3 Nephi 26:14 Textual Variants

Royal Skousen
and it came to pass that he did teach and minister unto the children of the multitude of whom hath been spoken and he did loose their tongues and they did speak unto their fathers great and marvelous things even greater than he had revealed unto the people and [ 1ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQS|he RT] loosed their tongues that they could utter

The earliest reading here, under one interpretation, has a conjoined predicate that seems to be lacking its subject. The printer’s manuscript and the 1830 reading read identically, without the expected he, which means that very likely the original manuscript itself lacked the he. The editors for the 1920 LDS edition supplied the he since it seems necessary—providing one assumes that in this passage we have two references to the Lord loosing the tongues of the children. Such an interpretation is possible since there are examples elsewhere in the original text where two identical clauses frame a central body of information:

Yet David Calabro points out (personal communication) that here in 3 Nephi 26:14 we may not have two references to loosing the tongues of the children. He argues that the second instance refers to the Lord as loosing the tongues of the people (that is, the adults, in distinction to the children). Calabro notes that support for this interpretation can be found in an earlier reference to the disciples being given the words they should say when they prayed:

And shortly afterwards the text explains that not only were the disciples praying but also the entire multitude:

One could argue that the entire multitude, not just the disciples, were being given what they should pray and that this is what Jesus is referring to here at the end of 3 Nephi 26:14. In other words, the final predicate belongs to the comparative clause: “even greater than he had revealed unto the people and loosed their tongues that they could utter”. This means that the antecedent for the pronouns they and their is the people, not the children (which is found much earlier in the passage). Given this interpretation, the 1920 emendation was unnecessary—and, in fact, misleading. Since Calabro’s proposed reading will work, the critical text will restore the earliest reading in 3 Nephi 26:14—that is, without any subject pronoun he for the last conjoined predicate.

Summary: Restore the earliest text in 3 Nephi 26:14 without the subject pronoun he heading the final conjoined predicate; this predicate, it would appear, actually belongs in the immediately preceding comparative clause, so that the comparison here is between the utterances of the children and the earlier utterances of the adults.

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