Sunday, November 18, 2007

Same Old Same Old on the Book of Mormon

About 20 years ago, I first heard the claim that a passage in the Book of Mormon had been surreptitiously revised in an attempt by the LDS Church leaders to make its scriptures conform to the 1978 revelation extending the priesthood to all males regardless of race.

The Apostolic United Brethren, a polygamous church that opposes the LDS faith, had purchased a full page advertisement in the Salt Lake Tribune to complain about many LDS practices. They noted that this change in the Book of Mormon was clearly evidence of apostasy of the LDS Church. Before the 1980 edition of the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 30:6 said that Lamanites would become a "white and delightsome people" rather than "pure and delightsome" as it reads today. Those fundamentalists and many other people don't realize that that change was first made by Joseph Smith for the 1840 Nauvoo edition of the Book of Mormon.

When I recently noted that fact while replying to a blogger's criticism of the change , he replied,
How about this, I’ll challenge you to find a Book of Mormon prior to 1981 that has the word “pure” in it where “white” was replaced in the 1981 edition? Despite your claims above, it simply doesn’t exist.

I provided a link to a photograph of page 115 from the 1840 Book of Mormon. Unfortunately, the link doesn’t work consistently. Although he first maintained that I was mistaken or lying, he later posted comments from the Tanners that demonstrate that the change had indeed occurred in 1840; but, my correspondent feels that my comments were “silly and baseless” so I thought I might provide more data on my own site to which I could refer readers.

If Joseph Smith made the change in 1840, why then did subsequent editions revert to the word "white?"

It's due primarily to the LDS Church's expulsion from the United States in 1846. This exodus interrupted many church functions--including the process of producing subsequent publications of the Book of Mormon. However, the RLDS Church produced an edition of the Book of Mormon based upon the last version edited by Joseph Smith. That 1874 edition echoed the 1840 edition in 2 Nephi 30:6 with "pure" rather than "white." Obviously, its presence in 1840 and 1874 editions had no connection to the 1978 revelation on priesthood. In 1908, the RLDS Church produced another edition of the Book of Mormon and returned to the wording found in the first edition. This isn't surprising since they essentially rejected Joseph Smith's teachings from the Nauvoo era.

Even though American publishing efforts ceased for a time, Church headquarters in Britain continued to produce pamphlets as well as copies of the Book of Mormon based on the 1837 Kirtland edition. That 1841 British edition came to America with Mormon immigrants.
When Mormons in Utah set about publishing another American edition, they used one of the British copies as their template. Since it was merely a reprint of the Kirtland edition all of Joseph Smith's revisions from 1840 were lost. It wasn't until the mid 1900's that comparisons of extant versions revealed what had been lost.


Blogger GalatiansC4V16 said...


It is funny reading your description of my words, as the spin certainly puts a different slant on them than if readers read for themselves what I actually said without your editorial comments.

Additionally, I'll say the same thing here I said before about the 1840 changes to 2 Nephi 30:6:

Perhaps you'll post for my views and yours, these pages as well so your point can be substantiated?

"For example, can you show 3 Nephi 2:15 from the 1840 edition? In the 1830 edition, and all editions I have looked at prior to 1981 it says,

“And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites; (3 Nephi 2:15)”

Likewise, I would also like to see 2 Nephi 5:21, which says in the editions I am looking at, that:

“”And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, and they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. “”

Alma, would you mind posting the 1840 edition of these verses also, in order that we may see that your argument is consistently true, and that this isn’t just a typographical change made in 1840 to 2 Nephi 30:”6 alone?"

11/19/07, 12:28 PM  
Blogger Alma said...

Tony (Galatians C4V16), I re-read what I wrote about our exchange but don't see any "editorial comments." I really doubt that what I wrote could even be characterized as "spin." Is there something specific I wrote that you take issue with? Did I misquote you?

I'm not sure you've grasped my argument if you think that 3 Nephi 2:15 or 2 Nephi 5:21 have anything to do with it. However, here are the two pages:

11/20/07, 5:10 PM  
Blogger GalatiansC4V16 said...


My comments about “spin” was speaking to the fact that when I read on your blog about what I wrote, it is very different than what I actually wrote. I call that “spin” and said so to encourage readers who are interested in the truth to go to my blog and read what I actually wrote, instead of what you wrote about what I wrote.

Now to the more important matter… thanks for posting the links for the other verses from 1840. They are very relevant, and I will explain if you can’t see it.

My original claim was that the LDs church changed the words “white” to “pure” in the 1981 edition to reflect their doctrinal change of the blacks holding the priesthood in 1978 (even though the historical theology of why they couldn’t hold the priesthood wasn’t changed).

In making that statement I stated that all editions of the BoM before 1981 had “pure” in it. You challenged my use of the “all” and came back at that by claiming the 1840 edition had “white” and thus was refuting my overall argument that the reason for the change in 1981 was invalid.

I recanted the use of the word “all” since you demonstrated from the 1840 links you provide that there was another version prior to 1981 that had “white” instead of pure (but we know now, only in ONE place – 2 Nephi 30:6, as your new links demonstrate that “white” is still used in the 1840 edition in the other places, proving my original point, not refuting it).

In doing this, you strongly insinuated and was obviously claiming that the 1840 edition was like the 1981 edition and thus the change in 1981 was only reverting back to 1840, not in relation to the 1978 “prophecy” regarding blacks. This was your point. You were not telling the truth.

That is demonstrated by how you ironically didn’t mention these other verses from the 1840 claims you were making about 2 Nephi 30:6, because they still have the “white” in them; collaborating the truth of the essence of my original argument.

So if I go back to my original argument and change “all” to “all editions prior to 1981, except for this one instance in the 1840 edition,” my argument stands and all this 1840 hogwash is detracting from the original point I was making. I can only guess that this was your plan.

Moreover, I also challenged your honesty in claiming that the 1981 change was NOT related of the 1978 doctrinal change, when I know you know that it is. If you have been around these arguments as long as you claim, then you were an LDS apologist in 1978 and 1981, and lived through that time. I don’t doubt you know the truth of these issues, and the fact that you continue to claim them demonstrates you are wiling to argue for the position in which you know is false. I call that dishonesty.

By recognizing that all the other verses of the 1840 edition that still contain “white,” and was not changed in ANY other version until 1981, my original argument stands, as well as my initial challenge to your honestly. I can say that because you clearly posted the 1840 argument (regarding 2 Nephi 30:6) in response to my claim, all while knowing that rest of the “white” verses in the 1840 edition did support my claim…that my friend is deception.

11/21/07, 6:13 AM  
Blogger David said...


I maintain a website which lists blogs and podcasts about the LDS Church and those published by its members.

It can be found at

I would like to include your site with your permission.

If you would like to have your blog included, I would appreciate it if you would submit your blog's information at

I do not share any submitted information. I only post the name of the blog, its URL, and tag it by category and, if you include the information, what country and stateor province the blog originates from.

Generally, I classify LDS Blogs as blogs that are generally about LDS themes, the Church, doctrine,and culture.

Mormon bloggers are what I call blogs that are published by latter-day saints but are not necessarily about LDS subjects.

More information and a blog badge can be found at

Please let me know if you have questions.


David H. Sundwall

12/11/07, 3:27 PM  
Blogger GalatiansC4V16 said...

Feel free to use mine if you'd like ;-)


12/11/07, 3:50 PM  
Blogger David Littlefield said...


I thought this was a great and important post.



12/13/07, 10:02 PM  

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