1 Nephi 1:11 Textual Variants

Royal Skousen
and the first came and stood before my father and gave unto him a book and bade him that he should [NULL >+ read it >% read 1|read ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRST]

In the printer’s manuscript, Oliver Cowdery first skipped the verb following should, then somewhat later corrected the text by supralinearly inserting “read it” with heavier ink flow. However, the it was apparently Oliver’s own addition, a mistake he immediately erased. At first glance the manuscript’s it looks like it might simply have been inserted with an ink flow weaker than the preceding read, but closer examination of the paper shows the abrasion from erasure. Erasure was probably done by scraping with some kind of sharp knife, perhaps a penknife used to sharpen quills or an actual ink-eraser knife. Our modern gum erasers had not yet been invented. For some discussion of these possibilities, see pages 64–66 in Joe Nickell, Pen, Ink, and Evidence (New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Press, 2000).

The original manuscript is not extant for this passage but undoubtedly read simply as “and bade him that he should read”. Lehi is reading a passage from the book, not the entire book, so the missing direct object is consistent with other references to Lehi reading from the book:

In this passage, no complement is needed for the verb read.

Summary: Accept Oliver Cowdery’s final correction (“and bade him that he should read”) without the pronoun it since Oliver definitely attempted to erase it.

Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon, Part. 1