The JST

February 16, 2006 | 33 comments
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So what do we do with the JST?

I think that many Church members think the following:
(1) There is something vaguely untrustworthy about the JST.
(2) All of the JST is in the footnotes.
(3) The JST restores the text to what it read orginally.

I want to dispute all three points.

(1) There is something vaguely untrustworthy about the JST.I believe this was a concern in the late 19th and early 20th century because the original JST was owned by the (as it was then known) RLDS Church. This concern was later dismissed through the work of Robert J. Matthews (this is a very interesting story, and if you have access to Robet L. Millet’s “Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible: A Historical Overview” in Nyman and Tate’s Joseph Smith Translation: The Restoration of Plain and Precious Things, which is part of LDS Gospelink, you should definitely read it. Not only is it a fascinating story, but it has interesting insights into the role of the JST in the mid 20th century.) This is not to say, however, that the JST is complete or perfect, merely that the text that we currently have has not been tampered with. President Joseph Fielding Smith addressed the fact that the JST is incpomplete:

It has been thought by some, that the Prophet went through the Bible beginning with the first chapter of Genesis and continued through to the Book of Revelation, but this was not the case. He went through the Bible topic by topic, and revising as the Spirit of the Lord indicated to him where changes and additions should be made. There are many parts of the Bible that the Prophet did not touch, because the Lord did not direct him to do so. Therefore, there are many places in the Scriptures where errors still are found. This work was never fully completed, but the Prophet did as much as the Lord commanded him to do before the days of Nauvoo.” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:242; see also Smith, History of the Church, 1:324, 368).

(2) All of the JST is in the footnotes. Some may even be unaware of the longer exerpts in the back; most seem to be unaware that there are parts that are not in the LDS edition at all. The complete IV is available online (see here), but [unless I missed something--please let me know], it is not available in a form where the KJV and JST/IV are compared verse-by-verse. There is a text put out by the RLDS (now CoC) that compares the two versions (see here) and I think it is worth owning. This new book does the same thing (I think–I haven’t seen it–anyone? anyone?) for the parts of the IV that are in the NT.

(3) The JST restores the text to what it read orginally. According to Robert J. Matthews, the preeminent LDS scholar of the JST, the JST/IV can do one (or more) of four different things:

(a) restore of the text to the way that it originally read
(b) add material that was not originally part of the biblical text
(c) consist of Joseph Smith’s commentary
(d) consist of material added for doctrinal harmonization

This, of course, makes for interesting reading, since there is no way to objectively determine which of the four is present in a given passage.

One more thought and then some questions:

(1) Jim F. and Ben S. have both mentioned having experiences where they initially thought a JST was “textually jarring” but upon further study determined that it was “very appropriate.” I have done the same. In the midst of working on my thesis, I was stumped by a JST. Let me give you the KJV first; this is Mark 14:8-9:

She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that ashe hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.

The JST changes 14:8 to read:

She hath done what she could: and this which she has done unto me, shall be had in remembrance in generations to come, wheresoever my gospel shall be preached; for verily she has come beforehand to anoint my body to the burying.

I went positively NUTS over this for months. It appears that the only thing the JST does is to take some of the language from v9 and insert it into v8 (without removing it from v9). What the *&@$( was going on here? Well, by doodling on the back of the program during a very boring stake conference, I discovered that the JST creates the following pattern in the text:

A she hath done what she could . . . had in remembrance
B in generations to come
C wheresoever my gospel shall be preached
D for verily she has come beforehand
E to anoint my body to the burying
D’ verily I say unto you
C’ wheresoever this gospel shall be preached
B’ throughout the whole world
A’ this also that she hath done . . . for a memorial of her

In other words, there is a chiasmus in the JST that in not in the KJV. I’m not huge on the apologetic use of chiasmus (not because I think it wrong, but rather because it seems like it is often used as a hammer with which to bop irascible evangelicals on the head) but I am big on recognizing chiasmus in order to see what it teaches us about the text. In this case, the chiasmus focuses Jesus’ response on the anointing instead of on the objection made by those at the dinner. It also parallels (in the D and D’ lines) her actions with Jesus’ words. And in the B and B’ lines, it extends the saying to all time and space. {If they are interested in posting, I would love for Jim F. and Ben S. to comment on their initially-puzzling-but-later-interesting JSTs.}

(2) Some questions to consider:
(a)What do we do with the JST in our personal study and teaching? Is it more, less, or equally authoritative than the KJV?
(b)How do we approach it when we cannot generally determine which of the four types of change it is (ie., changing ‘God repented’ to ‘Noah repented’, which is more likely a reaction to a poor KJV translation than to a fault in the underlying text)?
(c) What are some JST that stump you? Here’s one that I cannot figure out: Psalm 22:15 KJV reads:

I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.

The JST replaces the second phrase with:

“thou wast my God from my mother’s breasts.”

Anyone? Anyone?

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33 Responses to The JST

  1. Russell Arben Fox on February 16, 2006 at 2:51 pm

    Great post, Julie. I had the good fortune of taking a class on the Joseph Smith Translation from Robert Matthews at BYU, and the three points you make to clear up popular misunderstanding of the JST are the same ones he was fighting against fifteen years ago. I’m sure a lot of progress has been made in changing church manuals and general attitudes since then, but it can’t hurt to go over them once more.

    One interesting consequence of Matthews’s work is that it puts on the table questions about the Mormon understanding of revelation and scripture that may well have broader application than the JST. If we can consider the work of prophets to legitimately involve restoring material, adding material, commenting on material, and harmonizing material, does that mean we can be certain that only one of the above–the restoration of a lost text–was what brought us the Book of Mormon? Blake Ostler, Stephen Robinson, and others have argued about whether or not our analysis of how the JST was produced ought to tell us something about how the BoM was produced as well.

    I took an old RLDS copy of the Inspired Version with me on my mission, and managed to read it all the way through (the only time I’ve ever read any version of the Bible cover to cover). It was fascinating to run across, without warning, little changes–sometimes perplexing, sometimes revealing–scattered throughout Genesis or the Gospels. I still have that old, much scribbled in IV on my shelf at home. In fact, I actually prefer to refer to the Joseph Smith Translation as the “Inspired Version,” probably mainly for that reason.

  2. gomez on February 16, 2006 at 3:53 pm

    I think we will always have to fight against a misunderstanding of the JST and the book of Abraham and possibly the book of Mormon for that matter as long as we use the word translation. When we hear that word we automatically think of translation in the traditional sense, which doesn’t allow for b, c, and d in Julie’s post. I don’t know what word we could use instead which carries less connotations. As a side note I only recently heard of Ostler’s expansion theory with regards to the Book of Mormon, which I think is very similar to Matthews’s ideas on the JST.

  3. gomez on February 16, 2006 at 4:01 pm

    The verses of the JST that used to stump me are the Isaiah verses that don’t match the Isaiah verses in the Book of Mormon – sorry I’m too lazy to find them right now. The way I answer this in my own mind is to believe Joseph Smith didn’t see any scripture as set in stone, but felt he could add to or take from as he received more light and understanding. I think this should influence our own approach to studying the scriptures.

  4. a random John on February 16, 2006 at 4:02 pm

    If we can consider the work of prophets to legitimately involve restoring material, adding material, commenting on material, and harmonizing material, does that mean we can be certain that only one of the above–the restoration of a lost text–was what brought us the Book of Mormon?

    Given that the IV was never finished, why hasn’t it continued to be the work of prophets? Was the gift of “translation” unique to Joseph?

  5. Julie M. Smith on February 16, 2006 at 4:14 pm

    Russell, interesting thoughts on the relationship of the JST to the BoM. My knee-jerk reaction is that Joseph Smith claimed the BoM to be an actual translation but never made that claim for the JST, but I may be wrong about that. Anyone know?

    gomez, we could use the word ‘targum’ (heck, I’ve even used it as a verb before), but I’ll admit it isn’t terribly catchy. And your thoughts on the Isaiah verses do suggest a certain plasticity to the written word that is rather disconcerting for those of us who favor a close, literary reading of the text. :)

    arJ, good question. The only incident I know of where another prophet offered a different translation is Pres. Kimball on reading ‘preside’ instead of ‘rule’ in Genesis 3:16.

  6. Ben S. on February 16, 2006 at 4:16 pm

    IN my opinion, the purpose of JOseph being commanded to translate was not to bring forth a pure translation, but to get Joseph into the Bible and get him asking questions, ie. a catalyst. Many of the major doctrinal revelations in D&C (like SEction 76) were the direct result of Joseph wrestling with a passage in translation and then asking about it.

    In this sense, no one needs to “finish” the translation.

  7. J. Stapley on February 16, 2006 at 4:32 pm

    I have this version, a side by side comparison that is pretty good. I flipped through this version at a friends house not to long ago and it is the necessary volume for any scholar, but at $100 is a bit pricy – it is amazing though.

    I recently listened to an exegesis of JS’s Math 24 by Kathleen Flake that was quite compelling. I love the JST and I tend to think that none of it reflects the original text. This doesn’t mean to me that it is not revelation.

  8. BrianJ on February 16, 2006 at 5:06 pm

    Julie,

    Wow! Ask and I shall receive. You’re even better than Google. Thanks!

    I have to admit that, not having given much thought to the matter, I have always viewed the JST as “(3) The JST restores the text to what it read orginally.” I had given some thought before into what “translation” means in regards to the Book of Mormon, so you have given me some more to think about.

    As for what to do with the JST: it’s hard for me to see much of a difference between the four points Matthews puts forth in terms of how you put the JST into practice. Whether it’s restoration, commentary, etc., it is still inspired. As a parallel, is the Garden of Eden account historical, allegorical, etc? In the end, what really matters is the message of the prophet who wrote it.

  9. Kevin Barney on February 16, 2006 at 5:22 pm

    Your myth no. 3, that the JST represents a pure restoration of original text, is in my experience very deeply engrained among the general membership of the Church.

    I published an article, “The Joseph Smith Translation and Ancient Texts of the Bible,” Dialogue 19/3 (Fall 1986): 85-102, in which I tried (in a faithful way) to modify that widespread assumption. You can find the article at the UoU Dialogue archive here:

    http://content.lib.utah.edu/cgi-bin/docviewer.exe?CISOROOT=/dialogue&CISOPTR=23226

    There is a certain group of BYU Religion professors that likes to think of the JST as a pure textual restoration, and they hated my article. I finally took the opportunity to defend myself and explain the genesis of the article in my “Isaiah Interwoven,” FARMS Review 15/1 (2003): 353-402, available here:

    http://farms.byu.edu/display.php?table=review&id=478

    Here is what I wrote:

    I learned a little something about this subject from hard personal experience. In the early 1980s I had returned from my mission and was studying at BYU. At some point I became interested in textual criticism, and so I spent time in the library on my own studying the subject. In the course of this personal study I became aware that a number of passages in the Bible occur in which ancient textual evidence paralleled what Joseph Smith had done in the JST. Most of these parallels had not been previously mentioned in print. At that time I shared the assumption that Parry evidently holds that all JST variants necessarily represent textual restorations. Convinced that I had stumbled on evidence supportive of this assumption, I began to write a paper detailing my findings.

    I still have in my files a draft of an attempted beginning to that paper, constituting over one hundred handwritten pages. I really did not get very far, though. I simply could not make the JST fit my preconceptions. I began to realize that the JST is not a pure textual restoration but rather incorporates a variety of approaches. While in my view it does include textual restorations, it includes other things as well. I therefore began to develop a more eclectic approach to the JST.52 One cannot simply assume that the entire JST represents just one approach; rather, individual passages have to be examined with a range of possibilities in mind. These possibilities include (1)�restorations of original text, (2)�restorations of nonoriginal text, (3)�alternate translations without positing any change in underlying text, (4)�historical corrections of incorrect text, (5)�harmonizations of biblical text with revealed doctrine, and (6)�midrashic commentary (much like the targumin and the genres of “rewritten Bible” and pesharim attested among the Dead Sea Scrolls). Readers may recognize this list; it is my adaptation of the suggestions of Robert J. Matthews as to some of the different ways the JST text may relate to the biblical text, which I have elsewhere labeled the “Matthews paradigm.”53

  10. Kevin Barney on February 16, 2006 at 5:27 pm

    You could also add to your list of myths the idea that the JST was never finished. When asked why we haven’t canonized the whole thing, that notion is usually in the litany of reasons raised. But it’s not true. (And JFS Jr.’s statement that Joseph did it “by subjects” is also false.) Joseph finished the text of the JST in July 1833. The manuscript was not prepared for publication, and it indeed was not published during his lifetime, so it was not finished in that limited sense. But it was finished in the sense that Joseph wanted to publish it and would have done so if he had the money and time to devote to the publication.

  11. Randy B. on February 16, 2006 at 5:35 pm

    Kevin B. — very interesting. As to your thoughts in #10, I suppose the question is what do we mean by “finished.” In what sense did Joseph believe it was finished? I suspect not in the sense that all errors were corrected and all plain and precious truths restored. But why stop before that?

  12. a random John on February 16, 2006 at 6:06 pm

    Julie,

    What about President Kimball stapeling shut certain passages of scripture? That would seem to apply as well, wouldn’t it?

  13. Jim F. on February 16, 2006 at 6:10 pm

    A random John: I hope he didn’t say “thus saith the Lord” in one way or another when he did so. (That’s a joke–just in case someone thinks otherwise.)

    With a host of other Christians in the last several thousand years, I happen to like those passages. They might not have been inspired by the Holy Ghost. If Joseph says so, I’m willing to accept. But there are other kinds of inspiration, and I think it is difficult to study those scriptures and not find them both beautiful and inspiring.

  14. Mike Parker on February 16, 2006 at 6:12 pm

    One change I can’t reconcile is is from 1 Corinthians 11:

    17 Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.
    18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
    19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
    20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper.
    21 For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.
    22 What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.

    In this section, Paul criticizes the Corinthian saints for their inequality in partaking of the sacrament. At this time, the sacrament was part of a larger communal meal (kind of like a “linger longer”). It appears that some people were showing up early and “pigging out,” leaving little for those who came later, especially the poor.

    He frankly accuses of them of “com[ing] together…[but] not to eat the Lord’s supper” (v.20), only to satisfy their own stomachs. He says this “despis[es]…the church of God and shame[s] them that have not [food to eat in their own homes]” (v.22).

    The JST changes v.20 into a rhetorical question:

    “When ye come together therefore into one place, is it not to eat the Lord’s supper?”

    I can see what Joseph was attempting to do here, but he seems to have misunderstood Paul and tried to correct the passage to match his misunderstanding. Frankly, it ruins Paul’s argument.

  15. Jim F. on February 16, 2006 at 6:19 pm

    Mike Parker (#14): I have similar problems with most of Romans 7. I am interested in thinking about how to deal with such passages.

  16. Visorstuff on February 16, 2006 at 6:22 pm

    #10 Joseph finished the text of the JST in July 1833

    This is true on one hand and not true on another. The bulk of the work was done by mid 1830s, however, in “preparing for publication” Joseph revised some of his changes multiple times, more was added and even translated more sections later in life. Even months prior to his death he was pinning scaps of paper to changes on changes in the margins of the bible and transcript pages of the translation. There are some cases where there are two or three overlapping changes to the same section/verse that seemingly go in different directions (hence the commentary and restored text, etc. comments). I believe the RLDS (CoC) Church at the time did a good job in choosing which version of edits to incorporate into the “inspired version”. Millett has also called it an “inspired study” of the Bible. In any case, I am amazed at the insight and in some cases accuracy of the JST. It is truly an amazing document worth much study and pondering.

  17. Kevin Barney on February 16, 2006 at 7:10 pm

    Yes, Joseph on occasion continued to play with the text for the rest of his life. But when Mormons say it wasn’t finished, they usually mean that it wasn’t finished to the point of Joseph being ready to publish it. And this is false.

    Let me quote from the massive (and, as has been pointed out, expensive) critical text’s introduction at p. 7:

    “Was the translation finished? Generally speaking, the answer is yes. [Some text about how the Bible was never complete, and certainly there were other truths that could have been added by Joseph that were not.] But from July 1833 on, Joseph Smith spoke no longer of translating the Bible but of publishing it, which he wanted and intended to accomplish ‘as soon as possible.’”

  18. Robert C. on February 16, 2006 at 7:36 pm

    Mike Parker, I see how you can read the JST as an attempt to clarify a misreading of v. 20. But I don’t see how it ruins the argument. Could you elaborate?

    I think there are meanings that are underscored in the JST and possibly more beautiful than the KJV. In particular, I think the rhetorical question dramatizes the contrast between the Lord’s supper, which should be a communion (having things in common), whereas v. 21 describes people seeking their own rather than seeking the common, some people have too little food while others have too much drink. And then v. 22 completes this contrast, answering the rhetorical question with another questoin emphasizing that everyone should be common in the Lord’s house which is in contrast to houses of the world.

  19. Ben S. on February 16, 2006 at 7:56 pm

    I’m trying to recall some of those passages I reversed opinions on, and I think 1 Co. 11 is one of them. I think I’m misunderstanding Mike, because I actually find the JST to accurately capture what Paul seems to intend.

    The Corinthians are supposed to be coming together for the Lord’s supper. However, due to the manner in which it’s being done, Paul finds it disgraceful. Because of the manner in which it’s being carried out, it’s not really the Lord’s Supper at all.

    The wording of the KJV implies that they are coming together for some other purpose, ie. their intended goal is *not* the Lord’s supper.

    I believe the JST corrects this to be closer to what Paul intended.

    Paul’s meaning (as supported by the NRS, NET, etc.) “When you come together, [because of your behavior] it’s not really to eat the Lord’s supper [as it should be].”

    The JST reads, “Is it not to eat the Lord’s supper?” a rhetorical negative question, ie. “Shouldn’t it be to eat the Lord’s supper, [but due to your behavior, it isn't.]”

    I think that dovetails nicely, but perhaps I’ve misunderstood your argument or Paul or both.

  20. Robert C. on February 16, 2006 at 8:02 pm

    Jim F. (#15), verse 15 is what strikes me as the most changed in Romans 7, and although I don’t content that the JST lessens the beauty and poetic structure of the chapter, I don’t think it fundamentally changes the point being made. Are you referring to different verses, are you not claiming there’s a fundamental change in meaning, or would you disagree with my reading described below?

    [translation footnotes are in square brackets]

    Verse 15 (KJV): For that [what I produce] which I do I allow [know, understand] not: for what I would [choose, intend, design], that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

    Verses 15-16 (JST): But now I am spiritual; for that which I am commanded to do, I do; and that which I am commanded not to allow, I allow not. For what I know is not right, I would not do; for that which is sin, I hate.

    I read the KJV as describing what it’s like to be carnal, wheras the JST flips it describing what it is like to be spiritual. But later, the JST seems to make the same point about being carnal (where I don’t see dramatic changes from the KJV):

    Verse 19 (JST): For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me, but to perform that which is good I find not, only in Christ.

    Verse 25 (JST): But my members are warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

  21. Robert C. on February 16, 2006 at 8:12 pm

    By the way, there’s an Inspired Version of the Bible available on-line here.

  22. Jim F. on February 16, 2006 at 8:48 pm

    Robert C (#20): Yes, my problem is with verse 15. I think it contradicts the argument being made by the chapter as a whole, an argument that is essential to chapter 8. I agre that the JST later describes what it is like to be carnal, but that makes the change in verse 15 even more mystifying.

    I would be interested in knowing about the textual history of that change.

  23. Kevin Barney on February 16, 2006 at 10:18 pm

    Julie, you asked the following:

    (c) What are some JST that stump you? Here’s one that I cannot figure out: Psalm 22:15 KJV reads:

    I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.

    The JST replaces the second phrase with:

    “thou wast my God from my mother’s breasts.�

    (Note, it is v. 10, not 15.)

    The JST makes two changes to the KJV text:

    1. It changes “art” to “wast.”

    2. It changes “belly” to “breasts.”

    To understand the first change, it is important to note that the word “art” is italicized in the KJV. I believe that Joseph was aware of the purpose of italics in the KJV fonts, which was not for emphasis, but rather to identify words not explicitly present in the original language text but necessary for English sense. Accordingly, Joseph tended to be suspicious of italicized words in the text, and was more likely to change them than other words. (He often crossed out italicized words in the marked Bible used as a tool in producing the JST, even if he made no change, as if he were trying on for size what the text would be like without the italicized word).

    The English present tense “art” can be misconstrued, since the speaker is not &now* a baby. So Joseph changes the tense to a past tense, to allude to when he was a baby. Personally I think an even better change would have been to use a perfect: “have been,” which covers both the original time in the writer’s infancy but continues to the present time of writing.

    The second change is an example of *assimilation*. The text is assimilating to the word “breasts” from v. 9. That much is clear. What is unclear is why?

    I don’t know, but I’ll suggest two speculations:

    a. One possibility is a simple misunderstanding of the parallelism, which is often a factor in JST revisions. In the Hebrew text, the terms womb//mother’s belly are used in synonymous parallelism as a part of the poetry. But if one reads it as though it were normal English prose, “belly” seems redundant with “mother’s womb,” and English normally abhors redundancy.

    b. Another possibility is Joseph not appreciating that “belly” is a euphemism for the womb. That is, Joseph may have seen the text as “scientifically” inaccurate (since babies don’t really come from the “belly”).

    These are of course just guesses.

    So the KJV means something as follows:

    I was cast upon thee [IE dependent on you] from the womb [IE from birth]
    thou art [IE you have been] my God from my mother’s belly [IE from birth].

    The JST means something as follows:

    I was cast upon thee from the womb; thou wast my God from [the time I suckled at] my mother’s breasts.

    In the end, the JST doesn’t really change the meaning of the passage. It ultimately means the same thing in both formulations. The JST is really more focused on resolving issues present for modern English readers of the text, which is often the case.

    That is my take on this particular revision.

  24. Julie M. Smith on February 16, 2006 at 10:21 pm

    Kevin, that’s fascinating, thanks.

  25. a random John on February 16, 2006 at 10:29 pm

    Jim F.,

    I was actually hoping for something more along the lines of, “I cannot read a sealed book!”

  26. Jim F. on February 16, 2006 at 10:47 pm

    a random John (#25): Very good!

    Kevin Barney (#23): The JST is really more focused on resolving issues present for modern English readers of the text. I agree that accounts for a significant number of the changes in the Inspired Version. I think we need to explain that more often (though since the IV doesn’t come up in class that often, and when it does, the changes are usually more substantial, perhaps we don’t need to).

  27. Robert C. on February 17, 2006 at 10:59 am

    Jim (#22), looking more carefully at Romans 7 as a whole (and chapters 6 and 8), I appreciate the difficulty much more, though I find vv. 15-25 a very difficult passage to read. I’m sure I speak for many that we’re all very anxious for your next Romans installment (has chapters 2-4 been published anywhere??).

    In particular I’m having a hard time understanding whether Paul is referring to obeying the law or breaking the law when he says “that which I do”. Does he mean he follows the law despite a desire to sin, or that he breaks the law despite a desire not to sin? Or does the meaning change with the different verses? I made a rough (and not particularly careful) outline of how I undestand the preceding and subsequent verses here, but I’m quite stuck on (vv. 15-25) in the KJV.

    Also, if you get a chance to respond (totally understand if not) are there any particular New Testament commentaries you ‘d recommend (I’ve been very pleased with the Cassuto and Liebowitz commentaries you recommended, thanks again!)? And any particular New Testament translation(s) you’d recommend along with the KJV,(esp. for Romans 7!) for those of us who don’t know Greek?

  28. Kevin Barney on February 17, 2006 at 1:53 pm

    One of the most intriguing articles ever written for understanding the translation theory of Joseph’s inspired productions is

    Jackson, Kent P. and Peter M. Jasinski “The Process of Inspired Translation: Two Passages Translated Twice in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (2003)” 42:2:3

    which is available for download here:

    http://byustudies.byu.edu/Indexes/Searches/AuthorIndex.aspx

    Joseph translated a couple of sections of biblical text, forgot that he had already covered those parts, and later retranslated the same portions over again.

    The similarities and differences between the two productions are absolutely fascinating. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it.

  29. Mark N. on February 17, 2006 at 1:57 pm

    My favorite scripture in the JST is Romans 13, because it destroys the whole “church members must obey the secular government” argument by showing that the phrase “the higher powers” only refers to the leadership of the Church, and not any earthly government. We owe no fealty to any earthly government that would have us do things that are wrong. And this would also seem to imply that we have a duty to exercise our agency and disobey when we know that what the government counsels (or, rather, would force) us to do is contrary to principles of righteousness.

  30. Jim F on February 17, 2006 at 3:03 pm

    Mark N.: The passage you refer to is, I think, one of those in which Joseph is rewriting passages (under inspiration) to fit his own context and that of the Church at his time. I don’t think it is possible to make the case that the original document could have meant what Joseph rewrites it to mean.

    In addition, we don’t need Romans 13 in its JST revision to establisht he claim that we don’t owe allegiance to any earthly government. Paul himself makes that claim in a number of places.

    Kevin Barney: I very much appreciate that link. I didn’t know about the piece, and it is, as you say, fascinating.

  31. Mike Parker on February 17, 2006 at 7:12 pm

    Robert #18 and Ben #19:

    The problem I have (or had) in 1 Cor. 11 is that the JST ruins the flow from verse 20 to 21. The switch to a rhetorical question in 20 doesn’t flow into a 21 that begins with “For”.

    But, on further research, the JST for 21 starts with “But,” which resolves my problem. The LDS footnotes don’t have this, and I hadn’t bothered to look it up in the complete JST.

    I still think it blunts the forcefulness of Paul’s accusation, but that’s a stylistic quibble.

  32. Steve A. on February 18, 2006 at 11:22 am

    J. Stapley — the second link you included in (#7) isn’t working. Could you post again?

    Thanks.

  33. Logan Lawson on February 23, 2006 at 12:09 pm

    RE #23 “was cast upon thee [IE dependent on you] from the womb [IE from birth]
    thou art [IE you have been] my God from my mother’s belly [IE from birth].
    The JST means something as follows:
    I was cast upon thee from the womb; thou wast my God from [the time I suckled at] my mother’s breasts.
    In the end, the JST doesn’t really change the meaning of the passage. It ultimately means the same thing in both formulations. The JST is really more focused on resolving issues present for modern English readers of the text, which is often the case.
    That is my take on this particular revision.”
    ——
    I love the imagery of the IV changes regarding breasts. Kevin is right about womb and belly being “from birth.” But breasts creates in me an image of being fed and nurtured for a longer period of time than childbirth and of being sustained during the dependancy we know as infancy. It’s akin to the hen protecting her young image used elsewhere in scripture. I feel it’s a more initmate and enduring relationship between us and God than just birth. Yes, the Creator gave us life but he continues to nuture us as we grow into the fully developed being He desires. That is the sense I feel as I read what could be discribed asl Joseph Smith’s Inspired Revision of the KJV.

    Regarding #5 “My knee-jerk reaction is that Joseph Smith claimed the BoM to be an actual translation but never made that claim for the JST, but I may be wrong about that. Anyone know?”
    —–
    The Lord called it a translation. “And now, behold, I say unto you, it shall not be given unto you to know any further concerning this chapter, until the New Testament be translated, and in it all these things shall be made known; Wherefore I give unto you that ye may now translate it, that ye may be prepared for the things to come.” (DC 45:60 – 61) and also, “And, verily I say unto you, that it is my will that you should hasten to translate my scriptures,” (DC 93:53).

    Joseph Smith also called it a translation, “For while we were doing the work of translation, which the Lord had appointed unto us, we came to the twenty–ninth verse of the fifth chapter of John”
    (DC 76:15)

    It is more an inspired revision that a translation but if the Lord and His prophet choose to call it a translation, who am I to to differ with them?