There are 8 thoughts on “Personal Relative Pronoun Usage in the Book of Mormon: An Important Authorship Diagnostic”.

  1. I am of the belief that the Urim and Thummin etc was actually given back to Joseph Smith, nor have I seen yet any indication in the words of Joseph himself that he had in some way compromised the full faith and trust of Moroni/God. Joseph’s increased experience and faith had grown by that time. If anything he was a more trustworthy caretaker of the sacred plates and interpreters than before, and more determined to remain so. At any rate, the examining the translated texts using these modern tools of technology is an outstanding response to shock effect articles undermining the Book of Mormon’s authentic origins such as recent articles comparing language in The Late War to language found in the Book of Mormon today. Thank you to the author for this. I am passing it on to members of my family.

  2. Has any Latter-day Saint scholar put forward a plausible explanation for the appearance of Early Modern English in the original text of the Book of Mormon?

    Is it possible that after the first set of translation tools given to Joseph Smith (the instruments prepared by Moroni) were rescinded, a more efficient set of translation tools and translation methodology was required?

    The urim and thummin, with stones, bow and breastplate allowed Joseph to translate by a direct reading of the inscribed characters. However, through disobedience, Joseph forfeited use of those tools. Also consider that the physical bulk of the translators may have been too difficult for Joseph to safeguard. Moroni could no longer entrust them to Joseph, and this loss of trust forced Moroni to implement a second translation methodology. Namely elements easier for Joseph to control, elements which included a seer stone as visual, text transmitter, combined with the light-blocking function of a simple top hat, and a prepared manuscript for the prophet to read.

    Joseph was no longer required to translate by a direct reading of characters inscribed on metal plates. Instead, as eye witnesses attested, he read from a prepared manuscript. May we infer that it was an English manuscript, perhaps a manuscript prepared by writers who were practitioners fluent in Early Modern English? If so, who prepared the manuscript?

    Consider the work of the Lord conducted in the post mortal world, and the preparations made there to bring forth the Book of Mormon. As at so many other times and circumstances in the history of the world, gospel progress required alternate, back-up plans. In this case, the plates still had to be transitioned from the original inscribed languages into a text to be published as The Book of Mormon. Who better to do the heavy lifting of translation, and preparing the English language manuscript that Joseph read through his seer stone, than a group of select English writers in their post-mortal condition, who predated Joseph in mortality by 200 to 300 years?

  3. Whatever the reason for early modern English in the Book of Mormon, I love that this language creates a connection in time and space between the Book of Mormon and sixteenth century England – the England of William Tyndale, Protestant reformers, Queen Elizabeth, John Foxe, Marian martyrs, William Shakespeare, the Book of Common Prayer and the Great Bible. For me, this connection enhances the beauty and wonder of the Book of Mormon.

  4. Congratulations Stan on making as clear and as pointed an argument as I think can be made on this topic. It fills in what I felt to be the last missing piece of the puzzle–showing not just that BofM syntax could be found anecdotally within EModE texts, or that it differed materially from Biblical and pseudo-biblical ones, but that EModE is in fact a near-perfect match for the syntactic patterns we see in the Earliest Text. I’m honestly stunned by the how closely those patterns align. I would’ve guessed that they were close, but that’s as close to hand in glove as a person could ever dream.

    The only thing I wouldn’t have minded seeing was some error bars on the graphs, particularly for the EEBO and pseudo-biblical comparisons. It would be good to get a sense of just what variability there is within those groups (i.e., how tight the bullseye is that the BofM is having to hit to match EModE, and how big of a miss it is for the psuedo-biblical texts).

    From my interactions with critics, these results leave just one (rather desperate) possibility left to them in terms of maintaining a nineteen-century authored BofM: that somehow the oral production of pseudo-biblical syntax would produce reliable EModE syntax in ways that written text wouldn’t. I’m sure the critics would find some way to dodge the implications of EModE no matter what the circumstances, but it would still be nice to detail hard evidence that the fact of the dictation wasn’t in some way responsible for the syntax we see.

    Thanks for the excellent work!

    • Kyler makes a valid point about dictated vs written word choice. A valuable addition in this regard would be comparing other works Joseph created by dictation to your baseline, namely Pearl of Great Price documents and D&C usages.

      • See the appendix for a PRP comparison with early D&C usage. See also my treatment of PRP usage in the Book of Moses:

        The Book of Mormon presents more as a written text than an oral text. One feature is sentence complexity. Complexity is greater in written texts, and the Book of Mormon is relatively complex. Another thing to consider is that “and” usage does not exceed “the” usage in the text, unlike the oral pseudo-archaic text “The Sorry Tale” (1917), which is 23.8:17.5 (and:the). Indeed, the Book of Mormon’s the:and:of ratio is similar to several written pseudo-archaic texts, and close to that of the King James Bible.

        • Any treatment of Joseph Smith History? This is the text that seems to have the most usages of which and might have a comparable pattern.

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