Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Book of Mormon: Podcast 01 - "Textual Criticism: The Original and Printer's Manuscripts"

This podcast is one part in a series of three lectures given by Dr. Royal Skousen as part of his 25 year magnum opus work on the textual criticism of the Book of Mormon.

About Royal Skousen

          Royal Skousen is Professor of Linguistics and English Language at Brigham Young University. In 1972 he received his Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. He has taught linguistics at the University of Illinois, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of California at San Diego, and as a Fulbright scholar at the University of Tampere in Finland. In 2001 he was a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, Netherlands. Skousen's work in linguistics has dealt chiefly with developing a theory of language called Analogical Modeling, a theory that predicts language behavior by means of examples rather than by rules.
Skousen has published three books on this subject: Analogical Modeling of Language (1989), Analogy and Structure (1992), and Analogical Modeling: An Exemplar-Based Approach to Language (2002). More recently, he has published on the quantum computation of Analogical Modeling, notably in his 2005 paper "Quantum Analogical Modeling" (available here).
Skousen has been the editor of the Book of Mormon Critical Text Project since 1988. In 2001, he published the first two volumes of the Critical Text Project, namely, typographical facsimiles for the original and printer's manuscripts of the Book of Mormon. From 2004 through 2009, he published the six books that make up volume 4 of the critical text, Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon. This work represents the central task of the Critical Text Project, to restore by scholarly means the original text of the Book of Mormon, to the extent possible. In 2009, using the results from volume 4, Skousen published with Yale University Press the culmination of his critical work on the Book of Mormon text, namely, The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text. The Yale edition presents the reconstructed original text in a clear-text format, without explanatory intervention. Unlike modern editions of the Book of Mormon that have added chapter summaries, scriptural cross-references, dates, and footnotes, this edition consists solely of the words dictated by Joseph Smith in 1828-29, as far as they can be established through standard methods of textual criticism. Later emendations by scribes, editors, and even Joseph Smith himself have been omitted, except for those that appear to restore original readings. Skousen is currently writing volume 3 of the critical text, The History of the Text of the Book of Mormon, which will be available in about three years (~2016).
 Skousen has recently accepted the assignment to be one of the editors for the Joseph Smith Papers, along with Robin Jensen, charged with the task of preparing the three volumes that will reproduce photographs and facsimile transcripts for the two manuscripts of the Book of Mormon.
            For those interested, Skousen's vita is available via Brigham Young University here

About this Lecture

The Gordon B. Hinckley Alumni and Visitors Center
            This lecture originally took place in the Gordon B. Hinckley Alumni and Visitors Center on the campus of Brigham Young University on Tuesday, February 26th 2013. The original lecture was accompanied by a powerpoint presentation.
            In this lecture, Royal Skousen discusses the history and significance of the dictated original manuscript for the Book of Mormon as well as the printer copy of the book of Mormon.
There are two manuscripts of the Book of Mormon: the original manuscript (O) and the printer’s manuscript (P). O is the dictated manuscript (the one the scribes wrote down as Joseph Smith dictated the text). Only 28 percent of O is extant, of which 25 of the 28 percent is held by the LDS Church. P is a copy of O made by Oliver Cowdery and other scribes. For five sixths of the text, P was used as the copytext by the 1830 typesetter, John Gilbert.
During February 1830, Oliver Cowdery took P to Canada in an attempt to secure the copyright to the Book of Mormon within the British realm. During that period of time, one sixth of the 1830 edition (from Helaman 13:17 to the end of Mormon) was set from O.
This lecture will cover all the major discoveries that have been made about the two manuscripts over the past 25 years. The original manuscript, despite its incompleteness, is the most important source for determining the original text of the Book of Mormon as well as providing crucial evidence on how Joseph Smith translated the book.
          This information was taken largely from Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture.

Program Schedule