Alma 36:18 Textual Variants

Royal Skousen
have mercy on me who [are > art 0|art 1ABCDEFGHIJKLPS|art > am M|am NOQRT] in the gall of bitterness and [art 01ABCDEFGHIJKLPS|art > am M|am NOQRT] encircled about by the everlasting chains of death

Here the earliest text, the original manuscript, has two instances of who art where who am is the correct form in biblically styled language (as in this sampling from the King James Bible):

The original Book of Mormon text also has one example of “ am” (in this case, which am):

But there is also evidence in the earliest text of the Book of Mormon for art rather than am immediately following a relative pronoun. First of all, we have these two examples in Alma 36:18, both of which are extant in 𝓞. In the first example, it should be noted, Oliver Cowdery initially wrote are in 𝓞, then corrected it virtually immediately to art by overwriting the final e with a t (there is no difference in the level of ink flow for the overwriting). The second example of art here in Alma 36:18 is written in 𝓞 without correction. The 1906 LDS edition made the grammatical change from art to am for both instances in Alma 36:18; this change was then followed in the third printing (in 1907) of the 1905 LDS missionary edition and in all subsequent LDS editions. The RLDS text, on the other hand, has continued with the original two instances of art in this passage. There is also a third example of “ art” in the original text of the Book of


In this instance, it was Joseph Smith (in his editing for the 1837 edition) who made the change from art to am (as well as from which to who). Here the RLDS text maintains Joseph’s edited am. As discussed under Alma 32:15, the earliest text has other instances of “ art” where there is no preceding second person singular referent like thou, thee, thy, or thine. In each of these cases, the critical text will follow the earliest textual sources. Therefore, here in Alma 36:18 and in Alma 61:2 the original instances of art will be restored.

Summary: Restore in Alma 36:18 the two original occurrences of art: “who art in the gall of bitterness and art encircled about”; also restore the original art in Alma 61:2: “I Parhoron which art the chief governor”; this nonstandard usage is fully intended in the original text.

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