Helaman 5:44 Textual Variants

Royal Skousen
and Nephi and Lehi [were > was >js were 1|was A|were BCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRST] in the midst of them yea they were encircled about yea they were as if in the midst of a flaming fire

Here in the printer’s manuscript, Oliver Cowdery initially wrote “& Nephi & Lehi were in the midst of them”. Virtually immediately Oliver corrected the were to was by crossing out the were and supralinearly inserting the was (there is no change in the level of ink flow for this correction). It appears that the original manuscript, which is not extant here, read was. Here Oliver rejected the expected were and copied the text of 𝓞 as it was; in other words, his correction in 𝓟 was defi- nitely not due to editing. Note, in particular, the following two instances of were, which were left unchanged: “yea they were encircled about / yea they were as if in the midst of a flaming fire”. Thus we have one more case showing Oliver correcting his scribal errors but not emending cases of actual subject-verb disagreement (for a summarizing discussion of this issue, see under Mosiah 10:14). But as we would expect, here in Helaman 5:44 Joseph Smith did make the change to were in his editing for the 1837 edition of the Book of Mormon.

Summary: Restore the original nonstandard use of was at the beginning of Helaman 5:44: “and Nephi and Lehi was in the midst of them”.

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