The eight-witness statement appears to be a prosaic legal affidavit, yet one that has borrowed much of its phraseology from the three-witness statement. There are at most only two instances of phrases that could be said to have been taken from the Book of Mormon text proper: “of curious workmanship” and “we lie not”.
I have always assumed that the three-witness statement was a part of the text of the Book of Mormon, that its language was the same as the English language found in the Book of Mormon proper. The eight-witness statement, on the other hand, has been a little more problematic since it has three instances of the decidedly legalistic phrase “the said Smith” as well as the dubious reference (in the original version) to Joseph Smith as “the author and proprietor of this work”.
Previously appearing on Times and Seasons: Part I: A tentative theory – the copyists for the printer’s manuscript didn’t work quickly enough. Part II: Rejecting the theory. * * * In January of 1830, Abner Cole illegally published three excerpts from the Book of Mormon, printed in three issues of The Palmyra Reflector, including a section from Alma 43, published on 22 January 1830.
Previously appearing on Times and Seasons: Part I: A tentative theory – the copyists for the printer’s manuscript didn’t work quickly enough * * * One important question for this scenario is: Why did the copyists do that part of P that they supposedly fell behind in producing?
Royal Skousen is editor of the Book of Mormon Critical Text Project and professor of linguistics and English language at Brigham Young University. Part I: A tentative theory Physical evidence from the Book of Mormon manuscripts shows that the compositor (that is, the typesetter) for the 1830 edition normally used the printer’s manuscript to set the type for the first edition of the Book of Mormon. The printer’s manuscript (P) was the copy of the dictated or original manuscript (O) that the scribes made and took to E. B. Grandin’s print shop in Palmyra, New York. But for one sixth of the text, from Helaman 13:17 to the end of Mormon (that is, through Mormon 9:37), the 1830 compositor actually used O to set the type. The question is: Why was O used and not P for that part of the text?
In this last section, I want to mention the evidence that the original text of the Book of Mormon is a precise English-language text, specified word for word, and that when it was given by means of the instrument to Joseph Smith, he could see that text and he read it off to his scribe.
Royal Skousen is editor of the Book of Mormon Critical Text Project and professor of linguistics and English language at Brigham Young University. In this post he discusses the work of the Book of Mormon critical text project and the attempt to restore and publish the original text of the Book of Mormon.