Helaman 6:3 Textual Variants

Royal Skousen
nevertheless the people of the church did have great joy because of the conversion of the Lamanites yea because of the church of God [ 1EF|, ABCDGHIJKLMNOPQRST] which had been established among them

Here the 1830 typesetter placed a comma after “the church of God”. However, this appears to be a mistake since the following relative clause “which had been established among them” is restrictive— that is, the people of the church were rejoicing because of the Lamanite conversion and because the church had been established among these Lamanites. They were not rejoicing because of the church per se. The use of yea is inappropriate unless the following because-clause restates the idea of the preceding because-clause (“because of the conversion of the Lamanites”). Thus the text in this passage should read without the comma after “the church of God”:

Interestingly, the 1849 LDS edition omitted the comma before the relative clause, and this change in punctuation was followed in the 1852 LDS edition. But the 1879 LDS edition restored the comma to the LDS text.

The word church frequently has the meaning ‘congregation’ in the Book of Mormon text. In fact, there are 11 instances in the text where the plural churches is used to refer to different congregations of the one church of God rather than to distinct churches (these plural cases are listed in the discussion under Alma 8:23). Moreover, there are a number of passages that use the singular church to refer to the congregation established in a particular place; in fact, in three other cases there is a following restrictive relative clause of the form “which was established in some place X” (each of these is marked below with an asterisk):

Interestingly, in Alma 5:2 and Alma 6:8 there is no comma before the which in any of the printed editions; but in Alma 6:1 the comma is there, beginning with the 1830 edition. In that instance, the comma should be removed from the standard text, just as it should be removed here in Helaman 6:3.

Summary: Remove the comma after “the church of God” in Helaman 6:3 since the following relative clause is restrictive; similarly, the comma should be removed before the restrictive relative clause in Alma 6:1 (“the church which was established in the city of Zarahemla”).

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