Joseph Smith Translation -Question for Mormons


#1

I didn’t know about the Joseph Smith translation until recently. I noticed that he actually added material to the Books of Genesis, as well as many other books of the Bible.

This was added to Genesis in the JST:

“33 And that seer will I bless, and they that seek to destroy him shall be confounded; for this promise I give unto you; for I will remember you from generation to generation; and his name shall be called Joseph, and it shall be after the name of his father; and he shall be like unto you; for the thing which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand shall bring my people unto salvation.”

  1. Why does the Mormon Church today not use the Joseph Smith Translation today.

  2. Do Mormons believe the JST to be accurate? And if so why are none of these changes that Joseph Smith made contained within the earliest Hebrew and Greek manuscripts.

For a full list of changes or additions in the Joseph Smith Translation look here, it’s really interesting:

scriptures.lds.org/jst/contents

Again I already made an apology to Mormons, if they perceived any of my posts about the Mormon Church as attacks, that isn’t the point of this thread. I find it incredibly interesting that entire portions of the Canon were altered by Joseph Smith to the Bible.

Let’s keep this thread charitable, thanks…


#2

The reorganized LDS church owns the copyright to the JST and they do use it. (although they are now known as the community of Christ) The Utah LDS church uses quotes from it but use the KJV as their primary bible. I have been told by them that the JST was never completed and also that the KJV is a better missionary tool since it’s commonly accepted.


#3

A number of reasons: 1) Historically there was suspicion that the RLDS church may have editted, but since the '80s or so with the research of R.J. Matthews this has largely been alleviated. 2) Copyright issues. 3) Ability to share a common denominator with other biblical Christians. 4) It never got published in Joseph Smith’s lifetime. It was "complete in the sense JS wanted to publish it, but incomplete in the sense that JS continued to modify it throughout his life. 5) The perception of what Joesph Smith was trying to accomplish as I will address below. This and #3 are the main reasons the JST will probably never be canonized.

  1. Do Mormons believe the JST to be accurate?

There is a common misconception that Joseph Smith was attempting to restore the text to be a better “translation” of the original texts. However that only seems to be a small part of what he was doing. Kevin Barney, an expert at textual criticism sees these possibilities in the text:

(1)restorations of original text, (2)restorations of nonoriginal text, (3)alternate translations without positing any change in underlying text, (4)historical corrections of incorrect text, (5)harmonizations of biblical text with revealed doctrine, and (6)midrashic commentary (much like the targumin and the genres of “rewritten Bible” and pesharim attested among the Dead Sea Scrolls)

I recomend Times and Seasons blog topic I read recently on the JST.

And if so why are none of these changes that Joseph Smith made contained within the earliest Hebrew and Greek manuscripts.

The “none of” can be contested. “Most of” would be a fair assessment, though.

For a full list of changes or additions in the Joseph Smith Translation look here, it’s really interesting:

scriptures.lds.org/jst/contents

This link only contains selections of changes made in the JST.

Again I already made an apology to Mormons, if they perceived any of my posts about the Mormon Church as attacks, that isn’t the point of this thread.

I find it incredibly interesting that entire portions of the Canon were altered by Joseph Smith to the Bible.

The main value of the JST is that during the project Joseph Smith received many revelations that became part of the Doctrine and Covenants. His close study of the Bible acted as a catalyst for “Sections 37, 45, 73, 76, 77, 86, 91, and 132, each of which has some direct relationship to the Bible translation” as the D&C introduction says.

Given the wide historical variety of Bibles (and commentaries) that fall somewhere in the spectrum of being a scholarly approximation of the original meanings and those geared towards modern readiblity, the JST fits right in.

[cont]


#4

This is a fun little prophecy that is also cited in 2 Ne 3. I only treat this as evidence inasmuch as it can be independently corraborated, which is to say not by much. It is easy enough to argue that Joseph Smith authored the prophecy and dismiss it out of hand. I follow Richard Bushman that when Joseph Smith encountered such information in his work with the Book of Mormon and JST early on, it helped give him confidence and the learning necessary to assume the role of a prophet.

However there are some interesting Jewish “Messiah ben Joseph” traditions that have interesting possibilities. There are other interpretations that are considered elsewhere. Bruce’s son, Joseph F. McConkie, wrote an article about Jewish Messiah ben Joseph traditions in Isaiah and the Prophets: Inspired Voices from the Old Testament edited by Monte S. Nyman . I will just quote it’s conclusion.

Perhaps as interesting as anything else in relationship to the Messiah ben Joseph traditions is the fact that no one seems to know where they came from. No passage in today’s canon fits. Arguments have attempted to tie these traditions to Jacob’s patriarchal blessing to Joseph, to the blessing given by Moses to the tribe of Joseph, to Isaiah’s suffering servant passages, and, as we have seen, to Jeremiah’s reference to an Ephraimite prophet. Other arguments have involved Ezekiel’s prophecy about the stick of Joseph, Daniel’s reference to “Messiah the Prince,” and passages in Joel and Hosea which have been linked to the Teacher of Righteousness of the Dead Sea Scrolls, who has also been associated with the Messiah ben Joseph. Also, attempts have been made to associate the tradition with Obadiah’s references to the leading role of the tribe of Joseph in the events of the last days; Habakkuk’s reference to a prophet who would do a work that would cause men to “wonder marvelously,” a work which most would not believe (which passage is especially interesting because Christ applied it to Joseph Smith in 3 Nephi 21); and Micah and Zechariah. The marvelous thing is that none of them fit. None of them speak of a prophet named Joseph who would be a son of Joseph of Egypt called to gather Israel in the last days.

To the Latter-day Saint the answer is simple. We have read it in the text that Joseph Smith restored to chapter 50 of Genesis in his translation and in 2 Nephi 3, where Lehi gives a patriarchal blessing to his son Joseph. But the scholars continue to be puzzled. Professor Torrey writes: “Some biblical passage or picture, indeed, is to be looked for as the source of this remarkable feature of Jewish eschatology. It would seem to be beyond question that a tenet of such importance, well established in Talmud, Targum, and Midrash, must have its proof texts in canonical Hebrew scripture.” 26

In speaking of the idea of the two Messiahs, ben Joseph and ben David, he says:

“Here are two divinely anointed beings, each connected in the closest way with the fate of both Israel and the nations of the world. It is hardly possible to believe that the Rabbis could have adopted and given out this very significant article of faith merely on the basis of speculation, without definite prophetic authority.” 27

footnotes 26-27 Charles T. Torrey, “The Messiah Son of Ephraim,” Journal of Biblical Literature 66 (1947)


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