Last night, on a lark, I took down my copy of the \"Revised Authorized Version\" of The Book of Mormon and did a little reading.
The Revised Authorized Version is published by The Community of
Christ. In the past, when things were more tense, we called them \"The
Reorganites\" and they called us \"The Utah Church.\" But sentiments have
In short, for the Revised Authorized Version, scholars with The
Community of Christ rubbed a little sandpaper on the Book of Mormon to
take out some of the rough spots. The updated grammar and spellings
replaced antiquated words and smoothed out a sentence here and there.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell once told me he didn't think the LDS Church would ever produce its own revised version.
\"We keep finding little connections between words in the text and
discovering language parallels,\" he said. \"If we revised the language,
much of that could be lost.\"
After reading King Benjamin's sermon in the Revised Authorized Version, I think he was right.
For one thing, unless angels, spirits or other visitors from beyond
are speaking, the new version does away with all the \"ye,\" \"thou\" and
\"thee\" words, replacing them with modern English. It makes for a
But also a less-resonant one.
For me, those antique words always chimed in my mind with similar
words in the King James Bible. When Benjamin says \"for the Lord God
hath spoken it,\" I hear overtones of Handel's Messiah — \"the mouth of
the Lord hath spoken it.\" A version of that same phrase appears in
Psalms, Isaiah and in other books of the Bible.
Also, in the original Book of Mormon, about half of the verses in
Benjamin's address begin with the word \"And.\" In one swath of
Benjamin's address, 18 verses out of 20 begin with \"And.\"
The revisers have snipped a great many of those out. I suspect they saw the compulsive use of \"and\" as needless repetition.
But I've always liked it.
In the King James version of the gospel of Mark, most of the verses
begin with the word \"And.\" It gives the telling a kind of breathless
quality — as if the speaker simply couldn't wait to share the \"good
Besides, repetition in spiritual writing is a time-honored device.
Repeating a phrase or word doesn't bog a sermon down. It lends it
power. A repeated phrase or word creates a litany — a formula of sacred
words — that keeps sounding in the mind like the chimes of a clock.
Think of the way the Articles of Faith sound the notes \"We believe\"
over and over, or how the Beatitudes all begin with \"Blessed are ... \"
Where secular scholars see redundant rhetoric, religious souls often hear powerful ritual at work.
Still, I have to say reading the revised version was worthwhile. It forced me to focus more intently on what was being said.
And the book was, truth to tell, much easier to read.
For this old member of \"The Utah Church,\" however, it just wasn't as satisfying.