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If Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon himself, why would he use the “plural was”?

The original text of Alma 7:18-19 reads:

I had much desire that ye was not in the state of dilemma like your brethren, even so I have found that my desires have been gratified. For I perceive that ye are in the paths of righteousness (emphasis added)

This usage of the “plural was” may sound strange to the modern reader but its usage in the Book of Mormon closely matches Early Modern English. Stanford Carmack has documented the varied and different uses in the Book of Mormon and concluded it to be “well-formed”. 

Carmack concludes:

The foregoing textual examples show us that the earliest text of the Book of Mormon contains a wide range of diverse expression that matches the Early Modern period, at times unexpectedly. Thanks to the groundbreaking work of Royal Skousen, and texts/corpora provided by EEBO– TCP, ECCO–TCP, Google books, and Mark Davies, this study has been possible. They have provided heretofore inaccessible evidence that it is reasonable to consider the past-tense verb agreement found in the Book of Mormon to be well-formed Early Modern English. It bears repeating that this view of the earliest text is a comprehensive one that is explanatory. From this rich perspective, the Book of Mormon is full of beautiful old language and intriguing linguistic variation.

Stanford Carmack – The Case of Plural Was in the Earliest Text

Why does the Book of Mormon not sound like Joseph Smith’s natural language or that of the Bible?


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