3 Nephi 23:7–8 Textual Variants

Royal Skousen
and it came to pass that he saith unto Nephi bring forth the [𝓢① Records > 𝓢② Record 1|record ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRST] which ye have kept and when Nephi had brought forth the records and laid them before him and he cast his eyes upon them and saith …

Here scribe 2 of 𝓟 wrote records in the plural, but Oliver Cowdery, when he proofed 𝓟 against 𝓞, corrected it to the singular record. The singular agrees with the 1830 reading, which argues that 𝓞 itself read in the singular. We note here that the larger passage refers first to bringing forth “the record which ye have kept”, yet Nephi then brings forth “the records”. The subsequent pronouns that refer to the records are also in the plural (“and laid them before him and he cast his eyes upon them”). As explained under 1 Nephi 5:21, there is evidence for such variation in number for record(s). Even so, it is possible here in 3 Nephi 23:7–8 that the first instance of record, the presumed reading in 𝓞, is an error for records. Under 1 Nephi 5:21, I provide a fairly long list of cases involving mix-ups between record and records in the two manuscripts.

There is also considerable evidence that the grammatical number for record(s) can vary within a passage, as in the following example where the singular “a record” is definitely intended (in fact, it occurs twice) yet the following text refers to that record in the plural:

For that passage, the 1920 LDS edition emended the plural “they were” to “it was”. The critical text will restore the original “they were” to Mosiah 21:27. Similarly, here in 3 Nephi 23:7–8, the mixed use of record and records will be maintained. The original reading will work: Jesus could have asked Nephi to “bring forth the record which ye have kept”, but then Nephi could have still brought forth the physical records that contained that record.

Overall, there are 12 passages in the text that refer to the bringing (forth) of a record or records: five of them are in the singular, seven in the plural (so the plural is more frequent, but the singular still occurs). Similarly, there are 20 passages that refer to the keeping of a record or records; in this case, the singular dominates (13 to 7)—but as before, the other number is possible. In every case of record(s), we follow the earliest textual sources.

Summary: Maintain in 3 Nephi 23:7–8 the singular record in verse 7 (“bring forth the record”) and the plural records in verse 8 (“when Nephi had brought forth the records”); for each case, we generally follow the earliest sources; other passages in the text sometimes show even more extreme cases where the grammatical number varies for the word record(s).

Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon, Part. 6