I have, for years, been working with The Book of Mormon in one form or another. In this version, my goal is to create an idiomatic “translation” of The Book of Mormon. That is to say, bring the original source language into contemporary language expression. I am doing this to make the lessons and stories within the Book of Mormon more easily accessible to folks who otherwise wouldn’t read it.
Do keep in mind that this project is chiefly my own personal interaction with this text. It is how I have interpreted the stories. My interpretation is not a right or a wrong one, because like all art, interpretation is subjective.
There are a couple of unique things that I have chosen to do with my version of this text, and have answered them in a Q&A format:
What chapter and verse system is used?
The original chapters of the Book of Mormon have been retained. Many churches in the Latter Day Saint movement, such as the LDS church, decided to shorten the chapters in 1879. However, most others from the 1844 Sucessionist Crisis kept the chapters in their original form, including Community of Christ.
The versing systems between those who moved west and those who stayed east developed independent of each other, which also accounts for those differences.
Here is a cross reference guide to help look up verses across the different chapter systems.
Do you have chapter overviews?
Instead of chapter overviews, I have chosen to use subheadings and sub-subheadings. I feel they are much more thorough than chapter headings and help indicate when and where key parts of the story is happen. I have used several other versions of the BoM as reference for my version, including the LDS’s 1879 version’s subheadings, “the Book of Mormon Central Edition” which can be found on the ScripturePlus app, and the “Structured Edition” by Nathan Richardson.
Why and how is the text broken up into paragraphs?
The Book of Mormon, in its first English form, was a spoken dictation. The Book of Mormon was likely written down in 5-15 word chunks so the scribes could keep up as they transcribed it. However, as it was transcribed, neither the Original Manuscript or the Printer’s Manuscript had any indication of paragraph breaks or even punctuation. When John Gilbert, the original printer of The Book of Mormon, set the type for the printing of The Book of Mormon he created the original paragraphs and punctuations.
Recently professor Royal Skousen, professor of linguistics and English at Brigham Young University, released his decades-long work, which is entitled “The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text”. His goal was to create a version of the Book of Mormon which most closely resembles what Joseph Smith dictated to his scribes. Part of this included breaking up the text in into more natural paragraphs.
The paragraphing system presented in this work doesn’t exactly follow Professor Skousen’s paragraphs, but is greatly influenced by his work.
The paragraphs help break up the story a little more and help it flow more naturally.
Why isn’t God referred to as He/Him?
Gender is a human-centric concept and I highly doubt that the Divine is either a man or a woman. To help facilitate this view of Divinity, I have changed all references to the Divine to be gender neutral unless it is specifically the incarnate Jesus Christ being referenced. Community of Christ’s Policy of Inclusive Language gave many different gender-neutral names for the Divine, and many of them have been incorporated into this version of the Book of Mormon.
Why isn’t hell referred to as a permanent destination?
In 1829 the price of $3,000 (equivalent of $85,000 in 2021) had already been agreed upon with the printer, E. B. Grandin, to publish The Book of Mormon. The only hold up was the funding, which was to be provided by Martin Harris.
Harris was a Universalist and was troubled by some of the anti-universalistic rhetoric in the BoM and was considering withholding his funding from the project. This was also an especially large decision, since the price tag would require him to essentially mortgage all of the property that he owned in order to fund the publication.
A revelation (CoC D&C 18, LDS D&C 19) was given which addresses Harris’s universalistic concerns. It states that “Eternal punishment” actually means “God’s punishment”, since “eternal” is just another name for God. It also explains that this phrasing is used to scare people straight.
In light of this, I have decided to omit all references of Hell being a permanent destination and try to lean into the eschatological belief that Hell is a place where you come to understand the consequences of your negative actions and make up for them, and then when you’re ready you move on to Heaven.
Why are the Amalekites now called Amlicites?
In the Book of Mosiah the “Amlicites” are a people who were followers of Nehor and broke off from the Nephites and later allied with the Lamanites. In the Book of Alma a people called the “Amalekites” are introduced, and they are also followers of Nehor who broke off from the Nephites and later allied with the Lamanites.
These traditionally have been thought of as two different people in the BoM. However, professor Royal Skousen has poured over the textual variations of the Original and Printer’s Manuscripts of the Book of Mormon and theorizes that these are actually meant to be the same group of people, but Oliver Cowdery was inconsistent with the spelling.
I also find it unlikely that they would be two different people, considering the similarities both in background and spelling. I have decided to standardize it to “Amlicite” since their leader after Nehor was named “Amlici”.
Why is some of the text different colors?
The text has been changed to a different color anytime someone speaks.
If the narrator is speaking the text is black. If humanity is directly speaking or quoting humanity the text is blue. If humanity is quoting or paraphrasing the Divine the text is purple. If the Divine is directly speaking the text is red.
This, even at a glance, helps show where someone is speaking and how long they speak for.
Why do some characters have names when they didn’t originally?
The original Book of Mormon only lists 8 women and most of them are unnamed. I think this is a shame and that women should get more representation within scripture. I decided to start a tradition of giving some nameless women in the Book of Mormon a name, which is common with unnamed characters in the Bible.
I thought it would be cool to name these women after some women I greatly admire within the Restoration. These previously unnamed women are referred to in this version as:
- Emma, wife of Ishmael; named after Emma Smith
- Jane, daughter of Ishmael, wife of Zoram; named after Jane M. Gardner, first woman Community of Christ Evangelist
- Carol, daughter of Ishmael, wife of Nephi; named after Carol Lynn Pearson, poet, author, screenwriter, playwright, feminist, and LGBTQI+ ally.
- Gail, daughter of Ishmael, wife of Sam; named after Gail E. Mengel, first woman Community of Christ apostle
- Pamela, daughter of Ishmael, wife of Laman; named after Pamela Calkins, member of RCJC, only known married Mormon LGBT non-monogamist
- Lindsay, daughter of Ishmael, wife of Lemuel; named after Lindsay Hansen Park, feminist blogger, podcaster, and the Executive Director of the Sunstone Education Foundation
- Fawn, priest who questions Abinadi in Mosiah 7:76-80; named after Fawn McKay Brodie who was an influential historian
- Queen Majorie, wife of King Lamoni; named after Majorie Troeh, CoC feminst who pushed for women’s ordination within Community of Christ
- Queen Mangel, wife of King King Francis (see below) as well as mother of King Lamoni; Named after Brittany Mangelson, CoC feminist, queer ally, Latter Day Seeker minister, and a personal friend of the author.
Additionally anytime a family is called by the patriarch’s name (Adam, Ishmael’s household, tent of my father), the matriarch has been rightly added along side him (Adam and Eve, Emma and Ishmael’s household, tent of my mother and father)
There are some male characters that are unnamed as well, and I have likewise decided to name them:
- Francis, King of the Lamanites in the Book of Alma; named after Community of Christ Apostle Francis Henry Edwards, who was noteworthy for his pacifist ideology.
- Mahonri Moriancumer, the brother of Jared in the Book of Ether; said to be the name of the brother of Jared by Joseph Smith in 1834.
Do you have a commentary?
I have tried to keep my own commentary to a minimum in the actual text. However, I will be keeping an accompanying blog which speaks about parts of the text that fascinate me or I think are important interpretations. More on this soon!
What is the “Mythological Introduction”?
While I believe that the Book of Mormon was written by Joseph Smith Jr., the myth which was created about its origin is itself a fascinating story. It speaks to the environment in which The Book of Mormon was written.
However, over the centuries the narrative has undergone many revisions to appeal more modern cultural sensibilities, and many of the more mystical and magical parts of the myth have largely been removed and/or forgotten.
I highly recommend reading Mark Elwood’s graphic novel entitled “The Glass Looker” as an introduction to this magical worldview. The Mythological Introduction introduces Elwood’s work.
What works did you reference while creating this?
This work stands on the shoulders of many giants, and I feel a need to thank them for their work.
- Scriptures.Guide, a website that has 15+ versions of The Book of Mormon. It was invaluable being able to quickly flip through different interpretations of the text. Many of the other references are included on this website.
- “The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text” by Prof. Royal Skousen
- “Book of Mormon – Revised Authorized Version” by Community of Christ
- “The Book of Mormon: for the Least of These, Volume 1” by Fatimah Salleh and Margaret Olsen Hemming
- “The Book of Mormon: brief theological introductions” by various authors
- “Structured Edition” by Nathan Richardson
- “The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ (2013 Edition)” by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- The Book of Mormon Central Edition
- “A Plain English Reference to the Book of Mormon” by Timothy B. Wilson
- “The Street-Legal Version of Mormon’s Book” by Michael Hicks
- “Book of Mormon (1879 Edition)” by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- “28 page summary” by an unknown author
- “The Book of Mormon: A Reader’s Edition” by Grant Hardy
- “The Short Book of Mormon” by Verda Bryant
- “Mormon Studies” by MormonThink
- BibleHub.com for the sections that are from the Bible
How is content released?
Each book within The Boom of Mormon will be released in its entirety. However, due to the length of The Book of Alma I may release that in several sections.
Can I buy a physical copy?
As of right now I do not have physical copies. However, I am starting the process of reaching out to publishers. In the mean time I hope you enjoy this free digital version!
As a side note, a condition I have as author of this work for any future publishers is that a digital version always remain free. There should not be a dollar sign in front of God’s word.
Can I link to a specific verse?
Unfortunately you are not able to link to a specific verse at this time, as modifying the HTML to do this would have been prohibitively labor intensive for me. However, each heading and sub-heading is able to be linked to.
Let’s use 1st Nephi, Chapter 1 as an example; “Lehi’s Visions” is the 3rd heading/sub-heading, and so to link directly to it you would type “https://bomppt.com/1nephi/1/#3”
What is this font that you are using?
It is “Apollo ASM” by Peter Wiegel. You can find out more about it here.
Have Questions or Comments? Email Me
This work is largely being done by one passionate person who is by no means an expert on anything. If you think the text could be improved somehow please email me at [email protected].