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The original 1830 Book of Mormon contained statements to the effect that "Jesus Christ is God the Eternal Father" in three separate places (1 Nephi 11:21, 32, 13:40, source). Only recently did I discover that all later printings have this statement edited. I verified this fact with cover and page photos on the 1830 Book of Mormon website. Translation of the plates was claimed to be inspired, and when complete it was confirmed by God to be correct.

The official LDS view was that in 1837 the Book of Mormon was "versified" from paragraph form for convenience and corrected only in grammar and spelling. Why then was this statement edited by adding three words in the 1837 (and subsequent) editions to read "Jesus Christ is the Son of God the Eternal Father" thus changing its meaning in those same three places?


1 Nephi 11:21:

1 Nephi 11:21

Full page

1 Nephi 11:32:

1 Nephi 11:32

Full page

Read 1 Nephi 11:21, 32 on LDS.org.


1 Ne. 13:40:

1 Nephi 13:40

Full page

Read 1 Nephi 13:40 on LDS.org.


See other pages from the original 1830 edition.

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    Can you provide some links/photos of the changes so we all can see them? – curiousdannii Sep 13 '14 at 1:16
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    @Calvin I have found the primary source, the 1830 edition of the BoM, and the differences are there when compared to the version on lds.org. There is now a legitimate question here. – 3961 Sep 13 '14 at 15:34
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    @trueblue2k2 A premise to your question is that the official LDS view is that the 1837 edition was versified (it's not, based on the pictures) and only corrected for grammar and spelling. I can't find an official LDS statement saying this. Could you please provide your reference? – Calvin Sep 13 '14 at 23:49
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    I'm not a Mormon, but I think the obvious and sensible answer any Mormon would give would be like "translation of the plates was inspired, but the printer made a mistake, and we've now corrected the typo from Joseph Smith's manuscript of the translation." I don't think you'll get much play out of this anti-Mormon argument, in other words. – david brainerd Sep 14 '14 at 0:58
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    @curiousdannii Nice work with the cropping. I didn't think of that. There should be a +1 for editing. – 3961 Sep 14 '14 at 5:00
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Why did Joseph Smith change those verses? For clarity.

The December 1983 edition of the LDS-published Ensign magazine included the article Understanding Textual Changes in the Book of Mormon. The article addresses several types of changes including the specific ones asked about by the OP.

In a few places, however, Joseph Smith did intentionally add to the text to clarify a point. An illustration of this is the added words the son of in 1 Nephi 11:21, 32, and 13:40. The text would be correct with or without the additional words, but the addition helps the reader avoid misunderstanding.

Eternal Father is a term that can correctly refer to Jesus Christ in contexts such as father of the church (1 Corinthians 4:15, Mosiah 15:11) and father of the creation (Helaman 14:12).

Apparently Joseph Smith, as translator of the Book of Mormon, wanted to clarify that those verses were speaking of Jesus Christ and not Christ's Father. It wasn't a change of doctrine but a change to avert misinterpretation.

For further reading, see this article.

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    See also this question about the use of the term "Eternal Father" referring to Jesus. – Matt Sep 14 '14 at 4:48

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