Let's have a recap of the different theories that attempt to explain the relationship between Ms1a written by F.G. Williams and Ms1b written by Warren Parrish.
1. I have argued that these two manuscripts mostly represent a simultaneous transcription via dictation. I propose that Ms1b was entirely dictated, whereas Ms1a was dictated to the point where Ms1b stops at Abr 2:5. The rest of that manuscript includes a copied dittograph of Abr 2:3-5 and includes part of verse 6 until it terminates at the end of the page.
2. Will Schryver has argued that these represent nothing more than copies and that he sees absolutely zero evidence that dictation was involved!
3. Daniel McClellan, the only text critic among us, has argued that the texts were both dictated and copied. He hasn't elaborated much, except to say that he believes the final portion of Ms1a represents a dittograph. From what I can tell - and he is free to clarify for us - he believes the evidence for dictation exists throughout the manuscripts but he believes they are present only because the scribes had the text dictated to them as it was read from a preexistent document.
Since Daniel accepts our premise that these texts were mostly dictated, I suggest that he has pretty much established our point as far as that is concerned. He agrees with me that there is dictation and
copying involved, which is an amazing concession since we have for years heard nothing but denial on this point from the apologists. Dan's extended argument for the existence of a preexistent document is not based on text critical evidentiary standards, but rather, his appeal to logic, suggesting that it is the best thing that explains the dittograph. This can work in Will's favor only if this preexistent document preceded the transcription of the previous text on the two manuscripts. But this is far from demonstrated, and raises far more questions than it answers.
Naturally, anything that is copied is going be copied from a preexisting document, but since the dittograph wasn't necessarily written at the time the rest of the texts were dictated, saying the entire project, including the dictated portion, was based on a preexistent document is a non sequitur
, that has no evidence supporting it. I have proposed that the dittograph was copied, but not necessarily from a pre-October 1835 document. Since Daniel has already suggested this portion could have been written at a future time, I don't see how he could argue with this. What I propose is that Williams, at some future point in time, did in fact decide to extend his manuscript by copying from some future document, perhaps a version of the Printer's Manuscript. This in my view is a better proposal because it explains more:
1. Why did the two scribes stop at two different points? If I am right, then it isn't a coincidence that the dittograph begins precisely where Parrish stopped. They both stopped at 2:5 and then later Williams came back and copied the rest in.
2. Why does the dittograph disregard the margin? If my proposal is correct then this makes sense because Williams would have known he would not be adding Egyptian characters.
3. Why does it not contain Egyptian characters? In my proposal this makes perfect sense since the Printer's Manuscript did not include the characters either.
4. Why does verse six not begin a new paragraph as it does in Ms2? In my proposal this makes sense again because the Printer's Manuscript avoided dividing the text into paragraphs, so Williams would have no frame of reference for a new paragraph.
So that is my theory as far as explaining the dittograph. Now concerning the more crucial aspect of this debate -the "dictation via preexisting document" theory- I believe Dan's proposal explains less and requires far more assumptions to be true before the theory can even begin to enter the realm of plausibility. I think the best way to illustrate this is to walk through the evidences for dictation and pair up the proposed explanations to see which sounds more reasonable.
Abraham 1:17 – “And this because they have turned their hearts away from me”
Ms1a - “And this because their hearts are turned they have turned their hearts away from me” (bold text = strike through)
Ms1b - “And this because their hearts are turn they have turned their hearts away from me”
In my view, Joseph Smith was translating via "revelation" and corrected a mistake in the middle of dictating this verse. When he instructed his scribes to strike through "their hearts are turned," and replace it with "they have turned", Williams had already written the entire phrase whereas Parrish was transcribing at a slightly slower rate. This explains why Parrish didn't finish writing the last word of the phrase which is missing the last two letters. It is also significant that the crossbar in the "t" was not written in.
In Daniel McClellan's view, someone (maybe Smith, maybe not) was dictating from a preexistent document and wanted the scribes to copy it exactly as it appeared. This means all original errors must be present in the proposed copies. In Dan's view, the speaker informed Williams to write in the erroneous phrase in its entirety while Parrish was instructed to cut it short by two letters. Parrish was also given an added instruction not to finish crossing the "t" in the final word.
In William Schryver's view, this entire phrase was "copied" from a preexistent document. Yet somehow the two scribes were unable to make identical copies of a simple four-word phrase. Will argues that the Printer's Manuscript of the Book of Mormon supports his thesis since, as he claims, errors in that copied text "frequently" copy the mistakes from the original source document, even in cases where mistakes were made in transition. Meaning, interlinear emendations. Now before getting to the next examples I want to demonstrate just how deceptive of a claim this really is. Mr. Schryver makes claims about a document he assumes we have no access to. But I spent an hour last night scouring the Printer's Manuscript, looking for examples of mistakes consisting of entire phrases that had been copied into the Printer's Manuscript. I started from page one and worked my way through the first five chapters of first Nephi before I found the first multi-worded emendation and it was a secondary emendation of only two words. I came across perhaps dozens of emendations consisting of only one word, and all of them were clearly secondary as well, as evidenced by the fact that the errors were scratched out and the corrected words were written above them, not to the right of them as we see take place in the dictated manuscripts found in the KEP.
It is also worth mentioning that this two word emendation doesn't really compare to the emendations we point out in support of the dictation argument. If what Will says is true, and these same kinds of emendations are found "throughout" the Printer's Manuscript, then how does he explain the fact that Abr 1:4-2:5 consists of 1,350 words and within that short amount of text, we find multiple examples of multi-word emendations that involves phrases of four and five words. By comparison, the first 5,000 words of the Printer's Manuscript provides us with nothing comparable to these. Nothing.
Abr 1:26 - “and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him”
Ms1b – “and also of Noah, his father, for in his days who blessed him”
Ms1b – “and also of Noah, his father, for in his days who blessed him”
Brent Metcalfe previously explained in detail the anomalies that correspond to this verse:
Williams initially wrote a comma followed by "for"; after deciding that this was the start of a new sentence, he (partially?) erased the comma and then overwrote the erasure with a period, also erasing the "f" in "for" and then overwriting the erased "f" with an "F"; Williams then crossed out "For in his days" and then continued writing "Who ..." only to realize that this was not the beginning of a new sentence, so he scribbled out the period (including the already crossed out "For") and then overwrote the "W" with a "w." Parrish crossed out "for in his days," and then continued writing "who ..."
In my view, Joseph Smith was dictating to his scribes and corrected them in mid-sentence. Upon correction they scratched through the mistake and then continued with the corrected text in transition.
In Daniel McClellan's view, someone was reading this to the scribes from a preexistent document and he instructed the scribes to write in the erroneous text, along with the scratch out. He also instructed Williams to make his copy correspond to the textual anomalies described by Metcalfe, whereas Parrish was instructed to leave his version as is.
In Will Schryver's view, the scribes were copying from a source document and decided to do something for the third time, that had not been done in the entire Printer's Manuscript of the Book of Mormon. They decided to copy in an erroneous phrase, knowing perfectly well that it was erroneous, and then scratched it out and replace it with a phrase that doesn't resemble it in the slightest. This means, according to Will, Joseph Smith required three exact copies of an error-ridden text.
Abr 1:12 - “I will refer you to the representation at the commencement of this record”
Ms1a - “I will refer you to the representation that is at the commencement of this record.”
Ms1b - "I will refer you to the representation, that is lying before you at the commencement of this record"
In my view, the scribes were being dictated the text and they were stopped in mid sentence upon correction. Parrish was slightly ahead of Williams, which explains why he had made it five words into the erroneous phrase, whereas Williams had only made it to the second word. This is a five word phrae that is replaced with a text that doesn't resemble it in word or sound. This mistake is best explained as one that was made as Joseph Smith was literally "translating" something as he was working it out in his mind. This is the only reasonable explanation for replacing one phrase with an entirely different phrase.
In Daniel McClellan's view, the scribes were dictated a text as it was read off from a source document. Even though the speaker instructed the scribes to include the erroneous phrase, Williams decided he would be lazy and rebellious by including only the first two words and scraatching it out before writing in the emendation.
In Will Schryver's view, this entire phrase was inserted by some mysterious person. It wasn't in the original translation at all, and so somehow Joseph Smith was hoodwwinked when it went to press. It has stood the test of canonized time for more than a century in the Church, but only Will was able to see the truth; a truth that hundreds of General Authorities failed to see for more than a century.
Abr 1:9 - Shagreel was the sun
Ms1a - shag = reel was the sun
Ms1b- shagreel was the son
In my view, the text was being dictated without conditions. Meaning they were not instructed to transcribe the dictation including errors (contra McClellan). This easily explains why Parrish mistook sun for "son" and it also explains why the two scribes spelled Shagreel differently. If the speaker was stressing exactness in every detail, then surely he would have spelled out a difficult word such as this.
In Daniel McClellan's view, the scribes were transcribing a text as it was read to them from a preexisting document. Even though they were instructed to detail every mistake as it was in the parent document, Williams decided he would split Shagreel into two words. I have argued previously that Dan's proposal is ludicrous because it defeats the purpose of trying to get an exact match to something, and this is a classic case in point. If someone wanted an exact match to a parent document, he would have them copy it visually, and not audibly.
In Will Schryver's view, these were copies from a parent document. Somehow both scribes hallucinated at this point. Williams saw shagreel as two words spilt by a "=", whereas Parrish mistook sun for "son." Even though these are easily explained by text critics as mistakes via dictation, Will cannot afford to be rational on this point. Simply put, scribes copying these things down visually have no excuse for these kinds of mistakes. The chances that these kinds of mistakes would occur so often in such a short document are astronomical. And Will's claim that their intent was to include the mistakes of the parent document won't work in this instance since that would require two entirely different parent documents.
Abr 1:26 - "and also Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth"
Ms1a - "who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and of with the blessings of wisdom ..."
Ms1b - "who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and of with the blessings of wisdom ..."
Williams crossed out "of" and then continued writing "with ..." Parrish erased "of" and then continued writing "with ..." where the "w" in "with" overwrites the erasure.
In my view, these were corrected in the middle of dictation.
In Daniel McClellan's view, these were dictated from a parent document. Williams was instructed to cross out the erroneous text whereas Parrish was instructed to erase it. (** this raises an interesting point. If these texts were supposed to preserve the original mistakes, then there should be zero evidence of any
In Will's view, these scribes were copying a preexistent document. Even though they were both supposed to preserve the original errors, Parrish got a wild hair up his ass and decided to completely erase one!
Abr 1:20: "and utterly destroyed them"
Ms1a - "...and utterly destroyed thesm ..." ("s" was overwritten by "m")
Ms1b - "...and utterly destroyed thesem ..." ("se" was overwritten by "m")
In my view, these was changed to them immediately after Joseph Smith spoke it.
In Daniel McClellan's view, these were dictated from a preexistent document, and the speaker instructed Williams to write "thes", and write an "m" over the "s". Parrish was instructed to write "these", and write an "m" over "es." He was also instructed to place the next word extremely close to the corrected text.
In Will Schryver's view, these were copied from a parent document, and one of the two scribes again decided to disobey the Prophet and not write it exactly as it was on the document. This is the best evidence against Will's theory that they were trying to make exact copies: the simple fact that they didn't
make exact copies!
There are more examples, but these should be enough to get the point across that their proposals are far less likely that the one I offered. To what extent these mysterious "professional text critics" understand these documents and the evidences supporting dictation, we have no idea because none of them have spoken. But I strongly suspect Will is not telling them everything. He never does.