Question: Why did Joseph Smith change the wording in Mormon 7:7 from "is one God" to "are one God"?

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Question: Why did Joseph Smith change the wording in Mormon 7:7 from "is one God" to "are one God"?

Joseph Smith changed the word from "is" to "are" in Mormon 7:7 in the 1837 edition of the Book of Mormon, from the 1830 version

In Mormon 7:7, Joseph Smith changed the phrase "is on God" in the 1830 Book of Mormon to "are one God" in the 1837 edition.. Critics of Mormonism claim that Joseph Smith changed this phrase in order to be consistent with new doctrinal beliefs.

...to sing ceaseless praises with the choirs above, unto the Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost, which are one God, in a state of happiness which hath no end. Mormon 7:7

Joseph seems to have just been correcting the grammar

Here Joseph Smith changed the singular is to the plural are in his editing for the 1837 Edition. Interestingly, this is the only instance in his editing where he made this grammatical emendation. In three other instances referring to the trinity, Joseph retained the expression "which is one (Eternal) God": [..] Note that in Alma 11:44 scribe 2 of P [the Printer Manuscript] omitted the is (O [the original manuscript] is extant here and has the is). The 1930 compositor, John Gilbert, prior to setting the type, supralinearly inserted (in light penciling) the is in P.

The inconsistency of editing here in Mormon 7:7 suggests that one should not read too much theological motivation into the one case where Joseph Smith made the change to are. He seems to have just been correcting the grammar at that late point in his editing.[1]

In 3 other verses, Joseph Smith left the "is one God" wording unchanged

Note that in 3 verses Joseph Smith left the "is one God" wording unchanged: Testimony of Three Witnesses; 2 Nephi 31:21; Alma 11:44. If Joseph Smith was trying to change doctrine, why didn't he update these 3 other verses? Likewise, Joseph left Lehi's vision in 1 Nephi 1:8-9 unchanged, where he sees God and Jesus separately.

Either translation is correct doctrine. Critics are reading the original verse with a typical Catholic/Protestant interpretation of the Godhead, and attempting to infer Joseph didn't see God the Father and Jesus. But this is a flawed, straw-man argument. In this case it was probably an editing mistake in the first printing. It is also possible the words in the 2 original languages the Book of Mormon was translated from did not have a singular or plural use, in which case either would be a correct interpretation.


Notes

  1. ↑ http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/books/volume-4-of-the-critical-text-of-the-book-of-mormon-analysis-of-textual-variants-of-the-book-of-mormon/part-six-3-nephi-19-moroni-10