16

The English used in the initial translation of the book of Mormon is KJV-esque English. I'm wondering if there have ever been new English translations as time goes by, and as the English language has developed?

If so, what are these translations based off, considering we no longer have access to the golden plates? Would it just paraphrase the original translation, but in modern English?

17

No, the Book of Mormon has never been revised into a more modern English dialect.

There have been various updates to the printing of the Book of Mormon over time to correct errors in the typesetting of earlier editions. The first edition was set and printed in haste, from a manuscript handwritten by Oliver Cowdery under Joseph Smith's dictation. Cowdery didn't have the clearest of handwriting, leading to the first edition containing thousands of typos, some of them truly bizarre such as rendering "robber" as "nobler", others more understandable, like changing "formation" to "foundation".

Also, the original printing came in 1829, before English spelling had become standardized. (Noah Webster published his first American English dictionary in 1828, and at the time it was only one of many available, each using wildly varying spellings for many common words.) Because of these various factors, there have been several times in which new printings of the Book of Mormon have been updated for correctness. However, the basic narrative, the doctrines taught therein, and the Biblical feel of the language used, have always remained consistent with the original English translation.

Source: Understanding Textual Changes in the Book of Mormon

8

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is the most prominent group of people associated with the name 'Mormon', have only issued new editions when previous editions were found to not agree with the original manuscripts (as detailed in MasonWheeler's answer).

However, the Community of Christ (previously called the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) published an edition in 1966 called the Revised Authorized Version of the Book of Mormon, which did indeed attempt to modernize the language, without being (as far as I can tell) a new "translation".

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    Im curious by your reference to the "original manuscripts": what are they? Considering that the golden plates are unavailable. Do you mean the initial translation that Joseph Smith carried out? – TheIronKnuckle Feb 13 '17 at 22:00
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    @TheIronKnuckle, as I remember there are the "original manuscript" (which isn't complete; parts were destroyed due to poor storage conditions) and the "printer's manuscript". They may be called different names than what I call them. The original manuscript is what was written by the scribes as Joseph Smith translated, while the printer's manuscript was copied from the original manuscript and what was actually given to the printer for printing. It may be worth asking your question as a formal question on this site to get more complete answers from people more knowledgable than me. – NeutronStar Feb 14 '17 at 15:10
3

There have been over 3,900 changes to the original text of the Book of Mormon. 1 Many of the changes are over spelling and grammar, but some of the changes have been significant:

1 Nephi 11:21
Original:"Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the eternal Father"[First Book of Nephi p 25]
Current: "Behold the Lamb of God, yea even the son of the eternal Father."

2 Nephi 30:6
Original: “…their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a white and a delightsome people.”
[Second Book of Nephi p 117]
Current: "“…their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a pure and a delightsome people.”

2 Nephi 30:6 was changed in 1981, apparently in response to criticism the Mormon Church received from the civil rights movement of the 1960's. 2 As the Joseph Smith papers show, the original text was white, not pure.


1. 3,913 as of the 1981 printing (Ron Rhodes, The 10 Most Important Things You Can Say to a Mormon. Harvest House Publishers. 2001 p. 22). In addition to changes to headings and introductions the 2013 printing had 38 minor text changes.
2. For background see [Black People and Mormonism]

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