Alma 1:1 Textual Variants

Royal Skousen
Now it came to pass that in the first year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi from this time forward —king Mosiah having gone the way of all the earth having warred a good warfare walking uprightly before God leaving none to reign in his stead— nevertheless he [ 1ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQS|had RT] established laws and they were acknowledged by the people therefore they were obliged to abide by the laws which he had made

The committee for the 1920 LDS edition inserted had before established, thus changing the reading from the simple past to the past perfect. This change was made because the immediately preceding text states that Mosiah had died and thus the past perfect “had established” seemed more appropriate. The acknowledgment of the laws occurred when they were first established, yet the 1920 edition did not change “they were acknowledged” to “they had been acknowledged”. The 1920 reading is supported by the use of both the simple past and the past perfect in the last sentence of this verse: “therefore they were obliged to abide by the laws which he had made”.

We can find examples of past events being followed by either the simple past or the past perfect, as in the following instances:

Thus in Alma 1:1, either the simple past (“he established laws”) or the past perfect (“he had established laws”) is textually acceptable. The critical text will follow the original text (without the had ), even though modern English speakers probably prefer the past perfect in this context.

Summary: Restore in Alma 1:1 the original simple past tense (“nevertheless he established laws”), which is in agreement with the following conjoined clause (“and they were acknowledged by the people”).

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