Helaman 3:31 Textual Variants

Royal Skousen
and in this year there [were 1ABDEP|was CGHIJKLMNOQRST|were > was F] continual [rejoiceings >% rejoiceing 1|rejoicing ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRST] in the land of Zarahemla

Here Oliver Cowdery initially wrote rejoicings (spelled as rejoiceings) in the printer’s manuscript; then he immediately erased the plural s, which means that the original manuscript probably had the singular rejoicing (spelled as rejoiceing). However, the occurrence of the plural were suggests that such a singular rejoicing in 𝓞 could have been an error for rejoicings, that the plural s had been accidentally dropped while taking down Joseph Smith’s dictation. And we have one instance in the manuscripts where Oliver initially wrote rejoicing instead of the correct rejoicings:

As discussed under that passage, either the singular or the plural is theoretically possible.

Another possibility here in Helaman 3:31 is that the verb in the earliest extant reading, were, is an error for was. The grammatical change of were to was was first made in the 1840 edition (perhaps by Joseph Smith in his editing for that edition) and then later in the second printing for the 1852 LDS edition (apparently by reference to the 1840 edition). Another possible emendation would have been to change rejoicing to the plural, giving “there were continual rejoicings”, much like the grammatically emended reading that Joseph, in his editing for the 1837 edition, introduced into the following passage:

Despite these suggestions for removing this case of subject-verb disagreement in Helaman 3:31, there is evidence in the original text for expressions of the form “there were ”, although all of these examples have been edited to “there was ” at some time in the history of the text:

These instances of “there were ” argue that “there were continual rejoicing” is actually possible. For this reason, the critical text will accept the corrected reading in 𝓟 for Helaman 3:31 (the earliest extant reading) as the original reading.

Summary: Restore in Helaman 3:31 the immediately corrected reading in 𝓟, “there were continual rejoicing in the land of Zarahemla”; despite the subject-verb disagreement, there is evidence in the original text for the construction “there were ”.

Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon, Part. 5