SALT LAKE CITY — Studying and understanding the scriptures of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be a little easier now that church officials have completed an eight-year project focused on updating and adjusting the footnotes, chapter headings and study aids associated with the scriptures.
The revisions were released late Thursday and have been integrated with the LDS versions of the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price that can be accessed through lds.org. Church officials said updates will be sent to those who have already downloaded online and mobile versions of the LDS scriptures.
A new print version of the scriptures including the updated material is currently being printed and should be available for purchase in August, said Elder Neil L. Andersen of the church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. But, he said, “we want to emphasize there is no need to buy new scriptures.”
“The current edition of the scriptures, with its extensive study helps, will continue to serve Latter-day Saints very well,” he said. “This new edition incorporates adjustments that will be a blessing to church members for years to come, but members should not feel that they need to purchase a new set of scriptures, particularly since all of the adjustments are available in digital formats at no cost.”
Because the new edition maintains the pagination and font style of the earlier edition, most members won’t notice much difference, he said.
According to a web page devoted to the new scripture edition posted Thursday night on lds.org, “the 2013 edition includes revisions to study aids, new photos, updated maps and adjustments to chapter and section headings.”
Elder Andersen said the decision to make some adjustments to the scriptures was made in 2004. When it became clear that the printing masters of the 1979 LDS edition of the King James version of the Bible and the landmark 1981 edition of the other LDS scriptures were deteriorating to the point that they needed to be replaced, church leaders decided to take advantage of the opportunity to do some editing.
“In a very careful, methodical way we looked at all the footnotes and all the study aids,” he said in a video that was posted with the new web page. “As recommendations were made for changes and adjustments, those changes were presented to the general authorities of the church and eventually to the First Presidency. None of these adjustments were made hastily, or in a corner.”
Elder Steven E. Snow, church historian and recorder and a member of the church’s First Quorum of the Seventy, said much of the historical information that is being integrated into chapter headings and summaries has been found as a result of the church’s ongoing Joseph Smith Papers research project.
For example, Elder Andersen notes that the 39th and 40th sections of the Doctrine and Covenants refer to “James Covill,” who is identified in the section heading as a Baptist minister. Research has indicated that his last name should be spelled “Covel” and that he was actually a Methodist minister.
The new web page indicates that “more than 99 percent of the corrections are in the study aids,” which includes the chapter summaries, footnotes, the topical guide, the Bible dictionary and the index.
“Some minor typographical errors in spelling and punctuation in the text have been corrected to ensure fidelity to the earliest manuscripts and editions,” the page notes. Among those changes:
Changing “aul” to “awl;”
Changing “bason” to “basin;”
Changing “lunatick” to “lunatic;”
Taking the hyphen out of references to “fir-trees,” “box-tree” and “pine-tree;”
Lower-casing the word “house” in “House of Israel” on the Book of Mormon title page;
Making historical and contextual adjustments to the section headings of 76 sections of the Doctrine and Covenants;
Adding introductory headings to both official declarations at the end of the Doctrine and Covenants “to provide the reader with a better understanding of the purposes of those revelations and the church’s doctrine related to them.”
“This is just a refinement of the 1979 and 1981 editions of the scriptures,” Elder Andersen said. “It’s a wonderful new addition to the scriptures.”
Watch the video here: