Changed LDS Scripture/Part 26

By: Marvin W. Cowan; ©2011
According to Mormon sources, Joseph Smith was “translating” the JST when he said he had received revelations that made it apparent that many important points about salvation were missing from the Bible. Smith’s claimed his JST was “translated” by revelation, so where are those missing points about salvation found in his JST Bible?

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The Joseph Smith Translation (JST) of the New Testament has numerous additions of nonessential words and/or information which have no value in understanding the text. Joseph Smith said on February 16, 1832,

Upon my return from Amherst Conference, I resumed the translation of the Scriptures (the JST). From sundry revelations [in the Doctrine & Covenants] which had been received, it was apparent that many important points touching the salvation of men had been taken from the Bible or lost before it was compiled (History of the Church, vol. I, p. 245).

Notice the context: Smith was “translating” the JST when he said he had received revelations that made it apparent that many important points about salvation were missing from the Bible. Smith’s claimed his JST was “translated” by revelation, so where are those missing points about salvation found in his JST Bible? Smith also said in the History of the Church Volume I, page 245, that he and Sidney Rigdon saw the vision in Doctrine and Covenants 76 which tells of three heavens. If that was among the missing points of salvation in the Bible, where is that content in the JST? First Corinthians 15:40 mentions terrestrial and celestial bodies and Smith’s JST added “telestial bodies,” but that text doesn’t have any other content found in Doctrine and Covenants 76:1-119.

If the JST was “revealed” to correct Bible errors and restore lost or missing content about salvation and other doctrines, why are most of the changes in it just extra words and irrelevant content? The JST often combines two Bible verses into one JST verse while in other places it splits a Bible verse into two verses. Verse numbers weren’t part of the original inspired text when scripture was revealed, so why would God confuse people by giving different verse numbers for the JST? For example, Mark 14 in the JST has 82 verses while Mark 14 in the Bible only has 72 verses, yet the content is about the same. That makes it difficult to compare the JST with the Bible. Was that the real reason for changing the verse numbers?

The Book of Mormon contains some stories that appear to be Bible stories with different people in different settings who experience miracles similar to those in the Bible. See III Nephi 28:19-22 for examples of this. In that text the three Nephites couldn’t be held in prison, like Peter and John in Acts 6:19 or Paul and Silas in Acts 16:26. They were put in pits which couldn’t hold them, like Joseph in Genesis 37:24. The three Hebrews in Daniel 3:20 were cast into a furnace of fire once, but the three Nephites were cast into a furnace three times! Daniel was cast into a den of lions once (Daniel 6:16), but the three Nephites were cast into a den of lions twice!

Smith also embellished some Bible stories in his JST. Matthew 28:2-7 in the Bible says “the angel of the Lord” descended from heaven and rolled the stone away from the tomb’s entrance where Jesus’ body was after His crucifixion. But the JST of Matthew 28:2-7 says two angels came and rolled the stone away! Mark 16:5 in the Bible says the two Marys and Salome entered the tomb and saw “a young man sitting on the right side.” But the JST of Mark 16:3 also says the women “saw that the stone was rolled away (for it was very great), and two angels sitting thereon (outside of the tomb), clothed in long white garments…,” but no angels or men are mentioned inside the tomb. Luke 24:4 in the Bible says two men appeared in the tomb, but the JST of Luke 24:2 says two angels appeared outside of the tomb. Changes like that can be made without inspiration from God, but do they clarify the texts or salvation?

Matthew, Mark and Luke are called synoptic gospels because each writer tells the story of Christ’s life and ministry chronologically as they were inspired. Jesus’ Mt. Olivet discourse about the end times is recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. Our last article said that the JST of Matthew 24 is a bit different from the Bible and that it was also put into the Pearl of Great Price where it is called “Joseph Smith—Matthew.” Much of the JST of Matthew 24 is also in the JST of Mark 13 which has 61 verses instead of 37 like the Bible has. Jesus’ same sermon in the JST of Luke 21 only has 38 verses just like the Bible. The JST version of Luke 21 has a few additions and minor changes in it, but it doesn’t have the content from Matthew 24 that was added to Mark 13. Why was it added to Mark 13 but not Luke 21?

One of the few questioned texts in the Bible is Mark 16:9-20. It is not found in the two earliest original language manuscripts. That is noted in most Bibles, but not in the JST. Mark 16 in the JST has the biblical content in it with a few variations. It also has 21 verses instead of 20 like the Bible and the verse numbers are different beginning with verse two. The content in Mark 16:17-18 is in the JST of Mark 16:16-19 and it says the disciples will cast out devils, speak with new tongues, take up serpents, and if they drink deadly poison it won’t hurt them, and they shall lay hands on the sick and they will recover. No other Gospel account says those are the signs of a disciple. Such miracles occasionally happened during New Testament days, so Joseph Smith claimed Mormons did them too. The 7th LDS Article of Faith says they believe in those miracles, but they are almost unheard of among LDS today.

Joseph Smith’s Revision of the Bible, by Robert J. Matthews, published by BYU in 1969 has more information about the JST. Next time we will discuss the gospel of John in the JST.

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