Changed LDS Scripture/Part 28
|By: Marvin W. Cowan; ©2012|
|The Joseph Smith Translation is basically just the King James Version with Joseph Smith’s additions and/or deletions in various places. Smith began by making lots of changes in the first few chapters of Genesis, but later chapters have very few changes. The same is true in the New Testament where the first twelve chapters of Matthew have the most changes, while fewer changes are made in later chapters. It looks like Smith’s intent was to make a lot of changes but he ran out of time or interest in the project.|
The Joseph Smith Translation (JST) of the Bible provides some insight into Joseph Smith’s mind. The JST is basically just the King James Version (KJV) Bible with Smith’s additions and/or deletions in various places. Smith began by making lots of changes in the first few chapters of Genesis, but later chapters have very few changes. The same is true in the New Testament where the first twelve chapters of Matthew have the most changes, while fewer changes are made in later chapters. It looks like Smith’s intent was to make a lot of changes but he ran out of time or interest in the project. But there are a few exceptions, like Matthew 21 and 24. He added six verses to the end of Matthew 21 that even a novice can tell are written by a different author than the rest of the chapter. Matthew 24 is basically the same as Joseph Smith-Matthew in the Pearl of Great Price as we mentioned in Part 25 of this series.
Several changes are made in the first five chapters of John, but fewer changes are made in later chapters. We discussed some of the changes in John 1:1-20 in our last article. The JST of John 1:18 was added by Smith and was never a part of John. So, the verse numbers are different from the Bible until verse 35 where they are numbered the same again because Smith put John 1:28 from the Bible after John 1:34 in the JST. John 1:30-31 in the KJV Bible says, “This is He of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me; for He was before me. And I knew Him NOT: but that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore I am come baptizing with water.” But the JST of this text is John 1:30 which says, “And John bare record of Him unto the people, saying, This is He of whom I said; After me cometh a man who is preferred before me; for He was before me, and I knew Him, and that he should be made manifest to Israel; therefore am I come baptizing with water.” The italicized words in the JST quotation are not in any original manuscript and are unnecessary words added in the JST. And the JST has John the Baptist say exactly the opposite of what he said in the Bible!
The KJV of John 1:42 says, “And he [Andrew] brought him [Simon] to Jesus, and when Jesus beheld him, He said, Thou art Simon, the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, a stone.” But the JST of John 1:42 says, “And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, He said, Thou art Simon, the son of Jona, thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, a seer, or a stone. And they were fishermen. And they straightway left all, and followed Jesus.” Again the italicized words are unnecessary words added in the JST of this text.
The word “seer” is an Old Testament word and isn’t used in the New Testament, so it is out of place in the JST. The JST says the interpretation of the word “Cephas” is “a seer,” so we must ask, “What is the source of that interpretation?” No lexicon gives that definition! And to say that “a seer” is a valid interpretation is just plain false! The interpretation of the word “Cephas” is exactly what the KJV says. Those familiar with Joseph Smith and the origin of Mormonism know that he used a “seer stone” to “translate” the Book of Mormon from the gold plates. Since Smith put those two words together in this text, he was either consciously or subconsciously trying to show biblical support for his use of that “seer stone.”
Many verses in the JST of the first five chapters of John have words added or changed, but they don’t really affect the meaning of the text. So, why were they changed? One of Smith’s reasons for changing the Bible was to influence readers to question the reliability of the Bible and become more willing to accept his new LDS scriptures. But some changes seem to have a motive behind the change. For example, the KJV of John 3:36 says, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” But the JST of John 3:36 says, “And he who believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and shall receive of His fullness. But he who believeth not the Son, shall not receive of His fullness; for the wrath of God is upon him.” The change in the JST may seem minor to non-Mormons, but it better fits the LDS belief that men can receive God’s fullness and become Gods like Him. And if men don’t believe on the Son, they will still have life, but won’t become Gods like LDS who do believe and keep all the LDS laws and ordinances.
John 14:2 says, “In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” The JST says exactly the same thing. But there is a problem. Joseph Smith said,
- But how are they (LDS) to become saviors on Mount Zion? By building their temples, erecting their baptismal fonts, and going forth and receiving all the ordinances, baptisms, confirmations, washings, anointings, ordinations and sealing powers upon their heads, in behalf of all their progenitors who are dead, and redeem them that they may come forth in the first resurrection and be exalted to thrones of glory with them….The question is frequently asked “Can we not be saved without going through with all those ordinances, &c.?” I would answer, “No, not the fullness of salvation.” Jesus said, “There are many mansions in my Father’s house, and I will go to prepare a place for you.” House here named should have been translated kingdom; and any person who is exalted to the highest mansion has to abide a celestial law, and the whole law too (History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 184).
Smith also said “mansions” should be translated as “kingdoms” in History of the Church, volume 6, page 365. So, why isn’t it that way in the JST? Compare what Smith said is a requirement for salvation in this paragraph with John 6:47; 14:6; Acts 4:12 or 1 Timothy 2:5.
An LDS booklet entitled The Inspired Revision of the Bible, by Merrill Van Wagoner, also lists some changes in the JST. Next time we will continue our discussion of the JST of John.