Helaman 16:11 Textual Variants

Royal Skousen
and [thus 1|these ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRST] were the conditions also in the eighty and eighth year of the reign of the judges

The original manuscript is not extant for Helaman 16:11. The 1830 edition has these and the printer’s manuscript has thus. Sentences in the preceding verses begin with and thus:

In verse 11, therefore, the thus of 𝓟 is consistent with those preceding occurrences, but they could also be the source for changing an original these in 𝓞 to thus in 𝓟.

Elsewhere in the text there are a number of parallel occurrences involving thus with an existential use of the main verb be followed by a noun phrase, including the following examples involving were:

The example from 3 Nephi 7:13 is especially helpful since it repeats the thus in nearly the same way as the text does in 𝓟 for Helaman 16:10–11 (“and thus ended also the eighty and seventh year … and thus were the conditions also in the eighty and eighth year”).

Elsewhere in the text, whenever we get a sentence-initial phrase of the form “these were the X’s” or “these are the X’s”, the reference is to a specific listing of X’s that follows or precedes:

I exclude from the above list 23 instances of “these are/were the words”; although technically no list precedes or follows this phraseology, each of these is always followed by a direct quotation of the words. There are two other examples of these are in the current text (in Mormon 7:1 and Ether 2:15); these two passages refer to words and thoughts, yet each originally read this is and does not technically involve a list; for discussion, see under those passages.

Elsewhere in the text, there is only one case where there has been some mix-up between these and thus in the transmission of the text. In 1 Nephi 8:34, the original manuscript read thus, but Oliver Cowdery accidentally copied this word as these into the printer’s manuscript:

As discussed under that passage, the phrase thus is refers to Lehi’s actual words in the previous verse; again there is no list per se. Instead, with the phrase “these are the words”, we would expect a following direct quotation. For some examples of direct quotations being introduced by “these are the words”, see under 3 Nephi 3:1–2.

It should be noted that there are many mix-ups in the history of the text between the visually similar this (the singular form of these) and thus. Yet almost all of these mix-ups (29 out of 31 cases) are the result of a momentary scribal slip in the manuscripts. There is one case in the manuscripts of thus being permanently replaced with this, namely, in 𝓟 by Oliver Cowdery (see under Alma 24:18); similarly, there is one case in the printed editions of this being replaced with thus, namely, in the 1830 edition by the compositor (see under Ether 1:43). For one accepted case of conjecture, see under Alma 11:21; there thus appears to have been accidentally replaced by this when Oliver Cowdery copied from 𝓞 into 𝓟.

In accord with usage elsewhere in the text, the critical text will accept the reading in 𝓟 for Helaman 16:11 as the original reading (and the probable reading in 𝓞): “and thus were the conditions also in the eighty and eighth year”. The 1830 compositor, setting his text from 𝓞, seems to have misread the original thus as these.

Summary: Restore in Helaman 16:11 the reading in 𝓟: “and thus were the conditions also in the eighty and eighth year”; thus is expected here because of the reference in verses 8–10 to the conditions in the immediately preceding years; the 1830 reading, “and these were the conditions also in the eighty and eighth year”, would be appropriate if there was a specific list of those conditions, but there is not.

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