Friday, November 9, 2007

What's in a word?

I just read on Sustaind that the LDS church has changed a single word in the introduction to The Book of Mormon, which was originally written by Bruce R. McConkie and added to the book in 1981.

1981 version:
"After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians."

2007 version:
"After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians."

See the difference? They're stated as "among the ancestors" instead of "the principal ancestors". (Read more at the Salt Lake Tribune [Update: Article "no longer available" from the Tribune, but Google finds it saved on other sites, including here, and here].) I don't mean to get all Mormon-y, but I think this is an interesting example of how a few carefully chosen word changes represent a potentially significant change of popular conception. What say ye?


Brent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brent said...

This is far from the first time this has happened. The Book of Mormon has had a staggering amount of changes in it since it's original writing. Kind of an interesting thing for a religious document to go thorugh.

What is most interesting to me about this particular change is that it came about due to the fact that the LDS church was berated for this teaching, which had been disproved many times before the most recent turn of the century.

Another interesting example to some of the inaccuracies and misconceptions of a single word in this book is when they speak of horses. Horses were NOT in the americas during the time of the Nephites or Lamanites, the were brought here by the Spanish, however they are mentioned numerous times throught the writing. Apparently the have released that the "horse" in those times was actually a tapir. Besides the laughable thought of a tapir being rode into battle, tapir are also too small to be used as a mount by even a smaller than avarage human.

I do not mean to go all anti-Mormon-y, but there are numerous cases of exactly this in the Book of Mormon

Scott Abbott said...

My favorite change to the Book of Mormon came when "white and delightsome" was changed to "fair and delightsome."

My mother would not believe it had been changed, and when I showed her in her own new version she said: "I would think twice before I changed the Book of Mormon."

The change was based on an early version, and it was a good change as the Mormons moved away from a racist mindset.

However important it is, the new change about ancestors of Native Americans isn't a change in the actual book but only a change in Bruce McConkie's introduction.

In my 1967 edition, there is no introduction and thus no problem.

bigblue said...

I see that the article has been removed from the SLT website now.

Rikker said...

Thanks for pointing that out. I've Googled up some replacement links and updated the post.