Monday, March 26, 2012

March 26, 1830- The Book of Mormon Published

March 26, 1830- E. B. Grandin publishes The Book of Mormon "First edition" in Palmyra. Based on Printer's Manuscript copied from Original Manuscript. The initial printing of the Book of Mormon in 1830 produced 5000 copies.

The Book of Mormon is a sacred text of the Latter Day Saint movement that adherents believe contains writings of ancient prophets who lived on the American continent from approximately 2200 BC to AD 421. It was first published in March 1830 by Joseph Smith as The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi.

According to Smith's account, and also according to the book's narrative, the Book of Mormon was originally written in otherwise unknown characters referred to as "reformed Egyptian" engraved on golden plates. Smith claimed that the last prophet to contribute to the book, a man named Moroni, buried it in a hill in present-day New York and then returned to earth in 1827 as an angel, revealing the location of the book to Smith and instructing him to translate and disseminate it as evidence of the restoration of Christ's true church in the latter days.

The Book of Mormon has a number of original and distinctive doctrinal discussions on subjects such as the fall of Adam and Eve, the nature of the Atonement, eschatology, redemption from physical and spiritual death and the organization of the latter-day church. The pivotal event of the book is an appearance of Jesus Christ to the Americas shortly after his resurrection.

The Book of Mormon is the earliest of the unique writings of the Latter Day Saint movement, the denominations of which typically regard the text not only as scripture but also as a historical record of God's dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas. The Book of Mormon is divided into smaller books, titled after the individuals named as primary authors and, in most versions, divided into chapters and verses. It is written in English, very similar to the Early Modern English linguistic style of the King James Version of the Bible, and has since been fully or partially translated into 108 languages.

Joseph Smith Jr. said that when he was seventeen years of age an angel of God, named Moroni, appeared to him, and said that a collection of ancient writings, engraved on golden plates by ancient prophets, was buried in a nearby hill in Wayne County, New York. The writings described a people whom God had led from Jerusalem to the Western Hemisphere 600 years before Jesus’ birth. According to the narrative, Moroni was the last prophet among these people and had buried the record, which God had promised to bring forth in the latter days. Smith stated that he was instructed by Moroni to meet at the hill annually each September 22 to receive further instructions and that four years after the initial visit, in 1827, he was allowed to take the plates and was directed to translate them into English.

Smith's first published description of the plates said the plates "had the appearance of gold," and were described by Martin Harris, one of Smith's early scribes, to be "fastened together in the shape of a book by wires." Smith called the engraved writing on the plates "reformed Egyptian". A portion of the text on the plates was also "sealed" according to his account, so its content was not included in the Book of Mormon.

In addition to Smith's account regarding the plates, eleven others signed affidavits that they saw and handled the golden plates for themselves. Their written testimonies are known as the Testimony of Three Witnesses and the Testimony of Eight Witnesses. These affidavits are published as part of the introductory pages to the Book of Mormon.

Smith enlisted the help of his neighbor, Martin Harris (one of the Three Witnesses), who later mortgaged his farm to underwrite the printing of the Book of Mormon, as a scribe during his initial work on the text. In 1828, Harris, prompted by his wife, Lucy Harris, repeatedly requested that Smith lend him the current pages that had been translated. Smith reluctantly relented to Harris' requests. Lucy Harris is thought to have stolen the first 116 pages. After the loss, Smith recorded that he had lost the ability to translate, and that Moroni had taken back the plates to be returned only after Smith repented. Smith later stated that God allowed him to resume translation, but directed that he begin translating another part of the plates. In 1829, with the assistance of Oliver Cowdery, work on the Book of Mormon recommenced, and was completed in a remarkably short period (April–June 1829). Smith said that he then returned the plates to Moroni upon the publication of the book. The Book of Mormon went on sale at the bookstore of E. B. Grandin on March 26, 1830. Today the building in which the Book of Mormon was first published and sold is known as the Book of Mormon Historic Publication Site.

Critics of the Book of Mormon claim that it was fabricated by Smith and that portions of it were plagiarized from various works available to him. Works that have been suggested as sources include the King James Bible, The Wonders of Nature, View of the Hebrews, and an unpublished manuscript written by Solomon Spalding.

For some followers of the Latter Day Saint movement, unresolved issues of the book's historical authenticity and the lack of conclusive archaeological evidence have led them to adopt a compromise position that the Book of Mormon may be the creation of Smith, but that it was nevertheless created through divine inspiration. The position of most members of the Latter Day Saint movement and the official position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) is that the book is an actual and accurate historical record.

The Book of Mormon was dictated by Joseph Smith to several scribes over a period of nearly two years, resulting in an original manuscript that was eventually printed into the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, minus the first 116 pages of the Book of Lehi, which were lost after Smith lent the uncopied manuscript to Martin Harris who gave them to his wife Lucy. These pages were never returned and are assumed to be lost. The original manuscript was then hand copied by Oliver Cowdery and two other scribes into a manuscript for the printer. It is at this point that initial copyediting of the Book of Mormon was completed. Observations of the original manuscript show little evidence of corrections to the text. Critical comparisons between surviving portions of the manuscripts show an average of two to three changes per page from the original manuscript to the printer's manuscript, with most changes being corrections of scribal errors such as misspellings or the correction, or standardization, of grammar inconsequential to the meaning of the text. The printer's manuscript was further edited, adding paragraphing and punctuation to the first third of the text.

The printer's manuscript was not used fully in the typesetting of the 1830 version of Book of Mormon; portions of the original manuscript were also used for typesetting. The original manuscript was used by Joseph Smith to further correct errors printed in the 1830 and 1837 versions of the Book of Mormon for the 1840 printing of the book. In October 1841, the entire original manuscript was placed into the cornerstone of the Nauvoo House, and sealed up until nearly forty years later when the cornerstone was reopened. It was then discovered that much of the original manuscript had been destroyed by water seepage and mold. Surviving manuscript pages were handed out to various families and individuals in the 1880s. A total of only 28% of the original manuscript now survives, including a remarkable find of fragments from 58 pages in 1991. The majority of what remains of the original manuscript is now kept in the LDS Church Archives.The printer's manuscript is now the earliest complete surviving copy of the Book of Mormon, being nearly 100% extant; it is owned by the Community of Christ

No comments: