There are many positions on which century the Book of Mormon originated in, but most seem to fall into two general camps: the book was largely produced in the fifth century by Moroni, or in the nineteenth century by Joseph Smith.
There is a third view: the text was largely produced in the 20th century by committees of LDS Church employees.
Let me explain: when I say production, I mean the process of presenting, formatting, editing, shaping, and summarizing which goes along with creating a readable document for mass consumption. When I first read portions of the original and printer’s manuscripts of the Book of Mormon, I was struck by how differently the text read than the smooth twentieth century edition I was raised with.
The 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon was presided over by a committee of apostles including Thomas Monson (presumably for his professional background in printing) and Bruce McConkie and Boyd Packer (presumably for their doctrinal expertise). It is believed that the chapter summaries found in this edition of the Book of Mormon were written either solely or primarily by McConkie.
The 1981 edition is also the edition which has been most read by Mormons and non-Mormons, especially since President Benson’s push to flood the earth (or at least, thrift store bookshelves) with the Book of Mormon. Not many of us have the 1920 edition at hand or earlier versions. I remember my surprise when I compared my 1981 version’s rendition of “pure and delightsome” to refer to the Lamanites in 2 Nephi to my mom’s pre-1981 version of the same verse which read “white and delightsome.” Some twenty-odd major textual changes of this type were made to the 1981 edition, apparently by preferring the original manuscript to the printer’s.
Do you think a heavily edited production of the text (edited for spelling, grammar, punctuation, chapter summaries which highlight points of doctrine important to the editors, ) enhances respect for the text, and therefore increases the believability of, claims for historicity of the events depicted in the Book of Mormon? Or does it detract from the claims of historicity by seeming too clean, too “produced”?