3 Nephi 1:3 Textual Variants

Royal Skousen
and his son Nephi did keep the [record 1PS|records ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOQRT] in his stead yea the record of this people

Through all of 3 Nephi, both the 1830 edition and the printer’s manuscript are firsthand copies of the original manuscript (which is no longer extant in 3 Nephi except for a number of small fragments). Here in 3 Nephi 1:3, 𝓟 has the singular record, but the 1830 edition has the plural records. In the following phrase beginning with yea, both sources have the singular record (“yea the record of this people”), which suggests that the preceding singular reading of 𝓟 is the correct reading. The 1908 RLDS edition restored the singular to the RLDS text by reference to 𝓟.

As explained under Omni 1:9, there are references in the text to both “keeping a record” and “keeping records”, with the plural dominating. In fact, in the previous verse we have an example of the plural records with the verb keep:

Nonetheless, when the text specifically refers to a person X by name and his keeping the record(s) in place of another person Y, we get only the singular record:

Thus we always get an expression of the form “X keeps the record in Y’s stead” (with each instance above indicated by an arrow). In fact, in all these examples (including the one in 3 Nephi 1:3), the name of the record keeper X is modified by a noun phrase referring to his relationship to Y, the preceding record keeper (as either “his son” or “his brother”). Thus the close parallelism between these four instances strongly supports the singular record.

One possibility here in 3 Nephi 1:3 is that 𝓞 read record and the 1830 typesetter made the change to the plural. There is, however, only one example (in Omni 1:9) where the typesetter made such an error; yet in that case, 𝓟 initially read in the plural, and although Oliver Cowdery erased the plural s, he did so insufficiently, with the result that the typesetter read the word as the plural records. Oliver, on the other hand, is much more prone to mix up record and records, although not permanently:

So ultimately neither Oliver Cowdery nor the 1830 typesetter was overly prone to permanently reverse the number for record(s). In fact, here in 3 Nephi 1:3 there is always the possibility that 𝓞 itself read in the plural, but incorrectly. Since the scribal evidence is not particularly strong here, the best solution is to go with the reading that works best, namely, the singular record (the reading in 𝓟): “and his son Nephi did keep the record in his stead”.

Summary: Restore the singular record in 3 Nephi 1:3 (“and his son Nephi did keep the record in his stead”) since 4 Nephi has three examples of the same precise expression and each one has record rather than records.

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