Question: When and where was the name "Benjamin" changed to "Mosiah" in the Book of Mormon?

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Question: When and where was the name "Benjamin" changed to "Mosiah" in the Book of Mormon?

Book of Mormon Central, KnoWhy #99: Which Nephite King Had The Gift Of Interpretation? (Video)

The changes were made between the 1830 and all subsequent editions

In the text currently found in Mosiah 21:28 of the Book of Mormon, the 1830 edition reads "Benjamin", while all subsequent editions read "Mosiah." Likewise, a reference to Benjamin in what is now Ether 4:1 was changed to "Mosiah" in 1849. Some critics of the Church claim that either God made a mistake when He inspired the record or that Joseph made a mistake when he translated it.

The first notable change is in what is now Mosiah 21:28

1830 edition:

And now Limhi was again filled with joy on learning from the mouth of Ammon that king Benjamin had a gift from God, whereby he could interpret such engravings; yea, and Ammon also did rejoice.[1] (emphasis added)

1837 edition:

And now Limhi was again filled with joy on learning from the mouth of Ammon that king Mosiah had a gift from God, whereby he could interpret such engravings; yea, and Ammon also did rejoice. (emphasis added)

The change of the proper name "Benjamin" to "Mosiah" in what is now Mosiah 21:28 was made in the 1837 edition of the Book of Mormon by Joseph Smith. This change is present in all editions since that time. The change to Ether 4:1 was made in the 1849 edition, after the Prophet's death.[2]

The text of what is now Ether 4:1, which was an abridgment of the record of the Jaredites by Moroni, was changed in a similar manner

1830 edition:

...and for this cause did king Benjamin keep them, that they should not come unto the world until after Christ should shew himself unto his people."[3](emphasis added)

1847 edition:

...and for this cause did king Mosiah keep them, that they should not come unto the world until after Christ should show himself unto his people. Ether 4:1(emphasis added)

The use of the proper name "Benjamin" may represent either an abridgment error on the part of Mormon and Moroni, or it may be a legitimate description of what Ammon actually said to King Limhi based upon his current knowledge of the situation in Zarahemla

The reason for both of these changes was never recorded. The use of the proper name "Benjamin" in the two instances described may represent either an abridgment error on the part of Mormon and Moroni, or it may be a legitimate description of what Ammon actually said to King Limhi based upon his current knowledge of the situation in Zarahemla. The Prophet apparently noted a possible discrepancy based upon his reading of the text, and changed the name "Benjamin" to "Mosiah." Both Mormon and Moroni acknowledged that the record that they had created was not perfect.

Royal Skousen, in his Analysis of Textual Variants in the Book of Mormon believes that the name "Benjamin" is correct and did not need to be changed

Royal Skousen, in his Analysis of Textual Variants in the Book of Mormon believes that the name "Benjamin" is correct and did not need to be changed:

Skousen notes,

In other words, these seeming contradictions can be reconciled. King Benjamin could have still been alive when the people of Limhi arrived in the land of Zarahemla, and he could have later had access to the records, including the Jaredite record. If king Limhi and Ammon arrived in Zarahemla before the end of the fourth year of king Mosiah's reign, then we could interpret the statement in Mosiah 6:5 that "king Benjamin lived three years and he died" as meaning that king Benjamin did not live to see the completion of four years of retirement. Prior to his deth, king Benjamin still had access to the record, and the Lord could have told him that the prophesies in those records were not to be revealed at that time. Later king Mosiah translated the Jaredite record (presumably after king Benjamin's death).[4]


Notes

  1. Book of Mormon, 1830 edition, p. 200.
  2. George A. Horton, Jr., "The Book of Mormon-Transmission from Translator to Printed Text," from The Book of Mormon: The Keystone Scripture, edited by Paul R. Cheesman (Provo, Utah: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1988), pp. 249-250.
  3. Book of Mormon, 1830 edition, p. 546.
  4. Royal Skousen, Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon Part Three: Mosiah 17 - Alma 20, The Interpreter Foundation 1420.