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A great review for a worthwhile publication.
I have always enjoyed reading the Book of Mormon as it was presented when first published. It is easy to read and, at least for me, highlights aspects about the text that I may tend to overlook. It also suggests elements of the text such as the Chiasmus in Alma 36 were so deeply hidden within the paragraphs, that it is completely unreasonable to suggest these structures were included as part of a masterful forgery.
No matter which way you go with an honest reading of the Book of Mormon, all roads lead to the divine.
I sort of wish that Stephen Smoot had been aware of my own recommendation for Grant Hardy’s Reader’s Edition, which was published in Insights 23/6 (2003): 6, the old FARMS newsletter. This can, even now, still be accessed at https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1305&index=5.
Stephen Smoot has effectively presented the positive qualities of the new MISE, but I would like to mention a few of the disappointments I have with it — despite my initial great hopes, based on Grant Hardy’s previous 2003 Reader’s Edition.
I would have much preferred Grant’s 17-page Introduction to the Reader’s Edition in place of the less helpful 1981/2013 Introduction to the official LDS edition (which is not part of the Book of Mormon text).
I appreciate the boldness Grant showed in improving the text at Alma 11:18-19, where he reverses the mistaken verse sequence. This is something which should have been done in the official LDS edition. However, at the same time, Grant was too timid to make the requisite change at Alma 12:13-16 (in which verse 16 should immediately follow verse 13 — a discovery which Grant himself made).
He ought also to have corrected the wrong homonym for “Sun” at 2 Nephi 26:9, 3 Nephi 25:2, and Ether 9:22 (a misspelling also present in LDS Hymn #209), since he is well aware of all of them.
His Index of Names (634-643) contains a number of errors: Ammonites should be cited for Alma 56:67; Amnor at Alma 2:22; Amulonites at Alma 21:3; he left out Cush; Hamath at 2 Nephi 20:9, Jeberechiah at 2 Nephi 18:2; etc.
Still, this edition is useful as the next step to such improvements, some of which could be made on computer for the next printing. Hopefully, the Scriptures Publication Committee is also watching and taking note.
Bob, I very much appreciate your critical eye for details. I’m currently putting together a list of fixes for the next printing, and it would be great if you could send me your notes. (I was especially intrigued by the “etc” in your comments on the Index of Names). That way we can get started on improvements right away.
Stephen, could you comment on whether there are elements of this MISE that would clash with the Church’s new BofM Geography essay if it were used in Church settings?
One can find on pp. 600-601 what is called “Mormon’s Map.” This is borrowed from a publication by John L. Sorenson, and it is supported by the revised version of John E. Clark’s earlier effort to draw from the Book of Mormon an internal map from the host of geographical clues found in the Book of Mormon. Hardy cites Clark’s revision of his original essay from the Mormon Studies Review 23/1 (2011): 13-43.
It pleases me that I was the one who urged Professor Clark to make this revision available. And it also pleases me that we were able to publish it in what was previously known as the FARMS Review before the abrupt change of name, and then cancelling of the second issue of the Mormon Studies Review when Professor Peterson was fired, and a “new direction” was then adopted. Page 600 is the Legend to what is the Clark (and Sorenson) internal map, which is found on page 601.
I really do not see how this conflicts with the essay on Book of Mormon geography currently available of LDS.org. It does, however, obviously does not fit at all the rubbish being sold by Rodney Meldrum about the real world location for the events depicted in American for the Book of Mormon.
While I don’t agree with Meldrum, I don’t see this publication providing an outright rejection of his (and others) theory of the Heartland model. In fact it recognizes his theory.
The Book specifically states:
“Most Latter-day Saint scholars believe that Mesoamerica is the most likely location, though some Mormons hold to a North American setting that draws on the statements of nineteenth-century leaders. The Church itself has not taken an official position. The hypothetical map included in this volume is based on internal geographical references.”
I was a little disappointed to see Sorenson’s map include – I have seen other ‘internal maps’ that I find superior.
I am watching with great interest the work involved with the recent Lidar Mapping in Guatemala and expect to see many more correspondences to the Book of Mormon text. How unusual to find deep in the jungle thousands of previously unknown ancient structures, cities that could hold populations in the millions, were fortified, and which were connected with highways that were ‘cast up’ – how strange.
John Clark, who Grant Hardy cites from the MSR 23/1 (2011): 13-43, has 8 figures, one of which is, I believe, a single “internal map,” and seven other more time and place specific “maps” that provide more geographical information from the text of the Book of Mormon.
Good review. I love any efforts to bring the Book of Mormon to more people.
For me, I guess I have just been spoiled by reading Royal Skousen’s 2009 Yale edition for so many years. As far as the format of the printed page, it’s still the least cluttered, cleanest, and most beautifully typeset edition.
It’s all because of the sense lines. After finishing the Yale edition again last year, I decided to try to read the replica 1830 edition for my next time through. I thought the change of formatting – paragraphs – would help me notice new things or see the text differently. After only a few days, I went back to the Yale edition. I found paragraphs to be much more difficult to read (like the double column format) requiring an unnecessary amount of concentration to keep my train of thought throughout a coherent phrase. If I didn’t concentrate hard enough, the text would just wash over my mind without really standing out at all.
So it turns out I’m hooked on the Yale edition. I feel like I get so much more out of my time reading the Book of Mormon if I’m reading it in sense lines. Not only do they showcase the text, there is almost a rhythm to reading them – a subtle sequence of pauses that give your mind a fraction of time to process what your are reading.
Grant Hardy’s Maxwell Institute edition doesn’t use sense lines. And it’s not just a paragraph format, (I don’t mean to be critical) but there are some other things I find difficult to read. The poetic structures feel arbitrary and subjective. The verse numbers as superscripts and the footnotes themselves – all the superscripts and subscripts within the text are distracting. I also think the randomly bolded text is very distracting. The Yale is so much less cluttered, with verse numbers out to the sides and so much open space to showcase the text. I’m glad he cited Professor Skousen’s critical text work, but I think the real reader’s edition, study edition, scholarly edition, and more, all rolled into one, is still the Yale edition.
Skousen’s Yale Edition is indeed wonderful and I recommend it highly. But most readers could benefit from some assistance in identifying literary subunits and how they are related to each other, as well as shifts in narrators, genres, speakers, and source material. These are the sorts of details I tried to highlight in the Study Edition. The Book of Mormon is a marvelously sophisticated work of narrative, with multiple components that connect with each other in complex ways, yet this internal structure can be difficult to perceive in most other editions, including Skousen’s. Different editions bring out different aspects of the text, and just as it is useful to reread the Book of Mormon multiple times, it can also be helpful to read it in multiple editions.
Thank you for not taking my comments personally. We all benefit from reading the Book of Mormon in any format, at any time. I congratulate you on your work and hope your edition easily finds it’s way into as many hands as would benefit from reading it. Also, it’s impressive that you will donate the royalties to the Humanitarian Aid Fund of the Church.