Translating the New Testament
for Latter‑day Saints

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Abstract: A new translation of the New Testament by Thomas A. Wayment, a professor of Classics at Brigham Young University, offers Latter-day Saints a fresh look at this volume of scripture. Accompanying the translation are study notes that touch on historical, textual, and other items of importance in any critical reading of the New Testament. Wayment’s new edition should prove a helpful aid to Latter day Saint readers wishing to get more out of their study of the New Testament.


Review of Thomas A. Wayment, trans., The New Testament: A Translation for Latter-day Saints: A Study Bible (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University / Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2018). 491 pp. $29.99 (paperback).



In a sermon delivered in Salt Lake City, Brigham Young issued this charge:

If there is a scholar on the earth who professes to be a Christian, and he can translate [the Bible] any better than King James’s translators did it, he is under obligation to do so, or the curse is upon him. If I understood Greek and Hebrew as some may profess to do, and I knew the Bible was not correctly translated, I should feel myself bound by the law of justice to the inhabitants of the earth to translate that which is incorrect and give it just as it was spoken anciently.

[Page 96]Putting a fine point on it, President Young asked rhetorically “Is that proper?” and answered in the affirmative: “Yes, I would be under obligation to do it.”1

English-speaking members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have long cherished the King James Bible, which is both the official English Bible of the Church and has informed Latter day Saint theological vocabulary since the founding of the Church in 1830. Allusions to and citations of KJV passages and language are woven deeply throughout Latter day Saint scripture and theological vernacular,2 and Joseph Smith famously undertook a “new translation” or revision of the KJV as part of his larger restoration project.3 Given that Latter day Saint leaders have historically resisted the adoption of modern English translations of the Bible,4 it would not be unfounded to assume that the KJV enjoys a supremacy over Bibles among English-speaking Latter-day Saints that will not be contested anytime soon.5

Nevertheless, it simply cannot be denied that after 400 years of intense biblical scholarship since the publication of the KJV in 1611, to say nothing [Page 97]of 400 years of development of the English language, the time is long overdue for English-speaking Latter-day Saints to seriously re-examine their exclusive loyalty to the KJV.6 While the KJV unquestionably remains unsurpassed in literary excellence among English Bibles — the veritable crown jewel in the diadem of English prose and poetry — the plain fact is that sole reliance on the KJV is in many regards a serious impediment to deeper understanding of the biblical text. President Young’s insistence that faithful scholars are obliged “by the law of justice to the inhabitants of the earth to translate that which is incorrect and give it just as it was spoken anciently” must be seriously reckoned with by members of the Church, as there is abundant justification for just such an undertaking.

Thankfully, Latter-day Saints have now been supplied with a landmark publication that meets this demand. Thomas A. Wayment, currently a professor of Classics and previously a professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University, who has published extensively on New Testament and early Christianity in both popular and academic venues,7 has benefited members of the Church with a fresh, precise, engaging, and approachable translation of the New Testament (henceforth the WT for “Wayment Translation”) geared squarely at a mainstream Latter day Saint audience.

At the outset, Wayment is quick to clarify what his translation is not: “This translation is not an attempt to replace the King James Bible for Latter day Saint readers, but it is an invitation to engage again the meaning of the text for a new and more diverse English readership” of the New Testament. If Wayment’s translation, then, is not meant to replace the KJV, what precisely does it intend to accomplish? “This translation intentionally engages the possibility that the New Testament can be rendered into modern language in a way that will help a reader more fully understand the teachings of Jesus, his disciples, and his followers” (vii). This is a worthwhile undertaking, since the inspired words of Jesus and his first-century apostles are liable to be obscured if modern readers have access to them only through archaic language no longer suitable to their modern needs. “When the language of translation [Page 98]becomes too foreign,” Wayment observes, “too distant from the present age, it is time to consider the possibility of another translation” (vii). The fact that a portion of the revisions made by Joseph Smith in his “new translation” of the Bible were updates to the archaic language of the KJV puts Wayment in good company on this point.8

Besides providing a fresh translation, Wayment also endeavors to make his edition “a study tool, an aid to inviting readers into the text so that new meaning can be discovered, and new inspiration can be found” (vii). To that end, the WT overhauls the formatting of the text in some ways his Latter day Saint readers are perhaps not too familiar with. This includes the use of “quotation marks to designate what was said, and by whom,” a “paragraph structure” as opposed to versification, the minimalization of “the intrusion of verse divisions” by “placing verse designations in a smaller superscript font,” the inclusion of headings to demarcate literary pericopes in narrative and thematic, doctrinal, or structural sections in epistles, and the rendering of intertextual quotations into italics with “notes [to] direct the reader to the source of those quotations” (viii–ix). It is apparent that Wayment and his editor(s) at the Religious Studies Center have put great care into making this an aesthetically pleasing and readable edition.

The study notes in the WT “favor intertextuality, especially with the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants.” Wayment informs his readers that he included “those references to help the reader see how [Page 99]the New Testament texts are engaged, developed, and interpreted in the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants.” References to the JST are also included in the notes, but Wayment is “selective” in how many JST variant readings he includes because “many of the changes that [Joseph Smith] made are inextricably linked to the King James Version.” Important variant readings found in different Greek manuscripts are likewise provided in the notes, as is commentary on disputed passages of “questionable origin” which “offer[s] an opinion regarding the authenticity” of said passages. Latter-day Saints, naturally, should not be scandalized by potential corruptions in the biblical text (see Article of Faith 8), and in any case, it is important to note disputed or variant readings to “show how the text of the New Testament developed over time.” In instances of clearly spurious passages (e.g., 1 John 5:7–8, the interpolation known commonly today as the Johannine Comma), the offending verses have “been removed from the text and placed in the notes” (ix).

In terms of what kind of the translation Wayment has produced, based on his own prefatory explanation and from a sampling of passages, it appears the WT is more or less a moderate to formal equivalence of the underlying Greek text, somewhere between the New Revised Standard Version and the New International Version. That is to say, Wayment has not “attempted to translate Greek words exactly the same way in each instance, nor the same [grammatical] order in which the words appear in their Greek sentences,” for such would come at the cost of readability. He has, essentially, “chosen to err on the side of context in determining” how to render the Greek (viii).

Take, for instance, the question of how to render the word ἀδελφός (adelphos). A straightforward translation of the word would be “brother,” and, as Wayment notes, there are some passages where “the author appears to have intended ‘men’ exclusively” (e.g., Matthew 2:16; 8:28; 14:21). However, many other uses of adelphos in the New Testament do not require a gender-exclusive rendering of the word. “The original context of the word was not intentionally exclusionary but rather an artifact of first-century common usage and parlance,” notes Wayment. Because the New Testament often uses the word “generically to refer to those who believe alike, regardless of gender,” Wayment opts to translate adelphos inclusively as “brother and sister” in many instances (ix). In my judgment, this is a perfectly reasonable, even laudable, way to stay true to the sense of the Greek (based on context) while adapting the English to be meaningful for a broader — in this case a gender-non-exclusionary — audience.

[Page 100]Accordingly, Wayment’s approach is welcome because “the New Testament is written in a variety of different Greek styles,” and so imposing a rigid and uniform rendition of English would obscure the range of refined to simple Greek encountered in the various New Testament books. “A translation that can represent the simple power of the language of Jesus and his followers is truly a gift,” Wayment correctly points out; “and as we are further and further removed from the seventeenth century, we have begun to lose sight of the realization that Jesus spoke like everyday people. Jesus did not speak using archaic English terms and phrases. His speech was quite ordinary, his meaning was quite profound, and his intent was often clear. As language evolves, so too translations need to evolve” (vii). So while Wayment’s translation is not likely to be heard being sung by the King’s Singers in Cambridge (or The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square in Salt Lake City) during Christmastime, it nevertheless does effectively render the Greek in a readable yet faithful manner.

It is clear the WT is aimed at a general, non-academic audience. The question might thus naturally arise as to how Wayment navigates historical or textual issues that become apparent from a critical reading of the New Testament. Wayment handles judiciously issues pertaining to authorship, historicity, and textual corruption in the New Testament. True to its self-styling as a “study Bible for Latter-day Saints,” the WT does not shy away from questions or concerns about the authorship and historicity of the New Testament books, but neither does it lose focus on its devotional and pastoral purposes. Nor does it appear to take any overly radical positions at odds with the restored gospel that are propounded by more “liberal” or secular scholars of the New Testament. On the contrary, I found the WT at times fairly “conservative” in how it approaches a number of issues.9 Take these three examples:

  • Concerning the depiction in Luke 22:43–44 of Jesus experiencing hematohidrosis, Wayment writes, “These [Page 101]two verses are greatly disputed, and a number of important ancient manuscripts omit them. Other early and important manuscripts include these verses. Given the current evidence, it is unlikely that the question of their omission or inclusion can be resolved. However, the evidence is strong enough to suggest that they may be original to Luke’s Gospel but were perhaps omitted over doctrinal concerns. Mosiah 3:7 seems to have these verses in mind (compare Doctrine and Covenants 19:16–19)” (156–57).10
  • Concerning the Pericope Adulterae (John 7:53–8:11), Wayment writes, “The earliest manuscripts of the New Testament omit this verse and John 8:1–11. Some manuscripts place the story of the woman caught in adultery at John 7:36, after John 21:25, or after Luke 21:38. The story appears to have strong external support that it originated with Jesus, but it may not have originally been placed here in the Gospel of John or even to have been written by the author of the Fourth Gospel. It is placed in double brackets [in the WT] to indicate that it has questionable textual support, but it is included in the text because it has a reasonable likelihood of describing a historical event from the life of Jesus” (181).
  • Concerning the disputed authorship of Hebrews, Wayment writes, “In one of the earliest Greek manuscripts (Chester Beatty papyrus 46), this epistle is included immediately following Romans, indicating that whoever made that copy of the New Testament felt that Paul was the author of the work because the scribe placed the book alongside the other Pauline epistles .… However, there are also [Page 102]significant concerns regarding Paul’s authorship of the letter, and the style of Hebrews and the quality of the Greek writing is so markedly different from Paul’s other letters as to suggest that Paul certainly did not write the letter in the same way, and under the same circumstances that he wrote his other letters .… Tradition suggests that Paul wrote Hebrews, which is a reasonable assumption; the evidence is fairly conclusive that an early Christian author who was connected to Timothy wrote this epistle with the intent of addressing the topic of Christ for a Jewish Christian audience” (401).11

Wayment is also straightforward in his discussions of the Synoptic Problem (1–2), the authorship of the gospels (1–2, 64–65, 105–106, 163), and the authorship of the (oft designated) pseudo-Pauline and catholic epistles (339, 378, 387, 393, 419, 427, 435, 442, 452). The recurring point Wayment returns to in most of his commentary on this final point is that “the question of Paul’s [or Peter’s, or Jude’s] authorship cannot be settled simply” (387). This is a safe route to take as Latter-day Saints continue to come to terms with how they might accommodate potentially non apostolic (or, at the very least, non-conventionally apostolic) authorship of these disputed portions of the New Testament. Further work needs to explore just how the Latter-day Saint views of the Bible might affect our overall hermeneutic in light of potential New Testament pseudepigrapha. Wayment wisely does not slam the door shut on the traditional authorship of these books, while also raising the very real issues Latter-day Saints need to seriously confront. Hopefully Wayment’s notes and commentary will invite further reflection on and investigation into these matters from a Latter day Saint perspective.

Wayment is careful not to allow sometimes decades of assumed Latter day Saint readings of the New Testament to overpower a close [Page 103]exegetical reading of the text. Two passages in 1 Corinthians will serve to illustrate my point. 1 Corinthians 8 records Paul’s teachings on whether or not it is proper for Christians to eat food sacrificed to idols. “Concerning food sacrificed to idols, we know that an idol in the world is nothing and that there is no God but one,” Paul declared (WT 1 Corinthians 8:4). The next two verses contain what would otherwise be a straightforward declaration were it not for a somewhat cryptic parenthetical comment:

(5) For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) (6) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him;, and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. (5) Even if there be so-called gods in heaven or on earth (just as there are many gods and lords), (6) however, there is one God for us, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are, and through whom we exist. (5) καὶ γὰρ εἴπερ εἰσὶν λεγόμενοι θεοὶ εἴτε ἐν οὐρανῷ εἴτε ἐπὶ γῆς, ὥσπερ εἰσὶν θεοὶ πολλοὶ καὶ κύριοι πολλοί, (6) ἀλλ ἡμῖν εἷς θεὸς ὁ πατήρ, ἐξ οὗ τὰ πάντα καὶ ἡμεῖς εἰς αὐτόν, καὶ εἷς κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστός δι’ οὗ τὰ πάντα καὶ ἡμεῖς δι’ αὐτοῦ.


The parenthetical comment in v.5 — “as indeed there are many gods and many lords” (my translation; ὥσπερ εἰσὶν θεοὶ πολλοὶ καὶ κύριοι πολλοί) — attracted the attention of the Prophet Joseph Smith in a discourse delivered on 16 June 1844. In this sermon the Prophet quoted vv. 5–6 as a prooftext for his own doctrine of a plurality of gods:

Paul says there are Gods many & Lords many — I want to set it in a plain simple man[n]er — but to us there is but one God pertaining to us, in all thro all. but if J. Smith says there is Gods many & Lds. many they cry away with him crucify him mankind verily say that the Scrip [i]s with them — Search the Script & & they testify of things that apostates wod. blaspheme — Paul[,] if Jo Smith is a blasphemer you are — I say there are Gods many & Lds. many but to us only one & we are to be in subjectn. to that one & no man can limit the bounds, or the eternal existence of eternal time.12

[Page 104]It would be tempting merely to defer to the Prophet’s exposition on this verse as authoritative without much further consideration. Wayment, however, provides additional commentary which, while not necessarily negating the Prophet’s application of these verses to his own theology, nevertheless provides important context. “The wording of Paul’s statement may suggest that he believed in the existence of other gods and lords, but such an interpretation of his words misses the criticism Paul is offering of those who believe in other gods” (300). In other words, the Prophet’s appeal to this verse as giving justification to a sort of theological henotheism or monolatry may be supportable,13 but it is not the immediate point in Paul’s original usage, which was essentially to say that even if there were indeed multiple gods and lords, Christians are accountable to but one God, the Father, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, and so concerns over consuming food offered to idols is a non-issue. This kind of close reading offered by Wayment should in turn encourage modern Latter day Saint readers to parse more carefully what is original to the New Testament authors, what is inspired expansion on earlier biblical material by modern prophets, and what is application or “likening” to meet pastoral concerns.

The second passage worth highlighting is well-known to Latter-day Saints:

Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead? Otherwise, why are they baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are they baptized on their behalf? Ἐπεὶ τί ποιήσουσιν οἱ βαπτιζόμενοι ὑπὲρ τῶν νεκρῶν; εἰ ὅλως νεκροὶ οὐκ ἐγείρονται, τί καὶ βαπτίζονται ὑπὲρ αὐτῶν


[Page 105]Beginning with the restoration of the practice of baptism for the dead in 1840, Latter-day Saints have cited this passage to great theological effect. It continues to be invoked as crucial scriptural precedent for their practice of vicarious baptism and thereby a powerful aspect of Latter day Saint theodicy.14 The Prophet Joseph Smith himself devoted much attention to this verse (Doctrine and Covenants 127:5–12; 128), which laid the foundation to a crucial component to Latter day Saint soteriology and eschatology.15

But while 1 Corinthians 15:29 has proven fertile soil for Latter day Saint theological exposition, Wayment notes that, on its own, the verse offers very little actual information on the practice or purpose of vicarious baptism in the first century church. “Paul does not specify who they are in this verse,” he writes. “The reference appears to be obvious to the Corinthian saints, and therefore some members of the church in Corinth who likely practiced baptism on behalf of the dead understood the reference. This is the only mention of the practice in the New Testament, and no guidelines or details associated with the practice have survived” (310). As such, whatever additional significance Latter-day Saints attach to this verse must come from further light and knowledge imparted by modern prophets. That the verse in fact speaks of vicarious baptism for deceased persons cannot be seriously doubted (despite the sometimes ingenious ways writers have attempted to get around what is [Page 106]the most plainly obvious reading of the text).16 Modern Latter-day Saints should nevertheless be aware that the verse, while serving as significant biblical justification for their practice of vicarious baptism, leaves plenty to be filled in through the insight and guidance of modern prophets.

Overall, I found much in Wayment’s new study edition of the New Testament to commend to its intended Latter day Saint audience. It is precisely the sort of thing that qualified Latter day Saint biblical scholars can and should be doing for each of the books in the Bible. The world already benefits from the HarperCollins Study Bible, the Jewish Study Bible, the Catholic Study Bible, and the New Oxford Annotated Bible, to name just a few examples. It’s time for an authoritative Latter day Saint Study Bible (perhaps a Restoration Study Bible) for both the Old and New Testaments. Wayment has provided a promising glimpse at what a reliable, comprehensive study Bible for Latter-day Saints could look like. If Latter day Saint scholars collaborated to synthesize the best of biblical scholarship with doctrinal and historical insights from Restoration scripture and the teachings of modern prophets and apostles, I am confident that the publication of just such a study Bible could be accomplished to great benefit for the Saints.

Until that time, every Latter day Saint wishing to seriously engage the New Testament should pick up a copy of Wayment’s new translation.

[Page 107]Appendix: Parallel Comparison
of Select KJV and WT Passages

Citation LDS KJV Wayment (2018)
Matthew 5:14–16 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid: no one who lights a lamp places it under a basket but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all those in the house. Therefore, let your light shine before people so they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Therefore, you will be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 16:18–19 And I say unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever though shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth, it will be bound in the heavens, and whatever you undo on earth, it will be undone in the heavens.
Matthew 28:19–20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Go forward, making disciples of all nations and baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you always, until the end of time.
John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say unto you, unless a person is born of water and Spirit, that person cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
[Page 108]John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For this is how God loved the world: he gave his Only Begotten Son so that all who believe in him will not perish but have eternal life.
1 Corinth-ians 15:20–22 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. Now, Christ was in fact raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have died. For since death came through one person, the resurrection from the dead came through one person, for just as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all will be made alive.
1 Corinth-ians 15:29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead? Otherwise, why are they baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are they baptized on their behalf?
Ephesians 4:11–14 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of man, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. And he gave some apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all arrive at the unity of faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, at being a mature person at the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ so that we are no longer infants, tossed back and forth by the waves and carried about by every wind of teaching, by the cunning of people who with craftiness carry out deceitful schemes.
[Page 109]2 Thessalo-nians 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition. Let no one deceive you by any means, because that day will not come until the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness, who is the son of perdition, is revealed.
James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. If anyone lacks wisdom, let that person ask God, who gives to everyone generously, and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
1 Peter 4:6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. For this is the reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, so that they may be judged in the flesh by human standards, and they may live according to God’s standards.
Revelation 22:18-19 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book. If anyone adds to them, God will place the plagues that are written in this book upon that person. And if anyone removes anything from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will remove his part from the tree of life and his part in the holy city, which are described in this book.



1 . Brigham Young, “Temperance,” Journal of Discourses, reported by David W. Evans 27 August 1871, Vol. 14 (London: Latter-Day Saint’s Book Depot), 226–27.
2 . See generally Kent P. Jackson, ed., The King James Bible and the Restoration (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2011),
3 . See Robert J. Matthews, “A Plainer Translation”: Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1975); Scott H. Faulring, Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews, eds., Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, 2004); Elizabeth Maki, “Joseph Smith’s Bible Translation: Doctrine and Covenants 5, 76, 77, 86, 91,” in Revelations in Context: The Stories behind the Sections of the Doctrine and Covenants, ed. Matthew McBride and James Goldberg (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2016), 99–104,; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, “Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible,”
4 . Perhaps the most outspoken Latter day Saint General Authority opponent of modern English translations of the Bible was J. Reuben Clark, who served in both the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency. See J. Reuben Clark, Why the King James Version? (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1956); see further Philip L. Barlow, “Why the King James Version?: From the Common to the Official Bible of Mormonism,” Dialogue 22, no. 2 (Summer 1989), 19–42,
5 . See the discussion in Philip L. Barlow, Mormons and the Bible: The Place of the Latter-day Saints in American Religion, rev. ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013).
6 . This point has been raised and explored more fully by Grant Hardy, “The King James Bible and the Future of Missionary Work,” Dialogue 45, no. 2 (Summer 2012), 1–44,
8 . “In many places, the Prophet replaced an old form with a new form, sometimes changing a word to a modern counterpart. He changed the extinct word wot to know, and he gave instructions that it be changed every time it appears. He used a instead of an before words that begin with h. He changed saith to said, which both removes an obsolete form and revises the text from present to past tense to make the sentences clearer. He changed that and which to who when referring to humans. There are also places where you is used where the KJV would have ye, thou, or thee. In a few instances, verbal conjugations are in modern forms. In a passage from the Book of Moses, the Lord speaks to Moses of this earth upon which thou standest (Moses 1:40). In his final revision of the text, the Prophet changed this phrase to this earth upon which you stand. In the same verse, he changed and thou shalt write to and you shall write, and in the next verse, like unto thee is changed to like unto you. But the Prophet did not make changes like these universally. Most instances of such forms appear as they do in the King James Bible. Modernizing the words and grammar was clearly not the highest priority in the JST, but we do find evidence for it in the manuscripts.” Kent P. Jackson, “The King James Bible and the Joseph Smith Translation,” in The King James Bible and the Restoration, (italics added).
9 . I deliberately put “liberal” and “conservative” in scare quotes because I have found this dichotomous terminology unhelpful overall but am obliged to use it, given its currency in both academic and popular discourse on theological and historical-critical matters. In fact, much of Wayment’s “conservatism” is, based on my own survey of the literature, fairly mainstream among New Testament scholars. I designate it “conservative” only because, relatively speaking, a number of New Testament scholars (some very prominent) are more disposed to quickly dismiss the apostolic authorship of the epistles or the historicity of the gospels than Wayment allows in much of his commentary.
10 . See further Lincoln H. Blumell, “Luke 22:43–44: An Anti-Docetic Interpolation or an Apologetic Omission?” TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism 19 (2014), 1–35, The historicity of Luke 22:43–44 is especially important for Latter-day Saints, given the verse cited by Wayment from the Book of Mormon: “for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people” (Mosiah 3:7). The implications a text-critical reading of Luke 22:43–44 might have for the historicity of the Book of Mormon deserve fuller evaluation. My initial impressions are that Luke 22:43–44 doesn’t necessarily have to be original to Luke, as it has at least to preserve an authentic experience of Jesus in Gethsemane.
11 . For additional Latter day Saint views on the authorship of Hebrews, see generally Sidney B. Sperry, Paul’s Life and Letters (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1955), 268–72; Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, Eric D. Huntsman, and Thomas A. Wayment, Jesus Christ and the World of the New Testament (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2006), 254–57; Terrence L. Szink, “Authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews” in How the New Testament Came to Be: The Thirty-fifth Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium, ed. Kent P. Jackson and Frank F. Judd Jr. (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2006), 243–59,; Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2007), 193–98.
12 . Discourse, 16 June 1844–A, as Reported by Thomas Bullock, [1], The Joseph Smith Papers,
13 . “We should note that in [1 Corinthians 8:6] it is possible to see the inclusion of Jesus Christ in the identity of the God of the Old Testament, but there is no exclusion of the existence of other beings that might in some sense be considered divine. Paul takes seriously the existence of those beings, but he is clear that Christ is far above them in authority, surely more in the category of the one God than of the lesser powers, demi-gods, so to speak. … Paul does not question [their] existence.” George Carraway, Christ is God Over All: Rom. 9:5 in the context of Rom. 9‒11 (London: Bloomsbury, 2015), 87, 89n141. I am grateful to Robert Boylan for alerting me to this source. See also Nathan MacDonald, Deuteronomy and the Meaning of “Monotheism, 2nd ed. (Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2012), 95–96; David Bentley Hart, The New Testament: A Translation (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017), 332–33.
14 . See David L. Paulsen and Blake T. Ostler, “Sin, Suffering, and Soul-Making: Joseph Smith on the Problem of Evil,” in Revelation, Reason, and Faith: Essays in Honor of Truman G. Madsen, ed. Donald W. Parry, Daniel C. Peterson, and Stephen D. Ricks (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2002), 237–84, especially 268–73; David L. Paulsen and Brent Alvord, “Joseph Smith and the Problem of the Unevangelized,” FARMS Review 17, no. 1 (2005), 171–204.
15 . See David L. Paulsen, Roger D. Cook, and Kendel J. Christensen, “The Harrowing of Hell: Salvation for the Dead in Early Christianity,” Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture 19, no. 1 (2010), 56–77; David L. Paulsen and Brock M. Mason, “Baptism for the Dead in Early Christianity,” Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture 19, no. 2 (2010), 22–49; David L. Paulsen, Kendel J. Christensen, and Martin Pulido, “Redeeming the Dead: Tender Mercies, Turning of Hearts, and Restoration of Authority,” Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture 20, no. 1 (2011), 28–51; David L. Paulsen, Judson Burton, Kendel J. Christensen, and Martin Pulido, “Redemption of the Dead: Continuing Revelation after Joseph Smith,” Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture 20, no. 2 (2011), 52–69; Terryl Givens, Wrestling the Angel: The Foundations of Mormon Thoughts: Cosmos, God, Humanity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015), 248–55, 270–71.
16 . “The practice of Christians receiving baptism on behalf of other persons who died unbaptized was evidently a common enough practice in the apostolic church that Paul can use it as a support of his argument without qualification. And the form of the Greek (ὑπὲρ τῶν νεκρῶν) leaves no doubt that it is to just such a posthumous proxy baptism that he is referring.” Hart, The New Testament, 348. See also the extended discussion in Kevin L. Barney, “Baptized for the Dead,” in “To Seek the Law of the Lord”: Essays in Honor of John W. Welch, ed. Paul Y. Hoskisson and Daniel C. Peterson (Orem, UT: The Interpreter Foundation, 2017), 9–57.
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About Stephen O. Smoot

Stephen O. Smoot graduated from the University of Toronto with a master’s degree in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations. He previously graduated cum laude from Brigham Young University with bachelor’s degrees in Ancient Near Eastern Studies and German Studies. His areas of academic interest include the Hebrew Bible, ancient Egypt, and Mormon studies. He is an editorial consultant with Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship and blogs on Latter-day Saint topics at

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.
    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


    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.”


      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:

            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:
            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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