Alma 24:26–27 Textual Variants

Royal Skousen
and those which had been slain were righteous people therefore we have no reason to doubt but what they [are 01ABCDEGHKPS|were FIJLMNOQRT] saved and there was not a wicked man slain among them but there were more than a thousand brought to the knowledge of the truth

Although the surrounding passage is in the past tense, there is one sentence in the present tense (“therefore we have no reason to doubt but what they are saved”, at least originally). Since salvation is an eternal state, there is nothing wrong with the present-tense are in this passage. In fact, the change in the 1852 LDS edition of are to were may not have involved conscious editing: the following past-tense forms, was and were, may have led the 1852 compositor to accidentally replace the are in “but what they are saved” with were.

A similar case where the present tense “are saved” is used to refer to converted souls that have since died is found in Alma 5:9–10. In this case, Alma is talking about the people that his father had converted among the people of king Noah. Since at the time of this discourse Alma’s father is dead, as well as presumably a good many, if not all, of the people he converted, Alma is speaking about the souls of the deceased and yet he refers to the salvation of their souls in the present tense:

Thus the present-tense usage referring to the saved souls of the deceased is perfectly acceptable; the critical text will restore the original present-tense are in Alma 24:26.

Summary: Restore the original present-tense are in Alma 24:26: “therefore we have no reason to doubt but what they are saved”.

Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon, Part. 4