1 Nephi 13:12 Textual Variants

Royal Skousen
and I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles which [where 0|was >js was 1|was ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRST] separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters

In copying from 𝓞 into 𝓟, Oliver Cowdery copied scribe 2’s where as was rather than were. Although scribe 2 of 𝓞 usually spelled were correctly (24 times without correction), there are six other places where he spelled were as where (including two nearby examples, one in the very same verse as the one listed above):

In only one case (1 Nephi 3:14) did scribe 2 correct his spelling from where to were. And except for the one example being discussed here, Oliver Cowdery correctly copied the where as were. For a complete discussion of how the scribes spelled this form of the be verb, see were in volume 3.

The semantics of the passage is much improved when the plural were is used—namely, Columbus lived “among the Gentiles who were separated” from the Lamanites by the ocean. The referent for the relative pronoun which is the nearest noun phrase—that is, “the Gentiles”, not “a man” (namely, Columbus). The current text seems to imply that Columbus alone was separated from the Lamanites.

Summary: Replace the singular was with the plural were in 1 Nephi 13:12 (“the Gentiles which were separated from the seed of my brethren”); scribe 2 of 𝓞 frequently misspelled were as where.

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