1. Where can I access early English editions of the Book of Mormon?
Images taken from early editions of the Book of Mormon and the printer’s manuscript can be found on the Joseph Smith Papers website and in the Church History Catalog:
A time line showing the emergence of these and other editions can be found at ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Images of the original manuscript will be made available on the Joseph Smith Papers website sometime in 2022 or 2023 and will be published as Revelations and Translations, Volume 5: The Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon.
Church scholars continue to exhaustively research the differences between Book of Mormon manuscripts; their work can be explored at the Joseph Smith Papers Project and the Book of Mormon Critical Text Project. These sites offer access to various editions of the Book of Mormon as well as analysis of the textual changes that occurred between editions. (For more information on textual changes to the Book of Mormon, see question 2 below.)
The Church History Library houses over 700 unique English copies of the Book of Mormon. To search for these copies of the Book of Mormon, perform a call number search for M222.1 B724 in the Church History Catalog. You can use the filters on the left-hand side of the page to narrow your search by publication year, genre, subject, format, and more.
2. How many changes to the text of the Book of Mormon have been made since its original publication?
There have been several studies done on the translation, printing, and publication of the Book of Mormon which delve into the various textual changes which occurred between editions. As a result of these studies, researchers currently believe that the typesetter of the first edition of the Book of Mormon made upward of 30,000–35,000 changes to the original manuscript, with most changes having to do with punctuation.1 Those interested in the details of textual changes to the Book of Mormon will find the Book of Mormon Critical Text Project an especially helpful resource.2
For an introduction to studies in textual analysis and translation of the Book of Mormon, see the following sources:
- “Understanding Textual Changes in the Book of Mormon,” by George Horton, on ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
- “The Gold Plates and the Translation of the Book of Mormon,” on the Joseph Smith Papers website.
- “Book of Mormon Translation” in Gospel Topics Essays.
- “Book of Mormon Translation” in Church History Topics.
- “Changes in the Book of Mormon,” by Royal Skousen, in the Interpreter.
- “Summary of Approved Adjustments for the 2013 Edition of the Scriptures,” at ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
- “Detailed Summary of Approved Adjustments for the 2013 Edition of the Scriptures,” on ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
- “Book of Mormon Editions (1830–1981),” by Royal Skousen, in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism.
For more resources on the translation of the Book of Mormon, see question 5, “How many languages has the Book of Mormon been translated into?” below.
3. Where did the pronunciation guide in the Book of Mormon come from?
On May 23–24, 1903, a Book of Mormon convention was held at Brigham Young University. During the meetings, J. E. Hickman, a professor of physics and psychology, and George Reynolds of the Seventy spoke about the lack of uniformity in pronouncing Book of Mormon names. After some discussion, President Joseph F. Smith assigned a committee (the “Pronunciation Committee”) to compile a set of pronunciation rules.3
Between 1903 and 1910, the Deseret Sunday School Union Board assembled another pronunciation committee composed of Anthon H. Lund, then a member of the First Presidency; future Apostle James E. Talmage; and John M. Mills. Their pronunciation guide, originally called a “pronouncing vocabulary,” was based on the rules created in 1903 at the Book of Mormon convention, and it was published in George Reynolds’s A Dictionary of the Book of Mormon in 1910.4
Ten years later, the First Presidency announced a new edition of the Book of Mormon, which would feature a lightly amended version of the 1910 pronunciation guide.5
For the 1981 edition’s pronunciation guide, Soren Cox, a professor in Brigham Young University’s Department of English, was appointed to revise the 1920 guide. Bruce R. McConkie, a member of the committee in charge of the new edition, gave Professor Cox four recommendations:
- Do not try to relate Book of Mormon names with Hebrew or Egyptian names.
- Do not try to think of how the Nephites might have pronounced their own names.
- Simplify [pronunciations] whenever possible.
- The main objective should be uniformity.
In reviewing old Book of Mormon manuscripts, Cox also caught some minor mistakes in names’ spelling, such as Jeneum and Cumenihah, which had gone unnoticed in previous editions.6
The current pronunciation guide can be found here.
4. How many copies of the Book of Mormon have been printed?
During the October 2020 general conference, Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated that about 192 million copies of all or part of the Book of Mormon have been published by the Church.
Other groups have taken an interest in printing the Book of Mormon, including the Community of Christ. Additionally, academic treatments and reproductions of the Book of Mormon have also occasionally been printed under license from the Church. However, there is no data available for these printings.
5. How many languages has the Book of Mormon been translated into?
In March 1988, the Book of Mormon (or selections from it) had been translated into 80 languages, and in May 2015 it was announced that number had grown to 110 languages. At the time of this writing, the Book of Mormon has been translated both in full and in “Selections from the Book of Mormon”—approximately one-third of the full book—into 112 languages.
The Encyclopedia of Mormonism contains an article about the language editions of the Book of Mormon, including which chapters are translated for the selected translation editions. For those seeking information about the translation process itself, the Ensign and Liahona published articles in 2011 and 2016 (respectively) which profiled several translators’ experiences.
Past and current editions of the Book of Mormon in languages other than English can be found in the Church History Catalog under call number M222.2 B724*. The languages can be narrowed using the filters to the left of the screen; French and Spanish editions are available for viewing online by selecting the “Digital” filter.
You can also find copies of the Book of Mormon in languages other than English at the following locations:
- Hard copies are available for purchase at the Church’s distribution centers as well as its Online Store. (In the Online Store, use the filters on the left of the screen to identify available languages.)
- The scriptures website has text and audio in many languages.
- An American Sign Language version is available online.
6. Bonus question: When was the subtitle “Another Testament of Jesus Christ” added to the Book of Mormon?
The subtitle “Another Testament of Jesus Christ” was added to the Book of Mormon in 1982, one year after the 1981 edition of the scriptures was produced.7 Church leaders said that the subtitle was added to “emphasize the purpose of the book as stated on the title page: ‘... And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.’” President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated that “the Book of Mormon has been misunderstood. With the subtitle, it takes its place where it should be—beside the Old Testament and the New Testament.”8
Top image: A 1976 printing of the Book of Mormon featuring a gold foil cover embossed with reformed Egyptian characters.