Changed LDS Scripture/Part 25 | John Ankerberg Show

Changed LDS Scripture/Part 25

By: The John Ankerberg Show
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By: Marvin W. Cowan; ©2011
Mormons believe that the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST) was given to Smith by revelation because no other translation of the Bible was completely reliable. But does the JST really clarify the text or does it just add superfluous words or content that is out of context?

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Mormons believe that the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST) was given to Smith by revelation because no other translation of the Bible was completely reliable. But does the JST really clarify the text or does it just add superfluous words or content that is out of context?

Matthew 9:14-17 in the King James Version of the Bible (KJV) says,

Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, then shall they fast. No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.

In the Joseph Smith Translation that same text is in Matthew 9:15-23, which says,

And while he was thus teaching, there came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. Then said the Pharisees unto him Why will ye not receive us with our baptism, seeing we keep the whole law? But Jesus said unto them, Ye keep not the law. If ye had kept the law, ye would have received me, for I am he who gave the law. I receive not you with your baptism, because it profiteth you nothing. For when that which is new is come, the old is ready to be put away. For no man putteth a piece of new cloth on an old garment; for that which is put in to fill it up, taketh from the garment and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.

This text has 126 words in the KJV while the JST adds four verses and has a total of 211 words. Do the extra words in the JST of this text add anything important that clarifies it? The extra words say that the Pharisees asked Jesus why He didn’t receive them and their baptism since they kept the whole law. That sounds like a question a Mormon would ask instead of one a Pharisee would ask. There is no biblical evidence that the Pharisees baptized or ever asked Jesus to accept them or their baptism. From the beginning of Jesus’ ministry the Pharisees tried to silence Him and were among those who wanted to kill Him (John 5:18; 7:1, 19; 8:37, 40). So, the Pharisees’ question in the JST of this text is out of place. That becomes quite evident when this text is compared with the parallel passages in Mark and Luke. Matthew, Mark and Luke are called “synoptic gospels” because they essentially record the same content. The account recorded in the KJV of Matthew 9:14-17 is also recorded in the same order in the KJV of Mark 2:18-22 and Luke 5:33-39. And in the JST it is found in Mark 2:16-20 where it is exactly like the KJV except for minor word changes in verse 16. It is also in the JST of Luke 5:33-39 where it is exactly the same as the KJV except for minor changes in verse 36. So in the JST, neither Mark nor Luke mentions the Pharisees asking Jesus to receive them and their baptism because they kept the whole law. Since the added content in the JST of Matthew 9:15-23 is not in the parallel accounts in either Mark or Luke, and it is not in any original documents of the New Testament, it raises serious questions about the validity of it.

Joseph Smith—Matthew” is a small book in the LDS scripture entitled the Pearl of Great Price . The title is a bit misleading, since it doesn’t contain all of Matthew, but the sub-title explains it as: “An extract from the translation of the Bible as revealed to Joseph Smith the Prophet in 1831: Matthew 23:39 and chapter 24.” Those verses are all that it contains. It is not a good translation of the biblical Matthew 24 because it contains so many superfluous words and some verses are moved to other locations in it like they are in the JST.

The main difference between “Joseph Smith—Matthew” and the JST of Matthew 24 is that some verse numbers are different and a few words are spelled differently. Notice that the sub-title in the Pearl of Great Price says it is a “translation of the Bible as revealed to Joseph Smith the Prophet.” Can a translation be revealed? The only document Smith used to “translate” the JST was an English KJV Bible! Can English be translated into English? Someone might revise, correct, or change a document, but if it is in the same language, it would not be a translation! The sub-title also says it was revealed to Smith (by God). What does that mean? How was it revealed? Did Smith see it? Or, did he just think, “It ought to say —”? “Joseph Smith—Matthew” in the Pearl of Great Price and Matthew 24 in the JST have a lot of verbiage that is not in original New Testament documents, so did God reveal all those superfluous words?

More can be read about the JST in The Inspired Revision of the Bible by Richard Van Wagoner, published by Deseret Book. Next time we will continue to discuss changes in the JST.

Read Part 26

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