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Royal Skousen Presentation on the Current Status of
the Book of Mormon Critical Text Project

Royal Skousen will be doing a presentation on the current status of the Book of Mormon critical text project at Utah Valley University [UVU] on Saturday, November 12, 2022, from 7 to 9 p.m. The location is the Sorenson Center Center Stage. The entire campus is open for parking except the parking garage, which costs $1 an hour.

Royal sent the following comment on the presentation:

I would like to present on my current work . . . because of the important results I am coming up with as I write parts 7 and 8 of volume 3, the last two printed books in the critical text series. . . .

The title of my presentation will be “Textual Criticism and the Book of Mormon”. . . . I will speak for about an hour and a half, then we’ll have half an hour for questions. . . .

The first part of my presentation will deal with the early transmission of the text and will include what we know about how Joseph Smith translated and how the scribes wrote down his dictation, with evidence not only from witnesses of the translation, but also supporting evidence from the original manuscript itself. Then I will turn to how the text was copied from the original manuscript to the printer’s manuscript (and for one-sixth of it directly to the 1830 edition). My work on this transmission completely overthrows the traditional view of textual critics that a text becomes easier and longer when it is copied. To the contrary, the original manuscript text, when copied, became more difficult and shorter. This finding has huge implications for the theory of textual criticism. Even more important, the Book of Mormon is a long, repetitious text, and this allows us to objectively define what are difficult and easier readings.

In the second part of the presentation, I will discuss conjectural emendations. Textual critics have claimed that their goal is to avoid conjectures, but in actual fact texts have many conjectural emendations, mostly hidden since we do not know the transmission history of most texts. But for the Book of Mormon, we do. And I will be discussing the fact that there are hundreds of conjectural emendations in the current text of the Book of Mormon. Even more surprising is the large number of conjectural emendations in foreign language translations of the Book of Mormon, even when these translations are supervised, so to speak.

And finally, I will be discussing volume 5 of the critical text, which will be released in January. Volume 5 is the computerized collation of the text and it includes every change, not only in words and phrases, but in typos, scribal slips, punctuation, capitalization, versification systems. Only I have had access to this computerized collation, but in January it will become publicly available. And more important, it will be linked to volume 4 of the critical text, Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon, so that when users view a particular variant of some significance in the text, they will be able to read what ATV has to say about how the Book of Mormon text should read for that variant. The collation will be presented in a WordCruncher format, thus conveniently allowing users to find all the variants of any given type.

It’s going to be an enlightening evening. I can guarantee that there will be substance in this presentation, not fluff.

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