Skousen, Royal

The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text (2022 Paperback)


Now in paperback, this corrected text is based on the earliest sources and represents the most accurate and readable edition of the Book of Mormon ever published.

“The product of over two decades of painstaking labor by Royal Skousen . . . this Yale edition aims to take us back to the text Smith envisioned as he translated, according to the faithful, from golden plates that he unearthed in upstate New York.”—Stephen Prothero, Wall Street Journal

“Will forever change the way Latter-day Saints approach modern scripture. Two hundred years from now… students of the Book of Mormon will still be poring over Skousen’s work. What he has accomplished is nothing short of phenomenal.”—Grant Hardy, Journal of Book of Mormon Studies

First published in 1830, the Book of Mormon is the authoritative scripture of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Over the past thirty years, editor Royal Skousen has pored over Joseph Smith’s original manuscripts and earliest editions and identified about 2,250 textual errors, although many of these discrepancies stem from inadvertent errors in copying and typesetting the text.

The first edition of The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text, published in 2009 to critical acclaim, contained over 600 corrections that had never before appeared in any standard edition of the Book of Mormon, with about 250 of them affecting the text’s meaning. This revised, second edition, issued in paperback, includes additional corrections as well as an illuminating new introduction by Royal Skousen. It will provide a portable, accessible version of this important text.


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After five printings of the hardback edition (from 2009 up through 2020), Yale University Press has decided to issue this durable softbound edition, which has a somewhat smaller format (6 × 9 × 1 inches) than the first hardbound edition (7½ × 9½ × 2 inches).
Opaque paper has been specially selected to help the reader see a clean page of text, without interference from the printing on the reverse side of the page. Yet the physical thickness of the book has been reduced by one half.
The format continues to use the sense-lines of the first edition. Instead of breaking up the text into two columns of verses (the current LDS text) or in a paragraph system (like the first edition in 1830), this format makes it so that each line of text ends naturally, where the text breaks, at the end of a phrase or clause. This is the only format that allows the reader to recover a sense of how Joseph Smith dictated the original text to his scribes in 1828-29: it would have been in sense-lines.
The actual scriptural text in this new edition remains the same as in the first Yale edition, in accord with the evidence of the earliest text from the two manuscripts and the 1830 edition, and occasionally from the two subsequent editions in 1837 and 1840. When compared against the most recent printing of the hardbound Yale edition (the fifth printing, dating from 2020), there are only a few changes in punctuation, capitalization, and sense-line breaks.
The appendix now contains 724 textual variants, five more than in the appendix to the first edition. One interesting improvement is that the title page now begins with a significant change in the punctuation and a shift in the sense-lines, so that we now read that the Book of Mormon is “an account written by the hand of Mormon upon plates” and that this account was “taken from the plates of Nephi”.
The most striking difference in the new edition, besides its sturdy softbound cover and a somewhat smaller format, is that the new edition has a completely new introduction, written by the editor, Royal Skousen, specifically for this second edition. In this introduction, Skousen explains how the Yale edition derives from the Critical Text Project of the Book of Mormon, which Skousen has headed from 1988 to the present. The text itself was not keyed in, but was systematically generated from the computerized collation that was originally produced in the late 1990s. The Yale edition of the Book of Mormon takes advantage of all the important findings of the Critical Text Project, including the following:
            615 readings that have never before appeared in any standard printed edition
            251 readings that make a difference in meaning
              19 corrected spellings of names
            133 readings that make the text more consistent in phraseology or usage
              38 readings that restore a unique phrase or word choice to the text

Additional information

Weight 3 lbs
Dimensions 9 × 6 × 1.08 in