Book of Mormon Introduction, Lamanites and Native Americans: No big deal?

John Dehlin Mormon 9 Comments

We just recorded a new episode of Mormon Matters podcast, wherein Ronan and John Hamer (a non-member of the LDS church) make a strong case that this dust-up about the recent change to the Book of Mormon introduction page is actually much ado about nothing.

Check it out if you have a sec. Let us know what you think.

Comments 9

  1. I don’t have a problem with it, but as an orthodox, “old-school” saint, I prefer Elder McConkie’s original inspiration. However, I wonder why they would go to all the trouble of making such a slight change.
    Personally, I don’t even think the original wording rules out the theory that American Indians have several different ancestors. They know what they’re doing, though.

  2. My understanding (correct me if I’m wrong) is that this applies to the Doubleday Edition. The Church suggested this change because it was going to be in a future edition of our own scriptures.

    Quite independent of the issue of the introduction there have been clamoring for a new edition of the LDS scriptures. While I look forward to a new introduction (preferrable with major rewrites) the bigger issues are the footnotes, the index, and then certain source-critical issues. A new edition has been rumored for at least two decades. I suspect the hold out is Skousens’ critical text. But to be honest the biggest text in need of sprucing up is the D&C. I think more historical notes would be amazingly helpful. Especially for the (near majority now) who live outside the US. I think the Bible could use a great deal of revision in the footnotes as well. (i.e. remove the silly “GD: topic name” references, explain the italics better, and have better and more useful crossreferences – perhaps separating out as many translations do quotations or references from thematically relevant references)

    I’d love if all the scriptures moved from a verse oriented layout to a more paragraph and poetry oriented form as most Biblical translations do now.

  3. To me, this change from “principal ancestors” to “among the ancestors” is a huge retreat from earlier positions.

    Here is your the Prophet, the head of this dispensation, a man who claims to be acquainted with Moroni, the translator of the Book of Mormon, who was instructed by Moroni for over 4 years. He would surely know better than modern day, revisionist, apologists who the Lamanites were.

    ‘The Book of Mormon is a record of the forefathers of our western tribes of Indians. By it we learn that our western tribes of Indians are descendants from that Joseph who was sold into Egypt, and that the land of America is a promised land unto them.’ (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 17).

    ‘He [Moroni] told me of a sacred record which was written on plates of gold, I saw in the vision the place where they were deposited, he said the Indians were the literal descendants of Abraham.’ (Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, Diary 1835-1836, pg. 76).

    For more on this read this: http://www.lds-mormon.com/lam-ind.shtml

  4. Here is your the Prophet, the head of this dispensation, a man who claims to be acquainted with Moroni, the translator of the Book of Mormon, who was instructed by Moroni for over 4 years. He would surely know better than modern day, revisionist, apologists who the Lamanites were.

    That assumes Moroni would be telling him these details. My guess is that there were better things to talk about. There’s no evidence in the least that he received revelations on the subject.

    The assumption that a prophet has revelations on all sorts of topics simply isn’t born out. By Joseph’s own life if nothing else. After all he continued to receive new information and new nuances to old information through his whole life. If there was a kind of Islamic-like “once and total” revelation then our theology of continuing revelation (and Joseph’s own ignorance and learning) would make no sense. I can but note that Joseph saw fit, especially in Nauvoo, to study language and commentary on the scriptures suggesting he didn’t have this wide ranging infallible knowledge some claim for him.

  5. This change is not breaking news. I’ve had my double day edition for nearly a year and that change was one of the first things I noticed–I was actually very pleased to see it. It seems that Peggy Fletcher Stack just clued into it, and hence the current buzz.

    The original doubleday edition says “principal”, its just the second doubleday edition that says “among”.

    However, please note that the official online edition still says “principal.”

    http://scriptures.lds.org/en/bm/introduction

  6. Presumably the online edition will remain the same until the Church formally comes out with their new edition: which may be some years away.

  7. For us in the church, the word change teaches a valuable lesson that many members today seem to miss; namely, that we have a responsibility to prayerfully and studiously determine for ourselves whether the words of presidents of the church are true or false. Just because a church president says something is revelation, doesn’t make it so.

    Another change the church might want to consider is the word “coinage” in the chapter heading of Alma 11. Nothing in the chapter states that the monetary measures were coins.

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