Curt Bench Discusses The Parallel Book of Mormon at Benchmark Books

By March 17, 2009

On July 17, 2008 Curt Bench discussed his work on the Parallel Book of Mormon, now sold out.  Our thanks to Brent  Brizzi for painstakingly transcribing the proceedings and making them available to the Juvenile Instructor.

Chris Bench:  Welcome, we appreciate you all being here, this is my first time to introduce someone, so bear with me, we’re excited for this opportunity to have Curt Bench as our speaker and book signer.  I just had a few notes here.  Curt has been a fledgling author or writer throughout his life, he has written, and still writes today, book reviews on a regular basis, it kinda started with book reviews, he also writes articles, he’s published several articles in Sunstone magazine that are insightful, one of which is The Fifty Important Mormon Books, in his opinion the fifty most important for various reasons… I give you Curt Bench, and ask him to keep it under an hour. [laughter, and applause]

Curt Bench:  …I want to say, I’ll be talking about what this book is, and what it isn’t, but one thing either I can take credit for, or you can look at it the other way, and there’s things I can’t be blamed for.  I did the introduction, and that’s it… [laughter].

I wasn’t involved in the process of gathering the texts for the first three editions of the Book of Mormon, transcribing them, setting the type, and so on.  That was done by others, but I think they did a great job.  The book was locally printed, and bound, and I think they did a nice job.  Someone pointed out that somebody had, it took a lot of chutzpah or something to make my name bigger than Joseph Smith’s. [laughter].  I just wanted you to know I had nothing to do with it, the choice of the type, the size of the type, because as we all know size does not matter.

I was feeling inadequate, because I don’t consider myself a scholar, however, I do want you to know that I went to Harvard, I went to Yale, and I went to Oxford, two of those were on vacation, and one of them was a business trip, but I did go there. [laughter].  I’m actually a graduate of Brigham Young University.  My major really didn’t have anything to do with this.  I was already in love with books, it was just a natural thing for me to go to work while I was going to school.  While I was at BYU, I worked for Deseret Book, and anyway I didn’t come to talk about my background in books.  Any of you who really know me, know that this is one of the great loves of my life, is the printed word, and I love history.

What I’d like to do, I’m not going to take you through the entire introduction, which really is, just the publishing history of the first three editions of the Book of Mormon.  Some of you already know some of that, you’re at least familiar with the story of how the first edition of the Book of Mormon came to be.  There might be some surprising details that you don’t know, and I want to bring some of those out.  Some of them are actually kind of humorous, and there’s some great trivia as well…

We think a lot about the first edition of The Book of Mormon nowadays, because to be honest with you, it’s kinda gone crazy, it’s kinda gone crazy, most of the 1980’s when I was selling the first edition of The Book of Mormon, it was four and five thousand dollars.  Some of the latest ones to sell in the last year or two, have been in, well let’s give it a broad range, 80 to over $100,000.  Started off with a printing of, anybody know? 5,000 copies, at a cost of $3,000, and they probably sold, we don’t know for sure, but they probably sold for $1.25, that’s what one person remembers…I have a hard time imagining that Joseph Smith would be able to foresee, that his book, that he exuded, blood, and sweat, and tears over, would ever be worth over $100,000, that just boggles the mind.  I also think he would have a hard time imagining that by today, that over 130,000,000 million copies of The Book of Mormon, have been printed, and distributed throughout the world, in over 100 languages, it’s pretty amazing.

You know the basic story, you know the translation, I’m not really going to go into that…Martin Harris was Joseph Smith’s amanuensis, at least for a while.

There were others as well, but, as we all know, Oliver Cowdery performed that role for most of the dictation of The Book of Mormon.  He produced a couple of manuscripts, and I’m going to talk about those.  The translation was going on in Harmony, Pennsylvania, and then David Whitmer invited the Smith’s to come to Fayette, which they did, and this was where the bulk of the translation took place.  It’s also where, Joseph and others began to approach publishers, and the first one that they went to was Egbert Bratt Grandin who owned a bookshop, a printing establishment, and was partners in a bindery there on Main Street, which became Exchange Row in Palmyra, which is right next to Fayette.  So, Joseph wanted to have them do this huge publishing project, which, and I mean huge.  Ordinarily, an author would have asked someone like Grandin to publish maybe 3 or 4, 500 books, but he wanted 5,000.  Of course Grandin never thought he’d get paid, and so he refused, he thought that he was just trying to take advantage of this poor Martin Harris who’d put up some money, and was promoting it, and thought he was this victim of this conman.  To make a long story, short, Joseph approached other publishers in the general area in upstate New York, found someone that was willing to do it if they were guaranteed payment, and then with that assurance, he went back to Grandin and said look, we’ve got someone to do it, but it would be much more convenient if you would, and Martin Harris was prepared to sign on the dotted line.  So finally Grandin agreed to print the book.

I’m just going to skip over some things, and just try to give you some of the essentials, then pretty soon we’ll open it up to questions.  So Grandin agrees to print and bind 5,000 books, it eventually took.  Anybody know how long it took to do that whole process? Seven months, seven months, it was a huge job.  John H. Gilbert was the compositor, or the prime typesetter, and he left a wonderful account of the process.  You probably remember, that he said the most striking thing about the manuscript he had to work with, was that essentially it was one…long…paragraph, with virtually no punctuation, or breaks, other than there were some book names, there were some chapters.  It virtually had no punctuation.  So he had the mammoth task of punctuating that book the best way he knew how to do, and he did it as he went, a lot of it.  At some point Grandin, I’m going to talk a little bit more about Gilbert in a minute.  But, Grandin at some point had acquired, and this is a great trivia question.  The whole name, well not the whole name, it was a cast iron, single fold, Smith Patented And Proved Press.  Joseph insisted it be a Smith. [laughter].  That Press was purchased by the LDS Church, and is currently in the Museum of History and Art, downtown.

I’m going to do a little shameless plugging here too on some books.  One of the things in, we call it a leaf book because it has an original leaf from the Book of Mormon, but one of the things it features is a wood cut of the Smith Press that Grandin had, that Rob Bucher, he’s one of the premier printers in Utah, created himself, and he’s the one who printed this book for us.  I’ll talk to you a little bit more about that.  That was called an Acorn Press because of the shape, looks like an acorn, and in the book we have the little acorn symbol.  We did bring a couple of things too, that we should have hired Brinks for security, but this is actually an original Book of Mormon, 1830.  If you want to take a look at it a little later, we can show it to you.  We have to be really careful, especially since it doesn’t belong to me.  This is a complete Book of Mormon.  We’re going to be talking about the first three editions of the Book of Mormon, and we just happened, it was a good time that we did this, because we just happen to have a first, we also have a 2nd edition, 1837.  Just by comparison, you can see the difference.  I’ll tell you a little bit about some of the similarities and some of the differences… John Gilbert, before I get to that, I wanted to tell you, one of the scholars I depended quite a bit on, he would have like me to depend on him a little bit more was Royal Skousen, who’s been doing the critical text project down at BYU, and he has produced magnificent volumes…

This one is the original manuscript, which is mostly dictated, dictated by Joseph Smith, but mostly written by Oliver Cowdery, and he had produced all the, most of it was lost, so I’m sort of jumping ahead a little bit, most of the original manuscript was lost, I think 28% of it still exists.  The LDS Church has most of the pieces, which is what they are because Joseph Smith for some reason that I can’t quite figure out, deposited the original manuscript in the cornerstone of the Nauvoo House, it lay there for many years, getting wet, getting mildewed, and mold growing, and just deteriorating terribly.  So years later, Emma Smith’s new husband, Lewis Bidamon, he opened up the cornerstone and took out the manuscript, and just started giving away pieces to people that would ask for it, and so the church acquired most of what still exists.  That’s the original manuscript, the printers manuscript which is what was mainly used, not totally, but mainly used.  He’s done two volumes, and reproduced the entire Printers Manuscript, which is housed in the archives of the Community of Christ Church, and has transcribed the entire manuscript, noting all kinds of notations, but it’s an incredible work, unfortunately we have an order of these coming in, but their not in now.  These are wonderful, if you ever want to get into that kind of detail.  Furthermore, he has produced several volumes and still has a couple to go.  Analysis Of The Textual Variants Of The Book Of Mormon.

It’s incredible because one thing that people have asked me about this book that I worked on.  They look through it, and say:  Well, where are the changes?  Why didn’t you put the changes in it?  One of the things that I wanted to make clear tonight is what the book is not, and that…I wasn’t given the task of discussing or illustrating the changes that were made, although we’ll go over a couple.  The idea was to produce, present the exact text of the first three editions of the Book of Mormon as they were originally, and just introduce them.  That’s really the function of this, it’s never been done before.  In parallel columns so that you can follow, see exactly the same, there were no verses, there weren’t any verses until 1879.  There are paragraphs, and chapters, and books and superscriptions, and so on, and BTW, those remain the same in all three editions.  There are some fascinating ones; we’ll talk a little bit about that.  Anyway, Skousen in this multi-volume work goes through all the changes, all these different editions, and it’s an incredible, detailed analysis of all the variants that appear in the Book of Mormon…

Oliver Cowdery made a copy of the original, making many corrections, he and Joseph, and others made corrections from that original manuscript.  They wanted to have a printers manuscript so that they would always have one that was held for safe keeping, in case anything happened to it.  In fact when Hyrum Smith came with Martin Harris to deliver the first pages to Grandin to print, Hyrum Smith had the first ones under his coat, he was the guard, they wouldn’t leave the pages with Gilbert who was the typesetter, until finally he prevailed upon them, he says “look I can’t keep up with this work, if you don’t leave me the manuscript, he had to punctuate it, remember, and make corrections, and so they finally relented and let him take it, but they left the original manuscript, and just brought the printers manuscript for most of it.  So that was a safeguard against any loss, remember Joseph was still reeling from the loss of the 116 pages of manuscript from the original translation.  He hadn’t forgotten that, and did not want anything like that to happen again.

So, Gilbert would work on that, make corrections, and set the type, and so on.  He says:  every chapter, if I remember correctly was one solid paragraph without a punctuation mark from beginning to end.  I was privileged once to find a first edition Book of Mormon that was for sale, that had two notes written by Gilbert pasted in the book.  That was one of the most exciting finds I’ve ever made.  I’ll tell you out of interest, I sold that book a number of years ago for $100,000, when books were going for 60-75.  That book was recently offered for resale, not by me, for $1,000,000.  [A lady asked what the notes said, Curt had them ready to share.]  Gilbert’s notes right?   Here’s one of them, verbatim: “The manuscript of the Mormon Bible was in the handwriting of Oliver Cowdery, and was brought to the office in installments of…can’t read it, but it looks like…24 closely written pages, without a punctuation mark of any kind, from beginning to end, by Hyrum Smith, and was taken away by him when the printer had got through with it, and is now in the possession of Mr. Whitmer of Richmond, Missouri.  I was the compositor, and practical workman in producing this “Book of Mormon”.  J.H. Gilbert, 80 years and 6 months old, October 13, 1882.”  He certified on the other note, that he’d examined this Mormon Bible, and it was indeed a true first edition.  So they were even worried about it back then.  That was quite a find.

A gentleman asked how Curt heard about it.

CB:  I heard about it, I actually saw it in an ad, before a book fair, and that they were going to have it at the book fair, and so, sly one that I am, I called the dealer, and told him that I was going to fly in early, I went the day before, and talked to him, see if he would sell it to me ahead of time.  They wanted to display it, and said I think we have to display it.  So, I said “Well I can pay you for it now.”  OK!!  So I was able to buy it, I took it to a good customer of mine that I won’t name.  It was the first and only time that this customer ever wrote a check without arguing about the price.  [laughter].  So I knew I’d undersold it.  He didn’t question me at all.

Q:  When it was offered for a million, did it sell for a million?

CB:  Well, I don’t know if it actually did, but it did sell for some, I don’t know if they got the price they wanted or not, but I understand it did sell…pretty incredible.

OK, I want to show you, just really quickly, the method that was used, this was quite a process.  Grandin had quite the efficient operation, and if you want to have a really great experience, to learn about printing, especially about this type of printing.  Go to the Crandall Print Museum down in Provo.  Has anybody been there?  Some of you have.  It’s fascinating, they show how Gutenberg developed his press, give you the history, they try to recreate it as best they can.  They also recreated the Grandin operation, and they print these sheets in the same manner, I’ll just show you really quick.

The method that they used was called a work and turn, I know some of the terminology and some of the parts of the press and everything but I couldn’t recreate it for you right now, and it would be way too long, and way too boring, but essentially they would set the type, and for two, 16 page signatures, on one sheet you’ve got, some of them are upside down, and they’ve got to make it so it all eventually comes out exactly right.  They would have all these sections, all the type all set, then bring the press down onto the paper, and print all those pages at one time, and then they would turn it over after they let it dry, and they would do the same thing on the other side.  So on one sheet they produced two, sixteen page, what we call signatures.  They would tear it or cut it, one of those, one of these in half, so you’ve got one what’s going to be sixteen page signature, and then women folk, folded them, so you fold it just right, and they’ve got it all figured out, so it comes out just exactly the way it’s supposed to, make those folds, then they would trim the top, and trim it wherever they need to trim it, and then you’ve got sixteen printed pages in the right order.

There were 37 of those, because there were 590 printed pages in the first edition of the Book of Mormon.  I want to, just because I think this is fascinating trivia, BTW, this, were out of it, but this is a really good book. “Plates of Gold”  which talks about the prophets, translation, and the publishing of the Book of Mormon, and it has the most complete rendition of how the book was printed, and made into a book, the publication process, but this is just some great, interesting trivia.  The first edition of the Book of Mormon consisted, consisted of 590 printed pages.  The title page, copyright notice, and preface, (tells you the pages they were on, that doesn’t matter.)  In order to print all 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon, it took 185,000 individual pulls on the press arm, to imprint 2,960,000 total page images, on 92,500 sheets of paper, now that is one big print job.  For them to pull that off was pretty amazing, that’s why it took seven months.  It took three days to do one of these forms, because once they would set all the type, they didn’t have enough type to do more, so they have to put it all back, and then set the new forms.  This is probably the greatest trivia question I can think of.  Does anybody know what font they sent away for, and used?  It was a ten pica size, but what was the name of it?  Scotch Roman, which was a popular font of the day, quite readable.

Q: Curt, how do we know about seven months?  Are there printers’ records?

CB:  Yeah, yeah, it’s well established.  I’ve got the dates.  What time is it?  When should I stop?  Fifteen minutes ago.  I’d better hurry, because I’ve got to tell you about the other two editions, there’s a lot left there.  You’ve got to, I have to read you this experience, a lot of you have heard about it.  There was a man, a former Justice of the Peace, named Abner Cole who had a newspaper in Palmyra called the “Reflector”.  He worked in the Wayne Sentinel office which was also, now these guys didn’t work every day on this job, they had to save a couple days in the week to publish the Wayne Sentinel, because Grandin published the Wayne Sentinel newspaper, so they were doing their newspaper and this book, so Abner Cole came in on Sundays to do work on his little paper, and he found this Book of Mormon stuff, and said, I’ll publish that, so he started putting it in his paper, and so Hyrum, Martin, and those guys said this is protected by copyright.  (I didn’t tell you about that part, but Joseph had secured the copyrights in June of  1829) and so he pretty much said “I’ll do what I want,” and so they didn’t know how to make him stop, so they sent for Joseph, who maybe surprisingly to you, is still in Harmony, in fact Gilbert said, “He only saw Joseph Smith come into the shop one time, and that was for only fifteen or twenty minutes, during the entire process of printing the Book of Mormon, so he really left it up to these other guys to do it.

So Joseph comes to confront Cole, I’m just going to read this real brief thing from Richard Bushman’s book: “Joseph Smith, Rough Stone Rolling”.  He does a great job at summarizing it.  Finding Cole at work in Grandins’ shop, Joseph apprised him again of the copyright, and told him to stop meddling, as Lucy reported the incident, the feisty Cole rose to the occasion, he threw down his coat, rolled up his sleeves, and came at Joseph, smacking his fists together, ‘You want to fight sir? You want to fight?  Smiling, Joseph told Cole to put his coat back on, it is cold, and I’m not going to fight you.  “Sir” bawled out the wrathful gentleman, “if you think you are the best man, just pull off your coat and try it.”  Joseph said: “There is law, and you will find that out if you do not understand it.”  At length Cole cooled off and agreed to arbitration.  The next two issues of The Reflector, dated January 13 and 22nd contained excerpts from the Book of Mormon text, but he published nothing more after that.

Q:  Wasn’t Cole the same Obadiah Dogberry?

CB:  Yeah, he went under the pseudonym of Obadiah Dogberry.

Ok, skip, skip, skip.  One last thing though.  Poor Martin Harris, he ended up having to sell his farm to pay for this.  That was another thing that brought Joseph Smith back to Fayette, and Palmyra, because there was a boycott on the book, and the printer didn’t think he was going to get paid, so Joseph had to come and reassure him.  Then they finally get the books done, it comes out in late March of 1830, eleven days before the church was officially organized, these guys were busy.  So Martin’s going to try to get some of his money back, he’s taken out all these copies to try to sell, and then he gets very discouraged, he was lamenting one day.  “The books will not sell, for nobody wants them.”  Poor Martin.

In 1837, just gonna do this really quick.  The first edition eventually started to sell out, and about three years later they decided that they should contemplate a new edition, they were going to do that in Missouri, but, in 1833, you know what happened there, a mob destroyed the press that they were going to use, and actually tore down the whole building that it was in, and scattered the type, so they ended up having to go to Kirtland to do it. Oliver Cowdery bought a printing press and did the 2nd edition in Kirtland in 1837, published by O. Cowdery and Co. for Parley P. Pratt and John Goodson were actually the publishers, back then it wasn’t the church that published these things, sometimes it was just individuals who just put up the money, and did the project.  On the third edition, which is the 3rd one that we do here, it was done by Ebenezer Robinson, and Don Carlos Smith, Joseph’s brother.  Ok, everybody wants to know about changes.  They realized that there were a number of errors in the first edition, to make a long story short, they discovered over 3,000 items needing to be changed, most of them were very minor, stylistic in nature, spelling, punctuation, grammar, subject, verb agreement, “we was doing this”, misspelled words, I go a fishing, obviously that’s not his, there was ‘a’ in there, just it reflected Joseph’s vocabulary, the vocabulary of the time, the spelling of the time, and so a number of changes needed to be made.

Q:  Were there some major changes?

CB:  There were a few, and one of them, actually noted here.  If you have your book with you.  On page 28, one of the ones, a big change from the first edition to the 2nd.  This is on page 25 of the original Book of Mormon.  I’ve even got the line if you want to know.  “But, behold the virgin which thou seest is the Mother of God after the manner of flesh”, and then in the next paragraph; “and the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, even the eternal Father”, and in the 2nd edition that was changed to; “the virgin is the mother of the Son of God”, and the other line is; “the Son of the Eternal Father”, instead of the Eternal Father.  Then in the 1837 to 1840, which is the third edition.  The reason these three were selected is because these are the three that Joseph Smith personally supervised and had to do with, made changes, corrections, and approved them.  I guess one of the big ones there, was the change from “white and delightful”, to “pure and delightful”.  Now interestingly, our church took all of their…this is really what gave birth to the rest of the books which they published in the future until 1981, the 2nd edition 1837.  The British editions reflected that “white and delightsome, and all of ours had the “white and delightsome” until it was changed in 1981.  The Reorganized Church went back to the 1840 change early on, and they made that change.  That’s one of the biggies from the 1837 to 1840, but most of them were very minor in nature, there may be somebody later on that will focus on the changes themselves.  I’ve gone on too long.  What questions do you have?

Q:  Why the three years between 1837 and 1840?  Is that because of changes or did they sell out?

CB:  They sold out.  Ebenezer Robinson got an agreement from Joseph Smith, he and Don Carlos Smith cooked up this plan, that Joseph would match funds, they would raise so much, Joseph would raise so much, and then give them permission to produce 2,000 copies and then later Joseph couldn’t come up with the money, so they said “Ok, we’ll do 4,000 and we’ll raise the money.”  So they may have done 4,000 total, they did 2,000 to begin with.  That was actually, it has the imprint on the title page, it says Nauvoo, Illinois, but it was actually printed in Cincinnati.  So we think there were eventually 4,000 there’s actually three different what we call states of that book, they were done at different times, with some changes.  The 2nd edition, there were probably 3,000 of those done, and it’s actually scarcer than the first edition.  This is a facsimile of the 1840 Book of Mormon, we have a waiting list unfortunately.  What other questions?

Q:  During your research, would you say that the change that you read to us was an intellectual change?  He looked at it, and said this is not what I wanted it to say, or how do you think it came about?

CB:  There had to be a conscious, I would think it was a conscious decision to make the change.  Now whether that reflected a change in doctrine or perception of the Godhead, I can’t answer that, I don’t think anybody ever commented on it specifically.

Q:  There’s nothing from him in your research that would tell us?

CB:  That’s right.

Q: Did Joseph personally work on each edition

CB:  He did work on them, they used the manuscripts when they did the 3rd edition, he and Oliver actually used the first edition and the 2nd edition to look at what they wanted to change, and the publisher as well as the printer in Cincinnati, Shepherd and Stearns, they also had an 1837 Book of Mormon to use as they set the type and everything for it.

Q:  So there wasn’t a printers’ manuscript for the 1840?

CB:  It was the same manuscript that they already had.

Q:  Just amended?

CB:  Yeah, exactly, with lots of changes.

Q:  Was this handwritten changes?

CB:  Handwritten changes.  Most of them on the original manuscript, Oliver Cowdery made changes on there, but Gilbert actually worked with, a little bit with the original manuscript, but most of it with the printers manuscript, so most of the changes were done on the printers manuscript.  Eventually, Oliver Cowdery took that with him when he left the church, and so they didn’t have access to that for the 3rd edition.  Eventually it got back into the…it went to David Whitmer, and then later on it came back to the Community of Christ Church, so that’s why they ended up with it.

Q:  Can you tell us the value of the 2nd and 3rd editions?

CB:  The 2nd is never, none of them will ever be as much as the first.  Right now, a good original binding, (this isn’t an original binding BTW, this is another binding that was put on the 2nd edition) in the 30-50,000 range for a 2nd, quite a bit less for an 1840, half of that.

Q:  When did they make stereotype plates?

CB:  They did do stereotype plates for the 3rd edition, for the 1840, and they did them a number of times after that.

Q:  Was it published again before Joseph’s death?

CB:  It was.  In 1842, well it was started and approved by Joseph Smith, but he was killed in ’44.  I’m getting confused.  It was 1842 that was done by stereotype plates, no changes as far as we know.  A couple of years later Joseph was killed.  He didn’t make changes that we know of in that, they talked about doing it.

Q:  Was the 4th edition the 1842 Nauvoo, or the British?

CB:  Well the next one that was actually done was the 1841, first British, first European edition.

Q: The 1841 was the 4th edition.

CB:  Yes, truly a 4th, but the ’42 was the 4th American, but it was the fifth one done.

Q:  I have a few questions.  Do you really think there were 5,000 copies printed in the first edition?

CB:  I really do.

Q:  2nd part to that.  How many copies are extant today?

CB:  Probably, certainly several hundred, there’s some that think possibly, as many as a thousand.  I kind of doubt that.

Q:  How many do you think?

CB:  I would say between 5-7 or 800 hundred, that’s just a guess.  I’ve personally handled or seen probably a couple hundred myself, not sold, but I’ve seen them or seen somebody else’s copy.

Q:  Are most of these in Utah?

CB:  Most of the ones, yeah.  Most would be in Utah.  They keep turning up though that’s what tells me that there really are more out there than some people think, because they keep coming out of the woodwork so to speak.  One customer I had, had 24 copies of the first edition.

Q:  Foreign translation?

Q:  I find it really interesting that Joseph Smith rarely made an appearance.  Anybody say why?

CB:  I’ve never seen any actual comments on it, in fact I didn’t know that until I started researching the introduction, and Gilbert is quite specific, he says I never saw him except one time, and that was for 15 or 20 minutes.

Comment:  I think he trusted Hyrum.

CB:  Yeah, he did trust his brother, Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and he let them run with it.

Q:  Also on the first edition there was one scribe that we don’t know who it was?

CB:  There is an unknown scribe on the original manuscript.  Oliver Cowdery did most of it, there’s an unknown scribe that did about 15%.  Hyrum Smith did less than 1%.

Q:  Just wondering if Martin Harris got much of his money back?

CB:  Certainly not by selling books.

Q:  Did he contribute to publishing the Doctrine and Covenants in Kirtland?

CB:  If he did, I’m not aware of it.  A segue into this other point that I wanted to make that if you don’t already know, this is just volume One, Volume Two will be a similar work that will involve the Book of Commandments, 1833, the first Doctrine and Covenants 1835, and the Evening and Morning Star that was published first in Missouri, then Kirtland, where many of Joseph Smith’s revelations were published.

Q:  Any idea when that will come out?

CB:  Yes, I have an idea.

Q:  Would you like to share that?

CB:  Next year, should be next year.  I think you will, well I hope you will be pleased with that.  I think it will make a nice two volume set.

Q:  The Book of Commandments will be really interesting.

CB:  Yeah, it’s going to be a tougher project really.  There’s a lot more to research, a lot more things happen with the books.  The Book of Mormon was kind of easy in comparison I think.  Just in summary, I have found it to be an endlessly fascinating subject, to research how the Book of Mormon was produced, how it came to be, the translation process, all of that is fascinating too, but just to see how the book made it’s way into print, and how it’s perpetuated, and how it’s continued to today. I really appreciated the opportunity to write this introduction, I learned so much and hopefully I can share some of that with you, that you’ll gain something from that as well, but more importantly you have the text of those books as they originally were, and then maybe stay tuned and somebody might work on the changes.

Q:  From start to finish how long did it take you to complete them?

CB:  I’m probably not finished, it took a few months to do, I’m not exactly sure how long, it seemed like forever on some days.

Q:  On the next publication is it going to be three or four columns?  Weren’t there changes in the Messenger and Advocate, like the Missouri edition and the Kirtland edition?

CB:  Yeah, we’ll just be doing the Evening and The Morning Star were done in both places, then Oliver Cowdery did a reprint in Kirtland of the whole thing.  There were some changes.

CB:  Yeah, it’ll be the same format.  In the first fourteen issues of, I believe it’s the Evening and Morning Star there were revelations that were published there.  You’ve got William Phelps doing the Evening and Morning Star, putting revelations in there, as well as working on the Book of Commandments, then in July of 1833 it all gets destroyed, but it’s a fascinating story.

The plans would be now to head back for the wonderful refreshments that Pat has been working forever on, and you’re welcome to those.  We’d love to have you stay and visit in the store, take a look around, I would be happy to sign books for whoever would like me to do that.  Really appreciate your being here, this has been wonderful.

Article filed under Miscellaneous


  1. Thanks for this, Brent and Jared.

    Comment by Christopher — March 18, 2009 @ 9:35 am

  2. This is a remarkable effort. Thanks.

    Comment by matt b — March 19, 2009 @ 12:39 am

  3. Thanks for doing that! We can’t all be in Utah like you guys — but with the JI, we call all vicariously experience what we’re missing.

    Thanks and thanks!

    Comment by John Hamer — March 20, 2009 @ 9:21 pm


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