Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 11, 1961

The 1830 Edition Of The Book Of Mormon

Jerry C. Ray, Irving, Texas

In 1958 Wilford C. Wood published a book entitled Joseph Smith Begins His Work. The Deseret News Press printed the book. The book is a photographic copy of the original 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon plus some pictures of historical significance to Mormons. From the statements and pictures we assume that Mr. Wood is a prosperous and influential member of the Utah branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The printing of the text of the book of Mormon was by photo-offset from uncut sheets of the original, the pages being enlarged from 41/2 x 71/4 to 6 x 9 for easier reading. The book contains notarized affidavits of the authenticity of the book and those who have copies of the 1830 edition have verified this.

Thus, to the amazement of opponents of Mormonism and to the dismay of defenders of Mormonism, we have available to all the original with all its grammatical errors, tautological expressions, provincialism, and absurdities. And now the defenders of the Mormon church have the unenviable task of trying to explain the hundreds of changes made in this book from its original form to its present form. The changes are too many and too divergent to be explained away as typographical errors. In view of the claims made for the Book of Mormon — inspiration, translation, and printing — it is likewise impossible to justify any changes from the original.

The Translation Of The Plates

David Whitmer, one of the three original witnesses, explained the process by which the Book of Mormon was translated:

"I will now give you a description of the manner in which the book of Mormon was translated. Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into the hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling Parchment would appear; and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principle scribe, and when it was written down and repeated by Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man." (The True Origin of the Book of Mormon, Charles A. Shook, pp. 5-6)

To this we add the statement of Brigham H. Roberts:

"Until the writing was correct in every particular, the words last given would remain before the eyes of the translator, and not disappear. But on the necessary correction being made, they would immediately pass away and be succeeded by others." (History of Church, p. 28)

And so we are told the Book of Mormon was translated "by the gift and power of God" and will not allow for any mistake in its original translation.

Claims Of Perfection Made For The Book Of Mormon

The Bible was inspired of God and has been preserved by divine providence. The claim for the Book of Mormon, however, is much greater.

The Bible was (1) given by inspiration and (2) preserved by providence. But that there are errors in the various English translations no informed person would deny. The Mormons, in trying to excuse the changes from the 1830 edition, say the Bible has been changed; but this is not so. Only improved translations of the original language are made. This dodge will not work in view of the claims made for the 1830 edition.

The Book of Mormon, so it is affirmed of Mormons, was (1) written by inspiration, (2) preserved by divine providence, (3) translated into the English by inspiration, (4) published under the guidance of an inspired prophet — Joseph Smith, Jr. (Joseph Smith, Jr. said, "I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book" — History of the Church by Joseph Smith, Jr., Vol. IV, p. 461), and (5) kept safe from corruption by inspired prophets through the years.

In the light of all this, what possible justification can be found for changing the original text? Why should we believe the Book of Mormon is inspired when the Mormons themselves do not?

Thousands Of Changes

James H. Snowden in his book, The Truth About Mormonism, (1926) states, "The book passed into a fluid condition and assumed a different form with every edition. 1842 an edition appeared bearing on its title page the announcement, 'Carefully revised by the translator,' and such corrections have continued and accumulated...." (p. 69)

Brother Jack Free, of Ontario, Oregon, has tabulated 12,349 variations between the present Utah edition and the 1830 edition, so states brother Hal Hougey in the Firm Foundation, Aug. 25, 1959, p. 534.

Joseph Smith Begins His Work can be purchased from various bookstores operated by our brethren and sells for $5.95. This price seems a little high, but for those who have much contact with Mormons, it is well worth the price.

The original edition of the Book of Mormon did not have verse divisions and the present chapter divisions are different. This makes comparison of the original with the present very burdensome. We have compiled a list of many of the prominent changes, with the necessary book, chapter and verse of the present edition beside the page number of the 1830 edition. These will be presented in a later article for the benefit of those who might have a copy of the new book, who can save many hours of searching by referring to this listing.