When was “Another Testament of Christ” added to the front cover of the Book Of Mormon? I am thinking it was added when we got all the chapter headings and the footnotes. Could you tell me the year these things were added?
Another reader had an old edition of the Book of Mormon. He wanted help indentifying how old it was, what edition it was, etc. I gave the best research I had available at the time, and as a courtesy I’d like to give you much of that answer here, then discuss your question afterward.
What may interest you is that there are twenty distinct editions of the Book of Mormon beginning with the first printing in 1830, and culminating with the current edition, first set and printed in 1981. Rather than go into full detail, I’ll list each of the editions, then mention the ones that may be pertinent to your copy. So, here are the editions, by year;
1840 – The last to be edited by Joseph Smith
1841 – first British edition
1849 – second British edition
1852 – third British edition
1858W – a private edition published by James O. Wright, used by the RLDS Church
1874R – First official RLDS edition
1879 – first major edition by the church since 1840, published in England
1888 – large-print edition
1892R – Second RLDS edition
1902 – missionary edition
1905 – second missionary edition with some changes in text
1906 – second large-print edition
1907 – vest-pocket edition published by the Deseret Sunday School Union
1908R – third RLDS edition
1911 – third large-print edition
1920 – first major edition published by the church since 1879, published in Salt Lake City
1953R – Fourth RLDS edition
1981 – Longest used major edition by the church.
2013 – Most recent edition by the church with updates to the footnotes, chapter headings and study aids. The scriptural text from the 1981 edition was fully retained for this update.
Keep in mind that each edition may have been, and in later years, most certainly was, published for years before the next edition was set. So, by way of example, you could have an 1852 edition that was published in 1870 since the next major LDS edition wasn’t prepared until 1879.
The first set of numbers added to the text were by paragraph, and this was done in the 1852 edition. The text used for this edition came from stereotyped plates from the 1849 edition as well as a set of stereotyped plates from the 1840 edition.
Orson Pratt introduced the verse numbering system in the 1879 edition. The verse assignments haven’t changed since then, by the way. The text was taken from the corrected 1852 edition. Interestingly enough, the text from this edition was used from 1888 through 1907.
It wasn’t until the 1920 edition that the double-column arrangement was established along with chapter headings. Minor changes were made from earlier texts, while the 1911 text formed the bulk of the work.
The 1920 edition persisted unitl the 1981 edition which restored some of the original readings from the Original Manuscript as well as the Printers Manuscript, insofar as they were then extant.
As for when the subtitle ‘Another Testament of Jesus Christ’ was added, it happened in 1982. In General Conference 1986 then President Ezra Taft Benson explained that it was added to aid in focusing the efforts of the church to more fully utilize the Book of Mormon in general, and specifically to utilize it in testifying of Christ.
Thank you for a great question and a re-visit to one of my more fondly remembered research sessions.