Changed LDS Scripture/Part 30

By: Marvin W. Cowan; ©2012
Smith and other LDS claim deliberate changes corrupted the Bible, but they can’t prove that claim. Rather, evidence from thousands of manuscripts and from the Greek language suggest it is a far more likely that Smith changed his JST to try to support his claim that the Bible had been corrupted.

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While most of the changes in the Joseph Smith Translation (JST) of the Gospel of John are in the first five chapters, there are changes later in John. The King James Version (KJV) of John 14:30-31 says, “Hereafter I will not talk much with you; for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love the Father, and, as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.” But the JST of John 14:30-31 says, “Hereafter I will not talk much with you; for the prince of darkness who is in this world, cometh, but hath no power over me, but he hath power over you. And I tell you these things that ye may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.”

The JST changed “the prince of this world” to the “prince of darkness.” The “prince of this world” is mentioned in John 12:31 and 16:11 as well as in 14:30, but “prince of darkness” is not used by John or anyone else in the Bible. The original Greek word for world is kosmos, which doesn’t look anything like scotia, the Greek word for darkness.

Those two words couldn’t have been confused by translators, so why was John 14:30 changed in Smith’s JST? Smith and other LDS claim deliberate changes corrupted the Bible, but they can’t prove that claim. Why would thousands of copyists change thousands of manuscripts on three continents throughout several hundred years for small change like this one in the JST? It is a far more likely that Smith changed his JST to try to support his claim that the Bible had been corrupted.

The JST of this text also says Satan or “the prince of darkness…hath power over you.” That was addressed to Jesus’ disciples and is contrary to what the Bible teaches! In this text Jesus also said that the world could know that he loved the Father because He did as His Father commanded. But Smith changed the JST to say “that ye (Jesus’ disciples) may know that I love the Father.” If His disciples didn’t already know that Jesus loved the Father, they weren’t very observant! It was the world that needed to know or understand that Jesus loved Him.

The KJV of John 17:9 & 11 says, “I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine…. And I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I am come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me that they may be one, as we are one.” The KJV of John 17:20-21 also says, “Neither pray I for these alone but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they may all be one; as thou Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” These verses are exactly the same in the JST.

Smith claimed the JST was revealed or inspired by God, so why did he later say these verses should be translated differently? In History of the Church Volume VI, page 476, Smith said, “I want to read the text (John 17:9-11, 20-21) to you myself—‘I am agreed with the Father and the Father is agreed with me, and we are agreed as one.’ The Greek shows that it should be agreed. ‘Father I pray for them which Thou hast given me out of the world, and not for those alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word, that they all may be agreed, as Thou Father, art with me , and I with Thee, that they also may be agreed with us,’ and come to dwell in unity, and in all the glory and everlasting burnings of the Gods; and then we shall see as we are seen, and be as our God and He as His Father.’”

Did Smith think he could translate these verses better than God translated them, or did he know the JST hadn’t come from God in the first place? Smith didn’t say God revealed this text with “agreed” in it. He said “the Greek shows that it should be agreed.Revelations like Smith claimed for the JST can’t be verified by anyone else because they are personal experiences, but the content of a revelation can be compared with the Bible to see if its message is consistent with it. But when someone says the Greek text says something, it is verifiable! The New Testament was originally written in Greek, and thousands of Greek copies still exist, so translations in other languages can be checked for accuracy. Smith claimed the word “agreed” is in the Greek text of these verses, which is false! The Greek word for “agreed” can be found in a lexicon, but not in the Greek text of John 17.

If Smith was wrong about that, could he have been wrong about other things? In his comments about John 17, Smith also said, “we shall be as our God and he as His Father.” The Bible doesn’t teach that and neither does Smith’s earlier writings in the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. Smith wrote the JST between 1830 and 1833, but his comment about the word agreed in John 17 was made 11 days before his death in 1844. Between those dates Smith’s theology obviously changed. So, did God change it or did Smith?

The KJV of John 19:17 says, “And he, bearing his cross, went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew, Golgotha.” The JST says the same thing except it changed “the place of a skull” to “the place of a burial.” The problem with the JST is that the verse contains the Hebrew word “Golgotha” which means “skull,not a burial ground! The Greek word for skull is “kraniou,” from which we get the word “cranium,” which is a skull. The Latin Vulgate uses the word “calvaria,” meaning a skull, from which we get the word “Calvary”! So, Smith’s JST of this text is not a translation from any language! The JST made other minor changes in John but enough have been listed to show that Smith didn’t get his JST from God.

More can be read about Smith as a translator in R. C. Webb’s book Joseph Smith as a Translator, published in 1936 by Deseret News Press, the official LDS publishers. It shows that evidence isn’t as important as revelation to LDS. Next time we will look at the JST of Romans.

Read Part 31

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