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LDS Church Releases New Edition of English Scriptures

The last update to English scriptures – the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price – of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (mistakingly referred to as the Mormon Church by people of other faiths) was completed in 1981. Now, after almost eight years of work, on Friday, 1 March 2013, The Church of Jesus Christ announced the release of an updated edition of its English-language scriptures in digital formats.

The new 2013 edition includes revisions to study aids, new photos, updated maps, and adjustments to chapter and section headings. Online and mobile editions of the new edition are now accessible at scriptures.lds.org. Any annotations that readers had made previously in their Gospel Library accounts will be maintained and automatically transferred to the new digital scriptures.

The Church of Jesus Christ has plans to release printed copies of the new edition beginning in August 2013. As the new edition maintains the same pagination and font style of the earlier edition, there will be very little, if any, noticeable differences between the two editions. This consistency will allow those members not wishing to buy a new set of scriptures to continue using the 1981 edition. . For example, all the verses found on page 47 of the 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon will be found on page 47 of the new edition.

“The current edition of the scriptures, with its extensive study helps, will continue to serve Latter-day Saints very well,” said Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “This new edition incorporates adjustments that will be a blessing to Church members in years to come, but members should not feel that they need to purchase a new set of scriptures, particularly since all of the adjustments are available in digital formats at no cost. Changes to the scriptural text include spelling, minor typographical, and punctuation corrections.” [1]

Scripture Study MormonSome examples of spelling updates found in the new edition include changing “stedfast” to “steadfast,” “morter” to “mortar,” and “rereward” to “rearward.” In addition, minor typographical errors in spelling and punctuation within the text have been corrected to ensure fidelity to the earliest manuscripts and editions. Adjustments made in typeface help to distinguish more clearly what is scripture and what is a study help. The style and format of titles, table of contents pages, and abbreviations pages have also been standardized to improve the reading experience.

Some of the adjustments to headings are intended to provide a clearer context for the scriptures. For example, in the Doctrine and Covenants some of the section headings have been revised and introductory headings have been added to both official declarations to provide the reader with a better understanding of the purposes of those revelations and the Church’s doctrine related to them. [1]

The introduction for the Book of Mormon in the 2013 edition of the scriptures now reads “After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians.” This subtle yet significant change reflects a return in understanding developed over the past 60 years that, while all first nations peoples in the Americas might rightly be termed “Lamanites” from a theological perspective, they are not necessarily all direct descendants of Lehi. This small change has important implications in terms of empowering a growing defense of the Church against supposed claims that science disproves the Book of Mormon. [2]

The following introduction has been added to the Doctrine and Covenants in the new 2013 edition of the scriptures, giving context and current interpretations on the revelation ending polygamy: [2]

The Bible and the Book of Mormon teach that monogamy is God’s standard for marriage unless He declares otherwise (see 2 Samuel 12:7–8 and Jacob 2:27, 30). Following a revelation to Joseph Smith, the practice of plural marriage was instituted among Church members in the early 1840s (see section 132). From the 1860s to the 1880s, the United States government passed laws to make this religious practice illegal. These laws were eventually upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. After receiving revelation, President Wilford Woodruff issued the following Manifesto, which was accepted by the Church as authoritative and binding on October 6, 1890. This led to the end of the practice of plural marriage in the Church.

In June 1978, in the upper room of the Salt Lake Temple, President Spencer W. Kimball, then President and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, received a revelation on the priesthood. That revelation extended the rights and blessings of the priesthood to every worthy male member regardless of race, to include those blessings pertaining to the Temple.  Prior to that time, individuals of African descent were often denied the blessings of the priesthood. Many well-meaning members and leaders sought to explain the practice, arguing that there was a doctrinal basis for such a restriction which resulted in the damaging to sensitivities of many Black members. A new introduction to Official Declaration 2 dispels many of these notions. It reads:

The Book of Mormon teaches that “all are alike unto God,” including “black and white, bond and free, male and female” (2 Nephi 26:33). Throughout the history of the Church, people of every race and ethnicity in many countries have been baptized and have lived as faithful members of the Church. During Joseph Smith’s lifetime, a few black male members of the Church were ordained to the priesthood. Early in its history, Church leaders stopped conferring the priesthood on black males of African descent. Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice. Church leaders believed that a revelation from God was needed to alter this practice and prayerfully sought guidance. The revelation came to Church President Spencer W. Kimball and was affirmed to other Church leaders in the Salt Lake Temple on June 1, 1978. The revelation removed all restrictions with regard to race that once applied to the priesthood. [2]

Mormon scripturesThis new introduction helps to dispel the notion that Latter-day Saints are racist in their intents. It upholds the current teachings of The LDS Church that worthiness alone determines the right of any man to receive the blessings of the priesthood. It also validates an argument long made by defenders of The Church of Jesus Christ that there is no known source for the initiation of what has become termed the “priesthood ban”. Furthermore, it confirms that Joseph Smith himself ordained Black male members to the priesthood, indicating that the “ban” was likely not founded on scripture.

A list of the changes made in the new 2013 edition of the English-language scriptures can be found here.

When they become available, the printed copies of the new edition will be available in the same sizes and bindings (Holy Bible, Book of Mormon, triple combination, and quadruple combination) as the earlier edition.

Mormon Scriptures

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