There are 45 thoughts on “Translating the New Testament for Latter‑day Saints”.

  1. We are enjoying this translation immensely. Much smoother reading when thoughts are grouped into paragraphs. The loss of James apparently translated as Jacob with no differentiation between James the brother of John(?) and James the brother of Jesus leaves something to be worked out.

  2. Simply as an fyi, I ran across this general conference discourse from Pres. J. Reuben Clark, which gives a fine review of prominent Bible translations of his day, taking special note of some instances where they err or where their translator’s use notations to err. He wrote:
    “I shall call attention to a very few only (some sixteen) of the thousands of new renderings in these revisions, particularly the latest—the Revised Standard Version. They will show that this Church cannot accept any of these versions as setting forth the true record of God’s Word to men.” (p. 39)
    Each of these problems are then explained.
    https://ia802903.us.archive.org/35/items/conferencereport1954a/conferencereport1954a.pdf
    I haven’t bothered to compare this address to his book “Why the King James Version.”

  3. I question the language that describes “…English-speaking Latter-day Saints [need] to seriously re-examine their exclusive loyalty to the KJV”.

    I am intrigued by the Thomas Wayment’s work and will endeavour to work slowly through his publication; however, I don’t believe there is a need for a clarion call for all English speaking member’s to go out and buy his book so that can obtain some sort of spiritual enlightenment. Doing so has the hint of the “ponderize” controversy, by using an LDS platform or audience to boost commercial sales.

    While it can be a stimulating academic exercise, it is hardly something I would put towards the top of the list of things LDS should be focusing their time on. I honestly think a large number of readers get very little from the comparison of different translations and interpretations of the bible. Most would get more from dedicating such time to further reading the Book of Mormon and words of Modern day prophets, and then putting the scriptures down and going out to ‘do’.

    This, too, is a view I can say is held by at least ‘one general authority.’ More effort, perhaps, should also go towards ensuring the translations of the Book of Mormon into other languages are appropriate and true to the original text and meaning.

    These people that produce such work are to be commended, yet most LDS will normally not overindulge in such things until the direction comes from the church to do so – which I think is appropriate for the general membership.

    That said, aside from the remark I quoted above, you’ve provide a very good review.

  4. If learning Greek or Hebrew is a waste of time for scriptural insight and interpretation, then Joseph and everyone else in the School of the Prophets wasted their time.

    Joseph also wrote about his enthusiasm for reading the bible in the language of the original authors:

    By all accounts, the Latter-day Saints were exceptionally diligent in their efforts to learn the language.[119] Even their critics acknowledged that the Mormons studied Hebrew “with great zeal,” noting that “some of the men in middle age pursue their Hebrew till 12 o’-clock at night and attend to nothing else.”[120] Henry Caswall—one of Joseph Smith’s most ardent critics—observed that Mormons seemed to “consider the study of the Hebrew language to be a religious duty.”[121] Though meant to describe the larger community, these statements also reflect Joseph’s personal diligence and commitment to his studies. Convinced that learning Hebrew would make them “better prepared and qualified to render assistance to our fellow men and glorify the name of the Lord,”[122] Joseph and his associates spent several hours every day either in class studying under Seixas’s tutelage or translating on their own. After beginning the course, Joseph declared: “I am determined to persue the study of languages untill I shall become master of them, if I am permitted to live long enough, at any rate so long as I do live I am determined to make this my object, and with the blessing of God I shall succe[e]d to my sattisfaction.”…

    Once into his Hebrew studies, Joseph frequently expressed common Protestant sentiments that extolled the ideal of reading the Bible in the original languages; reading the Old Testament in Hebrew, he felt, would enable him to uncover the pristine teachings of the text and empower him to preach God’s revelations: “reading in our hebrew bibles . . . it seems as if the Lord opens our minds, in a marvelous manner to understand his word in the original language, and my prayer is that God will speedily indue us with a knowledge of all languages and toungs, that his servants may go forth for this last time, to bind up the law and seal up the testimony.”[26] Similarly, a supplemental textbook published by the Church for the use of the Hebrew school stated that the study of Hebrew would “serve to facilitate the acquisition of a perfect knowledge of one of the best of books—the Scriptures—the introduction of which has served to dispel darkness, and disperse light into every clime.”[27]…

    Although Joseph never turned to biblical languages in his revision of the Bible, a series of revelations he received toward the end of that project (between late 1832 and early 1833) provided theological motivation for Mormon leaders and missionaries to go beyond their supernatural gifts and “seek out of the best books,” “become acquainted . . . with languages, tongues, and people,” and “obtain a knowledge of history.” This new emphasis on academic learning was meant to prepare the lay ministers of the Church “to magnify their calling,” “receive revelations to unfold the mysteries of the kingdom,” and “set in order all the affairs of this church.” “All this,” the revelations stated, would be “for the salvation of Zion.”[28] As a result, Joseph came to view the acquisition of languages as a vital part of Mormon spirituality, a necessary contribution to the Zion project, and an educational ideal among the Latter-day Saints….”

    Matthew J. Grey, “’The Word of the Lord in the Original’: Joseph Smith’s Study of Hebrew in Kirtland,” in Approaching Antiquity: Joseph Smith and the Ancient World, edited by Lincoln H. Blumell, Matthew J. Grey, and Andrew H. Hedges (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2015), 249–302

    [https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/approaching-antiquity-joseph-smith-and-ancient-world/word-lord-original-joseph-smith-s].

    I say this as someone who can read neither Greek nor Hebrew.

    • “If learning Greek or Hebrew is a waste of time for scriptural insight and interpretation, then Joseph and everyone else in the School of the Prophets wasted their time.”

      Greg, you conflate all interpreters. If the learning languages and interpretation is done in a theological seminary of an evangelical denomination, you get what you get and its usually not going to square with Latter-day Saint doctrines/interpretations given by revelation (such as the BofM & D&C & JST). Hence BRM rating it as relatively unimportant on his scale.

      If you are Joseph Smith and you are learning some Hebrew or Greek or what-have-you, you are discovering things in various translations of the bible from his day that matched up with what he learned from revelations and visions; I bet that caused him to rejoice. Would me too. Sweet confirmation and vindication.

      My conversations with evangelicals have taught me that their interest in ancient languages was so they could argue (with me or themselves) over readings/meanings of the oldest manuscripts that they also argued over.

      Brother Joseph had need for none of that. I don’t think we can fully comprehend what Joseph came to know about Biblical doctrines/prophets/meanings by pure revelation. No wonder BRM talked excitedly of reading the bible in a far more perfected state some future day, not to mention the prophetically translated brass plates.

      Thanks for your input into this discussion.

      • My point is that DESPITE having the prophet of the restoration with them, and despite being the prophet, Joseph et al labored considerably over Hebrew. Joseph aspired to master the languages, though he certainly didn’t have the time or opportunity to do so.

        Joseph might receive confirmation, but why are all the others laboring along with him?

        As the article I cited notes, part of what drove this was revelation:

        Although Joseph never turned to biblical languages in his revision of the Bible, a series of revelations he received toward the end of that project (between late 1832 and early 1833) provided theological motivation for Mormon leaders and missionaries to go beyond their supernatural gifts and “seek out of the best books,” “become acquainted . . . with languages, tongues, and people,” and “obtain a knowledge of history.” This new emphasis on academic learning was meant to prepare the lay ministers of the Church “to magnify their calling,” “receive revelations to unfold the mysteries of the kingdom,” and “set in order all the affairs of this church.” “All this,” the revelations stated, would be “for the salvation of Zion.”[28] As a result, Joseph came to view the acquisition of languages as a vital part of Mormon spirituality, a necessary contribution to the Zion project, and an educational ideal among the Latter-day Saints.[29] In 1833, these revelations led to the establishment of an ecclesiastical school system in Kirtland, Ohio.

        Like any talent or ability, such things can be and certainly have been abused. They can be used in a self-aggrandizing way, used to manipulate people by snowing them with things they aren’t equipped to evaluate. They can lead us to presume that we know better than others simply because we have a mastery of a tongue they don’t–and we might or might not be right.

        I don’t think anyone is arguing that “scholarship” (however understood) ought to determine Church doctrine or be normative. But, as President Nelson is wont to point out, good revelation is often contingent on having good information. And, I myself heard him give a fireside locally where he used several Greek and Hebrew terms, and drew on their meaning and etymology to make his points. So I think (with due respect to Elder McConkie) that it is certainly possible to gain more than simply something worth “one or one and two-tenths.”

        (He says, for example, that “The Septuagint had many deficiencies because it incorporated the doctrinal views of the translators.” Yet, a knowledge of Greek or other translations might, for example, illuminate the issue of the ‘virgin shall conceive’ passage in Isaiah that he criticizes. The KJV owes much to the LXX translation of this verse, that rendered the translation of the Hebrew word as ‘parthenos’ (virgin; think the Parthenon dedicated to the virgin Athena). So it turns out that the LXX is actually “more accurate” than the original Hebrew, at least on this point as far as Elder McConkie is concerned. My point is that broad all-or-nothing statements probably do more harm than good. There are certainly cases where a more recent translation of the bible is better than the KJV rendering. And, there are likewise cases where the KJV is better. But, if we wish to assess such things, some recourse to the originals will become necessary.)

        One of the difficulties is that if one is not conversant in the languages, one cannot really know what advantages might flow therefrom. I cannot but think that if Elder McConkie himself was fluent in koine Greek or Hebrew, that he probably would have drawn on that ability in his own ministry, and had a much higher opinion of its potential uses thereby.

        I wonder what he would think of someone who preferred the, say, French translation of the Book of Mormon to the English? Wouldn’t we rightly insist that the closer we get to the inspired language of the text, the more accurate our reading can be? Surely we would not accept the idea that a reading that makes perfect sense in French ought to be accepted, even if it is nowhere to be found in the English?

        By analogy, we are in precisely this case with the bible. As good as the Church’s BoM translators may be, the French isn’t going to be without its flaws compared to the English. That’s just the way language works. In the same way, as inspired as the KJV translators were or weren’t, surely they will introduce flaws just by the process.

        So, why would we say “ignore all other modern translations” and “Greek and Hebrew are at best 1 or 1.2” with respect to the bible, when we would surely regard any effort to upstage the English Book of Mormon text by the French or Russian version as exceedingly foolish simply because it places one more fallible mortal between the inspired author and the modern reader?

        • As usual, Greg makes some excellent points.

          I would add, briefly, that the point of learning the original languages should not be to confirm one’s preexisting beliefs but to gain new insights and understanding.

          For example, even your typical, “in the pews” Latter-day Saint can benefit from studying the meaning behind the Greek word λόγος and why it is translated “Word” in John chapter 1. Why did John choose that particular noun as a name-title for Jesus Christ? And what does his choice tell us about the nature of Christ and his mission? There’s a lot to unpack there that can bring new insights and perspectives to understanding John’s Gospel, the message of Christianity in general, and the role of Christ in the plan of salvation as it’s been revealed to Latter-day Saints.

          Joseph Smith didn’t merely benefit from studying Hebrew by “discovering things…that matched up with what he learned from revelations and visions.” His study of Hebrew also INFLUENCED his revelations, because he understood words and concepts that brought increased light and knowledge.

          • MIke, I disagree. Insights from language study should always conform to modern revelation or confirmation of the Holy Spirit or you would be learning in the dark like worldly scholars that are “never able to come to a knowledge of the truth”. I think Joseph measured what he learned from language study by what he learned by revelation, not vice-versa. That is also how the prophets (and all members) measure purported truth from any source today.

          • DENNIS: “I think Joseph measured what he learned from language study by what he learned by revelation, not vice-versa.”

            Why does it have to be one or the other? Can’t it be both?

            I think it’s fairly evident that Joseph’s study of Hebrew opened new vistas that affected his revealed translation of the Book of Abraham.

        • Greg,
          I think we are largely in agreement and I don’t know as BRM means to quibble with tranlsations from the English into other modern languages. I think his scale was used to dramatize his point; he often spoke of trying to find ways to accurately emphasize how important or otherwise he felt something was. Perhpas some hyperbole there but I probably should not be guessing/speaking for him.

          Also, keep in mind that as a leading doctrinal authority of his day, 60’s to 80s, but even earlier, he often had ministers of other faiths seeking to debate with him about the meaning of Biblical texts, whether in private or at a stake conference, and were graduates of Protestant theological seminaries that used knowledge of languages and alternate translations as part of their arsenal. So he may well have been reacting to that in part; to his expereince dealing with that approach.

          One extra point: BRM did note that Joseph recieved/wrote his revelations in the formal English style of the KJV and he believed that was God’s intent: formal, reverent; consistent with what people of Joseph’s day saw as sacred and sublime–though that doesn’t work so well today.

          • “If the learning languages and interpretation is done in a theological seminary of an evangelical denomination, you get what you get and its usually not going to square with Latter-day Saint doctrines/interpretations given by revelation (such as the BofM & D&C & JST). Hence BRM rating it as relatively unimportant on his scale.”

            Joseph Smith learned Hebrew from a Jew-turned-Unitarian who explicitly disputed how Joseph read the Hebrew in some important parts (e.g. the significance of elohim being a plural noun).

          • Sorry, I wasn’t clear enough–what i mean is that the English to other languages is an analogy, not an argument about Elder McConkie’s view of such translations.

            English to French is a far, far smaller cognitive, cultural, and linguistic step than Hebrew to English. And yet given a choice we would not privilege the French over the English.

            I expect Elder McConkie did have that experience–and the fact that he was not equipped to respond on the same grounds probably affected how worthwhile he saw those tools.

            (And the kind of issues that such discussions involved might well be substantially different than areas which might be more usefully explored with the languages. Elder McConkie tended to be definitive and declaratory–which was one of his strengths, but also can be a weakness in areas unrelated to the central apostolic mission to be a witness of Christ and him crucified. As you’re well aware, that tendency didn’t serve him well with, say, the 1st edition of his Mormon Doctrine.)

            I have often said that the KJV-style language used for the Book of Mormon and D&C are clear signs God loves the English speaking world.

            Far better to have the Book of Mormon in the language of Shakespeare than in, say, Oliver Cowdery’s more florid 19th century idiom. One shudders at the thought.

            I would deeply miss the KJV were it ever to go away, though I’m not blind to its deficits either. If nothing else, knowing KJV gives you an enormous advantage in any English lit class dealing with works published before the 20th century (and most of those as well).

            I took a Renaissance poetry class right after my mission (a science nerd parachuting in amongst the English majors). It was clear they kept wondering who I was, and how I would pick out the (subtle, to them) biblical allusions–the professor loved it, but the average secular college student knew little or nothing about the bible at all, and even less of the KJV.

            Arguably, anyone with pretensions to be educated in English ought to know the KJV very well.

          • Mike,
            Thanks for bringing this entire discussion back to my original point; “why does it have to be one or the other, can’t it be both?” I think we have seen that while it can “be both,” the one far outweighs and outshines the other. Hence while this Wayment translation will have some value to latter-day saints with interest in such things, a small niche audience (there really aren’t that many Mike Parkers et. al. out there), non-latter-day saint scholars will largely ignore it for reasons mentioned earlier by me in my post to Stephen (and I noted that Elder Holland delved into them also in some detail).

            On the other hand, strictly speaking, we (Latter-day Saints) need no Bible. To quote Elder McConkie (and I agree): “We could be saved without the Bible, but we cannot be saved without latter-day revelation. Ours is a restored kingdom. The doctrines, laws, ordinances, and powers were all restored. God and angels gave them anew. We believe what we believe, and have the truths we possess, and exercise the keys and powers in us vested, because they have come by the opening of the heavens in our day. We do not look back to a dead day or a past people for salvation.” . . . “the imperfect and partial accounts of the Lord’s dealings with his ancient Saints, as found in the Bible, must conform to and be read in harmony with what we have received.”

            So while a few apostles occasionally quote words from ancient language or from alternate translations, that is the exception, not the rule, and they know which translation they have approved.

            I have come to feel that I erred earlier in hedging some on what Elder McConkie knew in his study of Bible related matters and what motivated his teachings. His mind was opened to far greater views and understandings than what we have been discussing:

            “The key to an understanding of Holy Writ lies not in the wisdom of men, not in cloistered halls, not in academic degrees, not in a knowledge of Greek and Hebrew—though special intellectual insights may result from all of these—but the things of God are known and understood only by the power of the Spirit of God.”

            “Of course we should learn all we can in every field; we should sit with Paul at the feet of Gamaliel; we should gain a knowledge of kingdoms and countries and languages (see D&C 88:76–81). “To be learned is good,” Jacob tells us, if we “hearken unto the counsels of God” (2 Nephi 9:29).”

            “But above all this—more important than all of it combined, more important than all the wisdom ever gained by the power of the intellect by all the wise men of all the ages—above it all is the need for the guidance of the Spirit in our study and in our teaching.”

            “We shall show the fallacy of relying on learning and intellectuality, rather than upon the Spirit and upon an overall understanding of the plan of salvation,”

            “the only way to understand the Bible is first to gain a knowledge of God’s dealings with men through latter-day revelation.”

            (Most of these quotations are from his Joseph Smith Translation: the Doctrinal Restoration, and some from The Bible: A Sealed Book.)

            I make no apologies for stating that Elder McConkie spoke as one having authority, and not as the scholars.

            (As a footnote, and at the risk of raising a little ire, I would also point out that BRMs The Bible: A Sealed Book has passed Correlation approval and is posted on the Church’s website; none of the other scholars quoted, such at Matt Grey, have received or sought that designation and approval. Just making an observation as it points out how his teachings on the subject are meant to be viewed by the Church.)

  5. Brother Smoot: An excellent review on what I expect will be a valued translation. I am interested in your use of the formal “Latter-day” without the hyphen, even in the Church’s full name.
    Why have you chosen to delete the hyphen? Is there a trend…or..?
    On-line dictionaries provide for the hyphenated spelling.

    • Brother Noftle: Thank you for pointing out this problem. It turns out that the original manuscript used “Latter-day” throughout. Somewhere in the process of converting it into an HTML page, it was converted into “Latter day.” I have corrected it throughout this article and I will make sure this does not happen in future articles. I will also be going through all of our existing online articles to make sure it reads correctly.

      • Excellent! Typos introduced by software are a bane of all existence!

        However…. in cases like these, which may well involve editing hundreds of past articles–how do you recognize the change? Is there going to be an “editors note– on January , 2019 minor technical amendments were made to correct misspellings” or something? I hope there is some sort of notice going to be placed; I hate it when articles are silently edited and I know that something’s changed but I can’t put my finger on it.

        Kind of like a chain of evidence. I wish I was a librarian so I knew the actual technically correct term for it.

    • Juice,

      This is an expanded version of my review which appeared earlier on the Interpret Foundation blog.

      Some quick backstory:

      I submitted this review originally for the journal back in December. However, it was recognized by various parities that expediting the review to appear online before Christmas would be good to encourage more Latter-day Saints to purchase the book and give the book strong early sales. So it was posted online as a blog post first.

      Then I touched it up, expanded some parts, and resubmitted it for the journal. The expanded version underwent the same peer review and source checking as other journal submissions.

      Hope this helps.

  6. Stephen,
    Thanks for writing this review of Wayment’s translation. I am pleased that, going from your description, readers won’t have to worry about the problems of a translator seeking to impose a personal or worldly agenda or philosophy (such as feminism or higher criticism) into the translation or notes. This relieves the reader of worrying about unnecessary distractions/error, when such kinds of study are mentally and spiritually taxing enough already.

    A couple of thoughts. This NT WT will probably be largely useless outside of Latter-day Saint circles since other Christians may well see it as another JST or “Mormonized” version. Or, they may see it as simply as the Latter-day Saint entry into the tiresome “best translation” or “oldest manuscripts” arguments that have been going on for so long and seem so important to other non-Latter-day Saint Christians. And in a sense they might be a little right. Thankfully, it seems Wayment used modern revelation to help inform his translation. Hopefully he used all he could.

    Regarding the verses, at question, that describe the angel visiting Jesus to strengthen Him and his sweating blood from every pore. In this case, modern revelation and modern prophetic teacings should completely resolve any question of historical truth in this account. Elder McConkie’s famous last 1985 talk at General Conference was given by the power of the Holy Spirit and put that entire question to rest–no matter what ancient manuscripts say. I would hope this WT takes such declarations into consideration. Prophetic inspiration is one of the great contributions that the Restored Church of Jesus Christ makes to Biblical scholarship, though the world rejects it.

    I am sure everyone knows about and has read the First Presidency’s letter about the KJV being the Church’s official version. I have wondered if they may someday reconsider that position and adopt some other translation that allows the Church to engage with and communicate meaningfully with other Christians in biblical discourse. Or maybe the Lord will direct His prophet one day in the future, whomever it might be then, to finish the JST and use it despite what the world says.

    • It is hard to get around Section 21.1.7 of Handbook 2. And it’s not just the KJV but the LDS edition of the KJV. As far as I know, there is no printing of the LDS edition of the KJV that doesn’t have serious “bleed-through”, which makes reading it more of a chore than it needs to be. I wish the Church could make available for purchase a printing of the LDS edition as beautiful and as readable as those available from Schuyler Bible Publishers (for example).

    • Dennis,

      I would strongly recommend you stop trying to create conflict between faith and scholarship where there doesn’t need to be any.

      Professor Wayment’s translation and commentary stand or fall on their own merits. There’s no need to dogmatically invoke pronouncements by General Authorities as some kind of (poorly) veiled criticism against Professor Wayment or his project.

      And, in case you were wondering, I have it on excellent authority that multiple members of the Quorum of the Twelve gave this project and its final outcome the green light before the book went to press.

      So, like, seriously, there’s no need for the artificial drama.

      • Stephen, instead of warning me against something I didn’t do, why don’t you engage the issues I brought up?

        You didn’t say a word about any of the issues that I brought up about such a translation; you ignored them.

        Nor is there one word of “quote” from any General Authority in what I wrote, simply a reference to a talk that settles the question under scrutiny. Did you not read closely enough?

        Perhaps you are referring to other threads where the subject has come up. But that is not this thread.

        May I inquire if you believe it unacceptable to raise issues with books when discussing a review of that book? If so, you might find yourself in a tiny minority in that regard. Most readers think it highly acceptable, even encouraged, to discuss books and reviews of books. My own books get discussed and reviewed both positively and negatively but I don’t come out with a condescending tone toward those people.

        This WT seems to me to have the issues I enumerated. Why don’t you talk about them?

        I have sat at the feet of Nibley and Griggs as they have read the biblical and apocryphal manuscripts, translating them into English on the spot from their original tongues. I kept abreast of how their written and spoken work was received in and out of the Church. I also understand how the Bible scholars of the world view “Mormon” contributions to that field. You have engaged none of my points, all of which I think have credibility.

        On the subject of latter-day saint scholars erring by becoming enamored of the learning of the scholars of the world, I suggest you read any one of a hundred plus addresses by the prophets and apostles warning latter-day saint educators against this tendency, beginning with several from our current prophet. I would hope you are already familiar with them. Wayment doesn’t seem to have this problem, though you seem to have conflated him into that question from another thread by mistake.

        I fully agree with you that his book will stand or fall with various audiences on its own; that is taken for granted. Members of the Church will view it as one person’s translation and commentary, NOT THE Church’s new translation. Wayment doesn’t have near the scholarly standing/name and gravitas that either Nibley or Griggs had. Members that get into this kind of thing will take notice, and form their own opinions and vote with their purchasing power. I would hope this book does well.

        Meanwhile, on the subject from the other thread that you have brought up here, any latter-day saint scholar that overly imbibes the learning of the Bible scholars of the world will lose influence in Latter-day Saint circles, and those who will not cross the line will increase in influence and become very helpful. If you don’t think there is a line, read up on the so-called September si, Kelly, Dehlin, Young, Runnels, Snuffer, and others that crossed it (like Jenny in one thread). But I think you already know about them. There are some latter-day saint scholars, like Patric Mason, who boldly states he think Joseph Smith error with polygamy (and was therefore an adulterer), who seem to be drifting the wrong way; (and Jana Riess). Scary.

        • Nobody is disputing the Handbook or the fact that, in English, the KJV is the Church’s official translation.

          But there’s nothing evil or wrong about reading other versions — or producing them.

          • “But there’s nothing evil or wrong about reading other versions.”

            Dan is correct. General authorities have, in fact, quoted from modern Bible translations in general conference. Here are a few examples:

            • President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Yearning for Home,” general conference, October 2017 (quoted two passages from the NIV)
            • Uchtdorf, “Fourth Floor, Last Door,” general conference, October 2016 (quoted four passages from the NIV)
            • Elder Richard J. Maynes, “The Joy of Living a Christ-Centered Life,” general conference, October 2015 (quoted from the RSV)
            • Elder Robert D. Hales, “In Remembrance of Jesus,” general conference, October 1997 (quoted from the NIV)
            • Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Miracles of the Restoration,” general conference, October 1994 (quoted from the NEB).

          • The Handbook doesn’t say “the KJV is the Church’s official translation”. It says: “English-speaking members should use the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Version of the Bible.”

            If they don’t really mean this, I wish they would delete it.

          • I’m sure that the First Presidency means it when they say “English-speaking members should use the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Version of the Bible.”

            Note, however, that the word “only” doesn’t appear in that statement.

            Latter-day Saints SHOULD use the KJV, and they MAY use other translations to supplement their reading and study.

    • Dennis wrote: “Or maybe the Lord will direct His prophet one day in the future, whomever it might be then, to finish the JST and use it despite what the world says.”

      Dennis,

      The claim that the Prophet Joseph did not finish the JST is incorrect. The Prophet himself dictated: “We this day finished the translating of the Scriptures, for which we returned gratitude to our heavenly father….” (Letter from the presidency of the Church [Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams] to Church leaders in Zion [Jackson County, Missouri], 2 July 1833. Letterbook 1, p. 51, .)

      After this, Joseph made no further changes or additions to the JST manuscripts, and all the available evidence indicates that he considered the work of translation completed.

      The LDS Bible Dictionary is in error about this: “The Bible Dictionary in the English LDS Bible states that Joseph Smith ‘continued to make modifications’ in the translation ‘until his death in 1844’ [2013 ed., p. 673]. Based on information available in the past, that was a reasonable assumption, and I taught it for many years. But we now know that it is not accurate.” (Kent P. Jackson, “New Discoveries in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible,” Religious Educator 6, no. 3 [2005]: 156–57, .)

      • Mike,
        Thanks for bringing that up a well taken point.

        I was going off this comment in Doctrinal New Testament Commentary (that is quoted from Elder McConkie’s book Mormon Doctrine), the last sentence is the pertinent one:

        “English versions that have come forth since the King James Version, and particularly the Revised Standard Version, have been translated by individuals and groups who have questioned the divinity of Christ and his mission. As a consequence, many of these versions throw doubt on his Divine Sonship and question basic doctrines of the gospel. It is no wonder that the King James Version has been and remains the official version of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This official usage most assuredly will not be changed until such time as the Lord directs that the needed corrections in the Inspired Version be completed.”

        Also, I have a letter from Robert J. Matthews in which he agrees with my proposition to him that a verse in the book of Revelation would have later been modified by the Prophet if he had been able to revisit his bible translation work.

        There are my reasons for stating what I did. Thank you for engaging the point at issue.

        • I have a great deal of respect for the late Robert Matthews and his work.

          But that Dr. Matthew agreed with your speculation that Joseph would have edited Revelation (1:6, I assume) makes no difference, as Joseph himself said that his translation was “completed” in 1833 and he made no further changes to it. Because you believe he MIGHT have is not even the thinnest of evidence; it’s no evidence at all.

          • Mike, I don’t think we can quite sew this up as completely as you suggest. (You got the verse in question correct.)

            Read Elder McConkie’s address to CES men: “The Doctrinal Restoration” available here: https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/joseph-smith-translation-restoration-plain-and-precious-things/1-doctrinal-restoration

            from which I quote:

            Elder McConkie:
            Would it be amiss if we made a brief overview of what the Joseph Smith Translation now is and what it will one day be?

            As to its present state—it contains various additions, deletions, and emendations to the King James Version. But most importantly it contains the book of Moses and the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew as published in the Pearl of Great Price. , , ,

            True, the Joseph Smith Translation, though completed to the point that the early Brethren were going to publish it at one time has not been completed in the full and true sense. But for that matter neither has the Book of Mormon. I am as anxious to read and study what is in the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon as I am to give the same attention to those parts of the Bible yet to be revealed.

            I am clear in my mind that the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon will not come forth until the Millennium. The same thing is undoubtedly true of the fulness of the Bible, though some additions could well be made before that time.

            Of what will the Bible consist when it is perfected?

            Surely it will contain the writings of Adam and Enoch and Noah; of Melchizedek and Isaac and Jacob; and certainly Abraham wrote much more than the Prophet found on the Egyptian papyrus. The book of Abraham in our Pearl of Great Price is obviously a restored biblical record.

            Does anyone think we have all of the words of Isaiah or Jeremiah or Malachi? And are there not prophets and apostles without number, whose names we do not even know, who have recorded their teachings and testimonies?

            The perfected Bible of the future will surely include all that was on the brass plates of Laban. Indeed, Lehi prophesied “that these plates of brass should go forth unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people who were of his seed. Wherefore, he said that these plates of brass should never perish; neither should they be dimmed any more by time” (1 Nephi 5:18–19).

            More than five hundred years later Alma testified that they should “be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord until they should go forth unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, that they shall know of the mysteries contained thereon” (Alma 37:4–5).

            Someday the Lord will raise up a prophet, who will also be a seer and a translator, to whom he will give the brass plates that they may be translated for the benefit and blessing of those in all nations. . . .

            The Bible that went forth to the gentile nations in the early days of the Christian are, according to the angelic word to Nephi, “contains the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; and it also containeth many of the prophecies of the holy prophets; and it is a record like unto the engravings which are upon the plates of brass, save there are not so many” (1 Nephi 13:23). . . .

            Thus our present Bible contains only a fraction of the holy word that once was compiled with and included in it as the acceptable word of the Lord.
            ——-

            In the spirit of D&C 121:28-32, which tells us that so very much more is yet to be revealed, I like to think Elder McConkie knew what he was talking about.

            This quotation is far more definitive than the earlier one I posted; my apologies for not sharing this one first. I would hope no one would want to argue with it; I certainly wouldn’t.

            I haven’t tried to compare Matthews’ work with Jackson’s. I understand Jackson is a fine strong scholar and much has been done with the JST since Matthews’ day.

            I do notice that the latest 2013 edition of the Bible dictionary, Joseph Smith Translation entry, was not changed to conform with Jackson’s statement, although I don’t know when he wrote the quotation you shared. The Bible dictionary entry would come closest to reflecting a church position on the JST although it is only a “scripture study aid”.

            Thanks again for engaging the issue at hand, which is of interest to me.

          • Dennis,

            Elder McConkie was well-read and had an excellent grasp on many aspects of the gospel. His remarks that you quoted, however, reflect his customary inclination for turning his opinion into fact. His claim that the JST “has not been completed in the full and true sense” was based on what he believed was obviously true; it was not based on the JST manuscripts and Joseph Smith’s own remarks and actions.

            Jackson’s comments were published in 2005. That the Bible Dictionary wasn’t modified in 2013 reflects the conservative, traditional views of the people involved in Church correlation. Change is slow in coming there, even when it’s needed. (Often, but not always, that’s a good thing.) I expect that the Church’s official views on the nature of the JST will shift over time and make their way into the Bible Dictionary, just as they did in 2013 with the entries on “Fall of Adam” and the second entry for “Joseph” (stepfather of Jesus).

        • I want to comment about an additional fallacious claim.

          Dennis quoted Elder McConkie thus: “English versions that have come forth since the King James Version, and particularly the Revised Standard Version, have been translated by individuals and groups who have questioned the divinity of Christ and his mission. As a consequence, many of these versions throw doubt on his Divine Sonship and question basic doctrines of the gospel.”

          This statement of Elder McConkie’s follows President J. Reuben Clark Jr.’s assertion in his lecture series that became the book ‘Why the King James Version?’ But the claim that “many of these [modern Bible] versions throw doubt on [Jesus’] Divine Sonship” is wholly and completely untrue.

          The charge is based on the difficulty of translating a single verse (!)—Isaiah 7:14—accurately from Hebrew. The Hebrew word ‘almah does not strictly refer to a woman who has never had sexual intercourse (there is no word for that in OT Hebrew), but rather a young woman of marriageable age. That the RSV preferred to translate it “young woman” in that verse is in keeping with its likely fulfillment in the wife of Isaiah conceiving and bearing a son (Isaiah 8:3). Because Matthew quotes this verse as a prophecy of Jesus Christ, though, Protestant KJV-onlyists in the late 1940s went on the attack and falsely claimed the RSV was downplaying Christ’s divinity, when it was doing nothing of the sort. (President Clark picked up their rhetoric for his lecture series.)

          But, more to the point, modern Bible translations often support the divinity of Christ better than the KJV does.

          One example of this is John 1:18, in which the KJV quotes later, less reliable NT manuscripts that call Jesus “the only begotten Son,” while modern Bibles prefer older manuscripts that read “the only begotten God.”

          Another example is Titus 2:13, which the KJV translates as “the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (two individual beings), while modern translations, following the Granville Sharp rule, translate it as referring to just one being: “the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (NET). (The same translation applies in 2 Peter 1:1.)

          President Clark’s claim was wrong when he made it in the early 1950s. It was wrong when Elder McConkie repeated it in the 1960s. It’s still wrong today. They were good men with great knowledge and wisdom, but they were not perfect, and this is one example where they erred. Unfortunately, President Clark and Elder McConkie’s views on this matter still prejudice many Latter-day Saints against using modern Bible translations, even when they would enormously help them understand the message of the Bible.

          • Mike,
            Both Pres. Clark and Elder McConkie were exceptionally strong, detailed, insightful, gifted, and careful scholars of the scriptures and the gospel who are not here to defend themselves.

            To take a few examples that you think prove them wrong and declare it settled seems to place them at quite an unfair disadvantage. I don’t know their sources and reasoning and can’t speak for them, but I do know they didn’t speak or write lightly and without cause, and perhaps they could each have easily refuted your points, I don’t know.

            I hope you (and others) will take the time to read Elder McConkie’s “The Bible: A Sealed Book” and “The Doctrinal Restoration” addresses in whole. These each distill a great deal of both scholarly and revealed information of considerable worth. Elder McConkie read non-Latter-day saint scholars but was unimpressed with most all of them. I would presume that he read them closely enough to know which of them believed that Jesus was the son of God who worked miracles and was resurrected, and which didn’t believe; he actually gave quoted instances in these talks of where a few erred in their higher criticism and disbelief.

            In short, I think you sell them short.

            Obviously certain fields of biblical scholarship have developed far beyond what they were in Clark and McConkie’s day, but they dealt with what was before them. More than that, they knew when a modern translation was leading them astray and weren’t afraid to point it out.

            If you will go here:
            http://www.truthwillprevail.xyz/2016/08/mormon-book-bits-22-j-reuben-clark-our.html
            you will see an account shared by one Thomas S. Monson of how Pres. Clark came to know something in his biblical writings that was beyond the ability of any scholarship to settle.

            Prophets and apostles do not have to worship at the altar of biblical or historical scholarship and know how to approach what the world offers.

            Yes, Elder McConkie quoted Ferrar and Edershiem (sp?) at some length in his own writings, but he took pains to explain that it was because they wrote by the light of Christ and believed in His divinity. BRM had no tolerance for those whose translations or commentaries said that Jesus didn’t perform the miracles he worked.

            There is a reason that Pres. Kimball replaced Elder Ashton on the original scriptures publication committee with Elder McConkie and that he was asked to write the chapter content summaries for the standard works of the Church, most of which are still in use. It shouldn’t take much reflection to figure that one out. Being a fan of Robert Matthews, you should read Bro. Matthews glowing description of his admiration of BRMs work thereon.

            And I must beg to differ with you: Curriculum and Correlation folks are far sharper than you have supposed; Correlation has delegated to them by the First Presidency the responsibility and guidelines to ensure the doctrinal purity of the Church. Correlation doesn’t exclusively worship at the altar of scholars either, though they stay abreast of developments; if they have a doctrinal or scriptural question in dispute, they can go to prophets and apostles for final settlement; that is in fact the written policy of the FP. One prophet is better than a thousand scholars. (You might read Nibley’s “The World and the Prophets” for some superb reasoning there.)

            Not to say the Brethren don’t appreciate the good work of the faithful scholars of the Church/BYU. They make use of the best of them all the time and these people serve the Kingdom well. I assume Dan could talk more about that, as could many others.

            And like I said earlier, Elder McConkie’s address fully allowed for a Wayment translation as long as its limits and strengths were understood.

          • I think it is more of a tendency for new translations to attempt a trinitarian formula. Barlow’s book a few years back contains a table comparing the various translations. The Jehovah’s Witnesses NWT was at one end of the spectrum (being Arianian) and the NIV at the other.

          • DENNIS: “Both Pres. Clark and Elder McConkie were exceptionally strong, detailed, insightful, gifted, and careful scholars of the scriptures and the gospel…”

            MIKE: A point that I myself have made repeatedly in this conversation.

            DENNIS: “… who are not here to defend themselves. To take a few examples that you think prove them wrong and declare it settled seems to place them at quite an unfair disadvantage.”

            MIKE: Of course they are not able to respond here, but when you deploy their arguments it’s only reasonable that I respond by critiquing those arguments. Otherwise this discussion ends up being simply an appeal to authority.

            DENNIS: “I hope you (and others) will take the time to read Elder McConkie’s ‘The Bible: A Sealed Book’…”

            MIKE: I’m very familiar with Elder McConkie’s 1984 BYU address. It contains some good counsel. I particularly like his advice to read all scripture in context (an especial problem among the saints).

            However, I find that talk to be among his most problematic sermons. He dramatically underrated some very helpful tools and incorrectly labeled all non-LDS commentaries as denying the divinity and miracles of Christ and “twist[ing] and pervert[ing] the scriptures.” He was overly dismissive of the importance of knowing Hebrew and Greek. His assertion that “the King
            James Version is so far ahead of all other [Bible translations] that there is little comparison” is shockingly inaccurate—if anything, the reverse is true, as the KJV’s exceptionally poor source manuscripts, inaccuracies in its translation translation, its 400-year-old Jacobean English, and its Anglican theological biases are major impediments to understanding for today’s readers.

            Presidents Young and Taylor declared that the KJV’s translators were not especially inspired and that anyone who could translate the Bible better than they did was under obligation to do so. Thomas Wayment and other translators have done exactly that. (I’m a particular fan of the English Standard Version.) And yet Elder McConkie, for all his wisdom, unhelpfully classed all of these as “alien translations” that are “a waste of time to delve into” and “really have nothing in the inspired sense to contribute.” With all due respect to him, I beg to differ. I have found exceptional insights from modern English Bible translations. Some of them even support Latter-day Saint doctrines better than the KJV does. For example, the KJV would have us believe that Romans 3 teaches that we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ, while the NET Bible (correctly) renders this “the faithfulness of Jesus Christ”—we’re not saved by our faith, but by Christ’s faithfulness in carrying out the atonement.

            DENNIS: “In short, I think you sell them short.”

            MIKE: Quite the rather, I think you take a hagiographical approach and are unwilling to disagree with them in the occasional instances when they were wrong.

            DENNIS: “Prophets and apostles do not have to worship at the altar of biblical or historical scholarship and know how to approach what the world offers.”

            MIKE: You are falling into the fallacy of the False Dilemma: “We must follow the prophets and apostles OR worship at the altar of biblical or historical scholarship.” It is quite possible to follow the prophets in matters of doctrine AND ALSO gain much insight from scholars. There’s no need to create a conflict where none is required.

            DENNIS: “And I must beg to differ with you: Curriculum and Correlation folks are far sharper than you have supposed.”

            MIKE: You’re arguing against a point I didn’t make.

          • ROBERT: “I think it is more of a tendency for new translations to attempt a trinitarian formula.”

            MIKE: I would be interested to see examples of that. I regularly read and refer to the NRSV, ESV, NASB, and NET, and also cross reference those against several other translations, and I’ve yet to see any trinitarian bias that isn’t already in the KJV (which was translated by Anglican scholars who were trinitarians).

            If anything modern translations are LESS supportive of the Trinity, in that they all remove the spurious passage in 1 John 5:7b–8a (the famous Johannine Comma), the only NT passage that’s explicitly trinitarian. This passage is in the KJV (and was untouched by the JST), where it continues to cause unnecessary consternation among Latter-day Saints.

            ROBERT: “The Jehovah’s Witnesses NWT was at one end of the spectrum (being Arianian) and the NIV at the other.”

            MIKE: The NWT is trash, and the NIV is among the worst of the mainstream modern Bible translations. I don’t recommend the NIV to anyone. On the other hand, I’ve found the ESV to be an exceptionally responsible update to the KJV and an excellent study companion.

          • “The most reliable way to measure the accuracy of any biblical translation is not by comparing different texts, but by comparison with the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelations.”

            Another part of the Handbook that’s apparently only meant for the hoi polloi.

          • “The most reliable way to measure the accuracy of any biblical translation is not by comparing different texts, but by comparison with the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelations.”

            But what kind of “accuracy” does that statement refer to? Linguistic? Palaeographic? Doctrinal?

            I would argue that the intention was doctrinal accuracy. Our doctrine is established by revelation to living prophets, which trumps prior revelations, including (if necessary) the canonized standard works.

            Certainly, however, there are other areas where the study of ancient manuscripts and other translations are helpful and illuminating. Hence the occasional quotation of modern Bible translations in general conference, etc.

  7. But we are not actually using the 1611 version of the Bible. It is the KJV but as it was updated to 1769, I believe.

    I look forward to acquiring Wayment’s book.

    • The KJV currently published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not the 1769 edition. Rather it is a unique, modern version from which has been removed the important message of the Translators to the Reader (by Miles Smith, editor of the 1611 edition). The Apocrypha has also been removed, along with most of the important marginal notes. Since (as Miles Smith said) many of those marginal notes are equally good translations of words and phrases found in the body of the text, the reader is ill-informed as to the actual intent of the translators. This is a key consideration in a Church which focuses on translation accuracy (Article of Faith #8).

  8. Pingback: Translating the New Testament for Latter‑day Saints - Stephen O. Smoot - The Mormonist

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