on another
except the middle range of squares
which runs North and south
in which range are the painted squares
the lots are laid off in these squares North and south all of them
because these squares are 40 perches by 60
[Page 342]being twenty perches longer than the others
the long way of them being east and west
and by runing all the lots in these squares North and south
it makes all the lots in the City of one size
the painted squares in the middle are for publick buildings
the one without any figure is for store houses

West side of the plot

for the / Bishop and to be devoted to his use
figure one is for temples for the use of the presidency
the circles inside of this square are the places for the temples
you will see it containes twelve Figures
2 is for Temples for the lesser Priesthood
it also is to contain 12 Temples
the whole plot is supposed to contain
from 15 to 20 thousand people
you will therefore see that it will require 24 buildings
to supply them with houses of worship schools, &c.
none of these temples are to be smaller than the one
of which we send you the draft
this Temple is to be built in square marked figure one
and to be built where the circle is which has a cross on it.
On the north and south of the plot where the line is shown
is to be laid off for barns stables &c. for the use of the city
so that no barns or stables will be in the City among the houses
the ground to be occupied for these must be laid off according to wisdom
on the North and South are to be laid off the farms for the agraculturists
& sufficient quantity of land to supply the whole plot
and if it cannot be laid off
without going too great a distance from the city
there must also be laid off on the east and west
when this square is thus laid off and supplied
lay off another in the same way
and so fill up the world in these last days
and let every man live in the City for this is the City of Zion

South side of the plot

All the streets are of one width
being eight perches wide
also the space round the outer edge of the painted squares
is to be eight perches
between the temples and the street on every side

North side of the plot

[Page 343]No one lot in this City is to contain more than one house
& that to be built 25 feet back from the street
leaving a small yard in front to be planted in a grove
according to the taste of the builder
the rest of the lot for gardens &c.
all the houses to be of brick and stone

South side of the plot

the Scale of the plot is 40 perches to the inch

The notes from the back side of the plot are rewritten below in sense lines;
the phrases to be switched are preceded by dotted cross symbols:

Back side of the plot

The names of the temples to be built on the painted squares

Nos 10–11–12 are to be called
The house of the Lord
for the presidency of the high and most holy priesthood
after the order of Melchisedeck
which was after the order of the Son of God
upon Mount Zion City of the New Jerusalem

Nos 7–8–9
The Sacred Apostolical repository
for the use of the Bishop

Nos 4–5–6
The holy Evangelical house
for the high priesthood of the holy order of God

Nos 1–2–3
The house of the Lord
for the Elders of Zion an ensign to the nations

Nos 22–23–24
house of the Lord
for the presidency of the high priesthood after the order of Aron
a standard for the people

Nos 19–20–21
house of the Lord
⁜ the law of the kingdom of heaven and Messenger to the people
⁜ for the high priesthood after the order of Aron

[Page 344]Nos 16–17–18
house of the Lord
for the teachers in Zion Messenger to the church

Nos 13–14–15
house of the Lord
for the Deacons in Zion helps in government
underneath must be written on each house holiness to the Lord

NB. the Stars are to have the sentences placed together
having committed an error in writing
the sentence “for the high priesthood after the order of Aron
should be placed immediately after the house of the Lord



  1. Richard Lyman Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Knopf, 2005), 174. See the text accompanying note 23.
  2. See, for example, www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H5237&t=KJV.
  3. “Revelation, 1 June 1833 [D&C 95],” p. 59, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 1, 2016, www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-1-june-1833-dc-95/1. “Revelation, 16–17 December 1833 [D&C 101],” p. 73, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 1, 2016, www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-16–17-december-1833-dc-101/1.
  4. See “Plat of the City of Zion, circa Early June–25 June 1833,” p. [1], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 1, 2016, www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/plat-of-the-city-of-zion-circa-early-june-25-june-1833/1.
  5. NB stands for Latin notā bene, meaning ‘mark well, observe particularly’ (see under the entry in the OED for the phrase nota bene).
  6. The signatories to this document were Joseph Smith, Jr., Sidney Rigdon, Frederick G. Williams, and Martin Harris. “Plan of the House of the Lord, between 1 and 25 June 1833,” p. [2], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 1, 2016, www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/plan-of-the-house-of-the-lord-between-1-and-25-june-1833/2. Because of frequent citation, this article will abbreviate Joseph Smith Papers references by using only the URL. Online access can be taken to have occurred on or about November 1, 2016.
  7. “Tightly controlled” means that the Lord caused words, not ideas, to be sent to Joseph Smith (see 2 Nephi 27:22, 24). Royal Skousen expressed it this way: “Tight control: Joseph saw specific words written out in English and read them off to the scribe — the accuracy of the resulting text depending on the carefulness of Joseph and his scribe” (“How Joseph Smith Translated the Book of Mormon: Evidence from the Original Manuscript,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 7.1 [1998]: 22–31, 24). In opposition to the terminology tight control is “Loose control: Ideas were revealed to Joseph Smith, and he put those ideas into his own language (a theory advocated by many Book of Mormon scholars over the years)” (1998:24). 

    Brant Gardner has developed an approach that involves Joseph seeing specific words even though Gardner believes that only ideas were revealed to Joseph throughout the dictation of the Book of Mormon: “We need a mechanism that explains how Joseph could be the translator and still read what he saw on the interpreters or his seer stone” (The Gift and Power: Translating the Book of Mormon [Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2011], 274). As used in this paper, the terms “tightly controlled” and “tight control” are not meant to convey the view of Gardner 2011.

  8. The statutory mile of 5,280 feet had been established 240 years earlier in 1593 by an English Act of Parliament during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
  9. This supporting evidence is addressed in some detail in this paper, as well as the challenge of D&C 67:5–8, which is consistent with the notion that the language of these revelations might have been beyond the natural abilities or knowledge of the revelator and his scribes.
  10. Most of the sections revealed closely before and after June 1833 were scribed by Williams, but the earliest extant versions of sections 95 and 96 were copied by Orson Hyde. It is unclear from the source note whether Williams served as the original scribe for these revelations.
  11. In particular, what would become the first part of section 94 (scribed on August 2, 1833, by Williams) states that the “laying off and preparing a begining and foundation of the city of the stake of Zion . . . must be done according to the pattern which I have given unto you” (emphasis added; see www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-2-august-1833-b-dc-94/1).
  12. See Gardner’s discussion of this issue in Brant Gardner, The Gift and Power: Translating the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2011), 148–152. See in particular B. H. Roberts, “Translation of the Book of Mormon,” Improvement Era 9.6 (1906): 428–429; B. H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God (Salt Lake City: The Deseret News, 1909), 2:110–121; 3:407–425; John A. Widtsoe, Joseph Smith: Seeker after Truth, Prophet of God (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1951), 42; Sidney B. Sperry, Answers to Book of Mormon Questions (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1967), 184– 186; Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976), 141, 163; and Robert L. Millett, “The Book of Mormon, Historicity, and Faith,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2.2 (1993): 5.
  13. The obscure phraseology “it supposeth me” is one possible example of late Middle English language. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (see definition 1d under the verb suppose), simple dative syntax involving the verb suppose is attested only once in a 1390 poem by John Gower. (The dative pronominal in Gower and in the Book of Mormon is not a “raised” object.) 

    Descriptive linguistic evidence shows that the English-language text of the Book of Mormon is principally Early Modern English in form and structure but somewhat eclectic as well. In order for ideas to have been transmitted throughout the dictation, many anomalous forms like “did molten,” “they who art,” “they sleepeth,” “it supposeth me,” “had been spake,” and “of which hath been spoken” must have been part of Joseph’s dialect, along with much other systematic usage like the Early Modern English {-th} plural and 16th-century periphrastic did. See Stanford Carmack, “The Case of the {-th} Plural in the Earliest Text,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 18 (2016): 79–108, www.mormoninterpreter.com/the-case-of-the-th-plural-in-the-earliest-text; and Stanford Carmack, “The Implications of Past-Tense Syntax in the Book of Mormon,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 14 (2015): 119–186, www.mormoninterpreter.com/the-implications-of-past-tense-syntax-in-the-book-of-mormon.

  14. After considering a large amount of textual evidence and reading a variety of independent linguistic studies, I have concluded that it is extremely unlikely that many morphological forms and syntactic structures found in the Book of Mormon (and in the Doctrine and Covenants) were part of Joseph Smith’s pre-1830s rural New York and New England dialect. Documents containing aspects of Joseph Smith’s dialect (such as a 2,000-word personal history written in 1832 scribed by Joseph Smith and Frederick G. Williams) generally support this view. See Stanford Carmack, “How Joseph Smith’s Grammar Differed from Book of Mormon Grammar: Evidence from the 1832 History,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 25 (2017): 239–259, www.mormoninterpreter.com/how-joseph-smiths-grammar-differed-from-book-of-mormon-grammar-evidence-from-the-1832-history/; and www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-circa-summer-1832/1.
  15. Systematic usage includes but is not limited to the present-tense, past-tense, and perfect-tense verbal systems. Tight control has crucial explanatory power since it makes sense of the hundreds of differences — small and large — between lengthy biblical passages found in the Book of Mormon and the King James Bible. Under tight control, changes that were expedient in the Lord to make were made. The text itself tells us that a human consulting a 1769 King James Bible would have been inadequate to the case since there are 1611 readings, as well as an apparent reliance on language found in other Early Modern English Bibles. These facts are problematic for loose control.
  16. See Royal Skousen, editor, The Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon: Typographical Facsimile of the Extant Text (Provo, UT: FARMS and BYU, 2001); and Royal Skousen, editor, The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text (New Haven: Yale UP, 2009), bit.ly/2ocoerM.
  17. “They was” is Early Modern English usage by consequential authors, and some of them varied “they was” closely with “they were,” as we read in Alma 9:31–32. Also, “they were” was written down once by Joseph Smith for his 1832 History in the one case where he could have written “they was” (near the beginning).
  18. For background on the Book of Mormon’s use of the did periphrasis, see Carmack, “Past-Tense Syntax,” 119–186, bit.ly/2nLFIiA. For a historical treatment of the do-periphrasis in English, see Alvar Ellegård, The Auxiliary Do: The Establishment and Regulation of Its Use in English (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1953). Pages 157 and 161–162 contain a brief summary that is relevant to Book of Mormon usage. 

    Citing two earlier studies, Ellegård wrote on page 157 that periphrastic do (both present-tense and past-tense) “first occurred in prose [about] 1400, gained ground slowly in the 15th [century] and rapidly in the 16th century. In the 17th century the tide fell fast in affirmative declarative sentences, whereas the use of do became regular in negative and interrogative ones. The modern state of things was practically achieved around 1700.”

  19. The Book of Mormon employs personal which more than 50 percent of the time, the King James Bible less than 20 percent of the time.
  20. Because the King James Bible doesn’t have plural was, this has typically been attributed by LDS scholars to Joseph Smith.
  21. I have not done a comprehensive study of this syntactic feature in the Doctrine and Covenants, but there is nearby variation of personal which ~ who in D&C 3:13 (July 1828), which we can also find in the earliest text of the Book of Mormon (e.g. 2 Nephi 9:26, Mosiah 3:5, Alma 1:7; 10:3; 15:1; 26:36; 43:44; 46:14; 61:3–4; Helaman 3:28; 3 Nephi 7:24; Ether 13:15) and in the King James Bible (e.g. Numbers 14:36; 26:9; 1 Samuel 16:16; 2 Chronicles 8:17; 30:7; etc.). The original Book of Mormon language can be read in Royal Skousen, editor, The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), bit.ly/2ocoerM. 

    Because the King James Bible favors the relative pronoun that after human antecedents, the heavy use of which in the Book of Mormon is distinct from biblical preferences. There are Early Modern English authors who favored which over that (after human antecedents), but it was clearly the less-common option for most authors.

  22. But see below for a brief treatment of the {-th} plural as may be found sporadically in early versions of Doctrine and Covenants sections.
  23. Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, 174. The preface was revealed on November 1, 1831 in Hiram, Ohio — see www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-1-november-1831-b-dc-1/2. This was around the time that sections 67 and 68 were revealed. The source note says that section 1 was “copied [between 12 and 20 Nov. 1831] in Revelation Book 1, pp. 125–127; handwriting of John Whitmer.”
  24. Attributing Book of Mormon language to Joseph Smith because he possibly had extensive subconscious knowledge of biblical usage is an impracticable idea since most Book of Mormon grammar is archaic but not biblical.
  25. This judgment is made because the vocabulary and the syntax of the Book of Mormon appear to have been filtered for recognition but not for obsolescence. In the main, the archaic or obsolete vocabulary and syntax are quite plain to our understanding. For example, “cause X that X (should/shall) do something” (e.g., 3 Nephi 29:4), though apparently obsolete before the 19th century, is as easy to understand as “cause that X (should/shall) do something” or “cause X to do something.” And the “but if” of “but if he yieldeth to the enticings of the Holy Spirit” (Mosiah 3:19) is made up of current, high-frequency words that can be determined to mean ‘unless’ from the context.
  26. For example, this may be the case with “had not ought to + <infinitive>” in the Book of Mormon. This negative quasi-modal auxiliary verb has not yet been found in the Early Modern English period, but the occasional uncontracted case can be found in the modern era, such as the seven instances in a Buffalo, New York book by Tallcut Patching (1822). This book also has at least 15 instances of “had ought to + <infinitive>,” which is uncommonly found in Early Modern English. The quasi-modal “ought to” is used with had approximately 30 times in the earliest text of the Book of Mormon.
  27. On more than one occasion I have encountered the assertion that it means that the Lord favors or has a vested interest in Early Modern English. Of course the position of tight control doesn’t depend on any such view nor does it assert any such thing. Tight control is merely shown by the occurrence of certain types of Early Modern English usage that did not carry through materially to modern English. Another recently made claim is that by analyzing the form and structure of the language — in order to answer the question of the nature of the revelatory process — I imply that the Lord is more concerned with the “mechanics” of language than with the expressiveness of communication. To my knowledge I have never stated that the Lord deems content to be less important than form and structure.Yet obviously the form and structure of the language of Joseph’s revelations — a largely neglected topic — is important, since it has a direct bearing on who worded the text: the Lord or Joseph Smith. Because humans cannot accurately simulate foreign grammar, and the dictation grammar of the earliest text was effectively foreign to Joseph Smith in 1829, that aspect of the text resolves the nature of the revelatory translation. This is substantial evidence as the grammar of a lengthy text is massively represented and concrete in nature.
  28. Bushman might simply mean by the Doctrine and Covenants revelations not being in “God’s diction, dialect, or native language” (Rough Stone Rolling, 174), that they weren’t given in dominant King James language. If so, then this is accurate. Royal Skousen noted the following in the case of the Book of Mormon: “the biblically styled language of the text . . . does not imitate the specific language of the King James Bible (of course, the biblical quotes in the Book of Mormon do follow the King James text for the most part).” (Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon [Provo, UT: FARMS and BYU, 2006], 3:1393–94.) This important observation has been borne out repeatedly by subsequent research. 

    Yet five years later, Brant Gardner wrote the following: “The Book of Mormon’s imitation of King James translation language and style is so obvious it does not need demonstration” (The Gift and Power, 192). While it is true that there is plenty of overlapping usage, there are also so many significant differences between the two texts that we do not obtain the form and structure of the Book of Mormon in many cases from a close imitation of King James language. 

    In 2011, the details of Book of Mormon language and earlier English were finally available to scholars: Skousen’s 2009 Yale edition, his 6-part Analysis of Textual Variants (2004–2009), the Oxford English Dictionary, and the vast, searchable Early English Books Online database (there are currently approximately 25,000 publicly available Phase 1 texts, as well as almost 35,000 Phase 2 texts available by subscription). These sources provide evidence of the Early Modern English character of the Book of Mormon and for how the King James Bible and the Book of Mormon are distinct in their semantic, morphological, and syntactic usage.

  29. See, for example, Royal Skousen, editor, The Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon: Typographical Facsimile of the Extant Text (Provo, UT: FARMS and BYU, 2001), 6.
  30. There are 48 instances of “save it be” found in the earliest text of the Book of Mormon.
  31. The Scottish authors James Durham (1658), Andrew Honyman (1669), and James Canaries (1684) provide a total of five instances of “save it be.” Here I list those instances, with spelling regularized. Durham (EEBO A37035): “the four monarchies, which were not any of them (save it be the third) in an individual person, yet they are called four kings:”; “not one of them is subject to the Roman emperor now (save it be Germany alone, which yet indeed is not so)”; Honyman (EEBO A86516): “Do they not, for the most part, live abstractly at their several charges, save it be one or two admitted by the king to his council?”; Canaries (EEBO B18463): “Wherefore as all those jejune and barren speculations are in themselves altogether uncapable to work upon practice, or employ anything of us below the chin, (save it be in those ebullitions of contention and strife which they are indeed very and only apt to occasion)” (emphasis in original); “I know none that ever held anything like this latter, save it be the Quakers.”
  32. William Herbert, Dean of Manchester, employed the phrase in 1804 while translating Icelandic poetry (“Thou canst not leave me, save it be my will;” <bit.ly/2rrKAqm>, reprinted elsewhere). The Dubliner Matthew Weld Hartstonge used it in 1825 in a Scottish romance (“save it be upon your death-bed alone that you may divulge it” <bit.ly/2pXoWZT>). The use of “save it be” by Hartstonge in a Scottish romance may speak to his viewing it as being characteristic of northern English dialects. See the end of note 43 for a short list of possible Scotticisms or northern Early Modern English usage found in the Book of Mormon.
  33. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-april-1829-a-dc-6/1 and www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/15. The citation in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants is 8:5. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/doctrine-and-covenants-1835/117.
  34. Which was changed to who for the 1835 edition.
  35. The Google Books Ngram Viewer (https://books.google.com/ngrams; citation given immediately below) indicates that in 1830 “except those who” was used approximately 80% of the time versus “save those who,” and more than 80% of the time throughout most of the preceding century. Ngram Viewer citation: Jean-Baptiste Michel et al., “Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books,” Science 331.6014 (2011): 176–182 (published online ahead of print on 16 December 2010).
  36. Nor are there any writings that employ “save it be” anywhere close to the number of times that we encounter it in the Book of Mormon (48 times).Suppose we were to assert that the heavy use of “save it be” in the Doctrine and Covenants and in the Book of Mormon was merely an indication that Joseph Smith overused rare phrases that he came to favor. This could be a possible explanation in isolation, but it fails to explain a host of forms found in the Book of Mormon. If one were to resort to this argument, then the strong match between the ubiquitous affirmative, declarative, periphrastic did usage of the Book of Mormon with 16th-century patterns, on multiple levels, would remain unexplained. Nor does such a view explain the prevalence of extrabiblical, archaic vocabulary in the earliest text, or the diversity of systematic syntax found in the Book of Mormon, including but not limited to the presence of a rich variety of 16th-century agentive of usage (which pseudo-biblical texts do not have), the solid match between command syntax with some late 15th-century Caxton usage, the good match between various causative constructions and the Early Modern English period, as well as personal which, embedded auxiliary usage, the {-th} plural, plural was, some past participle leveling, etc.
  37. This revelation is also dated April 1829. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-april-1829-d-dc-9/1. In addition, there are three instances of “save it was” found in the earliest text of the Book of Mormon: Enos 1:20, 23; Alma 49:4.
  38. Defining the term ark: “Arcke, a cofer or cheste as oure shrynes saue it was flatte” (EEBO A13203).
  39. John Harington (translator), book 37, stanza 75: “That saue it was so darke they could not see” (EEBO A21106, page 311).
  40. This work is dated variously: either about 1630 (LION), or 166–? (EEBO A78289). The author is given as S.C., and the title as The famous and delectable history of Cleocreton and Cloryana: “all the fabrick of her beautiful body was composed without fault, save it was too little” (London).
  41. This language was received in early June 1829, copied by John Whitmer in March 1831, and typeset in early 1833. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-june-1829-b-dc-18/3. There are 77 instances of “save it were” found in the earliest text of the Book of Mormon.
  42. William Mercer [1605?–1676?], Angliæ speculum: or Englands looking-glasse: “Some were confounded, others forc’d to fly, / Their bodies wounded all were glad to cry, / And beg for pardon, safe it were those Priests / And Jesuits, who counted all but jeasts / Till they were routed” (EEBO A89059).
  43. One can currently read it online as it was set forth in The Charmer, volume 1, page 311 (Edinburgh, 1751): digital.nls.uk/special-collections-of-printed-music/pageturner.cfm?id=87773315&mode=fullsize. The first line is “Will you go and marry, Kitty?”: “I could wish no man to get you, / Save it were my very sel[’].” According to page 27 of William Scott Douglas, editor, The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Burns, Volume 2 (Kilmarnock: James M‘Kie, 1871), the poet Robert Burns merely reworked the folk song and any attribution to him is incorrect. This is shown directly by the fact that The Charmer was published when Burns was only two years old. 

    The same song was published again in 1768, with slightly different wording, by Alexander Ross of Aberdeen [1699–1784], in The Fortunate Shepherdess, under the title “Wilt thou go and marry, Ketty?”: “And yet, my dear and lovely Ketty, / I hae this one thing to tell: / I wad wish no man to get ye, / Save it were my very sell” (bit.ly/2pUPuvF). 

    The substantial presence of this Scottish or northern Early Modern English element (“save it were” and “save it be”) in the Doctrine and Covenants and Book of Mormon should not be overlooked. We encounter it in this type of phrase, and in the Book of Mormon in a number of items including intransitive anger, hurl, molten, proven, subsequent, and the time conjunction “to that.” (The past participle proven was Scottish usage in the 1600s, before spreading in the 1700s.)

  44. For a discussion of this syntax in the Book of Mormon, see Stanford Carmack, “What Command Syntax Tells Us About Book of Mormon Authorship,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture, 13 (2015): 180–184, 192–194, www.mormoninterpreter.com/what-command-syntax-tells-us-about-book-of-mormon-authorship. See also Royal Skousen, Grammatical Variation (Provo, UT: FARMS and BYU Studies, 2016), 1053–1057. Dual object command syntax is called layered syntax in the 2015 Interpreter article.
  45. In this syntax there are two object layers after the verb command: an indirect object noun phrase (or pronoun) and a direct object that-clause.
  46. Here and elsewhere I refer to novel production, rather than quoted or paraphrased language of the past. A genuine modern example comes from the Edinburgh Review 28:367 (1817): “his Majesty . . . issued a general order, in May 1809, to the governors in the West Indies, commanding them, that they should, on no pretence whatever, give their assent to any law relative to religion” (bit.ly/2pUA22G).
  47. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-19-january-1841-dc-124/4. Source note: “Revelation, Nauvoo, IL, 19 Jan. 1841; in Book of the Law of the Lord, pp. 3–15; handwriting of Robert B. Thompson; CHL.”
  48. 3 Nephi 4:23 has essentially the same complex syntax, but the verb is give followed by the noun command: “Zemnarihah did give command unto his people that they should withdraw themselves from the siege and to march into the farthermost parts of the land northward.” Here we can see that the first object, “his people” is an indirect object, marked by the preposition unto, as in this 1483 Caxton example: “David commanded to his servants to slay them” (EEBO A14559,; spelling regularized here and following). Here is another instance from the same book, The Golden Legend, which is a fairly good match with D&C 124:38: “And after this the emperor commanded that they should be hanged with cords and their bodies to be given to hounds and wolves to be devoured.” A better match is the following from Holinshed’s Chronicles (1577), because it involves a dual-object construction: “whom the King commanded, that he should call all those before him which held any lands of the Crown, and to retain of them in his name their homages and fealties” (EEBO A03448). Mosiah 29:30, Alma 8:25, and Acts 24:23 have infinitival complements followed by that clauses after the verb command.
  49. Moses is one of the they, similar to this example from Holinshed’s Chronicles:whom he commanded that each one should kiss other’s sword.” Here whom is plural and each one is one of the whom. When there is a change in object reference in this lengthy Tudor history, the auxiliary is usually may or might, as in this example: “the king commanded Anselm that the consecration of the said Archbishop of York might stay till the feast of Easter” (EEBO A03448).
  50. The understood subject of the infinitive may be either Moses or they.
  51. This currently reads in the second person: “I . . . have commanded you that you should stand as a witness of these things.” It originally read in the third person: “I have commanded him that he should stand . . .” See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-march-1829-dc-5/1.
  52. There is an inline deletion of should in the manuscript, with shall written immediately after: “I have commanded him that he should shall pretend to no other gift.” See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-march-1829-dc-5/1. This creates nearby variation in auxiliary usage in verses 2 and 4. Both auxiliary forms can be found in the textual record after present-perfect “have commanded,” with should predominating. Here is a less-common example with shall: “I have commanded, that he shall be greatly favoured,” (1687, EEBO A47555, page 950). The Book of Mormon also has both types in close proximity at 1 Nephi 3:2, 4.
  53. The instance currently found at D&C 76:28 — “the Lord commanded us that we should write the vision” — was a later insertion by Joseph Smith. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/vision-16-february-1832-dc-76&p=3. Joseph may have decided to match the dual-object instance of verse 115, or he may have chosen to switch to the dominant finite structure of these revelations, or he may have been sufficiently familiar with the construction by 1831. (That would be unsurprising since he had dictated more than 100 dual-object complementation constructions in 1829.) At the very least, it is unlikely that Smith would have produced the early instances found in section 5 (in the hand of Cowdery, and dictated concurrently with the beginning of the Book of Mormon dictation), or the two extraordinary cases discussed here whose structures are consistent with uncommon usage of the Early Modern English era.
  54. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/vision-16-february-1832-dc-76/10. There are also two nearby infinitival examples in a relative clause at D&C 76:80: “that the Lord commanded us to write”; and at D&C 76:113: “which we were commanded to write” (the command verb is in the passive voice which favored infinitival complementation with this verb historically).
  55. Alma 63:12: “save it were those parts which had been commanded by Alma should not go forth”; Helaman 6:25: “which Alma commanded his son should not go forth unto the world.” EEBO Phase 1 texts also have the following: “and to forbidde them to doe those things which God commaunded, they should doe” (1593, EEBO A03398, page 100); and “see here a paper which he commanded I should deliver you” (1647, EEBO A41385, page 113).
  56. To be sure, we can currently find other examples in Google Books of “commanded us [ø] we should not” and “commanded them [ø] they should not,” in books printed between 1700 and 1830, but these are reprints/quotations of 16th- and 17th-century language (by Philip Sidney and Ben Jonson, respectively). While these instances are distinguishable (the command syntax is not part of a relative clause), this evidence reinforces the view that finite complementation lacking the conjunction that is archaic language.
  57. I have made a preliminary count of 28 infinitival constructions. In 15 of these the verb command is in the passive voice, which favors infinitival complementation. In eight of the other 13 cases the object precedes the command verb.
  58. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-2-august-1833-b-dc-94/1. There is also one instance of “if there shall be properties” in D&C 42:33. Both “if there be” and “if there is” were used much more often than “if there shall be” in the Early Modern English period (before the 18th century) and in the late modern period (after the 17th century). According to Ngram Viewer, “if there is” finally overtook “if there be” in the 1880s.
  59. The EEBO Phase 1 database contains seven instances of “if there shall come”: two from the 16th century, and five from the 17th century. EEBO Phase 2 currently contains 14 examples (texts are added to it periodically): 12 of these are from the 17th century, and the last one is dated 1700: “if there shall come to them out of Zion a deliverer to turn away their Iniquity” (EEBO A65710). This quote is from the biblical commentator Daniel Whitby, discussing Romans 11:27.
  60. There are currently two 20th-century examples found on Google Books, as well as some false positives. One example is from a somewhat obscure 20th-century translation of Thomas Aquinas and the other is from Richard Llewellyn’s How Green Was My Valley [1939]. (Google Books is not always reliable, and there are many reprints and editions that carry misleading or incorrect dates; Ngram Viewer is not currently reliable before the 18th century.)
  61. Here are five 17th-century examples of the uncommon phrase “if there shall come,” taken from publicly available EEBO Phase 1 texts:1633, EEBO A13053, John Stow [1525?–1605] The survey of London, page 723

    And if there shall come no heire of the said Lands or Tenements,

    1638, EEBO A14258, George Herbert, tr. [1593 –1633] |

    Juan de Valdés [d. 1541] The hundred and ten considerations, page 279

    And if there shall come a fancy to him to say that his doubting is of the same quality with that of them who doubt without spirit,

    1643, EEBO A86477, Denzil Holles [1599–1680]

    Mr. Hollis his speech to the Lords in Parliament concerning peace, page 25

    And therefore if there shall come any discord between any of your quarter,

    1671, EEBO A45356, Henry Hallywell [d. 1703?]

    A discourse of the excellency of Christianity, page 22

    And consequently, if there shall come one whose Doctrine tends to the establishing the pure Worship of the true God, and delivers nothing but what is for the promotion of Piety and Holiness, and shall

    1677, EEBO A48960, John Logan [17th cent.] Analogia honorum, or, A treatise of honour and nobility, according to the laws and customes of England, page 54

    and to be a Judge, to sit, hear, and determine Life and Member, Plea and right of Land, if there shall come occasion:

  62. See Skousen, Grammatical Variation, 1048–1052.
  63. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-march-1829-dc-5/1.
  64. Here is an example of the edited language: “God forbid it, for to doubt and stand in a mammering, would cause you that you should never truely loue God, but ever serue him of a servile feare,” (1613, EEBO A19420, pages 207–208).
  65. This is mainly from EEBO Phase 1 texts, so that there are almost certainly more instances of dual-object cause syntax in EEBO Phase 2 texts that I haven’t encountered.
  66. Here are two more examples with doubled him ~ he and embedded auxiliaries: 

    1520, EEBO A03126, translation of Frère Hayton’s 

    La fleur des histoires de la terre d’Orient [ page xvii ] 

    And an other thing was that he made warr vpon his neyghbours /whiche caused hym that he coude nat ouercome the sodan of Egipt

    1634, EEBO A09763, Philemon Holland (translator) [1552 –1637] |

    Pliny the Elder’s The naturall historie of C. Plinius Secundus, page 341

    And verily the great master teeth and grinders of a wolfe, beeing hanged about an horse necke, cause him that he shall neuer tire and be weary, be he put to neuer so much running in any race whatsoeuer.

  67. I estimate this on the basis of the following Ngram Viewer formula: “(caused that _PRON_ / (caused _PRON_ to + caused that _PRON_)).”
  68. It could be argued in this instance that there was influence from the closely preceding dual-object command syntax. Nonetheless, such influence is unlikely when another verb is involved for which the speaker has no evidence of analogous obsolete usage. One does not know that it had ever been used with the verb cause based on usage with the verb command. The historical usage may have been different in this regard, since the semantics of the two verbs are clearly distinct. (In terms of historical English usage, the semantic difference between the verbs command and cause might have disfavored the dual-object structure with the verb cause.) Moreover, infinitival complementation with the verb cause was probably heavily dominant in all English dialects in the 19th century (more than 99%), since it was very uncommon even in the 16th and 17th centuries, when the average usage rate was more than 95% infinitival. 

    There are only four instances of finite complementation with the verb cause in the entire King James Bible (two in one verse with no auxiliary, and two with the auxiliary should), and there are absolutely no biblical examples of dual-object syntax with this verb. In contrast, the Book of Mormon has 12 instances of dual-object syntax with the verb cause, language that would have been dictated for the most part after the language of D&C 5:3 was set down in writing.

  69. Currently there are a number of instances on Google Books of 18th-century language or earlier with early 19th-century date stamps. In terms of novel, 19th-century production, one can find several examples of this language in a translation of Plautus by George Sackville Cotter (Seven Comedies of Plautus [London, 1827]), such as “I will have caused, that you shall catch him in a manner openly seen”; “Now I shall have caused, that the fortified town belonging to the Pimp, shall be totally sacked, and devastated” (bit.ly/2rrVsVW); “I will have caused that you shall say mischief.” Cotter notes that he made a literal translation out of Latin, and that explains the finite syntax with shall found in these plays. 

    In addition, at this point in time I have encountered one 19th-century American instance, and so the language is attested, but seemingly rare: “and to cause that the proprietor thereof shall not be able to live, unless they receive their mark” (Abner Kneeland, editor, The Olive Branch and Christian Inquirer 1.17 [New-York, 6 September 1828]: 269, bit.ly/2rsasU6).

  70. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-april-1829-d-dc-9/1. This revelation could have been given around the time that Mosiah 7:14 was dictated: “I will cause that my people shall rejoice also,” which was almost certainly tightly controlled language.
  71. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-6-april-1830-dc-21/1.
  72. The word order was changed subsequently to “there shall be a record kept among you,” with the change shown on the 1831 manuscript. This emendation was probably prompted by the archaic syntax. The rare phraseology (“there shall <indefinite np> be <past participle>”) is found in two 16th-century Bibles (specifically, the 1539 Great Bible and the 1568 Bishops’ Bible, which have “there shall a beam be taken from his house”) as well as occasionally in other writings of the Early Modern English period. EEBO Phase 1 texts contain the following examples: “there shall a place be prepared,” “there shall a certain be left for that use,” “there shall a voice be heard crying in the wilderness,” “there shall a mass be said by a chaplain,” “there shall a proof or trial be made of the said monies,” and “in the last day there shall a separation be made.” 

    The apparent analogous example found in the King James Bible at Luke 22:10 — “there shall a man meet you” — is distinct in that there expresses location, not existence, so that it is equivalent to “a man shall meet you there.”

  73. In this syntax the that-clause after “it <behoove verb form> <indirect object>” as well as the presence of the auxiliary should in the that-clause make this usage rare.
  74. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-spring-1829-dc-10/1.
  75. The JSP source note states: “Revelation, Harmony Township, Susquehanna Co., PA, [ca. Apr. 1829; though parts may date as early as summer 1828]” (www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-spring-1829-dc-10/1). See also www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-book-1/5.
  76. See John 11:37 and Revelation 13:15 for two passages containing somewhat complex language that probably prompted the choice of finite complementation. Earlier biblical translations into English employed the verb make in John 11:37, but in Revelation 13:15 the verb cause is found early, in Tyndale.
  77. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-september-1830-a-dc-29/4.
  78. Here are two relevant American examples that I noted in July 2015: “caused, that he should be chosen and crowned emperor of the Romans” (1798, Northampton, Massachusetts; not found in May 2017) and “could have caused that all his people should be of one heart, and of one mind” (The Triangle; New York, 1816) (bit.ly/2rv5F35). During roughly the same time period I have noted at least 10 instances of finite cause syntax with should in British publications.
  79. Excluding D&C 134:12 as a probable case of non-revelatory language, I have counted 22 instances of infinitival cause syntax. Three of these occur in sections with finite cause syntax — sections 8, 9, and 29 — so there is nearby variation.
  80. This includes one instance found in the Apocrypha at 2 Esdras 14:34.
  81. Forty-two appears to be the correct count. If so, then my essay at Skousen, Grammatical Variation, 91, has it wrong by one.
  82. The auxiliary shall occurs six times in this context in the Book of Mormon, and the auxiliary should once, all in the small plates section of the Book of Mormon. The Doctrine and Covenants has one example with should, which is discussed below.
  83. The 1568 Bishops’ Bible also has 12 examples of “if so be.” The modern update of the 1582 Douay-Rheims Bible (Catholic), the 1749 Challoner-Rheims Bible, also employs the phrase with it at Matthew 18:13, but the 1582 version has “if it chaunce.” The Geneva Bible (1560) has 30 instances of “if so be,” and earlier Bibles have fewer occurrences, but never employ the phrase with it.
  84. EEBO Phase 1 texts have 147 instances of “if it so be” (and spelling variants) from the 16th century, versus only 25 instances from the 17th century (excluding 15 instances found in a 1687 edition of some of Chaucer’s writings). This database also has approximately five times as many 17th-century words as 16th-century words. Hence, 147 × 5 ÷ 25 = 29.4 ≈ 30.
  85. As good evidence of its uncommon use, in the publicly available portion of Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO–TCP; quod.lib.umich.edu/e/ecco) there are 117 instances of “if so be” and only two instances of “if it so be”: 

    1773, David Henry, An historical account of all the voyages round the world 

    and, if it so be, that I never come home, 

    yet will her Majesty pay every man his wages1797, Samuel Jackson Pratt, Family secrets: literary and domestic

    Such is your humble servant’s good counsel; but if it so be it be not taken,

    The second example above has a dependent clause in the subjunctive, with ellipsis of the conjunction that.

  86. Here are five instances with sentential complements taken from Google Books (from both British and American sources):1813 GOOG Pseudonymous author It was me, 54 (London)

    now if it so be that I positively don’t know good grammar

    1815 GOOG John Mathers (pseudonym) The History of Mr. John Decastro, 231 (London)

    But, if it so be, that I am called upon for mine objections to pretty Jenny

    1826 GOOG L. S. Everett (editor) Gospel Advocate, 4:142, 220 (Buffalo, NY)

    if it so be that your conviction of its truth or falsity

    are honest and pure . . .

    But if it so be, that they are . . . under the influence

    of any predominant sect

    1827 GOOG The New-York Literary Gazette

    if it so be, that you are come hither

    like the rest of your fraternity with a large bill

    These examples have dependent that-clauses with verbs in the indicative mood (when it can be determined — that is, in all but the 1813 excerpt, whose grammatical mood cannot be determined).

  87. The phrase “it mattereth not” is found seven times in the Doctrine and Covenants and 11 times in the Book of Mormon. La Roy Sunderland criticized this phrase, on page 59 of Mormonism Exposed (New York: NY Watchman, 1842) (bit.ly/2pXtuPS), but his criticism was misplaced since one can currently find more than 200 instances of this phrase in the EEBO database.
  88. This language was received in early June 1829, copied by John Whitmer in March 1831, and typeset in early 1833. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-june-1829-b-dc-18/3.
  89. The in was edited out. EEBO Phase 1 texts provide a number of examples which show that the in here could have been archaic usage (tightly controlled language), as in the following two excerpts from the 16th and 17th centuries: 1540, Myles Coverdale, Psalter: “we have been glad and refreshed in all our days” (EEBO A13371); 1683, John Bulteel (translator), Mézeray’s A General Chronological History of France: “Amongst his fervent exercises of piety, which never did abate in all the days of his life, he observed the fasts ordained by the church with great exactness” (EEBO A70580).
  90. The only was edited out. EEBO Phase 1 texts have a few examples of this pleonastic language. There is one instance of closely related “save only it be” (in a 1691 translation of an Italian work), as well as three examples of “save only it is/was” (1652, 1671, 1684).
  91. Not uncommon is for the auxiliary should to occur after the nearly identical phrase “if it should so be,” which is found in the Book of Mormon at Enos 1:13: “if it should so be that my people the Nephites should fall into transgression.” This language is found in the 18th-century language of wills. For example, the book Maine Wills: 1640–1760, edited by William Mitchell Sargent (Portland: Brown Thurston & Company, 1887), contains several instances of this language (archive.org/details/cu31924081314852). And it can be found in other legal references to wills, as in this example — (1772) “but if it should so be that my son . . . shall/should depart this life” (in William P. Mason, Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Circuit Court of the United States, for the First Circuit [Boston: Hilliard, Gray, Little, and Wilkins, 1828], 3:391–395, 543, bit.ly/2qVEWRc). But this language is not found in either ECCO–TCP or LION (after the year 1700).
  92. One of these is a case of resumptive repetition (D&C 96:8). In D&C 37:1 expedient is used in the negative, and the tense is in the past at D&C 100:4. There are two instances in which expedient is conjoined with and preceded by necessary (D&C 71:1) and wisdom (D&C 96:6). And the phraseology of D&C 96:5 is slightly different from the usual: “this is the most expedient in me.”
  93. One instance has a following that-clause which is not dependent in the usual way, since the that is not a simple conjunction/complementizer. In this particular case the clause is purposive: “keep these things from going abroad unto the world until it is expedient in me, that ye may accomplish this work in the eyes of the people,” (D&C 45:72), and that means ‘in order that’. This is the only time the auxiliary may is used in a following that-clause, instead of should or shall.
  94. The semantics of the noun phrase or the pronoun in the prepositional phrase after expedient appears to involve agents with power to influence things or agents with the authority to judge matters of importance.
  95. In the 1844 Doctrine and Covenants, current section 127 is section CV (105): see www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/doctrine-and-covenants-1844/420. In that book there is a comma after expedient, tying the prepositional phrase “in me” only to wisdom, rather than to both expedient and wisdom, as the current lack of punctuation makes possible.
  96. Substituting the adjective wise for the phrase “wisdom in me” would create a more compact, parallel structure that would express essentially the same content, since the verb thought effectively conveys the same notion as the in of “in me.” The prepositional phrase “in me” in D&C 127:1 is therefore a possible redundancy, unlike the usage in similar Doctrine and Covenants passages.
  97. This is taken from definition 2 in the Oxford English Dictionary for the adjective expedient.
  98. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-4-december-1831-a-dc-721–8/1.
  99. D&C 96:6 does not complete the that-clause until the resumptive repetition of verse 8. For a thorough treatment of resumptive repetition in the Book of Mormon, see Skousen, Grammatical Variation, 2:808–853. Also, D&C 100:4 reads “for thus it was expedient in me for the salvation of souls,” without a verbal complement.
  100. This is the earliest dictation of “it is expedient in me.” See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-september-1830-d-dc-305–8/1. The manuscript includes redactions (thou to you, etc.) that are noteworthy but irrelevant to this particular discussion.
  101. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-11-september-1831-dc-64/3.
  102. The seven infinitival examples of this syntax that I have collected as of this writing (May 2017) are the following: “Because it was expedient in the . . . gouernment . . . to vse all rigor and seueritie” (1603); “Wherefore it is expedient in this . . . Councell, to remove that especially which is so opposite to Gods Lawes” (1638); “Whether it is expedient in a State to have Slaves” (1664); “and that therefore it was expedient in them to set the Commons an example and open their doors” (1774); “would it have been wise, would it have been expedient in him to have issued a direction too limited,” (1780); “how far it may be proper and expedient in them, to carry the improvement of the quality of their butter” (1824); “You are not asked to say whether they are deeds that a wise or an affectionate man should have made; or if it was expedient in him to execute them” (1831).
  103. This conclusion is made because a single 17th-century instance points to a much higher usage rate than a single 18th-century instance, since the number of imprints usually increased decade by decade.
  104. There are more than 100 examples with should in EEBO Phase 1 texts, compared with only two examples with shall currently found in all of EEBO.
  105. The King James Bible has a single past-tense example: “it was expedient that one man should die for the people” (John 18:14). Here are four uncommon early modern and late modern examples with shall in dependent that-clauses (the first two from EEBO Phase 2 texts, and the last two from Google Books): 

    1627, EEBO A18885, E.C.S. (translator), Cicero’s Scipio’s dreame 

    To be short, it is expedient, that you being Dictator shall gouerne the common-wealth, 

    1672, EEBO A70912, H. Parsons, The history of the five wise philosophers 

    it is expedient, that any of the saids officers . . . 

    shall cause register the docquet 

    1789 GOOG Catholic Committee (England), To the Catholics of England 

    And that it is expedient that such persons . . . shall be relieved from the penalties and disabilities to which Papists . . . are by law subject, 

    1813 GOOG Parliamentary Papers (in relation to the East India Company) 

    it is expedient that all the privileges, authorities, 

    and regulations and clauses affecting the same,shall continue and be in force for a time to be limited;

  106. The syntax is “it <be verb form/phrase> expedient in <agentive np> that <subject> shall <infinitive>.”
  107. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-april-1829-b-dc-8/2 and www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-book-1/7.
  108. In both cases the final edit from have to has occurred after the 1844 Doctrine and Covenants.
  109. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-may-1829-a-dc-11/2.
  110. There are also four with has in Alma 12:25; 27:15; 40:24; 41:1. A close Early Modern English example with has is the following: 

    1677, EEBO A48816, William Lloyd [1627–1717] Considerations touching the true way to suppress popery in this kingdom 

    they would be wakened by those Censuresof which enough has been spoken already.

  111. Another possibility is to consider “of which hath been spoken” to be an adjunct construction where the subject slot of the clause is occupied by the prepositional phrase (in bold), which is construed as singular by default. That may be how those responsible for the later edit to has took this phraseology.
  112. Alexander Campbell, Delusions: An Analysis of the Book of Mormon (Boston: Greene, 1832), 13. These statements were first published the year before in Alexander Campbell, editor, “Delusions,” The Millennial Harbinger 2.2 [7 February 1831] (Bethany, VA: A. Campbell, 1831): 85– 96, at 93– 95. The Delusions portion is dated 10 February 1831. (Bethany is located in present-day West Virginia [Northern Panhandle], sandwiched between Ohio and Pennsylvania; the volume is wrongly dated 1731 [MDCCXXXI], and thus it appears with that publication date in Google Books).
  113. It was also possible and more common in the Early Modern English period to use before-mentioned and afore-mentioned to express the same meaning.
  114. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-circa-summer-1829-dc-19/1.
  115. The Book of Mormon doesn’t have this exact language, but it does have several cases such as “And now Jacob, I speak unto you: Thou art my first born” (2 Nephi 2:1). These can be profitably compared with the following examples from EEBO, which show the same nearby variation: “when will it say unto you, thou hast served me long enough; thou hast serv’d thy pleasures, and thy estate,” (1668, EEBO A74977, Richard Alleine [1611–1681], The world conquered, or a believers victory over the world); “If thou desirest Christ, goe to him, and you shall speed;” (1649, EEBO A91791, Samuel Richardson [fl. 1643–1658], Divine consolations, or, The teachings of God).
  116. The reader may recall that there are two grammatical objects after the verb command: the indirect object you and the direct object that-clause, which has two embedded verbs, covet and impart.
  117. There are even interesting cases of co-referential “thee that you” found on EEBO, such as: “Knight I doo request thee, that you wilt take me into your Galley,” (1583, EEBO A08548, translation of Pedro de la Sierra’s Second Part of the Mirror of Knighthood); “What benefit will it be to thee, that you do no body else wrong, when you doe your own souls wrong?” (1652, EEBO A49252, Christopher Love, The naturall mans case stated). 

    In this second example, taken from a sermon, thee may refer to more than one person, similar to Abinadi’s usage with king Noah’s priests: “ye shall be smitten for thine iniquities” (Mosiah 12:29); or Nephi’s usage with Laman and Lemuel: “thou art mine elder brethren, and how is it that ye are so hard in your hearts” (1 Nephi 7:8).

  118. Compare 2 Nephi 2:1 in the current LDS text. (The string “unto you: Thou” in Mosiah 13:12 involves Decalogue language and so the switch can be classified as a quotation.)
  119. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-25-december-1832-dc-87/2 and www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-27–28-december-1832-dc-881–126/10.
  120. In this particular case, there are seven instances of “exceeding angry” in the earliest text of the Book of Mormon, and none of “exceedingly angry.” Before 1830 Joseph had dictated scores of instances of “exceeding <adjective>” for the Book of Mormon.
  121. To be clear, tight control does not involve spelling control, but it does involve morphological control and/or word control, with the possibility of human error.
  122. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/letterbook-1/63 or www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/letter-to-church-leaders-in-jackson-county-missouri-2-july-1833/1. Later in the letter we read the following: “I Sidney write this in great haste.”An example of “exceeding fatigued” can be found in a 1768 abridgment of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (Edinburgh, 121 pages; first published on 25 April 1719) on ECCO. More examples are found on Google Books.
  123. Sidney Rigdon was 12 years older than Joseph Smith, so Rigdon’s personal usage could have been slightly more conservative than Joseph’s in this regard.
  124. The Google Books Ngram Viewer is, generally speaking, a lagging indicator. This is because it contains later editions and reprints of earlier publications, as well as internal quotations of earlier language.
  125. It should be noted, however, that “exceeding great” appears more frequently in the textual record than “exceedingly great” until the 1930s, when any form of this adverb was used far less frequently with adjectives. (Ngram Viewer shows that after the 1930s these nearly identical bigrams were employed at roughly the same rate.) Nevertheless, Gilbert Hunt, the author of the pseudo-biblical text The Late War (1816), split usage, employing one instance of “exceeding great” and another of “exceedingly great.” Based on that variable usage and Ngram Viewer, we reasonably expect that the Book of Mormon would have employed a few instances of “exceedingly great,” had the wording not been tightly controlled, instead of the 57 consistent instances of “exceeding great” found in the earliest text (Skousen, editor, The Book of Mormon [bit.ly/2ocoerM]). This fact, along with the highly consistent use of exceeding with other adjectives, points to tight control in the Book of Mormon in this domain, which lends support, in this regard, for that view relative to many sections of the Doctrine and Covenants.
  126. This fact can be determined from modern databases in a number of ways. For example, a comparison of “that/which ye” with “that/which you” (including several spelling variants) shows that in the 1570s subject you was already found in writing twice as often as subject ye.
  127. Biblical language, of course, owes much to Tyndale, who began to translate in the 1520s, when subject ye was still dominant over subject you.
  128. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-6-august-1833-dc-98/1.
  129. In current LDS scripture, there are nine instances of “that you” in the Book of Mormon, 148 in the Doctrine and Covenants, and two in the Pearl of Great Price. The earliest text of the Book of Mormon has only seven instances of “that you”: Jacob 2:13, Mosiah 29:13, and Alma 41:14 were originally “that ye,” and Alma 7:17 was originally “that you.” These editorial changes account for the difference in these counts and demonstrate inconsistent editing.
  130. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-april-1829-a-dc-6/4.
  131. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-june-1829-e-dc-17/1.
  132. See under ye in the Oxford English Dictionary, definition 2 (the dictionary provides a Shakespearean example of singular ye: “Will ye be gone?” Two Gentlemen of Verona 1.2.49). This OED entry suggests (and EEBO verifies) that singular ye was fairly common in the Early Modern English era, and this use persisted into the 19th century in various British dialects. Its presence, however, in Joseph Smith’s dialect is uncertain; specific evidence for it is lacking at this time, but may be pinpointed in the future after further research. 

    An October 1829 letter from Joseph to Oliver doesn’t have singular ye in this excerpt: “we want to hear from you and know how you prosper in the good work” (see www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/letter-to-oliver-cowdery-22-october-1829/1). Nor did Moroni address Joseph with singular ye in the 1832 History manuscript, which Moroni might have employed had it been part of Joseph’s dialect: “you have not kept the commandments of the Lord which I gave unto you therefore you cannot now obtain them” (see www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-circa-summer-1832/4). 

    As for singular ye in the Doctrine and Covenants, we must look to the manuscripts, since there was a strong tendency to remove this particular usage for printed publication. For example, singular ye is originally found eight times in section 8 (addressed to Oliver Cowdery), as in this excerpt: “even so shure shall ye receive a knowledge of whatsoever things ye shall ask with an honest heart believeing that ye Shall receive” (see www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-april-1829-b-dc-8/1. In addition, this section has nine instances of object you, eight instances of possessive your, and six thou forms (thou, thee, thy). 

    Sections 9 and 10 have clear cases of singular ye as well, as in these examples: “because ye did not Translate according to that which ye desired of me” (see www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-book-1/8; Book of Commandments 8:1 (D&C 9:1) has you here); “therefore it is wisdom in me that ye should translate this first part of the engravings of Nephi” (see www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-book-1/5; Book of Commandments 9:11 (D&C 10:45) has you here).

  133. For a discussion of the {-th} plural, see Charles Barber, Early Modern English (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1997), 169; and Roger Lass, “Phonology and Morphology,” The Cambridge History of the English Language, ed. Roger Lass (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 3:165–66, bit.ly/2obexd8. Barber calls it the {-eth} plural (or plural {-eth}). Because of the frequent use of hath and doth with plural subjects, I follow the shorter {-th} plural designation of Lass.
  134. See Stanford Carmack, “The Case of the {-th} Plural in the Earliest Text,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 18 (2016): 79–108, www.mormoninterpreter.com/the-case-of-the-th-plural-in-the-earliest-text. See also Skousen, Grammatical Variation, 465 ff.
  135. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-july-1828-dc-3/2 (copied about March 1831 in Revelation Book 1 by John Whitmer). This excerpt currently reads quite differently: “whom the Lord has suffered to destroy their brethren the Nephites.”
  136. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-6-may-1833-dc-93/4.
  137. This doubtful transcription is found on page 70 of Revelation Book 2. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-6-august-1833-dc-98/5 or www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-book-2/84. Both repent and reward have final s’s that appear to have been added later (since they do not match Williams’s hand elsewhere on this page), but only the verb reward is transcribed as rewards. It is hard, however, to make a reliable determination without visually inspecting the manuscript. Hence, a clear case of subjunctive ~ indicative variation from the Doctrine and Covenants is provided immediately below (after the hypothetical if).
  138. In EEBO Phase 1 texts, the earliest dated example of “he rewards” is 1588. About the same number of instances of “he rewards” and “he rewardeth” are found in this database, which covers the years 1473 to 1700.
  139. Both the 1835 and 1844 editions of the Doctrine and Covenants have “until he repent and reward the four fold” (www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/doctrine-and-covenants-1835/227 and ~/doctrine-and-covenants-1844/339 and ~/doctrine-and-covenants-1844/340).
  140. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-july-1828-dc-3/1.
  141. A reading of consistent subjunctive mood in this passage sounds less acceptable to me than the current fully indicative reading. However, I judge the original, variable reading to be fully acceptable.
  142. See also Stanford Carmack, “A Look at Some ‘Nonstandard’ Book of Mormon Grammar,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 11 (2014): 246–50, www.mormoninterpreter.com/a-look-at-some-nonstandard-book-of-mormon-grammar.
  143. Tyndale (1534) has consistent subjunctive use here with a different second verb: “yf eny heare the worde and do it not.” Coverdale (1535) follows Tyndale. The King James Bible has: “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer.” A second verb is not used.
  144. The 1611 King James Bible in Genesis 4:7 reads “If thou doe well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sinne lieth at the doore.” It currently reads “if thou doest” in both cases. The 1535 Coverdale Bible has “if thou do” twice here.
  145. See, for example, Charles Barber, Early Modern English (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1997), 169– 70; and Roger Lass, “Phonology and Morphology” in The Cambridge History of the English Language: Volume III: 1476–1776, edited by Roger Lass (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 3:165– 66. This terminology can be a little confusing at times, but I will use it here nevertheless.
  146. Normally things is the antecedent of a relative pronoun in cases of plural is, etc., but here is an uncommon example where things is the grammatical subject: 

    1658, EEBO A44798, Francis Howgill, The measvring rod of the Lord 

    I say the light which comes from Christ by whom the World was made,will shew you that all these things is sin and evil in the sight of God,

    The immediate occurrence of singular sin in the complement probably made plural is more likely in this instance.

  147. D&C 45:28 has an apparent case of the {-s} plural with the subject times, but this was introduced by a later edit, and as a result, the plural is currently remains in this verse: “And when the times of the Gentiles is come in.” The original, crossed-out language read “shall be” instead of “is.” See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-circa-7-march-1831-dc-45/3. I have found an instance of “the times is comming” (1643), but are is usually used with times and the verb come in the Early Modern English textual record.
  148. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-may-1829-a-dc-11-in-handwriting-of-hyrum-smith/1.
  149. The 1833 Book of Commandments contains the earliest extant version, and in that publication there is a comma after things that I have left out. The current LDS text reads “things which are,” without a comma. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-june-1829-b-dc-18/3. This same revelation may contain other instances of “things which is,” but we cannot determine what the original readings actually were since the two earlier manuscript versions are lost.
  150. Skousen, editor, The Book of Mormon, 734 (bit.ly/2ocoerM).
  151. See Skousen, editor, The Book of Mormon, 80 (bit.ly/2ocoerM).
  152. The following passage may also contain an example of nearby plural is ~ are variation, but it is difficult to be sure that the antecedent of which is lies: “And these things are done to Seal and Confirm Lies, which is the more heavy, heinous, and prodigious;” (1689, EEBO A47362).
  153. See Skousen, editor, The Book of Mormon, 309 (bit.ly/2ocoerM).
  154. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/articles-and-covenants-circa-april-1830-dc-20/1. The source note states: “The Painesville Telegraph version and the copy found in Revelation Book 1 both appear to have been created about the same time, but differences between the two versions indicate that the [Painesville Telegraph version] was based on an earlier copy; therefore, the Telegraph version is featured here.” See also www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-book-1/37.
  155. Maker was edited to framer for the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/doctrine-and-covenants-1835/86?highlight=framer.
  156. Here are these two examples with language that is similar to D&C 20:17 (in the original spelling):1528, EEBO A03318, Andrew Laurence (translator) [fl. 1510–1537] | Hieronymus Brunschwig [c. 1450– c. 1512] The vertuose boke of distyllacyon of the waters of all maner of herbes with the fygures of the styllatoryes

    [Bu]t onely God that hath created hevyn and erthe / and all thynges that is there in

    1549, EEBO A03622, John Hooper [d. 1555] A declaration of the ten holy co[m]maundementes of allmygthye God wroten Exo. 20. Deu. 5.

    For in syx daies / God made Heaven and Earthe / the See / and all thinges that is therin

    There are other Early Modern English examples with quite similar language, such as the following: “to wean you from the love of the World, and all the things that is in it,” (1660, EEBO A60658).

  157. There are two cases of “for after that <subject>” in the Book of Mormon, at Words of Mormon 1:3 and Ether 12:31.
  158. Compare “scriptures which have” in Revelation Book 1 (www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-book-1/38?highlight=scriptures+which+have) and in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants (www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/doctrine-and-covenants-1835/86?highlight=scriptures+which+have).
  159. For a discussion of plural was in earlier English, see Terttu Nevalainen, “Vernacular universals? The case of plural was in Early Modern English,” Types of Variation: Diachronic, dialectal and typological interfaces, edited by Terttu Nevalainen, Juhani Klemola, and Mikko Laitinen (Amsterdam: Benjamins, 2006), 351–69.
  160. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-circa-summer-1832/4.
  161. See Stanford Carmack, “The Case of Plural Was in the Earliest Text,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 18 (2016): 114–21, www.mormoninterpreter.com/the-case-of-plural was-in-the-earliest-text.
  162. See Skousen, editor, The Book of Mormon, 259, bit.ly/2ocoerM.
  163. See Skousen, editor, The Book of Mormon, 17.
  164. See Skousen, editor, The Book of Mormon, 412.
  165. See the thorough discussion in Skousen, Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon, Alma 37:21. (“Directors” has been changed to “interpreters” in both Book of Mormon verses.) The interpretation of the Joseph Smith Papers transcription of D&C 17:1 — “the Urim and Thumim <which was> given to the brother of Jared upon the mount when he talked with the Lord face to face and the marveelus directors which was given to Lehi while in the wilderness on the borders of the red sea” — is difficult. It should not be taken as clearly indicating instances of plural was. The later addition of “which was” after “Urim and Thumim” appears to have been unnecessary, and plural directors could have been originally written in the singular. The term here signifies Liahona, and singular director is used three times in the Book of Mormon to refer to it (Mosiah 1:16, Alma 37:38, 45).
  166. According to Google Books, the syntactic grouping “suffered that the,” where the verb suffer means “allow, permit,” is hardly to be found in early 19th-century writings, confined to uncommon literary use. According to Ngram Viewer, “allowed the <noun> to” was approximately 1.5 times as likely as “permitted the <noun> to” in 1828 (taking the three most common nominal cases for each verb, two of which are shared: enemy and people).
  167. Two other examples of complementation switching are found at 1 Nephi 1:3 and Moroni 4:1: “I know that the record which I make to be true” (cf. 3 Nephi 5:18) and “wherefore we know that the manner to be true.” See Skousen, Grammatical Variation, 1:450–451.
  168. In A dialogue of comfort against tribulation (1534; EEBO A07696, [1553]), More wrote “yet would I think that the least to be ours of the twain,” which is equivalent to a construction with an immediate postmodification of the subject noun phrase: “yet would I think that the least [ of the twain ]i to be ours øi.” This is akin to the phraseology of 1 Nephi 1:3. See the discussion in Skousen, Grammatical Variation, 451.
  169. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-circa-2-november-1831-dc-67/2.
  170. See Mark R. Grandstaff, “Having More Learning Than Sense: William E. McLellin and the Book Of Commandments Revisited,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 26.4 (1993): 42. Grandstaff wrote: “[Joseph Smith’s] grammar was poor and undoubtedly Cowdery, Rigdon, David Whitmer, and McLellin were more eloquent.”
  171. Grandstaff, “Having More Learning Than Sense,” 40.
  172. McLellin made his own copy shortly after Joseph received this revelation (“[between ca. 30 Oct. 1831 and 15 Nov. 1831]”). A Joseph Smith Papers note placed after “glories which are” at www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-29-october-1831-dc-66/1 reads as follows: “John Whitmer’s copy of the revelation in Revelation Book 1 has “was” instead of “are.” (Revelation Book 1, p. 111.)” Whitmer’s copy reads as follows: “that they might have life & be made partakers of the glories which was to be revealed in the last days as it was written by the Prophets & Apostles in days of old” (www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-book-1/97). 

    Either tense appears to be acceptable in this context, depending on the perspective. Hence, it is more likely that McLellin changed “glories which was” to “glories which are” than that John Whitmer changed “glories which are” to “glories which was.” If so, then McLellin knew of the bad grammar and decided to eliminate the case of plural was and change the tense to the present, a reading he might have favored.

  173. As objective evidence of Williams’s good character, we note that he served as a ship’s pilot during the War of 1812, a town clerk, a medical doctor for approximately 25 years (until his death in 1842), and that he was elected to be justice of the peace for Geauga County, Ohio in 1836, the first Mormon to hold government office there. See Frederick G. Williams, The Life of Dr. Frederick G. Williams: Counselor to the Prophet Joseph Smith (Provo, UT: BYU Studies, 2012), 3, 11, 40, 43, 44, 50, 57–88, 374–375. 

    Beyond some general knowledge that Williams would have acquired from being a landowner in the Kirtland area and elsewhere, there is no specific evidence in this thorough biography that he was knowledgeable in city planning or architecture.

  174. Definition 1a of the noun pattern in the Oxford English Dictionary reads: “ ‘The original proposed to imitation; the archetype; that which is to be copied; an exemplar’ ([Samuel Johnson]); an example or model deserving imitation; an example or model of a particular excellence.”
  175. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-2-august-1833-b-dc-94/2.
  176. As discussed, D&C 94:9 contains archaic “if there shall come,” which is specific wording that was unlikely to have come from Joseph Smith’s own language or linguistic experience. In addition, after the dimensions for the width and length of the inner court are given, we read archaic thereof twice, instead of modern its. Also, “an higher” and “an house” are used in this section (verses 5 and 10 currently read “a higher” and “a house,” without the nasal). According to Ngram Viewer, archaic “an high(er)” and “an house” were only 3% variants in the 1830s written record. In other words, the modern two-word phrases “a high(er)” and “a house” were used 97% of the time.
  177. One somewhat obvious candidate for no control is the phrase “of which we send you the draft.” This directive includes the pronoun “we,” who we can take to be (at least) Joseph Smith, Jr., Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams. Another directive, however, at the end of the plot description, strikes one as consistent with what the Lord might issue: “when this square is thus laid off and supplied / lay off another in the same way / and so fill up the world in these last days / and let every man live in the City for this is the City of Zion.”
  178. Note 4 of www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/plat-of-the-city-of-zion-circa-early-june-25-june-1833/1 states: “Instead of “¼ of an acre,” the JS letterbook copy has “½ of an acre.” According to the dimensions listed here, the lots would occupy eighty square perches or rods, which is equal to half an acre. The plat, however, contains several inconsistencies. As drawn, some of the blocks contain only eighteen lots, while others have twenty-two, rather than the twenty implicitly prescribed in the drawing and explanation.” See also www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/letterbook-1/50.It should be pointed out that this is merely a case of drawing, by accident, one too many lines, or one too few lines in a square of the plot, something that is almost to be expected, given that Williams had to draw hundreds of lines by hand.

    In addition, “2 perches” was corrected to “4 perches,” and there is a cross-out of perches with an immediate rewrite of the same word. The correction of 2 to 4 could have been immediate as well, and is subsidiary to the initial dimensions given for the majority of the squares (all but the middle row), which is 40 square rods (= 40 square perches). The middle row has blocks whose dimensions are 40 × 60 rods or perches, that is 660’ × 990’.

  179. A search for “plot/plat of the city of” in Google Books, limited to 1850 and before, yielded three instances on 27 August 2016 , two with plat (in the 1830s [Detroit and Cincinnati]) and one with plot: “the plot of the city of Baltimore” (1800, Laws of the State of Maryland, online at books.google.com/books?id=mc1JAQAAMAAJ). Even more contrastive were the 10 instances of “plat of the town of,” versus only one example with plot: “which are included in the plot of the town of Owenboro” (1834, Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, online at books.google.com/books?id=J09NAQAAMAAJ). 

    On the other hand, the EEBO Phase 1 database (containing texts published before the 18th century) has 17 instances of “plot of” used within three words before city or town (including spelling variants) versus only 5 instances of “plat of” in the same context. So plot (meaning ‘ground-plan’) was used with town or city approximately 75% of the time in the Early Modern English period, according to this sampling from EEBO, but only about 15% of the time in the early 19th century, according to the above sampling from Google Books.

  180. According to Ngram Viewer, “square mile(s)” was used nearly 90% of the time in the 1830s compared with “mile(s) square.” But in the EEBO Phase 1 database, “square mile(s)” occurs only 30% of the time, and “mile(s) square” 70% of the time (29 and 68 instances, respectively). So the two-word phrase of the Plot of Zion was used at a higher rate in the Early Modern English era than the alternate word order.
  181. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/letterbook-1/50.
  182. The plot as sketched is neither square nor small enough to be a modern square mile. The plot is squared by adding two narrow easements to the east and west sides, which aren’t shown in the draft. These additional easements would be half as wide as the north and south easements shown.
  183. Michael J. Ferrar has shown in an unpublished 2008 paper entitled “The Saxton Map, 1579; an Investigation” (www.cartographyunchained.com/pdfs/cs1_pdf.pdf [accessed 10 September 2016]), that the mile used by the English cartographer Christopher Saxton in 1579 to make his landmark map depicting both England and Wales was 1.2 statute miles. Ferrar concludes on page 4 of that paper, after many carefully considered drawings and calculations, the following: “Thus it can be shown that the Miliarum used by Saxton is the equivalent of 1.2 Statute Miles or 1.3 Roman Miles.” Therefore, the 6,336-foot mile of the Plot of Zion is equivalent to Saxton’s mile of 1579.Moreover, Saxton’s Britannia map of 1583, measuring 140 × 173 cm, provides three mile measurements: a long mile, a middle mile, and a short mile. Saxton’s middle mile has been carefully determined by Bower, and is referenced in a 2011 article — see Table 2 on page 192 of David I. Bower, “Saxton’s Maps of England and Wales: The Accuracy of Anglia and Britannia and Their Relationship to Each Other and to the County Maps,” Imago Mundi: The International Journal for the History of Cartography, 63.2 (2011): 180–200. There Bower states that Saxton’s middle mile is equivalent to 1.21 ± 0.02 of a statute mile. Therefore, the mile of the Plot of Zion also corresponds with Saxton’s middle mile of 1583.

    Furthermore, the Scots mile in Elizabethan times has been determined to have measured 5,951 feet; the Irish mile in Elizabethan times has been determined to have measured 6,721 feet (see page 70 in Arthur H. Klein, The World of Measurements: Masterpieces, Mysteries, and Muddles of Metrology [New York: Simon & Schuster, 1974]). The average of those two 16th-century standards is exactly 1.2 statute miles, equivalent to Saxton’s 1579 mile, his 1583 middle mile, and another match with the 6,336-foot mile of the Plot of Zion.

  184. An easement between two tracts of land is commonly defined as extending an equal distance from each side of the property line.
  185. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/plan-of-the-house-of-the-lord-between-1-and-25-june-1833/1.
  186. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/plan-of-the-house-of-the-lord-between-1-and-25-june-1833/2.
  187. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-30-august-1831-dc-63/1.
  188. See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-4-june-1833-dc-96/1.
  189. The textual usage rate of “according to wisdom” in the earlier period could have been more than 20 times that of the 18th century and early 19th century. EEBO currently has 14 instances in the Early Modern English era (dates ranging from 1560 to 1692), and Google Books currently has only four in the late modern era before the time of the Doctrine and Covenants (dates ranging from 1748 to 1823). (The 1748 example may be used in direct imitation of the 1638 example, quoted in this section.) There were nearly eight (approximately 7.7) times the number of imprints between 1700 and 1830 as there were between 1560 and 1700, leading to the above claim that the early modern textual rate could have been more than 20 times the modern rate: 14eModE × 7.7 ÷ 4modE27.
  190. A comparison of Geneva and King James usage:1560, Geneva Bible, Job 34:35 [EEBO A10605, (1561)]

    Iob hathe not spoken of knowledge:

    nether were his wordes according to wisdome.

    1611 King James Bible, Job 34:35

    Iob hath spoken without knowledge,

    and his words were without wisdome.

  191. 2 Samuel 14:20 and my lord is wise,
    according to the wisdom of an angel of God,
    to know all things that are in the earth.1 Kings 2:6 Do therefore according to thy wisdom,
    and let not his hoar head
    go down to the grave in peace.

    Proverbs 12:8 A man shall be commended
    according to his wisdom:

    2 Peter 3:15 even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;

  192. The earliest example given in the Oxford English Dictionary is from a mid-18th-century journal entry by George Washington:lay, v.1 54. lay off. c. To mark or separate off (plots of ground, etc.); to plot out land in some way or for some purpose.

    1748 Washington Jrnl. 30 Mar.

    This Morning began our Intended business of Laying of[f] Lots.

    From this OED quotation it is clear that “lay off” was a term used in 18th-century surveying, but we also find it in a 17th-century book on how to use a device called the triangular quadrant. It was used to make sun-dials, and also in navigation and surveying: “which Numbers being gathered into a Table, and laid off by Chords or Sines in a Semi-circle, shall be the true Hour-points to draw the Lines by” (1671; EEBO A29762). This language, used here to measure off an area, may be the forerunner of the use of the phrasal verb “lay off” in surveying.

  193. This usage is maintained in the Letterbook 1 copy, despite the JSP mis-transcription of “lots runs” as “lots run” (there is a weak final s). See www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/letterbook-1/50. Hence the {-s} plural of containes and runs was apparently not viewed to be an error like the clear mistake of ¼ acre ~ ½ acre.
  194. For a discussion of proximity agreement or attraction — that is, the verb agreeing with the closest nominal — see Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, and Jan Svartvik, A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (London: Longman, 1985), 757 (§10.35). Here is a past-tense example taken from EEBO: 

    1696, EEBO A34032, Cornelius Nary, A modest and true account of the chief points in controversie between the Roman Catholics and the Protestants 

    But the Remembrance of the Death and Passion of our Lord,by whom the Sins of the World was taken away.

  195. Nevertheless, this verb agreement could still be loosely controlled American dialectal usage.
  196. Even though spelling is not generally tightly controlled in the manuscripts of the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants (in the Book of Mormon spelling control is largely confined to the first instance of proper nouns — see Royal Skousen, “How Joseph Smith Translated the Book of Mormon,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 7.1 [1998]: 24, 25, 31), I have considered the odd if consistent spelling of containes, with a silent e, found three times in the plot description, and spelled consistently as contains by Williams in the Letterbook 1 copy (see www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/letterbook-1/50 and www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/letterbook-1/51). 

    (I have ruled out other spellings as insignificant, such as runing, then for than, intirely, publick, and Melchisedeck. An accurate transcription of the latter as used at the back of the plot description could be Melch[i(-)|e]sedec{h|k}, meaning that the i letter apparently doesn’t have a dot, so that it could be an e, but i is preferred; and that the scribe originally wrote h, then overwrote to get a k, giving us Melchisedeck.) 

    The odd spelling containes instead of contains is a type of misspelling that is never found in manuscripts of the Doctrine and Covenants or the Book of Mormon, but it is a rather high frequency spelling of the 17th century. Specifically, the directly analogous verb form pertains was spelled without a silent e by Williams at D&C 104:34 (see www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-23-april-1834-dc-104/9). Williams also spelled the plural noun rains without a silent e at D&C 90:5 (see www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-8-march-1833-dc-90/1). Other nouns ending in –ains do not show a silent e between the n and the s. 

    In addition, John Whitmer used contains twice in section 77 (see www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/answers-to-questions-between-circa-4-and-circa-20-march-1832-dc-77/2). And Cowdery wrote contains in the printer’s manuscript at 2 Nephi 29:10; see Royal Skousen, editor, The Printer’s Manuscript of the Book of Mormon (Provo, UT: FARMS and BYU, 2001), 230.

  197. This is shown in the textual record by usage frequency and by nearby variation where {-s} plural and {-th} plural verb forms are used after relative pronouns, but where typical plural verb forms are used after complex subjects containing the same relative pronouns. This is exemplified in the present tense by Alma 57:36: “Yea, and I trust that the souls of them which has been slain have entered into the rest of their God.”
  198. In EEBO Phase 1 texts there are 69 instances of “none of these things are” and only 13 with is (84% plural). Ngram Viewer shows that plural are was used in this phrase about 90% of the time in 1833.
  199. Also, there are 191 instances of perch* within five words of acre* in EEBO Phase 1, compared with 103 instances of rod* within five words of acre* (65% perch).
  200. This 2-gram forces a measurement interpretation for both rod and perch. In addition, the most frequent measurements used before the 3-gram “in an acre” (restricted to the years 1750 to 1850) are yards then feet then rods. Perches is not one of the top 10 words occurring with this 3-gram, so it doesn’t appear in the Ngram Viewer listing generated by the string “* in an acre.”
  201. The relatively high-frequency 3-gram “ranges of buildings” is found approximately 80% of the time in 1833 versus “rows of buildings.” By the year 2000 “rows of buildings” is found approximately 80% of the time.
  202. I considered the possibility that the phrasal verb “stand on” in the plot description might mean ‘face’. This particular meaning corresponds to the following obsolete definition found in the Oxford English Dictionary:stand, v. †76p. stand to — . To face, be built opposite to. Obs.

    1726 Leoni Alberti’s Archit. I. 16 a

    We shou’d also observe what Suns our House stands to.

    Here is another example of “stand to” meaning ‘face,’ from the 17th century:

    1621, EEBO A17310, Robert Burton [1577–1640] The anatomy of melancholy, page 334

    and will by al means haue the front of an house stand to the South, which how it may be good in Italy I know not, in our Northerne Countries I am sure it is best.

    However, the preposition following the verb stand is different in the plot description — on instead of to. As a result, it seems more likely that the verb stand conveys a sense of ‘situated/located.’ Definition 19 of the verb stand in the OED reads in part: “Of a . . . dwelling, etc.: To be situated in a specified position or aspect.”

  203. I only found “placed alternately” in EEBO, while “placed alternate” is found as the less-common alternative to “placed alternately” in the 19th century. Here is a relevant example from Google Books:1818, Congressional Edition

    And that as to the residue of the said lots, into which the said land hereby bargained and sold, shall have been laid off and divided, . . . then such residue of the said lots, shall be divided every other lot alternate to the said Samuel Davidson;

  204. According to Ngram Viewer, “painted paper(s)” was slightly more common than “colo(u)red paper(s)” until the end of the 18th century. By the 1830s “colo(u)red paper(s)” had become slightly more than twice as common, and by the 20th century it was dominant. Here is a representative example of “painted paper” from Google Books, where painted may mean ‘colored’: 

    1814, The Annals of Philosophy 

    unless he compare the colour of his specimen with that of the slip of painted paper in Mr. Syme’s book.

  205. The crossover in use occurred in the 1860s, as shown by a comparative Ngram Viewer chart using terms like these: “(and inside of the+or inside of the),(and inside the+or inside the)”.
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About Stanford Carmack

Stanford Carmack has a linguistics and a law degree from Stanford University, as well as a doctorate in Hispanic Languages and Literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara, specializing in historical syntax. In the past he has had articles published on Georgian verb morphology and object–participle agreement in Old Spanish and Old Catalan. He currently researches Book of Mormon syntax as it relates to Early Modern English and contributes, by means of textual analysis, to volume 3 of Royal Skousen’s Book of Mormon critical text project.

10 thoughts on “On Doctrine and Covenants Language and the 1833 Plot of Zion

  1. Another insightful article.

    I think that Carmack brings up an important consideration when he argues against a rapidly fluctuating translation method (between tight and loose control). He writes,

    “Second, when we consider the original manuscript and its 75,000 extant words, there is no original manuscript evidence that the dictation changed character repeatedly — that is, there is no convincing evidence of indecision over lexical or syntactic choice, since such corrections are extremely minimal in occurrence.”

    Supporting the manuscript evidence that Carmack mentions is also the fact that, at least to my knowledge, none of the witnesses ever mentioned Joseph Smith deliberating or agonizing or mentally working through the translation. It seems that to them, a huge part of the miracle was the fluidity of the whole process. Stan Spencer has argued that D&C 9:7-9 doesn’t refer to the translation process itself, and his interpretation seems to be largely supported by the glaring omission of any statements from the witnesses about Joseph studying out the translation in his mind before the sentences would appear in the seer stone. For example, after taking breaks, Joseph seems to have been able to start up immediately from where he left off, without skipping a beat.

    If a good portion of the translation rested solely on Joseph to supply the diction, grammar, and syntax from his own native linguistic ability, it is likely that the witnesses would have, on numerous occasions, noticed him deliberating about the best way to handle certain passages, or else agonizing over what he already dictated. That is simply what people do when they, left to their own human abilities, are tasked to translate something that is meant to be both sacred and lasting. Even for teams of scholars, important translations can sometimes take years to complete. Yet no one mentioned Joseph second guessing himself at all. He never asked Oliver or Emma or anyone else more educated than himself what they thought of the words he chose, or if there was a way to improve them.

    Interestingly, those who witnessed Joseph receive other revelations besides the Book of Mormon report the same sort of vibe about the steady, confident, forward progress. There is no mental exercise of wringing out the best possible phrasing and syntax. There is no parsing of sentences or playing with possible variations. Instead, as Parley Pratt described Joseph’s revelation on the discerning of spirits,

    “Each sentence was uttered slowly and very distinctly, and with a pause between each, sufficiently long for it to be recorded, by an ordinary writer, in long hand.
    This was the manner in which all his written revelations were dictated and written. There was never any hesitation, reviewing, or reading back, in order to keep the run of the subject; neither did any of these communications undergo revisions, interlinings, or corrections. As he dictated them so they stood, so far as I have witnessed” (cited in Rough Stone Rolling, 130).

    Obviously, there were revisions at some point, just like there were for the Book of Mormon itself, but at least from Parley’s perspective, we don’t get the sense that Joseph is struggling to find the right words to convey the voice of the Lord in the process of the dictation itself. It seems that revelations unfolded line upon line, and when Joseph got a line, he read it! Or at least the words came into his mind so distinctly that he might as well have been reading it. Either way, it seems like pretty tight control to me.

  2. Thanks for your very interesting paper, Stan. I have wondered if the same kind of peculiar English found in the BoM was also in other revelations. You have provided some pretty good evidence that it is. This similarity in language seems to favor the idea that God translated the Book of Mormon, since the other revelations were, according to the received view, spoken (or written) by God. However, in stating, “The position of tight control is that the Lord rendered the ancient Nephite record into English or had it done, and then transmitted this translation to Joseph Smith,“ you also acknowledge the idea that someone other than God or Joseph Smith may have done the rendering–perhaps an angel (resurrected, or merely translated) or even an ordinary mortal. Again, considering the similarity of language, it would be most parsimonious to suppose that the BoM and the texts of the other revelations were rendered by the same individual—perhaps someone who first learned English in the Early Modern period and hung onto that way of speaking (for example, Roger Terry and Carl T Cox have proposed Moroni, who would have been either a resurrected being or a translated mortal, as the BoM translator). At first, this may seem to be a non-starter, since it’s odd to think of an angel speaking (or writing) in the first person for God in the D&C revelations. But on second thought, maybe it’s not so odd, considering the idea of divine investiture of authority (First Presidency, 1916). God does have angels convey many of his revelations, as described in scripture. In at least one case, that angel speaks as if he were God, in the first person (Rev. 22:8–9, 12–16; see also Exodus 23:20-21). Maybe we can’t know who rendered the Nephite record into English, but even so, we can acknowledge the range of possibilities (as you have done), and those possibilities may differentially help resolve concerns some people have with the book, such as the various types of anachronism and (as you have pointed out so well) the nonstandard English.

    • A comment on whoever translated from Nephite to English. It is most probable that it was not a native Nephite speaker. There are translations of idioms and agricultural methods that make sense from a Western European perspective (or North American), but not from any Native American culture at any time prior to European contact after Columbus. A native speaker would certainly know their own culture. If they made a mistake in translation into English, we would not expect them to make fundamental errors in cultural descriptions–though that is exactly what we would expect of an English language translation that understood Western European culture far better than the western hemisphere’s native cultures (at any time or in any location). That tells me that any suggestion of Moroni, or any other Nephite or Lamante, is an unlikely choice.

      On top of that, if we accept the grammatical evidence as an indication of the fluency of the translator, then it is even less likely that we have a Nephite/Lamanite with that level of fluency who could have created that kind of translation. If the grammatical/lexical studies suggest that Joseph wasn’t the translator, we have to look for our translator in the
      English world and whose fluency was learned no earlier than the KJV and no later than Joseph Smith.

      • I am not sure how an individual could translate the Book of Mormon from Nephite into English if they were not a native Nephite? However, your point is well taken that they would have to be very familiar Early American culture and language as well. As Moroni was a resurrected being who lived in the presence of God (JSH 1:23), the Three Nephites are the only ones we are aware of who could have met all of the necessary criteria.

        “Behold, I was about to write the names of those who were never to taste of death, but the Lord forbade; therefore I write them not, for they are hid from the world. But behold, I have seen them, and they have ministered unto me. And behold they will be among the Gentiles, and the Gentiles shall know them not…Therefore, great and marvelous works shall be wrought by them, before the great and coming day when all people must surely stand before the judgment-seat of Christ; Yea even among the Gentiles shall there be a great and marvelous work wrought by them, before that judgment day.” (3rd Nephi 28:25-31)

        They were to be among the Gentiles but the Gentiles would not know them. It is particularly interesting that Mormon, who knew them, stated, “great and marvelous works shall be wrought by them.”

        This is the same phrase that the Lord used four times regarding the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. “A great and marvelous work is about to come forth unto the children of men.” (D&C 6:1; 11:1; 12:1; 14:1) It appears that Mormon knew that the Three Nephites were going to be involved in the process.

  3. Stanford, I marvel at the work you have put into this and the amount of detailed evidence you have produced.

    The greater probability as to who did the translation would be one or more of the Three Nephites who were to remain on the earth in a translated state. Presumably they would have remained in America and learned English from the Pilgrim Fathers who arrived in the early 17th Century. This explanation appears to make perfect sense. An analysis of their writings may confirm this.

    • There is a direct connection between the Three Nephites and Mormon and Moroni:

      “And there are none that do know the true God save it be the disciples of Jesus, who did tarry in the land until the wickedness of the people was so great that the Lord would not suffer them to remain with the people; and whether they be upon the face of the land no man noweth. But behold, my father and I have seen them, and they have ministered unto us.” (Mormon 8:10-11)

      The Three Nephites would have been intimately familiar with the book written by Mormon and Moroni.

    • It appears that the translation of The Book of Mormon into English was done about the time the Pilgrims arrived in America, and then it was transmitted to Joseph Smith two hundred years later. Perhaps the same individual(s) who did the translation were also involved in some additional revelations?

  4. Thank you, Mr. Carmack, for this small study. Your persistent diligence is inspiring.

    This article has made me think of other open questions:

    1. Do other sections of the Doctrine and Coveants consistently have these older forms of grammar?

    2. Are there idioms and grammar in the Doctrine and Coveants (and Book of Mormon for that matter) that are not in 16th century English but that do exist in the late 1820’s? And if so, why the use of more recent grammar instead of just older?

    All that has been found is tantalizing and worth studying more. There’s just a nagging part of me that thinks we are missing something here.

    • 1. As shown, even some late sections have archaic forms and structures. The D&C is difficult because we don’t have many of the early manuscripts. A ton of work is needed to form a clear picture of things. I won’t be doing that anytime soon. I will be working on the BofM in the foreseeable future.

      2. (You meant to write 16c and 17c English. On average, the BofM is not more archaic than the 1611/1769 KJB, which has a lot of early 16c language from Tyndale.) The answer is probably. I didn’t look for specific forms and structures and try to verify that they were absent in the earlier textual record. Most D&C language is found in both early and late modern English.

      There are items in the BofM that we have not found in EModE, only in the late 18c or early 19c, like “had NOT ought to”. We find “had ought to” occasionally in the 16c and 17c, but not the negative. “Had (not) ought to” appears to have been an uncommon emphatic form that was marginalized as ungrammatical but persisted in the spoken language and even in the written. The BofM verbal system is a best fit with the 16c and 17c. However, one small portion of it fits the late 18c (unaccusative auxiliary usage), and another part fits usage found in the late 15c (verbal complementation after the verb command).

      Does the existence of early 19c language in the BofM or in the D&C negate the existence and implications of a significant amount of obsolete 16c and 17c language (vocabulary, morphology, and syntax)? Some think so, but that view rather obviously doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. See my comments at the top of page 300.

      Why a mixture of language? I don’t think we can approach certainty on the issue. There are many imponderables, not just for the BofM, but also in the case of the D&C, which is presumably not a translation text. Yet we can’t be sure of the process of elaboration in the case of the D&C either.

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