As the proud old-time LDSLF readers among our audience may be aware, about two years ago I began a project to create a modern-language adaptation, for study purposes, of the Book of Mormon. Modest individual that I am, I named it after myself.
The project has been on hiatus for more than a year – initially because I lost several months to poor physical health, but more recently because I’ve been reworking my purpose. I’ve decided that I’m more interested in creating an adaptation of the original text of the Book of Mormon (inasmuch as it can be recovered) than the 1980 edition. My reasons for this include: 1) unwillingness to infringe on the church’s copyright of the more recent text, 2) the desire to familiarize myself with Joseph’s original revelation, as I’m already familiar with today’s version, and 3) the joy of buying a bunch of cool books by people like Royal Skousen.
Well, if I’m honest, #2 is really what’s motivating me here. For all that I respect the process of ongoing revelation, I’m curious about the original product of Joseph Smith’s labors. What did God show him? What did he see? What did it mean to his 1820s mind?
It’s a complicated task. In the adaptation I’m ever-so-slowly creating, I’m using my handy OED and its excellent word histories to determine the most likely current meanings of words which are unclear today. I’ve begun a bit of a crash-course in the sort of manuscript criticism Skousen has used in his work (thanks, J. Daniel Crawford and Mogget, for your help in starting me out). I’m currently reading New Approaches to the Book of Mormon as an intro to Book of Mormon textual criticism, and I’m going to dig through every issue of Dialogue, BYU Studies, etc., for relevant articles. (Kevin, I demand immediate praise!).
My goal here is to build myself a nifty toolbox of ideas and methods. But I’m sure I’ll miss something vital. Brave BCC readers, won’t you please help me? What have I already missed? What, in your opinions, is vital reading?