Alma 17:18 Textual Variants

Royal Skousen
now Ammon being the chief among them or rather he did administer unto them [NULL >p & 1|and ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRST] he departed from them

Earlier in verse 8 of this chapter, Oliver Cowdery edited the printer’s manuscript in pencil, adding of God to “the word”. He apparently made this change when he was in the print shop and some time after he had copied that part of the text from 𝓞 into 𝓟. As discussed under Alma 17:8, the inserted of God is unnecessary. Similarly, here in verse 18, Oliver once more edited 𝓟 in pencil. In this instance, he inserted an and (written as an ampersand) before “he departed from them”. He probably made this emendation because of the preceding finite clause (“or rather he did administer unto them”), which he might have interpreted as a main clause. Yet this clause is parenthetical and could be separated from the text by dashes or parentheses; there is therefore no need for inserting any and after this finite clause:

The insertion of the intrusive and actually creates a Hebraistic construction, where the and separates an initial present participial clause from its following main clause. This kind of non-English construction is found in the original text, as in this example earlier in the book of Alma:

For other examples of the Hebraistic and, see under hebraisms in volume 3. Of course, there are also many instances in the text without any and between an initial present participial clause and its following main clause, as in this example which lacks the and before the main clause, “it began to be exceeding difficult”:

Thus there is no textual need to insert the and in Alma 17:18; the critical text will restore the earlier text that lacks the and.

Summary: Remove from Alma 17:18 Oliver Cowdery’s intrusive and that he added before the finite clause “he departed from them”; although the Hebrew-like use of and between subordinate and main clauses is possible in the original text, it is not required.

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