Monday, May 14, 2018

Where is Skousen Coming From?

As more people take a critical look at the scriptures, some understanding is needed. Royal Skousen did a marvelous job of analyzing the variations in the different editions of the Book of Mormon and trying to understand how they came about. But he also had a particular agenda - to get to the most accurate copy of the Original Manuscript (OM). This is a different goal than ours - the most Joseph-accurate copy of the Book of Mormon.

Whenever Joseph made a change to the text that is found in the OM, Skousen set it aside. If it doesn't match the OM, he felt it shouldn't be there. Skousen has published his own version of the Book of Mormon that matches as closely as possible the OM.

The problem for us is that this ignores 2 things happening through Joseph. First, he recognized that a lot of mistakes were made, both in recording the OM, and then in the transcribing of the OM to the Printer's Manuscript, and then to subsequent published editions. Joseph spent time throughout his life seeking to correct those errors. As late as 1842 he noted in his journal that he was working to fix the errors. Second, Joseph was ever learning. And as his knowledge increased, so did his understanding of the meaning of scripture. For example, Denver has given a good explanation of how Joseph's perception of the First Vision evolved over time.

A more recent example that we can likely relate to is found in Nephi's discussion of his father's vision with an angel. At one point the angel says, "And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh." For most of us, we understand that the angel is referring to Mary, Christ's mother in the flesh. But read in the context of the talk Our Divine Parents that Denver gave in Phoenix in March, a second meaning appears - that Christ's Heavenly Mother may have condescended to be His mother in the flesh as well.

So not all of Skousen's recommendations were adopted. Please recognize that though we might find a few things that got missed, overall we won't be changing a lot. At times we had to make some tough decisions and many, many were discussed by all of the committee and decided by mutual agreement.