Changed LDS Scripture/Part 20

By: Marvin W. Cowan; ©2011
The New Testament of the Joseph Smith Translation [JST] got a little more recognition in the official LDS Bible than the [JST] Old Testament did. But did God reveal all of the JST’s “inspired translation” of the New Testament to Smith? If He did, why doesn’t the LDS leadership publish all of it instead of just “selected parts?”

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Mormons believe that latter-day revelation and scripture has given them a superior understanding of God, men, salvation, eternity, and so on. Has it really done that for them? In these articles we have already discussed many of the most important changes in the Joseph Smith Translation (JST) of the Old Testament. We didn’t discuss every change Smith made in the Old Testament since many are insignificant and really didn’t change the meaning of the text, and it would be too tedious to mention all of them. But in the changes that we discussed, did the JST really clarify the texts? Did it restore “many important points touching the salvation of men” that Smith claimed “had been taken from the Bible or lost before it was compiled” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 10-11)? The JST added many unimportant and unnecessary words which did not clarify the text but often corrupted or distorted it. Furthermore, none of Smith’s changes were supported by either original manuscripts or history. Thus, belief in the JST is based only on Joseph Smith’s claim that it was revealed and inspired by God.

Beginning in 1979, LDS leaders selected “parts” of the JST to add to the appendix and margins of their official Bible, which is still the King James Version Bible (KJV). But only five pages of the JST Old Testament were added to the KJV appendix along with a few JST words in the margins of Old Testament books. Since that was all of the JST Old Testament that LDS leaders included in the official LDS Bible, why did God reveal all the rest of the JST Old Testament to the LDS Prophet Joseph Smith?

Smith began in the Old Testament by making lots of changes at the beginning of Genesis, but his changes became fewer and fewer in later books. He did the same thing in the JST of the New Testament and made lots of changes in Matthew and not nearly as many changes later. LDS leaders authorized almost twelve pages of Smith’s JST New Testament to be put in their official KJV Bible’s appendix with a few more JST words placed in the margins of some New Testament books. So the New Testament of the JST did get a little more recognition in the official LDS Bible than the Old Testament did. But did God reveal all of the JST’s “inspired translation” of the New Testament to Smith? If He did, why doesn’t the LDS leadership publish all of it instead of just “selected parts?”

Smith changed the verse numbers of Matthew 1 in the JST so that it ends with Matthew 1:17 in the KJV and other Bibles which is Matthew 1:5 in the JST. Matthew 1:18-25 in the KJV and other Bibles is chapter 2 in the JST. And Matthew 3 of the JST is Matthew 2 and 3 in the KJV and other Bibles. There is no logical reason for Smith to change the verse numbers in the JST other than to make it more difficult to compare his JST with the KJV and other Bibles. Smith made some minor word changes in Matthew 1 and 2 of the JST, but they really don’t change any meanings. Most of Smith’s changes in Matthew 3 of the JST just add words that do nothing for the text. But there are a couple of texts worth noting. Matthew 2:6 in the KJV and other Bibles is Matthew 3:6 in the JST which quotes Micah 5:2 from the Old Testament. The JST of Micah 5:2 in the Old Testament is exactly the same as the KJV. But when it is quoted in Matthew 3:6 of Smith’s JST, it says, “The word of the Lord came unto us saying, And thou Bethlehem, which lieth in the land of Judea, in thee shall be born a prince, which art not the least among the princes of Judea; for out of thee shall come the Messiah, who shall save my people Israel.” Compare that with Micah 5:2 and you will see the difference in the JST.

Matthew 3:24-26 in the JST contains non-biblical content. It says,

And it came to pass that Jesus grew up with his brethren, and waxed strong, and waited upon the Lord for the time of his ministry to come. And he served under his father, and spake not as other men, neither could he be taught; for he needed not that any man should teach him. And after many years, the hour of his ministry drew nigh.

That is very much like conjectures that some have made about Jesus’ boyhood, but it is not biblical content. Matthew 3:27-33 in the JST is Matthew 3:1-7 in the KJV and other Bibles, with some minor variations. But Matthew 3:34 in the JST isn’t in any other Bible. It says,

Why is it that ye receive not the preaching of him whom God hath sent? If ye receive not this in your hearts, ye receive not me; and if ye receive not me, ye receive not him of whom I am sent to bear record; and for your sins ye have no cloak.

Those familiar with Smith teachings might see this text as a veiled warning to those who heard Smith’s preaching but rejected Mormonism. Too many minor changes are made in the JST in this chapter to mention them all. But the baptism of Jesus is recorded in Matthew 3:45-46 in the JST which is in Matthew 3:16-17 in the KJV and other Bibles. The JST says,

And Jesus when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water; and John saw, and lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon Jesus. And lo, he heard a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear ye him.

The KJV and other Bibles indicate that it was Jesus who saw and heard those things, not John.

Do the changes in the JST mentioned in this article really help clarify the text or any “points touching the salvation of men” that Smith said were missing in the Bible? Remember that was one of the reasons Smith gave for “translating” the JST as mentioned in the first paragraph of this article.

Those who want to read more on this subject can do so in Mormonism, Shadow or Reality, by Jerald and Sandra Tanner. We will continue our discussion of the JST New Testament next time.

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