In the hope that it will motivate me to read my scriptures more regularly and contemplatively, I have begun to adapt the text of the Book of Mormon into modern English. I am not seeking to create an everyman version of our holy scripture for publication, but rather to better understand the canonized text myself by removing redundancies and seeking clarification of terms that are no longer commonly used, while attempting to maintain the elegant aspects of the original text. To further increase readability, I have restored the paragraphing of the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon as much as is possible while following our current official text. I have maintained the verse markers as they stand today.
I have footnoted all instances in which I have substantially changed vocabulary for clarity in 2005 English; all footnotes quote the relevant definitions of the words I have changed, as listed in the current edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. I invite all interested parties to review my adapted text and offer feedback and suggestions on polishing the text.
By way of disclaimer, I state once again that this adaptation is meant as an excercise in order to increase my own understanding of our church’s official Book of Mormon text.
Here we go.
1 Nephi 1
1I, Nephi, having had excellent[i] parents, was taught a little of all that my father knew. I have suffered, yet been very blessed by the Lord during my life, and I have learned a great deal of the goodness and the mysteries of God. Therefore, I am writing a history of the things I have done[ii]. 2I write it in my father’s language, which brings together the language and history[iii] of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians. 3I know the story I write is true; I write it myself; and what I write, I know.
4My father, Lehi, lived in Jerusalem all his life. At the beginning of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, many prophets came, prophesying to the people that they must repent or the large and powerful[iv]city of Jerusalem would certainly be destroyed. 5My father prayed to the Lord with all his heart on behalf of his people.
6And as he prayed, a pillar of fire appeared on a rock before him; and he saw and heard many things; and they made him tremble severely.
7He returned to his house and threw himself on his bed, overcome with the Spirit and the things he had seen. 8Being overcome with the Spirit, my father had a vision in which he saw the heavens open, and he thought he saw God
sitting on his throne, surrounded by innumerable throngs[v] of angels who were singing and praising their God.
9My father saw One descending from heaven, and saw
that he shone more than the noon-day sun. 10Twelve others followed him, and they were brighter than the stars in the sky. 11They came down and walked on the earth; and the first came and stood before my father, and gave him a book, and told him to read.
12As he read, he was filled with the Spirit of the Lord. 13And he said, “Woe, woe, Jerusalem, for I have seen your terrible sins!” He read many things about Jerusalem—that the city and its inhabitants would be destroyed; many would perish by the sword, and many would be taken as captives to Babylon.
14After my father read and saw many important[vi] and amazing things, he said many things to the Lord such as, “The things you do are great and marvelous, O Lord God Almighty! Your throne is high in the heavens, and your power, goodness, and mercy extend to all people on earth; and because you are merciful, you will not let those who come to you be destroyed.” 15My father said such things in praise of his God because the things he had seen, the things the Lord had shown him, caused his soul to rejoice and filled his whole heart. 16I will not write everything my father has written, because he has written so much—things he saw in visions and dreams, his prophecies, and things he told his children. 17I will summarize my father’s account, on plates I made myself; and then I will write my own history.
18I want you to know that after the Lord showed my father so many amazing things concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, my father went out among the people and started to prophesy and tell them about the things he had seen and heard.
19The Jews ridiculed him because of the things he told them; because he testified of their wickedness and their abominations; and he testified that the things he saw, heard, and read in the book clearly showed that a Messiah and the world’s redemption would come.
20When the Jews heard what he said they were angry with him, just as they had been angry with the prophets of old, whom they had exiled, stoned, and killed. They tried to kill him. But I will show you that the tender mercies of the Lord extend to
all those he has chosen, because of their faith, to make strong with the power of deliverance.
[i] From goodly
(adj.): Of good quality, admirable,
splendid, excellent; well-suited for some purpose, proper, convenient.
[ii] From proceedings
(n): the carrying on of an action or
series of actions; action, course of action, conduct, behavior.
[iii] From learning
(n): Knowledge, especially of language or literary or historical science,
acquired by systematic study.
[iv] From great
(adj): Big, preeminent in importance. As
applied to nations, cities, etc., this sense blends the literal senses relating
to spatial or numerical latitude with the sense of great power.
[v] From councourses
(n): An assemblage of people, a crowd, a throng.
[vi] From great
(adj): preeminent in importance.