BYU’s New Testament Commentary

May 3, 2013 | 49 comments
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A website for the upcoming BYU New Testament Commentary series has popped up. The short announcement on the main page promises “a multi-volume commentary on the New Testament along with a new rendition of the Greek New Testament texts,” which will “combine the best of ancient linguistic and historical scholarship with Latter-day Saint doctrinal perspectives.” A short post at the Interpreter claims that the first volume, covering Revelation, will be available this summer in e-book format. This promises a dramatic upgrade to the quality of LDS interaction with the New Testament. Here are a few issues (offering both opportunities and challenges) raised by the new series.

1. Better than the KJV? It sounds like the series will offer an English translation along with the commentary, which will likely require a comparison to the KJV text when there are significant deviations (as there must be). The authors will have to explain how the KJV text is incorrect or deficient and how the offered translation and/or commentary is an improvement. This will be very helpful for LDS readers, but the authors will have to maneuver around the official LDS endorsement of the KJV, most recently expressed in the August 1992 First Presidency Statement on the King James Version of the Bible as follows:

While other Bible versions may be easier to read than the King James Version, in doctrinal matters latter-day revelation supports the King James Version in preference to other English translations.

2. We really, really need a good LDS commentary on the New Testament. Talmage’s Jesus the Christ was for many years the primary LDS commentary on the gospels, but it relied on Victorian biblical scholarship that was outdated before the book was even published in 1915. Elder McConkie’s Messiah series is helpful for some readers, particularly those who treasure Elder McConkie’s views and opinions. It avoids reliance on outdated scholarship by largely avoiding reliance on any scholarship. Deseret Book’s 2006 Jesus Christ and the World of the New Testament, by Holzapfel, Huntsman, and Wayment, is surprisingly good for an illustrated volume that is sized for coffee-table display.

For Paul’s letters, Sidney Sperry’s Paul’s Life and Letters is a classic but is also rather dated (published by Bookcraft in 1955); Richard L. Anderson’s Understanding Paul (Deseret Book, 1983) is more recent. A very good reference is How the New Testament Came to Be (Deseret and the BYU Religious Studies Center, 2006), papers from the 35th annual Sperry Symposium, but as a collection of articles its coverage is selective.

So an up-to-date and comprehensive LDS commentary on the New Testament is sorely needed. This new BYU commentary series should eclipse every single one of the titles I have listed. For LDS readers, it could turn out to be the New Testament equivalent of the Joseph Smith Papers Project.

3. Defining the methodology and parameters of LDS bible scholarship. This will be a little tricky, but the success of the JSPP and the new direction of the Maxwell Institute are promising. Here’s the problem, nicely expressed in the First Presidency Statement from August 1992:

The most reliable way to measure the accuracy of any biblical passage is not by comparing different texts, but by comparison with the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelations.

There will sometimes be tension between a careful, informed reading of the New Testament text and “comparison with the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelations.” In a comprehensive commentary, you can’t just sidestep problematic passages as you might in a paper or a talk. I suspect the best compromise will be to give a full commentary based on the original text and context, supplemented by references to LDS scripture and perhaps relevant comments by LDS apostles, without dwelling too much on any divergence between the two. That would also probably be the most helpful approach for LDS readers.

We should get insight into all of these issues and more when the first volume is available this summer. In particular, how the commentary uses 1 Nephi 11-14 and D&C 77 in its discussion of Revelation will tell us a lot about the methodology and parameters question.

49 Responses to BYU’s New Testament Commentary

  1. Kent Larsen on May 3, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    The idea that this should be done occurred to me like 10 or 20 years ago — soon after I first started acquiring the volumes of the ABD.

    I assume there is enough LDS scholarship to yield a significantly different commentary from an LDS perspective? I imagine so, but I don’t know, since it isn’t my field.

    Still, this is something to look forward to.

  2. Robert C. on May 3, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Yes, this looks to be a very promising book — thanks for the heads up.

    In case it’s not on your (or other readers’) radar, Jim Faulconer’s commentary on Romans is a significant contribution to Mormon commentaries on the New Testament to add to your list. (A group of us are slowly reading and discussing this at the Feast blog — see here.)

  3. DLewis on May 3, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Two things:

    1) This is a BYU project, but I’m curious to see how the church itself engages with it. Will the commentary be quoted in GC? Will it work its way into the NT manuals?

    2) The quote from J. Rueben Clark (see the “Project” page) is very interesting in that Clark is talking about a new translation, not necessarily a commentary. Could the new rendition serve as a supplemental translation of sorts to the Church’s authorized KJV? After all, as the scriptures we use at church become increasingly electronic, having multiple translations isn’t a physical burden. Since I doubt we’ll ever drop the KJV whole cloth, this alternative would be great in my mind. Hopefully somebody makes that pitch at Church HQ.

  4. AHLDuke on May 3, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    DLewis:
    That quote from JRC is an interesting one. He says he wants an “accurate translation that shall be pregnant with the great principles of the Restored Gospel.” Those two issues seem to be in some tension with one another. If you want a more accurate translation than the KJV, there are probably some already out there, why translate yet another one? I think JRC was trafficking in some now out-dated notions about the Bible that the translation and manuscripts were so corrupted that if you did a non-biased translation, concepts unique to Mormonism would just pop out. Given the many translations that have been published and popularized since that quote in 1956 (including the NIV and NRSV), I find that proposition somewhat dubious.

  5. DLewis on May 3, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    AHLDuke:
    I don’t think the series editors are particularly concerned with fulfilling Clark’s mandate explicitly; I just find it interesting that they would introduce their project with a quote from Clark (who more than anyone championed the KJV–a subtle indication that even the KJV’s famous defender would welcome their project) and one that focuses primarily on translation rather than commentary. As for its congruence with LDS teachings, Grant Hardy’s recent piece “The KJV and the Future of Missionary Work” usefully points out that newer translations deemphasize some LDS “proof-texts” but more clearly explain other LDS principles. So it’d probably be a wash, to say nothing of the fact that a clearer rendition cannot help but make the gospel clearer almost by default.

  6. Dave on May 3, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Robert C., thanks for adding a link to Jim’s book.

    D Lewis, thanks for the comment. I have no idea what impact the project will have on LDS scriptures or the LDS curriculum, but it can only be a positive one. Here’s a link to the “Project” page and the J. Reuben Clark quotation:

    http://www.byunewtestamentcommentary.com/about-us/the-project/

    Under the “Publications” tab (which I didn’t see earlier) the title of the first volume is announced as The Revelation of St. John the Apostle, which suggests the authors identify John of Patmos with John the apostle in the gospels. This is one of those tension issues, given that Revelation itself does not make this identification (the author never identifies himself as an apostle or gives any suggestion that he walked the paths of Galilee and Judea with Jesus) and most scholars reject it.

    I’m sure the volume will provide a detailed discussion of authorship. Holzapfel, Huntsman, and Wayment discuss the authorship of Revelation for two pages, favoring John the Apostle. They explaining the poor Greek of Revelation, compared to the simple but grammatical Greek of John’s gospel, by John’s banishment to Patmos, where he likely had no scribe to polish and render grammatical his Greek writing.

  7. David T on May 3, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    While I recall seeing the ‘St.’ in reports of the title yesterday, today the first title is simply listed om the website as “The Revelation of John the Apostle”. (Perhaps kind of like how Givens and Grow’s PPP volume went from ‘The St. Paul of Mormonism” to “The Apostle Paul of Mormonism” … )

    Seeing the links to the papers presented on the site itself as resources, it does appear to be an indicator that the interpretations of the Book of Mormon and D&C references to John the Apostle as author of the Revelation will be going uncontested. I see it likely that a review of the current positions will be presented, but with the “But Modern revelation tells us better” trump card.

  8. Craig H. on May 3, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    Dave #6 that was my first thought too: controversy and debate with the very first volume, right in the title. Elaine Pagels’ new book on Revelation summarizes scholarship (her own and that of others) which makes the Apostle’s authorship seem very unlikely. And so it will go.

  9. JT on May 3, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    This is very exciting news – thanks for posting this, Dave. I had heard about this project several years ago, but then didn’t hear anything for about three years (until today). I was getting worried that it had lost funding or was otherwise being scrapped.

    To get a better understanding of the NT in light of modern scholarship, I am currently using the HarperCollins Study Bible (NRSV), along with Bart Ehrman’s _The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings_. Ehrman’s book is great and very enlightening, but for a textbook published by Oxford, it does not take much of a neutral approach and can be irreverent at times. I have thus supplemented it with Holzapfel, Huntsman & Wayment’s _Jesus Christ and the World of the New Testament_ to get an LDS perspective on various topics. All this is to say that I think the new BYU project is sorely needed and could be revolutionary in how the church uses and views the Bible.

  10. Cameron N on May 3, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    I had Huntsman for a NT class at the Y a few years ago. I just picked up ‘Jesus Christ and the world’ for NT and also the OT equivalent. Should be fun.

  11. Jake Cox on May 3, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    The example above about Revelation’s authorship is important. 1 Nephi 14:20 & 22 tell us that “one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” will “write concerning the end of the world.” Then verse 27 tells us that “the name of the apostle of the Lamb was John.” Unless you’re fan of the expansion hypothesis (which I sort of am), there’s very little room to maneuver here. No, the Book of Mormon does not say explicitly, “The Apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation.” But the implication is effectively inescapable — and so folks at BYU are more-or-less bound by that. All scholarship pointing elsewhere must be discounted to preserve the Book of Mormon’s integrity. (I suppose you could say, “The Apostle John *did* write about the end of the world, but not necessarily in Revelation. It could be in some lost book.” But again, this would be hard for most of us to swallow.)

    IMHO, there’s really *nothing* for a serious NT scholar to do with Revelation *other than* historically contextualize it — some of which could have echoes of LDS teachings (for example, Margaret Barker’s theories about the connections between Revelation and the First Temple) but much of which makes it very much a document for its own day — one that doesn’t look much like a prediction of things to come in a couple thousand years.

    So, although I think the current crop of BYU religion scholars are well qualified for this project, I think dogma constrains them too much for this project to accomplish something important.

  12. Kent Larsen on May 3, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    “No, the Book of Mormon does not say explicitly, “The Apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation.” But the implication is effectively inescapable”

    Really? I don’t see why.

    Couldn’t John have also written some other, unknown book that we don’t have that is about the end of the world?

  13. WVS on May 3, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    Dave, in speaking to a few of the people involved, there has certainly been some private discussion over how to see Revelation and the rest of the NT in a Mormon context. In short, it’s not completely clear that work in modern NT scholarship will shine much light in some of these commentaries, beyond the typical tension styled as “us against those handicapped worldly scholars.” If there is some nuance here, I’ll be rejoicing. I’ve got some faith in some of the new folks in RelEd.

  14. Jake Cox on May 3, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Kent (#12), my comment notes the very possibility you propose, but as I said, this would be hard for most Church members to swallow. It would be especially hard for a BYU publication to propose that idea. E.g., “Although anyone passingly familiar with the New Testament would interpret 1 Nephi 14 as identifying John the Apostle as the author of Revelation — and although God, when inspiring Joseph’s translation of the Book of Mormon, would plainly know that the book’s readers would make such a connection — current scholarship suggests that John the Apostle and ‘John the Revelator’ were not the same person. Accordingly, we propose that John the Apostle wrote some other book about the end of the world. As for what Revelation means, well … probably very little in terms of the end of the world. Good luck reconciling that with everything Correlation instills in you.”

    I suppose you could go with a different assumption: The Gospel of John was not written by the John the Apostle; only Revelation was written by John the Apostle. But that has its own problems.

    My point is that Mormons, for all our talk of “as far as it is translated correctly,” are probably more wedded than any other church to the notion of the Bible being exactly what early 19th century Christians thought it was. (And I suppose it’s possible that the Bible still *is* exactly what early 19th century Christians thought it was. Hard for me to accept, but I can’t entirely discount that.)

  15. Nancy Ross on May 3, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Kent – that would really be stretching things, as Revelation has always always always, by which I mean from Iraneus to the present, been seen as THE book on the end of the world, supposedly authored by John.

  16. Dave on May 3, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    Thanks for the comments, everyone.

    JT (#9), I’ve got the Harper Collins Study Bible (which uses the NRSV) on my iPad. I use Raymond Brown’s Introduction to the New Testament, which is probably more conservative and certainly less irreverent than Ehrman’s (but I like Ehrman).

    Jake (#11, #14), I agree the Mormon scripture references to John the Apostle do appear to constrain what an LDS scholar writing for an LDS audience can do with the authorship question. But scholars are clever and the the question is not as straightforward as one might think. Whether those sort of references in, for example, the Book of Mormon are straight from God’s mouth (via the Nephite interpreters or seer stones Joseph was employing) or whether those references merely reflect the general understanding of Joseph and his contemporaries depends on a theory of translation, and there is no agreement as to what that theory is. Joseph never shared one.

    And straightforward statements are not always taken for what they say. Take Rev. 1:1, for example, which identifies the visions to follow in the book as “things which must shortly come to pass,” which I’m guessing the LDS commentators will interpret as meaning “things which will come to pass in the latter days, thousands of years from now.” So it will be interesting to see how the authors handle these interesting issues. I hope they at least give the issues a full discussion.

  17. Kevin Barney on May 3, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    If people are interested, they might check out my _Footnotes to the New Testament for Latter-day Saints_, available in various formats here:

    http://feastupontheword.org/Site:NTFootnotes

    This is a much more modest project than the BYU Commentary series. Rather than a full commentary, it is more a set of explanatory notes. But, pending whatever the BYU crew does, I do think this is the most sustained LDS engagement with the text of the entire New Testament available.

  18. Dave on May 3, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Thanks for the link, Kevin. I thought of your project when I wrote the post but wasn’t sure how to track it down. Your paragraph on authorship of Revelation, for example, strikes just the sort of balance I hope to see in the BYU series.

  19. Kevin Barney on May 3, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    Just to clarify, the Johannine material (including Revelation) was authored by John Tvedtnes.

  20. Jake Cox on May 3, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    So the Gospel of John and Revelation really were written by the same John . . . John Tvedtnes. (kidding, in case that wasn’t clear)

  21. Eric Facer on May 3, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    “The most reliable way to measure the accuracy of any biblical passage is not by comparing different texts, but by comparison with the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelations.” Am I the only one who questions the validity of this statement, notwithstanding its source? Isn’t the best way to understand the accuracy of any biblical passage—or the accuracy of any other writing for that matter—is to try to understand what the original author was trying to say, taking into account the prevailing culture, belief systems, and politics of his day, and making allowances for language differences?

    Trying to read everything through the Mormon prism does not seem like a promising vehicle for arriving at the truth; and the end of the day, all prisms distort light. Indeed, once you no longer buy into the myth of “doctrinal uniformity”—the false notion that the doctrines taught in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and modern-day revelations are uniformly consistent—then relying on a passage, say, from the D&C to interpret the teachings of Moses holds great potential for misunderstandings.

  22. g.wesley on May 4, 2013 at 1:11 am

    Eric,

    Yours and other comments give me some hope for the future.

    Thanks

  23. wonderdog on May 4, 2013 at 6:38 am

    I use and really like Kevin Barney’s footnotes on the New Testament. I’m looking forward to BYU’s translation.

  24. Kevin Barney on May 4, 2013 at 8:02 am

    Jake no. 20, that is not my personal view, but I edited the different contributions with a light hand as I explain in the Preface to the project.

  25. Kent Larsen on May 4, 2013 at 8:37 am

    Jake (14) suggested this wording:

    “Although anyone passingly familiar with the New Testament would interpret 1 Nephi 14 as identifying John the Apostle as the author of Revelation — and although God, when inspiring Joseph’s translation of the Book of Mormon, would plainly know that the book’s readers would make such a connection — current scholarship suggests that John the Apostle and ‘John the Revelator’ were not the same person. Accordingly, we propose that John the Apostle wrote some other book about the end of the world. As for what Revelation means, well … probably very little in terms of the end of the world. Good luck reconciling that with everything Correlation instills in you.”

    For the record, I’m teaching Seminary right now, and I’ve been saying this kind of thing all year. When we start Revelation tomorrow or Tuesday, the above is basically what I will say.

  26. Jettboy on May 4, 2013 at 10:13 am

    This commentary about Mormon or even BYU Bible commentary is missing a few recent examples. “Jesus Christ and the World of the New Testament” and “Jesus Christ and the World of the New Testament,” but there are others that might be a guide to what will be done. Neitzel Holzapfel and Thomas A. Wayment produced a three volume “The Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ,” and a one volume “The Life and Teachings of the New Testament Apostles: From the Day of Pentecost to the Apocalypse” for study material. Other books of interest might be “Verse by Verse: The Four Gospels” and “Verse by Verse: Acts Through Revelation” by Andrew C. Skinner, D. Kelly Ogden. For those who want a non-Mormon commentary on the Scriptures, I would suggest reading and sticking with non-Mormons. To tweek a saying, what does Provo have to do with Athens?

    I do agree that Revelation is not entirely about the future, but its themes are not isoteric to a Mormon who is paying attention. On the other hand, I actually feel much more comfortable with the idea that John wasn’t written by the Apostle than I do that Revelation wasn’t written by the Apostle.

  27. Jettboy on May 4, 2013 at 10:16 am

    correction: The more recent publications listed are ““Jesus Christ and the World of the New Testament,” and “How the New Testament Came to Be,” but there are others that are a guide to what might be done.

  28. Dave on May 4, 2013 at 10:23 am

    To add another recent and useful LDS New Testament resource that didn’t make my original list, there’s a 2009 BYU Religious Studies Center book titled Shedding Light on the New Testament: Acts-Revelation. It’s a collection of articles by BYU profs, including Chapter 13 titled Understanding Images and Symbols in the Book of Revelation, by Richard D. Draper. He’s one of the authors on the first volume of the BYU series that we’ve been talking about. The book is available online (follow the links).

  29. Eric Facer on May 4, 2013 at 11:25 am

    G. Wesley,

    Your response reassures me that I am not alone. Thanks.

  30. cadams on May 4, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    A question for everyone: what in your opinion is the best one or two volume scholarly commentary on the New Testament?

  31. Jennie on May 4, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    Jettboy #26: Are you referring to the bibliography? I’m one of the staff who is helping populate the bibliography. Everything in it so far is available online, so we’re creating an online resource. Send us a note through “Contact Us” if you have suggestions. The bibliography is still very much a work in progress.
    We wanted to put the website up now to announce the conference on May 15. We welcome feedback on the website’s content.

  32. cadams on May 4, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    concerning post 30, especially on the gospels

  33. oudenos on May 4, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Does anybody have any info Richard Draper’s PhD program in Ancient History at BYU?

    http://religion.byu.edu/richard_draper

    When did this graduate program exist and why was it (apparently) discontinued? Which department granted the degree? What were the requirements? Who served on his dissertation committee and who was his adviser? These are important questions, at least to me.

  34. Eric Facer on May 4, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    If you would like to read a good introductory, yet scholarly, account of the origins of the New Testament, I highly recommend Professor Martin’s book, “New Testament History and Literature.” It is part of the Yale Open Course series.

    The author does not break new ground; rather, he synthesizes all of the latest scholarship regarding the New Testament and the circumstances surrounding its creation. You can get it on Amazon for about $12. There is a companion volume for the Old Testament, which is also part of the Yale Series, that is called “Introduction to the Bible.” It, too, is excellent.

  35. John Taber on May 4, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    The Church seems to consider the King James Version to still be important (I will grant that its language is reverent, not necessarily sacred), yet flawed (hence the alternate translations from Hebrew and Greek, and the JST). Maybe the next print edition of the Bible should have the base text in one column, and clarifications (currently in the footnotes as “HEB”, “GR”, “IE” or “JST”, along with some commentary) in the other. Since you would need fewer footnotes, and wouldn’t need the JST passages in the back, it would probably take up the same amount of space and would be easier to follow.

  36. Carole on May 4, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    I had thought a primary reason the church used the KJV (as opposed to a more modern translation) was that it’s in the public domain, so they can publish their own edition with footnotes cross-referencing uniquely LDS scripture.

  37. Kent Larsen on May 4, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    Carole, that is certainly an element of the decision. And it is probably the overriding reason for the edition of the Bible in Spanish the Church produced a few years ago.

  38. Richard D. Draper on May 4, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    Seeing the question about my degree, I thought I would respond. Because of the seriousness and extent of this project, I am not surprised some would be concerned if those involved had the skills and scholarship to do the job.
    It may be well for the readers to know that each volume will have more than one author. Michael Rhodes and I have been tasked to do the volume on Revelation. But I digress.
    Due to the influence of Hugh Nibley, interest in scholarship in the ancient world greatly increased in LDS circles over the years generating a number of qualified scholars. In the late 1970′s a number of these, including, Hugh Nibley, approached the administration about offering a multi-departmental degree in ancient studies. It would be composed of four components: ancient history in general, an area of specialization in ancient history, ancient philosophy, and early christian history. It would also have a language component that would demand reading competency in German, French, ancient Greek, Hebrew, and Latin. The concept for the degree was approved and applicants were accepted in 1979 for the school year 1980.
    Art Bailey and I were the first accepted into the program. Two years later, Kathy Thomas was accepted.
    The degree took six years of full time work to complete. It took Art and me eight years because, due to family demands, we had to return to work after four years. My adviser for the course work was C. Wilford Griggs, a university professor. My adviser for the dissertation was John F. Hall, a professor in Classics.
    Before either oral or written exams could proceed, all language requirements had to be met.
    My dissertation was entitled “The Role of the Pontifex Maximus and Its Influence in Roman Religion and Politics.”
    My examination committee was composed of Professors Griggs (Ancient Scripture), Hall (Classics), Anderson (Ancient Scripture), Pixton (History), and Montgomery (History).
    Before Kathy Thomas graduated, the University determined, so I was informed, to close the degree for two main reasons: first, the time factor of six years was felt to be excessive and second, the opportunity for full employment for those getting the degree was poor.
    I hope that helps.
    Richard

  39. oudenos on May 4, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    Richard,

    Thanks for providing answers to my questions, in person no less! Your program sounds like it was rigorous and really interesting and I am glad that the BYU of those days had such a thing. It makes me a little sad that such a program is unheard of these days. But I think that BYU did show some wisdom in seeing just how difficult it is to land jobs in the academy, especially in the humanities and in the various fields of antiquity. I look forward to your volume! Again, thanks for the answers, sometimes the internet almos makes me feel good about it.

  40. DLewis on May 4, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    Prof. Draper, while we have you on the line as it were, would you care to comment on the title of the volume, esp. the decision to include “the Apostle?” I’m not familiar with the scholarship on the book’s authorship, but I found the title surprising b/c neither the original KJV nor the JST (as far as I’m aware) specifically mentions this title in reference to the John mentioned in the text.

  41. Jettboy on May 5, 2013 at 12:34 am

    Jennie, no I wasn’t. I was refering to Dave Banack’s OP at the top that listed two books of recent years with the implication there weren’t any others during or after them of equal value. I doubt the ones I named would be online sources any time soon.

  42. LDS Anarchist on May 5, 2013 at 5:31 am

    The example above about Revelation’s authorship is important. 1 Nephi 14:20 & 22 tell us that “one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” will “write concerning the end of the world.” Then verse 27 tells us that “the name of the apostle of the Lamb was John.” Unless you’re fan of the expansion hypothesis (which I sort of am), there’s very little room to maneuver here. No, the Book of Mormon does not say explicitly, “The Apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation.” But the implication is effectively inescapable — and so folks at BYU are more-or-less bound by that. All scholarship pointing elsewhere must be discounted to preserve the Book of Mormon’s integrity. (I suppose you could say, “The Apostle John *did* write about the end of the world, but not necessarily in Revelation. It could be in some lost book.” But again, this would be hard for most of us to swallow.)

    The Book of Revelation doesn’t actually match all of what Nephi says John will write. See the following:

    https://ldsanarchy.wordpress.com/2012/12/29/1-nephi-13-14-commentary-using-ctcs-view/

  43. Eric on May 5, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Dave — Could you please give an example of where the KJV more accurately renders LDS belief than does a modern translation of the New Testament?

    Except when preparing lessons, I very seldom (OK, never) read the KJV outside of church, instead using one of several modern translations for my personal study and reading (lately, since I’m online so much, it’s the NET). With some minor exceptions (such as Jesus sending out 72 rather than 70), I don’t recall running across situations where the modern, and presumably more accurate, rendering threatened LDS teaching. Well, maybe the possibility of a female apostle in Romans 15:7 is a major exception, but even then there are legitimate alternate readings.

  44. Eric on May 5, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Make that Romans 16:7.

  45. Dave on May 6, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Eric, I think a better way to express my thought (if in fact that was my thought) is that a modern translation more accurately renders the Bible than does the KJV. For that reason alone LDS who want to read and understand the Bible should be using a modern translation along with a helpful reference book or two (study bible, bible dictionary, introduction to NT, commentaries if you’re really serious).

    As for the KJV, it is clear from the statements I quoted in the post that LDS leaders like the KJV because (1) it matches up so nicely with so many passages in the Book of Mormon, and (2) it uses the same rather archaic English vocabulary and grammar that one finds in the Book of Mormon and D&C. The KJV sounds like Mormon scripture, whereas modern translations sound so … modern.

    For a longer discussion of these points, see my earlier WWE post “Getting Past the KJV,” which discusses Grant Hardy’s 2012 Dialogue article “The King James Bible and the Future of Missionary Work,” a full copy of which has been made available by the friendly folks at BCC.

  46. Brian on May 7, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Isn’t the term, ‘more accurate’, subjective? Any translation still comes down to someone determining what the ‘best’ word or phrase most accurately renders the authors intent, if that is the objective of the translation. Does inspiration or revelation play a role in translation, or is it purely an intellectual pursuit based on language, culture, and some of the other variables described earlier (which do seem to matter).

    And is there any provision for differentiating doctrinal accuracy from historical accuracy, for example?

  47. Dave on May 7, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    Good questions, Brian. First, compared to the KJV, modern translations have access to better manuscripts, which obviously contributes to a better translation. Second, a translation is aimed at a target audience of language speakers, and we 21st-century English speakers are not the target audience of the KJV, whereas we are for modern translations. Which is why modern translations are so much more readable.

    As for accuracy, there are different approaches to translation, some which try to stay closer to the original wording, others allow more freedom to adopt the idioms of the target language. So I’m not sure accuracy is quite the right measure for ranking different modern translations, although it could be used to argue against the KJV, the Geneva Bible, or other earlier translations.

  48. Ben S. on May 8, 2013 at 8:24 am

    Brian, you might want to check my series on Bibles and translation, starting here.
    http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2012/05/reading-the-bibles-the-problem-part-1/

  49. Allen on May 16, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    “The BYU New Testament Commentary will make extensive use of research in Greek, Latin, Aramaic, Coptic, and other languages, but the final product will be accessible to a general readership.”

    Am I the only one to notice a glaring ommision in the list?

WELCOME

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