Changed LDS Scripture/Part 4
|By: Marvin W. Cowan; ©2010|
|The King James Version or KJV Bible is the official LDS Bible even though Joseph Smith “translated” the Joseph Smith Translation Bible between 1830 and 1833. In a previous article we quoted Genesis 1:1-3 from the KJV and from the Joseph Smith Translation to show that they are very different. The KJV translation of the Bible was made in 1611 and was translated from ancient Hebrew manuscripts of the Bible that are still available. But upon what are the changes in the Joseph Smith Translation based?|
Official KJV Version
The King James Version or KJV Bible is the official LDS Bible even though Joseph Smith “translated” the Joseph Smith Translation or JST Bible between 1830 and 1833. At the end of our last article (Part 3) of this series, we quoted Genesis 1:1-3 from the KJV as well as from the JST to show that they are very different. The KJV translation of the Bible was made in 1611 and was translated from ancient Hebrew manuscripts of the Bible that are still available. But upon what are the changes in the JST based?
There are no original language manuscripts of the Bible that even remotely resemble the changes Joseph Smith made in the JST. “Moses” is a book in the Pearl of Great Price which is also Mormon scripture. Moses 2:1 through 8:30 is exactly the same as Genesis 1:1 through 8:18 in the JST except for the chapter and verse numbers. So, the text in Moses 2:1 in the Pearl of Great Price and Genesis 1:1-3 in the JST are exactly the same. One would assume when two LDS books of scripture say exactly the same thing that it should confirm that the reading is accurate. A heading over the Book of Moses even says “Revealed to Joseph Smith the Prophet, June 1830-February 1831.”
If it was “revealed” by God, it should be accurate. But on June 16, 1844, just 11 days before his death Joseph Smith said that the Hebrew words in Genesis 1:1 actually say, “In the beginning the head of the Gods brought forth the Gods” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 371; History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 475). If that is really what the original Hebrew says, why doesn’t Smith’s “revealed” JST say that? Moses 2:1 in the Pearl of Great Price doesn’t say it either. So, is Smith’s JST Bible wrong or was he wrong about the meaning of the original Hebrew or are both wrong? No reputable Hebrew scholar ever translated the Hebrew manuscripts for Genesis 1:1 like Smith said they should be or like the JST reads!
Genesis 1:26-27 in the KJV Bible says,
- And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.
This became Genesis 1:27-29 in the JST, because Smith added other content before it. It says,
- And I, God, said unto mine Only Begotten, which was with me from the beginning, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and it was so. And I, God, said, Let them have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. And I, God, created man in mine own image, in the image of mine Only Begotten created I him; male and female created I them.
The same wording is found in Moses 2:27-28 in the Pearl of Great Price, but the verse numbers are slightly different. When two books of LDS scripture say the same thing one would expect the wording to be accurate. But on June 16, 1844 Joseph Smith commented on the Hebrew meaning of Genesis 1:26 and said, “If we pursue the Hebrew text further, it reads, ‘The head one of the Gods said, Let us make man in our own image’” (History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 475; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 372). If that is what the Hebrew text of Genesis 1:26 said, why didn’t Smith “translate” it that way in the JST or in Moses 2:26 in the Pearl of Great Price?
The Hebrew texts for Genesis 1:26 show that the KJV is translated correctly. But no Hebrew manuscript supports the JST “translation” or Smith’s translation of Genesis 1:26 from Hebrew on June 16, 1844. Why did Smith “translate” his JST in the KJV English of 1611 AD when it was not the English spoken in America in 1830? And why are all of Smith’s LDS scriptures in 1611 AD English?
When a message in one language is interpreted so that it is understood in another language it is called a “translation.” The accuracy of the translation can be checked by other translators who know both languages. Joseph Smith claimed he “translated” the Bible (History of the Church, vol. I, pages 324 and 368) and the Mormon Church officially calls Smith’s Bible “the Joseph Smith Translation.” In Doctrine and Covenants 73:4 “the Lord” told Smith to “continue the work of translation (of the Bible) until it is finished. And in Doctrine and Covenants 124:89 “the Lord” commanded Smith to “Publish the new translation of my holy word unto the inhabitants of the earth.”
At least ten times in the Doctrine and Covenants “the Lord” refers to Smith’s work on the Bible as “translation.” But, Mormon writer Merrill Y. Van Wagoner said on page 14 of his booklet, The Inspired Revision of the Bible, “It is incorrect to say that the Prophet Joseph Smith translated the Bible. He did not pretend to know any ancient language such as Hebrew or Greek nor did he have any manuscripts.” If that is true, why did “the Lord” call it a “translation” in Mormon scripture? And if Smith didn’t have any ancient manuscripts of the Bible, why and how did he make changes in his “translation?”
The references in this article show that Smith did claim to know Hebrew. LDS often claim that God revealed the changes to Smith, but that leaves them with no evidence to support his changes. No other translation of the Bible was ever made without manuscripts on which it was based.
The Inspired Revision of the Bible by Merrill Van Wagoner, an LDS writer, has more information on the JST. Next time we will continue our study of the JST.