1 Nephi

 

The Lord Leads His Covenant Children

      (1 Nephi )


 

 

 

 

FIRST NEPHI

 

 

1 Nephi-Title The First Book of Nephi His Reign and Ministry:

 

     1. Royal Skousen notes that two manuscripts of the Book related to the title of First Nephi have generated some interesting commentary relative to the historical nature of Mormon. The first is the Original Manuscript, which was written down by scribes as Joseph Smith dictated the text. This manuscript is sometimes referred to as the dictated manuscript. The second manuscript is called the Printer's Manuscript. It was copied from the Original Manuscript and taken to the printer to be used for typesetting the 1830 edition. Although much has been preserved of the Original Manuscript, the title page for First Nephi has not. However, in the Printer's Manuscript we find that on the title page of First Nephi, the main title line reads only "The Book of Nephi His Reign and Ministry." The word "first" has been written in above the title. Thus, in our present edition of the Book of Mormon, the modified main title for First Nephi reads "The [First] Book of Nephi" (brackets added); with a subtitle below reading "His Reign and Ministry." Who wrote in the word "first," and why? According to Royal Skousen, who has done thorough analysis of both the Original Manuscript and the Printer's Manuscript, evidence seems to substantiate the idea that Oliver Cowdery deliberately made this title correction during the process of transcribing the Printer's Manuscript for publication. [Royal Skousen, Director, Book of Mormon Critical Text Project, Personal Communication]

 

1 Nephi--Title The First Book of Nephi--His Reign and Ministry (Illustration): Title of First Nephi -- Printer's Manuscript. [Library-Archives, Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, The Auditorium, Independence]

 

     *A Note on the Original Manuscript and the Printers Manuscript:

 

     The early editions of the Book of Mormon were taken from two manuscripts: the Original Manuscript and the Printers Manuscript. According to Dean Jessee, the one thing that confirmed the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon in the mind of Emma Smith was the method of writing the Original Manuscript:

           No man could have dictated the writing of the manuscript unless he was inspired; for, when acting as his scribe, your father would dictate to me hour after hour; and when returning after meals, or after interruptions, he would at once begin where he had left off, without either seeing the manuscript or having any portion of it read to him.

 

     Thus the manuscript was a written dictation, and contains very little correction as surviving portions of the manuscript verify (see illustration below). Taking into consideration the time spent dodging "persecution" and losing part of the manuscript with its consequences, the actual writing time of the Original Manuscript covered about three months. The manuscript was begun no later than April 1829 and finished in June 1829. At least five scribes aided Joseph Smith during the writing of the original Book of Mormon manuscript. Emma Smith, in answer to a question in 1879 regarding those who were scribes for Joseph during the translation of the Book of Mormon, named, in addition to herself, Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris and her brother Reuben Hale. (Joseph Smith, "Last Testimony of Sister Emma," 26 Oct 1, 1879, p. 289) Upon completion of the translation, precautions were taken for protection of the manuscript during the printing of the book. A copy of the original was made by Oliver Cowdery and two other scribes This copy is called the Printer's Manuscript. since it was the one primarily used to set type for the first edition (1830). Little reference is made to the Original Manuscript between the time of the Book of Mormon publication in 1830 and the deposit of the document in the Nauvoo House southeast cornerstone eleven years later on October 2, 1841. However we do know that Joseph Smith used the Original Manuscript to restore some original readings in the 1840 edition of the Book of Mormon. The manuscript remained in the cornerstone until September 1882 when it was removed by Lewis Bidamon, who had married Emma Smith following the death of the Prophet, and was living in the house at the time. After removing it from the cornerstone, over the next few years Bidamon gave portions of what remained of the badly water-damaged manuscript to Nauvoo visitors on five known occasions. Today approximately 25 percent of the text survives (see illustrations). All but one of the authentic pages and fragments are housed in the archives of the LDS Historical Department; one half of a sheet (from 1 Nephi 14) is owned by the University of Utah. [Dean C. Jessee, "The Original Book of Mormon Manuscript," BYU Studies, Vol. 10, 1970 Spring, pp. 259-278. Reprinted by F.A.R.M.S.]

     Note* According to Royal Skousen, there are four scribes for the extant portions of the Original Manuscript. Nearly all the extant portions of the Original Manuscript are in Oliver Cowdery's hand. Scribes 2 and 3 have not yet been identified. For 28 words in Alma 45:22, Joseph Smith himself acted as the scribe. [Royal Skousen ed., The Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon: Typographical Facsimile of the Extant Text, FARMS, pp. 13-14]

 

1 Nephi-Title The First Book of Nephi His Reign and Ministry (Illustration): Original Book of Mormon Manuscript Holdings in the Church Historian's Office. [Dean C. Jessee, "The Original Book of Mormon Manuscript," BYU Studies, Vol. 10, 1970 Spring, pp. 259-278. Reprinted by F.A.R.M.S.]

 

1 Nephi-Title The First Book of Nephi (A Note on the Original Manuscript and the Printers Manuscript) [Illustration]: Locations of Extant Text. [Royal Skousen ed., The Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon: Typographical Facsimile of the Extant Text, FARMS, p. 37]

 

     Royal Skousen writes that the size of paper used by the scribes was referred to as "common foolscap paper." Foolscap paper originally referred to a watermark showing a fool's cap, but by the 1700's this term was universally used to refer to a paper size. Published accounts (given in the Oxford English Dictionary under fool's-cap) indicate that foolscap paper varied from 12 to 13.5 inches in width and from 15-17 inches in length (that is, from 30-34 cm in width and 38 to 43 cm in length). The extant sheets from the Original Manuscript show some variance, but all fall within the upper part of these ranges. [p. 38]

     The Book of Mormon scribes typically folded six sheets to form a 12-leaf "gathering" (that is, 24 pages--see the illustration below). Usually the folding for gatherings in the Original Manuscript was widthwise, which made a normally proportioned page. (see illustration below) However a lengthwise folding began somewhere in 3 Nephi and extended to the end of Moroni and then into the first gathering of 1 Nephi. (The Printer's Manuscript, on the other hand, has only the widthwise folding.) The use of six sheets for each gathering generally holds for both the original and printer's manuscripts. [p. 34]

     It is estimated that for the Original Manuscript of the translation of the plates of Mormon and Moroni there were 18 gatherings, amounting to 484 total pages. For the translation of the small plates of Nephi, plus the Words of Mormon there were 6 gatherings for an estimated 124 total pages. "In addition, there were probably three separate leaves for (1) the title page, (2) the three-witness statement, and (3) the eight-witness statement. Allowing for certain missing or unused pages, the original manuscript had an estimated total of 607 pages of text (482 + 122 + 3)." [pp. 35-36] [Royal Skousen ed., The Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon: Typographical Facsimile of the Extant Text, FARMS, 2001]

 

1 Nephi-Title The First Book of Nephi (A Note on the Original Manuscript and the Printers Manuscript) [Illustration]: Gatherings. [Royal Skousen ed., The Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon: Typographical Facsimile of the Extant Text, FARMS, p. 37]

 

     According to Royal Skousen, the Printer's Manuscript is not an exact copy of the Original Manuscript. There are on the average three changes per Original Manuscript page, These changes appear to be natural scribal errors; there is little or no evidence of conscious editing. Most of the changes are minor, and about one in five produced a discernible difference in meaning. Because they were all relatively minor, most of the errors thus introduced into the text have remained in the printed editions of the book of Mormon and have not been detected and corrected except by reference to the Original Manuscript. In preparation for the second (1837) edition, hundreds of grammatical changes and a few textual emendations were made in the Printers Manuscript. After the publication of this edition, the manuscript was retained by Oliver Cowdery. After his death in 1850, his brother-in-law, David Whitmer, kept the Printers Manuscript until his death in 1888. In 1903 Whitmer's grandson sold the manuscript to the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which owns it today. It is wholly extant except for two lines at the bottom of the first leaf. [Royal Skousen, "Manuscripts of the Book of Mormon," in To All the World: The Book of Mormon Articles from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, p. 179]

 

1 Nephi-Title The First Book of Nephi (Note on the Original Manuscript and the Printers Manuscript) [Illustration]: Original Manuscript, 1 Nephi 7:17--8:2 written by an unidentified scribe with its typewritten equivalent to the side showing how few corrections were made from dictation. [Dean C. Jessee, "The Original Book of Mormon Manuscript," BYU Studies, Vol. 10, 1970 Spring, pp. 259-278. Reprinted by F.A.R.M.S.]

 

     2. In the subtitle "His Reign and Ministry," the word "reign" implies that Nephi was some sort of king or ruler, but kingship isn't implied until the book of Second Nephi. [For a discussion on this see additional commentary below on "His Reign and Ministry"] [For further discussion of this situation see the commentary on 1 Nephi 1:17; 2:22]

     3. In the Printer's Manuscript, while numerical additions were made to the titles of First Nephi and Second Nephi, both Third Nephi and Fourth Nephi had no such numerical additions made to their titles. Thus in the 1830 edition there was no "Third Nephi" or "Fourth Nephi." These books were titled only by description: "The Book of Nephi, the Son of Nephi, Which was the Son of Helaman," and "The Book of Nephi, Which is the Son of Nephi, One of the Disciples of Jesus Christ." One reason for not numbering the latter two might have been that while First and Second Nephi were written by the same person, and thus needed a distinction, Third and Fourth Nephi were written by different men who were distinctly identified in the titles. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

1 Nephi 1 Superscription . . . Verses . . . etc. (Illustration): A facsimile of the title page of First Nephi in the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon. [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Deseret Book Company, 150th Year Anniversary Facsimile of the 1830 Edition of the Book of Mormon, 1980]

 

 

1 Nephi Title The First Book of Nephi:

 

     One might ask, "Why are there two books for Nephi's record?" None of the other writers covered in the Book of Mormon had two books (Third Nephi and Fourth Nephi were written by different men), and the story seems to blend from the book of First Nephi to the book of Second Nephi. So why is there a division?

     The answer might be found in structure. The division occurs at a structural boundary. Not only do the many elements making up the total literary structure of the book of First Nephi end with the last chapter, but the structural complexity of First Nephi is astounding.

     Richard Grant reviews an article by Noel Reynolds ("Nephi's Outline, BYU Studies, Vol. 20, No. 2). In setting the background for the first book of Nephi, he writes that it had been thirty years since the family of Lehi arrived on the shores of the promised land. Lehi was dead. The people had made Nephi their "king" and accepted his spiritual leadership. Then, Nephi received new instruction from the Lord. He was to write a second history of his people (the "small plates of Nephi"), to be engraved on plates as he had done the first set (the "large plates of Nephi"). Some might see the small plates as an additional burden to Nephi, yet it had been commanded by the Lord--the Lord, who Nephi's brothers had rejected. Yet what was its purpose? Nephi had seen Jesus Christ and knew of his mortal ministry. Nephi knew of the Lord's love for his children, his mercy, and his saving grace. Nephi knew of the power of God unto the salvation of his people. Indeed, the events in Nephi's life had provided him with a very important message to give his people, a message which would take him many years to craft, to polish, and to perfect.

     Noel Reynolds suggests that a good thesis statement for Nephi's new record can be found in verse 20 of the first chapter:

           "Behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance." (1 Nephi 1:20)

 

     Reynolds proposes that Nephi develops this thesis in multiple dimensions of structure. Reynolds suggests that there are some important reasons for this structure:

           (a) they contribute to the presentation and emphasis of his message. The structure helps us see clearly his intent--what was most important to him;

           (b) they give a form of validation to the message. For Nephi's descendants it would serve to verify the integrity of transmission of his text.

           (c) they represent the most intricate and sophisticated writing skills that Nephi was capable of (with the help of the Lord).

 

The result was a masterpiece.

 

     The first perspective of the structure of 1 Nephi is chiastic in nature (see Illustration #1 below). In other words in an outline of the main ideas put forward in succession, ideas progress in order and digress in reverse order, highlighting the main idea at the center.

  

1 Nephi Title The First Book of Nephi (Illustration #1): A Chiastic Outline of First Nephi. [Noel B. Reynolds ("Nephi's Outline, BYU Studies , Vol. 20, No. 2, as presented in Richard G. Grant, "Nephi's Masterpiece: The Amazing Structure of First Nephi," http://www.cometozarahemla.org/nephi/first-nephi.html]

 

     If this were the only structural outline of First Nephi it would be impressive, even by ancient scriptural and prophetic standards. To organize the presentation of the elements of a true narrative history in such a complex manner, without interrupting the natural flow of the narrative is the accomplishment of a master. However, there is an additional structural outline.

     In 1 Nephi chapter 1, Nephi tells us that he is making an abridgment of the "record of my father," after which, "I will make an account of my own life." Indeed, Nephi goes on to write the two accounts, however the twelve elements in these accounts are designed to parallel one another. Each one of the twelve element in Lehi's account is matched by a corresponding element in Nephi's account. (see Illustration #2 below).

 

1 Nephi Title The First Book of Nephi (Illustration #2): Parallel Accounts in First Nephi: Lehi's Account (1 Nephi 1-9) and Nephi's Account (1 Nephi 10-22). [Noel B. Reynolds ("Nephi's Outline, BYU Studies , Vol. 20, No. 2, as presented in Richard G. Grant, "Nephi's Masterpiece: The Amazing Structure of First Nephi," http://www.cometozarahemla.org/nephi/first-nephi.html]

 

     As if that isn't complicated enough, the order of elements 3, 4, and 5 in the Lehi account is exactly reversed in the Nephi account (see illustration #3). These out of order elements of Lehi's account, when viewed together with their corresponding elements in the Nephi account, form a chiasmus with Nephi's two great heavenly communications appearing at the focal point. The same is true of elements 9, 10, and 11 (see Illustration #4). These out of order elements also form a chiasmus detailing Nephi's two sets of records, or two attempts at communicating to his people.

 

1 Nephi Title The First Book of Nephi (Illustration #3): Nephi's Great Communications from the Lord. [Noel B. Reynolds ("Nephi's Outline, BYU Studies , Vol. 20, No. 2, as presented in Richard G. Grant, "Nephi's Masterpiece: The Amazing Structure of First Nephi," http://www.cometozarahemla.org/nephi/first-nephi.html]

 

1 Nephi Title The First Book of Nephi (Illustration #4): Nephi's Great Communications to His People. [Noel B. Reynolds ("Nephi's Outline, BYU Studies , Vol. 20, No. 2, as presented in Richard G. Grant, "Nephi's Masterpiece: The Amazing Structure of First Nephi," http://www.cometozarahemla.org/nephi/first-nephi.html]

 

     Now the structure really starts to get complex, but it is too early in this commentary or the text of the Book of Mormon to dwell on too many details. Suffice it to say that woven into this already impressive structure are other chiasms. These will be dealt with at the appropriate places in the text, however their main focus is to illustrate how, on the one hand, Nephi succeeds by obedience to the covenants of the Lord, and on the other hand how Nephi's brothers constantly murmur and rebel.

     (1) The Lehi account can also be viewed as a chiasmus (see Illustration #5) with the focus on Nephi's obtaining of the brass plates while Laman and Lemuel murmur (see Illustration #7).

     (2) The Nephi account can also be viewed as a chiasmus (see Illustration #6) with the focus on Nephi's building of the ship while Laman and Lemuel murmur (see illustration #8).

     

1 Nephi Title The First Book of Nephi (Illustration #5): Lehi's Account: Chiasmus in 1 Nephi 1-9. [Noel B. Reynolds ("Nephi's Outline, BYU Studies , Vol. 20, No. 2, as presented in Richard G. Grant, "Nephi's Masterpiece: The Amazing Structure of First Nephi," http://www.cometozarahemla.org/nephi/first-nephi.html]

   

1 Nephi Title The First Book of Nephi (Illustration #6): Nephi's Account: Chiasmus in 1 Nephi 10-22. [Noel B. Reynolds ("Nephi's Outline, BYU Studies , Vol. 20, No. 2, as presented in Richard G. Grant, "Nephi's Masterpiece: The Amazing Structure of First Nephi," http://www.cometozarahemla.org/nephi/first-nephi.html]

  

1 Nephi Title The First Book of Nephi (Illustration #7): Obtaining the Brass Plates. [Noel B. Reynolds ("Nephi's Outline, BYU Studies , Vol. 20, No. 2, as presented in Richard G. Grant, "Nephi's Masterpiece: The Amazing Structure of First Nephi," http://www.cometozarahemla.org/nephi/first-nephi.html]

  

1 Nephi Title The First Book of Nephi (Illustration #8): Constructing the Ship. [Noel B. Reynolds ("Nephi's Outline, BYU Studies , Vol. 20, No. 2, as presented in Richard G. Grant, "Nephi's Masterpiece: The Amazing Structure of First Nephi," http://www.cometozarahemla.org/nephi/first-nephi.html]

 

     Now if this isn't enough, let us consider Nephi's narrative once again. Out of the possibly voluminous history of the travels of Lehi's colony from Jerusalem to the New World, Nephi chooses to share six stories with the reader (see Illustration #9). Each story following a similar outline or plot: (a) someone's physical welfare is at risk; (b) Nephi is obedient to the Lord; and (c) deliverance comes by divine power. As with all else in the record these are balanced between the Lehi account and the Nephi account. Not only are they balanced, they are almost mirror images. The strength of the claim rests on the precise order of the parallel elements within each episode. Yet the text reads naturally. There is no sense of forced order, no feeling that any part of the stories have been contrived, modified, or rearranged in order to fit Nephi's structure. In each story success is a consequence of faith in the covenant word and covenant power of God. In each story Nephi's faith and leadership is demonstrated.

 

1 Nephi Title The First Book of Nephi (Illustration #9): The Six Stories of First Nephi. [Noel B. Reynolds, "Nephi's Outline, BYU Studies , Vol. 20, No. 2, as presented in Richard G. Grant, "Nephi's Masterpiece: The Amazing Structure of First Nephi," http://www.cometozarahemla.org/nephi/first-nephi.html]

 

[Noel B. Reynolds, "Nephi's Outline, BYU Studies , Vol. 20, No. 2, as presented in Richard G. Grant, "Nephi's Masterpiece: The Amazing Structure of First Nephi," http://www.cometozarahemla.org/nephi/first-nephi.html]

 

     Note* While the complexities of detail listed above might be difficult to absorb at this point, what the reader should realize is that the book of First Nephi is not just a simple story. Furthermore, the reader should be aware that all of the amazing structure of First Nephi has not been covered here. For further insights into the structuring of First Nephi, see the commentary on 1 Nephi Title ("His Reign and Ministry"), 1 Nephi 1:2, 1 Nephi 3-5, 1 Nephi 10:18, 1 Nephi 13-22, 1 Nephi 14:3, 1 Nephi 17:8. {Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

1 Nephi Title His Reign and Ministry:

 

     To those who have read the Book of Mormon more than once, the title "The First Book of Nephi, His Reign and Ministry" might appear puzzling because the association of Nephi with kingship is not mentioned until the fifth chapter of the Second Book of Nephi (2 Nephi 5:18). Furthermore the title of "The Second Book of Nephi" omits the phrase "His Reign and Ministry." One might ask, What is going on here?

     According to a series of articles by Noel Reynolds, although Nephi testifies of Christ, the writings of Nephi can also be read in part as a political tract written to document the legitimacy of Nephi's rule:

           Because Nephi's central purpose is to persuade readers to believe in Christ, he takes every opportunity, both between the lines and by direct statement, to mitigate the awkward fact that this teaching was coming from him as a younger brother, who by tradition could not easily claim the right to rule and teach the family (2 Nephi 5:3). Sobered by this formidable task, Nephi carefully employs every literary and rhetorical tool at his disposal to justify his position as the righteous and rightful leader of the group.

 

     In order to set a historical perspective to his claim to leadership, Nephi includes several stories in 1 Nephi which illustrate the fact that God makes covenants with those who humbly seek him (more specifically Lehi & Nephi). And as they are obedient to those covenants in overcoming trials, the Lord chooses them to "reign" ("rule over") and "minister" to ("teach") [see 1 Nephi 2:16-24; 3:29] their brethren. Those who murmur and rebel (specifically Laman and Lemuel) against the chosen leaders of the Lord (Lehi and Nephi) lose the blessings passed down from those who "reign" and "minister" over them. The stories in 1 Nephi are as follows:

     1. Nephi supports the prophet of God [Lehi] as he leads them into the wilderness and seeks to know the things of his father. (1 Nephi 1-2)

     2. Nephi does the Lord's errand and obtains the word of God [the brass plates]. (1 Nephi 3-5) [see the chiastic analysis of 1 Nephi 3-5].

     3. Nephi seeks Ishmael & his daughters that they might "raise up seed" unto the Lord. (1 Nephi 7)

     4. Lehi's Tree-of-Life vision portends the future for his seed. Nephi partakes of the fruit; Laman & Lemuel don't. (1 Nephi 8)

     5. Nephi seeks further light & knowledge regarding the vision of his father and his wish is granted. (1 Nephi 10-15)

     6. Nephi becomes an instrument in the Lord's hands, being directed by Lehi & the Liahona in his search for life sustaining nourishment. (1 Nephi 16)

     7. Directed by the Lord, Nephi constructs a vessel that will carry his family to the promised land. (1 Nephi 17) [See the chiastic analysis of 1 Nephi 17]

     8. Despite the storms & forces destined to sink them or throw them off course, Nephi remains faithful and leads his family to the promised land. (1 Nephi 18)

     9. Nephi teaches his brothers concerning the words of the prophets such as Moses, Isaiah, and Joseph. The reader should note that Nephi has structured his stories and writings so as to pattern his "reign" and "ministry" with the words and actions of those prophets (1 Nephi 19-22)

     Thus Nephi's "reign" as well as his "ministry" began well before the time chronicled in Second Nephi when his people "would that [he] should be their king" (2 Nephi 5:18).

 

     As for the reason Nephi wrote two books, Reynolds notes that although the narrative between the first and second books written by Nephi is continuous, Nephi chose to make a large structural break because the internal structure of 1 Nephi emphasizes its separate character as a single literary unit.

     1 Nephi is not the travel diary of a youngster. Nor is it possibly a figment of young Joseph Smith's imagination. It is a highly complex and passionate account, purposefully written by a mature man of great culture and vision to defend those things that he believes most worth defending. Nephi's writings were composed at a time when Nephi could see the need to provide his people with an account that would explain, document and justify his ascent to leadership. For Nephi's people, his writings long served both as an extremely sophisticated political tract, as something of a founding constitution for the Nephite people, and as an elaborate and compelling witness of Jesus Christ. [Noel B. Reynolds, "The Political Dimension in Nephi's Small Plates," FARMS, 1987, 1-40; see also Reynolds, "Nephite Kingship Reconsidered," in Mormons, Scripture, and the Ancient World, pp. 151-189; see also Noel B. Reynolds, "Nephi's Outline," BYU Studies 20 (winter 1980): 131-49, which is reprinted in Noel B. Reynolds, ed., Book of Mormon Authorship: New Light on Ancient Origins (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, 1982: reprint, Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1996), 53-74.]

     Note* The idea that the book of 1 Nephi is a structured chiastic unit is treated by H. Clay Gorton in A New Witness for Christ: Chiastic Structures in the Book of Mormon, pp. 23-82. [See the commentary on 1 Nephi 1:2]

 

1 Nephi: Superscription An Account of Lehi:

 

     In 1830 the printer identified and italicized twenty-two superscriptions. Additionally, other passages have been found to conform to the superscription style. [Zarahemla Research Foundation, Study Book of Mormon, p. 3] [See the commentary on 1 Nephi 19:1]

 

First Nephi: Superscription An Account of Lehi . . . I, Nephi Wrote this Record:

 

     In First Nephi, immediately under the subtitle "His Reign and Ministry," a superscription in italics summarizes the contents of the book. Opinions differ on who wrote this headnote:

     1. Sidney Sperry claims that this headnote is part of the original text, "as one may notice by examining the last line of it, which reads, 'I, Nephi, wrote this record.' Doubtless this superscription was written by Nephi after he had completed the body of the text. His habit of writing superscriptions containing brief summaries of the text set a precedent" (Sidney B. Sperry, Book of Mormon Compendium, p. 93)

     2. According to the Book of Mormon Student Manual for Religion 121 and 122, this headnote "is a summary of 1 Nephi and is part of the original text. It was not added by modern writers. All of the headnotes in the Book of Mormon are part of the original record given to the prophet Joseph Smith, including the inserts preceding individual chapters (for example, Mosiah 9 and Alma 21)." [Church Educational System, Book of Mormon Student Manual for Religion 121 and 122, 1989, p. 4]

     3. Royal Skousen agrees that this headnote was part of the original text, but contrary to what Brother Sperry claims, Skousen asserts that the headnotes were apparently written before the text verses themselves. A good illustration supporting Skousen's argument comes from the headnotes in the book of Helaman. The headnote at the beginning of the book mentions some of the contents as being "the prophecies of many holy prophets," whereas further on in the book of Helaman, "The Prophecy of Nephi" and "The Prophecy of Samuel the Lamanite" are duly noted. Had the beginning headnote been written after the text, these specific prophets might have been mentioned by name rather than just being referred to as "holy prophets."

     In addition, and contrary to what is said in the Book of Mormon Student Manual for Religion 121 and 122, not all the headnotes are part of the original record. The headnote for the book of Ether does not appear in the Printer's Manuscript, nor does it appear in the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon. The note seems to have been inserted by the committee (in 1920) appointed to edit the text. [Royal Skousen, Director, Book of Mormon Critical Text Project, Personal Communication]

     4. As a fourth option, I do not think I am being too irrational to wonder if the headnote at the beginning of First Nephi was written by Mormon as part of either a literal translation of the small plates from old characters on odd-sized plates onto his own set of plates, or as part of the process of somehow putting the small plates with the "remainder of [his] record" (Words of Mormon 1:6). Thus the writing of headnotes may be attributed to Mormon's style. After all, the headnotes are all written in third person, with the exception of this one phrase in First Nephi: "I, Nephi wrote this record”; and it could be conceded that here in First Nephi, Mormon could have written this headnote summary in third person and then included the first person phrase at the end, recognizing that Nephi had written his record as a first-person narrative. It is also possible that Nephi, while not writing the complete headnote, at least included in his record the phrase "I Nephi wrote this record," and Mormon found a way to include it in his headnote summary.

     The reader should also note that the superscriptions for the books of Second Nephi and Jacob are also written in third person; however, there are no superscriptions for the books of Enos, Jarom and Omni, which complete the Small Plates. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

1 Nephi (Chapter Divisions):

 

     As noted earlier, we do not have the Original Manuscript title page for First Nephi. However, in the Printer's Manuscript we find that above the title section, which reads "his reign and ministry," the phrase "Chapter 1st" has been inserted. Who was responsible for writing in "Chapter 1st" and also for dividing the whole Book of Mormon into chapters?

     Although we do not have the Original Manuscript title page of First Nephi, we do have the Original Manuscript title page of Second Nephi. In the title of Second Nephi, the words "second" and "Chapter I" are written in above the title line (The [Second] Book of Nephi [Chapter I]). Above these insertions is also written "Chapter V VIII," with lines slashed through it. This corrected line can be understood in light of the fact that the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon contains 7 (VII) marked chapters in First Nephi. It seems that at the beginning of Second Nephi, Oliver Cowdery (under the direction of Joseph Smith) initially planned for a new chapter and only later did he and Joseph realize they had begun a new book. [Royal Skousen, Director, Book of Mormon Critical Text Project, Personal Communication] [See the commentary on 2 Nephi 1]

     Later, a more expanded system of chapters was devised by Orson Pratt. Daniel Ludlow writes that in the year 1879, Orson Pratt divided the Book of Mormon into more chapters than were already present in the 1830 edition of the book. [Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 43] [See the commentary on 2 Nephi 1]

 

1 Nephi 1 (Chapter Divisions) [Illustration]: Comparison of Chapter Divisions: 1830 and 1981. (John Welch and Morgan Ashton, "Comparison of Chapter Divisions: 1830 and 1981," in Charting the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., Packet 1]

 

1 Nephi: Chapter Heading Nephi Begins the Record of His People--Lehi Sees in Vision, etc.:

 

     Who wrote the summary chapter headings in the Book of Mormon? Daniel Ludlow explains that the chapter headings were first added as a result of the recommendations of a committee headed by Elder James E. Talmage of the Council of the Twelve in 1920. [Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 43]

     Note* These headings were apparently revised for the 1981 edition by a committee headed by Thomas S. Monson, Boyd K. Packer, and Bruce R. McConkie of the Council of the Twelve. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

   

1 Nephi: Verses 1, 2, 3, etc.:

 

     There were no numbered verses in the Original Manuscript, Printer's Manuscript, the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, or other early versions. According to Daniel Ludlow, in 1852 the third European edition of the Book of Mormon was published by Franklin D. Richards. In this edition Brother Richards numbered the verses in the various chapters already present from the 1830 edition. In 1879, Orson Pratt further divided the book into chapters and verses and added some footnote references. [Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 43]

     Note* The verses have apparently remained unchanged since then. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

1 Nephi--Chronological Footnotes About B.C. 600:

 

     The chronological footnotes were first added as a result of the recommendations of a committee headed by Elder James E. Talmage of the Council of the Twelve in 1920. [Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 43]

     Note* With a few minor exceptions, these footnotes were left intact in the 1981 edition. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

1 Nephi 1:1-3 (Colophon):

 

     Brant Gardner notes that Hugh Nibley first identified 1 Nephi 1:1-3 as a colophon, a structured and typical identifactory passage used at the beginning or end of many ancient documents (Nibley Since Cumorah 1967, pp. 170-171). The essential elements are the identification of the writer, the writer's lineage, and at times a statement of the veracity or trustworthiness of the written text. The concept of the colophon was expanded in John A. Tvedtnes' "Colophons in the Book of Mormon" in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, pp. 32-37. [Brant Gardner, "Brant Gardner's Page," http://www.highfiber.com/ ~nahualli/LDStopics/1 Nephi/1Nephi1.htm, p. 1]