One word can speak volumes says this morning’s Salt Lake Tribune. It carried a small story on a change to a single word in the introduction of the Book of Mormon in the recent Doubleday edition. Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote the introduction in 1981 for the then new edition of the Book of Mormon and it contained this statement:
“After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians.”
The new wording is:
“After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians.”
A commonly held presumption has been that all Native American groups from Alaska to the Patagonia were descendants of the Lamanites ( I certainly grew up with this idea). For some time a growing segment has felt that since the text itself does not argue for this kind of all-encompassing ancestry, there is little reason to perpetuate that view. Though “principal” does not have to mean “sole” anyway, I can only surmise that rather than try to influence the commonly held view by redefining the “principal”, the word itself has been changed to provide minimal commentary.
It will be interesting to see how this will affect dialogue both within the Church and outside it as we talk about Book of Mormon origins.
Also, as pointed out by David Grua below, there is another interesting change in the Doubleday introduction.