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Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture:

Why the Oxford English Dictionary (and not Webster’s 1828)

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Published by:
Interpreter A Journal of Mormon Scripture
Published:
5/1/2015
Specs:
Digest / 5.25" x 8.25"
16 pages Saddle-stitched
Category:
Religion
Tags:
apologetics, Book of Mormon, lds, mormon, Mormonism, oxford english dictionary, webster's

In order to properly consider possible meaning in the Book of Mormon (BofM), we must use the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Royal Skousen opened the door to this approach, but unfortunately many have resisted accepting it as valid or have not understood the advantages inherent in it. The usual method of consulting Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language has serious drawbacks. First, that approach is based on the incorrect assumption that the English language of the text is Joseph Smith’s own language or what he knew from reading the King James Bible (kjb). That incorrect assumption leads us to wrongly believe that nonbiblical lexical meaning in the BofM is to be sought in 1820s American English, or even perhaps from Smith making mistakes in his attempt to imitate biblical language (which is a canard). Second, by using Webster’s 1828 dictionary we can easily be led astray and form inaccurate judgments about old usage and we can miss possible meaning in the text.

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