This is a follow up to this post about the thousands of changes to the Book of Mormon. My friend asked me why, if there are all these changes, aren’t there footnotes in the BofM to explain what they are? The assumption made by some is that if the LDS Church weren’t super-sneaky and always trying to hide things then the BofM would have a bunch of footnotes detailing the changes.
But the real reason there aren’t any footnotes about the changes is because the footnotes wouldn’t serve any purpose, other than to quiet those who complain about the lack of footnotes. They certainly wouldn’t be of any use to anybody who believes the Book of Mormon is true. If there were a footnote telling me that the spelling of a word was changed in the 1980 edition because they used to spell the word differently in 1830, or because the word was accidentally misspelled in the 1830’s edition, what good does that do me? If I were some sort of antique book fanatic it might be interesting, but it certainly wouldn’t enhance my understanding of the doctrines contained in the BofM.
In the Bible footnotes regarding words serve a very different purpose because they can actually clarify meaning. If I know that the translation of a certain word from Hebrew means such and such but from Greek means such and such then comparing the two words can help me to better understand what the original authors of the Biblical text may have meant. But whereas the Bible was translated by many different people, some with less than pure intentions, and we don’t possess any original manuscript of the Bible, it makes sense to have these kind of footnotes. The BofM was translated from the original language by a prophet under the inspiration of God, so it’s a different situation entirely.