Mosiah 27:11 Textual Variants

Royal Skousen
behold the angel of the Lord appeared unto them and he descended as it were in a cloud and he spake as it were with a voice of thunder

Ross Geddes (personal communication, 11 October 2005) notes that the indefinite article a in Mosiah 27:11 (“with a voice of thunder”) could be an error for the (thus “with the voice of thunder”) since in three other passages the phrase takes the definite article (and the third one specifically refers to the same event, the conversion of Alma and the sons of king Mosiah):

Geddes also points out that either the or a following with would be hard to distinguish because of the final th-sound in with. Notice, however, that one could infer from this observation that the the in Alma 29:2 could be a mistake for a since there is a preceding with, giving as the original reading “I would declare unto every soul as with a voice of thunder”. Ultimately, either reading— with a or the —is possible for this expression. The critical text will therefore follow the earliest reading here in Mosiah 27:11: “he spake as it were with a voice of thunder”.

Summary: Follow in Mosiah 27:11 the earliest reading, “with a voice of thunder”, even though “with the voice of thunder” is also possible.

Mosiah 27:30–32, page 1519

At the end of this long write-up, one additional question needs to be dealt with. Brent Kerby points out (personal communication, 20 October 2008) a potential difficulty for the proposed emendation “but now I know that they may foresee that he will come”, namely, the modal verb may appears to be inappropriate. Kerby notes that the modal here seems to have the meaning ‘to be able’, as if the sentence read “but now I know that they can foresee that he will come”. Yet it turns out that may can take on this meaning. Under definition 2, the Oxford English Dictionary states that the original meaning for the auxiliary verb may refers to having ability or power. And cited there in the OED are some examples with this meaning from Early Modern English:

In these instances, may is equivalent to our modern-day can. Thus Mosiah 27:30, as emended, could be interpreted to mean ‘but now I know that they can foresee that he will come’. There are, in fact, other instances of may in the Book of Mormon where we, as modern English speakers, expect can:

Given this archaic sense of ‘to be able’ for may, there is no problem with its occurrence here in Mosiah 27:30.

Mosiah 28:1, page 1522, lines 13–14

The comma should be removed after the parenthetical phrase “the scribe in 𝓟”, giving “either the 1830 typesetter or Oliver Cowdery (the scribe in 𝓟) is the one responsible”.

Mosiah 28:3, page 1524, line 9

The name is John Bunyan, not John Bunyon.

Mosiah 28:6, page 1526, line –2

To be fully accurate, the summary should read that what is being restored is “it came to pass that”. In other words, the subordinate that needs to be included but the and excluded; the and was maintained in the text even though Joseph Smith crossed it out in 𝓟.

Mosiah 29:5, pages 1536–37

As explained under Ether 1:34, the for in that verse appears to be an error for therefore. This means that Ether 1:34 cannot be used to support restoring for in Mosiah 29:5, even though the same editorial change in the 1920 LDS edition (namely, the deletion of the for) was made in both Ether 1:34 and Mosiah 29:5.

The example of repeated for in Moroni 7:5–8 probably provides sufficient evidence for restoring the repeated for here in Mosiah 29:5. There is no repeated for in the original text for Ether 1:34, and thus the reasons for emending the earliest for to therefore in that passage are quite different. Excluding this example from Ether 1:34 in support of Mosiah 29:5 means that the last statement in the summary on page 1537 should be deleted.

Mosiah 29:13, page 1543, line –11

It might be more accurate here to say that “there is considerable manuscript evidence” than “the manuscript evidence is substantial”.

Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon, Part. 3