When Pages Collide: Dissecting the Words of Mormon


When Pages Collide: Dissecting the Words of Mormon

TitleWhen Pages Collide: Dissecting the Words of Mormon
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsLyon, Jack M., and Kent R. Minson
JournalBYU Studies Quarterly
Volume51
Issue4
Pagination120-136
KeywordsEarly Church History; King Benjamin; Lost 116 Pages; Martin Harris; Translation; Words of Mormon; Words of Mormon 1:12-18
Abstract

Careful readers of the Book of Mormon have probably found verses 12–18 of the Words of Mormon to be a bit of a puzzle. For stylistic and other reasons, they do not really fit with verses 1–11, so commentators have tried to explain their presence as a sort of "bridge" or "transition" that Mormon wrote to connect the record of the small plates with his abridgment from the large plates. This paper proposes a different explanation: Rather than being a bridge into the book of Mosiah, these verses were originally part of the book of Mosiah and should be included with it.

This article presents both documentary and textual evidence to show that (1) Joseph Smith had translated some text that he did not give to Martin Harris (the lost 116 pages), (2) Oliver Cowdery, Joseph's scribe, copied from the original manuscript onto the printer's manuscript at the beginning of the book of Mosiah the chapter designation "Chapter III," (3) verses 12–18 of Words of Mormon do not use the first-person pronoun "I" and do not speak of the small plates, as verses 1–11 do, and (4) the book of Mosiah begins abruptly, without an introductory heading and without any mention of the person for whom the book was likely named (Benjamin's father, Mosiah). These and other pieces of evidence support the idea that the last seven verse in Words of Mormon were actually the last verses of what should have been Mosiah chapter 2, but chapter 1 and most of chapter 2 must have been part of the 116 pages lost by Martin Harris.

URLhttps://byustudies.byu.edu/content/when-pages-collide-dissecting-words-mormon
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When Pages Collide: Dissecting the Words of Mormon

Jack M. Lyon and Kent R. Minson

Verses 12-18 of the Words of Mormon have always been a bit of a puzzle. For stylistic and other reasons, they do not really fit with verses 1-11, so commentators have tried to explain their presence as a sort of “bridge” or “transition” that Mormon wrote to connect the record of the small plates with his abridgment from the large plates.1 This paper proposes a different explanation: Rather than being a bridge into the book of Mosiah, these verses were originally part of the book of Mosiah and should be included with it. To understand why that is so requires some background information about the Book of Mormon manuscript and the order in which the plates were translated.

The Manuscript

There are actually two Book of Mormon manuscripts—the original manuscript and the printer’s manuscript. The original manuscript was written by various scribes (but primarily Oliver Cowdery) as Joseph Smith dictated his translation from the golden plates. The printer’s manuscript is (primarily) Oliver’s copy of the original manuscript; as the name implies, he made the copy for the printer to work from, keeping the original manuscript as a backup.2

Original manuscript

Printer's manuscript

Written by various scribes as Joseph dictated

Copied primarily by Oliver from the original manuscript

 

The Translation

Joseph Smith began his translation with Mormon’s abridgment of the large plates. As he explained in his preface to the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, “I translated, by the gift and power of God, and caused to be written, one hundred and sixteen pages, the which I took from the Book of Lehi, which was an account abridged from the plates of Lehi, by the hand of Mormon.” This account, of course, was lost by Martin Harris when he borrowed the 116 pages to show to his wife and family.3 The book of Lehi was followed by the book of Mosiah, which Joseph and Oliver continued to translate after the 116 pages were gone, followed by Alma, Helaman, and so on. After finishing their translation of Mormons and Moroni’s work, they translated the small plates, beginning with 1 Nephi and ending with the Words of Mormon.4 Apparently Joseph read the plates in sequence, without jumping around, and the Words of Mormon was probably the last book to be translated.

Order of Translation

Mormon’s Abridgment from the Large Plates of Nephi:

Lehi, Mosiah, Alma, Helaman, 3 Nephi, 4 Nephi, Mormon 1-7

Moroni’s Writings and Abridgment:

Mormon 8-9, Ether, Moroni

Small Plates of Nephi:

1 Nephi, 2 Nephi, Jacob, Enos, Jarom, Omni, Words of Mormon (at least 1-11)

Oliver’s Problem

As Oliver Cowdery copied the text of the original Book of Mormon manuscript into the printer’s manuscript, he encountered a problem early in the book of Mosiah (see page 124). He had faithfully copied the chapter designation “Chapter III” from the original manuscript, but where were Chapter I and Chapter II? The previous heading was “The Words of Mormon,” with no other chapters intervening. Oliver fixed the problem as best he could, inking out the last two characters of “Chapter III” (making it “Chapter I”) and inserting “Book of Mosiah” above the line," something like this (for clarity, we are using the modern, edited text here; ellipses indicate text omitted for brevity):

The Words of Mormon ...

... And they were handed down from king Benjamin, from generation to generation until they have fallen into my hands. And I, Mormon, pray to God that they may be preserved from this time henceforth. And I know that they will be preserved; for there are great things written upon them, out of which my people and their brethren shall be judged at the great and last day, according to the word of God which is written. And now, concerning this king Benjamin—he had somewhat of contentions among his own people      

Wherefore, with the help of these, king Benjamin, by laboring with all the might of his body and the faculty of his whole soul, and also the prophets, did once more establish peace in the land.

Book of Mosiah

A Chapter III

And now there was no more contention in all the land of Zarahemla among all the People which belonged to King Benjamin…

But why had Oliver originally written this, as follows:

The Words of Mormon...

... And they were handed down from king Benjamin, from generation to generation until they have fallen into my hands. And I, Mormon, pray to God that they may be preserved from this time henceforth. And I know that they will be preserved; for there are great things written upon them, out of which my people and their brethren shall be judged at the great and last day, according to the word of God which is written. And now, concerning this king Benjamin—he had somewhat of contentions among his own people      

Wherefore, with the help of these, king Benjamin, by laboring with all the might of his body and the faculty of his whole soul, and also the prophets, did once more establish peace in the land.

Chapter III

And now there was no more contention in all the land of Zarahemla among all the People which belonged to King Benjamin....

Oliver’s unedited copy provides the key to understanding the true structure of the Book of Mormon—something that has been misunderstood even from before the book’s initial publication. Based on the documentary evidence, here is what we believe happened:

The original Book of Mormon manuscript was structured something like this (the x’s indicate unknown text):

The Book of Lehi

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx . . .

The Book of Mosiah

Chapter I

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx . . .

Chapter II

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx . . . [end of page 116]

[top of page 117] And now, concerning this king Benjamin—he had somewhat of contentions among his own people.... Wherefore, with the help of these, king Benjamin, by laboring with all the might of his body and the faculty of his whole soul, and also the prophets, did once more establish peace in the land.

Chapter III

And now there was no more contention in all the land of Zarahemla among all the People which belonged to King Benjamin...

At least, that is what it looked like before Martin Harris lost the first 116 pages of the manuscript. After that unfortunate episode, the first remaining page of the original manuscript thus started with this:

[top of page 117] And now, concerning this king Benjamin—he had somewhat of contentions among his own people.... Wherefore, with the help of these, king Benjamin, by laboring with all the might of his body and the faculty of his whole soul, and also the prophets, did once more establish peace in the land.

Chapter III

And now there was no more contention in all the land of Zarahemla among all the People which belonged to King Benjamin...

Later, to replace the lost 116 pages, Joseph and Oliver put the pages of their translation of the small plates (1 Nephi through Words of Mormon) at the beginning of the manuscript, like this:

1 Nephi...

The Words of Mormon ...

... And they were handed down from king Benjamin, from generation to generation until they have fallen into my hands. And I, Mormon, pray to God that they may be preserved from this time henceforth. And I know that they will be preserved; for there are great things written upon them, out of which my people and their brethren shall be judged at the great and last day, according to the word of God which is written, [end of small plates translation]

[top of page 117] And now, concerning this king Benjamin—he had somewhat of contentions among his own people.. .. Wherefore, with the help of these, king Benjamin, by laboring with all the might of his body and the faculty of his whole soul, and also the prophets, did once more establish peace in the land.

Chapter III

And now there was no more contention in all the land of Zarahemla among all the People which belonged to King Benjamin ...

Thus, what was originally the last part of Mosiah chapter 2 became appended to the Words of Mormon. Oliver copied it that way into the printer’s manuscript, changed “Chapter III” to “Chapter I,” and inserted the title “Book of Mosiah”— and that is how we have the text today:

1 Nephi...

The Words of Mormon ...

... And they were handed down from king Benjamin, from generation to generation until they have fallen into my hands. And I, Mormon, pray to God that they may be preserved from this time henceforth. And I know that they will be preserved; for there are great things written upon them, out of which my people and their brethren shall be judged at the great and last day, according to the word of God which is written. And now, concerning this king Benjamin—he had somewhat of contentions among his own people.. .. Wherefore, with the help of these, king Benjamin, by laboring with all the might of his body and the faculty of his whole soul, and also the prophets, did once more establish peace in the land.

Book of Mosiah

Chapter I

And now there was no more contention in all the land of Zarahemla among all the People which belonged to King Benjamin....

But that is not how it should be; the Words of Mormon should end with verse n. Verses 12-18 should be part of the book of Mosiah.

Royal Skousen explains, “Based on the misnumbering of the chapters near the beginning of Mosiah, I would argue for the following relationship between the large and small plates:

Large Plates

Small Plates

Lehi       

Nephi (1)

Nephi (II)

Jacob

Enos

Jarom

Omni

(Amaron, Chemish, Abinadom)

Mosiah "Chapter 1"

(Amaleki)

[concerning the reign of king Mosiah and the ascension of king Benjamin]

Mosiah "Chapter II"

The Words of Mormon

[concerning the reign of king Benjamin]

Mosiah "Chapter III"

[beginning of our present Mosiah]

 

“Thus the beginning of our current Mosiah corresponds originally with the beginning of the third chapter of Mosiah.”6

Pages “Retained”

D&C 10:41 shows that Joseph had translated more than the 116 pages he gave to Martin Harris: “You shall translate the engravings which are on the [small] plates of Nephi, down even till you come to the reign of king Benjamin, or until you come to that which you have translated, which you have retained” (emphasis added).7 What he had retained was the end of Mosiah chapter 2 (which is now Words of Mormon verses 12-18) and perhaps more. Why did he retain it? Probably because it was written in the next gathering of manuscript pages, which, at the time, was only partially filled.

The original Book of Mormon manuscript was not a stack of separate pages; rather, it consisted of gatherings of (usually) six large sheets of paper folded lengthwise and held together with string. Royal Skousen estimates the original 116 pages to have been five such gatherings, four with six sheets (and thus twenty-four pages each) and one with five sheets (and thus twenty pages). He labels these gatherings Ai through A5 and describes them as containing “the book of Lehi plus the first part of Mosiah.” The following gathering, A6, is also no longer extant, but it probably included (in Skousen’s words) “a few pages from the original first two8 chapters of Mosiah, plus the current text from Mosiah 1 into Alma 5.” Skousen also reconstructs the gatherings for 1 Nephi through the Words of Mormon, noting, “After buying some new paper ..., Oliver put together the last gathering [of the entire translation] (B6), which went from Jacob 5 to the end of the small plates of Nephi and probably included the Words of Mormon.”9 Here is another illustration of what was shown above, this time using Skousen’s analysis. Originally the manuscript had this: 

Gathering

Contents

A1-A5

"the book of Lehi plus the first part of Mosiah"

A6-A9

"a few pages from the original [second chapter] of Mosiah, plus the current text from Mosiah 1 into Alma 5"

 

But after A1-A5 were lost and the translation from the small plates was finished, the manuscript had this:

Gathering

Contents

B1-B5

"the text extends from 1 Nephi... to Jacob 4:1-4"

B6

"went from Jacob 5 to the end of the small plates of Nephi and probably included the Words of Mormon"

A6-A9

"a few pages from the original [second chapter] of Mosiah, plus the current text from Mosiah 1 into Alma 5"

 

Textual Evidence

Everything above constitutes the documentary evidence. But textual evidence, too, supports the idea that Words of Mormon verses 12-18 are really the last part of what was originally Mosiah chapter 2:

  • The verses do not match the personal style used in the beginning of the Words of Mormon. Instead, they match the narrative style of Mormon’s abridgment as it continues in what is now Mosiah chapter 1.
  • The verses do not use the first-person form (“I, Mormon”) seen earlier in the Words of Mormon.
  • The verses do not mention the small plates of Nephi (the main focus of the preceding text).
  • The verses do not discuss Mormons editorial method or purpose (another focus of the preceding text).
  • The verses discuss the problem of contention among King Benjamins people and how it was resolved: “And now, concerning this king Benjamin—he had somewhat of contentions among his own people.... Wherefore,... king Benjamin, by laboring with all the might of his body and the faculty of his whole soul, and also the prophets, did once more establish peace in the land.” Our current Mosiah chapter 1 is a continuation of the same story: “And now there was no more contention in all the land of Zarahemla, among all the people who belonged to king Benjamin ...”
  • The transition between verses 11 and 12 is abrupt and disconnected. This is even more evident when reading the unedited text of the printer’s manuscript (the original manuscript text is missing): “there are great things written upon them out of which my People & their Brethren shall be Judged at the great & last day according to the word of God which is written & now concerning this King Benjamin he had somewhat contentions among his own People ...”
  • Verse 12 says that king Benjamin “had somewhat of contentions among his own people.” The word “own” implies that the preceding text discussed contentions among other people; if that were not so, there would be no need for the word “own.” The missing text may have discussed contentions among the people of Zarahemla before they were discovered by Mosiah (see Omni 1:17).
  • The end of verse 11 is typical of Mormons other endings (which often mention future judgment): “And I know that they [the small plates] will be preserved; for there are great things written upon them, out of which my people and their brethren shall be judged at the great and last day, according to the word of God which is written.” (See, for example, Mormon 3:20-22; 7:10.)
  • The book of Mosiah is the only book from Mormon’s abridgment that lacks an introductory heading.10 For example, the introductory heading of the book of Alma reads:

The account of Alma, who was the son of Alma, the first and chief judge over the people of Nephi, and also the high priest over the Church. An account of the reign of the judges, and the wars and contentions among the people. And also an account of a war between the Nephites and the Lamanites, according to the record of Alma, the first and chief judge.

The heading for Mosiah probably did exist but appeared before the missing chapter 1.

  • Mosiah is the only book from Mormon’s abridgment that does not begin with an account of the person for whom it is named: Alma begins with Alma, Helaman begins with Helaman, and so on. The book of Mosiah, however, begins with Benjamin. The missing pages probably discussed the reign of Benjamin’s father, Mosiah. Thus, the book’s title does not refer to Benjamin’s son Mosiah, who is featured later.
  • The current beginning of Mosiah is oddly abrupt for the start of a book, in both wording and subject matter: “And now there was no more contention in all the land of Zarahemla...”
  • There is also the obvious question of what comes before “Chapter III.” The answer, of course, is “Chapter II.” The text at the top of the printer’s manuscript page where the book of Mosiah begins, before Oliver did his editing, actually looked like this:

help of these King Benjamin by labouring with all the might of his

body & the faculty

of his whole soul & also the Prophets wherefore they did once more

establish

peace in the land ~~~~ Chapter III ~~~~ And now there was no

more con

-tension in all the land of Zarahemla among all the People which

belonged to King Ben

There is no original indication of a separation between the words preceding “Chapter III” and those following it. Seen in their unedited context, the lines before “Chapter III” clearly constitute the end of what was likely titled “Chapter II” rather than being part of the Words of Mormon.11

In his typographic facsimile of the printer’s manuscript, Royal Skousen includes a color photograph of the manuscript page containing the beginning of the book of Mosiah. Under the photograph, he notes, “Originally, Oliver Cowdery simply wrote Chapter III (on line 3). This chapter specification reflects the probable reading of the original manuscript, which is no longer extant for any of the book of Mosiah. Chapter III implies that the beginning of the current book of Mosiah was indeed the beginning of chapter 3 of Mosiah in the original Book of Mormon text. The 116 lost pages containing the book of Lehi probably included part of the original first two chapters of the book of Mosiah.”12

If the 116 pages included part of the book of Mosiah, what was at the beginning of page 117? Was it the Words of Mormon? No, because that was part of the small plates translation, which occurred later. Was it (at least) part of the book of Mosiah? Yes, because that is how the record continues until it gets to the book of Helaman, and because that must have been the part of the record that Joseph “retained,” as described in D&C 10.

There may be different ways to interpret Oliver’s later editing, but what he originally copied into the printer’s manuscript was this:

The words of Mormon And now I Mormon being about to deliver up

the record which I have been making into the hands of my Son Moroni

my People & their Brethren shall be Judged at the great& last day according

to the word

of God which is written & now concerning this King Benjamin he had

somewhat co

-ntensions among his own People & it came to pass also that the armies of

the Lamanites

... with the

help of these King Benjamin by labouring with all the might of his body & the

faculty of his whole soul & also the Prophets wherefore they did once

more establish

peace in the land ~~~~ Chapter III ~~~~ And now there was no more con

-tension in all the land of Zarahemla among all the People which belonged

to King Ben

So somewhere in that text is the end of the Words of Mormon and the beginning of page 117.

It is easy to see why Oliver edited as he did; his only clue to where the break might be was the designation “Chapter III.” But the fact that he had to change it to “Chapter I” and insert “The Book of Mosiah” shows us that the real break was earlier than that. The real question is where?

We believe the break was after verse 11, but other interpretations are possible. On this point, Royal Skousen noted in personal correspondence to Jack Lyon:

It strikes me that it is verse 12 that does not belong to the original Mosiah chapter II, but from verse 13 to the end of the Words of Mormon could be the end of Mosiah chapter II (original chapters). It is also possible that page 117 began with verse 13. Another possibility is that the page began with something dealing with the topic of verse 12, namely, “somewhat contentions”—a very odd expression for the Book of Mormon. I don’t think we have the word “somewhat” occurring right before a noun anywhere else in the text. Maybe we would expect “they had contentions somewhat.” Moreover, there is some novelty in the first sentence of verse 12, “and now concerning this king Benjamin.” The only other time “now concerning X” is used in the text is in Alma 40 (two times), when Alma is speaking to Corianton.

Maybe verse 12 is the basic link between the Words of Mormon and the book of Mosiah. It could have even been added by Joseph Smith to connect things up. You’ve probably already noticed the overlap between Omni 1:24 and the Words of Mormon 1:13-14, with both sounding like original abridged text (the first from the small plates, the second from Mormon’s abridgment of the large plates). It would have been from the original Mosiah chapter II.

There might have been only a part of a sentence at the top of page 117 dealing with the contentions that king Benjamin had to deal with, which could have been ignored by Joseph Smith (and Oliver Cowdery) or perhaps even rewritten as verse 12 of the Words of Mormon.

... As far as how pages of O [original manuscript] can end, it appears that the scribe would write to the end of the page and then continue on the next page, no matter where he was. I went through pages 3-14 of O, as a sample, and found 9 cases where the page begins with a sentence fragment but 3 cases where the page begins with a sentence (pages 5, 7, and 8 of O).

So page 117 beginning with either a sentence or the end of a sentence is possible, with the latter three times more probable (as an estimate).

So it is possible, I think, to go at least with the Words of Mormon 1:13-18 as being the ending of Mosiah chapter II. One little problem, perhaps, is the partial restatement of the ideas in verse 18 with the first verse in Mosiah chapter III, since both refer to the establishment of peace and the end of contention. One could use that for keeping the Words of Mormon [as currently published] intact.13

To summarize, Skousen’s analysis here suggests (at least) the following possibilities:

  • Page 117 began with verse 13, with Joseph and Oliver adding verse 12 to make the connection with the preceding text.
  • Page 117 began with part of a sentence about contentions that was ignored by Joseph and Oliver or perhaps even rewritten as verse 12.
  • Page 117 began with “he had somewhat contentions among his own people,” with Joseph and Oliver adding “& now concerning this King Benjamin.” In other words, the break came at the point where the current edition includes a dash: “And now concerning this king Benjamin—” The printer’s manuscript has no dash (indeed, very little punctuation at all), and the first edition used a colon.
  • Page 117 began with “contentions among his own people,” with Joseph and Oliver adding “& now concerning this King Benjamin he had somewhat”—forgetting to add the “of” for “somewhat of contentions.” This would explain the odd expression “somewhat contentions” as well as the novelty of the phrase “& now concerning this King Benjamin.”

Oliver’s Other Editing

Oliver’s editing on other nearby pages also shows his confusion about what was going on in the manuscript at this point. For example, after he had written the phrase “The Words of Mormon,” he inserted “Chapter 2.d” (meaning “Chapter Second”) above it, indicating that he may initially have seen the Words of Mormon as a second chapter in the book of Omni.14 If so, that could also explain the “Chapter III” at the beginning of the book of Mosiah.15

One must keep in mind, however, that “Chapter 2.d” is a supralinear addition, while “Chapter III” is not, indicating that “Chapter III” was part of the original manuscript. In addition, if Oliver had simply been continuing the numbering in the printer’s manuscript, he likely would have written “Chapter 3.d” rather than “Chapter III.”

Most of the remaining chapter numbers in Mosiah (through chapter 11) are in Roman numerals (II, III, and so on), but they were added later, as shown by darker ink. The scribe also often added serifs to the numbers, as if to say, “Yes, that’s the right number for the chapter.” Unfortunately, none of the book of Mosiah is extant in the original manuscript, so we cannot compare its chapter numbers with those in the printer’s manuscript. The fact that the numbers through chapter 11 were added later may indicate Oliver’s uncertainty after having had to deal with “Chapter III,” but it also argues that the chapters in the original manuscript were numbered III, IIII (Oliver’s usage in the printer’s manuscript), V, VI, VII, and so on, and that chapters I and II were therefore lost with the 116 pages.16

Chapter numbers were not part of the original Book of Mormon translation but were added later by Joseph’s scribe. As Royal Skousen explains, “Evidence suggests that as Joseph Smith was translating, he apparently saw some mark (or perhaps extra spacing) whenever a section ended, but was unable to see the text that followed. At such junctures, Joseph decided to refer to these endings as chapter breaks and told the scribe to write the word chapter’ at these places, but without specifying any number for the chapter since Joseph saw neither a number nor the word chapter.’”17 The scribe later added chapter numbers in the original manuscript, as indicated by darker or different-colored ink, and then copied the designations and numbers into the printer’s manuscript.

On the specific instance of “Chapter 2.d,” Skousen has written:

There is a need for a complete analysis of the chapter insertions and their numbers in both O and P [original manuscript and printer’s manuscript] (always later in O). I have commented on these in various places along the way, but I haven’t dealt too much with the small books except to say that in each case they were each originally given a chapter specification (but extracanonically) when Joseph dictated the text to his scribe. P shows evidence of the process as it seems to have occurred when O was written down from Joseph Smith’s dictation. I will have to deal with the chapter 2.d instance in P and its source. I would say right now that since the “chapter first” is listed for the book of Omni, then Oliver Cowdery simply thought at first that the Words of Mormon were a second chapter for Omni. See what I’ve written on the general issue in Noel Reynolds’ Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited. It’s under “The Word Chapter” and “Corresponding Chapter Numbers Were Not Part of the Revealed Text,” found near the end of my article “Translating the Book of Mormon: Evidence from the original manuscript” (61-93).18

The Original Text

Without the benefit of Royal Skousens landmark publications on the original Book of Mormon text, scholars have previously described Words of Mormon verses 12-18 as a “bridge” or “transition” that Mormon wrote to connect the record of the small plates with his abridgment from the large plates. Based on the now-available documentary evidence, that analysis can be seen as faulty—an attempt to explain what should never have needed explaining. There is no “bridge” between the small plates and the rest of the Book of Mormon. There is only the Words of Mormon itself (consisting of verses 1-11), where Mormon simply explains why he is including the small plates with the rest of the record.19 The verses that follow (12-18) belong in the book of Mosiah.

So, in conclusion, here is the text of the Words of Mormon and the beginning of Mosiah as it should be (and originally was):

The Words of Mormon

And now I, Mormon, being about to deliver up the record which I have been making into the hands of my son Moroni, behold I have witnessed almost all the destruction of my people, the Nephites 

And they were handed down from king Benjamin, from generation to generation until they have fallen into my hands. And I, Mormon, pray to God that they may be preserved from this time henceforth. And I know that they will be preserved; for there are great things written upon them, out of which my people and their brethren shall be judged at the great and last day, according to the word of God which is written.

[The Book of Mosiah]

[Chapter 1: In lost 116 pages]

[Chapter 2: First part in lost 116 pages]

. . . And now, concerning this king Benjamin—he had somewhat of contentions among his own people....

Wherefore, with the help of these, king Benjamin, by laboring with all the might of his body and the faculty of his whole soul, and also the prophets, did once more establish peace in the land.

Chapter 3

And now there was no more contention in all the land of Zarahemla among all the People which belonged to King Benjamin ...

Unless the original manuscript pages for the Words of Mormon and the beginning of the book of Mosiah someday come to light, we may never know precisely what happened to this text during the translation of the Book of Mormon. However, this paper provides a new explanation of what may have occurred—one that makes sense based on the documentary and textual evidence. This may seem like a small matter, but it could have important ramifications for study and scholarship, and the closer we can get to the original text of the Book of Mormon, the better we will understand the meaning and history of that sacred record.