3 Nephi 18:5 Textual Variants

Royal Skousen
behold there shall [one be 1ABCDEFGIJLMNOPQRST|be one HK] ordained among you

The 1874 RLDS edition switched the position of one to after the passive auxiliary be, which seems to be the more natural and expected word order in English. The 1908 RLDS edition restored the earlier, more difficult reading. For other cases of there shall be, we find that the passive auxiliary be comes before the subject noun phrase whenever the subject is relatively short:

Thus the 1874 RLDS reading in 3 Nephi 18:5 conforms to these examples (“there shall be one ordained among you”). If the Book of Mormon original text read this way, then the change in word order most probably occurred during the dictation of 𝓞 since both the 1830 edition and the printer’s manuscript have the order “there shall one be ordained among you”.

On the other hand, when the subject is long, the tendency is to keep together the passive auxiliary be and its associated verb form, the past participle. There is one case where the subject precedes the be:

Other times, when the subject is long and is made up of noun conjuncts, the subject is transposed to the end of the sentence:

From the most general point of view, the earliest word order here in 3 Nephi 18:15 is possible but nonetheless unexpected, given that the subject is simply a single word, one. The critical text will maintain the earliest word order, yet the possibility remains that this word order is an error that entered the text as it was being dictated.

We get similar results when we consider the parallel case of there should be. There are 12 instances in the text of this existential expression where the subject comes between the be auxiliary and the past participial form of the main verb, as in 3 Nephi 2:3: “and they did not believe that there should be any more signs or wonders given”. The only exception to this involves a subject that is so complicated that the should be occurs twice in the original text, both before and after the subject:

In this case, the editors for the 1920 LDS edition removed the initial there should be; for further discussion of this case, see under 3 Nephi 3:14.

The idea that the word order in “there shall one be ordained among you” might be a mistake for “there shall be one ordained among you” was first suggested in the fall of 1996 by Merilee Knoll, one of the students in my textual criticism class.

Summary: Accept in 3 Nephi 18:5 the unique word order in “there shall one be ordained among you” instead of the more expected word order (“there shall be one ordained among you”); in this case, we follow the earliest textual sources but recognize that this word order could be an error that entered the text when it was dictated.

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