Ridgeback, you are a very eloquent and open person. sorry I quipped at you earlier. I appreciate your viewpoint and your ability to discuss both of our points of view.
2mmafreaks: that's an excellent question and one that I wish more Mormons would ask. also, if you ever feel like ruining a mormon missionary's day, just get some old version of the Book of Mormon and show him that the text has changed over time....it will blow his 19-year-old mind and maybe take him down a peg or two (not all of them need to come down a peg or two....but most of them do.) : )
Mormon historians differ greatly in how the nuts and bolts of the translation process worked. but the obvious fact is that Joseph Smith's personal vocabulary and grammar played an enormous part (which is what one should expect from any translator). As such, the book has a shockingly small vocabulary, has horrible grammar, and shows attempts to use King James English. J.S. was attempting to translate it in a manner that was consistent with what scripture sounds like...or in other words, what the KJV of the Bible reads like. Also, he was almost entirely uneducated and some of the only reading he had ever done was from the KJV. He therefore somewhat clumsily worded his translation within the confines of his own grasp of English while trying to keep the language in line with what he thought scripture should sound like (we all do this in different ways; when we speak in church or give a presentation before the board, we adjust our diction, vocab, etc to sound appropriate).
Well, after the translation was published, he went back through it several times during his life to reword his translation as a clarification. In 99.9 percent of the cases these were small, nonsignificant adjustments, but a few were significant. He first used the word "white" as an adjective for purity, but later changed it to "pure" (and unfortunately that correction was not found until 1981, by which time generations of mormons had gotten hung up on a literal interpretation of the adjective "white"). Etc.
Also, an original translation manuscript was uncovered a couple of decades ago scores of transcription errors from that manuscript to the printers block were found and corrected. The church translating office also ammended J.S.'s overuse of phrases like "and it came to pass" where they added no meaning.
Mormons believe strongly (or should) that nothing touched by human hands is infallible---not even scripture. Joseph meant that doctrinally the Book of Mormon was "the most correct book" because it had only passed through a few infallible hands instead of hundreds of transcribers and translators. I don't think he meant for his statement to become such a mantra (which is what the church has made it) and early Mormons really didn't even use the book as much as they used the Bible (now most mormons underuse the bible, unfortunately).
Anyway, it should be no surprise to a Mormon that Joseph Smith's vocabulary sucked, that there were transcription errors, or whatever. It certainly doesn't keep me up at night, and its exactly the same way that I treat the incongruencies I find in the Bible.
NOW......the non-mormon view will normally be that Joseph Smith (alone or with others) concocted the Book of Mormon and made changes to it for various plausible reasons. That's a good argument against the foundation of my church, it's just not one that I agree with.
Hope that helps and sorry I"m so long winded.
Also, BYU is sponsoring an extensive project where all the original transcripts along with all the versions are carefully examined (as well as early use of B.o.M quotes) to try to determine the most accurate version possible. So in a decade or so we'll probably revamp the book again. makes me laugh my ass off because so many mormons claim that the book was essentially dictated letter for letter without a single mistake (which is possibly what someone told you). It just shows me that ignorance is everywhere, even among my own ranks.