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BYU Studies Quarterly Vol. 51 (2012)
Early Christianity saw a wide proliferation of theories and practices concerning baptism, and now many Christians, including Mormons, commonly understand it as a means to repent and wash away one’s sins. But the Book of Mormon prophets taught that baptism is a covenant and a witnessing to God that one has already repented and commits to follow Jesus Christ, and that sins are remitted by the Holy Ghost.
Royal Skousen has been working on the critical text project of the Book of Mormon since 1988. He has concluded that there are three important findings resulting from the critical text project of the Book of Mormon. The first is that Joseph Smith received an English-language text word for word, which he read off to his scribe. The second is that the original English-language text itself was very precisely constructed; where textual error has occurred in its transmission, the earliest reading is usually the superior reading. The third is the identification of 256 changes in the text that make a difference in meaning or in the spelling of a name, changes that would show up in any translation of the book. This article presents thirty of the most significant of these 256 changes. All of the thirty changes discussed in this paper make a difference in meaning. Nearly all of them would show up when translating the text into a foreign language. The author has grouped the changes according to various types of change. In each case, he provides a brief summary of the evidence for the change and why it is significant for serious study of the text.