Here is what will probably be the first of several Book of Mormon Wordprint Analysis posts, based on a database I put together and curiosity I’ve had for many years about “voices” in the Book of Mormon.  Book of Mormon computer studies are fascinating to me, and I believe in the future they will be key to understanding Book of Mormon origins.

 

Methodology:

1. I excluded Isaiah and Malachi portions.

2. Each verse is a record across the bottom axis, ie 6006 non-Isaiah verses in BOM.

3. The y-axis represents: the total count of the specified phrase / total word count in the verse, smoothed by 21 records.  ie the calculation for the word “the” for Alma 16:11 (record #1271 on the x-axis) would be the total instances of the word “the” for the 10 verses prior, the verse, and 10 verses after, from Alma 16:1 – Alma 16:21, divided by the total words in those 21 verses.  Or 123/1007 = 0.1221.  Why? I played around with it until I felt like it was enough of a smoothing to show the trend, but not too much to identify the location of the hits and the inflection points.

4. Selection of phrases: I selected phrases 1) from prior Wordprint studies 2) where analysis showed there was something distinct about the data distribution which might give insight into authorship.

I chose to order these after the priority of Mosiah theory that shows that Joseph Smith, after losing the 116 pages, kept going starting with Mosiah, and then went back after finishing Moroni, and started over with 1 Nephi.

 

Conclusions:

Disclaimer and warning: a) I’m just a hobbyist that’s good with databases but not strong enough in statistics to try any actual statistical studies.  b) I have a deep love and wonder for the power of the Book of Mormon in its doctrine, ability to inspire, and complexity, but I do not believe it is an ancient record.  My best explanation for the Book of Mormon is that it is a book length midrash commentary of the Bible by Joseph Smith through his interaction with the divine, as described by Greg Prince.  c) For many reasons (mostly that the book seems too complex for Joseph to have written himself) I’m enamored with the idea that Joseph Smith took a book like what is theorized in the Spaulding-Rigdon theory, as the base of the Book of Mormon, but I fully acknowledge the implausibility of such theories.  d) I’m a data lover, and love to analyze and let data speak for itself, but I admit my findings might be biased by my preconceptions, so I invite others to look at this same data to look for patterns and provide theories.

This is what I see in the data:

1. Similar to the Larsen Rencher BYU study in 1982, I see what appears to be distinct voices in the Book of Mormon.  I see the Mosiah-Alma chapters as distinct from Nephi.  And I see Moroni’s voice having crossover to both Nephi and the prior large plates voice, similar to what is shown in this graphic from their study.

 

2. Similar to what Brent Metcalfe showed and Chris Smith illustrated in this graphic, I believe there’s a certain type of trend that goes across voices that simply trends with the Book of Mormon translation period start to end.

 

3.  The largest difference is small plates vs large plates.

  • part of it obvious to context, I vs he/they or past tense vs present/future tense
  • but also some uniqueness in vocabulary and phrases

4.  It appears there is very strong cohesiveness from Mosiah to Alma, which starts to erode a little starting with Helaman.

5.  Obvious distinctiveness in the war chapters with war vocabulary and less references to God.

6.  Helaman to 3 Nephi 11, sometimes correlating to the prior Mos-Alma but sometimes breaking off with a different trend.

7.  Messiness in the portions 3 Nephi 11 to Ether and Ether to the end, sometimes looking unique, sometimes correlating to the rest of the large plates.

8.  More analysis is needed here, but it seems there are three distinct groupings within the small plates: from 1 Nephi 1 to 1 Nephi 13, from 1 Nephi 14 to Jacob 4, from Jacob 5 to the end of the small plates.  This could be a lot of things: for example Nephi voice vs Jacob voice or narrative of the beginning part of Nephi compared to prophesying and sermons of the last portion of Nephi.

9.  There’s distinct crossover between Moroni’s voice and Nephi’s voice, especially comparing Nephi’s last portion to Moroni.

 

 

The orange lines coincide with 1. Helaman 1,  2. 3 Nephi 11, 3. Ether 1, 4. 1 Nephi 1, 5. 1 Nephi 13, 6. Jacob 5.

 

did:  this chart shows the distribution of the word “did”, smoothed per the explanation above, starting with Mosiah 1 going to the end of the book, restarting with 1 Nephi and going through Words of Mormon.

restating this because it will be very confusing if you miss this: I chose to order these after the priority of Mosiah theory that shows that Joseph Smith, after losing the 116 pages, kept going starting with Mosiah, and then went back after finishing Moroni, and started over with 1 Nephi.

 

has:

 

shall:

began:

doth:

 

 

now:

 

and now behold:

now I say:

 

now when:

 

 

therefore:

wherefore:

came to pass:

 

 

granted:

 

he caused that:

 

Jew/Jews:

 

speak unto you:

 

and after:

and the:

 

 

beloved brethren:

when:

 

priest/priests:

elder/elders:

 

The next two are important ones.

First. “Did X”.  Here I took all the did x verbs, ie did go, did sleep, did eat, did come.  This Old English phrase is one of the key findings Royal Skousen and Stanford Carmack have found in their studies.

 

Second.  “more part”.  Note on this: I’m not completely sure, but I think the two instances used in 1 Nephi 9 seem to be inconsistently applied.  ie usually “more part” means “the majority”, but in this case it means “mainly”.  Which would be fascinating, if true, implying possibly that Joseph copied a phrase he learned from the large plates, but did so inconsistently.

 

 

I mentioned my conclusions first.  Without statistical validation, none of this is terribly valuable, but I think there’s some good stuff here for others to take the ball and run with it.

 

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  • Brian Walker

    “There is something better than logic, fact”. This article by it’s own admission is faulty in its’ conclusions, “I admit my findings might be biased by my preconceptions.”. To quote Sam Clements a second time, “There are lies, damn lies and statisticians”. According to the Bible, Jesus Christ and Moses both failed the test of judgement men of learning. In both cases, supernatural events and such were quickly dismissed by people of higher learning for various reasons. The Bible is a fabrication you say? Then I’d go to the story of Galileo Galilei as example of men using their so called logic to disprove fact. For something to be true in a spiritual sense, it can only be proven spiritually.

  • http://yorkshiretales.com/ Ronnie Bennett-Bray

    Someone did a similar study when computers became available and the tests concluded that there were several distinct voices on the pages of the Book of Mormon.

    Some years ago I wrote a short paper on Faith and Archaeology, and concluded that Faith has no need of archaeology or other external proofs except the confirmation by the Holy Ghost that what was written on the pages of scripture was true.

    That kind of non-validated faith held Christians to their several denominations, sects, and cults from the time of the ministry of Jesus until the founding of the Palestine Exploration Fund in 1865. When significant material was recovered it was at once employed by some Christians to ‘prove’ the truths of their faith.

    I am moved to inquire what – before the uncovering of the past, including some disappointments – held them close to their faith, denomination, and practices as being divinely spoken and sanctioned before any discoveries had been revealed by a discipline that seemed for some to be more reliable than the Spirit of Truth.

    No scientific discipline can reveal the core beliefs of the Christian religions, including the existence of Almighty God, the divinity of his Only Begotten Son in the Flesh Jesus Christ, not can any dug up article prove, scientifically that Jesus was literally resurrected from the dead, nor that he ascended to the heavens and rules there at the Right hand of his Father who is our Father in Heaven.

    If archaeology et all was capable of suffusing weak believers with divine truth and a sure testimony of the plan of Salvation then I would rejoice more when discoveries were made and presented to the world as “Proof.””

    Sadly, and this is noteworthy, the ‘proof’ offered is of the kind that essays to prove to a Christians united under the umbrella of a particular world-view and serves nothing more wonderful, than, in most cases, to show – prove – that they are right and all disagreers are wrong.

    This attempt to define Bible truths totally ignores the principle aim of Christianity which is to demonstrate to unbelievers the irrefutable proof that God lives and that Jesus Christ is our Redeemer and Saviour, &c,that the Father has sent to us to lead us in the way of salvation.

    True Christian faith needs no old-but-not-old-enough shrouds or any other artefact that is then tenuously held to be coeval with the mortal ministry of the Saviour and by the juxtaposition of an article from the Meridian of Time and the fact of Jesus living and teaching at the same time is ‘proof’ that Jesus was real and really was the Son of God, and, therefore, our faith is vindicated.

    Science is incapable of proving the existence of God and lots of other things too, although the fundamental scientific premises requires all scientific truths to be demonstrable.

    For the simple Christian, the testimony that Heavenly Father has made available to all seekers is the only way anyone, regardless of the level of intellect and other skills they possess, can actually ‘know’ anything about God and religion is by the simple method God had put in place so that ignorance need not be a disqualification that bars the road to great and powerful faith in him, in his Son, and in his Plan of Salvation and Happiness, particularly the model found in the life, mission, faith, and works of the Mortal Jesus, and that way is by reading the sacred scriptures and then on ones knees before the Highest, earnestly plead for light and knowledge from he who is Light and Truth.

    Then, the Holy Ghost will reveal to all honest seekers after the truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that the blessed recipient of divine knowledge will once and forever now that truth about God and Jesus Christ.

    While ancillary issues such as dug up by archaeologists can be exquisitely interesting, and might even provide some kind of buttress to one’s faith, they can never serve as the ground of faith because their descriptions are highly subjective and the interpretations of their significance to the world of faith are often disputed when given over to peer review.

    Shall we not, then, trust God when he directs his Holy Spirit to enter our beings and convey direct testimonies from the one that, alone, knows the full picture?

    I posit that it is a weak and insubstantial faith that demands to be topped up by archaeologists at every verse end.

    Proverbs 3:5-6 is the key to pure faith.

    Sadly, we see Saints that are led astray bby what ‘they’ say or by what ‘they’ believe. A railroad car was sent to the wrong train assembly because the points of the rail were moved no more than three inches, a small amount of distance. However, due to the carriage being shunted onto the wrong line, the carriage ended up more than a thousand miles from its intended destination.

    Similar things can occur to us and our testimonies by small, apparently inconsequential things being out of kilter wit the result that we miss our eternal destination.

    Faith is only truly fed by information received from the celestial regions by the Holy Ghost and not from WikiFibs or other sources whose agendas are not aligned to Heavenly Father’s agenda.

    There is grave danger in attempting to buttress our faith in God Almighty by dipping into scientific journals or populist books about what has been dug up somewhere, or not dug up somewhere, and then making a choice to believe certain things and to not believe certain things because someone has joined some dots from one thing to another that are not now and never have been interconnected and so you cannot use A to connect to C because the evidence, such as it is, points to another place or conclusion entirely.

    Resting one’s sacred faith in the realms of science is to place a noose around your neck and proffer yourself as an hostage to fate; a practice that has a high failure rate.

    Trust in God and in his revelations.

    “The most important question you can ask is ‘How do I obtain personal revelation?'” –Boyd K Packer [Q12, York, UK, June 1998].

    ,

  • http://saveccnz.wordpress.com/ Ra

    The words or phrases … eternal marriage and tithing? Thanks