Changed LDS Scripture/Part 14
|By: Marvin W. Cowan; ©2010|
|The first chapter of Isaiah in the Joseph Smith Translation [JST] is exactly the same as the King James Version of the Bible, including all 17 italicized words found in the King James Version [KJV]. But those words are not italicized in the JST. Most people know that the italicized words in the KJV version of the Bible were supplied by the KJV translators to smooth out the reading in English. So, how did the words supplied by the KJV translators in 1611 AD get into Smith’s JST?|
The Joseph Smith Translation [JST] of Genesis in the Bible has been our focus so far in this series. There are many other issues in the JST of Genesis, but we can’t discuss all of them without writing a large book! So, we will look at the JST of Isaiah which has some interesting changes too. The first chapter of Isaiah in the JST is exactly the same as the King James Version of the Bible, including all 17 italicized words found in the King James Version [KJV]. But those words are not italicized in the JST. Most people know that the italicized words in the KJV version of the Bible are not in the original text but were supplied by the KJV translators in 1611 AD to smooth out the reading in English. So, how did the words supplied by the KJV translators in 1611 AD get into Smith’s JST around 1832 unless he just copied the KJV?
Isaiah chapters 2 through 14 in the JST have a “second witness” since they are also in the Book of Mormon. In II Nephi 11:8 of the Book of Mormon Nephi says, “And now I write some of the words of Isaiah… now these are the words…” after which Isaiah 2 through 14 appear as II Nephi 12 through 24. Smith claimed that the Book of Mormon and the JST were both “revealed” by God, so the translations of Isaiah in both texts should be the same. Much of Isaiah 2 through 14 is exactly the same, but there are some differences that will be discussed later. Joseph Smith didn’t begin to “translate” the JST until after he published the Book of Mormon in 1830. So, when the JST of Isaiah 2 through 14 is different from the KJV but exactly the same as II Nephi 12 through 24, Smith probably copied his version of Isaiah from the Book of Mormon into his JST.
The KJV of Isaiah 2:2 says, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains….” “That” is italicized in the KJV. But both Isaiah 2:2 in the JST and II Nephi 12:2 in the Book of Mormon changed “that” to “when the mountain of the Lord’s house….” Latter-day Saints [LDS] teach that the Bible is unclear but the JST and the Book of Mormon clarify it. Why Smith changed the word “that” to “when” is not known, but does it really clarify anything? This verse is often used by LDS to teach that they fulfilled this promise by building the Salt Lake Temple in “the top of the mountains.” But anyone who has seen the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City knows that it isn’t on top of a mountain, but in one of the lowest parts of the Salt Lake Valley, so does it fulfill this verse?
The KJV of Isaiah 2:6 says “Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people, the house of Jacob….” But, II Nephi 12:6 and Isaiah 2:6 in the JST add the words “O Lord” after “Therefore.” But no original text of that verse has “O Lord” in it, nor do those words clarify anything. Isaiah 2:7 in the KJV says, “Their land is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots.” The words “is there any” are in italics twice in the KJV of that verse, just like it is quoted here. Those same italicized words appear in the JST of Isaiah 2:7 and in II Nephi 2:7, but they are NOT italicized! Remember that italicized words in the KJV were supplied by the KJV translators in 1611 AD. Neither the Book of Mormon nor the JST even existed until about 220 years after the KJV was published, so Smith obviously copied the KJV.
The KJV of Isaiah 2:8-9 says, “Their land is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made. And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself; therefore forgive them not.” Smith apparently didn’t understand the context, so he changed II Nephi 12:9 in the original Book of Mormon to read, “And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself not; therefore forgive them not.” The original Book of Mormon did not have the same chapters and verses as the current editions, but this text is found in chapter 8 on page 87.
After the current chapters and verses were put into the Book of Mormon, someone added a second “not” to verse 9 so that it now reads, “And the mean man boweth not down, and the great man humbleth himself not; therefore forgive them not” which reversed the actual meaning of this text! Verse 8 has just said their land is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands….” Verse 9 then explains: “And the mean [or common] man bows down [before the idols] and the great man humbles himself [before the idols],” and that is why the KJV says, “forgive them not.” But Isaiah 2:9 in Smith’s “inspired” JST says the mean or common man does not bow before the idol and the great man does not humble himself before it, so don’t forgive them! That makes it sound like God wanted Israel to worship idols! That is the way the current edition of II Nephi 11:9 reads in the Book of Mormon but different from the original Book of Mormon.
Why was II Nephi 11:9 changed from the way it read in the original Book of Mormon? Smith claimed that the original Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, so did someone improve on what God did? Or, was the scribe who wrote it careless, like LDS claim the biblical scribes were? If Book of Mormon scribes were careless, LDS cannot claim the Book of Mormon is more reliable than the Bible!
Smith then added the words, “O ye wicked ones” at the beginning of the next verse (Isaiah 2:10) in the JST and in II Nephi 12:10 before completing the rest of the verse exactly as it is in the KJV. Smith’s translation said in verse 9 that the people did not bow or humble themselves before the idols, so God shouldn’t forgive them, and then in verse 10 he calls them wicked! Were they wicked because they didn’t worship idols? Does that make sense? When Isaiah chapter 2 is read in context it is easy to see that God will judge idol worshipers and that He wants idolatry ended in Israel as verses 18 and 20 clearly state.
For more information on the Inspired Version or JST see Mormonism: Shadow or Reality? by Jerald and Sandra Tanner, published by Utah Lighthouse Ministry, P. O. Box 1884, Salt Lake City, UT 84110. Next time we will continue our study of the JST version of Isaiah.