Helaman 16:2–3 Textual Variants

Royal Skousen
and they cast stones at him upon the wall and also many shot arrows at him as he stood upon the wall but the Spirit of the Lord was with him insomuch that they could not hit him with their stones neither with their arrows now when they saw [ 1PST|this ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOQR] [ 1PST|, ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOQR] that they could not hit him [ 1|, ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRST] there were many more which did believe on his words

The 1830 edition has the demonstrative pronoun this, with the result that it assigns an appositive interpretation to the following that-clause. On the other hand, the this is missing from the printer’s manuscript. The 1908 RLDS edition, based on the reading of 𝓟, removed the this, as did the 1981 LDS edition. However, this later change in both the LDS and RLDS texts was undoubtedly made on the assumption that the 1830 edition was set from 𝓟 in Helaman 16, which is not the case.

The use of this followed by an appositive that-clause appears to be unique in the Book of Mormon text. Nonetheless, it is fully understandable, and there is nothing grammatically wrong with it. Since the 1830 edition is a firsthand copy of the original manuscript for this part of the text, it is very probable that 𝓞 also read this way. It seems rather unlikely that the 1830 typesetter would have inserted the this unless it was actually in his copytext, which was 𝓞 (not 𝓟).

Elsewhere the text has ten occurrences of a demonstrative pronoun this followed by a that- clause, but in each instance the that-clause is a resultive clause and does not act as an appositive (that is, as a restatement of the pronoun this); in three of these cases, the this serves as the direct object in the predicate (each of these is marked below with an asterisk):

But at least the three starred examples show that the demonstrative pronoun this can stand as the direct object in a predicate, just as it does here in Helaman 16:3.

When we consider other instances of adding or omitting this in the manuscripts and the editions, every one of them is a case of loss, not addition:

Thus it is very unlikely that the 1830 typesetter added a this here in Helaman 16:3. The critical text will assume that Oliver Cowdery accidentally omitted the this. In order to show the appositive relationship for the following that-clause, the 1830 punctuation—namely, separating commas— could be restored; or to make the reading even clearer, dashes could be used:

Summary: Restore the this in Helaman 16:3 so that the following that-clause acts as an appositive; the this seems to have been accidentally dropped when Oliver Cowdery copied this passage from 𝓞 into 𝓟; the 1830 edition, also here a firsthand copy of 𝓞, kept this unusual but possible construction.

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