Thrash the nations

1 April 2011

This morning, I just unwittingly found a small difference in the scriptural text between the 1981 printed edition and the online scripture text:

1981 printed edition
I call upon the weak things of the world, those who are unlearned and despised, to thrash the nations by the power of my Spirit.

2011 online edition
I call upon the weak things of the world, those who are unlearned and despised, to thresh the nations by the power of my Spirit.

Yes, I know that “thrash” and “thresh” are two forms of the same word, having the same meaning. I also know that the current online edition incorporated small changes to the supplementary material (i.e., chapter headings) and in a few cases to the punctuation (e.g., Moro. 3:3; see my study “Textual Variations in the Supplemental Text of the Book of Mormon“).

But I did not know that the online edition had incorporated any changes to the actual wording of the scriptures. Very interesting! I wonder if this particular change came from the Joseph Smith Papers project.

(Or look at the date. … Maybe it’s all just an elaborate April Fools Day joke the people over at the scripture department are playing on us. If so, maybe I should thrash them … 🙂 )

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  1. Darwin

    Wow, interesting. It would be intriguing to find out how/why it was changed.

  2. Jeffrey

    “Thresh” does have one meaning that “thrash” does not, according to my dictionary at least. “Thresh” means to separate the grain from a plant, and can therefore have reference to a sifting or a harvesting. None of the definitions of “thrash” in my dictionary carry that connotation.

  3. Nathan

    I was referring to how, in the dictionary I consulted, one of the definitions of thrash is “thresh” (i.e., thrash can be a synonym for thresh). I’m guessing that the image the Lord means to conjure is the harvest one you mention—separating wheat from chaff. That’s also my guess as to why they changed it—because while “sifting or separating” is an obscure meaning of thrash, it’s the first and clearest meaning of thresh.

    So I agree with you, that thresh is the better choice of the two for conveying the Lord’s metaphor. Thrash, at least with it’s modern connotations, makes it sounds like the Lord wants us to go out and whip people for their sins. 🙂

  4. Harlow

    Thrash was a typo, but I don’t know what edition the typo was introduced into.
    “Revelation Book 1,” p. 47 (The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed April 26, 2017) has thresh.
    Chapter XXXVII:14 in The Book of Commandments also has thresh (“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. 75, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed April 26, 2017).
    The 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, XI:4 has thresh (“Doctrine and Covenants, 1835,” p. 117, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed April 26, 2017), as does the 1844 edition, “Doctrine and Covenants, 1844,” p. 160, (The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed April 26, 2017.)  I haven’t been able to check it against later sources, like Orson Pratt’s 1876 edition, so I’m not sure when the typo came into the text. The recording I downloaded from a few years ago still has thrash, but the recording in Gospel Library has thresh.

    I was always mildly puzzled by the word thrash. It seemed rhetorically out of place with the passage, then a few years ago, after the 2013 edition came out, I started noticing that quotations of the verse said thresh. A passage being a bit off rhetorically can be a good sign of a typo or some other error. For discussion of a still-uncorrected typo in Alma 33:14 se my post here.

    • Nathan

      Fascinating, thanks for the information! I’m interested in reading your post, but for some reason the link is blocked in my current location; I’ll have to wait until I travel again.


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